The Bottom Line on the High Line

“If the future is going to be greener, then it must be more urban. Dense cities offer a means of living that involves less driving and smaller homes to heat and cool. Maybe someday we’ll be able to drive and cool our homes with almost no carbon emissions, but until then, there is nothing greener than blacktop.”
-Edward Glaser, Triumph of the City

March 31, 2012, New York: I recently read both Edward Glaser’s Triumph of the City and David Owen’s Green Metropolis. They both make the case that city living is a wise environmental choice — both argue that city dwellers tendencies to live small, walk more, and reuse spaces we already occupy rival choices to head for the hills in order to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Still, city dwellers yearn for the green spaces and breaths of fresh air so readily available out there in our natural landscapes. Lucky for them, there are more and more efforts to bring the outdoors in to the urban equation.

I think about these initiatives this afternoon as we make our first visit to Manhattan’s massive recycling project known as the High Line.

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Just A Little Outdoor Space

March 29, 2012, Washington, DC: We have a little outdoor space here at home. It overlooks an especially narrow alley because the street behind ours is a diagonal one that squeezes the backs of our homes close together. A mess of tangled black wires hangs above and a confident squirrel paces back and forth there daily. In late afternoon, a woman with a baby seat on her bike returns home from her errands, announcing her presence with squeaky gears. Across the alley we can see families in the homes behind ours in their kitchens cooking dinner, or people reading books through the large library windows. Quarters are tight and there’s no green in sight. It doesn’t much matter. We get a surprising amount of afternoon light. Our little outdoor space is a breath of fresh air.

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Living on DC’s Southwest Waterfront: Jason’s Floating Neighborhood

Jason Kopp, Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DCThis is one in a series of reader interviews about the places and spaces people call home. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomad.

March 27, 2012, Washington, DC: What’s more nomadic and neighborly than a tight-knit community that floats? Judging from the camaraderie among residents who live on their boats at Gangplank Marina in Southwest Washington, DC, not much. The liveaboard community here is the largest on the East Coast, and it is also a community on the brink of change, smack dab in the middle of plans to develop this section of the city’s waterfront. Gangplank Slipholder Association president Jason Kopp is among the community’s most vocal advocates for the vitality of this place and he agreed to tell us more about his floating neighborhood.

Read more from our interview after the jump.

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City Spaces, Wishful Thinking

March 25, 2012, Washington, DC: Wouldn’t a bike lane through the trees look amazing here? Do you think that house would look even more charming painted yellow? What would improve that plaza over there? Picnic tables? Landscaping? A flower stand? There are lots of us out there, people always imagining something new.

It’s a habit that likely explains my propensity for rearranging furniture, and home renovation television, and reality shows based on dramatic transformations from Before to After, and going for long walks through the neighborhood. Whether thinking about the outdoor spaces around me or dreaming up a kitchen renovation, I’m constantly brainstorming creative conversions in the physical environments I inhabit. Here are a few I’ve been considering lately:

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Do You Live in a Stressful City?

March 22, 2012, Washington, DC:
I heard a story on the radio this morning that made me feel calm, cool and collected. It detailed a report out this week from Sperling’s Best Places revealing the nation’s most stressful cities. Immediately I assumed the Washington metro area, a region full of Type As and powerhouses, would top the list or at least come close. From my vantage point behind the steering wheel during the morning commute, I concluded my hometown must be full of stressballs and pent-up anxiety. But guess what? I was completely wrong. Washington is ranked #44 of 50 cities rated. Am I the only one surprised?

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Washington Through Rose-Colored Glasses

March 19, 2012, Washington, DC: In Washington we are regularly blessed with an early spring that elbows its way in past winter without asking the cold whether it minds the interruption. That’s when word gets out and the crowds arrive, tourists and marathoners jamming their way into the city like the season itself, snapping photos of cherry blossoms, running these roads, staring at the sky.

In early spring, we show this place off. We are happy to share.

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