Tag Archives: urban

The billion dollar growth of local food at the 2012 Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Local food is an $8 billion industry and growing rapidly every year. But all that success has brought a series of problems, mostly because the food industry is not set-up for sustainable agriculture. Which means focusing as much on the land as on the food, with such ideas as organic, seasonal, free range, grass-fed, non-GMO, and more.

The 2012 Seedstock Conference discussed those problems and successes with a diverse crowd including venture capitalists and tomato farmers, and talks covering an interesting range of topics:

  • Scaling sustainable agriculture
  • Urban farming
  • Buyers perspective
  • Digital technology
  • Investment in sustainable agriculture
  • Agripreneur Fast Pitch Competition

Each talk contained the right assortment of experts and business owners. I was particularly impressed with the buyers perspective panel where representatives from Whole Foods and Fresh Point discussed getting local foods into stores and hospitals and hotels. It was a lot more about logistics, getting food into boxes and keeping things refrigerated, than I thought it would be. They said this is mostly due to the informal nature at farmers markets - cash and plastic bags – where these farmers operate.

And often the best part of these sustainable conferences is the food. Jason Reed, the founder of Seedstock, filled the breakfast, lunch, and networking receptions with superb fare. The coffee was from local favorite Groundworks and the lunch from Chef Erik Oberholtzer, cofounder of Tender Greens, was amazing. I don’t usually eat exotic grains like quinoa, but combined with local and seasonal vegetables and with a mint lemonade drink – I enjoyed it.

It was a premier conference with sophisticated people and I look forward to the next event from Seedstock.

 

The Passion Bucket

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “passion bucket”.

The term comes from Rick Neuheisel, former football coach at my alma-mater UCLA. Back in 2008, he was on The Dan Patrick Show and said, “When you’re at UCLA, you have to have your passion bucket full when you play the Trojans.” Since then it has gone viral, big time:

 

 

Not only in sports, but as a band name, in urban dictionary, as a blog. Everyone is having a field day with it.

I think that’s because it presents such a clean metaphor, “you gotta fill up your passion bucket.” Those days when everything is flowing and you’re feeling good. Also, it leaves room for those days when the energy is gone and you found a way to get back to that high level.

The definition from Urban Dictionary:

  • Describes the amount of energy or love one has for a certain object, event or theme.
  • Term to describe the character or primary strength of something
    • We were losing in the first half, but we played with a full passion bucket and ended up winning in the end.

 

That’s all, just wanted to share this term as I look around the interwebs for something to fill up my passion bucket.

 

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Los Angeles updates zoning in Hollywood – moving towards metro-centric city

A plan that could dramatically remake the Hollywood skyline and form the blueprint for denser development around the city’s growing rail network has won unanimous approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

Revised zoning guidelines for Sunset Boulevard and surrounding streets will make it easier for developers to build bigger and taller buildings, especially around subway stations and along bus routes. Supporters say the plan is a visionary change that will allow Hollywood to complete a 20-year-transformation from a seedy haven for drug dealing and prostitution into a more vibrant, cosmopolitan center of residential towers, jobs, entertainment and public transportation.

“If we’re going to spend billions of dollars to build a rapid-transit system, it only makes sense to put development there,” he said.

Learn more – L.A. council OKs plan to concentrate growth in Hollywood

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Tony Hsieh: Delivering Happiness to Downtown Las Vegas

Beyond the casinos, past the clubs, over the glittering, multi-million dollar hotels that light up the Las Vegas Strip, beat the quiet drums of innovation and progress. Change is afoot.

Las Vegas is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks, in part, to the fantastical vision and persuasive passion of Zappos CEO and Delivering Happiness author, Tony Hsieh.

Credit Marc Burckhardt

What began as a relocation project, moving the online shoe and apparel shop headquarters from its Henderson location to downtown Las Vegas, has blossomed into a revitalization project, breathing new life into an area all too often described as seedy and run-down.

By the end of 2013, Zappos will take over downtown’s old City Hall building, which will receive a major renovation to accommodate 2,000 of its employees (the Henderson office is home to approximately 1,200), and several blocks of surrounding real estate have been procured to round out the “Zappos campus,” serving as a spark plug to the surrounding area.

It’s all part of Hsieh’s vision to make downtown Las Vegas a vital community — attracting families, urban dwellers, and business owners — to not only visit, but to live and thrive, with art galleries, yoga studios, coffee shops, book stores, sporting events and charter schools.

Hsieh is investing $350 million into the Downtown Project, with $200 million in real estate development, including residential, $50 million for small business investment, $50 million for education, and $50 million for start-up investments, in companies who are already in Las Vegas or are willing to relocate to downtown.

The start-up investment is a ripe opportunity for seedling companies looking for the right environment to get off the ground. Besides providing a lower cost of living, compared to many start-up hubs, the Downtown Project offers access to mentors, space and peers.

When I asked Zach Ware, who oversees campus, urban, and start-up development, about the strategy to attract start-ups and compete against fertile start-up grounds like Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle, he explained:

We’re less about comparisons and more about creating something new. Most cities have their fair share of incubation programs and other formal ways to accelerate learning and happiness. We see an opportunity to create a form of an incubator in an entire city, but without the formalities. So if you consider the elements that make up an incubator (proximity to mentors, proximity to others like you, access to capital and space) we think those things can be more organically scaled if they are a part of a city. 

Taking a cue from the edicts in Triumph of the City, the project aims to make downtown Las Vegas a great place to eat, meet, work, live, learn, and play.

After witnessing first-hand the kind of company Tony Hsieh has built with Zappos — during my recent headquarters tour, one senior woman commented, “Boy, would I have loved to work here when I was young” — I have no doubt the project will be a success. In fact, it’s the only Vegas bet I’ll make.

Toronto – “a strong latent demand for more walkable neighborhoods”

The map above shows Toronto’s walkability, with the lighter portions indicating greater walkability (‘utilitarian walkability” being how easy it is to walk to do utilitarian things — get to work, shop — as opposed to for pure recreation).

It’s striking how much high walkability follows the boundaries of the old City of Toronto. There are a couple of additional areas of high walkability in two of the areas designated by the official plan as “centres”, in North York and Etobicoke, which reinforces the finding of a recent study that the “centres” concept is working to some extent.

“People who live in highly walkable areas walk more and are less likely to be in danger of obesity than those in car-oriented areas.”

“There is a strong latent demand among Toronto residents for more walkable features in their neighbourhoods.”

The report finds that even people who are car-oriented will walk more if they live in a walkable neighbourhood — and people who are walking-oriented will walk less if they live in a car-oriented neighbourhood. So urban design does play a role in shaping people’s behaviours, whatever their preferences are.

via Spacing Toronto

Am I a Crunchie Hipster or the New Urban Norm?

So there I am, in the kitchen, eating a Dupont Farmer’s Market carrot with some “Maryland-style” hummus I made at home. I proceed to throw the carrot top in the compost jar in the freezer, wash my hands with a locally made bar of soap (not an exotically scented bottle of liquid soap) which just happens to be sitting next to my reusable mug I carry with me every trip to Starbucks. I pour myself a glass of DC’s finest tap water, then blow my nose in a hanky. I walk upstairs where our freshly washed laundry is hang-drying from our glass catwalk to deposit the hanky in our eco-water saver laundry machine, then I walk back downstairs, remove my phone from our portable solar panel charger, grab my kindle from my backpack which I take religiously everywhere so I don’t need throwaway bags, put my backpack in the closet next to my bike helmet which I’m wearing a lot more since I no longer have my car in the city and rely on my bike to get me where I need to go, and have a seat on the couch to read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying while drinking a cup of warm Yogi Lemon Ginger tea.

And I think to myself, “I’m such a crunchie hipster!”

Or am I?

Before @robotchampion (and A Clean Life), I did none of these things. Give up my car? I LOVE heated leather seats in the winter. Shop at a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning? I was a notorious Harris Teeter, late evening Tuesday shopper, buying lots premade, packaged everything. Bring a recyclable mug to Starbucks? That just means I have to carry it around and wash the grody thing out. But I did all of these things, and more, and it hasn’t been an impediment on my lifestyle. It’s just required some simple changes in habits.

I don’t think I’m all that unique. I know tons of people who don’t have cars, who compost at home (even if they live in the city), who shop at farmer’s markets and who think bottled water is a joke (I highly recommend watching TAPPED). I have to wonder if my way of living isn’t such an extraordinary extremity as it is a market correcting itself from an ungodly and unnecessary level of waste and inefficiency.

So tell me: am I part of the new urban norm or just another crunchie hipster?