48Hour Green Film Contest @ Cannes

Cannes wrapped up last weekend with the Palme d'Or going to Terrence Malick's apparently slightly sprawling epic The Tree of Life. From what I've read, the movie looks to be a mix of personal drama and a lush celebration of the Earth's beauty (trailer).  While not specifically an environmental film, it works out an evocative parallel between the evolving lives and struggles of individual people, and the larger evolution of the natural world around us.

Just as Cannes was closing, I stumbled on 5 other films that were screening as part of the festival's short-films program.  All five are the winners of this year's 48hour Go Green Film competition. Embedded above is the winning film, "Charlie The Man Who Brought Back the Sea."  Browsing the other films on the website is an excellent way to while away a few minutes of non-productive Friday afternoon time.

Bixi Responds to Flurry of Financial Coverage

Montreal news has been awash with coverage of BIXI's financial situation. After some delay, the city has approved $108million in loans and loan guarantees for the non-profit that operates BIXI.

Those numbers, as well as BIXI management's confrontational tone when dealing with the city has and angered some and raised questions about the system's financial viability. While Montrealer's have been getting a blow-by-blow coverage, the Globe and Mail yesterday published a great overview of the situation.  In response, BIXI chairman Roger Plamondon sent out an e-mail to all BIXI users seeking to clarify what is going on.  I've reposted it in full below.

The Urban Diabetes Epidemic: Green Cities & Health

I've written before about the fact that overall New Yorkers have the highest life expectancy in the United States.  Sounds odd, but research has traced those added months to the walking New Yorkers do while they navigate a city where pedestrians and transit use are the norm.  It turns out though, according to a piece by Lisa Rochon in the Globe and Mail, those benefits aren't evenly distributed.

Citing a series of studies on cities and diabetes she reveals a few startling facts: people living in un-walkable low-income neighbourhoods like the South Bronx will live about 20 years less. There are similar findings for Toronto. The culprit? The overlap of racial marginalization, genetics, and bad urban planning.

Climate Change Slams Food Production: Agricultural Investors To Rake It In

Sometimes you've just got to laugh. Tuesday's Globe and Mail led it's investment section with an article titled “Warming Trend May be Boon to Canada.” The piece focused on a new study, published in Science, which shows that since 1980 rising temperatures have reduced global yields of wheat and maize by 5.5% and 3.8% respectively. The report may be the first to conclusively show that climate change is already taking its toll on global food supplies.

The Globe and Mail's take on the situation: it's a great time to invest in Canadian farmland! If that isn't a perfect example of the situation we are in, then I don't know what is. The title may as well have been “Looming Global Food Instability A Great Opportunity!”

Jane's Walk 2011: This Weekend Biggest Ever now in 15 Countries

This weekend is the fifth year of Jane's Walk, and it is the biggest ever. Volunteers will lead 491 walks spread across 72 cities and 15 countries. What I love about the Walks, and what's at the core of their success, is their simple open-source approach.

They were founded on the gamble that if you give people who are passionate about their cities a platform they will help others discover all the hidden facets of local history, culture, and politics that make cities such captivating places to live. Clearly the gamble has paid off. Embedded below is the map for this year's walks in Montreal.  To find your city see here.

Eco-Sensual: LEED certified sensual healing in Montreal

“Eco-sensual design” – it's got a Marvin Gaye kind of ring to it [video] – but I like it.  It's Montreal architect Owen Rose's (meme-worthy) shorthand for the relationship that exists between smart ecological design and the sheer pleasure of being in a beautiful space.

Rose, who is also President of Montreal's Urban Ecology Centre, was featured in this week's Hour (one of the city's free weekly papers).  Given all the interesting projects that Rose and the MUEC are up to, the profile was disappointingly short.  All the same Rose managed to get in a few thought provoking quips about what architecture is, particularly green architecture.  His focus on the way people experience of sustainable design is key.



This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.