Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greening DC

Leading Water, Sanitation Organizations Launch Sustainability Charter

The D.C.-based WASH Advocacy Initiative has announced that more than twenty leading international water and development organizations have signed the WASH Sustainability Charter, a collaboratively developed set of principles designed to advance lasting solutions in water, sanitation, and hygiene education (WASH).

Globally, nearly one billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while more than 2.5 billion do not have access to a toilet. Although progress in meeting these critical needs has been made, challenges remain. According to the Netherlands-based IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre Initiative, for example, approximately 30 percent of all hand pumps installed in sub-Saharan Africa have failed prematurely, while other studies suggest similar failure rates in various regions and across diverse WASH interventions.

To remedy the situation, leaders in the field have developed a set of guiding principles that offers a road map to ensure and maximize the impact and value of WASH projects in the future. Early endorsers of the charter include Africare, the Blue Planet Network, Water for People, and the Conrad N. Hilton and Global Environment & Technology foundations.

"By working together across disciplines and organizations, we can develop lasting solutions that will truly change lives," said Harold Lockwood, director of Aquaconsult. "This charter provides a strong foundation for continued progress and the guidance we need to increase our impact for the poor who lack the most basic of services."

“Making WASH Investments Last.” WASH Advocacy Initiative Press Release 7/27/11.

Primary Subject: International Affairs/Development
Secondary Subject(s): Environment
Location(s): International, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is Smart, very smart!

IBM Awards $1 Million in 'Smarter Planet' Grants

IBM has announced grants totaling nearly $1 million to eleven nonprofit and educational organizations working on projects in areas such as health care, energy, and food safety.

Through the Centennial Grants program commemorating the company's hundredth anniversary, each grantee will receive up to $100,000 in monetary and in-kind support. Centennial Grant recipients include ATN Telecentre Information and Business Association in Brazil, which will support nonprofits in Latin America by expanding access to technology; El Agora in Argentina, which aims to facilitate the exchange of quality-of-life indicators across several cities to promote specific urban improvements; the Foundation for the Training and Protection of Mentally Handicapped Children, a Turkish organization that seeks to collect data on the country's disabled population in order to ensure they receive adequate public services; the Indian Institute of Technology, which will work to develop a low-cost sensor system that monitors rainfall in order to mitigate the effects of urban flooding; and the Vermont State College System, which aims to reduce energy consumption at two statewide nonprofits through its Managing Energy — Sustaining Our Community initiative.

In addition, IBM's recently completed Celebration of Service Day saw more than 300,000 employees volunteering 2.6 million hours in support of five thousand projects, including many partnerships with centennial grantees.

"Nonprofit and education organizations are the lifeblood of local communities, and we want to help them by offering support to build a smarter planet," said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM. "In conjunction with our employees making their skills available through massive volunteer efforts, IBM's Centennial Grants will help non profits and educational organizations meet their key goals."

“IBM Awards Grants to Help Build a Smarter Planet.” IBM Press Release 7/20/11.

Primary Subject: International Affairs/Development
Secondary Subject(s): Community Improvement/Development
Location(s): International, National

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Friday, July 22, 2011

It was love at first SIGHT: White Roofs Projects

Sun-Absorbing Black Roofs Need a Coat of White Paint

white roofs bowery mission

If you live anywhere in America other than the shores of the Pacific, you are probably sweating right now. A lot. And it's likely that the paint job and materials on your building's roof are making it worse. As we've reported on GOOD before, painting white the black roofs that top many of American cities can deflect 70 percent more sun, keeping interiors cooler, reducing the urban heat island effect, and curbing global warming. Luckily it seems like 2011 could be the summer where this idea goes mainstream, with the combination of powerful heat waves and politicians (Bill Clinton!) getting behind the idea.

When temperatures heat up, white roofs can stay up to 30 degrees cooler than traditional dark roofs, generating a cooling effect throughout the building below, which means less electricity used for air conditioning. Interiors of a white-roofed building can linger at 80 degrees when it's 90 outside. As President Clinton wrote in Newsweek on Tuesday, "Every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white… Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere!… It’s the quickest, cheapest thing you can do," and as a bonus, it can help the economy by putting people to work.

New York City—where the high today is 100 degrees—is the focus of a number of white-roof initiatives worth highlighting. A city-backed project NYC °CoolRoofs is working with property owners to incentivize covering roofs with reflective white material. So far they've already coated 1.5 million square feet of roof and aim to coat one million more. A grassroots initiative, White Roofs Project, plans to give an entire block in the East Village the white roof treatment in August. (They've also created a great infographic explaining the importance of their work). If you live in New York, sign up here to volunteer with WRP.

Image via White Roof Project's Facebook album.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities

Learning Summit and Awards Ceremony



National Building Museum, July 19, 2011

U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development, July 20, 2011



Hosted by the American Planning Association, Ashoka, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Brazilian Ministry of Cities and the US State Department; with support from the Rockefeller Foundation
Agenda:
Tuesday, July 19
11:30 – 12:00 Registration
12:00 – 12:15 Welcome and Public Learning Summit Launch
Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary, Policy Development & Research, HUD
12:15 – 1:30 Sustainability Efforts in the Americas – the coming attractions
Representatives from Latin America will discuss prize competitions, outreach initiatives, and programs aimed at promoting sustainability in Latin American countries.

* Cid Blanco, Brazilian Ministry of Culture
* Carina Saito, Clube da Reforma/ABCP, Brazil
* Nicolas Maggio, FOVISEE, Argentina
* Moderator, John Reinhardt, APA

1:45 – 2:45 Housing Solutions Handbook
The team from Ashoka will present new frameworks for thinking about scaling housing innovations, and will engage attendees in a collaborative brainstorming workshop around scaling finalists' key innovations. Through this process, we will help competition finalists identify pathways for taking their innovation to the next level.

* Alexa Clay, Ashoka
* Sarah Dimson, Ashoka

3:00 – 5:00 Presentation of the Competition Finalists

Each of the eight finalists presents a 5 minute overview on their work to the general public, followed by a question and answer session.

Introduction: Jim Lopez, Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Secretary, HUD
Moderator: Susan Piedmont Palladino, Curator, National Building Museum/Intelligent Cities, Professor of Architecture, Virginia Tech

* Programa Bem Morar - Espirito Santo, Brazil
* Sume Materiales ('Incorporate materials') - Reutilization of materials to facilitate access to housing - Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
* Building a Culture of Earthquake Resistant Construction Practices Among Day Laborers in Haiti - Haiti
* Kibera Public Space Project: sustainable housing through 'productive public space' - Kenya
* Micro Home Solutions: Safe & affordable home upgrading in low income urban India – Delhi, India
* Slum Networking – Transforming Slums and Transcending Poverty without Aid with an Innovative Water and Sanitation Paradigm - India
* Social franchising for development of sustainable housing at the bottom of the pyramid – Mexico City, Mexico
* Transforming the low-income housing development paradigm – Aguascalientes, Mexico

5:15 – 6:00

Awards Ceremony

Speakers:

* Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary, HUD
* Roberta Jacobson, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State
* W. Paul Farmer, FAICP, President and CEO, APA
* Valeria Budinich, Ashoka's Housing for All program

Each of the three winners is honored:

* Zero Waste, Sustainable Architecture, Renewable Energy: unlimited source of renewable materials for sustainable housing – São Paulo, Brazil
* Green Development Zone – Buffalo, New York
* Developing real estate for squatters and tenants of the City of Buenos Aires – Distrito Federal, Argentina




Wednesday, July 20 – HUD Policy Exchange Panel and Webcast

(For this Policy Exchange Panel only, please RSVP to Emily.b.derenthal@hud.gov)

10:00 – 11:30
HUD Auditorium A
451 7th St., SW
Washington, DC 20024

Join us for a policy exchange panel with the three competition winners at HUD with live webcasting and Twitter feed (#sustainableamericas) and hear closing remarks from HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims, who also served as one of the competition judges.
Welcome: Ana Marie Argilagos, Deputy Assistant Secretary, IPI, HUD
Panelists:

* Sérgio Prado, Zero Waste, Sustainable Architecture, Renewable Energy: unlimited source of renewable materials for sustainable housing – São Paulo, Brazil
* Aaron Bartley, Green Development Zone – Buffalo, New York
* Constanza Ledesma, Developing real estate for squatters and tenants of the City of Buenos Aires – Distrito Federal, Argentina

Moderator: Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, Director of Philanthropic Research and Initiatives, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Closing Remarks: Deputy Secretary, Ron Sims, Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Latin American Cities Initative

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno announces a plan to partner with intermediate cities in Latin America and the Caribbean that aspire to set a new standard for sustainable urban development.


Sustainable Emerging Cities from BIDtv on Vimeo.

Even in the US we have the G--word

graffiti--that is.


The New York Times



  • July 18, 2011

    Cities Report Surge in Graffiti

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Fresh blotches of graffiti decorate the backs of street signs here near the ocean. Tags have popped up on guardrails along the dirt trails near Griffith Park across town. There are, almost daily, fresh splashes on walls in the San Fernando Valley, on downtown Los Angeles buildings and on billboards along the highways.

    And Los Angeles does not appear to be alone in grappling with a recent upsurge in graffiti, which is turning up in some unlikely places. A bumper crop of scrawls is blossoming in many modest-size communities across the country — in places like Florence, Ala.; Bernalillo County, N.M.; Taylors, S.C.; and in larger cities like Nashville and Portland, Ore. — even as major cities like Chicago, Denver, New York and Seattle say vigilant antigraffiti campaigns have spared them thus far.

    “It’s popped up all of a sudden in the last six months,” said Tim Sandrell, the owner of Safari Adventures in Hair in Florence. “I’ve been downtown for 10 years, and I’m really disappointed that we are seeing this kind of activity. We have a beautiful city and an historic city, and it’s really upsetting to me seeing this going on.”

    The upturn has prompted concern among city officials and renewed a debate about whether glorifying such displays — be it in museum exhibits, tattoos or television advertisements — contributes to urban blight and economic decay. But it is also stirring a debate about what is causing this recent surge and whether it might be an early indicator that anxiety and alienation are growing in some struggling urban areas in the face of stubborn unemployment and the lingering effects of the recession. The latest statistics from Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate was 11 percent in May, attest to a widening problem: the city removed 35.4 million square feet of graffiti for the fiscal year that ended June 30, an 8.2 percent jump over last year, city officials said.

    “We’ve seen the amount of graffiti go up yearly,” said Paul Racs, the director of the Office of Community Beautification.

    Tim Francis, a supervisor for the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, said there had been a rash of tagging on park signs, underpasses and the parkway. Rangers have set up surveillance, but the length of the highway in Mr. Francis’s jurisdiction — 165 miles, stretching from Boone to Cherokee — and the furtiveness of the graffiti writers makes catching them daunting.

    “We are seeing tagging anywhere and everywhere,” Mr. Francis said. “Summertime, kids are out of school. Idle hands.”

    In Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, graffiti complaints in June jumped to 300, from 84 in April.

    “It just keeps coming up, little by little,” said Bobby Velasco, the county’s graffiti supervisor. “We’ve covered more this year so far than we did last year.”

    A metal recycling center is a favorite target, Mr. Velasco said.

    “We clean it up every week, and every week they always come back and put up ‘Welcome to L.A.,’ ” he said.

    In Portland, officials said taggers from other communities were defacing their property. “We’re arresting more people from out of town,” said Marcia Dennis, the city’s graffiti abatement coordinator. “For every one we get cleaned up, something else takes its place.”

    The upsurge comes as cities like Los Angeles, struggling with budget cuts, have trimmed graffiti fighting programs; the $7.1 million budget for graffiti eradication last year was cut 6.5 percent in the budget that took effect July 1. But cities like Santa Monica have not cut back, and have still had an upsurge, suggesting other factors are at play.

    Some officials, like Mr. Francis, say it is a symptom of summer recess, a tough economy that has left many teenagers out of work and a general sense of anxiety and malaise. “People know the cops aren’t around or they are working on other stuff,” said Bobby Shriver, a member of the Santa Monica City Council.

    Neighborhood leaders and law enforcement officials also blamed what they call a glamorization of graffiti, reflected by a new graffiti exhibit at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, even after an earlier furor over a full-fledged graffiti exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

    “It’s because of the pop culture,” said Ramona Findley, a Los Angeles police detective who heads the department’s graffiti task force. “It’s very interesting; with your violent crime going down, it seems like your mischievous crime is going up. The art world has accepted it. People make money from graffiti T-shirts. I was in Wal-Mart on Easter, and I saw graffiti Easter eggs.”

    Ms. Dennis, in Portland, described graffiti as “addictive behavior,” adding: “The rush is addictive, and these guys don’t quit. They all think they’re going to end up being fabulously wealthy graffiti artists like Marc Ecko or Banksy or Shepard Fairey.”

    Several officials said they were concerned the graffiti had extended beyond gang markers to others who consider more of their community a canvas. “The areas where we’ve seen the biggest increase are areas where we haven’t had a problem before,” said Mr. Racs of the Los Angeles beautification office. “It’s not gangs. It’s primarily just taggers. They are just cruising around on their skateboards.”

    And the problem, he said, has become more national. “I get calls all the time from little cities in Iowa and Indiana that have never had a graffiti issue before,” Mr. Racs said.

    The surge has prompted new efforts to combat it, including a graffiti-recognition database in Los Angeles and a reinstitution of foot patrols in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland.

    “We will have four or five people starting out once a week around dusk walking the neighborhood with a graffiti cleanup kit,” said Michael O’Connor, the head of the Brooklyn Action Corps in Portland.

    The rise in graffiti has stirred concern among officials who already feared budget cuts would threaten eradication efforts.

    “Cities don’t have the budgets they once had for cleanup,” said William J. Bratton, who served as police commissioner in New York and Los Angeles. “Police forces don’t have the resources they once had for enforcement.”

    Ian Lovett contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

    Friday, July 08, 2011

    Minnesota Government Shutdown

    Government Shutdown Causes Problems for Minnesota Nonprofits

    As the partial shutdown of Minnesota's state government enters its second week, many nonprofits are feeling the budgetary squeeze, the MinnPost reports.

    Uncertain how long the shutdown will last, nonprofits in the state are doing what they can to stretch their cash reserves and wondering about their legal obligations to deliver services under a suspended government contract, their obligations to laid-off employees, and whether or not the state will reimburse them for services rendered after the budget stalemate has been resolved. While Kathleen Gearin, chief judge of the Ramsey District Court, issued a ruling last week that aimed to clarify which services would continue to be funded, confusion and uncertainty remain. Indeed, Mikkel Beckmen of St. Stephen's Human Services in Minneapolis told MinnPost that he had received letters from the state informing him it could not guarantee reimbursement for services provided during the shutdown.

    On Tuesday, a number of nonprofit representatives argued before former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz — special master in the shutdown case — that state funding should remain available to nonprofits during the shutdown. At the same time, Governor Mark Dayton sent Blatz a list of "critical" services he thinks should receive funding during the stalemate, including HIV case management, counseling for special education, and services for mental health problems, child care assistance, and victims of crime and violence.

    Like other nonprofit leaders, Liz Kuoppala, who heads the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, argued for continued funding of emergency shelters for the homeless and battered. "They're holding on," she said, "but they don't know how long they can hold on."

    Boyd, Cynthia. “Minnesota's Nonprofits Feel the Pain of Government Shutdown.” MinnPost.com 7/06/11.

    Primary Subject: Public Affairs
    Secondary Subject(s): Civil Society, Human Services
    Location(s): Minnesota

    Metropolitan Cooperation and Administration in Mexico

    The Role of Metropolitan Cooperation and Administrative Capacity in Subnational Debt Dynamics: Evidence From Municipal Mexico Authors ...