Following up the tools that I put together for exploring Jerusalem voter turnout data, I published a little piece on Medium exploring the results.
Read A Tale of Three Cities.
October 22 saw municipal elections throughout Israel. The contests for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were both hard fought – both for mayor and for the city council. The map applications here let you explore where in the city the votes for each candidate and party came from, and to compare the performance of multiple parties in fine detail.
One more map helps to tell the story of Jerusalem’s election. I hope to write an article just focusing on the dynamics shown here in the map of Jerusalem Voter Turnout.
Livehoods uses social media check-ins, mainly from Foursquare, to show the neighborhoods of a city as they are actually lived.
It’s a good idea, and decent execution, but once I scratched the surface, it just didn’t jive with my lived experience.
When I’m in Brooklyn, I happen to land at the intersection of three of their hoods. It’s true, these are three different neighborhoods culturally, and a preponderance of people probably see the lines on the Livehoods map as a psychological boundary. Still, my life takes me into all of them – I crash in one and work just over the line in the other, walking back and forth, dropping in to stores along the way. I’m betting that most people do something similar – either with two neighboring neighborhoods or on two (or more) ends of a subway line.
From another angle, there are pieces of a single hood that are very relevant to me, and other places, physically proximate, that might as well be on another planet. Coffee shop next door? relevant. Child and Family services next door? Not so much. But a coffee shop one hood over? Also relevant.
There are likely many neighborhoods coexisting in the same space, layered on top of each other. Some of those neighborhoods will overlap strongly, and some won’t overlap at all. Some neighborhoods may not even be physically contiguous – the neighborhood of fine-art goers, for example, or the neighborhood of frequent business travelers. Is the neighborhood of a car owner similar to the neighborhood of a bike-rider? How similar?
What this needs is a demographic or psycho-graphic axis of some-sort, or even cooler – demographic and psycho-graphic derived entirely from the check-in data itself.
A beautiful business model, and a beautiful place.
The Rebuilding Center on Mississippi Avenue in Portland Oregon takes donations of no-longer-wanted material from houses that are being remodeled or demolished. Then they sell it, cheap, to folks who can reuse it. They’ve got everything – two or three warehouses packed in with appliances, lumber, fixtures, tile – pretty much anything you could want.
I’d love to see this business model in every city.
A bunch of pics at flickr
And that beautiful entrance way? City Repair
I’m in Berkeley, and my old friend Dan Rosen has been gracious enough to show me around a bit. Dan is the CEO of Solar Mosaic – a young solar company on an interesting journey.
The development of Solar Mosaic is an example of what happens when passion and commitment lead the show. The company grew from a desire on the part of its co-founders – Rosen and Billy Parish – to enable and encourage solar in whatever ways they could.
At first, they crowd sourced no-interest loans for community solar projects. They put 28.8kW of solar panels on top of The Asian Resource Center in Oakland, and continued to do the same in a small handful of other community projects. As they waded into the field, they started to sense a larger opportunity – distributed investment.
They’re about to launch a platform that will allow anybody to invest in solar projects at a respectable rate of return. The solar developers will get loans for their projects at rates below what they can get from the bank. Solar Mosaic takes a modest fee, and everyone is happy – except the banks.
The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act that is making its way through Congress points to similar ideas – crowd-venture funding and community-owned businesses. Although they’d love to see the law pass, Solar Mosaic isn’t putting all their eggs in that basket – their investment instruments will be approved by the SEC under current laws.
What’s beautiful about what happening here is that the company’s commitment to making a difference led them into a space that they didn’t imagine they would enter. They’ll be enabling development of solar infrastructure, as they originally hoped, but they’ll be doing much more – creating a disruptive funding model that cuts out the middle-man and promises to change the way we build.
When John VanDeusen moved in across the street from his friend Christian Bradley on Joe Sayers avenue in Austin, the block looked like any other low-density urban block – a street, driveways, grass on the lawns, nothing to mark it as unusual. A few short months later, Joe Sayers avenue is anything but usual.
They call it Food is Free and the idea couldn’t be simpler: Grow your own food. Already, two thirds of the houses on the block have garden beds out front, and words is spreading quick. Beds are showing up in neighboring blocks, and “Food is Free” bumper stickers are being seen all over the city.
For water-scarce Austin, the key is the wicking bed. Instead of planting the seeds right in the earth, where they’d have to be watered nearly every day, they’re creating beds with simple water reservoirs underneath the soil. It sounds tricky, but it really couldn’t be easier. Put a layer of crushed glass underneath the soil and you have a water reservoir. The water stays cool, doesn’t evaporate, and the beds only have to be watered once every two weeks.
One of the beautiful things about the whole project is that it’s turning waste streams into food. The beds are built out of used wooden pallets and post-consumer crushed glass. John has 6 compost piles on his lawn, and anyone is welcome to throw their organic waste on the pile. Wood chips are leftovers from a local tree removal service. One of the wicking beds was made from leftover political signs. Says John – “This has to be the best use of a political sign, ever.”
To start out, John and Christian built one wicking bed, and put a white board up next to it. They wrote a short manifesto, let a lot of open space, and by the end of the week, the whiteboard was filled with email addresses. A street full of food gardens in urban America is cool, but what’s really turning people on are the side effects. Everyone on this block knows each others names, there’s a friendliness to it, and a feeling of shared mission. People are starting to think about their food systems. A quizzical look leads to a hello, a hello to a question, and a question soon leads to a new garden bed.
“We’re learning how to retrofit neighborhoods”, says Christian, looking out over an urban block that is growing into something worth talking about.
[ed: John dropped me a note, pointing out a mistake in my chronology. Here’s what he writes: “Christian moved in after me, I’ve lived on the block for almost 3 years. He moved here in August and this project got kicked off in January. Having support on the block definitely gave the project momentum when I decided to take the plunge with the idea.” Here’s to the support of friends!]