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Helping the Homeless in Seattle

In 2011, Seattle architect Rex Hohlbein began taking pictures of people living on the street and posting the photographs on a Facebook page. He was trying to capture the stories behind the stereotypes, and in a few years the project had blossomed into a non-profit advocacy group called Facing Homelessness. Its motto was “Just Say Hello.” Hohlbein’s goal was to break down the negative stereotypes that divided homeless people from everyone else. In time, his architectural practice became a kind of hangout where people could stop in, have a cup of coffee, use the bathroom, and pass the time of…

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Building Community to End Homelessness

My foot catches on an uneven bit of sidewalk, and I fly head-first towards the pavement. I hang flailing in the air for what seems like an eternity – then land hard on my hands and elbows and knees. Before I can even brush myself off, strangers appear out of nowhere, sincerely concerned, asking if I am OK, offering help and advice. It seems that my fall triggers an empathy instinct, and a helping reflex. I am pretty clumsy, and once a year or so I unintentionally test the empathy and helping reflex of those around me with a spectacular…

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Never Home Alone

Every single one of us — those of us who lives indoors — is cohabiting with all manner of living uninvited guests: bacteria, fungi, insects, plants, and even rodents. And many of them appear “in nature” only inside our homes. Wouldn’t the healthiest home be the one purged of all these interlopers? The answer, according to Rob Dunn, is a resounding no. Rob Dunn, professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, has been researching this particular habitat — our homes — for most of his professional career. His new book, Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel…

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Electric Heat Pumps Can Slash Emissions in California Homes

Written in collaboration with Anna Brockway from the Energy & Resources Group at the University of California Berkeley. Using high-efficiency electric heat pumps instead of gas for residential heating needs in California could cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half or more, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council  analysis published in the Electricity Journal. This makes heat pumps an important tool to help achieve California’s ambitious goals to cut GHG emissions 40% by 2030, achieve carbon-neutrality by 2045, and improve air quality in its urban areas — which rank among the most polluted in the country. We found…

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State Renewable Energy Goals Fall Short, Analysis Finds

Methane from farm animals that is burned to produce electricity is counted toward renewable energy goals in a number of states. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture) More than half of all U.S. states have adopted renewable energy goals, but many allow dirty sources of power to be counted and efforts overall are currently too weak to prevent “potentially irreversible” climate change, a new report from Food & Water Watch says. The Washington, D.C., based advocacy group examined the regulatory fine print of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in 29 states and the District of Columbia and concluded that only a handful…

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Clean Transportation Is the Northeast’s Next Frontier

The transportation network in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is a mess, and there is strong public and business support for improvements. (Photo: Lorenz.Markus97 / CC / Flickr) Our transportation system — the way we move around, whether on foot or bike, via car, bus, truck, or train — in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is broken. We spend hours in traffic jams, ride overcrowded and delayed buses and trains, are forced to walk and bike on unsafe streets, and suffer from vehicle-related soot and smog, leading to asthma attacks, respiratory diseases, and lost school and work…

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