The Vision for a 21st Century Drive-in

Way out in West Texas, a grand plan for a drive-in movie theater promised to invigorate an entire community.

Photo by Corey Leopold / Flickr

There’s something consistently inspiring about the sky over Marfa, Texas. Between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park and hours away from the nearest big city, the small town of 2,112 serves as the foreground for heavenly views of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and the stars above.

The dramatic setting was featured in the films No Country for Old Men and There Will be Blood. Starting with Donald Judd in the 1970s, Marfa has gained cult status among contemporary artists and their fans, who flock to experience world-class sculptures and installations just as often as they do the overhyped “Marfa Lights” phenomenon.

Marfa, in other words, is a special and wonderful place for stargazing of all kinds.

Fully aware of the magic of the local vista, in 2012 arts organization Ballroom Marfa set out to create a new, unique community performance space that utilizes and engages the landscape.

Image by MOS 2012

And that’s how the idea for the Ballroom Marfa Drive-in was born. The concept proposed to combine some of the best elements of the classic drive-in movie with a world-class outdoor amphitheater.

To realize that vision, the organization enlisted some nationally renowned designers: Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample of New York architecture firm MOS, and landscape architects from OLIN, based out of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. What they conceived was an unexpected blend of the traditional and contemporary that integrates the environment while facilitating community interaction.

In their vision, the base of the structure imitates the “bandshell” concert venue design of the 1920s and 30s, but with an integrated, modern, acoustically sensitive honeycomb design. For the “drive-in” part, a flat screen perches above the shell for film projection. Meanwhile, the design for the grounds that surround the structure calls for a “series of berms” that provide “ideal viewing angles” for the audience, whether they are in cars or on picnic blankets.

Photo by Nan Palmero / Flickr

Ballroom Marfa describes the project as “a combination of a gallery, cinema hall, music hall, theater, and park” designed to “rekindle the community spirit that existed around the original drive-in theaters.”

To house the Drive-in, Presidio County granted a 99-year lease to Ballroom Marfa for a little more than eight acres of the city’s Vizcaino Park. Unfortunately, since then, cost estimates for the construction—about $4.5 million—have come to exceed the organization’s expectations. This year, out of concerns that the fundraising effort would limit Ballroom Marfa’s capacity to carry out its existing programs, the organization’s board voted to “indefinitely defer” the project.

While the drive-in theater renaissance may not start in Marfa after all, Ballroom Marfa, the city and Presidio County are moving forward with cultural programing in Vizcaino Park, including festivals, concerts, and yes, even stargazing.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet