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Eight Lessons I Learned From Pippi Longstocking

If you don’t recognize Ms. Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter (aka “Pippi”) Longstocking from her books, then you...

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Many, many years ago, as a freshman in college, I had a fairly simple morning commute. After the alarm at ten to nine, I would roll out of bed, brush my teeth, grab a notebook, walk out the door of my dorm building, take three steps, and walk right into Barnard Hall for my 9 a.m. Biology class. Sometimes I changed out of my pajamas, but I usually rolled in dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, a real fashionista in the making. (Ah, the beauty of attending a women’s college!)
In the U.S., most undergraduate students live on or near campus, meaning that they don’t need to worry about the costs, or environmental impact, of commuting to school. Faculty and staff, however, rarely live so close, forcing universities either to build sprawling parking lots or come up with alternative systems of bringing in their employees. Aware of the costs of this kind of construction, as well as the traffic problems that all of these drivers can create, most schools now employ some form of transportation demand —or TDM—programs to lower transportation costs by reducing driving. A few schools, though, are going beyond the basics, developing comprehensive and effective TDMs, and acting as models for campuses all over the country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, considering its overachieving student body, Stanford University’s TDM, which has reduced its faculty and staff commuters from 72% to 42% since 2000, is smart and successful: a perfect model to borrow from. Though the school has had a TDM program since the mid-nineties, it’s current version was launched in late 2002 after Santa Clara County gave it an ultimatum: it would either have to find a way to expand its campus without increasing traffic, contribute financially to improving 15 intersections in the region, or put its plans on hold.
Not the type to shy away from a challenge, Stanford began employing a number of programs to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home. According to Brodie Hamilton, director of parking and transportation at Stanford, “We developed a program that dealt with what I call the ‘yes buts,’ trying to deal with commuters’ barriers.” Looking at the reasons people stayed away from public transportation, they sought solutions. When people would say, “‘I’d use alternative transportation but,’” Hamilton says, they “tried to look at all those barriers and come up with programs that would deal with them.”
So far that has included providing employees with “Go Passes” for unlimited access to CalTrain – driving the commuter rail’s usage by faculty up from 4 percent to over 22 percent—as well as bringing a 61-car Zipcar program onto campus. The “Commute Club” is another popular option, paying anyone who doesn’t buy a parking permit $300 in cash. That Club has grown from 3500 members in 2000 to over 8300. But not everything has been successful. One transit pass would allow people in the East Bay to connect to CalTrain through BART, another public transportation line. “We thought this was just going to be fabulous,” Hamilton says, “but it went over like a lead balloon.”
The key to Stanford’s success, according to Hamilton, is providing variety and options for commuters. Other schools looking to follow Stanford’s lead should do the same. “Try to put together something that has many pieces and that will support the commuter in so many different ways. There are often so many smaller pieces that by implementing those, you deal with a lot of the barriers that commuters are faced with.”
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Mysterious Anthony Foxx: Who Is Obama’s New Transportation Secretary and What Will He Do?

When President Obama announced Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as his nominee for Secretary of Transportation last week, the New York Times noted...

When President Obama announced Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as his nominee for Secretary of Transportation last week, the New York Times noted the pick for adding “a rising young African-American from the South to balance out a cabinet criticized for a lack of diversity,” and The Washington Post pointed out that if Foxx is confirmed, “the Cabinet may be getting a little spryer,” as the 42-year-old would be the Cabinet’s youngest member. But neither of these descriptions tells us anything about what Mr. Foxx would do, if confirmed, as Obama’s new Secretary of Transportation.

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A Public Space Recycling Program That Relies on People Power, Not Just Great Design

If you have ever spent the day carrying around an empty soda bottle or an old magazine you've read cover-to-cover, unsuccessfully looking for a...

If you have ever spent the day carrying around an empty soda bottle or an old magazine you've read cover-to-cover, unsuccessfully looking for a recycling bin on every corner, then you've already experienced firsthand the problem green entrepreneurs Aaron Klein and Steven Goldenberg set out to solve with their community based recycling business, Greener Corners. When they started in 2009, Klein noticed that while there were ample recycling options for homes and buildings, including programs like curbside recycling and recycling bins in schools, “there was no attention being paid to doing this in public areas like downtown areas and parks,” he said.

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How I Built a Brunch Around a Plant Foraged From the Banks of the East River

As I've done on so many other New York City Saturdays, this past weekend I had the pleasure of enjoying a late brunch with my good friend (and...

As I've done on so many other New York City Saturdays, this past weekend I had the pleasure of enjoying a late brunch with my good friend (and new neighbor), Bianca. Only this time, instead of hitting the latest neighborhood brunch spot or even just grabbing bagels and coffee at a nearby deli, I came over with a bag full of ingredients to cook my standard weekend breakfast. But in addition to the usual organic eggs, spinach, and mushrooms from the supermarket, and the giant croissant from corner market, I also had the field garlic I had uprooted that morning with my own two hands, and one large stick, just a few blocks away in the East River Park.

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Back in 2006, after the initial excitement over the potential of wind energy began to die down, so-called “experts” suddenly noticed a little problem with wind – it’s unpredictable – and forecasted doom.

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