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Interactive Billboards Let You Experience the Sounds of Faraway Cities

A new series of travel ads has pedestrians using their headphones to engage with the world, rather than block it out.

image via youtube screen capture

When we travel to a new city for the first time, we often tell our friends back home that we’re “off to see the sights.” But, in truth, “the sights” represent just a slim wedge on the spectrum of senses with which we fully take in a new locale. Travel is more than just a visual experience. To really explore someplace new, we must also inhale new scents, taste new foods, and hear the ambient noises of a wholly different environment than what we’re used to.

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There’s No Shame in Being a Foamer

Whether you have a one-track mind or are simply off the rails, this quiz that will ascertain your true love of trains.

Are you a foamer? A railfan? An Amtrak pass-holding, trivia-spouting train geek? Are you the kind of person who delights in the very thought of luxurious sleeper cars? Do you find yourself hypnotized by the rhythmic chug of a diesel engine?

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Why Oysters are Shacking up in Old Subway Cars

States scrap over metal in a race to boast the greenest reef.

In 2001, New York City had over 1,000 outdated subway cars on its hands. When they were first introduced in 1959, the old Redbird trains were gorgeous machines, but after four decades of service, it was time for the battered cars to be permanently retired. But rather than take them to a slag heap to be salvaged for scrap or crushed into little metal cubes, the city took 619 of the cars, stripped them of their windows and oily undercarriages, steam cleaned them, and then hauled the 20,000 pound metal boxes down to Delaware on a freighter ship. Then they dumped them all into the sea.

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How to Green Your Holiday Travel

I've come to think of getting to Christmas as another part of the season's indulgence. But there are ways to get home and hold onto green principles.


Each of the past three years, I've made the environmentally irresponsible choice to drive to Michigan for Christmas. I'm a relative newbie to Christmas: Growing up, my family celebrated more Jewish Christmases, with Chinese food and a movie, than we did traditional Christmases with the Catholic side of the family. The Christmas I celebrate now, with my boyfriend's family, is full of wonderful indulgences: cookies and wine and piles of wrapping paper and a Christmas lamb roast. While I wouldn't give any of that up, I've come to think of getting there as another part of the season's indulgence. The drive from New York to Ann Arbor takes 10 hours and burns multiple tanks of gas, which, as a city dweller, I don't do very often.

I've heard rumors of hardy souls who turn down a ticket home for the holidays in order to keep their carbon footprint low. But no one I know can resist the lure of family (or, alternately, the pressure of parentally induced guilt), whether they're headed for a fireside Christmas at home or a nondenominational bake in the sun in Mexico. Without practicing extreme self-denial, though, there are ways to indulge in a holiday getaway—no matter what mode of transportation you're using—and still hold onto the green principles you abide by the other 11 months of the year.

Planes. A handful of airlines have made the switch from jet fuels to biofuels, the best green option for air travel, but biofueled commercial flights are still a rarity. If your holiday plans include European travel, KLM has some flights on its Amsterdam-Paris route that burn a biofuel blend, and Lufthansa uses biosynthetic kerosene on its Frankfurt-Hamburg service. For most trips, though, the greenest flight is the most direct one. Because it takes more energy to get a plane into the air than to keep it there, every takeoff and landing increases the carbon footprint of a plane trip.

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How Will High-Speed Rail Impact Los Angeles?

Worried about Carmageddon? Come to this conversation about high-speed rail and envision a better transportation future for L.A.!

With Carmageddon right around the corner, there's no better time to talk about Los Angeles's desperate need for better transit options. The Van Alen Institute is coming to town to showcase the winners of their competition, Life at the Speed of Rail, and they're hosting a panel at Caltrans to talk about the role of design in California's high-speed rail future. We're thrilled to sponsor this event that focuses on how high-speed rail will change L.A., from shifting the city away from car culture to creating a massive transportation hub in downtown.

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How to Sell High-Speed Rail, Mad Men Style

Watch the Mad Men geniuses of marketing brainstorm ways to sell America on high-speed rail.

It's totally perplexing, but high-speed rail has become a controversial issue in American politics. Governors like Florida's Rick Scott have been turning away federal rail funds for purely ideological reasons, ignoring the evidence from around the world that such investment in infrastructure pays huge economic and social dividends.

Like so many good ideas, high-speed rail needs better messaging. Leave it to the brainy manipulators of Mad Men to come up with ways to better sell high-speed rail to Americans. In this Funny or Die short, set in a Madison Avenue office in 1965, watch the mad men brainstorm a high-speed rail campaign.

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