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Sep 02
2010

Rebuilding in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , volunteer , poverty , peace , nonprofit orgs , land rights , international , housing , history , government , families , economy , current events , construction , activism

Bruce Robinson

Of all the international hot spots where disaster assistance workers were needed last summer, Kyrgyzstan didn’t get a lot of attention. But that’s where one local volunteer spent most of July, working on rebuilding after a regime change and a spate of internal ethnic conflict.

cotton.jpgOver the past 11 years,  Chris and John Mason, co-owners of Emtu Winery in Forestville, have regularly traveled to distant, damaged parts of the world to aid in disaster relief efforts, regardless of the source of the troubles. (Here, John pauses for a picture with a cotton vendor in Osh, Kyrgyrzstan.)

As shown in this map, Kyrgyzstan lies mostly between China, to the south and east, and Kazakhstan on the north. But the southwestern bornder withUzbekistan and  Tajikistan is a cartographical jigsaw, whihc John Mason says was deliberately drawn to heighten historic mistrust between the ethnic Kyrgis and Uzbeks.
 
The ancient "Silk Road" passes through much of Kygyrstan, which John Mason found to be a beautiful and especially hospitable land.
kyrgyzstan.jpg 
 

 


 

 

Jul 07
2010

Golden Gate Bridge History

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , speaker , ocean , history , finances , construction , coast , California , author

Bruce Robinson
gg_cover.jpgEven though we may have seen and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge many times, it’s hard not to be impressed each time by its distinctive color and historic profile. The story behind it is equally impressive.

kstarr.jpgKevin Starr,As a native San Franciscan, Kevin Starr has spent most of his life within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, and seen it from just about every possible perspective, even from below while swimming beneath the span. But there is one vantage point he has not tried.

The building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a popular subject for photographers of the day, and many of their striking images have endured as popular posters today. Unsurprisingly, Starr has a favorite, seen below.

mn-bridge_worker_0496998673.jpg
Jun 21
2010

Innovation Hub

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , technology , speaker , Sonoma County , research , planning , nonprofit orgs , jobs , Ideas , Green , go green , gadgets , employment , economy , design , construction , carbon , California , business , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

The Business Cluster at Sonoma Mountain Village, an incubator for green entrepreneurs, is getting a boost from the state's Innovation Hub (iHub) initiative for  new companies intended to become a prime source for new, local jobs.

Sustainability looks beyond energy use and building materials, adds Geof  Syphers. He notes that part of their systemic focus at Sonoma Mountain Village, the former Agilent campus on the southern edge of Rohnert Park,  is on water.

The business cluster at Sonoma Mountain Village was one of the first elements of their 200 acre redevelopment project to get up and running, in part because it could make use of existing buildings there, explains Chief Sustainability Officer Geof Syphers. But he is also looking ahead to the new residential construction that will dramatically transform the site.

One of the eye-catching aspects of the event yesterday was a demonstration module for Pix2o, one of the start-ups in the Business Cluster that Executive Director Michael Newell says is closest to bringing their product to market.

The full roster of Business Cluster members is available here.

 

 

 

 

May 10
2010

Affordable Housing Week

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Sonoma County , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , legislation , housing , homeless , government , finances , families , economy , construction , Congress , California , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

  It isn’t getting any easier to build affordable housing in California. But the need for it is continuing to grow all the same.

Cities across Sonoma County have done an admirable job of meeting their goals for creating affordable housing, as specified in the Housing Elements of their respective General Plans, Diane Spaulding (left)  told the Sonoma County Housing Coalition on Monday.  But a close examination of those housing numbers reveals that, even with good intentions and political will, building units for low and very low income families remains difficult.

Finding funding for affordable housing in the California budget will be especially challenging this year, but the demand for it is continuing to grow. In a “new normal” world, Spaulding suggests, the solution may lie in creating ways to mesh the housing need with other social goals.

Diane Spaulding is the Executive Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. She spoke at the kickoff breakfast Monday for the Sonoma County Housing Coalition's annual Affordable Housing Week.  See the full list of Affordable Housing Week activities here.  You can read the Coalition's  annual Housing Progress Report for 2009 here.

 

 

 

 

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