While Chuck and his pal Andrew Burleson are busy spreading the Strong Towns message throughout Idaho, I’ve been given the honor of producing this week's Friday News Digest.  Hope ya’ll enjoy it. 

  • Let’s kick it off with, “The Emergence of Container Urbanism.”  The repurposing of shipping containers allow for small, temporary, and portable spaces which are perfect for start-ups.  As the businesses prosper, they are able to move into traditional storefronts and the shipping containers can be reused by new start-ups. 

"With openings selectively punched into their sides, canopies sprouting from the furrows and ridges of their corrugated steel surfaces, and ornaments organically growing as handles, latches and locking bars, the eight-by-twenty-foot containers host a clothing boutique, beer garden, espresso café, ice-cream parlor and bicycle rental business, as well as cooking, cleaning and storage facilities and set of restrooms. Facing each other or juxtaposed at right angles, the boxes carve intimate outdoor spaces that appear as handcrafted as the products sold by Proxy’s businesses."

  • Converting vacant retail spaces into residential units is not a new concept, but I thought this one was particularly cool: Two stories of micro-apartments above ground floor micro-retail spaces in a mall constructed in 1828.  You won’t find any STROADs here.

"Working with J. Michael Abbott of Northeast Collaborative Architects, developer Evan Granoff sliced up the Arcade’s two upper floors into 48 apartments. Thirty-eight are micro—between 225 and 450 square feet—a scale that brings the new spaces closer in line with the mall’s 1828 design, according to Granoff." 

  • Along the same lines as the shipping container businesses, here is an ultra mobile residential alternative.

"The so-called Tricycle House is fully equipped with an integrated sink, water tank, bathtub and stove. An innovative bed transforms into a dining table and a bench. The walls are built from translucent foldable plastic that lets in the sunlight during the day and the light from the streets during the evening."

  • Our friend Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has discovered a natural traffic calming phenomenon spreading across the northern states, “the snowy neck down.”  It’s similar in nature (no pun intended) to “desire paths,” only it has the exact opposite effect.

"With it having been over a week since we had our last big snowfall, I had been noticing some of the most dramatic examples of neckdowns & curb extensions made out of the fluffy white stuff - now hard as concrete - which brought a real sense of calm to crossing some streets in Jackson Heights, Queens."

  • I’m probably the last 20-something-year-old to join the “smart phone revolution” but every time I see new “apps” like this one, I question whether or not I should join the madness.  What an ingenious way to play cat and mouse with the parking patrol.

"SpotAgent uses real-time parking citation data from the city to calculate your risk of getting a ticket at any given location in Baltimore. The city’s data includes the date, time and a rough address (as well as license plate info) for every parking ticket handed out in the city in the past year."

  • And finally, the latest craze sweeping the country- the Harlem Shake- from my favorite city in Minnesota.  Have a nice weekend everyone, and stay warm!