Wednesday, June 25, 2008


There is a unit for sale in the Princeton Co-op on 15th in Capitol Hill, immediately south of Howell. It's a remodeled top floor unit with green features, such as low VOC paint, bamboo and cork flooring, and a small energy efficient dishwasher. For more info, click here.

And the asking price is totally reasonable: $205,000. There are also links to the specialty banks that do share loans for co-ops.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thanks, Max

So, co-op's often appeal to people who are looking for a cheaper place to live vs people looking for an investment (use vs investment value).

Above is part of a comment from Max, who left a few comments on this site on Monday. I think he gets straight to the essence of what I'm suggesting we do: build community-developed, affordable, green, multifamily housing (my list of adjectives is ever-expanding). The point here isn't to buy into a condo/townhouse as a starter home, sell it for a $100k profit in a year, then buy something nicer, ad infinitum; it is to create a community, that's easy on the earth and reasonably priced: to borrow a phrase from one of Max's links, a development that is "environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable" (Sustainable Community Associates). Circumventing the standard development process which, in Marx's (and probably Max's) thought, means applying abstract labor (marketing, PR, minimum profit margins, aka business), would give the residents more control over the outcome of the project and keep the prices within reach.

He also provided an older link to a similar community development project in Baltimore called Buy a Block. Some of you hippies (just kidding) might call this gentrification posing as community-building and that's a valid point. However, the concept of starting with a group of people that wants an affordable, urban home, and is open to creative methods, is very similar to what I envision.

Meanwhile, on the political front, I'm trying to decide what I think about the Senate's failure to slap Big Oil with windfall profit taxes. As of now, I'm thinking it may be a good thing if it reduces driving in genereal, increases the market for hybrid cars and buries SUVs, and gets more people on transit. Maybe it will help Obama come November?

I was disappointed to hear that the bill also would have taken tax breaks away from oil companies and provided tax incentives for producers of alternative energy (wind, solar, etc). I'm not sure if this would have applied to on-site production, as would likely be applicable to our development, but it's a shame nonetheless.

Monday, June 2, 2008

An email to The Stranger

I sent the following email to Charles Mudede at The Stranger in reponse to a recent article of his about the new Four Seasons in downtown Seattle. He has posted a response on SLOG addressing my concerns.


In reading your "Leaves of Glass" article on the new Four Seasons, I found myself somewhat perplexed. I read Alexandros Washburn’s quote about contemporary virtue “being a concern for nature” as referring not only to the aesthetic aspects of a building, which you celebrated, but also to the functional aspects of the building, which you omitted. I looked around online and found no mention of any "sustainable" features of the building and, assuming this is indeed the case, I would have to conclude that the building's cladding merely projects the image of being concerned with nature, when in reality it is only serves as barrier between the affluent dwellers and the people on the street. Even though the courthouse was built before LEED Silver was required of all federal government buildings, I understand that it incorporates technology to reduce its impact on nature.

I understand you wrote this article as a visual art piece and agree with you that the colors and textures of the skin bring to mind the natural beauty of our region (as does Two Union, magnificently), but I see no virtue in a janus-like facade that advertises one thing while hiding another. Not to mention the fact that the entire building feels like it is snubbing the city and looking out to sea, but that's a completly different discussion.

Admittedly, I could be wrong; the Four Seasons could be a LEED platinum haven for the millionaires but I'd think they be publicizing that information, since that is one of our virtues in this corner of the world.

Thanks for reading and writing.