Evolution of a Sustainable City

This September, I set up a display on the Central Library’s 7th floor called “Sustainable Cities” to complement a traveling exhibition we were showing at the time elsewhere in the building. The display featured books and documentaries about how to design and build an urban environment that would offer more economic and energy security, better transportation options, cleaner air, and higher quality of life than current cities generally do.

Just for fun, I designed the display about sustainable cities in the form of a miniature sustainable city. Between the books and DVDs on their traditional wire stands there were paper apartment buildings, a cloth representing green space, a lake made from a blue placemat, tiny paper bicyclists, and a person or two in a wheel chair to remind us of the need for accessibility. We then challenged patrons with this question:

What would we see in YOUR sustainable city?

Right away, people began to tell us.

A sustainable city, as we envisioned it, is one that we create together through communal efforts of innovation and imagination. Therefore, as each person told us what they would include in a sustainable city, we evolved both the paper city and the items in the display right along with their input. Over the course of several weeks, things changed in beautiful and significant ways.

“It needs solar power.”

We added a solar cell and beefed up our representation of alternative urban energy sources.

“It should be pet friendly! Pets help you live longer and improve quality of life.”

Corgis began to frolic alongside our happy joggers.

There should be p-patches and vertical gardens, greenways with wildlife – rabbits and birds!”

We added this P-patch to the paper city, plus books on vertical gardening, city farming, and green roofs, then placed an origami crane in the lake.

“Make sure it’s walkable, bikeable, and accessible.”

Done. We already had both bikes and humans of varying sizes, genders, and abilities in the display, but we added more material on bicycle commuting and looked for books with more focus on accessible urban design.

“Give us electric buses and trains.”

To the delight of dozens of patrons—mostly adults—we mentioned this display to our colleagues at Sound Transit and they provided genuine Link Light Rail models for the elevated train tracks in our sustainable city. (Thank you!)

 The idea of a truly sustainable city—with clean energy, accessible infrastructure, and a good mix of transportation options—sometimes seems like an unattainable dream. Not only do technology and resources have to be found and developed, but the people who make decisions for that city need to talk to local people, listen well to their input, and then incorporate their dreams and goals into the final product. It delights me that in our own small way, we showed how this can happen. Our paper city started out simple and somewhat dry, but when the community became engaged and lent their ideas and support, it blossomed into something much richer. It was so much fun, and gave such a feeling of hope, to see what we could come up with when we put our heads together.

~posted by Anne C.



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Lovecraft Revisited

Confession: I have never read anything by legendary horror/fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft. And I am unlikely to do so going forward. What I have been doing is reading a bunch of books inspired by Lovecraft. I’m sure that there are references and nuances I’m missing, but I’ve really been enjoying these books on their own merit. So whether you’re a Lovecraft devotee, or if you’ve never heard of him before, here are a few recent Lovecraftian novels to check out.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff – Chicago, 1954. 22 year old African American veteran Atticus Turner discovers his father is missing and sets out with his Uncle George and childhood friend Letitia to find him. They stumble upon a secret cabal run by the Braithwhite family, who have ritualistic designs on Atticus. And that’s just the first chapter! What follows is are chapters focusing on different members of Atticus’ family and friend circle over the next year as they grapple with Braithwhite’s schemes, cursed dolls, haunted houses, and Jim Crow-era racism. Continue reading

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Read Local: 2017 Washington Book Award winners

Here’s to the finalists and winners of the 2017 Washington State Book Awards, celebrating books and their creators that speak to the creative talent and literary legacy of our state. More than 200 books were considered for this year’s awards.

Taking home the top awards on October 14, 2017, in eight categories were:

Continue reading

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THE CRUCIBLE: Beyond the Theatre

ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) presents THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller from October 13 to November 12, 2017. THE CRUCIBLE is Miller’s powerful, classic play about the Salem witch trials and a compelling allegory for the political repression of the McCarthy era. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and films to enhance your experience of the show: ACT Theatre’s THE CRUCIBLE: Beyond the Theatre.

One of the squares on this year’s Summer Book Bingo was “Reread a book you read in school.” Knowing that ACT would be staging a production of Miller’s famous play in the fall, I picked THE CRUCIBLE, which I first read in high school.

I hadn’t revisited the play since then, so I was caught off guard by the liberties Miller took with the historical record. For example, he depicts Abigail Williams, one of the first girls to raise accusations of witchcraft, as a conniving 17-year-old temptress who seduced the thirty-something married farmer John Proctor. In reality, Williams was 11 years old and Proctor was 60 at the time of the trials and there is no evidence that they knew each other before the trials began, much the less had an affair.

Playgoers who want a more accurate account of the Salem witch trials should check out Stacy Schiff’s detailed and thought-provoking history, The Witches: Salem, 1692. Another book, Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by independent scholar Marilynne Roach, also provides nuanced and engrossing portraits of several women at the center of this shameful episode in American history. Continue reading

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You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover!

By blind jury, fifty iconic books were selected for inclusion into the OPEN●SET exhibition now on view at the Central Library until October 28.

This exhibit showcases finely crafted bookbinding. Unlike mass produced books, these handbound books will last for centuries! The title of the show is a clue to the kinds of covers that have been created. Open means that the artist had free reign to create a cover of their choosing. Set refers to a specific title, in this case David Esslemont’s out-of-print title, Inside the Book.  Bookbinders were charged with designing a cover for the contents of a book that shows you how to design, print and publish your own book. Continue reading

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Where It’s At: Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas

Some of the most exciting and fresh voices in science fiction and fantasy are coming out in short form. While short stories have long been where authors develop their craft and where innovation happens in the genre, novellas are currently a hot commodity for authors who are challenging the status quo. Novellas are where women, writers of color and LGBTQIA voices and characters are breaking through what has long been a white, male-dominated genre.

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Some of my favorite recent science fiction and fantasy novellas have come from Tor.com publishing. Here are some to try: Continue reading

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How to Evaluate and Select a Franchise

Today’s guest post is by Jeff Levy. Levy is a nationally recognized consultant and coach to individuals interested in exploring self-employment. Jeff shares from his wealth of business experience as a founding member of Windswept Capital, President and COO of Spider Staging Corporation, an officer at Flow International, and Executive VP and principal of SafeWorks LLC.

As a business coach, Jeff has helped several hundred people begin their first business. He serves on several college entrepreneurial advisory boards and is a regular guest speaker at SCORE and the Women’s Business Center. He is also the co-author of Making the Jump Into Small Business Ownership.

Levy has led a number of small business seminars with the Library, and we are thrilled to host him again for two exciting business seminars in October and November:

Your Business – Start Smart: October 11, 6-8 pm, Rainier Beach Branch
Your Business – Franchise Smart
: November 8, 6-8 pm, Delridge Branch

For additional information about franchising, see our resource list: L2B: Franchising. Continue reading

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