Jimmy Stewart Talks Solar Power in 1938

Been on a TCM kick lately. Capra's Oscar-winning 1938 film You Can't Take it With You was on last night. In this clip, Jimmy Stewart's character Tony talks about his longtime dream of harnessing the sun to make energy and his regrets about going into banking. You're ahead of your time, Tony! And with the awesome Jean Arthur, the duo better known for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Walking the Plank with Eyes Wide Open

Been getting a number of musician Gotye's songs stuck in my head lately. I heard Eyes Wide Open lots of times before realizing it had an environmental message. Check it:


Gotye talks about the song in a "making of" video:
Eyes Wide Open is a dystopian vision that probably couldn't be more at odds with the place I recorded it. My parents have a beautiful block of land on the Mornington Penninsula in Victoria and its one of my favorite places in the world... maybe its some kind of subconscious fear of loosing a place like that in my life, like some weird sense of inevitability that indirectly inspired these apocalyptic musings.

"The Most Fully-Realized American Place"

Last month I reviewed Taubman's new photography book Detroit: 138 Square Miles. In it, Jerry Herron describes Detroit as "the most fully-realized American place", a place created by leaving and forgetting, by immigrating "moment by moment to someplace we hadn't dreamed of yet", a place where we sacrificed the past for material plenty.

My friend Anoop (who used to live in Detroit) recently pointed me to this video which illustrates those ideas in a video format. On the one hand, Michigan occasionally seems like a mundane place to me (as the place we grow up often seems to be). On the other hand, stepping away for awhile, it really is an interesting, almost mythic place when viewed through the lens of industrial history:

You've Been Negotiating All My Life

As many expected, the high-level posturing at COP 17 in Durban has been a disappointment - sane people recognize that the 2020 date proposed for a legally binding deal for carbon reduction simply doesn't match the urgency that the scientific findings are demanding of us. Those who point this out, notably the youth contingent most effected by these negotiations, are being led away in handcuffs. Here are two videos from today, the first of Anjali Appadurai was just posted on the 350.org Facebook page and is worth the viral treatment:


And here's video of the protest this morning:


Talks were expected to conclude today, but have run over until a negotiation can be reached. The Guardian has been keeping a succinct play-by-play of developments at COP 17.

Terraset Elementary School Green Roof

During one of my neighborhood walks, I decided to take a path I hadn't followed before and was delighted to stumble upon one of the coolest green roofs I've ever seen. "Green roof" is a bit limiting though: it might be more appropriate to say that the elementary school is built under ground (hence "terra set") like something out of The Hobbit. In fact, you can walk right onto the sloping, grassy roof from ground level on both sides. The roof features trees, a vegetable garden and pedestrian bridges that connect to the school's parking lot.

According to the school's website, Terraset was built in 1977 at the height of the energy crisis and originally featured solar panels (they weren't sited properly and ended up succumbing to weather damage and were removed). Decades later, the school still benefits from energy savings due to its unique design.