Organic Valley Pasture Butter Wins Gold at Largest Cheese, Butter and...

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 20:53

Record Entries for U.S. Championship Cheese Contest 2015; Organic Valley Best of Class in Butter Category with 99.35 out of 100 Points

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/04/prweb12640378.htm

Categories: Environment

These new ride-sharing apps actually involve sharing rides

Grist.org - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 19:57

Why are companies that enable you to order a cab with a smartphone labeled “ride-sharing” and lumped into the “sharing economy”? They are nothing of the sort, really. You don’t share a ride with an Uber driver any more than you share a cup of coffee with your barista.

From an environmental perspective, this difference is more than just semantic. Every actual shared cab ride — when two people going the same direction are passengers in the same car — means one less car trip and one half the carbon emissions.

And now a number of companies are working on apps that create real shared rides, in all the different kinds of configurations that users might want. Soon you might be able to use one app to carpool to and from work, another to find a ride out to a bar along a route with no bus service, and yet another to share a taxi home.

The last example is the easiest and best developed, as it’s a simple variation on the so-called “ride-sharing” that has already proliferated. Late last year, Uber and Lyft launched services, called UberPool and Lyft Line, for finding someone to share your cab and split your bill in a handful of cities such as New York, LA, and San Francisco. As the Today show reports, “In San Francisco, 50 percent of all Lyft rides are now taken with Lyft Line, according to the company, and the service is most popular in hip neighborhoods like the Mission, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and West Hollywood in Los Angeles.” In December, Sidecar expanded its Sidecar Shared Rides service from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. and Boston.

But some people are uncomfortable with the prospect of riding with random strangers. And Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar rides can be relatively pricey, so even sharing the cost isn’t cheap. That’s why new apps are cropping up to provide opportunities to share rides with people who have a common affiliation, and at lower prices.

I’ve been waiting a long time for real ride-sharing to finally take off. I first learned about the concept years ago from my friend Jon McKinney, who has been working on it for eight years. “In 2007, when I was traveling through Korea, I noticed it would be a regular habit of cab drivers to pick up other riders,” says McKinney. “These guys are doing an ad hoc kind of cab sharing.” Then, one night shortly after his return to New York, he was going home to Brooklyn from a restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and he was struggling to hail a taxi. Thinking to himself that many of these cabs were occupied by people headed in his same direction, some of whom would gladly split the ride with him to save money, McKinney wondered if there could be a way to set that up. Smartphones had just become widespread and McKinney reasoned that a smartphone app could solve the problem. (This was before services like Uber came along.)

So McKinney founded CabCorner in 2009 to help people not just hail cars through their phones but also match up to share rides with other passengers. The big hurdle was that in order to match people to share a ride, the program must have a large number of people using it. Otherwise, users are unlikely to find someone else who is going from the same area to the same area at the same time.

In the last few years the premise of hailing a ride via smartphone has become widely accepted. That means there are far more potential ride-sharers out there, which in turn means it’s more plausible that a service could get the density of users it needs to successfully make a lot of matches. More fundamentally, it means customers have the confidence — borne of positive experience with services like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft — that they can use a smartphone app to set up a ride that is reliable and safe. That’s a precondition to going a step further and finding a passenger to share the backseat with.

The challenge for some potential users is that riding with strangers sounds like it might be unpleasant or sketchy. Some people actually like the opportunity to meet other young, tech-savvy passengers. In fact, since Lyft Line lets users see a picture of a potential ride sharer, Today reports that some people are using it like a dating service. But one person’s new world of fun possibilities is another person’s avalanche of unwanted advances. Even aside from serious concerns, like sexual harassment or assault, there’s just the possibility that you’ll get stuck with someone droning on about their coding skills in a voice like Ben Stein’s.

CabCorner’s approach to overcoming that obstacle is to focus on groups where potential riders have something in common. “Organizing by affinity group is a much lower barrier than sharing rides with strangers,” says Eric Goldwyn, a Columbia University doctoral candidate in urban planning who serves as the company’s director of policy and planning (and is also a friend of mine). “There are some studies that show people are very skeptical of sharing with strangers.” Goldwyn is doing his dissertation on “dollar vans,” the informal buses that serve New York’s immigrant communities. “What I see in dollar-van research is that an affinity group is how you ease people into sharing.”

CabCorner is currently focusing on the natural affinity group of college students. It launched a website specific to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in February 2013 and facilitated about 40 shared rides that spring semester. Ridership petered out in the fall, but the company has just relaunched there under the name CabEasy with plans to expand to more campuses in this coming fall.

Based on the same affinity-group principle, a company called HOVee launched a private Beta app in the Bay Area in January that matches riders for carpooling. Typically, the main impediments to carpooling tend to be concerns about whether you and your fellow-riders will be on the same schedule and having to make awkward conversation with strangers. HOVee, which is focused specifically on commuting, tries to solve that with an algorithm that matches you based not just on your schedule but your profession. It promises to match you with colleagues from your same company or a similar one, and in so doing turn a drawback of carpooling — chatting with strangers — into a networking opportunity.

Other players are working on filling the void between cheap fixed-route buses and expensive taxis. Ford is trying to develop a minibus service, called the Dynamic Social Shuttle, that is optimized for this middle ground of four to 10 passengers. The idea is that riders could request a ride via an app, and the system would distribute them into efficient routes that pick up everyone where they are and drop them off within a five minute walk of where they are going. “The end result is a service faster than the bus, but cheaper than UberX,” says Becky Reeves, a spokesperson for the company. Ford will initially roll out the experiment in London; it intends to have some test vehicles on the ground later this year.

Ford is aware that the market is shifting as millennials show less desire to own cars and drive, so it’s aiming to transition itself from a car company to a company that provides mobility solutions. “We are trying to think of the city as a customer: What does the city need and how can Ford provide it?” says John Abernethy, the project’s lead researcher.

Of course, some people would rather get a cab that takes them all the way to their destination. And some people would find carpooling with a colleague even more annoying than carpooling with a stranger they’ll never have to see again. Others would rather carpool only if it’s acceptable to put on their headphones and drop any pretense of the ride being a social occasion.

But it’s OK if the Dynamic Social Shuttle and HOVee aren’t for everyone. As these and other services grow and proliferate, there will be some for carpooling with colleagues and others for carpooling with strangers, some for people who want to share a cab only with other students, and some that offer lower prices in exchange for sharing a ride with more people.

Younger Americans show a greater willingness than older ones to trade the privacy of their own car for cost-savings, but mass transit still can’t take them everywhere they want to go. Many metro areas have inadequate public transit systems, and many jobs are located in inaccessible suburban office parks. So there’s an opportunity for real ride-sharing to help people get around and put a dent in carbon emissions. And if these services catch on, millennials might be even less likely to buy a car than they already are.

Filed under: Business & Technology, Cities, Living
Categories: Environment

In Chicago, parks are on the upswing

Grist.org - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 19:23

Little Village, streets tightly clenched with two-flats and bodegas, is one of Chicago’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Residents call it the “Mexico of the Midwest,” as it serves as an entry port for Mexican immigrants. While there are large parks on the fringes of Little Village, there are few within the community. It is one of the city’s many “park deserts.” Streets, alleys, and parking lots have long served as makeshift playgrounds, the only green being weeds springing from cracks, or the rare lawn.

For three decades, residents begged for a verdant space where their children might play or where they could sit for a brief reprieve. Finally, weary of waiting for the Chicago Park District to cobble together such a site, they chose to do it themselves.

At month’s end, ground will be broken for Jardincito (Little Garden), a nature park for children on what was once a derelict lot. Donated to the community by the nonprofit land trust NeighborSpace, the 75-by-125-foot park will echo the design and philosophy of early 20th century landscape designer Jens Jensen, who tried to recreate the disappearing Illinois prairie inside the city, by planting native flowers, trees, and shrubs, creating ponds and rivers as well as council rings and natural performance spaces.

“This is for the 8-year-and-under-crowd and is the way of the future,” says Ben Helphand, executive director of NeighborSpace. We will, he’s certain, see more parks akin to Jardincito, designed to reunite children with nature, with hills to roll down and leafy tunnels to explore — “where they can learn to walk on a path and not asphalt.”

Jardincito is just one small piece of a massive regreening underway in Chicago that’s being driven by both community groups and government leaders. City officials want Chicago, already celebrated for its architecture, to be recognized as a city of world-class landscape architecture as well. Chicago is home to 570 parks, of which a quarter are historic landmarks, designed by the likes of Jensen, Frederick Law Olmsted, and William LeBaron Jenney.

“We are the richest city in the world in terms of park facilities, amenities, and resources,” says Julia Bachrach, historian for the Chicago Park District. “It’s an embarrassment of riches. Living near Jensen’s Columbus or Humbolt parks is like having a Mona Lisa in your back yard.”

But as the story in Little Village shows, not all neighborhoods have benefited from those riches. Now, though, the parks movement hopes to correct that, making up for the wrongs created by racism, rapid growth, and for negligence in the early 1980s. That’s when the U.S. Department of Justice sued the Chicago Park District for discrimination in its allocation of recreational and park services, neglecting parks in both Hispanic and black neighborhoods. Improving and creating parks, city officials say, will slash crime rates, offer youth recreational opportunities, and instill neighborhood pride.

Chicago Historical Society

Nationally, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, stories on the death of our parks were rampant. In Chicago, Lincoln and Grant parks conjured up images of demonstrations against the Vietnam War and the riots “The Whole World is Watching” during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

But Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring awakening the environmental movement and the emergence of Earth Day later led to a flurry of park advocacy groups such as Chicago’s Friends of the Parks. These groups shone a spotlight on years of park neglect, not only in upkeep, but in who had access to parks — and the poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods that had long been forgotten.

Resurrection of parks in the Windy City began with a force under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who began to undo damage wrought by his father when he was mayor. After many visits to Europe, Daley sought to bring back the city’s boulevards, filling them with islands of blooming flowers and trees like those in Paris. Daley helped set plans in motion for improving lakefront greenspace, cleaning up the Chicago River, and building a riverwalk. His shining moments included seeing Millennium Park open to the public in 2004.

Early efforts at restoring parks were not always successful, however. Hasty upgrades blurred gang boundaries, especially along Chicago’s West Side, many of which divide land in a city park where the only mutual territory might be a bridge. In 2011, the situation was still bad enough that the Chicago Tribune ran an article headlined “Cramped Chicago: Half of the city’s 2.9 million residents live in park-poor areas.”

These days, before altering or creating a park, the city spends a significant amount of time gathering community input, says Rob Rejman, director of planning and construction for the park district. “Needs shift by block,” he says.

Trust for Public Land

The city’s park boom has escalated under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wants to have a park within 10 minutes walking distance of every resident’s home, and two acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Under Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program, the city has set out to rejuvenate 500 neighborhood parks; so far, 300 have been completed.

Expansions and renovations are planned or underway at both large and small parks. Two new parks will be formally unveiled this spring: the rails-to-trails 606 (formerly known as the Bloomingdale trail) that wends through several diverse neighborhoods, and the 20-acre Maggie Daley Park, located in the heart of the city near Millennium Park, and known for its ice skating ribbon. Daniel Burnham’s Northerly Island, a 91-acre peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan, is being turned into a multi-nature habitat.

Also in the works: The University of Chicago, on the city’s South Side, has made a bid to put the Obama Presidential Library in one of two Olmsted-designed parks: Jackson Park, festooned with lagoons and a wooded island, or Washington Park, with a large meadow and lake. A 140-acre parcel of Jackson park is already under renovation. Known as Project 120, it promotes Olmsted’s original vision for the park by adding 12 new ponds for dragonflies, amphibians, and mudpuppies, new islands, a million wildflowers, and 330,000 shrubs, plus a controversial art installation by Yoko Ono.

None, however, seem to match the beauty behind Little Village’s Jardincito. From this small, barren city lot, a host of trees and native flowers and shrubs will grow. Though miniscule compared to the lakefront giants, the park will have space for small children to run barefoot in the grass, to hear and see birds. As Jens Jensen’s designs demand, there will be wonder at every small turn.

The design was influenced by the philosophy of Roger Hart, environmental psychologist and co-director at the City University of New York’s Children’s Environments Research Group, who teaches that all children, especially the disadvantaged, must have access to nature. It will be built and planted by six local members of the nonprofit Student Conservation Association known as the “Jensen Crew” and stewarded by residents of Little Village. NeighborSpace, along with The Student Conservation Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects, is hoping to replicate the park in other Chicago neighborhoods and expand nationally with Jensen crews who are introduced to careers in landscape architecture.

Chicago Park District

That the tiny park reflects Jensen’s vision is befitting. He, too, was an immigrant, Danish-born and working as a street sweeper and tending to the grounds of Humboldt Park before rising to be the dean of American landscape architecture in the 1930s. Like the social activist and reformer Jane Addams, Jensen was keenly aware that the city’s West Side, rife with laborers and industry, lacked the lush parks and green spaces of communities closer to Lake Michigan.

Jensen was way ahead of his time. He promoted urban farming as early as 1908, often growing large community vegetable gardens within his parks as a means to teach children about nature and feed people in the crowded tenement districts. He also proposed that vegetable and fruit gardens be grown on land surrounding factories. Considered a “poet of the prairie, maker of public parks, profit of conservation,” he created parks and spaces as a rebuttal to the encroaching structures of industry.

Jensen understood that a neighborhood, no matter how dense or poor, needs a park filled with nature. “Trees,” he once said, “are much like human beings and enjoy each other’s company. Only a few love to be alone.”

Chicago Park District

Want to learn more about Jensen? Early next year, PBS will air nationally a documentary called Jens Jensen The Living Green by Chicago filmmakers Carey Lundin and Mark Frazel. It will be shown at the New York Botanical Garden on April 22, and the AMC Burbank Theater in L.A. on April 27. Here’s the trailer:

Filed under: Cities, Living
Categories: Environment

Victorian Hotel Vancouver Now Offers Complimentary Breakfast

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

The Victorian era hotel in Vancouver, Victorian Hotel, is now providing complimentary breakfast for guests. More information is available at...

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/04/prweb12639076.htm

Categories: Environment

Media Invited to Attend SAE International 2015 World Congress in...

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

Members of the media are invited to attend the SAE International 2015 World Congress, which will be held April 21-23 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/04/prweb12639587.htm

Categories: Environment

Arctic Oil Spill Response Training Expands SWS Environmental Services...

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

A team from SWS Environmental Services was invited to the North Slope of Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, where they geared up and spent a few days participating in arctic oil spill response...

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/SWSEnvironmentalServices/Arctic-Oil-Spill-Response/prweb12639769.htm

Categories: Environment

Latin American Oilfield Equipment Rental Market is Estimated to Reach...

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

The Latin American oilfield equipment rental market is driven by the increasing drilling activities conducted in this region....

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/oilfield-equipment-rental/market/prweb12636314.htm

Categories: Environment

prAna Introduces New Collection Of Active Swim Tights And Wetsuits

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

Re-Imagined Swimwear Is Flattering, Versatile, And Stays Put

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/pranaswim/2015/prweb12638613.htm

Categories: Environment

New Research Studies Prepared by 9Dimen Research are Now Available at...

PR Web - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:53

Market Publishers Ltd informs that new in-demand market research reports worked out by 9Dimen Research have been added to its catalogue.

(PRWeb April 08, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/04/prweb12639200.htm

Categories: Environment