Anna

From Intellectual Take Out, via my old year-of-nothing-new gurus, the Minimalists, 15 stats that show Americans are drowning in stuff. (Can you guess how many households rent storage units or how many actually have room to park a car in their garage?)

Rural Studio architecture students are perfecting the $20K house so they are desirable to live in (total eye candy) and run “like high-performance little machines.” (And while they’re at it, they’re charting new territory in mortgages and city building codes in order to go from the drawing board to real-life construction). (P.S. Rural Studio is an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at Auburn University. And it’s worth checking out.)

Marc Edwards, is the guy you probably haven’t heard about who played a crucial role in bringing Flint’s water contamination crisis to the attention of the rest of the world. And he’s been appointed to the newly created “Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee,” tasked with finding a long-term strategy to address the water crisis. Edwards uncovered lead in the city of Washington, DC’s, water supply, leading a crusade to demand better protection for local families, spending thousands of his own money and a good share of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant he won in 2008. After getting no traction with local officials with their complaints about discolored tap water that was making them sick, Flint families found Edwards online and asked for his help. He jumped into action. This guy is a modern day super hero. (He even kind of looks like a Clark Kent.) For icing on the cake, as Washington Post reports, in his day job, “He teaches a course on ethics and heroism at Virginia Tech. He tells his students that everyone has it in them to be heroic.”

Eric

My top recommendation this week is Bloomberg reporter Noah Buhayar’s “Who Owns the Sun?” It’s a look at the emerging power struggle between Warren Buffett, owner of Nevada’s legacy utility, and Elon Musk who is upending the solar industry in the southwest.

Excellent reporting from OPB on the checkered past of the businessmen who want to build a new oil refinery in southwest Washington, and the toxic mess they abandoned at their previous venture.

How do you implode a Bakken oil rail tank car? The good folks at Mythbusters travel to eastern Oregon to undertake one of the biggest productions they’ve ever done. “It seems impossible that it could crush like a tin can,” says the narrator. Yet it’s not actually impossible.

Kristin

Want your kid to do better than you? Move to a high density city. More density equals more opportunity and greater opportunity for upward mobility.

  • The Supreme Court legalized demand response (cutting electricity use instead of powering up an expensive and potentially polluting power plant). Hooray!

    Passive House + Low income housing = hooray for Pennsylvania!

    Rich people make more of their money from “unearned income” (capital gains) compared to the rest of us who depend on “earned income” (working). Yet economists mostly ignore unearned income. Whaa…??!!

    Because of gerrymandering, Ds need to win 55% of the vote to get a majority of the seats in Congress.

    Keiko

    There is not nearly enough low-income housing in Seattle to meet the need. Renters are on the verge of homelessness, and more than 4,500 people sleep outside across King County, a 19 percent increase over the last year. So, what can be done?! This week Mayor Ed Murray proposed a levy to fund housing projects for low-income and formerly homeless people, a principal step towards building an affordable and livable city.