Car-Free Community

Here in Phoenix, the car is king. Wide straight roads, miles of suburbs stretching at least fifty miles east to west, brutal summer temperatures, and a lack of a real urban core mean that people drive a lot.

Almost five million people live here and the population is growing faster than almost any other city in the country. Suburbs are becoming more densely populated. They now offer employment opportunities, industry, hospitals, concert halls, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and access to the airport and university campuses through light rail and bus service.

Is this growth sustainable in a desert that is depleting its groundwater?

Possibly. If we live a different way. Two miles from Arizona State University, the powerhouse that underpins the inner suburb of Tempe, an innovative housing development is going up. This rental community is designed to offer almost everything residents need without getting into a car. In fact, cars will be banned. That is, residents will not be allowed to own cars, or at least bring them into the complex. The idea is that residents will bike, ride share, or travel by the light rail (tram) which stops a few steps from the low-rise development.

Will it work?

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Lovebirds & Valentine’s Cookies

I wish I had a photo of the lovebirds who visit our palm tree. They are tiny, multi-hued, and sweet. 

They seem friendly with the pigeons but flit off when a big black crow alights.

February is when the rosy-faced lovebird starts to gather material for its nest. The birds carry leaves and other bits of vegetation in their tail feathers, which seems an intelligent method of transportation. They love to nest in the fronds of palm trees and the holes in giant saguaros.

It is thought that these African natives (Agapornis roseicollis) first established breeding colonies in the East Valley in the mid-1980s. They were escapee pet birds. The dry climate suits them and they are believed to be the only feral population of these birds in the United States.

Lovebirds got their name because they are monogamous. I have seen them in pairs perched on telephone wires, deep in conversation.

Like most birds, they eat fruit and seeds. They would not appreciate the chocolate vanilla swirl cookies I made for a Valentine’s Brunch last weekend. These were an experiment. I adapted a recipe that called for pink swirls. Using food coloring in the dough did not appeal.,

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At first glance this appears to be a picture of some kind of wisteria. Look again and you see something else.

This beautiful photo won the 17 th International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. If you happen to be in London, the exhibition of winning photographs is at Kew Gardens until March 10th. 

Birdscape by June Sharpe ARPS
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens, 1/350sec at f/5.6, ISO 800. Post-capture: added white fill layer (exclusion blend mode), basic image management in Adobe Photoshop.

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