Archive for January, 2008

“Bleed Blue. Live Green.”

I’ll start this post by saying that I absolute loathe Duke Basketball – I have to because I am a UNC fan (and a budding UVA fan). Even though I cheer against Duke in every way possible, I have to give them some credit for their commitment to environmentalism. This Thursday when the Blue Devils play NC State at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the entire student section (even the mascot) will be decked out in Green to raise awareness on sustainability.

The “Green Out” is part of Duke’s participation in Focus the Nation, a national initiative on global warming. According to DukeNews,Duke will purchase carbon offsets equivalent to the electricity, steam and transportation consumed by the game, working in partnership with the renewable-energy company NativeEnergy.”


This is Jim McCloskey’s political cartoon from the January 17th issue of the Daily News Leader. A lot can happen when the public isn’t involved in local decision making.

Starting today there will be a special maps exhibit in the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture building on U.Va.’s central Grounds (near Alderman library entrance). The exhibit will feature Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz’s extensive rare map collection of over 200 maps. Swartz is an Alumni Professor in the University of Rochester’s department of surgery, and he is a renowned cartographic historian. His collection consists of North American maps from 1500 to 1800.

According to UVA Today “included are one of the oldest maps to show the western hemisphere (1508), the first map to show Florida (Hernando Cortés’s 1524 map of Mexico City), and an 18th century map of the Ohio River Valley drawn by then-unknown surveyor George Washington.”

UVA officials also plan on dedicating a map room in Swartz’s honor. The Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz Map Room will be dedicated in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

If you’re in the area, come to UVA and check out the collection — admission is free.

Check out the Daily Progress for more information.

2007 College Endowments

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) annually releases a list of endowments from universities and colleges across the United States. In 2007 Harvard (34.6 billion), Yale ($22.5 billion), and Stanford ($17.16 billion) maintained their spots on the top of the endowment list.

The University of Virginia maintained its spot at #20 with an endowment of $4.37 billion ($3.6 billion in 2006), and James Madison University moved up to #526 from #548 with an endowment worth $50.79 million ($39 million in 2006).

I blogged about this last February, and I’m glad to see that JMU’s endowment increased 29.8%. Once again, endowments are important because they enable public universities to spend money without having to rely on their state governments to supply funding. Right now JMU has to rely on the state legislature for its financial backing, and there is a great deal of uncertainty involved in this process.

Even though UVA is a public school, it does not have to rely state-money for development projects because it receives a lot of private donations. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the John Paul Jones arena was built entirely from private donations.

Nonetheless, good work JMU. Keep up the good work.

Click here to check out the 2006 rankings.

Earlier today a family member sent me a link to Carlos Santos’ article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, “A New Look for an Old Downtown: Harrisonburg Hopes Development Will Foster Revitalization.” This article is referring to the $25 million Urban Exchange project one block east of court square.

According to Santos “Barry Kelley and Andrew Forward, developers who renovated the former Wetsel Seed Co. warehouse near downtown into 36 luxury apartments a couple of years ago, are partners in the mixed-used project…the Urban Exchange project will have 196 residential units, including condominiums and apartments, and about 12,000 square feet of commercial space that could include restaurants and apparel and coffee shops.”

City Council member Charles Chenault estimates the project could bring as many as 400 residents downtown, and the influx of people might attract more stores, restaurants, and residents.

Demolition of the site is scheduled to begin this week, and the project should be completed by spring 2009.

I think that this project is great for the Harrisonburg community because it will invigorate the revitalization process. These upscale, mixed-use apartment buildings are “all the rage” right now, and I think the Urban Exchange will attract more people to Downtown Harrisonburg. The only question is, what kind of people will it attract? Will it attract retired baby boomers that are looking to downsize their houses and settle in a close-knit, vibrant community? Or will it attract young urban professionals looking for a city-like environment (YUPpies)?

Downtown Harrisonburg needs both. The city needs baby boomers for wealth and stability, and it needs yuppies to attract commercial entities and economic opportunities. In fact, Downtown Harrisonburg needs all types of people from different economic classes and racial backgrounds — diversity is the key to viable communities. But we’ll tackle this problem another time…

*FYI: I’m not using the term yuppie in a derogatory sense because I consider myself a FUTURE yuppie.

You can read more about Urban Exchange on HburgNews.com.

According to Seth Rosen at the Daily Progress the City of Charlottesville is planning to install green roofs on City Hall and the police department’s headquarters. Rosen says that “the roofs on both buildings have sprung occasional leaks and have reached the end of their useful lives. Because they need to be replaced, city officials seized the opportunity to invest in green roofs.”

The green roofs will cost the city $650,000 — traditional rubber roofs cost about $400,000. However, the roofs will pay for themselves in the long run because they will absorb the sun’s rays, keeping the buildings cool and reducing energy costs.

The City is following the lead of Albemarle County, which installed on a green roof on its County Office Building in 2005.

Rosen also says that in the past month the City of Charlottesville has “set a lower real-estate tax rate for energy-efficient homes, promised to purchase electricity from alternative energy sources and voted to hand out thousands of compact fluorescent light bulbs to residents.”

Dave McNair from The Hook recently reported that the City of Charlottesville is going to install artistic bike racks at schools, parks, and other public areas. The City is worked with Working with Art-in-Place and the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation to install these artistic racks.

McNair said that “the first set of racks went up on January 14 at Washington Park, a pair of metal stick figures, created by artist Bill Hess, that will appear to be riding the bike parked beneath them; there is room for two more bikes on either side of the rack.”

“Three other racks will be installed at locations around the city in the next few months; a harlequin rolling two wheels by artist Nini Beckstrom for McGuffey Park, a ‘Bicycle in the Clouds’ by Bob Batz for Jackson-Via Elementary, and a series of half wheels with spokes by Clay Hill Forge for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library downtown.”

I love these new bike racks because they add character to Charlottesville’s public spaces and they promote alternative transportation. The University of Virginia should take notes.

The City of Charlottesville has launched a new website, MyDowntownMall.com, for the pedestrian Downtown Mall. The new site has information about the Mall’s history, present, and future. Users can examine site plans, photographs, and even the minutes from recent public meetings. The site will also serve as a way for residents, shoppers, and business owners to voice their concerns, grievances, and ideas concerning the Mall. The user input is especially important because the Mall is experiencing an overhaul at the moment.

Web 2.0