The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

Alchemy Architects, a modern architectural firm that gained fame for creating the weeHouse, is working with home builder Robert Engstrom Co., the East Side Neighborhood Development Co., and the Metropolitan Council to create a tiny house community right here in St. Paul. The neighborhood is being planned on Payne at Maryland Avenue in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, and each unit (in the 900-1200 square foot range) would cost $100-$150k. But don’t start packing just yet. First they’ll have to convince St. Paul to change its zoning codes to allow the small structures. This has been the biggest challenge for small home communities across the country. But it has happened. Washington D.C. for example, has loosened restrictions to allow tiny homes to be built, and in Colorado, construction of the country’s largest tiny home community is already underway. Live a smaller life So what is a tiny house? And what are the benefits of owning one? Tiny houses give homeowners the ability to downsize the space they live in. It provides an option for urban home buyers who can’t afford, or simply don’t want, a larger house. After the housing market collapse of 2008, where foreclosures and financial ruin made the idea of owning a home superfluous to many Americans, the idea of “less is more” began to seem a lot more appealing. It’s also one of the greenest places to call home, as the energy expenditure is about 7% of that of a normal home. These tiny houses are a boast of the latest domestic technologies, from appliances to lighting to online tools. For example, Alchemy Architect’s model LightHouse features a dashboard website (pictured above) that shows the minute-by-minute usage of...
2016 Olympic Games: Minnesotans in Rio

2016 Olympic Games: Minnesotans in Rio

Minnesota, known more for winter sports, is well-represented in the 2016 Summer Olympic games. The Olympic Games are back. Just two years after hosting the World Cup, the eyes of the world’s sports enthusiasts will once again be on Brazil. Well, the games haven’t even begun and they already have been, as everything from water contamination to the country’s socioeconomic policies have been under intense international scrutiny. But the dreams of nearly a dozen Minnesotans will be made this summer. This competition, the word’s largest display of international might and athleticism, is what these athletes have worked for their entire lives. Here are the Minnesotans travelling to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The world-champion Minnesota Lynx are sending half of their team (not actually, but it seems like it), with Seimone Augustus, Lindsey Whalen, Maya More, and Sylvia Fowles, as well as coach Cheryl Reeve, all have spots on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. Augustus and Fowles both won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, and Whalen and Moore joined them for the 2012 games. Coach Reeve is the only first-timer. There a couple of Minnesotans hitting the rugby field as well. Garrett Bender, a forward with the Men’s Eagles Sevens on the men’s team, and Katie Johnson, a center with the Twin Cities Amazons W.R.C. will play with the women. Neither player has prior Olympic experience. Paula Lynn Obanana women’s doubles badminton player from St. Paul, ranked 29th in the world, will represent the U.S. in Doubles Badminton U of M grad, and 14 time All-American, David Plummer will swim the 100-meter backstroke in his first Olympic appearance. Megan Kalmoe, originally from Minneapolis, will be...
You and A.I.

You and A.I.

Public perception of A.I. and robots has changed often in the last 100 years. A.I. robots have been represented in pop culture as both friendly helpers like Wall-E, and sentient computer killers like HAL 9000. But now that actual homes and automobiles run on smart technology, it’s no longer just pop culture. As robots are starting to look an awful lot like humans, science fiction is starting to look a lot less like fiction. If true A.I. (i.e. a machine/robot as smart and with behavior capabilities as skillful and flexible as ours) becomes a reality, is a world where humans have been replaced as dominant species nigh? We have to start thinking seriously about what this reality will look like for humans. We’re not just talking about simple robots. We have already been living with “robots” for ages. Your car, cell phone, TV, etc. are all extensions of your human body. The roof of your home is an extension of your head/skull. Your shoes extend the abilities of your feet. Your clothes are the result of adaptations to different weather conditions; every time you put on a jacket you’re more or less putting on a robot. The arrival of the computer adds a complexity which we don’t yet fully understand, but our first instinct is to classify it as an extension of our brain. At the University of Minnesota’s Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Laboratory (AIRVL), they’re studying things like Intelligent Transportation Systems and building mini-robots (including adorable Lego-based mini-robots). These inventions range from incredibly useful on multiple levels to simply being really cool toys. Infusing already commonplace things with A.I. has thus far only been positive for humans....
We already have some of the answers

We already have some of the answers

Hello real life and internet friends, The interweb may still be cute cat videos in your world, but most of my friends are deep into politics and racial equity stuff lately.  I think it’s really easy to get swept up in some of the problems that face us without really ever putting much thought toward what solutions may be out there.  To that end, I wish to offer the following. There are 3 things at the root of most of our headline making problems of late: Ignorance Lack of tolerance Lack of engagement So, here are 5 things we can all do to make sure that we are tolerant, informed, and engaged within our communities. 1. Get involved in LOCAL politics. Most decisions that have tangible/direct effects on you and your family are made in city council/school board type meetings – not in the Oval Office.  These meetings are typically open to the public and if you really want to be involved, you don’t have to have a bazillionairre family member to run for office at that level.  Going to these meetings or becoming a low level official will open up your access to mayors and governors as well.  This is all about engagement. 2. Study the histories of cultures which are represented in your community. You may not KNOW a Hmong person/African American/Somali/etc., but you can learn about their backgrounds and know the struggles and triumphs they’ve had as cultures.  These stories make up the fabric of their households and are a part of your community worth recognition and celebration.  Internalizing and embracing the ancient and recent histories of your neighbors is a good way...