Kunstlercast takes Klassen's call

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JHKunstler
James Kunstler

A Stateside podcast to note for our readers that has a CityCaucus.com twist. As those who know Mike Klassen can attest, hardly a day goes by without him waxing about something author and critic James Kunstler wrote or said on his weekly blog or podcast. Kunstler writes only once per week at Clusterf*ck Nation, and gets hundreds of comments each time on his fierce criticisms of urban sprawl and the ailing US economy.

At Kunstlercast.com James sits down with host Duncan Crary to discuss a topic relating to city-making for a half-hour or so. It's a very enjoyable listen, and one that you should add to your regular source of news and ideas. Last week's topic was about David Owen's book titled Green Metropolis, and while Kunstler had just had dinner with Owen the night before and considered him to be a "nice feller," he wasn't completely sold on all of Owen's arguments. The book by the New Yorker writer asserts that Manhattan is the greenest city in American thanks to its high density, low carbon footprint urban living.

One criticism Kunstler has is with skyscrapers, in that although they provide higher density, they are not the most sustainable forms of construction because they do not adapt well over time. This comment twigged Klassen's interest in the topic of "adaptable" urban fabric, which he and his colleagues on the Vancouver City Planning Commission explored at length. The VCPC's Vancouver Change Charter resulted from their study.

The weekly Kunstlercast has been running for nearly 2 years, and has over 80 episodes. There have been over 750,000 downloads of the broadcasts, and it is considered a "must listen" for planners and urban design junkies alike. Kunstler welcomes calls through a 1-800 number answering machine, and on this week's episode (which discusses New York's High Line Park) a message left by CityCaucus.com's own Mike Klassen was the call that was played (you can hear it in the final two minutes of the show - although MK points out that he's not a planner as Duncan suggests). Klassen asked James to further explore the subject of adaptability in a future broadcast, which host Crary promises will happen.

It's a reminder to us the power of social media has to move ideas more quickly around the planet. A simple phone voice message will kick off a discussion that will be heard by thousands of listeners, and may spawn new found interest in an old idea - the most sustainable structure or place is the one that adapts over generations.

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