Hi, Book Scan readers. I spent the first part of last week hanging out with community planners at the American Planning Association’s national conference. Though I haven’t read the book described below, I thought the author (who gave the closing keynote at the conference) had some beautiful thoughts on home ownership that real estate professionals would appreciate. Enjoy! —MW
Early Pearl has a great idea for dealing with an intractable problem. As a homeless 11-year old Chicagoan, she sees all of the sturdy housing stock that stands empty and abandoned in her south side neighborhood and decides to take action.
She gets some friends together and, with a few cameras, they snap pictures of these empty houses. They send the pictures—along with their imaginings of how the structures could be transformed into dream homes for kids without anywhere to live—to community leaders in an effort to spark a change in their unfortunate circumstances.
Early is only a character in Blue Balliett’s newest mystery novel, Hold Fast (Scholastic Press, 2013). But there are more than 30,000 kids in Chicago alone who are homeless just like she is, and some 16,000 vacant properties like the ones that Early dreams of inhabiting.
“Kids will easily share their dreams about a home,” Balliett said in her keynote speech at the American Planning Association’s national conference last week. “They never make small plans.”
Balliett, a bestselling author of young adult literature, told planners that she came up with the idea for Hold Fast during the housing downturn, when she noticed a dearth of news stories about the effect foreclosures were having on her target audience.
“The children were invisible,” she said. “I kept wondering about the kids: Who are they and what does it feel like to grow up without a front door?” Continue reading »
By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine
Happy Earth Day!! It’s a great day to catch up on some green reading. Here are three recently published books that can give both you and your clients tips and resources for creating a more eco-friendly home or listing.
New Natural Home: Designs for Sustainable Living: This book is filled with eye candy-delicious images of homes from all over the world that will spark ideas on how to incorporate symbiotic living between a home and its surrounding environment. It also offers tips to reduce energy use and add sustainable elements, such as lighting, architectural elements, and landscaping.
DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle: A great gift for a recent buyer who’d green-minded and isn’t afraid of DIY projects. This book covers the basics for solar, hydro, greenhouse, and gardening projects – building a chicken run and beehive, for instance.
As covered over at our Styled, Staged & Sold blog today, the instillation of solar panels can boost a home’s resale value, according to a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. For those e-reader users out there, Solar Energy – Sustainable Green Energy For Your Home, Your Car And Your Business [Kindle Edition] covers the basics, from the pros and cons of residential solar energy systems, to making your own solar power source.
By Bob Soron, Copy Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Do you love where you live? Or is it just where you landed, where you happened to settle? When you meet a potential client, can you tell whether they’re just focused on the house, or do they seek a home that’s part of a vibrant community? For some time, many Americans have felt that community planners lost sight of the need for pleasant, lively neighborhoods, designed and built for people. These people have talked in code words such as “walkable,” “sustainable,” and “people-friendly.” And recently they’ve started to push their ideas to civic leaders, to green industries, and to the real estate trade, seeking communities that support a lifestyle centered on the neighborhood.
Fifteen years ago, novelist James Howard Kunstler wrote his first nonfiction book, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (Touchstone Press, 1994), after wondering why he had always loved some of the areas in which he had lived and so strongly disliked others. At the time he had no training in urban or community planning; he wanted to explore the effect that cities, towns, and neighborhoods had on their residents’ quality of life. But he communicated his answers so well that he gave voice to those who agreed, and his book — which inspired a sequel, Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century (Touchstone Press, 1998) — has become a staple among people who care where they live.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 LESSONS FOR THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
1. The car isn’t the enemy: People always need reliable transportation, whether it’s walking, cycling, driving, or public transportation. Above all, the car made America accessible, whether for the simple pleasure of a drive in the country or for the need to move and seek a better life during hard times. But many urban planners have ignored other transportation in favor of the automobile. Kunstler doesn’t spare his contempt for the worst excesses, but his focus is always on spaces that allow people easy access to all their needs. Continue reading »