Greening Grand Avenue: Designing the Future

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Program: “Greening Grand Avenue – Designing the Future”
Presenter: Leslie Dornfeld, PLAN-et, the Lead of the recent EPA study of Lower Grand Avenue
Reception: Drinks and Bites
Date: May 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Oasis on Grand – 15th Avenue/Grand Avenue/Roosevelt

We hope to see you on May 16.

Supermoon 2012

The world was treated to the Supermoon on 5 May 2012.

If you didn’t know, the orbit of the Moon around the Earth isn’t a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse. At its nearest point, the Moon is about 50,000 km closer to the Earth than it is at its farthest point.

Science and numbers aside, it makes for pretty pictures. Enjoy!

all photos copyright (c) 2012 Edward Jensen, all rights reserved

More thoughts on the Downtown Phoenix Public Market closure

Some follow-up observations on the closing of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market’s Urban Grocery and a hypothesis to chew around. (with updates)

[UPDATE 1, 1:20pm 5 May 2012: Community Food Connections, the public-private partnership behind the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, released a statement. The link is below.]

The Downtown Phoenix Public Market’s indoor Urban Grocery is closing in a week.

That we know. We also know that the outdoor Wednesday evening and Saturday morning markets are staying open, Food Truck Fridays will go on, and Royal Coffee at the Market will remain open.

Here are two images from the Downtown Phoenix Journal with signs sharing this news:

Three things strike me as odd here. Now, I admit that I have no inside information and that all I’m saying here is speculation. But these are observations worth noting:

  1. The only thing that’s closing is the indoor component of the market. Both Royal Coffee and the outdoor components (Wednesday and Saturday open-air markets and Food Truck Friday) are staying.
  2. Some of the recent First Street/Pierce Street streetscape improvements and pedestrian enhancements really tied into the Public Market area. The City of Phoenix spent a lot of money on these projects and there is a public art component that’s yet to be completed. While those might be for the outdoor components of the market, it’s still worth noting.
  3. If memory serves, the group that owns/operates the DPPM is a public-private partnership. It’s not an indictment of anything but it’s something to keep in the back of one’s mind when evaluating this situation.

Now, as people have observed both on Twitter and in my first post on the topic, the Urban Grocery isn’t really all that much of a grocery store. I admit that as much as I try to shop local and support local agriculture, there are times when Bashas’ or AJ’s will get my business just because their prices are lower. (But hey, they’re both still local!) I suspect that many others have a similar viewpoint. That leads me to my hypothesis of this entire situation:

I wonder if the Urban Grocery is just going to be rebranded and relaunched as something else, perhaps as an actual urban grocery store.

I have no firm information to corroborate my hypothesis. It’s just a gut feeling, actually. Don’t go quoting me on this! But given the factors above, it might just be something to chew around.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sad that the Urban Grocery’s going away. It’s been a wonderful “third place” for downtown Phoenix and I’ve had many wonderful meetings and conversations there over the two-and-a-half years it’s been opened. If it goes away completely, then the loss that it has on the downtown Phoenix community is immeasurable. But if something else comes to the space, then perhaps this might have been for the better.

Time will tell. I’m sure that we’ll learn more in the days and weeks to come.

UPDATE 1, 1:20pm 5 May 2012: Community Food Connections, the nonprofit organization behind both the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and the Urban Grocery, released this statement:

“For the last 2.5 years, the Urban Grocery has been the only grocery store in downtown which also supports many small, diverse and local businesses. The outdoor market will continue that mission of supporting small farmers and businesses while creating a great community gathering place for the 100,000 people that came during the last year. I also want to personally thank our landlord and the City of Phoenix. Both have gone above and beyond in their support of this community project.”

“Additionally, Cindy Gentry has resigned as executive director of Community Food Connections. In my entire career I have honestly never met anyone so dedicated to the community and the mission of an organization. Her contribution to this community and downtown in particular has been amazing and she will be sorely missed. In the meantime the board of directors will continue the outdoor market with help from people already involved in running it on a weekly basis. Like any business there are risks with opening your doors and sometimes it just does not work out. It can be particularly difficult when it is such a community based business. However, I want everyone to keep the faith because the outdoor market is doing great.”

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years and please come visit us at the Phoenix Public Market every Wednesday and Saturday.”

The Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing

The Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing next weekend. For now, that’s all we know.

[UPDATED with an author’s note: for more thoughts on the closing of the indoor Downtown Phoenix Public Market, check out this post.]

The Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market is closing next weekend.

For now, that’s all we know. The indoor grocery store, opened a couple years ago, is closing next Saturday 12 May. What is known is that the outdoor open-air markets will continue as well as Food Truck Friday.

Whatever the situation, this is sad news for downtown Phoenix. It’s hard to say why this is happening but I think part of it is a lack of density around the place and in downtown Phoenix. That an independent grocery store and hyperlocal market couldn’t survive is definitely troubling for downtown Phoenix’s renaissance.

It also confuses the downtown Phoenix conversation significantly.

Time will tell before we find out what’s happened. But we who fight the fight for downtown Phoenix just have been handed one of our most significant blows to date.

For more thoughts on the matter, I invite you to read “More thoughts on the Downtown Phoenix Public Market closure.”

Migrating from Gmail?

Migrating from Gmail? Finding another email service that matches Gmail’s workflow is difficult. Here are some considerations for discussion.

[Author’s note: This post is the first in the series of this blog’s feature on migrating away from Google in response to Google’s changes in privacy policy and terms of use. Read the introductory post here and follow along with the rest of the series here.]

One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to migrate away from Google is find something that is comparable in workflow. That’s the case with Gmail, Google’s eight-year-old email service. When it was launched on April Fools’ Day 2004, many people thought it to be a joke because 1 GB of storage was unheard of at that time. But it wasn’t a joke, and Gmail’s led the way in the email storage department. Today, users get 10 GB of email storage space for free and paid users of Google Apps or Google Drive get 25 GB of storage space.

What makes Gmail unique from other email providers is the archive feature. My email workflow is this: emails requiring attention from me are in my inbox and everything else is archived. From time to time, I’ll delete emails that are from email lists or alerts from various social media outlets. Other than that, I save things.

While its original selling point was the storage space, today’s Gmail is more than that. Gmail users who have Android or iOS smartphones have native synchronization with their device’s mail, contacts, and calendar applications. On iOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, users get push updating of new email and changes to one’s calendar or address book.

And that’s the problem. For various reasons, I seem to be using Apple products at the moment, including my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and even my iPhone. That native integration between Google and my iDevices’ mail, calendar, and address book is what’s making this whole process so difficult.

To provide some sort of soundness of research to this project, I’ve developed a list of considerations that are important to me and I sense are important to you, the reader. Those considerations are, in no particular order:

  1. What is the workflow of the proposed replacement? For email, as an example, what parallels exist between Gmail’s archive feature and that of a replacement?
  2. What integration does it have with mobile devices? Does it integrate natively with the system apps for email, contacts, and calendars on my and many other mobile devices? If so, what protocols are called?
  3. Can the email service be hosted at a domain (e.g. or must it be used at the provider’s native domain for email (e.g.,, etc.)?
  4. What support does the proposed replacement have for different email addresses? Can I use the webmail interface to send email from a different email address for my work, for instance? Or does all email have to be funneled through the primary email address?
  5. What costs are involved with the proposed replacement? Is it free or is there a minimal charge to use the service? If there is a charge, what additional services are provided for that charge?
  6. What sort of authentication mechanism exists for securely logging in to the service? Is there some sort of two-step authentication involved? Google introduced two-factor authentication, in which some services, like IMAP/ActiveSync authentication no longer take the account’s primary password but a sixteen-character password that only works for a specific service.

Those are the considerations I’ve developed thus far. What should be added? What considerations do you have when looking at hosted email? Please share in the comments!

METRO light rail bicycle survey

METRO light rail wants your input on bicycle accessibility and integration on its trains and stations. Take this two-minute survey.

Increasing bike integration with the METRO light rail system will serve to expand the catchment areas in the first and last miles of travel. This will help to accommodate the growing demand of bicyclists and pedestrians, and will effectively grow METRO into a more complete and accessible system.

METRO light rail is looking for your feedback. If your commute involves biking and riding METRO light rail, please take this quick two-minute survey.

Click this link or the picture to get started.

Apple closing public beta

Apple is ending the public beta service and rolling that into iCloud. Here’s what Apple has to say about that.

We at Downtown Technology Company and have used the public beta for sharing our documents with our clients, friends, family, and those with whom we want to share our work. This morning, we received this email from Apple that the service will close at the end of July, being replaced with the iCloud documents sync.

Here’s the email from Apple:

Dear user,

Thanks for participating in the public beta.

Last year, we launched iCloud, a service that stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Today, there are already over 40 million documents stored on iCloud by millions of iWork customers. Learn more about iCloud.

With a new way to share iWork documents between your devices using iCloud, the public beta service will no longer be available. As of July 31, 2012, you will no longer be able to access your documents on the site or view them on the web.

We recommend that you sign in to before July 31, 2012, and download all your documents to your computer. For detailed instructions on how to save a copy of your documents on your computer, read this support article at

The iWork team

Keep that in mind when creating and sharing content. We’ll report when we fully test the iCloud documents sync.

How to De-Google Your Life

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad.

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad. Some people have contemplated jumping ship from Google but it’s difficult when so much of our information is entangled in Google’s services.

I’m a complete Google addict: I use Gmail both through Gmail and for Google Apps for Domains, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Reader, Google Search, AdSense, Webmaster Tools, Google Chrome, App Engine, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, and so on. (I think you get the picture. An intervention might be appreciated!)

In a series of posts to follow, I’ll try to find my way through alternate services that provide a decent feature set compared to Google’s. And it has to be free or very inexpensive. For email, it has to be domain friendly (meaning I can use that email at my domain, e.g. And it all has to be mobile-friendly, meaning native or near-native integration with my mobile devices.

If you have any suggestions for service replacements, let me know in the comments beneath!

Rendering the word “sustainable” useless

The webcomic xkcd has this interesting diagram showing that the word “sustainable” is unsustainable.

That is not a sustainable strategy because sustainable sustainable sustainable sustainable.

For what it’s worth: the webcomic xkcd has created a diagram rendering the term “sustainable” as unsustainable. It’s an interesting chart but one that I’m sure merits little attention.

Unfortunately, there’s a bill in the Arizona state legislature (SB 1507) that would make sustainability illegal in the state of Arizona, including its cities. My friend Stacey Champion has been leading the fight to stop this very bad bill from making its way through the Capitol. At her blog (; guidance: language), you can find information on this bill, including a petition signed by many of us to stop it.

We’ll see what happens…