Tag Archives: Missouri

Tip #12: Pot a native Missouri plant!

Yes, just one. If every person planted one native Missouri plant, we’d be out of trouble in no time!

A huge problem facing us today is “invasive species.” They are species of plants and animals which outgrow other plants or animals around them, and take over the landscape. Invasive species are hard to get rid of once they’ve become rooted in an ecosystem, so one of the best ways to combat them is by manually planting native plants and hoping that they’ll balance out.

Planting native plants has a lot of other benefits, as well, though. First of all, they are pretty, which is a huge plus.

Second, plants store CO2, and the more of them there are, the more CO2 is stored somewhere other than the atmosphere. Have you ever noticed walking on a sidewalk, when you pass a large wooded area, the air is colder? It’s because comparatively, plants cool the earth more than concrete and buildings. This is why a lot of people advocate rooftop gardens because they cool whole cities just by existing, which is very cool.

I’ll suggest to you planting the Butterfly Milkweed. This is a plant which is so nicknamed because the Monarch Butterfly uses it to live.

Butterfly_Milkweed_(Asclepias_tuberosa)

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Butterfly_Milkweed_%28Asclepias_tuberosa%29.jpg)

Invasive species and pesticides have been killing Milkweeds, and this has been killing the Monarch Butterfly. Many people have pointed to the weed killer, Round Up, as the biggest culprit in the decline of Milkweed. The maker of Round Up is Monsanto, the same Monsanto which Monsanto Auditorium at Mizzou is named after.

It’s something to think about, you can get Milkweed’s at a local flower shop. Wilson’s Garden Center on Business Loop would be a great place to start!

 

 

Tip #5: Buy Local Eggs

Being a sustainable shopper is a hard task, especially as a college student. $100, or even $150, a month doesn’t go as far as you might think, and buying that $3 head of organic broccoli seems like such a waste when there is a $1.50 head right next to it, and they look exactly the same! Plus, sometimes an organic head of broccoli can have just as much of a negative impact on the earth as non-organic, depending on how far it’s traveled and where it’s being grown.

That’s why my fifth Baby Step to Sustainability is buying local eggs.

I eat at least 3 eggs a day, mostly because a hardboiled egg is the only healthy food I know of that leaves me with no dishes to wash. Eggs are filled with nutrients and protein, are low carb, incredibly versatile and insanely cheap. A dozen can cost less than $2 (or, less than 17 cents an egg), and last almost a week.

This is why I suggest that there is no reason that anyone able to spend at least $100 a month on groceries can not shell out an extra $2 (or, an extra 14 cents an egg) on a dozen eggs. Even the most expensive of dozen boxes won’t even amount to 50 cents per egg. Often, if you eat 3 eggs in a morning, you will spend less than $1 for breakfast! That is less than a coffee, and has way more nutrients.

Now on to why it’s sustainable. I’m going to stick to a single point to keep it concise, though there are many reasons that local eggs are better for the environment.

As you may know, Sustain Mizzou -and many other organizations- generally defines sustainability as using resources today in a way that does not sacrifice the resources and comforts of our children and Earth in the future.

Reduction of the use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels is generally one of the most sustainable things we can do in this day, in our first world country. (If you’ve forgotten why, our own MacKenzie Reagan explained this in What the Frack is Fracking) last year. Thus buying food which requires minimal transportation is very sustainable- and often a lot cheaper! – than buying food from states and states away.

Luckily, here in the state of Missouri, we have a plethora of farmers who raise chickens. Even the Columbia Center For Urban Agriculture, which is only about a mile north of the University campus, has chickens which produce eggs! Also, at every store in Columbia, there are a variety of local eggs, most notably from the Stanton Brothers who are located in Centralia.

Stanton Bros. Eggs

Yes, those young boys really are the Stanton Brothers. And they really do run a farm of ~12,000 free range chickens. That amazing fact in itself is a post for another day.

I’ve found, (unsurprisingly) that Lucky’s Market is the best place to buy local eggs, with Gerbes coming in for a close second. Most days, Lucky’s has a variety of eight or more different brands of local eggs. These local eggs also often are free range, antibiotic and hormone free and grain fed, all things which you are free to look up on your own, but that we will also be covering in the future under Sustainability 101.

 

But, if only for the reason that it reduces fossil fuel emissions, please pick local eggs the next time you shop! Even if you buy eggs four times a month, and only do it once, it will be an improvement.

There are many other factors which play into the sustainability of local eggs, but we’ll post about that in the future when we talk more about factory farming and nutrient pollution.

For now, I appreciate all three of you making it to the end of this post (hi mom) and have a great True/False weekend!

-Katherine

Spring Flowers: Falling by the Minute

During my spring break my family and I went to Dallas Blooms. It was this fantastic display of all different kinds of spring flowers at the Dallas Arboretum. While we were there we got to see all different kinds of tulips, azaleas, daffodils, snapdragons, with other flowers, but it was mostly tulips. Getting to see all the different flowers in bloom was wonderful, but back home in Missouri our spring flowers were marching on without us to enjoy them.

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The early spring was noted by Pat Guinan, that State Climatologist. There is an interesting article on the Missouri Climate Center website on our extremely warm March. According to Guinan, there were more than 7,700 daily temperature records broken in March. Also, in Guinan’s article the Midwestern Climate Center listed Missouri as one of nine Midwestern states that had its warmest March on record.

People are not the only things affected by the abnormal temperatures. On campus, saucer magnolias had already bloomed before spring break even started. Saucer magnolias are the ones that are the trees that have the whitish- pinkish blooms all over the tree. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, in their Missouri Urban Tree guide, the saucer magnolia is supposed to bloom in the early springtime. But never in my time at Mizzou have I seen it bloom so early.

And this heat wave that Missouri has experienced is going to be problematic for reasons other than just pure aesthetic value of the flowers. There are multiple places across Missouri that have flower festivals. Unfortunately for these festivals there will be few, if any, flowers that the festival is being held for.

In the bootheel of Missouri there is a dogwood and azalea festival. Charleston’s Dogwood and Azalea festival will be very bereft when both the dogwood and azaleas have already bloomed before the scheduled weekend of the 19th of April.

Enjoy the spring flowers that are still left, because they are going to go quickly with summer fast approaching.

For more information about plants at Mizzou go to the Mizzou Botanic Garden website.

Recycling for the “Randos”

Sign at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. From Wikimedia Commons by user John Hill.

By Sheridan Brown

Recycling is the last thing on college student’s minds.  Trying to juggle class, extra curricular activities, work and a social life is usually overwhelming in itself. What most people do not realize is that recycling takes no time at all.  So for those individuals who are not as concerned about the environment as others, you can still do your part and have plenty of time for other activities.

Remember coming home at 3 a.m. last weekend and reaching straight for the box of oreo’s, mac and cheese, or even a box of left over’s from the night before?  How about this morning when you finished off the rest of the cereal?  It takes the same amount of time to throw those empty boxes in a recycling bin rather than a trashcan.  How about beer or soda cans?  We all know how quickly those build up!  Set out a box or trash bag and have your guests throw all their cans in it.  Plastics, however, can be a bit trickier.  Unfortunately, Columbia only accepts 1 and 2 plastics.  However, that still allows us to recycle shampoo bottles, milk jugs, detergent containers and plenty of more items that take up a lot of room in the trashcan anyway! The City of Columbia Public Works Department and other city recycling programs pick up recyclables on the curb once a week. Places such as Target and Hyvee subtract money from your total if you bring in your own bags.  This can be a way of “self-recycling”.  Cloth bags usually hold more than the cheap plastic sacks-which helps if you live on the fourth floor of your building!

Want to know more on what and where to recycle? Check out the Columbia Recycling homepage!

Sustain Mizzou founder Jared Cole poses with his students holding special-ordered Sustain Mizzou notebooks.

Luckily, Sustain Mizzou offers a fun and easy way to get rid of the boxes for you through a recycled notebook project.  They gladly accept boxes and paper donations and make fun, crafty notebooks out of them! Interested in taking part in this?  Check out our link!

And here’s an odd one: mercury. Working with fire departments and county health offices throughout the state, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is providing mercury drop-off locations in communities statewide. Any private citizen or nonprofit agency can leave mercury-containing instruments, such as thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, thermostats or switches, at any of these sites. The nearest site is at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 2710 W. Main St., Jefferson City.

Even if you are not a recycling guru, you can still help benefit the environment by recycling. ‘Rando’ or not, your participation matters!

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, My Home Base

When speaking to other lovers of the outdoors I feel that I’m preaching to the choir.  These folks are already excited about being active, and their curiosity has led them to become extremely knowledgeable about the world.  What can I offer them?  Today’s post is not a travel advertisement for a distant wilderness trip or peak bagging route.  It’s about where we get our start.  A place that we all have.  Our home base.

My home base is Rock Bridge Memorial State Park located a few minutes outside of Columbia, Missouri.  My earliest memories of the park are hazy, but include the taste of peanut butter sandwiches and an adult announcing a buddy-check — ensuring that another four year old hadn’t wandered off.  As I grew older it became a refuge of sorts for me, as well as a classroom.  I’ve spent more time in this park than all of my visits to other natural areas combined.  Sometimes I come alone, sometimes with a group.  In 8th grade science we traversed all over the area as we fumbled over how to use a map and compass.  Ranger-led caving trips showed me first hand the ecological diversity of Devil’s Ice Box Cave as we canoed, climbed, and crawled  our way through the twisting passages.  Reading a list of endangered bat species is one thing, seeing their seven foot pile of guano is another.  One evening I learned the value of the bicycle helmet when I split mine against an oak tree, acorns sprinkling down in the aftermath.

History
Outdoor recreation and education has not always been the focus of the area, but became it through the efforts of a local professor Lew Stoerker.  In 1961 his nine-year old daughter Carol was struck and killed by a passing car prompting his campaign for a place for kids to safely play.  After six years of advocacy the park opened for its first visitors.  The signs of 19th century homesteads and businesses can still be seen, but are hidden in the restored hardwood forests and prairies.  The initially modestly sized park has grown in the past decades enabling the success of the often conflicting goals of recreation and conservation.  The park staff has balanced the fostering native ecosystems, protecting soil and water quality, and providing recreational opportunities.  Keep in mind that they achieve these tasks both above and below ground, something that is becoming harder every year.

Since its opening Rock Bridge has continued to grow and evolve under state management.  With grants from the Land & Water Conservation Fund totaling over $547,000 the park has expanded several times to its current size of 2,272 acres.  Grants such as this helped the park years before Missouri approved additional taxes to support the state park system in 1984.  Even with the tax, Missouri State Parks are often underfunded, understaffed, and overused.

The city of Columbia is beginning to envelop the park as development encroaches ever closer to its boundaries.  Urban development is sure to have effects on the area’s karst hydrology and may show effects on the Devil’s Ice Box Cave system, the second most diverse in the state.  The rising city population has direct effects on the park as well through increased visitation.  Small trails are quickly turned into highways side by side hikers, bypasses are created from the puddle weary, new social trails are blazed to save precious seconds back to the car—let alone the wayward granola bar wrappers snagged in the branches along the way.  Yes, it is the proverbial case of being loved to death.

As state and grant funding is becoming harder to come by and the local population growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon, we must find other ways to preserve parks such as this.  Don’t look too far, as the solution is you.  We can’t rely on others to preserve the places that we have grown to love; we must take these tasks upon ourselves.  This includes simple things like following Leave No Trace practices such as staying on the trail and picking up trash that you may see.  It could also mean giving your local park staff a call to chat for a few minutes.  Ask them the issues they face on a daily basis and you may be surprised.  See how you, as a park user, can help out and I assure you they’ll be delighted you called.  Without community support our local natural areas will disappear if not in name, in character.  Consider giving back a little this spring to your own home base, so that it may be there for the years to come.

True/False Highlights Climate Change Issue with Film on the Maldives

Credit: Chiara Goia

The Island President is a documentary film that follows the life of a former-political-refugee-turned-president during the lead-up to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference as he attempts to save his small country from the global political forces that resist the growing need to reign in the issue of climate change. I was fortunate enough to catch the film and the post-film Q&A with editor Pedro Kos and director Jon Shenk between my volunteer shifts at this year’s True/False Film Festival here, in Columbia, Mo.

Now, before you roll your eyes at the idea of yet another climate film after you (hopefully) sat through Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, you should know that The Island President is not a slew of facts, figures, and digital renderings of the projected recession of the ice caps. No, The Island President humanizes the topic more than we’ve ever seen on a screen before now and it is quite possibly one of the most important films you could ever see.

The film starts off by getting us acquainted with the issue at hand. The film’s protagonist is the 44-year-old Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, a dark-skinned man with the wide charismatic smile of a child at the zoo and an intense air of optimism and urgency regarding his goal. We quickly learn why it’s urgent as he steps off of the boat he’s taken to one of the islands he is visiting that day. He greets the inhabitants the way he greets everyone, with a hardy handshake and a genuine “How are you?”. The inhabitants show him part of their Island where the beach front has recently eroded by a staggering 300 feet and 57 trees have fallen into the ocean. The Maldives (pronounced mall-deeeeves, NOT Mall-Dives!) is a chain of 2,000 islands in the Indian Ocean and they sit (or sat, at the time the documentary was filmed) at a mere 1.5 meters above sea level.

We learn that the country was previously controlled by the dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who was elected president in 1978. During the 30 year reign of Gayoom, Nasheed was educated in the U.K. only to return to his beloved Maldives to be arrested 12 times for political articles he had written about several elections that took place between 1989 and 1994. As part of his sentences he was tortured and, at one point, spent 18 months of solitary confinement in a 3 foot by 5 foot metal shed. He said he survived by taking walks inside the shed and imagining he was walking elsewhere. In 2003 he left the Maldives and started the Maldivian Democratic Party, returned in 2005, got the party recognized by the government, then won the presidential election in 2008. One of his political partners says in the film that to campaign Nasheed visited more than 52,000 homes to meet voters personally and win them over to his cause. At one point Nasheed laughed recalling that Gayoom had pleaded to voters to give him another ten years to complete his reforms.

Nasheed and his advisors meet with a variety of climatologists, marine biologist, and other scientists throughout the film. We quickly realize that the Maldives’ troubles are a result of global warming that has drastically shifted ocean tides and climate patterns. We discover that the monsoons have been coming 5 months earlier than usual, causing up to 5 meters of beach front erosion in the North Western area of the island cluster. Nasheed notes that there are two barriers to erosion, the first being the bedrock layer and the second being the green line.

This, coupled with a 2004 tsunami that Nasheed says did financial damage equivalent to more than half of the country’s GDP and a 1998 El Nino whose warm waters bleached and killed 2/3 of the coral reefs surrounding the Maldives indicates the urgent nature of the issue. Some fisherman even noted in the film that all of these issues have brought fishing down to about 1/7 of what is was earlier in their fishing careers.

The film follows Nasheed as he campaigns to diplomats around the world to set a global standard for CO2 atmospheric levels at 350ppm, a number that scientists believe could lower the temperature of the earth enough to save countries like the Maldives. Nasheed makes a strong argument that this is even a fundamental human rights issue, comparing what would happen if larger countries didn’t do anything to if no one had stepped in to save Poland from the Nazis. At the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, world leaders ended up agreeing to a document that Nasheed helped to construct, though it did not require countries to meet the 350ppm limit, it did call for the limit.

During the Q&A, the film makers said that Nasheed was more than happy to give them full access to everything he did. The result is that you really get a sense that Nasheed is just an average guy who happens to be highly optimistic and who will stop at nothing to save his country. You can genuinely identify with his frustration when dealing with leaders of countries such as India, China, and Brazil, who he says are the major contributors to the issue.

Nasheed’s wife, on the other hand, is not so optimistic. Near the end of the film she says she wishes she had not had children, as this world is not a good one to raise them in. And at one point in the film I had to agree with her when an interviewer asked Nasheed “What’s the plan if the Maldives can’t be saved?” and Nasheed answers “None; we will die.” I couldn’t help but think that he was not only right, but that his statement applied to humanity as we know it. The film ends with Nasheed feeling exhilarated and hopeful, thinking of the document’s passage at Copenhagen as a good start to his path to saving his country and his optimism revitalized my own.

During the Q&A, Kos and Shenk said that, unfortunately, Nasheed had been pushed out of office early last month, and that while there were rumors that there was a warrant out for his arrest, they are untrue and he is surrounded by supporters. One audience member pointed out a key oddity in the film that Nasheed put little focus on pressuring the US to do something, to which Kos and Shenk noted that the U.S. is known around the world for moving extremely slowly on issues and being quite stubborn due to the nature of our congress, not to mention the fact that Nasheed was well aware that Asia, not North America, was the center of his sphere of influence.

In the end I found this to be a quite informative and inspiring film that I honestly believe everyone should see at some point. Who knows? Perhaps, it could drastically change your mind on how you should live your life.

For those wanting to know more about the movement to lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 350ppm you can visit the movement’s website here: http://www.350.org

You can also visit the documentary’s website here: http://theislandpresident.com/ 

Tiger Transit Movement gains traction

Columbia’s transit problems came to a head in November with a lot of alarm and controversy, but now it seems to be leveling out. University administration hired a consultant from Solstice Transportation Group, who says he will present us with a plan for fixing the system before the end of the semester. And on the home front, the student-led Tiger Transit Movement members are doing what they can to improve the city bus routes in a way that helps students:

Here’s their mission:

Below is a letter published on TTM’s brochure. To get involved, or for more information, email tigertransitmovement@gmail.com or visit the TTM Facebook page.

Dear student or community member:

Much has been said about Columbia Transit and its recent growing pains. While the city hoped more citizens would use buses as their main form of transportation, this is currently not the case. Of bus users, the college student is the main patron.

Student-oriented apartment complexes offer free buses to campus. MU contracts with the city to shuttle students to and from commuter parking lots. The city offers a free downtown/university bus with service every twenty minutes. Without question, the main users of the transit system are students. However, the city has now exhausted its resources to continue the current service and we are in jeopardy of losing the ground which has been gained by the earth friendly initiative of public transit.

That is where we, the Tiger Transit Movement, come into the discussion. We have founded this movement to be a voice for students as concerns arise. Our mission focuses on asking students what kind of transit system they want, educating students about great student-centric transit systems in the U.S. and advocating for students in the communitywide conversation about transit.

The Tiger Transit Movement applauds the efforts already made to analyze and improve the transit system. We are working with the Columbia City Manager’s office to explore how other college transit systems operate. We recently participated in a productive and open discussion with MU’s transit consultant from Solstice Transportation Group and we are eager to assist with their survey and see their report.

Ultimately, the Tiger Transit Movement is a part of the ongoing transit conversation. We are working towards a solution that will ideally come in the form of a modern, efficient and sustainable transit system that serves students and community members well.

Sincerely,
The Tiger Transit Movement

Environmental Summit this weekend!

As DNR director, Sara leads the department’s efforts to protect, preserve and enhance Missouri’s natural, cultural and energy resources. Photo from the DNR's website.

Want to see how Missouri is working to protect the environment? Come to the Missouri Votes Conservation (MVC) Environmental Summit January 28th right here at Mizzou!

Missouri Votes Conservation Education Fund is a non-partisan, common-ground organization that strives to unify the many diverse environmental and conservation interests in Missouri in order to strengthen the state’s environmental movement. Its mission is to educate voters and decision-makers about the importance of protecting the environment through sound public policy.

Join us as we discuss how to re-energize our movement and help our issues become top priorities throughout the state. Highlights include: Morning keynote address by Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Breakout sessions on key issue areas, including energy, sustainable agriculture, water quality and habitat protection, and a Special new Poster Session, providing  nonprofits with the opportunity to showcase literature and network with event attendees.

Registration costs $25 for students and $35 for others. Sign up for the conference or learn more on the MVC website [HERE].

Get a job with urban agriculture!

Great news for job-seeking food lovers! The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is currently accepting applications for three AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer positions in 2012.  Two of CCUA’s partners also have a VISTA position available, making the total five.  Below are links to the AmeriCorps VISTA website which has more information.

The CCUA is looking for hard working people with sustainable agriculture, hands-on education and marketing experience.  If you or anyone you know might be interested please encourage them to apply.  Feel free to contact Adam Saunders (Adam@ColumbiaUrbanAg.org or 573-356-9392) with questions.  Applicants need to apply on-line.  The deadline is Monday, December 19th

Want to know what working for CCUA is like? Here’s a first-hand account from some past interns!

Caitlin Swatek

21 years old, Senior Biology major, with a Certificate in Environmental Studies

Experience with CCUA: I was a production intern and volunteer coordinator from the beginning of September through October 2011.
What you learned from CCUA: I learned about the complexity of farming, and as a result gained a greater appreciation for farmers.
Favorite garden tool: Gardening gloves. They really reduce the amount of cuts you get. And having cuts on your hands don’t heal fast, especially when you are constantly using them to garden more.
“Killing chickens is something I never participated in. Not by choice, I was simply busy when CCUA offered workshops. I’d like to learn how to properly do it, but I prefer to make killing chickens a rare occasion.”
Someday: “When I get my own garden, I’m going to plant tomatoes and marigolds together. Is it my favorite example of companion planting and I love the aromas. And nothing beats fresh from the vine tomatoes! Yum!”

Emma Brown

Senior Nutrition and Fitness major

Experience with CCUA: I was a Sales and Marketing Intern with CCUA at the beginning of Fall ’11 semester. I mostly helped run the market stand at the Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market at the Wabash Bus Station on Sundays. I also did some harvesting and I worked at the farm stand selling produce as well.
What you learned from CCUA: I learned that farm work is never-ending! You are either planting, tending, harvesting or selling your produce. Farm work is hard, but very rewarding. Working the land is something that takes skill and knowledge and it is something very valuable to humanity.
Favorite garden tool: The stirrup hoe.
Finish this sentence: “Killing chickens is a process that people who eat chicken should understand.”
In the future: “When I get my own garden, I’m going to plant swiss chard, tomatoes, broccoli and tons of herbs! ”

Kevin Petersen

Senior Science and Agricultural Journalism major

Experience with CCUA: Production intern from July to November 2011
What you learned from CCUA: The main thing I learned is to appreciate the people who grow my food and how much work it takes.
Favorite garden tool: Potato fork
Finish this sentence: “Killing chickens is . . . ” …necessary to eating chickens but not as fun as raising chickens.
When I get my own garden: “I’m going to plant pattypan squash and asparagus.”

Li Tang

Senior Strategic Communication major

Experience with CCUA: Marketing intern, January-December 2011
What you learned from CCUA: How much volunteers can contribute to an organization
Favorite garden tool: Hands
Finish this sentence: “Killing chickens is . . . “


“When I get my own garden, I’m going to plant . . . “

Samuel Ott

Senior Marketing major

Experience with CCUA:  I had an internship with the CCUA during the fall of 2010. I was a Marketing Apprentice that helped find donors and sponsors for the Harvest Hootenanny.
What you learned from CCUA:  I learned about soil composition and the plant/soil relationship. I learned how to process a chicken. I learned more about the internal processing of nonprofits. I also learned how to upkeep a garden properly.
Favorite garden tool:  Wheelbarrow
Finish this sentence: “Killing chickens is . . . awkward.
“When I get my own garden, I’m going to plant . . . potatoes, carrots, corn and spinach

Free Parking: Is it really free?

The average Walmart Superstore has between 4 acres of store under its roof and 16 – 20 acres of parking out in front of it. This means that 75 – 80 % of the land footprint is dedicated to parking.

Parking also dominates the landscape, making up the largest land use in urban areas; in Columbia it also dominates the skyline. The 5th and Walnut parking garage is the tallest building in downtown.

Between 2008 and 2013, citywide there will be 4 total garages built and opened, the cumulative cost of these, in non-inflation adjusted dollars will be about 60 million dollars.

On top of the construction costs, there are financing costs, annual operating costs and land and money opportunity costs. What if Shakespeare’s downtown had another building that it could get rent from instead of a parking lot that requires an attendant to watch and the time and hassle of towing violators? What if the $15.2 million spent on the 5th and Walnut garage had instead been put toward our bus system? 3 buses costs about 1.1 million; so the city could have gotten 21 buses for 7.7 million and then had $7.5 million left over to operate them.

For a land use that has been with us since the late 1910’s, parking has very little academic discussion about it. Even in books on city planning, if parking gets more than one page of discussion, this is uncommon. Parking as a land use is basically storage for cars. Perhaps because it is this simple and boring, this is why there’s little discussion around it.

However, it really isn’t that simple. Parking makes up the largest single land use in urban zones. Parking requirements and handicapped bathrooms are the only definitive requirements for every land use.

The most unfortunate thing about parking requirements is that they are set with the goal of providing the right amount of free parking for peak demand at a free price.  Why does the Mall look like an island of retail inside a vast sea of concrete with white lines? This is because the mall was made with enough parking to satisfy the demand for free parking on that biggest holiday of retail sales, black Friday.

This means that most of the time, most of the parking is unused.

Is the land use of parking the best use for land? Sure, it creates jobs for valets, parking lot attendants, meter maids, and the workers who deal with parking fines and issues, and it is a service that is necessary in towns that do not have alternatives to driving. However, I believe that parking, like any other service, applies to the rules of supply and demand, and currently most places are undercharging for parking, leading to its overuse and oversupply.