Month: March 2010

The Business of Happiness

I took the occasion of an evening plane ride from Washington to Miami last month to read a new book by Washington Capitals owner and AOL co-founder Ted Leonsis called The Business of Happiness.   The fact that I was happy to be leaving the remains of Snowmaggedon in Washington for the warm climes of Miami (and spots further south) put me in the right mood. The book has two parts, the first serving as biography and stage-setting for the second half listing of the “six secrets to extraordinary success in work and life.”  (What’s a popular business book without a list of secrets to success?)  When Candice saw the book on my bedside table she remarked, “He has happy eyes.”  That’s a pretty good summation of this book.  Leonsis looks on the world as a business-tested optimist – not a bad way to approach life. His story of how he ended up at Georgetown University and then used the years in college to figure out his life’s calling is worth the price of the book …

The Intersection of Preservation and Sustainability

Portland, Oregon is a city with a well-deserved reputation for livability and sustainable development.   I visited Portland late last week and was reminded again of how much this community can teach other American cities about building an environmental consciousness and offering transportation options that decrease reliance on the automobile. In touring the city with friends and colleagues, I saw vibrant historic neighborhoods around an active downtown.  But I also learned of  preservation battles that ended with perfectly good buildings being demolished – even though preservation was the sustainable alternative.  Preservationists in Portland often feel left out of the discussions – and the decisions – on questions of livability.  It shouldn’t be that way. While in Portland, I joined two colleagues in a discussion with Mike Francis, editorial board member at The Oregonian. We talked about the intersection of preservation and sustainability, as well as preservation’s ability to prime the pump for economic development. In a piece entitled, To Be Sustainable, Use What You Have, Francis makes the case for preservation as a key to economic …

The Beauty of the Dutch Antilles

Late last month I had the opportunity to visit two of the islands of the Dutch Antilles – Bonaire and Curacao – as part of a National Trust Gardens of the Caribbean tour.  (These are the B and C islands of the A-B-C Antilles.  We didn’t make it to Aruba.)  This was a new part of the world for me and it was a great experience. The scene was set with enlightening lectures prior to our arrival by long-time Trust lecturer Paddy Bowes and Williams College professor Michael Lewis, which prepared me for the very arid conditions on the islands (8 variety of cacti on Bonaire), and the Dutch city-planning and architectural influence.  You can see the latter in the photo at the top of the post of one of the most photographed streets in Willemstad. Our first stop in the Dutch Antilles was the island of Bonaire and the town of Kralendijk.  The landscape and wildlife are the stars here, with clear blue waters and pink flamingos. Our last day of the tour took …

VOA Highlights Preservation of Rosenwald Schools

Rosenwald Schools are unique in the American landscape.  Built in the early 20th century to educate African-Americans in the rural south, the 5,000+ schools quickly became  centers of community life as well as educational facilities during the difficult years of segregation. I wrote a blog post in October of 2008 after reading Mary Hoffschwelle’s insightful book on Rosenwald Schools.  Now Voice of America has featured the Rosenwald Schools story – along with information on the preservation efforts led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with funding from the Lowe’s Charitable Foundation – in a new video on their web site.  Take a look below.  I think you’ll enjoy it. More to come… DJB