Mike Nichols, Beloved Director of Stage & Screen, Dies at 83

first_img His illustrious stage career also included directing The Apple Tree, Streamers, Hurlyburly and the recent revival of Betrayal on Broadway, in addition to taking on the role of producer for many of those productions and more (including the Tony-winning Annie and The Real Thing) as head of Icarus Productions. His equally renowned calling as screen director included helming films inspired by theater, including Closer, The Birdcage and Biloxi Blues, in addition to such movies as Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl and Postcards from the Edge. He had been tapped to direct Meryl Streep in an HBO adaptation of Master Class. Practically seamlessly, Nichols continued to direct on both Broadway and Hollywood. He took home Tonys for directing Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Real Thing, Spamalot and the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman. All the while, he received Oscar nominations for directing Silkwood and Working Girl and received Emmy Awards for his small screen adaptations of Wit (completing his EGOT) and Angels in America. Nichols, born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky on November 6, 1931, moved to the United States from Germany at the age of seven with his younger brother. The two joined their father in the states, who had fled months earlier from the rise of the Nazi regime. Once their mother joined them two years later, the family moved to New York. He attended New York University before dropping out to study pre-med at the University of Chicago. It was there that he awakened his passion for comedy and theater. View Comments Moving from stage to screen, though still sticking to his theatrical roots, Nichols began his successful career as film director with the 1966 adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Nichols was nominated for an Academy Award. While he lost to Fred Zinnemann for another adaptation of a play, A Man for All Seasons, his film took home five awards out of its 13 nominations. He would take home the trophy the following year for The Graduate. While in Chicago, he joined the improv group Compass Players with Elaine May, and the two soon formed their eponymous comedy duo Nichols and May. Though Nichols would later have nearly 30 Broadway credits to his name as director or producer, he got his start on the Great White Way in 1960 performing opposite May in An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. The recording of their Broadway debut earned the pair a Grammy Award for Best Comedic Performance—the first award toward Nichols’ EGOT achievement. Celebrated director of stage and screen Mike Nichols died on Wednesday, November 19. His death was announced in a statement by James Goldston, President of ABC News. The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner was 83 years old. Following Nichols and May’s professional split, he made his Broadway directorial debut with Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park in 1963. The following year, the production earned him his first of nine Tony Awards, six of which were for Best Direction of a Play—more than any other individual in that category. He took home the award again two years later, being recognized for helming both Luv and The Odd Couple. Nichols wed ABC New Anchor Diane Sawyer in 1988. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three children, Daisy, Max and Jenny, as well as four grandchildren.last_img read more

A special evening of song for Letterkenny’s Christmas carol trail

first_imgThere will be a truly festive atmosphere in the heart of Letterkenny before Christmas as the town hosts its sixth carol trail.This year’s event will take place on Friday, 20 December starting at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 7.30pm.This unique festive event is organised by Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter and Letterkenny CDP and the carol service is facilitated by Trinity Presbyterian Church, St Eunans Cathedral and Conwal Parish Church. All are welcome to come along and participate in what should be a very memorable evening.Letterkenny Christmas Carol TrailThe carol trail will begin with Christmas Carols and readings at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Letterkenny’s main street at 7.30pm.The group will then make its way up the recently refurbished Church Lane in a candlelit procession which is being put together by Letterkenny CDP and donations can be made on the night.The carol service will end at Letterkenny’s oldest building, Conwal Parish Church at the top of the Church Lane for more carols and a short reading and there will be a special rendition of  ‘O Holy Night’ from singer Jean Curran. Letterkenny Christmas Carol TrailThe evening will finish with tea and mince pies in Conwal Parish Church Centre sponsored by Pramerica and their partners Compass Catering.“This unique event promises to be a very special evening and hopes to give people the chance to take time and reflect on the real message of Christmas ‘goodwill to all’,” said a spokesperson for the Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter committee.“So, come along on Friday, 20th December and enjoy a very special night in Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter.”A special evening of song for Letterkenny’s Christmas carol trail was last modified: December 9th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:letterkenny cathedral quarterLetterkenny Christmas Carol Traillast_img read more

Creation Therapy Works for Criminals

first_imgConsider the possibilities with this kind of outreach! And hurry: evolutionists are trying to take this ball and run with it. The press release says that a “grant, from NASA, will bring experts in astrobiology, or the possible conditions of life on other planets, into prisons….” Get there before the Darwinists tell prisoners that stuff happens! How is that going to help them? Prisoners need to know, instead, that the God of creation still has a plan for their lives. Despite the evil they have done, the God who created galaxies, mountains, and all the beauty of nature stands ready to wash them whiter than snow, because of Christ’s death on their behalf. (Visited 342 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Prisoners locked up in cells day after day, year after year, would calm down if nature could be brought to them, says a new study.Look at this photo. Does it improve your mood? What if you had nothing else to look at but bare walls?Havasu Creek, by David Coppedge.We’ve reported that hospital patients recover better when shown scenes of nature (5/20/01). Now, augmenting a report from last year, a project at the University of Utah found that nature imagery calms prisoners in solitary confinement and maximum security cells, too:Sweeping shots of majestic landscapes. Glaciers, forests and waterfalls.  Research published today shows that these images, shown to people deprived of access to nature, can reduce tension, help defuse anger and make some of the harshest environments, like a solitary confinement cellblock in a maximum-security prison, a little easier to bear.The study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, followed inmates in solitary confinement in an Oregon prison for a year. Inmates who viewed nature videos several times a week committed 26 percent fewer violent infractions than their peers. The study’s results will lead to new endeavors that will extend to images of wide-open outer space as well – a welcome sight from within prison walls.It “helps me think clearer to know there is so much more beauty in this world then this prison” —an inmateA video clip in the article shows how they do it. For hardened prisoners who cannot be released for lectures or other mind-stimulating activities, simply showing nature scenes on the wall one hour per day with a projector produced fewer disciplinary problems. Prison guards like that, too.Inmates stated they felt calmer after watching the videos, with the calm emotions lasting for hours. 80 percent said the videos made their time easier. They also reported that they felt the videos helped improve their relationships with staff, and that remembering the videos helped them calm down when they were angry. Four said they were even sleeping better.“The nature project help’s [sic] me think clearer to know there is so much more beauty in this world then this prison,” one inmate wrote.Interestingly, the inmates preferred scenes of wide-open spaces, like deserts, over confined spaces like forests. They especially enjoyed scenes of outer space, like sweeping vistas of colorful stars and nebulae taken by the Hubble Telescope.Scenes of wide-open spaces appealed to those in confinement the most. Photo by David Coppedge.Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, who led the study, is considering other possibilities to help people in “nature-starved” environments. “The benefits of nature imagery likely extend far beyond prison inmates, and can positively impact other nature-deprived populations,” Nadkarni says. “More than 5 million people may fit into those populations, including people in prisons, nursing facilities, homeless shelters, military barracks and other institutions and facilities.”Creation ministries and churches with prison ministries should take note and lead the way into this wonderful opportunity. It should be an adjunct to gospel preaching, not a replacement for it, but nature videos can provide follow-up for prisoners or patients between visits. The Illustra Media inspirational videos on TheJohn1010Project.com are free and ready to use! Here’s an example. Role-play being in solitary confinement, riddled with guilt, watching this on the wall:last_img read more

Grahamstown arts take to the streets

first_imgWest African performance artist Gregory da Silva, otherwise known as the Famous Egg Man, on the streets of Grahamstown during the National Festival of the Arts.Khanyi Magubane As the 1820 Settlers Monument perched on a hill overlooking Grahamstown comes into view, the place seems like just another quiet Eastern Cape town. But as our car draws closer, eventually winding into the broad boulevards of High Street in the town centre, the crowds of people, buskers, actors, traders, street performers and more are anything but quiet.They’re all here for the National Festival of the Arts, a 10-day feast of performance that invades this small university town every midwinter. Now in its 35th year, globally the Grahamstown Festival is second in size only to Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival.This year’s festival, held from 2 to 12 July, offers the usual feast of drama, dance, jazz, stand-up comedy, arts and crafts, food galore, student and street theatre.The theme is “10 DAYS OF AMAZ!NG”. But with over 400 stage productions on offer – and average of 40 a day – for me it might be more a case of 10 days of the Amazing Race, from venue to venue. It’s my fourth time at the festival, but even I feel a little overwhelmed.Grahamstown in midwinter is normally a forbiddingly cold place, but this year the weather is surprisingly balmy, so we take a stroll about town to see what’s up.There are street musicians, an artist producing portraits on the pavement, and throngs of young Grahamstown kids, their faces painted white, performing for passersby. There’s also the Famous Egg Man, Gregory da Silva, a performance artist from West Africa with a his signature headdress piled with, you guessed it, eggs.Among the festival-goers, musicians and markets we suddenly see a group of men in orange prison overalls running down the street, with others in police uniforms in pursuit.After the initial shock we realise that, of course, it’s some kind of performance. In fact, it’s guerilla marketing for Prison Codes, a gritty play about life in the Western Cape’s gang-dominated prisons, told from the perspective of the notorious 27s gang. The actors stage their mock-escape through the streets of Grahamstown to get people into their theatre.George Hill, the play’s producer, tells me that festival-goers sometimes don’t realise it’s just advertising. “Some of them were scared for real,” he says. “We hope this will give them a taste of what’s to come in this hard-hitting production.”The Prison Codes cast aren’t the only ones to use these tactics, with this year’s 234-page programme proving there’s a lot of competition. With both the main and fringe festivals boasting strong productions, casts, directors and producers use aggressive marketing campaigns to fight for audiences.Actors wander the streets, dressed in their costumes, handing out flyers and begging everyone to see their plays.One production that isn’t shy to make an impression is YES!, an adult-humour play that explores the quirky side of sex. The cast can be regularly seen parading the streets in nightgowns – the women in pink and the men in blue.A woman in pink approaches me, handing me a business card with the production’s details. Then she looks me in the eye and asks, “What makes a person a better lover?”While my cheeks heat up, another actor puts a small bottle in my hand. It turns out to be something called Afrodité, a gel with apparent libido-enhancing properties, designed specifically for women. A man nearby is given a male version of the product, and seems as unable to conceal his bewildered embarrassment as me. They certainly got our attention.But the performers on the streets aren’t all brazen actors punting their shows. There are plenty of street musicians, such as the marimba band Sibonile. Established in 2006, the band is made up of six men and a woman, all of them from Grahamstown – and all of them blind.Richard Nzwana, the group’s spokesperson, says they experimented with a number of instruments before they hit on the marimba – a large percussion instrument, similar to a xylophone, made of wood.“We started playing the bongo drums and the piano, and then we heard of marimbas, and we decided to try them,” he says.The band taught themselves to play, later securing the services of a marimba coach, who taught them by encrypting Braille on the instruments. Sibonile performed at the festival’s opening ceremony on 1 July, and will be taking part in the annual National Marimba Festival taking place on 25 to 26 July in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.“We are currently the defending champions,” says Nzwana. He’s confident they will walk away with the first prize again this year.Putting together a festival of this size does not come without hefty costs, so it’s run with sponsorship from a number of institutions. The principal sponsor is Standard Bank, which was been supporting the festival for 25 years.Other sponsors include the National Lottery, the National Arts Council, the Eastern Cape Government, with media sponsors The Sunday Independent newspaper and satellite television broadcaster MNet.Other than the main and fringe festivals, there’s also the Spirit Festival, for those with a faith perspective on arts, which includes a gospel music workshop. Then there’s the Children’s Arts Festival, which offers theatre, performances by clowns, and as films made for children.Amazing arts, all of it.Related articles Lennox sings for HIV/Aids Words come to life at book fair South Africa’s rainbow salsa Art for all at Joburg Art Fair SA films scoop awards at Fespaco Useful links National Arts Festival Standard Bank National Lottery National Arts Councillast_img read more

Tutu: lifelong speaker of ‘truth to power’

first_img5 October 2012The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is to give South Africa’s Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu a special once-off award, accompanied by a US$1-million grant, in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power”.The award will be presented to Tutu in Dakar, Senegal later this year during the annual Ibrahim Discussion Forum, the foundation said in a statement on Thursday.Announcing the special award to Tutu, the foundation’s board said it was “motivated by the desire to make an extraordinary grant to an outstanding African civil society champion.‘One of Africa’s great voices for justice’“Archbishop Desmond Tutu is and has throughout his life been one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government. In everything he stands for, says, and does, he displays a consistent determination to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak the uncomfortable truth.”Mo Ibrahim, the Sudan-born billionaire who established the foundation in 2006, added: “Whether one always agrees with Archbishop Tutu or not, his contribution to dialogue, to accountability, and to the debate on Africa’s future has been unparalleled.“His integrity and moral authority deserve recognition. We hope this award will inspire the next generation to follow Archbishop Tutu’s example and speak truth to power.”Promoting good governance in AfricaThe London-based foundation supports good governance and leadership in Africa, publishing an annnual Ibrahim Index of African Governance, and awarding an annual $5-million prize to democratically elected former African heads of state who have:served only their constitutionally mandated term;left office in the previous three years; anddemonstrated excellence in office.Winners of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership since it was established in 2007 are: Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana, and Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires of Cape Verde.According to the foundation, the prize for 2012, which has not yet been adjudicated, will be announced in London on 15 October.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Being objective about the markets (in a wet planting season)

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With the constant rain in Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, southern Illinois and western Ohio, farmers are getting worried they won’t get corn planted. Some are surprised the market hasn’t responded with a rally. Prices likely haven’t increased for the following reasons. As a percent of the total U.S. production, these areas collectively don’t produce a lot of corn. These areas only account for about 10% of total acres and not every acre is a loss. The trade learned in 2015 that heavy rains throughout the Corn Belt may drown some areas, but other areas will thrive and see increased production.Last year many farmers in these areas finished planting the last week of May and the first week of June and still had a reasonable sized crop. It’s important to remember the entire Corn Belt will never have perfect conditions. There will always be areas affected not only negatively, but positively as well. In the end, late spring weather usually won’t impact the market nearly as much as weather 40 days from now.This past week when discussing the eastern corn belt’s weather, a farmer told me that I just didn’t understand how bad it was in his area. Maybe, but I think by not living there it was actually easier to gain perspective. By looking at weather maps, rainfall totals, and average yields in his area compared to surrounding counties, state and region I determined the issues he was suffering from were largely isolated to a very small region that didn’t produce enough corn for the market to really notice (at least not yet).Over the last two weeks social media was “flooded” with pictures of cornfields looking like lakes. If I was a farmer in this area and only looked at posts and tweets, I would think it was time to build an ark. Nobody posts pictures of the many fields throughout the country that have had no problems and crops look great. Those pictures aren’t as interesting as a farmer wakeboarding in his cornfield.Throughout my career in grain marketing, I’ve noticed that most market participants (i.e. farmers, end users, analysts, etc.), tend to “talk their position.” Since most farmers have a lot of 2016 and 2017 crop to sell, they want, hope and need the market to rally. On the flip side, end users want, hope and need the market to go lower. Analysts want the market to go in the direction that is most profitable to their current positions, so they’ll push that agenda. With all of these conflicting agendas, it’s difficult to sift through the media/trades to get a clear understanding of where the market is headed.Interestingly I listened to an analyst speak about the corn market direction in the short-term. After hearing the analyst talk, a farmer told me he thought the analyst was bullish. I then asked him how much of ’16/’17 grain was still unpriced and he told me all of it. I thought the analyst presented a more neutral perspective, but I have much of my ’16 and some of my ’17 corn sold/marketed. Both of our opinions might be based upon our positions.Many people like to read information that confirms what they believe or hope will happen. This kind of thinking can be disastrous to a farmer’s bottom-line though. I recommend trying to read marketing information from several sources, both bearish and bullish. I also recommend sticking to the same analysts to better understand their tendencies. Switching analysts each week makes it difficult to understand how they developed their strategies over the last few months.It’s hard to stay objective when it comes to grain marketing, but there are two “rules of thumb” farmers may consider when listening to grain marketing information.Often when bulls and bears agree, the market tends to move in that directionOften if an analyst is usually bullish and starts pulling back or becomes neutral, it’s a sign of an upcoming bearish trend (vice versa for bearish analysts). When a bull turns into a bear, it tells me more than when a bull is a bull or a bear is a bear.Note, I watched the wakeboarding farmer video twice. Once, because it was cool. Second, I wanted to put this into perspective and estimate his lost acres. In the video it looks like about 20 feet of corn is under water for nearly a half mile. This equates to roughly 1 acre. I also noticed pivots on the field, which in Nebraska probably means it’s about a 150-acre field. So the flooded part of the field is realistically less than 1%, which is obviously very small. Yet, several large Midwest papers picked up the story and talked about how wet it is out there. This is another reminder to always keep perspective and don’t get carried away with sensational stories. Market actionFollowing is the detail and rationale of a recent trade made in late February, that expired Friday:Expected Market Direction 2/27/17 — Probably sideways with some upside potential into early summerTrade detail — Sold June $3.80 straddle for 30 centsPosition Size — Trade represents 10% of my 2016 productionExpired — 5/26/17 — After corn planting is complete, but before the weather markets take over, based upon July futuresPotential Benefit — If July futures close at $3.80 on 5/26, I keep the 30 cent premiumPotential Concern — Reduced or no premium if the market moves significantly.For every penny lower than $3.80 I get less premium until $3.50. At $3.50 or lower a previous corn sale is removed. For every penny higher than $3.80 I get less premium until $4.10. At $4.10 or higher I have to make another corn sale at $4.10 against July futures. What happened?When the market hit $3.74 on Friday, I bought back the put portion of the straddle for 6 cents. This meant after commissions my net profit was 24 cents. This is what I hoped would happen. Why didn’t you buy back the calls?Since prices were well below the $3.80 strike price, I didn’t see the need to pay additional commissions to get out of that part of the trade. Ultimately, they ended up expiring worthless. New tradeI expect the market to continue trading sideways. And, considering my recent success with straddles, I’m going to continue my straddle position moving forward. Following are the details of my new trade:Expected market direction — sideways into late summerSold Sep $3.70 straddle for 38 centsTrade represents 10% of 2016 OR 2017 productionExpires 8/25/17 after crop conditions are knownPotential benefit: If Sep futures close at $3.70 on 8/25, I keep the 38 cent premiumPotential concern: reduced or no premium if the market moves significantly.For every penny lower than $3.70 I get less premium until $3.32. At $3.32 or lower a previous corn sale is removed, but any profits gained on that trade can be added to a future sale. For every penny higher than $3.70 I get less premium until $4.08. At $4.08 or higher I have to make another corn sale at $4.08 against Sep futures. If a Sep sale is initiated then I can move this sale to Dec futures and pick up about 10 cents of premium and thus have a $4.18 sale in place. At this point the sale would likely be against my ’17 crop. What does this mean?This Sep straddle trade provides a lot of flexibility:If the market goes down, I will apply it to my ’16 productionIf the market rallies, I will apply it to my ’17 crop.If the market goes sideways, I make some added profit and can apply it wherever I want. And, I don’t have to decide that until 8/25/17.Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at [email protected]last_img read more

In Mali, Mud Hut Upgrades Are Nixed by World Heritage Label

first_imgI’ve never been there, but according to a recent article in the New York Times (sorry if I am relying on this paper too much for inspiration), the city of Djenne, Mali, is a veritable museum of historic mud brick buildings. Among them is the Grand Mosque, the largest mud brick, or adobe, building in the world, originally built in the 13th century and replaced with the current building in 1907.In addition to the mosque, there are hundreds of mud brick homes in current use that, according to the city’s World Heritage site designation, may not be updated. This apparently restricts owners from making improvements such as tiling floors, adding windows to rooms that have none, and installing showers or even screen doors. These restrictions have created quite a backlash, including a riot in 2006 following an initial restoration survey.Tourist-driven urban planning?In recent years, the city has developed serious sewage problems, as there is no central sanitary system. This, along with open trash dumps in the area, caused tourists to complain to UNESCO, who warned the city that it was at risk of losing its World Heritage site designation.Apparently this designation is important to the tourism industry, which is a major source of income for the area. So, while in theory, the city welcomes the designation, the program prohibits many changes to buildings, including many interior renovations. One house is described as having a room that measures 6 feet by 3 feet, without any windows; under UNESCO regulations, the room cannot be changed from its grave-like current design. While I appreciate the efforts to avoid losing historic buildings, since when does tourism trump the right of people to improve their homes? Man, I’m starting to sound like a libertarian!I feel their painI imagine that these residents hope to improve their living conditions through home improvements, which apparently they are restricted from doing. While I make no claims that my problems with the local historic commission compare to the challenges of the residents of this World Heritage site, there are some similarities.They just want to make their homes comfortable, clean, and safe, but by doing so they run afoul of regulations. In my historic district, things I want to do that will create a higher-performance, more sustainable home are restricted, due mostly to pressure applied by a small but vocal minority in the neighborhood.While I believe that effective laws and regulations help maintain a safe and comfortable living environment, many of those laws and regulations are out of date, are counterproductive, and often lead to poor solutions that benefit no one.Is there a solution?Obviously, having no regulations isn’t the answer, but neither is more regulation necessarily a suitable solution. Some neighborhoods have elected not to seek historic designations, leaving more options for homeowners choosing to build or renovate than those living in areas that have been designated historic. I haven’t seen that being in a historic district implies better or more appropriate design; rather, it tends to satisfy that vocal minority and its particular tastes.Historic committees are made up of people who are fallible and, like most groups, tend to make decisions that comprise a range of compromises (not unlike our federal government). I’m not sure that there we will find solutions that will satisfy me and my local historic commission, or the citizens of Djenne and the administrators of the World Heritage designation. Maybe we can find a benevolent dictator to take over and judge with a fair hand. Any volunteers out there?last_img read more

Texas Gets Two High-Performance Subdivisions

first_imgAustin aims for 55% renewablesIt will take developments like these if the Austin City Council is to reach its aggressive efficiency goals. Last December, the city approved a plan to get 55% of its power from clean energy by 2025, Climate Progress reported.In addition to providing 600 metawatts of utility-scale solar, the proposal would have Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility, find 200 MW of local solar, at least half of which would have to be owned by customers.Energy efficiency and improvements in demand response were to provide another 800 MW of power over the next 10 years.“It’s clear that to achieve the ambitious goals Austin Energy has set for itself, we must significantly increase the number of rooftops generating power from the sun,” Austin Energy vice president of customer energy solutions Deborah Kimberly told MyStatesman. “Communities like this with solar integrated into the design from day one allow us to make faster progress toward those goals in ways that allow us to plan infrastructure and protect the overall stability of the electric grid.” The right opportunity for solarDavid Grove, Lennar’s division president for the Austin and San Antonio markets, said by telephone the company had been looking into adding solar for a number of years but until now hadn’t found a way to make it available affordably in the Austin market. SunStreet’s lease option made the difference.“I think it’s clear that homeowners want solar, they want technology,” he said. “If you asked anybody off the street, ‘Would you like solar on your home, and do you understand it makes sense?’ the answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!’ The challenge has been what a homeowner is willing to pay, and that’s always been the prohibiting factor. Now we’ve found a way to provide the solar without the homeowner paying out of pocket at a reasonable, very economical rate.”Lennar is the country’s second largest builder, with $6.8 billion in housing sales and 21,000 closings in 2014, according to Professional Builder. The company has roughly 120 solar communities underway in several states, including California, Colorado and Maryland, adding up to “several thousand rooftops” in all.Lennar expects to launch a second solar community in Austin early next year. “And strategically,” Grove said, “I think we will try to pursue it in every community we open moving forward, and then we execute it where we’re able to.”“Folks historically have looked at solar as something that you’re only going to see on expensive, million-dollar homes because they have the ability to utilize it and it’s cost prohibitive to others,” he continued. “I think as we make this more commonplace and expand the footprint it will become more and more the norm.”Grove expects most if not all buyers at Colorado Crossing will opt for a solar lease, not an outright purchase. Leasing is by far the most common way homeowners go solar, accounting for as many as 95% of PV installations at Lennar subdivisions, particularly in areas where buyers don’t have a lot of discretionary income, Grove said.Lennar is technically creating power-purchase agreements with buyers rather than straight leases, The Wall Street Journal notes, because homeowners pay only for the power they use and not the system itself. But homeowners are paying less for electricity than they would from the local utility, so they are saving money regardless of what the arrangement is called. UPDATED Oct. 8, 2015Work is underway in Austin, Texas, on two housing subdivisions that emphasize energy efficiency, including one in which all 7,500 homes will be constructed to zero-energy standards.Taurus of Texas, a real estate investment firm, said in September that it was starting construction of the first 237 houses at Whisper Valley in East Austin, according to a report at MyStatesman.com. Company officials said it would be the first large single-family development in which all houses were designed to produce as much energy as they use on an annual basis.Houses also will come with fiber optics systems from Google Fiber, which says Whisper Valley is the first time the extremely fast internet service is being installed in a new housing development.Separately, Lennar announced it would build Austin’s first “solar standard community” where each house would have its own rooftop photovoltaic (PV) array. Homeowners could either lease the panels or buy them outright.The first phase of Lennar’s Colorado Crossing subdivision, underway near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, will include 120 homes, ranging in size from about 1,200 square feet to 2,800 square feet and costing between $195,000 and $277,000, MyStatesman said in another report.Balancing performance and priceConstruction details about houses at Whisper Valley weren’t available, but MyStatesman said that the intent was to seek a market niche where houses with low energy demands also would be affordable. Taurus expects to price the houses between $150,000 and $275,000, which is higher than the median market value for the immediate area around the development but about in line with the median market value in the Austin metro area of $267,000.Taurus partners include Bosch, which will provide energy-efficient kitchen appliances, ground-source heat pumps, and water heaters; Google Nest, which will supply its web-connected thermostats; and Google Fiber.The web report said that Whisper Valley residents will pay a fixed utility fee averaging about $175 per month, which would cover the cost of the rooftop PV, an LED lighting package, the Bosch appliances, ground-source heat pumps, and maintenance costs.In addition to the zero-energy houses, the development also will eventually include townhouses, apartments, and more than 2 million square feet of office and retail space. A second phase of the project, including 200 additional houses, would be started next year.MyStatesman said that Taurus bought 2,062 acres for the project in 2006, but the development was sidetracked by the real estate and financial markets’ meltdown. Later, the company partnered with the City of Austin, which issued bonds to finance highway, water, and sewer lines in the area in return for the company’s help in achieving Austin’s carbon-reduction goals.center_img Solar panels for everyoneAt Colorado Crossing, home buyers will be able to choose between leasing or buying the solar panels on their homes, but they won’t get the chance to say “no thanks.” Every house in the subdivision gets them.The panels will be installed and maintained by SunStreet Energy Group, a Lennar subsidiary, whose CEO said that the decision to include solar was not so much about “being green” as about making sound business decisions.“This is about consumer relevance, this is something they want,” he told MyStatesman. “We have not built this business on being green — this is a real business built on economics and consumer needs.”Homeowners who buy the systems will pay $15,000 upfront, although they will be eligible for the 30% federal investment tax credit through the end of 2016. Home buyers who choose the lease option will pay between $45 and $65 per month, the company said, depending on the size of the system. Homeowners who lease their systems will buy their power from Austin Energy at a discounted price.It wasn’t clear how big the arrays are, and GBA was unable to reach anyone in the company who could offer additional information on solar capacities or mechanical systems. However, David Kaiserman, SunStreet Energy’s CEO, told the website UtilityDive.com that the panels were expected to meet about 60% of each home’s electricity needs. The systems range from 3.18 kW to 5.3 kW in capacity and average 3.45 kW.According to the Colorado Crossing website, the slab-on-grade houses are insulated to R-15 in the walls and between R-22 and R-38 in the ceilings and come with radiant barrier roof decking to reduce attic temperatures. “Technology” features include programmable wi-fi capable thermostats. Houses are heated with gas furnaces and cooled with Lennox 16 SEER air conditioning systems.Lennar is using the IRC’s performance-based method for code compliance. The houses, which are inspected by an independent third party, “consistently” receive HERS scores in the mid-60s, the company said.The company said that 20 homes have been completed, with a total of 35 sold. A second and possibly third phase, with another 120 houses each, are in the works, but Lennar didn’t have a firm timetable for a complete build-out.last_img read more

Summer Ready

first_imgSummer leaves no room to hide that bulge. Hit the fitness track with our selection of the coolest gear of the season.Dive Ready: The cool Reebok Women’s Splash swimsuit will make you want to plunge into the pool every day. Fitted bust pads stop points from showing. Rs 2,499Tank Top: Adidas Be Strap top combines comfort and fashion. It’s made with feather light breathable cotton fabric that keeps you cool even when you burn (calories)! Rs 899Hands-On: Pumping iron? Don’t forget your Reebok fitness gloves. They give you a good grip and protect your delicate hands against blisters. Rs 1,799No-sweat Tee: Workout sessions aren’t about wearing boring, plain colours: try out Adidas’ light and bright Balance Tee. It’s dry-fit, so no more ugly sweat patches when you work out. Rs 1,099.Climate Control: This Adidas tank top is apparel with brains. It scores on both fronts: support-it has an internally fittedsports bra-and utility-it has an iPod pocket. Rs 1,299Tone-Up: The Reebok Reetone slacks define the contours of your perfectly toned legs. Its ResiTone bands create resistance to strengthen your leg muscles.Rs 3,999 onwards depending on the fabric.Tennis Serves: The Adidas Roland Garros Tennis Skort is ideal for the sport. Made with environment-friendly recycled polyester, the skirt comes with inner shorts. Rs 1,299Yoga-licious: Leg raises and stretches in asanas will be easier to do in Puma Shala yoga Pants. It has a wide waistband and narrowed ankles that are perfect for any yoga move. Rs 1,999Get Shorty: Too hot for long lowers? Flaunt your toned legs in these Adidas shorts. They’re uber cool! Rs 1,299advertisementHeady Steady: This Reebok Neo Striper bandana will tackle your unruly locks when you work out. Plus, it’ll absorb your sweat. Rs 349Cuff Cool: Reebok’s Basic wristband is made of soft fabric that’s delicate on your skin even as you try to rub off sweat. Rs 199last_img read more