Please don't shoot the messenger (but feel free to shower me with adoration and/or send along homemade brownies if you must), but I'm going to broadcast some devastating/inevitable news: Summer is just about over.
Like this past spring, summer '13 was rather eclectic in terms of popular topics and trends — in somewhat of a departure, LED/lighting-related stories were quite minimal — but there were a handful of reoccurring themes that you may have picked up on: shipping container reuse, the wonders of wood, water conservation, impossibly petite dwellings, adaptive reuse, residential solar, and bodily functions.
As always, thank you kindly for reading and if you aren't already, please do connect with me on Twitter for more MNN green home and garden goodness. And, finally, just like my end-of-season story roundup from last summer, I've included a few photos of my own summertime adventures throughout this post.
• Ottawa neighborhood embroiled in squirrel deportation scandal —Sick and tired of ransacked bird feeders and gardens, homeowners in an upscale Ottawa neighborhood have apparently taken to illegally trapping and transporting squirrels across province lines to Quebec.
• Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort: An underground RV park for end times — The doomsday shelter specialists at Vivos start work on a family-friendly underground RV park in Kansas complete with shuffleboard courts, decontamination showers and room for 5,000 vacationing preppers.
• Memorial service to be held for slain Oregon bees in Target parking lot —Sure, 'bee funeral' may scream Portland but a memorial service being held this Sunday to remember the 50,000 pollinators killed by pesticides at an Oregon Target store is more crucial than quirky in nature.
• Tom Kundig goes head to head with residents of Methow Valley — Tom Kundig is renowned for designing homes that blend into their natural surroundings. His own mountaintop cabin, however, has sparked siting-related contention amongst residents of a small North Cascades community.
• A woodsy retreat that's 'like camping but without the sleeping bags' [Video] — In a video that's sure to leave outdoor living enthusiasts breathless, faircompanies tours a 'decadently primitive' Sonoma County compound composed of three semi-permanent tent-bungalows.
• Hipster hen dump: The issue of urban chicken abandonment — NBCNews tackles the dark side of urban agriculture with a look at the increasing number of chickens being put up for adoption after being abandoned by 'stupid foodies' and 'hipster farmers.'
• Urinal-sink combo tackles water-conservation, hand-washing neglect — A Latvian designer unveils a hygiene-promoting public urinal with a tap built right into the top. It's a clever, conservation-minded concept but one that's not safe from booze-fueled abuse or the 'eww' factor.
• Michael Green and the case for wooden skyscrapers [Video] — Michael Green, the tree-loving Canadian architect responsible for the proposed 'Tallwood' tower in Vancouver, gives a fascinating TED talk on why skyscrapers should be erected from wood, not concrete and steel.
• At Seabrook, New Urbanism goes to the beach —With prefab and cargotecture checked off the list, Sunset magazine tackles New Urbanism with the setting of this year's Idea House(s): A pedestrian-centric village on the Washington coast named Seabrook.
• Try tiny house living on for size at Portland's newest hotel —Conveniently located near a smattering of tattoo parlors and an organic food co-op, Caravan, the country's first self-described tiny house hotel, opens for business in Northeast Portland.
• Suds with a side of guilt: Shower head turns red when you're dawdling —Tufts grads have developed the prototype for a conservation-minded shower head with a LED interface that fades from green to red when oblivious users start to enter water-wasting territory.
• Activists raise stink over massive Gowanus Canal development — Residents living near the Gowanus Canal — New York's most charming/super-polluted waterway — rally against a planned residential development that they believe will overcrowd the area and lead to increased flooding risk.
• Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Cathedral opens after ungodly delay — At long last, a transitional structure to replace Christchurch, New Zealand's earthquake-ravaged Anglican cathedral is open for worship. And you'll never guess what it's made of.
• Passiv party: Big, airtight happenings on Seattle's green building scene — It's officially Seattle's Summer of Passivhaus as Dwell Development launches a YouTube series documenting Puget Sound's first spec passive house while Cascade Built unveils the city's first PH-certified dwelling.
• Woodcube: Is this the healthiest apartment building in the world?— Constructed as part of the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, Woodcube is a carbon-neutral apartment complex built almost completely with untreated wood and not a drop of glue.
• London's largest and lushest living wall attracts critters, prevents flooding — Across town from the sizzling death rays generated by London's newest glass skyscraper, a luxury hotel in Victoria unveils a verdant vertical garden designed to combat urban flooding, clean the air and promote biodiversity.
• Test your cluck with a chicken rental service —A Pennsylvania couple launch a chicken rental service that provides hen-curious customers with egg-laying loaners to 'test drive.' Think about it: Omelettes galore with zero buyer's remorse!
• Paranoid in pink: 1970s bunker-dwelling in Las Vegas for sale —While Las Vegas is no stranger to foreclosures, there's one bank-owned home in Sin City that's different from the rest: It's located 26 feet underground, decked out in pink and built to withstand a nuclear blast.
• In Amsterdam, nasty neighbors banished to shipping container 'scum villages' — Time-out for terrible neighbors? Under a new plan, Amsterdam residents prone to anti-social behavior can be evicted and sent off for a six-month stint at an isolated 'scum village.'
• 'Smart' micro-housing for Swedish students gets high marks in affordability — In 2014, 22 students enrolled at Sweden's Lund University will be moving into wooden 108-square-foot micro-units. A tight squeeze, sure, but much better than shared cinderblock-walled cells.