On writing 10,000 posts for TreeHugger

I was not the first to write for TreeHugger, but have hung around the longest. I started as a tipster; I was blogging about prefab housing at the time and found stuff that I was happy to share with a green site. Then Graham Hill asked me to write a bit more, and then more, and before I knew it I was having a lot more fun (and success) writing than I was selling prefabs. This week I hit a milestone, having written 10,000 posts. Here are a few of the highlights.

The History of the Bathroom

I am most proud of the series I wrote on the History of the bathroom. I was going to write a book but just wasn't getting around to it, so I put some of my research into a series of posts. It is perhaps the best stuff I have written. Heck, I may still write that book. See the series rounded up here.

Speaking of bathrooms, I had some fun when I first covered the Kohler Numi toilet, doing a story on it being in the living room totally straight, as a great space saving multifunctional idea. Hundreds of commenters took me seriously,

Goldilocks Density

parisLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The other book I might write is about what I call the Goldilocks Density. It is in reaction to Ed Glaeser and Ryan Avent and Matt Ygesias and David Owen and Alex Steffen- in fact just about everyone these days who claim that NIMBYS and preservationists are keeping down the supply of housing and we and we have to build high buildings everywhere.

I keep writing in TreeHugger and even in the Guardian that this just isn't so, that our older buildings and lower buildings can be incredibly dense, and are more resilient, and that there are other forces in play with housing besides just supply and demand. Here are a few of the posts I have written on the subject:

Is There a "Goldilocks Density"- Not Too High, Not Too Low, But Just Right?
Cities need Goldilocks housing density – not too high or low, but just right
We Don't All Have To Live In High Rises To Get Dense Cities; We Should Just Learn From Montreal
It's time to dump the tired argument that density and height are green and sustainable.

Heritage Buildings and Preservation

Heritage UrbanismLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Carl Elefante said "the greenest building is the one already standing" and I certainly agree. I got involved with the local Ontario heritage movement and spent two years as president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, preaching that old buildings are not relics from the past, but templates for the future. Here is what I wrote when I finished my term, a roundup of many of my posts on the subject: Heritage Is Green: Lessons From The Architectural Conservancy

Tiny Houses and living with less


Prior to working at TreeHugger, I was trying to promote and sell the Sustain Minihome; I still own the prototype. I was convinced that the future of housing was small, efficient mobile housing units in green trailer parks. I failed miserably; the people who loved the minihome had nowhere to put it, and the people who understood trailer parks just laughed at the price. Now the tiny house movement is a big thing, but there is still nowhere to put them.

The Modern Green Prefab MiniHome Lands At The Green Eco-Trailer Park
See more posts on tiny houses.

Bicycle Urbanism

This is really a story of transition; in 2009 I wrote a post complaining that Matthew Modine should be wearing a helmet, and Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize went medieval on me. The more I read the research and listened to Mikael, the more convinced I became that he was right; that the answer to safety for cyclists isn't to armour them, but to provide safe conditions that anyone can ride. When we finally met in Copenhagen, he was even nice to me. More:

Mikael of Copenhagenize on Why We Should NOT Wear Bike Helmets
Learning about Copenhagen bike culture from Mr. Copenhagenize himself

My most popular post

tv rendering treesimage

This is the post that broke TreeHugger, two million pageviews in the space of a few hours, crashing the whole site. It was about the now famous glass treehouse in Sweden by Tham & Videgard Hansson.

My second most popular post, that was really bizarre


I was asked today how much time I spend on a post. It varies, but on this one I spent less than any other; I was in a hurry to go out one sunday and wrote exactly one sentence, 17 words, with a three word title: Use Electricity Wisely.

We don't think much of ugly, power-sucking billboards, but this one from South Africa's Eskom delivers its message. ::EcoStreet

It was, until the treehouse, my most popular post.

Some notes of thanks:

This has been more than an job, it has been an education. I have read so much and have learned so much (and have written so much) but there are a few people who really influenced me through these years:

Graham Hill, for his enthusiasm and his continuous fount of ideas and initiatives;
Kaid Benfield, Steve Mouzon and Mikael Colville-Andersen for profoundly influencing my thinking about urban issues;
Ken Rother and Ben Boyd, business associates who became true friends;
Emily Murphy and the MNN team who threw us a lifeline and kept TreeHugger alive in tough circumstances;
The TreeHugger Team, the writers and editors I have worked with her over the years;
And most of all my wife, Kelly Rossiter, for putting up with all of this.

On writing 10,000 posts for TreeHugger
Some of them even hold up to scrutiny after all this time; here are a few of my favorites.

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