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Innovation. It's the new buzzword. Haven't you heard.  It's the rage.  Ten times ... The President used the word "innovation" ten times in the State of the Union speech.

The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.  None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from.  Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.  What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.  We’re the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.  In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives.  It is how we make our living.

You'd think that every member of the Administration would be doing everything -- EVERYTHING -- possible to enable this critical innovation.

The other "in" phrase, "Win the Future", made six showings in the State of the Union address:

to win the future, we’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success.  But if we want to win the future -– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

One of those arenas of "innovation" to "win the future" is "especially clean energy technology -– (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."

Again, you'd think that every waking moment (and many sleeping ones), the Administration's leadership would be working full-bore to leverage opportunities to promote ways "to educate our kids" so that we can "Win The Future" via "our leadership in research and technology ... especially [in] clean energy technology."

You'd think ...
One has to wonder whether the Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, truly paid attention to this speech and the core of its meaning as it made its way through the Administration prior to the actual speech. After all, just days before the State of the Union, the Department of Interior made it be known that it planned to exile from a place of prominence one of the greatest examples of innovative clean energy approaches that is helping "to win the race to educate our kids".

In mid-January, participating teams learned that the Department of Interior had determined that the Solar Decathlon cannot be at the Mall this coming October due to requirements to reseed and otherwise rehabilitate the Mall which sees protests and tourists and festivals and other massive amounts of use that lead it to be among the most worn over plots of land in the nation.  Time for a break ...

But, is this a smart move?

The Solar Decathlon is, quite simply, an incredibly amazing event, bringing together 20 university teams who have constructed (often) beautiful buildings that function 100 percent off solar power. To achieve this, they are incredibly efficient and well-designed structures with a variety of solar systems to power them. Judged in 20 different categories, these buildings function, are all innovative in their own ways, and provide a picture on paths forward -- with many of these innovations heading into commercialization after the festival.

Visiting the festival is an incredible experience for young, old, and in-between.  I have been to the four previous Decathlons and have been wowed even more each time with the increasingly sophisticated and high-quality entrants.  The events are ever more crowded ... with all age groups and races and ethnic groups and showing up in greater numbers, for longer time periods every two years.  I have taken my children there and it is one of the rare events where they have asked to go back to and queried as to when the next one will occur.  And, even years later, my children recall specific items at houses and specific comments from students giving tours and answering questions.  All three of my children have expressed serious jealousy that I had the chance to dine on the Mall in one of the houses as an invitee, watching the sun set over the Washington Monument as I dined extremely well enthralled with the passion of Solar Decathlon competitors.

Now, to provide another perspective, I am one with a close relationship with The National Mall.  I have been, since before being weaned, going to Smithsonian Museums and taking strolls on the Mall from before I can recall.  I have played sports on the Mall. Watched fireworks on the Mall. Seen concerts ... Joined protests ... Watched parades ... Been wowed by sunsets and sunrises ... Studied for exams ... Worked ... And even been married on the Mall. (Okay, as to the last, sort of ... marriage at the Jefferson Memorial.)  The National Mall matters to me and I understand (share) a desire -- a need -- for protecting it and repairing it.

But, I also understand the power and necessity of "innovation".

But, I also understand the urgent need to engage our youth in the drive for developing clean energy systems.

If we wish to "Win The Future," we should not be exiling The Solar Decathlon from The National Mall to some less visible and less meaningful location.

Rather than exiling The Solar Decathlon, we should be heightening its prominence.

The entire cabinet should visit the Decathlon.

As much of the Congressional leadership, as possible, should visit.

Team Germanys Field of Panels
And, the President should -- as he did the other day to the Chamber of Commerce -- should walk over to take a look at real innovation and provide a boost for visionaries who are struggling to Win The Future.


  1.  The Secretary of Interior, starting today, is holding a two-day workshop on onshore renewable energy (available to watch live here starting at 0900 EST).  In his remarks, will Secretary Salazar speak to the symbolic power of exiling The Solar Decathlon from The National Mall?
  1. Do note, however, that The National Book Fair will be held on the Mall in late September 2011.  Hmmmm ...
  1.  Several Solar Decathlon posts:

Originally posted to A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:14 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Discussions re The Solar Decathlon, 2009 (89+ / 0-)

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:13:33 AM PST

  •  Re photos .. (19+ / 0-)

    First photo is of ICON (see, above, "ICON-ic statement ...).

    Second photo is of the German winner of 2009 under construction.

    Photo in comment is VT's Lumenhaus.

    Photos (c) A Siegel, 2009.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:21:13 AM PST

  •  Probably good to have it in other cities so other (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, drewfromct, A Siegel, WarrenS, FischFry

    people can view it without having to travel.

    I did notice though that in the Times article they said most of the participants learned of the change of venue while at the builders show in Orlando?

    I can't believe people are flying around the country in a bid to promote alternative energy. A disproportionately small number of people create an outsized portion of CO2 by flying around. No one should fly to save energy or animals. LIke burning villages to save them.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:30:50 AM PST

    •  Couple thoughts ... (13+ / 0-)
      1.  I am (have been) a big believer in figuring out how to leverage The Solar Decathlon with 'satellite' competitions / requiring (as part of the competition) showing the house in other cities / etc ...  Many of the competiting teams did things like this in 2009 and would suspect that they are planning to do so in 2011.
      1.  Re travel -- it is a real challenge / conundrum.  There was probably meetings at the show in Orlando. It also gave the teams chances to try to get materials for their houses, to get sponsors, etc ... Thus, there is 'value' to the travel. Yet, there is also the challenge of 'burning villages to save them' -- being judicious in travel choices?  Hard to say that zero travel is the right answer ...

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:43:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  well, my old office and school's (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, A Siegel, Dauphin, Lujane

      entrant into the SD one year was a retrofitted airstream which fit into their design.

      Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

      by borkitekt on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:44:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Curt Matlock

      Let's give the Mall a break. How about holding the S.D. in Central Park in NYC? New York has many more natives and tourists than D.C., I'll bet.

      Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

      by drewfromct on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:47:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I would love Central Park ... (9+ / 0-)

        and other locations, the power of The National Mall goes beyond symbolism to practical.

        Military officers, DOE bureaucrats, press from around the world based at The National Press Club, Congressional staff, people from Washington offices of major corporations, etc literally hop over to visit 'on lunch hour' / equivalent ... the "value" is far beyond the casual visitor. And, that 'value' can be leveraged for meaningful change.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 04:59:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What about (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, ScienceMom, A Siegel, Miggles

          alternatives to the Mall inside D.C.? Isn't there a park right across the street from the White House? Or how about on the grounds of the Capitol itself?

          The bottom line is, I don't believe that the S.D. has to be on the Mall, but it should be held someplace that is easily accessible to the highest possible amount of visitors, and the exhibit, or perhaps individual pieces of it, should go on to be seen by as many folks as possible in as many other cities and locations as possible.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:14:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Acceptable compromise??? (10+ / 0-)

            What about if President Obama commits to having 2-3 teams invited to set up within The White House grounds?

            And, what if the First Couple dines in one of the homes with Solar Decathlon participants?

            That would blow the press coverage that occurs with it on The Mall out of the park.

            And, well, there could be other commitments -- such as seeking Corporate / other funding to take a few of the designs and build enough (several of them of at least 100 each) to see whether they can actually bring the cost down to make them viable commercially.

            If the Admin puts some muscle behind The Solar Decathlon in ways that hasn't occurred in the past, this could compensate for the exiling ...

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:18:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The White House grounds (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              George, melo, RunawayRose, A Siegel, Losty, ban nock

              was my first thought, but I held off suggesting it under the assumption that the Secret Service would veto it. In any case, I'm not here to argue the minutiae with you. I understand the importance of making sure that the S.D. takes place in a venue where it can receive the widest exposure, while I also can see the reasoning of the Interior dept. in wanting to give the Mall chance to heal. I have faith that intelligent and reasonable people can work out a compromise. I don't have any say in the matter except for expressing my opinion here, and so I'm done for now. Thanks for this and your many other excellent diaries---you're doing great work and are a valuable asset to Daily Kos.

              Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

              by drewfromct on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:35:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually ... (6+ / 0-)

                The 'voice' issue can matter -- pressure for a meaningful compromise beyond 'it can be done at RFK Stadium' or 'at the Montgomery County Fair Grounds' ..

                What if Secretary of Defense Gates commits to inviting one of the competitors to set up at The Pentagon for a week?  Another one or two on The White House grounds?  How about every single Democratic Senator committing to visit?  The entire Cabinet?

                If the President visits that pulls along some serious media attention.

                What if the GE's CEO visits with the President's encouragement?

                Etc ...

                We need to express our "voice" to help make any compromise one that helps moves things forward.

                Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:43:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  If RFK is large enough, it may be a good solution (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RunawayRose, ScienceMom, A Siegel

                  and would also cut down on the need for security - I can't remember if it was last year, but I believe there has been vandalism issues in the past.

                  My family and I attend this event every year - my kids love it - if it was at MOCO fairgrounds we would even bike to it.

          •  The SD takes up some pretty serious square (5+ / 0-)

            footage.  I wonder why it can't be hosted on a different, more remote part of the DC Mall because they probably aren't reseeding the entire expanse at once.  Also, why not empty the Lincoln Memorial's 2-foot-deep reflecting pool and host it in there?  That pool is like broken and turned off 75% of the time as it is already.

            The charm of hosting on the Mall is that it attracts a lot of incidental foot traffic and provides exposure to people who would otherwise never think to attend a solar energy related festival.  On the other hand, I am glad they are finally doing something serious to improve the mall.  It has gotten to the point where the mall is covered in huge dirt patches and a bunch of extremely ugly and tacky concession stands.  

            Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

            by Miggles on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:44:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  These designs should be built in other places (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, A Siegel, jfromga

      The real tragedy of the solar decathlon is the failure to use these designs as housing.

      Showing the designs on the Mall reaches decision makers. Building out the best designs helps people  and helps advance solar applications.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:23:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  First Net-Zero-Energy Historic Building (12+ / 0-)

    GSA unveils plans for the first net-zero-energy historic building

    2/7/11 - In February of 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to stimulate the economy and promote job creation in the current recession. Building projects funded by ARRA are mandated to promote sustainable design and renewable technologies. The Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse received $15 million to preserve this historic structure and introduce innovative systems to pursue LEED Platinum and strive to make this the first building on the National Register of Historic Places to achieve net zero energy. {click on photo to visit GSA site page for more photo's}

    02/09/2011 - The General Services Administration unveiled plans this month to turn a nearly 100-year-old building into the country's first net-zero-energy-usage historic building.

    The $15 million reconstruction and restoration of the Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse, built in 1918 in Grand Junction, Colo., about 250 miles west of Denver, is designed so the building will produce as much energy as it consumes, making it the first on the National Register of Historic Places to do so.

    GSA also intends to have the building certified LEED Platinum, the highest level. The LEED program of the U.S. Green Building Council encourages and accelerates global adoption of environmentally sustainable building and development practices.

    In May 2010, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said the agency "has to embrace a zero environmental footprint goal. We should set our sights on eliminating the impact of the federal government on our natural environment." {continued}

    CCR:"If you're a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. It's a slow process for accountability, but we keep going."

    by jimstaro on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:00:21 AM PST

    •  It Is On The Minds (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, drewfromct, A Siegel

      Of this Administration and expanding!!

      You're right about the canceling, or delay maybe, but the Mall does need taking care of and this might have already been in the docket with hopefully delayed to a later date or can be held somewhere else this year.

      Reading brought to mind what happened on the first weekend of 'shock and awe' bombing of Iraq. Some 400 Veterans and family friends of were in DC at American University for a teach-in on Saturday, on Sunday we laid wreaths at the War Memorials, the WWII had just started to be built, and there was a Clear Channel pro-war rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the police wouldn't let us walk around past Clear channel folks, only some 300 or so, we had to walk through the reflecting pool, thankfully it was empty for cleaning and is was real dirty. Empty because of Clear Channel, will never know, but the pool did need cleaning!!

      CCR:"If you're a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. It's a slow process for accountability, but we keep going."

      by jimstaro on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:07:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As laid out in the diary ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, mrkvica, JayDean, ScienceMom

        I am well aware -- understand and appreciate -- the competiting imperatives.  I assert that -- for a multitude of reasons -- fostering a clean-energy future via highlighting of The Solar Decathlon has more import than having healthy grass (requiring fertilizer, watering, etc ...) on a few acres of The National Mall.  

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:13:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The trouble is that EVERY cause demands Mall time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          and the repeated hard use is destroying it faster than most imagine. The trees fringing the central grass area are dying from soil compaction. Each summer they are full of dead limbs and some have entire tops cut out. A few years ago I could only shake my head during a summer drought when a view down the trampled mall included three or four dust devils and a brown expanse.

          The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival churns up both the grassy areas and brings heavy traffic among the trees. Then event after event, march after march follows with damage. The real question is pretty damned simple. Do we want a green Mall or not? It is a bit ironic to have a "green" event as part of the destruction of the actual green of the Mall.

          One solution might be to replace a section of the grass with European style cobble plaza. Permeable pavements of that type make up many of the most pleasant heavily used areas in Europe and there are even trees that thrive in such places. There are eight "squares" in the Mall between 3rd and 14th. Perhaps dedicating the four between 7th and the axis of 13th to such a plaza and then strictly limiting exhibitions and events involving either construction, tents or heavy foot traffict to that area would be a solution.

          A green Mall simply cannot continue to absorb the heavy use and frequent heavy equipment intrusions. Events will have to be curtailed, otherwise, green, including the mature trees, will be destroyed by events no matter how "green" they claim to be.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:40:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The trouble is alternative energy is being (5+ / 0-)

            relegated to folk music/book sale status, not innovative/critical for national security status.

            •  The trouble is that the Mall is an equal (0+ / 0-)

              opportunity venue. That is the simple fact that will be enforced by the courts if necessary. You hold your "alternative energy" display and someone else will--and does--hold their countering display.

              That is one of the small ironies in the view of those outside the Beltway groups that just love the Mall. Our march on the Mall! Well, the next day the opposition may be marching. Our energy efficient exhibition on the National Mall! Guess who is coming next--Military Industrial Complex weapons on display! Your solar stuff is often followed by tanks and helicopters.

              One choice that has been actually discussed is to pave over the grass area. In this country we can expect concrete or blacktop to help with forming that summer heat cap over the city--a really green solution. The state of the trees and the grass and the budget for solutions is such that continued heavy use will destroy the thing. Solutions other than moving events elsewhere are simply not going to be funded under these political conditions.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:09:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Okay, now we can throw our hands up in the air (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, A Siegel

                and shrug our shoulders and say. "See, there's nothing we can do!"

                Jeezus, what a defeatist, no-can-do attitude.  No wonder this country is losing ground.

                •  Crap and bullshit! (0+ / 0-)

                  Childish! I can't have my toy so you are a defeatist. I have to have my exhibition where I demand or we as a nation will lose ground. You sound like that quote out of Vietnam as in "We have to destroy the Mall to save the nation"!

                  There is plenty that can be done. Hold it in another prominent location that is more suitable for events requiring heavy equipment and construction. Replace a section of Mall grass with permeable cobbles (Funding?). Charge every event full cost of protecting/restoring what they used to original condition (Screams of "but, but we are a non-profit!").

                  Every sponsoring group thinks they are special, often "saving the world" and since this is a national property they have equal opportunity--even if directly opposed to what we find special. A really green and environmental friendly way to approach this is to come up with a solution other than destruction of existing and rapidly shrinking green in the heart of Washington. The new MLK memorial, very special, tore out a hunk of green. The new African American museum is going to do the same. The WW II Memorial got its chunk. Trees are being ripped out all over the area to make room for "special" things.

                  The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                  by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:34:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Want to talk 'travesty' (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    melo, RunawayRose, mrkvica, sweeper

                    in that vein: FDR specifically said that he didn't want a big memorial. The FDR Memorial is pretty impressive, but at what cost?

                    I think that your idea of transforming some portion of the Mall into a space that can sustainably support major things like the Folklife Festival and The Solar Decathlon is a good path to take.

                    And, as I've pointed out in other comments, there are 'compromises' that could compensate for this exiling (and that is an appropriate term).  The President visiting.  Arm-twisting for fundraising to make 'real' (semi-) mass production of a solar house based on one (or more) of the designs.  Etc ...

                    But, as the symbolism of sending this off The Mall (while other events -- such as the Book Fair -- are not) is a pretty strong counter-narrative to 'innovation' and 'win the future'. No?

                    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                    by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:43:54 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The FDR is my favorite. It may be a "travesty" to (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RunawayRose, A Siegel

                      his wish but it is not as one of the most environmentally friendly of the memorials. It has trees, water, the sound of water (at least when not off for the winter), birds (I sometimes bird watch there as it attracts a variety of both woodland, water and open field species), small animals, "rooms" and a lesson for citizens that sometimes takes--though many seem ignorant and oblivious. I've watched some of our own stop and really consider the quotes. I've seen a priest from a nation with little in the way of a public sector and great poverty shed tears and write down:

                      The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.

                      I noted the NPS page for the memorial dispensed with the quotes during the Bush years. It is certainly not an open space, neo-Nazi horror (what irony) like the WW II memorial!

                      The book fair type events tend to be in tents and use lighter equipment during set-up and take-down. The Folk Life, one I've enjoyed and that has value in exposing our own and other culture's less visible aspects is severely damaging to the Mall. I've thought in the past the one in question here was probably second most damaging. Very heavy equipment is used to get the displays in place and one year the deep ruts and damage lasted well into winter.

                      Until some solution, perhaps the cobbles with greenery, can be found I will support banishing all exhibitions requiring more than some tents that can be put in place with light equipment. Just look at Google Earth or Maps at the imagery, in particular for the area between 7th and 14th (Castle to History) and you will see permanent damage visible year around.

                      Ironically we have a case of Eric Sevareid's

                      The chief cause of problems is solutions.

                      Fifty years ago I used to count on parking where the gravel paths now lie. Then there was a long season in which "the damned tourist" were gone and I could zip down for a few hours in a museum. I used to park in front of the carousel on nice fall days when I had a small kid. Those paved streets with parking on both sides vanished in a post Earth Day solution to "green the Mall"--and now that is a problem.

                      Ironic. The devil is indeed in "solutions" and "trade offs" and "consequences" every time.

                      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                      by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 08:52:49 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Honestly ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        It is a truly beautiful Memorial ... and there were Cherry Blossoms taken down to accommodate it and there were plenty of playing fields shut down for it.  (I referreed the Ultimate National Championships years ago on a field that disappeared with the Memorial.)

                        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                        by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 09:22:04 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  Can't Afford to Divert Government Bank Money nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, rolet, JML9999

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:18:11 AM PST

  •  This is so disheartening. (7+ / 0-)

    It has the feel of the time right before the gulf oilpocalypse when President Obama opened new areas of the coast to oil drilling.  If a Republican president had done either, there would have been a really big response from Democrats (I hope!)

  •  Hmmm ... (8+ / 0-)


    "Win the Future",

    they fit on a Bumper sticker.

    "The Solar Decathlon"

    "Clean Energy Technology",

    Not so much.  

    Those require commitment.

    Those require "Buying into the Future" ...

    Hmmm ...

    I dream of things that never were  -- and ask WHY NOT?
    -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by jamess on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:59:49 AM PST

  •  We're not retreating (5+ / 0-)

    we're just advancing to the rear.  

    Somebody should tell the WH that with manufacturing, unlike with FIRE, the guys who do the most innovation are the guys who actually make the stuff.  You can't beat something with nothing.

  •  Whip Inflation Now = WIN (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, FishOutofWater, Losty

    Win The Future=WTF aka Whiskey Tango Foxtrot aka What The !@$%#@$!#!%^ Supplier of Win the Future Buttons

    We Destroyed this Village in order to save it from the Viet Cong er um Taliban

    by JML9999 on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:19:31 AM PST

  •  It's a cool event, but this is the right move (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok, Floande

    The Mall is in desperate need of repair. Indeed -- even from an environmental perspective, it's probably better to focus on restoring the Mall and move the decathlon.

    I appreciate the focus on this event, but I think it's wrongheaded to criticize the decision. As for the suggestion about getting lawmakers and agency head to visit the event -- not a bad idea, but it would also be interesting to hold this elsewhere and invite local politicians.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:23:28 AM PST

    •  "Environmental ..." (4+ / 0-)

      The Mall is a lawn requiring fertilizer, watering, etc ... "Lawns", even the National lawn, are not exactly a paean to environmental solutions.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:35:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are plans to do something different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There are a lot of plans to do something much more environmentally friendly -- more like restoring to natural state -- with more wooded areas, etc. More interesting visually, too. The lawn would be smaller and easier to maintain. Whether these ideas reach fruition is anybody's guess.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

        by FischFry on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:57:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, there is the option to just pave it over. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geenius at Wrok, FischFry

        That is certainly "green" in that it will help heat the city in summer. The grass areas are only part of what is being destroyed by constant event over use. The trees on the edges are in very serious condition, each summer bringing more and more great dead limbs against the sky. Soil compaction brought by events is doing the worst damage. Casual walking among the trees brings some, but the real damage is from intense traffic and even tent raising among the trees.

        I find it more than ironic that a green event's supporters are tending to support destruction of a green lung of the heart of "tourist" Washington. I find it ridiculous that such supporters refuse to understand a simple fact. It is a public venue. If one event is allowed other, similar, events must be allowed.

        There are Mall solutions but they are expensive. I've long thought the use of cobbles in a special event area, the kind often seen in European plazas that even allow healthy tree growth, would make sense. Can you see this Congress appropriating money for that? No way!

        A solution would be to move many such events to the RFK Stadium/Armory area or some others with suitable space and Metro access. The problem is that every group demands the prestige of "On the National Mall" for its pet event. Unless you live in the area and frequent the Mall area you probably have no idea how many of those there are. There are often several going on at one time.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:00:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are many "green" paths ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, mrkvica

          to improve the Mall while enabling events.  Pervious pavers, with high reflectivity, would foster groundwater runoff control while enabling 'foot'/bike/horse/etc traffic to walk along the paths better than current gravel (which, by the way, people avoid when there are puddles, increasing foot traffic on the grass).

          Also, this is a US government hosted event ... which, one would think, would place it in a different category than marches and other privately sponsored events.

          And, there are paths for protecting the trees that are not undertaken ... fences, for example, to protect the soil from compacting over the root structures.

          Finally, in terms of overall 'green', there is a much larger question / discussion of how DC's entire design (LaFayette / et al) undermines 'green'.  "The Mall", which I love, actually undermines environmental friendliness of the city rather than enhancing.  

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:25:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Personally I'd lot rather see the Mall as done in (0+ / 0-)

            some of the European cities. I'd particularly like to see those permeable cobbles and city trees with restaurants and gathering areas scattered about. When I compare our Mall to areas in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal I get particularly irritated. Hell, I can stroll and sit under trees with some good food and wine rather than with crap and "Alcohol Area" segregation!

            Taking your points:

            US government hosted event ... which, one would think, would place it in a different category than marches and other privately sponsored events.

            The Mall, the entire federal park system in the city, is subject to forceful First Amendment requirements. That is why there are special sections in the permit regulations for "First Amendment" activities. There have been recent court decisions limiting the NPS from regulating those. No matter the "sponsor" it is very definitely a case of "You hold your event and we can hold our similar event" or see you in court. If an anti-alternative event pushed the matter in court they would likely be there the next week.

            And, there are paths for protecting the trees that are not undertaken ... fences, for example, to protect the soil from compacting over the root structures.

            Events under the trees should be strictly off limits. I'd like to see small fences that might discourage casual foot traffic. At the same time those trees are a gathering place for visitors to sit in the shade. Short of real "Keep Out" fences you will also have "cut through" traffic as I've seen small fences completely ignored in my four or more decades around the place. One thing I would like to see is some common sense foot path orientation. People do not square with the grid pattern between major destinations. Every time I'm in the tourist area I can see logical paths, some even that could enhance the look, not built with resulting mud/dust trails.

            Finally, in terms of overall 'green', there is a much larger question / discussion of how DC's entire design (LaFayette / et al) undermines 'green'.  "The Mall", which I love, actually undermines environmental friendliness of the city rather than enhancing.  

            I'm not getting your point. The overall design may be a nightmare for drivers unfamiliar with circles and all those angles but in my early days here many of those had very green parks with trees, shrubs and grass. I've watched a very green, treed city become much, much less so. I will agree, as seen at the top, that the sweeping grass and gravel between the Capitol and Lincoln is a rather barren "park" as far as being environmentally friendly. A part of the problem though is that much of that very area is "treasured" by those wanting a venue for their cause--a demonstration, a rally, a concert "for" and "against," an exhibition, museum or monument. I'd much prefer major parts of it look more like perhaps Las Ramblas or Paseo del Prado. Then that directly conflicts with the preceding list.

            It is that bitter old "Can't have your cake and eat it" trade off!

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 08:04:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Couple things ... (0+ / 0-)

              According to USG sources:

              1. There is no other event -- none -- that has been removed from the calendar.
              1.  The work on this section of the Mall is not scheduled, even at this time, to begin until well after The Solar Decathlon's schedule.
              1.  There looks to have been agreement, at this late a date, to move The Solar Decathlon prior to any detailed look at what viable other options existed.
              1.  "Overall green" ... really points to the issue of what makes an urban environment energy (and environmentally) efficient.  DC's spread out nature, with the Mall breaking up 'downtown', fosters inefficiency (hard to walk, etc ...).

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 12:03:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, points 1-3 in particular indicate there may (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                be more to this decision than Mall preservation. So is the dead silence to both participant and Congressional inquiries. The idea it be moved to National Harbor, a place I dislike in general for a variety of reasons, is also almost malicious in my opinion.

                If this is the future:

                The restriction may be the first of many for the mall. The Solar Decathlon is but one of some 3,000 events held on the nearly two-mile-long National Mall each year, and many require large equipment and construction, among them the Smithsonian's FolkLife Festival, National Book Festival, and various armed forces demonstrations. Limits in these events to protect the Mall are, Line said, "under discussion."

                (Chemical & Engineering News)

                for others involving heavy equipment see the last of the Mall I will be reassured this is not some malicious move. By the way, I lost trust in Salazar with the BP Gulf disaster. He was part of the disaster in my opinion.

                My arguments for moving it--and other such events--are longer view and more general. I realize everyone wants their event to have photos of the Capitol and Washington Monument icons in background. I do not see that as reason enough to destroy another icon. I do favor making some Mall modifications, in particular the European type permeable cobbles (actually sett or Belgian block rather than true cobbles), of a section that would allow such events to resume. Unfortunately I see this Congress more likely to slash all National Park funding to the bone rather than improve anything.

                The technology is there. The Roman road has been updated and proven to actually last longer with less maintenance according to articles I read years ago. U.S. drivers don't like the "noisy" surface or bumps, liking silk smooth asphalt as many like bland, soft white bread, but we could really use that for less maintenance, lower runoff and traffic calming in many places. Photos at "The Road Less Traveled: Pervious Pavement & Other Green Surfaces for Your Home" shows examples of something I've seen, particularly in Brazil for driveways, that could be adapted to a part of the Mall for both green look and resistant surface for exhibitions. The problem seems to be that we like to stick to the old ways even when demonstrated to be poor choices.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 01:08:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  As a DC United fanatic, let me say this about RFK (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          I wonder if it's safe for the students. It's a rat-infested mess -- even a raccoon family has taken up residence inside Also, as a solar energy project, I wonder if the stadium itself is a suitable venue -- lots of shade. Perhaps the parking lots would work better.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

          by FischFry on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 08:27:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Decathlon seminal event, wrong move. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, A Siegel, sweeper

      If there is any one event that should be shown on the National Mall it is the Solar Decathlon.

      Future of energy sustainable housing. Check
      Future of home building industry. Check
      Future of US national energy security. Check
      Future of US industrial competence. Check
      Future of US education. Check.
      Future of US global warming fix. Check.

      If anything, everything else get's booted off, hold the Solar Decathlon and use the Solar Decathlon lessons of environmental and economic sustainability to kick off the environmental restoration of the National Mall.

      But this is an administration that has not done the right thing since it's inception so there's no hope for change now.  I suppose we should be happy Obama did not kill the Solar Decathlon altogether since it will do nothing to help Obama's plan of deep water oil drilling and increased US oil imports, greenhouse gases, oil wars, oil trade deficits.

    •  No the main reason this is wrong is (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, RunawayRose, mrkvica, A Siegel

      that this event needs to be in a very high profile location so that our nations top politicians and administrators cannot conveniently ignore it.

      Our environmental and economic future depends upon our innovation and implementation of clean and renewable energy sources and choices.  This event is an in your face reminder of what can be done if there is a political will.  

      It is hard to believe that holding this event once every two years is the primary cause of the problems with the National Mall.  No, it appears that the problems with the National Mall are a convenient excuse for the powers that be to push aside a high profile event that reminds us that we have no excuse for business as usual based upon fossil fuels.

      The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:45:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, A Siegel

      just a lawn. Not some wilderness.

      Plant the grass after the Solar event.

      I don't believe for a second they couldn't do that.

  •  They're dumping it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, Crazy like a fox

    to plant non-native lawn... Classic.

    Pionta Guinness, le do thoil!

    by surfbird007 on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 06:52:19 AM PST

  •  Bottom line: President "wishful thinker" Obama (0+ / 0-)

    isn't really into alternative energy.

    The only innovation going on is with financial investment vehicles such as derivatives.

    Face it, the President has made an enormous effort pumping up Wall Street and a piddly ass effort getting alternative energy off the ground.  

    He can say "innovation" in his speeches as many times as he wants but it isn't happening.

    And Congress, what exactly are they doing?  Their usual nothing.

    •   I (0+ / 0-)

      was so hopeful two years ago.

      But it is all talk. So disappointing.

      I sent so many ideas to my congress people how to scale alternative energy in our country. But nothing has happened.

      Still focused on small scale innovation. No scaling.

      I do think Obamam wants it that way.

      He can talk and talk and point to such things but in reality the coal and oil and gas industry aren't threatened at all.

  •  This is silly, hysterical hyperbole (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pilgrim X

    "Exiling"?  Exiling is when someone is sent from their home to far away.

    The Solar Decathlon was a guest on the Mall, it is not their home.

    You should be ashamed of your hyperbole.

    There are lots of places portable houses can be set up instead.  It's not like the event is canceled or banned.

  •  Much ado about nothing (0+ / 0-)

    Just because they need to maintain the grounds does not mean the event is exiled or being shoved off.  Even if it is required to move for good, hardly reason for this hysteria and hyperbole.  Get a grip.

    There is always a better way.

    by Pilgrim X on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:09:38 AM PST

  •  The President doesn't put his money where his (6+ / 0-)

    mouth is.  He talks about innovation but then allows a major event like this to be brushed off like it's a middle school science fair.

  •  Once again: reverse everything he says. (0+ / 0-)

    We could have seen that one coming.

    Seen "Gasland"?

    We don't need a third party. We need a second party.

    by obiterdictum on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:20:41 AM PST

  •  What??! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, DeadB0y, A Siegel, Lujane

    I've been wanting to go since it started and had made plans to go this year.

    China is blasting us out of the water in solar.

    America. Backwater "leader" of the world.

  •  Sometimes it seems like the only thing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... that DC knows how to innovate is bullshit.

    And man, are they good at that.

    The inadequate is the enemy of the necessary.

    by JRandomPoster on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:34:24 AM PST

  •  This isn't an either-or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel

    It's a both-and. The National Mall should be reseeded and the event relocated, and the entire cabinet, Congressional leadership and the President should show up for a visit, wherever it happens to be held.

    As long as the thing's still going on, it's not truly in exile, any more than the Evanston Public Library was "in exile" in Fountain Square while the old building at Church and Orrington was being demolished and replaced with something larger and more modern.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:44:20 AM PST

  •  so lets get another location. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel

    can we hold the Decathlon on the Polo Grounds across from the Lincoln Memorial or perhaps on the gounds of the armory or rfk stadium?

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 07:48:24 AM PST

  •  The (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    other thing is they designed their houses for the latitude of Washington DC.

    Isn't there a requirement the panels have to supply so many kilowatts? So moving to a more northern city is probably not going to happen.

  •  I support both. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, mrkvica

    As someone who walks by the mall every single day, yes the mall need rehab, badly.  There are parts of the mall where there have been so many pedestrians that the grass isn't just worn, it's completely gone.  Stimulus funds are being used to rehab the mall, which will create jobs, so that is also a good thing.

    I've also visited the solar decathlon the past three years, and I love it.  It SHOULD be on the mall.  However, we can't have it both ways.  I would be fine with it being somewhere else in the city, though admittedly I couldn't tell you where would be better.

    Maybe rehab one section of the mall at a time and use the remaining sections for events, and cycle through them?  The mall is huge, after all.

  •  Typical Obama. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crazy like a fox, MixedContent

    What a brilliant move to appoint an oil industry flunky as head of Interior. I mean, look how well it worked out with deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Sheer fucking genius.

    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

    by expatjourno on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 09:00:29 AM PST

  •  Solar decathlon also-ran here... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, RunawayRose, mrkvica, A Siegel

    The Mall was a good venue to raise public awareness, so an alternative location must be selected very carefully, hopefully, to make the event more, not less prominent.

  •  I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel

    just talked to a person in the Parks Department and she told me that the Energy Secretary is the one who with drew the request to hold the Solar Decathlon on the mall.

    The parks department had given them their permit.

  •  that's a bummer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    I love the Solar Decathlon, I used to donate material to some of the schools when I worked for a bamboo manufacturer.

  •  I worked with the 2002 Auburn team... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, A Siegel

    This decision is a stupid one.  I worked with the Auburn University team on the Heliodyne solar hot water system integrated into their entry that finished 3rd in the 2002 Solar Decathlon.  Heliodyne collectors and other equipment have been used by other teams over the years.

    I worked for Heliodyne in Richmond, California three different times from 1978 to 2003 in sales and system sizing/design (had to go elsewhere to make a living income between working at Heliodyne - solar thermal).  The founders - Jurg Bieri and his wife Christel, struggled against tremendous odds for nearly three decades to keep their struggling company afloat, and I am proud to have been part of their team, and to have been involved, even peripherally, with the Solar Decathon.  Although the founders have retired, the company lives on under new ownership as the oldest American solar thermal equipment manufacturer.

    I was never able to attend any of the Solar Decathlon events, but I recognized their tremendous value in raising awareness and getting bright young college engineering, design and architecture students prepared for transitions to energy alternatives for the future.

    The Solar Decathlon is a national treasure.  It is disgusting that the Obama Administration would take it out of the spotlight when they should be promoting and highlighting it.  This ranks right up there with Ronald Reagan removing the White House system that Jimmy carter had installed.

    I wonder if the fossil fuel lobbyists and their employers are happy?  Perhaps they could persuade the Obama to let BP put up a full-size model of their Gulf of Mexico Macondo platform on the mall instead!

    Thanks for the diary, Adam.  Tipped & Rec'd.


    The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein

    by DaveVH on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 12:04:20 PM PST

  •  You want Boehner to visit the Solar Decathalon? (0+ / 0-)

    Ain't gonna happen. He's already gone on the record that he likes to delegate as much as possible. If you want to get him there, you're going to need to have an open bar.

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