Inside Oakland’s pop-up neighborhood

Read the full story in Smart Planet. GOOD featured a restaurant called Guest Chef that is also located in Oakland. I can’t tell from this story if it’s in the same neighborhood. In any case, there’s a lot of rethinking going on there.

Entrepreneurs in Oakland are taking the idea of a pop-up store to another level.

Small businesses and startups are moving into empty downtown storefronts to encourage more local retail and revitalize a downtown Oakland neighborhood, taking the approch that many pop-up stores are better than one. Popuphood, a “small business incubator,” gives local retail stores the opportunity to occupy building space for six rent-free months, with the hope that the store will become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood.

This Gourmet Restaurant Lends its Kitchen to Aspiring Chefs

Read the full post at Good.

Guest Chef is the brainchild of Bay Area real estate developer Scott Cameron. Simply put, it is a permanent space without permanent cooks. The way Cameron sees it, starting a new cafe shouldn’t be a precarious recession career move for aspiring chefs. So the 20-seat restaurant changes hands every two weeks as a new emerging or established chef takes over with access to a fully stocked kitchen, wine reserve, and three-person base staff of dishwasher Manuel and servers Kristen and Shannon. The two-week window ostensibly gives the chefs a chance to find out if they are confident and skilled enough to impress area crowds with their adventurous long-term ideas…

The effort began with an empty kitchen. Last year, chef Mark Valentine—a friend of Cameron’s—suggested that they find a creative use for an unused space along a gentrifying Oakland neighborhood’s main drag.

Energy Department Announces Over $12 Million to Spur Solar Energy Innovation

As part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an American economy built to last, today U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced over $12 million to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace through the Energy Department’s SunShot Incubator program. The funding will accelerate American innovation in solar energy and manufacturing by supporting advancements in hardware, reductions in soft costs, and the development of pilot manufacturing and production projects.

“Investments in American energy and manufacturing are critical building blocks for an American economy built to last,” said Secretary Chu. “The SunShot Incubator program fosters the innovative small businesses that will rapidly bring technological advances to market and pioneer a new era in American energy.”

The SunShot Incubator program helps launch new startups and business units within existing companies to accelerate the innovative solar technology development. Since 2007, DOE has invested $60 million through the Incubator in promising technologies as they are brought from the lab to the marketplace. These investments have catalyzed $1.6 billion in private sector support. The federal investment in these projects has been leveraged at a rate of more than 26-to-1.

The funding opportunity announced today builds on the SunShot Incubator program’s history of successful partnerships. Nearly forty companies have participated in the Incubator, including Colorado-based PrimeStar. In 2007, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and PrimeStar Solar announced a cooperative R&D agreement to transition NREL’s cadmium telluride solar technology to commercial production. Primestar later received a $3 million Incubator award to commercialize its highly-efficient, low-cost photovoltaic solar panels. Primestar, now owned by GE, has announced a $600 million investment in the company and the construction of a large-scale manufacturing plant in Colorado that will employ more than 350 American workers to produce state-of-the-art solar panels. Through the Department’s SunShot Incubator program, these types of investments help early-stage companies overcome barriers to bring innovative solar technologies to market faster.

Today’s SunShot Incubator funding will support innovations in the development of hardware and non-hardware approaches from the proof-of-concept stage to prototype demonstration, including advances in photovoltaics, concentrating solar power and power electronics, as well as streamlined permitting, inspection and financing approaches, and to shorten the timeline for awardees to transition innovative prototypes produced at lab-scale into pilot and eventually full-scale manufacturing, production, or deployment. Each of the investments will require significant cost-share commitments from the awardees.

Applications are due on April 9, 2012. For more information and application requirements for the Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

Stunning images of America’s environments are returning to public view — and acclaim

Read the full story at MinnPost.

As a dazzling catalog of this country’s myriad environments, often under siege, the DOCUMERICA project would be hard to top.

Just now returning to public view, DOCUMERICA’s 80,000 images form a stunning record of American life, work and landscape at the dawn of modern environmental consciousness, in the early 1970s.

Over the next year they will be coming out of the National Archives for a series of traveling displays. But already some 15,000 images – including more than 500 made in Minnesota – can be viewed online.