Naturally, I waited until the last possible day of the year to apply for my resident parking permit at the City Hall Annex in Cambridge, Mass. When I entered the lobby, the line of permit-seekers was at least a hundred people deep, winding around the entire first floor of the building, up the staircase and back down again. What I expected to be a high-anxiety situation filled with people sighing loudly and making rude comments under their breath turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant experience. People waited patiently, read their books, chatted with their neighbors, and played games on their cell phones until it was their time at the window. Why such a pleasant atmosphere?
I’d like to think that the vibe had something to do with the fact that we were all waiting inside Cambridge’s first municipal “green” building. The building is a historic renovation of an 1871 schoolhouse—with big windows, an upgraded ventilation system, non-toxic paint and finishes, and geothermal heating. The walls of the lobby are covered in nature-inspired murals depicting the City’s commitment to the environment. Cambridge taxpayers pay less for utilities to power this building – and procrastinators like me now have a beautiful place to wait in line to get a permit. Continue reading