One of the big questions hurled by the defenders of the fossil fuel age is that low-carbon energy technologies just can’t be ramped up to meet the burgeoning need of growing economies worldwide. And, of course, they shed alligator tears at this point over their concern for the billions of poor people yearning for refrigerators and cars who, they contend, would be left in poverty by the heartless “climate alarmists.” But it is a great question. Can we produce the energy for a vibrant, equitable economy without fossil fuels?Read More »
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms…Read More »
Today, Malaysia is in the center of the most dynamic economy in the world–Chindia. With over 3 billion people and a growing middle class, Chindia is wrestling with reconciling the twin objectives of raising average incomes while protecting and restoring the environment. Penang itself is a bustling center of international high technology companies and high rises alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown (where Jimmy Choo got his start!).
Through First Stop Portland, I was invited by the World Bank to join a forum on Greening Urban Growth in Penang, Malaysia. Among the 50 or so participants were elected leaders from Korea, Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia and the Philippines along with top World Bank economists as well as planners from as far away as Spain and as close as Singapore. Such a diverse group reflected the global economy as well as the long history of Malaysia in world trade with its own population mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Europeans…Read More »
While we wait for the “big boys” to act (or not) at their annual conferences in far flung locales, there is much we can be doing on the local level to reduce carbon emissions and address the changes wrought by a changing climate. But what should we do first?Read More »
Whew! It was almost 12 years ago that I took my first oath of office as Metro Councilor from District 5. Now, I’ve reached my 12 year, 3 term limit and I want to say goodbye and thank you. I’ve had a great time representing you and working to make this an even better place to live. And to make Metro a better agency, providing great service to the more than 5 million people we touch every year through the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, our parks, solid waste services and more…Read More »
(In September, 2012, I was acclaimed 2012’s Most Effective Elected Official in Transportation by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. I gave this acceptance speech on the subject of regional planning (so needed in our megapolitan regions!) and basing transportation investments on our shared human values.)
Thank you very much for this incredible honor. And thanks to my colleagues at Metro who nominated me, and did a very good job of keeping this a secret!
I see this as an award for asking awkward questions, and for knowing when to clear the way, and for knowing when to get out of the way.
My habit of asking awkward questions (why, daddy, but, why?) led to study and work in the sciences, then to neighborhood and civic activism and on into a political career. Somewhere along the way I learned the important lesson of leadership—its not enough just to question but one must create a vision, learn to communicate this vision clearly and compellingly and to ask others for help.
My agency, Metro in Portland, Oregon, has a reputation for innovation, leadership and controversy. Yet, despite spearheading regional land use planning, comprehensive recycling and light rail, until I got elected we pretty much planned and put together our RTPs and MTIPs like everyone else—collect a list, collate and print it then divvy up the dough. And heaven help anyone who got between a mayor and his pet project! Not everyone was happy but it was a comfortable groove.
Enter this asker of awkward questions. Being a community activist and not a professional planner or administrator I didn’t know that it was enough to have a world-class model (designed by rocket scientists at Los Alamos, no less!). So I asked why. Why do we spend our money the way we do when we are getting results we don’t like? Like growing traffic congestion, sprawl and collapsing rates of kids walking and biking to school.?
So, I asked why. And, because I was now able to open some doors (and some budget amendments) we went to the public and asked them directly: We collectively spend over $700 Million of your money every year on transportation: are you getting what you want?Read More »
Take a little Rorschach test for me: What do the words, climate change, peak oil and energy conservation mean to you?
If you think like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the alarm bells of regulation, taxation and invading greenies go off in your head. But, if you are like the leading businesses in Europe, it’s visions of Pounds, Kroner and Euros dancing in your mind. What many here see as a threat to America’s economic future is an economic as well as environmental imperative in Europe…Read More »
Why Getting to 2100? The next century will be a test: can humans use their intelligence and foresight to successfully transition from our consumption-fueled economy to one that balances the needs of humans with the Earth’s available resources. Getting to 2100 aims to be a forum for sharing of good ideas and good works. Got a good example or a new idea? Share it with the world!