Getting to 2100

 

Getting to 2100

Author Archive

22 January 2013

“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…obamainaug

18 January 2013
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Despite the continued attempts to sweep the impacts of climate change under the rug, the data keeps piling up that we have much to do to reduce future damage to society and the environment as well as cope with changes already underway. Last released in 2009, the National Climate Assessmentt is being updated and a working draft is now available. Actual adoption is scheduled to occur in 2013–expect much Republican-US Chamber of Commerce scheming and gnashing of teeth.

Comments are being solicited between January 14th and April 12th. The full report is available here as are individual chapters. You can search by region of the country or by issue area.

12 December 2012
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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?

11 December 2012

Even if the world were to stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, the momentum of rising global temperature caused by too much carbon in the atmosphere demands on the ground responses if we are to keep our cities livable. How can we cool our cities and keep them healthy?

11 December 2012

Bicycle use is experiencing a resurgence in much of the world – even the French are riding! In the USA bicycling is on the cusp of even greater growth, rating the attacks of House Republicans who eliminated funding in the latest transportation bill. Yet, most cities still are hostile to experienced riders much less the average person. What do you find that works to give this affordable, convenient, healthy transportation option a leg up?

22 October 2012

IMG_0032Whew! 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…

10 October 2012
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A journalist is someone who writes for a living, an artist makes art. Columnist, pianist, economist… all are ways we use to identify people by their profession. Lance Armstrong is (was) a cyclist, making his fortune by riding a bicycle. I am not a cyclist. I am a person who happens to ride a bicycle to my work, shopping and to visit friends.

A cyclist is a stereotype, not a person. People have rights—to freedom of movement, to safety, to equitable access—that are frequently denied to them when they use a bicycle. When we become a “cyclist” in the eyes of authority and other citizens we are seen as equivalents of automobiles, inanimate objects rather than citizens.

We reinforce this dangerous objectification (and loss of our human rights) when we proclaim ourselves “cyclists.”

… I AM A CITIZEN!

10 October 2012
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As the mosquitos of the modern city, cyclists are used to being swatted at, cursed at, complained about or, worse, just ignored by other citizens and authorities alike. So, it is natural that people riding bicycles feel aggrieved, outraged and self-righteous.

Being part of such an easily identifiable social group has its advantages—it’s easy to find others with similar interests, we have no shortage of conversation starters (from the latest gear to the latest close call) and simplified fundraising (you just ask your friends). But there is also a danger: cyclists often fall into the same traps that many marginalized groups do, seeing themselves as victims, outside of society and powerless. Armed with the gospel of urban salvation—the holy bicycle–we risk becoming caricatures: wild-eyed prophets preaching doom and disaster, spitting in the eye of the establishment, wearing outlandish clothing, and looking down our noses at “normal” people…
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8 October 2012
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Here’s video from the talk Elly Blue and I gave on bike economics at the Fifth National Urban Cycling conference in Mexico this year. Click to check it out!


Video streaming by Ustream

20 September 2012

(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?