Friday, May 29, 2009
So, again, join the Friends. Support your library. Stay on top of what's going on.
That HCN essay made me realize a couple things:
First, pioneers tended to be the kind of folks who left where they were to get away from people who determined a person's social standing by referring to the person's family. In other words, whenever you start off by saying "As a fifth-generation Oregonian . . . " you're saying "I'm the kind of person that my pioneer ancestors fled from."
Second, people who emigrate to Oregon today have more in common with your ancestors than you do, because we packed up all our things and moved to this beautiful state just like they did. We are pioneers, in other words.
We didn't have the luck to be born here, but we did have the luck to see how much worse it can be elsewhere, in places where they despoil their wildernesses and pave over their best land. And, like your pioneer ancestors, we found that our destination was already inhabited. Be glad that we are treating you much better than your pioneer ancestors treated the inhabitants they found here.
Image by AaverageJoe via FlickrAmen. Although we'll be doing well to reestablish credible service of any kind, much less high-speed rail, she is sure right that the Highway Department (hiding behind the name "Oregon Department of Transportation" in the same way that the War Department changed its name to "Department of Defense") seems intent on destroying rail in Oregon.
The big dose of highway pork that the Legislature is ladling out is just another monument to our firm commitment to ignore the facts about energy: we can not and will not keep the carburban everyone-must-drive lifestyle going much longer. We are bankrupting ourselves trying; worse, we are foreclosing the very options that we will need to maintain a decent society in the post-oil period.
Years ago, Oregon's rail experts designated projects to add trains, increase speed. We invested millions in track improvement. Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are designated Federal High Speed Rail Corridors. Historic rail stations like Salem's are restored by donations and government.
Rail development brings construction work, permanent good paying jobs, careers, business opportunities state wide and economic prosperity. We should be aggressively applying for stimulus funds.
With my new enthusiasm, I met with state officials involved in rail. Pretty audacious and courageous for me.
I am stunned with what I learned.
No expressed urgency to apply for federal funds. No alarm that our second Cascades train is on the budget chopping block. No plan to replace the train set, Eugene-Portland route, on loan from Washington, with similar high-quality equipment.
Doubly catastrophic, silently without open study, publicity or public input, ODOT officials plan to move the high speed passenger rail corridor to the short line railroad through Salem's Highland and Grant neighborhoods, by-passing our landmark station and apparently abandoning Oregon City.
The silence means that the public will have no idea until it's too late.
How this grandiose plan connects Amtrak in Portland, Albany or Eugene, or passengers destined to Seattle or Klamath Falls is a mystery not answered. Mandated studies, costs, environment and social impacts take time, applying for desperately needed federal money becomes impossible. ODOT's proposal is oddly futuristic, probably killing expanded Mid-Willamette Valley passenger rail travel in my lifetime.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Calling them "import goods" doesn't really convey the right meaning. These aren't just any goods. Not only does One Fair World offer things that are always beautiful and often quite practical, everything in the shop is from certified fair-trade suppliers. This means that the gorgeous things -- carvings, instruments, kitchen and serving furnishings, jewelry, art work, fabrics, you name it -- that you buy at One Fair World don't come with the hidden price tag of exploitation and suffering that dangle from so many other imported goods.
Instead, things you buy at One Fair World help better the lives of people all along the supply chain, because that entire chain is formed to establish a just relationship between the artisans who create the goods (often by recycling and cleverly reusing "waste" material generated in industrialized countries) and the eventual buyers.
Formerly affiliated with the chain of fair-trade shops known as "Ten Thousand Villages," the directors of the Salem store found that the TTV mandatory-purchase component (the percentage of goods that had to be sourced from TTV) were too confining, so they bravely decided to strike out on their own as One Fair World on April 1, 2009 (no fooling though!).
To lure you to visit their shop, they're bringing a talented musical duo, the Severin Sisters, to perform outside the store on June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. (part of the June "First Wednesday" events in Downtown Salem) and then a Grand Opening as One Fair World on July 1 (also in conjunction with Downtown's "First Wednesday" evening events). Both of these are great excuses to visit them again, or for the first time if you never have.
LOVESalem HQ is equipped with several radiantly lovely things from One Fair World and they never fail to provide a feeling of satisfaction and well-being that the cheap stuff from China can never offer. One Fair World is also the local source for some of our favorite music discoveries, the Putamayo world music CDs. These form a great soundtrack for life here in Salem.
May 10, 2009
Shop balances business and global mission
Creating a welcoming experience helps artisan store keep customers
One Fair World (formerly known as Ten Thousand Villages) began eight years ago as a dream by a group of resourceful people who had no retail experience but were excited by the idea of bringing a fair-trade store to Salem.
The richness and beauty of international, handcrafted items drew us to the project, but mostly the idea that a business could be operated to help others brought this group of people together.
When we learned that Self Help Crafts, a small store that had operated in Dallas for 15 years, was closing, the idea began germinating that opening a similar fair-trade store in Salem might be possible. After many fundraising efforts, we were ready to open a Ten Thousand Villages seasonal store in the Reed Opera House, which would test the waters about how Salem would receive such a venture.
We were set to open in mid-September 2001. Then the 9/11 tragedy occurred. We wondered whether there would be a backlash of anti-foreign feeling that would sink our store before it even got started. To our gratification, we experienced a wonderfully warm reception from the Salem community.
Many times we heard from customers the belief that people in developing, disadvantaged countries needed opportunities to have employment, fair income and hope as a balance to the anger and despair that seemed to be reflected in the attack made on the United States.
In June 2002, we moved to our permanent and current location at 474 Court St. NE. Being in a historic building in a constantly revitalizing downtown Salem has been a big asset for us. Actively participating in the downtown business community and in the broader Salem-area community has been key to our success.
Although our store is committed to the mission of alleviating poverty in developing countries, the way we accomplish that is by being a viable business.
The balance between business objectives and mission goals is a stimulating and challenging one. We are not profit-driven (we are a nonprofit), but we still have to pay our bills in order to be a marketplace for the artisans who need to sell their products so they can feed, clothe and educate their families. We are guided by ethical business practices as well as using best sales practices to survive in the competitive retail environment.
Creating a welcoming experience is key to retaining customers. In a recent customer survey, Melissa described her store experience: "Peaceful, enlightened and motivated by the artists around the world. I am reminded of the poverty but moved by their perseverance."
Pat said: "I love this store and I've bought myself and others many unique gifts here. I feel so great buying from other countries in need."
And customer Karen said: "In a few short minutes I can shop my way through three continents! Exhilarating! Enjoyable!"
Our volunteers, who are essential to our success, bring dedication, creativity and skill to a variety of tasks. Volunteer Allison O'Grady said, "I enjoy the opportunity to learn about artisans and see their amazing work; I feel like I am making a difference."
In Salem, there are people with many stories who have lived, worked and traveled throughout the world. We are not a provincial backwater but a lively meeting place of people with intriguing tales and broad interests — we meet them every day coming through the doors of our store. Further, we are a community of people who care about those in need throughout the world.
"Many little people in many small places undertaking modest actions can transform the world" — African proverb.
Ellen Chambers is a founding mother of One Fair World, formerly known as Ten Thousand Villages. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Events at One Fair World
June 3 (Part of the 1st Wednesday Festivities)
Come hear The Severin Sisters outside our store! 5-8pm
(Also enter our drawing for $20 Gift Certificates.)
July 1 -- Grand opening with our new name: One Fair World
(Another 1st Wednesday event. Prize Drawings, Live Music, Cake, Coffee & More!)
KMUZ 88.5 FM (“Radio Free Salem”)
needs volunteers to help organize and build a new noncommercial grassroots FM radio station in the Mid-Willamette Valley.
You are invited to attend...
June 9, 2009 • 7-8pm
Grand Theater, 187 High St. NE, Salem
for more info about KMUZ 88.5 FM:
www.radiofreesalem.com <====> www.myspace.com/radiofreesalem
unconventional • cultural • diverse • educational
music • ideas • local news • artistic expression • community events
Marion County wants you!
OLCV’s Marion County Chapter is rebuilding. Our steering committee is looking for dynamic new members. We have big plans for the 2010 Election and we want you to be a part of it. We need folks on the front lines of our work: electing pro-environment leaders to office and holding them accountable once they’re elected – making sure they are doing what is right to protect Oregon’s environmental legacy.
If you’re interested in campaigning for local candidates who share your values, talking to your local leaders about environmental priorities and helping generate the resources needed to bring about clean air and water victories, email email@example.com.
Wonder if there's any fertile city-, county-, and state-owned land that could be similarly turned into food for Salem? Why, yes, yes there is --- acres and acres of it! All that is needed is leadership.
Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen is spearheading a campaign to convert one to two acres of county surplus land north of McMenamins Edgefield Manor in Troutdale into a temporary organic farm to combat hunger. Volunteers will harvest enough fresh produce this growing season to feed 240 people for 24 weeks, Cogen estimated.
Cogen will ask fellow members of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on May 28 to approve $22,000 in county funds to buy materials. But he’s already secured commitments for private donors to repay $15,000 of that, and expects the rest of that sum will be raised privately.
“We all know Multnomah County is broke,” Cogen said. “I’m committed to not saying: ‘We can’t handle the problems because we’re broke.’ ” . . .
Cogen’s chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, came up with the idea for the garden three months ago. The notion came from Victory Gardens that sprouted during World Wars I and II.
Much has happened quickly since then. The county’s alternative community service program provided workers to remove blackberries and perform other manual labor. That program organizes volunteers who agree to do service work after convictions for nonviolent crimes and other low-level offenses.
AmeriCorps has hired someone to coordinate the farm project and earn a stipend from the federal service program. Other community volunteers will be recruited to plant and harvest the produce. Organic mulch and fertilizer were donated by private companies. . . .
Deadly Salmonella: Frozen Food's Newest IngredientThe true culprit in such poisonings, however, is not the little deadly bug, but the twin killers of corporate globalization and greed. Giant food corporations, scavenging the globe in a constant search for ever-cheaper ingredients to put in their processed edibles, are resorting to low-wage, high-pollution nations that have practically no food-safety laws, much less any safety enforcement.
Consider the case of ConAgra Foods, a massive conglomerate that sells 100 million pot pies a year under its Banquet label. Each pie contains 25 ingredients sourced from all over the world -- often from subcontractors who don't report their sources. Until the 2007 salmonella contamination of its pies, ConAgra did not even require suppliers to test for pathogens, nor did it do its own tests. Since poisoning one's customers turned out to be a bad strategy for earning repeat business, the conglomerate now runs spot checks -- but even when it detects contamination in a pie, it has not been able to determine which ingredient is the bad one.
In fact, as The New York Times recently reported in an extensive expose, food giants concede that their supply chains are so far-flung that they "do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening items for microbes." Meanwhile, the industry's lobbying front, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, has aggressively fought federal efforts to require a tracking system. "This information is not reasonably needed," the GMA curtly responded when such a rule was proposed. . . .
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
UPDATE: Nice op-ed by a local fellow who's asking the right questions. Excerpt:
Now instead of neighborhood circulator buses (an idea that has not worked well in Salem), turn those resources into Super Shuttle-like service from the hubs. Super Shuttles are like coordinated, shared taxis. Riders submit the addresses where they need to go and when a load of people going to the same general area has accumulated, a shuttle van drops them off one by one in the most efficient order. It's not as convenient as regular, frequent bus service, but it is a whole lot better than no service at all — it runs where you need it, when you need it. Unlike a bus system, the vans never run empty.
Would Salem voters support it? I don't know — why don't you ask them?
Clearly asking voters over and over to support more of the same old-fashioned bus system hasn't worked. Now you're asking riders to help you choose between two bus options offering service worse than we have now. Wouldn't it be better to look at a variety of ideas for delivering excellent public transportation?My vote is for a do over — this time with imagination.
As a constituent, an engineer, and a supporter of increased use of natural gas (to end use of coal), I strongly urge you to oppose HB 3058, which fast-tracks the building of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipelines.
The bill allows out-of-state corporations to get wetland fill permits on private land without the permission of landowners. This raises concerns about landowners rights and harms the environment by encouraging LNG projects in Oregon.
LNG terminals and pipelines would bring dirty foreign fossil fuel to Oregon. LNG will emit 30% more global warming pollution than domestic gas, destroy critical salmon nurseries, and create 600 miles of pipelines across hundreds of rivers. These projects need to be fully vetted and not fast tracked.
Fast-tracking LNG undermines the states commitments to building a clean energy economy and our ability to combat the climate crisis.
A wide variety of interests, including landowners, farmers, woodlot owners, and conservationists have come together to fight this bill. Please join them and oppose HB 3058.
Friday, May 29thAdvocacy Opportunities
Breakfast on Bikes - North Mall Office Building
Between 7am and 9am enjoy free coffee, fruit, and pastries on your bike commute!
Thanks to Cascade Baking, the Coffee House Cafe, and LifeSource Natural Foods
Wednesday, June 3
The Downtown Vision 2020 Bike & Ped Workgroup meets between noon at 1:30pm in the Pringle Community Hall.
Saturday, June 6th - ongoing
Salem Saturday Market Valet Bike Parking
Ride your bike to the market and leave it with the bike valets while you shop! Friends of Salem Saturday Market kicks off this great service the first Saturday in June.
Wednesday, June 10th
Free Bicycle Legal Clinic
Learn about when it's safe to "take the lane," about "citizen-initiated traffic citations" and all about the law and bikes.
Saturday, June 13th
Bicycle Education: Traffic 101
League Cycling Instructors Robert Fox and Gary Obery teach a day-long course on how to be a better and safer bicyclist in traffic.
Sunday, June 28th
Fairview Circuit Races
Bike racing right here in Salem! There are rumors about extra entertainment options, so be sure to look out for more news later in June!
Quarry on Skyline RoadOngoing
Marion County is holding a hearing this afternoon, 5/27, on conditional use permits for a proposed rock quarry to go in just off Skyline Road. Truck traffic may impact bicyclists on Skyline.
Continuing Saga of Jobs and Transportation Act - HB 2001
Track the week-by-week story of the big transportation package.
Commercial Street Restriping Plan
One of the first fruits of the Downtown Vision 2020 Bike & Ped group is a proposal spearheaded by Kevin Hottman and Gary Obery to restripe Commercial through downtown to make it more bike friendly. As it moves to the wider community, it will need your support in June and July. Watch for more!
Bicycle Parking Regulations at the State
DAS proposed new parking regulations this and at a hearing this month, bicycle advocates argued that one of the best ways the State can effectively support its goal to reduce single-occupancy motor vehicle commuting is to supply a plentiful mix of highly visible short- and long-term bike parking. The deadline for public comment was extended and hopefully this will result in improved bike parking options for employees and visitors to State facilities.
End of June
Bicycle Count Project Training and Kick-off
It's almost time for the second annual bicycle count! More riders are everywhere, and let's document the increase! Look for more information mid-June.
Every Sunday at 1:30pm
Salem Bicycle Club Introductory High Wheeler Rides
Check out Club riding! Every Sunday at 1:30 the Salem Bicycle Club offers "high wheeler" rides of approximately 25 miles and few hills. No rider left behind!
Every Thursday at 6:30pm
Salem Bicycle Club Family Rides
Every Thursday the Salem Bicycle Club offers a short ride of 10-12 miles for families. Bring the kids, the tandem, the tag-along!
And the universe, never one to miss a chance at delicious irony, provides this: after Salem spends another long night debating the terrors of letting residents keep a few hens, this morning's mail provides this warning about a proposed gravel quarry, the "White Cloud Quarry," that will wreak havoc in South Salem.
I am writing to you from Friends of Marion County.Note that the website organized by the neighbors whose lives will be devastated by this monstrosity warns that you need to be at the meeting by 4:00 p.m. to sign in to speak.
If you are so inclined, you might want to come down to see what's going on at the hearing tonight to fight a huge aggregate operation which could have very negative impacts on Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. See this link:
[We] have spent the last 5 days helping them after they called us for assistance. We (Friends of Marion County) have been working with the neighbors, Salem Audubon, and US Fish and Wildlife. . . . . This has been in the SJ and on KATU.
If you do attend, you might want to bring a sign saying something like "No Gravel Pit."
Also note that the "Senator Hearing Room" is not in the Marion County Courthouse but in the building called "Courthouse Square," across Court St. from the Courthouse (the one where Cherriots transit mall is).
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
City Council can barely decide to consider whether to decide upon a recommendation to be decided later
In other words, it was a grim night at City Hall, till nearly 11 p.m. We almost lost it entirely, although the Mayor's throwing her support to allowing hens in some form saved the day and was very welcome indeed.
The bottom line is that there are a number of councilors who need to ask themselves some fundamental questions about why they serve on city council and how they have come to see their role as conflict-avoidance cops who have a very low opinion of Salem residents.
These councilors all make what Ward 1's Chuck Bennett called "obsequious" bows to the Chickens in the Yard advocates, hmmming and hawwing about how all the CITY folks would, of course, be "impeccable" at keeping hens without causing problems ("Compliance" boss Brady Rogers' term). But, after acknowledging that anyone who is motivated can care for hens properly, these councilors turned right around and voted to say, in effect, that it doesn't matter.
Instead of seeing local government as the agent for building community, they see government's job as anticipating the worst conduct from people and preparing accordingly. In other words, your reward for being a solid citizen is to be ignored in favor of governmental policies that are built on the low opinion of that the councilors have of most of us.
Of course, the miscreants that these councilors fear --- and thus, the ones they actually pay attention to when considering policies -- don't care what the council does or doesn't do. The irresponsible will keep chickens (including roosters) if they want, just like they keep pit bulls, play loud music at all hours, and other anti-social things. And they will play games with any enforcement scheme. The net result of the government as cop mindset that these councilors have is the conflict-avoidance of the no-man's-land: avoiding conflict by privileging objections over actions, giving anyone with a fear a trump card.
The anti-chicken councilors call ignoring the wishes of the responsible citizenry because of fears about irresponsible ones "avoiding conflict" but it actually just decides the conflict in favor of intrusive government that thinks badly of most of its citizens.
As the Mayor said, we've got lots of real issues in Salem that could benefit from this intense level of scrutiny from Council: graffiti, often gang-inspired if not directly gang-related, abandoned cars, homelessness, hunger, high rates of teen pregnancy and dropping out of school. In the face of all these difficult problems, the Salem City Council is apparently not yet ready to let its residents keep a few hens.
Weird juxtaposition: Another presentation, donation, and plaudits for the work of the Marion-Polk Food Share at the start of the meeting tonight. Followed by a couple of hours of hemming and hawing about whether home henkeeping is really saving money or would help with food security or not. Bizarre.
And as much as one might try to respect the opponents, most of them embarass themselves. One in particular tried to tie meth labs to chickens (some meth addicts have tried making meth in chicken coops before! -- but of course that applies to bathtubs too, so . . . ) and then ordered all pro-chicken types to move to the country. Another argued that we shouldn't have urban hens for eggs because it would cut the income of local farmers out in the counties. I guess we shouldn't be allowed to grow vegetables for the same reason.
Area program offers fresh produce
Travel Salem has partnered with French Prairie Gardens' community-supported agriculture program.
The program allows busy people to get farm-fresh produce each week.
Participants receive 18 weeks of produce during the growing season. "Harvest Boxes" can be delivered or picked up at the farm.
Travel Salem will act as a drop-point for CSA members in the Salem area to pick up their goods at the Travel Cafe, 181 High St. NE .
Harvest Boxes containing eight to 12 fruits and vegetables, which vary throughout the season. Each box will contain about $20 in produce.
Recipients will get a newsletter with recipes and ideas for produce use. They are offered free admission to French Prairie Gardens' Strawberry Festival, set for June 18-21, and invited to cooking and canning classes.
Season membership runs June 3 to Sept. 30. Cost is $350 and delivery to the Travel Cafe costs an extra $50. For information or to sign up, visit www.FPGardens.com or call (503) 633-8445.
KENNEWICK, Wash. — If police in Kennewick have their way, the city in southeast Washington will be quieter this summer.Officers are planning emphasis patrols over the coming month to crack down on modified vehicle exhaust systems and thumping car stereos.
The Tri-City Herald reports that officers will issue tickets with fines of $350 for loud stereos and exhaust systems.
City law in Kennewick prohibits car stereo systems from being played loud enough to be heard more than 50 feet from the vehicle. And car exhaust systems cannot be modified to amplify engine noise.
The schools in Salem seem to have caught the "college for all" fever pretty hard, but we're still in the middle of farm country down here --- which means we're well-positioned for a return to educating kids in the most basic, most useful, and most important skill of all: that of feeding yourself with food you know to be good in such a way that you can continue to do so indefinitely (nice, saying all that without using the "S" word that is so trendy, eh?).
NYTimes Magazine has a great extended piece on someone who has managed to put aside his BS "educated" jobs for a real one, doing something useful, fixing motorcycles.
If I had one piece of advice to whisper to grads today --- and for the next umpteen years --- like the guy in "The Graduate," advising "Plastics," I would say this:
I don't think there's a more important field of study than that in any pre-college curriculum.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Jeff Rubin - the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets - has always struck me as someone who "gets it." I have seen him do a number of interviews, both on television and in print - and he consistently sounds the alarm on peak oil. He understands very well that cheap oil is the lifeblood of the global economy, yet this is an era that will soon come to an end. His new book - Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization - goes through the peak oil story in a way that I initially thought of as "Kunstleresque", but I changed my mind as I got deeper into the book.
Some will certainly describe Rubin as a 'doomer.' However, by the end of the book I had concluded that there are some significant distinctions between the overall message that Rubin is trying to convey and the message Jim Kunstler conveys in The Long Emergency. Maybe it's because The Long Emergency really slapped me out of complacency, but I recall being mildly shocked after reading Kunstler. I did not experience that same sense of shock while reading Rubin - but those who are only mildly familiar with peak oil may be.
Rubin's book looks excellent. Goes well with this excerpt of a post from an energy investment type:
As a longtime advocate for renewable energy and a former solar system designer, I have been to my share of "green" conferences. I have often heard the utterly unrealistic claims of renewable energy advocates, and listened to them vilify the oil industry. They seem to have as little appetite for the facts on fossil fuels as the fossil fuel industry has for objective evaluation of renewables.
So while I agree with the conference speakers who called for a balanced, non-demonizing policy debate, what I see is both sides—the green/climate change side and the fossil fuel side—retreating to their corners, throwing up walls of propaganda, and demonizing the other side.
The middle ground, where truth and progress reside, feels virtually empty.
I am left to ponder, once again, why that is. And once again I come to the conclusion that you can't make policy without politics. What we have here is simply political maneuvering with each side trying to gain an edge by overstating their positions, in hopes that when the dust settles, they'll be left holding something. It is most emphatically not a neutral and balanced dialogue.
In fact, there is no dialogue at all. Cleantech people go to cleantech conferences, and oil and gas industry people go to oil and gas conferences, and rarely do the two crowds mix. In the halls of Congress there is much shouting, but little listening. At the end of the day, it is the art of political compromise, not data, which drives policymaking.
The oil and gas industry remains mired in denial about the peak and decline of its products. Renewable advocates are still lost in a dream about quickly replacing fossil fuels with green energy and an infrastructure that runs on it. Climate change concernists continue to pin their hopes on visions that cannot possibly be realized in the time frames they need. No side trusts the other.
Ten Inconvenient Truths
Allow me then to stake out a bit of middle ground, based on what I believe to be the objective facts, in an effort to bring the parties together and perhaps make some actual progress on the policy front.
We have extracted nearly all of the world's easy, cheap oil and gas, and now we're getting down to the difficult, expensive stuff. The largest untapped resources that remain are in extreme places like deepwater and the Arctic, and marginal formations like shale. As a result, global oil production has for all intents and purposes peaked. Natural gas production will also peak in 10 to 15 years. Neither technology nor high prices will change that. Therefore we must begin to replace those fuels with renewables, and use what remains much more efficiently, with the expectation that most of the world's oil and gas will be gone by the end of this century.
Drilling for oil and gas drilling in the OCS and ANWR must and will be done; our need for those fuels is simply too great to pass them up. An additional 2-3 mbpd will put a dent in the roughly 12 mbpd we now import, but if we drill for it now, it won't come to market for 10 years or more. By that time, it probably won't even compensate for the depletion of conventional oil in North America, nor will it do much to reduce prices. But it will be crucially necessary, and producing it won't make an ugly mess of the environment.
Renewables are clearly the long-term answer, as is an all-electric infrastructure that runs on its clean power. However, it will likely take over 30 years for renewables to ramp up from a less than 2% share of primary energy today to 20% or more. They probably won't even be able to fill the gap created by the decline of fossil fuels. Oil and gas currently provide about 58% of the world's primary energy, and they will remain our primary fuels for a long time to come.
It will take many decades to reconfigure out transportation systems to run on electricity. It will take decades to fix our wasteful, leaky built environment so that it doesn't need as much energy to begin with. None of the solutions will come quickly or easily.
Neither renewables nor fossil fuels nor nuclear power alone can bring "energy independence." Indeed, if independence means isolating ourselves from the rest of the world's energy commerce, it might not even be desirable.
We must pursue all sources of energy immediately and aggressively if we hope to meet our future needs, and pitting one against another is counterproductive.
Nuclear power will not grow significantly in the next several decades, as nearly all of the existing reactors will need to be decommissioned within the next 20 years, and a new generation of reactors must be built to replace them. After we do that, a renaissance for next-generation nuclear energy may be a possibility but it will only happen after we have confronted the crises of peak oil and peak gas. It may produce no net reduction in emissions at all.
It is quite possible that even our best efforts on all fronts will not achieve the carbon emission targets we have set. Climate change must be confronted via a unified policy on emissions and energy supply, which is to say that in our zeal to control emissions, we take care not to squelch the production of the oil and gas that constitutes the majority of our energy supply, at least until we have something to replace it. To do so could have unintended and paradoxical consequences, like impeding the manufacture of renewable energy devices, and contributing to tight supply situations that once again cause fossil fuel prices to skyrocket and further damage the economy. Rather than emphasizing the uncertainty on climate change data, and fomenting fear about the cost of mitigation, all sides must come together in a depoliticized dialogue strictly based on neutral scientific analysis.
We should use accurate and unbiased models of the future growth and decline curves of all forms of energy for policymaking—models based on historical data, not faith. If the data says we're likely to recover another 1.2 trillion barrels of oil worldwide and no more, then we should not assume that future drilling and technological progress will somehow turn that into 3 trillion barrels of recoverable oil.
Carbon emissions will soon come with a price. Drilling the remaining prospects for oil and gas will be expensive: From the decision to invest until first oil is produced, it can take 10 years and $100 million dollars to drill the first well in a new deepwater resource, using rigs that cost $1 million a day to run, and the production platform can cost as much as $5 billion. Deploying thousands of wind turbines and square miles of solar will be expensive, slow, and difficult. Replacing millions of inefficient internal combustion engine vehicles with electric and plug-in hybrids will be expensive. Rebuilding the nation's rail system will be hugely expensive. In short, the good ol' days of cheap electricity and gasoline are likely gone forever, and all the solutions going forward will be expensive.
I share the industry's concern about energy illiteracy, but it cuts both ways. It's true that as long as oil and gas provide the majority of our energy supply, we must continue to invest and drill for it, and the industry must work hard to educate the public and policymakers about that. But to claim that limits on drilling are the only problem, or that renewables cannot provide the energy we need in time, exploits that illiteracy and deliberately confuses the debate.
The fact is that there are good people and good intentions on all sides of the issues, and none of them wants to destroy the environment or the economy.
As I see it, neither the fossil fuel industry nor renewable boosters are yet willing to come out of their corners and work with each other in an honest fashion to develop a truly viable path forward on energy. Until both sides put aside their exaggerated claims and partisan bickering, the public will remain confused about the true options and continue to use politics, not neutral data, as their guide. That cannot produce good policy, and it does all of us a grave disservice.
Such unhelpful contentiousness, denial, and cheating on the numbers is a luxury we can no longer afford. Our energy and climate change problems are real, they're urgent, and they're getting more so every day. It's time to set the tactics of the last war aside, wring politics out of the dialogue, and start grappling in an honest and direct way with real solutions. Nothing else will do.
Thus, a letter to Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem) went like this:
Given Harry Truman's wisdom about holes, it's sad that HB 2001 has become a monstrous highway-dominated bill that proposes that we can keep pouring money down the rathole of paving over Oregon, even as oil prices begin their summer runup.An Oregon balanced-transportation advocate followed up with this:
We need transportation package that puts people first, not cars, and that moves us towards a pedestrian, bike, and transit based system for moving people and a rail-based system for moving goods. Anything less is just pouring more money down the drain.
Better no transportation bill at all than this unwise and unsustainable effort to party like it's 1959.
All: In case you aren't up on the latest twists and turns with the Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA), or HB 2001, proposed "-A17" amendments to this bill were introduced yesterday. Read these here.
These 54 pages of proposed amendments appear to "gut" (delete) the previous language and "stuff" (replace) new language wholesale. But I have not been following the history of HB 2001 closely, and don't know how drastically the proposed amendments differ from what has been on the table.
What I do know is that Section 65 (on pages 49-53 of the proposed amendments) would earmark funding for a long list of state highway projects. Take a look for yourself to see where funding is proposed in your area. The list of earmarks includes:
and a couple dozen other less expensive highway projects
- Newberg-Dundee Bypass, Phase I: $192 million
- State Highway 212 Sunrise Corridor, Phase I, Units 1, 2 and 3: $100 million
- Highway 62 Corridor Solution, Phase II: $100 million
- Interstate-5/Beltline Interchange, Units 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7: $80 million
As 1000 Friends of Oregon writes in the alert:Unfortunately, the transportation package, House Bill 2001, that recently emerged from behind closed doors has lost its balance – it has become a highways bill, dominated by an $840 million list of road building projects divorced from any unified transportation or economic development strategy to relieve freight bottlenecks or strengthen the state or local economies. It specifically earmarks scarce dollars to build massive highway projects that will increase sprawl, traffic, and increase transportation-generated greenhouse gasses.The time to make your voice heard is NOW. 1000 Friend of Oregon continues:
Several projects funded by HB 2001 threaten the livability, sustainability, and greenhouse gas reduction goals that must be part of our transportation investments. This is not the balanced and sustainable transportation future that Oregonians want.The newly-created Special Joint Committee on Transportation will consider HB 2001 tomorrow evening. This will be your only chance to give testimony before the legislature acts on the bill. Please testify at this hearing Thursday at 5 PM, in Hearing Room F at the State Capitol. For advice on testifying click here. Please let us know if you plan to attend: call Tara Sulzen at 503-497-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Thanks for anything you can do,
Contact your state representative and senator TODAY.
Tell them to restore balance & sustainability to the transportation funding package.
P.S. Of course, many of us were encouraged by Governor Kulongoski's comments in December 2007 when he first launched his effort to pass a balanced, sustainable, environmentally-responsible transportation package. Our friends in 1000 Friends of Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council, Environment Oregon, Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other groups have been working with other stakeholders to try to reach agreement on just such a balanced package. Indeed, just two months ago, leaders of these groups linked arms with leaders from the Oregon Business Association, AAA Oregon/Idaho, the Port of Portland and the Oregon Trucking Association in a commentary in the Oregonian.
I believe I recently heard President Obama say, "The era of putting all our eggs in one basket, of investing the bulk of our transportation dollars in building unsustainable highways, is over." No wait, that was from a draft speech written by some hack. What President Obama actually said was, " Yes, we can."
Yes, we Oregonians—truckers, car drivers, transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians—can come together and pass a balanced, sustainable and environmentally-response transportation package . . . with your help.
Contact your state representative and senator TODAY!
FREE CONCERTS! North Neighborhoods' Summer Concert Series
The Highland, Northgate, and NESCA Neighborhood Associations have a stellar lineup of acts for the 16th annual neighborhood concert series, featuring some of the best acts from the Willamette Valley and beyond. “You don’t have to live in the neighborhoods to enjoy the shows. Everyone is welcome,” said Nomi Pearce of the Highland Neighborhood Association. Three family-friendly neighborhood parks host free concerts throughout the summer:
Highland Park For more information call: 503-551-5228 or 503-371-0803
Tuesdays in July 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
2025 Broadway St. NE, Across from Highland School
July 7: Afincando
July 14: Scott Gallegos
July 21: Canyon Fever
July 28: Ellen Whyte
Northgate Park For more information call: 503-399-9975
Sundays in July & August 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
3260 Northgate (N. Entrance) • 3575 Fairhaven (S. Entrance)
July 19: Carrie Cunningham
July 26: Virtual Ground
August 2: EZ Eddy & The Jumpers
August 9: Coyote Creek
Hoover School Park For more information call: 503-409-4363
Saturdays in August & September 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
(1250 Savage Road NE)
August 22: Code Red
September 12: The Retrofits
Sunday, May 24, 2009
1) Tuesday, May 26 -- Urban hens: Public Hearing by Salem City Council on the city staff's proposal to let a tiny slice of Salem residents keep hens. Many people will rightfully be opposed to the highlighted items below, which have the effect of making hens something that only a tiny few of the wealthiest Salem residents could legally do.
There are a lot of items on the agenda. . . . However, since this is a public hearing, it can start no later than 7:30. This means they will skip agenda items, if necessary, and jump to the public hearing, and then go back to the missed items after the public hearing ends. Don't assume it will start at 7:30 though, because the Mayor can decide to hold the public hearing first, especially if there are a lot of people (with children) in the audience. She has done this before. The public hearing could be lengthy, plan on about 3 hours.
Come to City Hall Tuesday night to tell the Council that they need to direct staff to come up with a proposal that, at minimum, mimics the Forest Grove rules that their planning commission just adopted.
Recommended Action: Staff recommends that City Council direct staff to return with a resolution to initiate an amendment to SRC 119 to accommodate the keeping of chickens with the following provisions: (a) No roosters to be allowed. (b) No more than three hens allowed on a property. (c) Minimum lot size to be 10,000 square feet. (d) Chicken enclosures to be permitted in side and rear yards only, with a minimum setback of twenty (20) feet to any property line. (e) Chickens must remain in enclosure. (f) Chicken keeping as a Special Use in the Residential Single-family (RS) zone only. (g) Chickens, their feed and waste, must be kept in a sanitary condition, so as not to emit odors, attract rodents and flies, or endanger public health.
2) Wednesday, May 27 - Neighborhood Services: The Salem Land Use Network is going to hear about folding neighborhood services into community development as part of the Salem austerity budget. This is an open meeting. The public is invited to attend.
SALEM LAND USE NETWORK MEETING3) Thursday, May 28 -- Cherriots: Hearing on the upcoming service change (essentially discontinuing feeder lines to concentrate more-frequent service on the busiest routes; proposes a Monday-Friday system only, and only runs until 7 p.m.):
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 6:00 pm
City Building, 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 305
1. Discussion of Restructuring of Neighborhood Services under the Community Development Division. Vickie Hardin Woods, Brady Rogers, and Glenn Gross will discuss changes that will result from the restructuring and ask for Land Use Chairpersons' input.
F. PUBLIC HEARING SERVICE REDESIGN OPTIONS This is the time on the agenda designated for testimony by anyone on proposed options to implement a major service redesign. Options for consideration: * Five-day service with 15-minute frequency on major corridors and 30-minute service on connectors and neighborhoods * Six-day service with 30-minute and 1 hour frequency on weekdays; and hourly service on Saturdays on arterials only G. DELIBERATION OF PUBLIC HEARING Board members will be asked to give final guidance to staff on the System Redesign based on the public comments they received
DATE: Thursday, May 28, 2009
TIME: 6:30 PM
PLACE: Senate Hearing Room, 555 Court St. NE, Salem, Oregon.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
For one thing, travel habits vary by class and status. A federal study in 1995 found that people earning more than $50,000 a year traveled seven miles more a day than people earning less.
People over 65 traveled 23 miles less a day. Non-drivers traveled 26 miles less a day.
And transportation spending reflects such differences, most strikingly in the amounts spent to subsidize the travel of wealthier suburban commuters compared with inner city non drivers, such as a third of DC's population. Consider [Figure 8 above].
Or this one [Federal Transportation Subsidies since 1993].
And the trend is not changing. Obama's stimulus package included four times as much for high speed rail for first class passengers than for all other types of rail and bus travel was barely mentioned.
One of the reasons it's hard to understand this is because nobody talks about it. I learned this early in the planning for a subway in Washington as a lonely critic of the proposal. Some of my concerns had nothing to do with class or ethnicity such as the fact that subways didn't compete for space with cars (unlike light rail) and that only a small percentage of those working in new development inspired by Metro would actually ride the rails to get there, so street traffic - as has proved to be the case - would increase.
But a surprising number of factors involved class and power. For example, the subway was approved the same year as the 1968 riots and begun the year after. It would allow white DC residents to escape the troubled city yet still use - and travel safely to and from - it for work and entertainment. Interestingly, the first route went from the suburbs through an almost all white section of a two-thirds black town to the center of the city. I called it the Great White Way and dubbed the much later route to heavily black Anacostia the Underground Railroad. But you would hear not a word about this on the TV news or in the Washington Post.
The subway, while not competing with the automobile, did compete with bus lines replacing them with more expensive underground travel. In one or two cases these bus lines were actually making a profit. As time went on, and the Metro did not do as well as predicted, more and more bus routes were adjusted to force people onto the subway. And, as transit service for white commuters improved, that for inner city residents deteriorated.
Besides, it was clearly a one way system. If you lived the suburbs it would take you within walking distance of your downtown job. If you lived in the city and worked in the suburbs, you could take the new system out to the burbs and find yourself miles from work. I suggested a subsidized jitney service to help city workers reach suburban employment but nobody in power was interested in anything like that.
Now, more than 30 years after the Metro began, we finally have a study that confirms many of these concerns and it's not just about one system. It's about how we plan transportation policy all over America and how some get favored and some get screwed, and why we're about to have high speed rail for some and still have lousy bus and train service for many more.
Well, we had a hunch people didn't like their commutes, but we're absolutely blown away by what we've seen.
Bloggers are gushing and the country's atwitter. The New York Times, Wired, Streetsblog, Matt Yglesias, and hundreds more have shared the rage at our new website, www.MyCommuteSucks.org.
Commenter "Chavez" does a 75-mile round-trip commute by car from Philadelphia to Princeton, NJ. Road work on the Trenton Bridge has left him with six (!) flat tires over the years.
A cyclist in Washington, D.C. said he gets "doored" on a daily basis. "It really irks me when drivers, pedestrians, and even other cyclists do stupid things to put my life in danger on a bike."
"RT" writes, "Living in a rural area, I have no public transportation alternatives, even though I am traveling into the largest metro area in the state."
Read hundreds of real stories about daily commutes - and ask your friends to share their own rants and raves at www.mycommutesucks.org.
In addition to reading about other peoples' commutes, at www.MyCommuteSucks.org you can sign our petition to Congress, unload your daily transportation frustrations, post your own photos and video, and learn more about how the transportation policy they develop in Washington affects the lives of so many millions of people, whether they drive, ride, or walk.
Stop by www.MyCommuteSucks.org to see what's new, add your own fresh commuting adventures, and spread the rage to friends and family.
Outreach and Field Director
Transportation for America
The Forest Grove Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow hens at last night's public hearing under the following conditions:Don't forget to come testify in support of urban hens throughout Salem next Tuesday evening, May 26, at City Hall -- and not just for 10,000+ square-foot lots.
1. Four birds allowed on lots 5,000 square feet or larger
2. For every additional 2,000 square feet, another bird is permitted.
3. Twelve total birds can be kept incl. hens, ducks, quail, and pheasants (no roosters or geese).
4. Coops must be kept in sanitary condition so as not to accumulate waste.
5. Coops must be at least 20' from adjacent residential dwellings.
6. Food must be stored in metal or rodent-proof containers.
7. Birds must be confined to a fenced yard.
They deliberated about a permit process but decided in the end it wasn't necessary and not worth the trouble to administer. The proposal still has to go to City Council before it's final.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Thinking about how Salem will respond to the nascent "energy descent" --- the rapid decline in availability of cheap energy --- and the global need to radically reduce greenhouse emissions (which will further drive up the costs of energy and of moving people and goods around, driving limits on doing so), it becomes clear that these linked challenges will affect everything.
But, it's also helpful to remember that, past a certain point --- a point which most Salem folks are well past indeed --- material affluence is simply not that well correlated with happiness or fulfillment. Energy descent and the need to restrain emissions can actually create a paradox where the fact of doing the right thing for the future generations (a higher order satisfaction in Maslow's terminology, illustrated above) helps smooth out the bumps as we learn to use much less energy and to have much lower material flows (reduced affluence in the disposable-society mode -- our standard of consumption -- while enjoying more real affluence in the quality of life).
I believe there are families who would eagerly plant, maintain and harvest food for the months ahead if they had an individual garden space.
The City Council and the parks commission and a few compassionate local citizens could create a number of community gardens. Individual gardens could be divided and rented out for the season. Individual plot agreements should include the type of garden planned, and the weeding and fertilizer to be used (invasive plants must be forbidden).
There may be one or more generous tractor farmers who would contribute time and efforts to prepare the soil for the planting.
At the time the parks were created, they may have appropriated funds to install water for landscaping, restrooms, etc. If park funding is not available, perhaps government stimulus funds will install sprinkler irrigation pipes to the garden plots. Watering could be overseen on a night schedule by the parks employees.
Volunteering time and effort for this project should bring pride to the city of Salem.— Annabel Stanley Weldon, Salem
Top map has countries adjusted to show relative greenhouse emissions; bottom shows increased mortality from climate change.
So much for the golden rule.
When you think about things like this, Jefferson's fear comes to mind:
Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
(h/t Ezra Klein, WA Post blogger, via Energybulletin.net)