Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another stake through the heart of transit in Salem

Unfortunately, budget cuts have forced an end to the free bus pass program for Capital Mall employees. In the interest of helping employees cope with this new reality, Alison Wiley (Transportation Options Program Manager at ODOT) is offering the following message to all agencies:

"The bad news is that budget cuts have forced DAS to discontinue giving free bus passes to Capital Mall employees as of July 1 (including passes from park-and-ride lots). . . . "

Getting a feel for how much energy you really use

Graph created from the data in the BP 2006 sta...World energy sources in TeraWatts; note the dominance of the fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas). Image via Wikipedia

A lot of people have heard that North Americans are the energy hogs of the universe, and that we waste most of the energy. But until you know how much energy you are personally using, and how much of that is from fossil fuels, you really can't begin to grasp how much we need to change.

The global average energy use is about 17,500 kilowatt-hours/yr (kWh/yr), or 48 kWh/day.

That's the energy needed to burn 20 100W bulbs all year. On average, for all purposes, people in the USA use six times as much --- like burning 120 100W bulbs all year.

You can get a rough first guess at the amount of energy you use directly as follows. We do it by converting everything to kWh.

1) Electric use.

Luckily, your electric bill already comes that way, so we start there. You can find the information you need on your electric bills. Simply add up a year's worth of use. (Your bill probably reports how much you used per day during each billing period, so you multiply the figure given for each month by 30 and then add those up.)

2) Natural gas use

Multiply the "therms" (10o cubic feet of natural gas = 1 therm) of natural gas you use in a year by 30 to get your natural gas use in kWh for the year.

3) Gasoline use

Multiply the number of gallons of gas you buy in a year by 33 get kWh.

(You DO keep track of your gas consumption so you can follow your mileage, right? If not, how do you know when your car needs a tuneup or alignment or your tires are underinflated?). If you, for some reason, don't have your average gas consumption, figure 600 gallons a year if you drive a normal amount (14000 miles) in a normal car (24 mpg). Adjust that as needed if you drive more or less and to correct for your ride's probable mileage --- i.e., don't use 24 mpg if you drive a Prius or an Explorer.

Note what this suggests: the average American uses more energy just driving the average car the average amount than the average person in the world uses for EVERYTHING.

4) Add 'em up. That's your direct energy use per year.

We'll start figuring how to account for indirect use next time.
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Calling Salem Saturday Market & Salem Center managers

Farmer's MarketImage by Wigwam Jones via Flickr

A NYT story mentioning an upscale mall that failed in SF --- and has been reborn as a farmer's market.
Having just witnessed the Sony-backed Metreon mall in San Francisco shift from its failed existence as a “state of the art technology and entertainment marketplace” to a modest farmer’s market, I’d seen the writing on the wall. Hadn’t the shopping center folks?
Salem desperately needs a year-round greengrocery in the downtown core --- right where Salem Center is located would be fine, in fact, not too far from where the Wednesday Market opens in summertime.

And, hey, there's plenty of vacancies in Salem Center. And soon to be more.

Sounds like there's a deal to be made here: Between October and April, the Salem Center management provides space in the mall for a year-round Farmer's Market (that costs the growers no more than they're paying for space in the Salem Saturday Market). They get more traffic, and Salem gets more people exposed to eating locally and supporting local growers. With cold frames and "hoop houses," Salem area farmers can grow a gorgeous variety of produce in the dead of winter -- they just need an outlet that can absorb the modest quantities that small growers can provide, in a way that lets them keep more of the food dollar.

P.S.: Don't forget: Valet bike parking comes to the Salem Saturday Market this Saturday! Thanks to Friends of Salem Saturday Market. So ride on down, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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