Now THIS is enough to make you hum "New York, New York" . . . Image by mkebbe via FlickrGreat stuff here.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Salem, like all cities, needs to stop giving people in cars special privileges and perks.
For starters, we need to establish the basic principle of "parking parity" -- that is, equal parking for bikes and cars. That would mean, for example, that in every street with a row of car parking spaces, one or two of the central spaces would be reserved for bicycles, preferably with a rain cover, like this fascinating design, which combines bike parking, a bus waiting bench, and a certain elegance, an economy of materials, and a rain/wind barrier if the rack is oriented to protect against the prevailing wind direction. There's even a fully enclosed model that is also attractive (below).
Sooner or later Salem will (again) permit households to keep some laying hens. The next step towards allowing, if not encouraging, sustainable behavior might be revising the city codes to permit collection and use of "greywater" (used kitchen sink, dishwasher, and clothes washer water).
Like electricity, greywater is not without hazards. And, like electricity, it's perfectly safe if used intelligently and "in the open." The danger comes when the law forbids (and, therefore, drives underground) valuable, useful activities by presuming that we are all children who must be controlled and protected by eliminating any activity with any risk. (Considering how the hen debate has gone, thank goodness the Salem City Council isn't considering whether to permit electricity here for the first time!)
We need to retrain our elected officials to remind them that we are at least as intelligent as the pioneers and the natives in this place, who had an ethic of not wasting much and of getting as many uses out of each thing as possible. While the brief period of unprecedented affluence that is now drawing to a close has dulled our instincts for acting sustainably/economically around the home, those instincts are still there, waiting to be developed and employed again.
(Of course, budget problems have a way of cutting through red tape. The more greywater that Salem households use on their flower gardens, shrubs and trees, the less has to be chlorinated and delivered to the house and the less that has to be pumped and put through wastewater treatment facilities.)