Posts Tagged ‘Society’

While Madison Rests on its Cycling Laurels….

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Mike Ivey recently wrote a lengthy article on the state of bicycling and bike infrastructure in Madison. Though fairly milquetoast in the arc of the narrative, he did get some good blasts in there from John Burke (Trek Bicycles head honcho) and yours truly.

He omitted some key numbers I gave him, using only those which kind of soft-pedaled the mayor’s paving proclivities. So I wrote a letter to the editor to drive home the point that Mayor Pave’s highway expansions–built for speed–are detrimental to cycling.

Ivey’s impetus for the article was Pedaling Revolution, which highlighted Madison. (My review of the book here.)

GDP: More Is Not More

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Growth Machine activists–most especially Mayor Pave & Konkrete Kathy–take note: Whether it is killing the coastal ecosystems of Louisiana or paving over the richest farmland in the world, right here in Dane County, more is not necessarily better.

Fightin’ the Good Fight Out West(ern Dane Co., That Is!)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Here’s the latest from the good guys of the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment….

From: “Stefi Harris” To: “Stefi Harris” Subject: letter to friends 7-25-09 Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:19:07 -0500 7-30-09 Dear Friends of the Environment Many thanks to all of you who testified at the public hearing and wrote letters to the Capital regional Planning Commission (CARPC) against the proposal by the Village of Mazomanie to expand their urban service area into a sensitive watershed area for purposes of creating yet more urban sprawl in a cornfield. We won at CARPC in a vote of 7 to 5. We should all be proud of our collective efforts. We think that having lost unprecedented two times at CARPC Mazomanie‚s proposal will also be rejected by DNR. However, we‚ll keep watching the situation just to make sure and let you know of further developments in this case. This time we are asking you to continue our common efforts and join in a fight against the request by the City of Verona to create development in a highly sensitive environmental corridor near Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River. Both of these are coldwater streams with unique and rare aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The proposed development comprises 572 housing units, 12.6 acres of commercial development and 20.4 institutional development on 265 acres in two areas, located near the intersection of the US Highways 18-151 and State Highway 69. Specifically, the proposed development threatens the two streams with further reduction of already low base flow, increased runoff, erosion, sedimentation and pollution, as well as with increased water temperatures. These threats extend also to the area‚s riparian wetlands alongside of both creeks and to the spring fed wetland in State Natural Area adjacent to the western portion of the proposed urban service area (USA). There are at least four springs in and immediately adjacent to the affected area. If the City of Verona is allowed to spill and sprawl over its current boundary in a direction of Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River these springs will dry up in the foreseeable future. The proposed Verona USA is a home to several threatened and endangered species. They are Acadian Flycatcher bird, Mulberry Wing butterfly, Lady Slipper orchid and the entire communities of calcareous fen and sedge meadow wetland types. At present the amendment area is sparsely populated. It includes agricultural fields, isolated patches of woods, wooded slopes, a few houses and the streams which flow through. In the past this area, because of its richness and diversity of plant and animal life, was a place where through centuries Native Americans lived, camped, hunted, fished and were buried. There are ten documented archaeological sites in and directly adjacent to the proposed USA. Four of those are mound sites. Since we have the knowledge of these sites only through literature search and not through an actual field survey, the number of the archeological sites in the same area might be even greater than ten. The City of Verona promises a limited protection to water quality, threatened and endangered species and archaeological sites. But its promises do not match its plan for mitigation of detrimental effects of its proposed development. You can read more about Verona‚s proposal on CARPC website under „Upcoming Public Hearings‰ (google „CARPC DANE‰ to find it). NR 121 relating to areawide water quality management plans contains a provision for areas such as the one between the Sugar River and Badger Mill Creek to be saved from destruction through massive development as the one proposed by the City of Verona. This is what it says: „Major areas unsuitable for the installation of waste treatment systems because of physical or environmental constraints are to be excluded from the service area. Areas to be considered for exclusion from the sewer service area because of potential for adverse impacts on the quality of the waters of the state from both point and nonpoint sources of pollution include but are not limited to wetlands, shorelands, floodways and floodplains, steep slopes, highly erodible soils and other limiting soil types, groundwater recharge areas, and other such physical constraints‰ (NR 121.05 (4)(c). And that is what we should insist on because the amendment area contains all those conditions. Please e-mail to CARPC that you oppose the City of Verona USA amendment request and send copies to individuals listed below. Also please, come to the public hearing on August 13 held by CARPC at City County Building downtown Madison at 7:00 PM in Rm 201. Stefi Harris, Dennis Franke and Arnold Harris Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment 608-798-4833; 608-798-4835 3427 County Rd P Mt Horeb WI 53572 stefiharris@tds.net It is important that you send your e-mail letters to CARPC with copies to all of the following: CARPC info@CapitalAreaRPC.org Dane County Executive falk@co.dane.wi.us Mayor of Madison mayor@cityofmadison.com Dane County Towns Association Gerry H Derr ghderr@verizon.net Renee Lauber ReneeLauber@consultant.com Mark Hazelbaker mhazel@hazelbakerlaw.com

Silicon Valley’s Smart $ Finally Gets It Re: Energy Efficiency

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It looks like the smart money in Silicon Valley is getting religion on energy efficiency.

Now to see if they can circumvent Jevon’s Paradox…… Doubtful. Enough is never enough for these people.

Paris from Medieval to Military Modern: Photo Art exhibit

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

“Napoleon III and Paris” photo exhibit @ Met–Interesting look the development of Paris from a Medieval city to a modern one. The take home message:

Haussmann redesigned Paris to make it easier for the military to sweep through the city; Moses opened New York to motor vehicles. Both men destroyed entire neighborhoods in the process.

That is to say,

Automobility = Militarism.

Indeed, it is no coincidence that American traffic engineers manage traffic in what they call “platoons.”

Conscience Tweak

Monday, June 8th, 2009

If this doesn’t get folks thinking about the moral implications of the typical American’s lifestyle, I’m not sure what would do it.

Think about it: The country finally elects the liberal dream candidate, and what does He do? He just continues with the torture, the black sites, the indefinite detentions and wars of Cheney/Bush. Why? To keep “our” oil safe, pumped and shipped for our consumption. Liberals drive as much or more as Republicans, and He knows it.

And no, the next-gen of groovey-green cars (an oxymoron) won’t change a thing. As long as we continue developing our cities in ways that militate against walking, biking and transit we will be forced to drive more & more, thus negating any gains in fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, Obama’s stimulus package is dictating more of the same; it is filled with highway expansions at the expense of existing, walkable neighborhoods, our air, our water, nature.

We’ve seen this movie before. Between 1973 (Arab Oil embargo in retaliation for our puppet’s war in the Middle East) and 1990 (Gulf War I) we doubled fuel efficiency. Guess what tracked increases in fuel efficiency? Vehicle Miles Traveled. We drove twice as much in that same period.

We doubled efficiency.

Then doubled driving.

Just spinning our wheels in a December ice storm…..

This is looking to be a repeat of the nightmare scenario of the Johnson administration. Great “hope” for a Great Society, crushed by an immoral war. This time we’ve got two going at once. And both are infinitely more immoral than the one that crushed Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Time for a better way.

Mayor Pave’s Paving Problem

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Hmmm, we haven’t heard any of this before have we? (That would be a webpage of mine–ca. A.D. 2002–on the very topic of parking reduction, including citations of Donald Shoup.)

Mayor Pave won’t have the guts enough to do anything more than nibble around the edges of the vast paving problem in this community, I guarantee it. It just doesn’t have the cachet of a solar panel (see Greenwashers & Greenwashing). And the greenies will let him get away with it because they still can’t bring themselves to understand that deathmobiling, and all of the paving & manufacturing that supports it, is the most polluting of all human activities.

Madison Spring Elections: Revenge of the Zombie Pols

Friday, May 15th, 2009

The Revenge of the Zombie Pols is the title of the latest cinematic flop, aka the Madison 2009 spring elections. Look at those endorsements rounded up by the challenger (and ultimate victor) in the 2nd District! That picture of all those politicians who haven’t had an original idea since, oh, 1979 pretty much says it all. (Ok, except for maybe Mayor Pave, who seems to have shut down the idea machine ca. A.D. 2004.)

The scariest of the endorsements was from the Madison Professional Police Officers Association. They even took out a billboard ad against Brenda. What is scary about this endorsement? Isn’t it just another example of the First Amendment in action? Not in this case. Not when the words are backed by the badge & the bullet. The fact of the matter is these are the people to whom society has entrusted a legal monopoly on violence. With such a monopoly goes a major responsibility, that of absolute deference to civil authority. In their minds they may disagree with the politics of their bosses (you know, the ones who write their checks, the Madison Common Council) but they must absolutely defer to our elected officials publicly. That is the oath that they took. By getting involved in the political process, using the badge, backed by the bullet, their endorsement crosses the line: They have taken us from civilization & democracy into the realm of militarism & junta.

Brenda really pissed off the powers that be. And good for her. She denounced the cops for repeatedly flouting the Council’s budgets–i.e., flouting the constitutional power of the purse vested in our elected representatives.

The cops reacted with the reactionary gusto of coup-minded colonels.

This should send a shudder through anyone who believes in civil society.

Brenda’s steadfastness in defense of our democracy cost her personally. But we all gained through her tireless advocacy for a more just, democratic process. In the end she got more good done as an alder than this mayor has as an executive. Good to see that she’s still kickin’ ’em in the shins.

The New China Crisis: Carbon by Container Ship

Friday, May 15th, 2009

That Krugman, boy, he never fails to tell it like it is. Today he talks about “carbon by container ship” (my phrase, his concept). Or his phrase, “Empire of Carbon.”

The UrbanThoreau Project Datapoints: An Emerging Culture of Using Less?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The purpose behind UrbanThoreau.com could be summed up as, live simply, live the good life, hair shirt not required. That has been my working premise since long before I even started this website (the site was started in 2001, btw).

This latest economic disaster has really hammered home the idea of the necessity to live more simply. If not for saving $$, then for saving the planet. If not for saving the planet, then for saving one’s sanity.

I’m noticing in the lefty press that this idea is starting to take root. It used to be that the lefties just wanted the working class to live more richly, in a material sense. Now I’m detecting glimmers of emphasis on living a richer life, in a quality of life, personal fulfillment, community-oriented, heck, even spiritual sense. This article in the current issue of the Nation begins to capture some notion of moving away from the materialism as an end in itself. About a year ago, Orion Magazine published a great article entitled The Gospel of Consumption. It was a marvelous narrative about the transition away from community & family based enjoyment of life toward a thing-obsessed economic system.

More recently, the eminent pragmatic thinker over at the Entropic Journal has captured the issue in his essay railing against this “society that has made virtues of the Seven Deadly Sins.”

It will be interesting to see if we are wise enough to connect the dots between the quadruple catastrophes simultaneously emanating from our gluttonous ways: economic implosions, ethical voids at the highest levels of our most respected institutions, biosphere-wide environmental destruction and death struggles between civilizations. It will be even more interesting to see if we will actually do something about it, and maybe throttle back our gluttonous ways to bring us back from the brink–all four of them.