Thursday, December 25, 2008

Photo of Wednesday, December 18: Water Shortage?

San Diego roofs and streets are rainwater collection devices, and currently most of that water is drained away rather than stored for later use. That need not be. By improving the design of our streets, houses, lives, etc--we'd probably not need desal or piped water from NorCal.

Back in September Brad Lancaster gave a presentation on rainwater harvesting right here in San Diego!

I encourage you to share your own photos here about how San Diego or Tijuana urban design could be improved. Ask me how.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SD Sunday Streets LinkedIn group

[Car-free events] are good for surrounding shops and eateries that might otherwise be slow on Sundays. They are also a creative use of public space, helping residents and visitors to imagine uses for the streetscape beyond simply moving traffic through.

Please join the new LinkedIn Group called "San Diego Sunday Streets." We are trying to gather local support for this exciting movement going on in cities across the US.

Car-free events have been very successful in several cities, from Bogota's CiclovĂ­a, to New York's Summer Streets 2008, to San Francisco's Sunday Streets. The events are good for surrounding shops and eateries that might otherwise be slow on Sundays. They are also a creative use of public space, helping residents and visitors to imagine uses for the streetscape beyond simply moving traffic through. A Sunday Streets program in San Diego would benefit the city in a variety of ways.

Here's the URL to join:

We hope that LinkedIn will provide enough contacts in the business and government communities that we can begin to connect with them, so feel free to invite others!

Friday, October 17, 2008

rough SD Permaculture update

Mike T. is planning to visit in December and will be presenting on permaculture to his brother's high school class. He asked if I knew of any great pc demo sites in the area. Besides the wonderful new farm at city college, I don't--but tried to answer any way. Posting from my phone. [bad links fixed with computer]


The only new sites I've become aware of since you left: the city college urban farm: a must-see: , and [] (? Look up giro sol. I tried contacting them, got no reply. The workshop leaders were from Portland, if it happened). Missed the (socal ? See links from quailsprings if that's wrong), but heard there are now efforts to organize an sd-tj permaculture gathering this year. Marcia Boruta may be more in the know. She got Brad Lancaster here. . .

Deer park monastery would be another site, progressing fast: monks were at Brad's talk--brother stream and brother vu(?) (rain).

Then there are the other pieces: edible sd mag (haven't seen it, ), the new city heights farmers market, chollas & 54th garden (groundbreaking 10/21).

Alias b's house is in a wonderful spot, nicest I've experienced in sd in fact (camped there), and a very good example of cobbling things together and figuring out problems: grey water, chickens, compost tea bubbler, banana basin (whatever it's called). Showing a great return on 3-4 months effort (~same time as city college farm).

AB's also had to deal with social challenges of pc. . . partner not as into all the experimentation and change. . .but that may be having a happier resolution.

and the restaurant side: the linkery, the local food plate I heard one was putting together.

and you may have seen it: looks like Ellee's getting FNL in gear for another conference.

Julie O's work on the 6th and Quince garden, balboa park.

and who knows what all's been going on with "north coastal food not lawns"--check with rachel of the solana center.

and I just heard of (searching for volunteer ops on a socal city repair variant:

it's great you'll be here to shake things up. Josh R ( ) is another permie who returns here in december.

may post parts of this to various of the blogs I started. . .



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bicycle Advocacy Lecture

Got this link to a Bicycle Advocacy lecture from the Xtracycle Yahoo group (who are pretty militantly carfree folks from all over the country who ride Xtracycles, longtail bikes with serious cargo capacity).

It features "Carfree John" Pucher, professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers, speaking to a group in Vancouver B.C. He is an entertaining speaker, and he covers the things that Europe does right to encourage cycling. (Interesting point: Europeans haven't always been into cycling. From 1950 to 1970 they went heavily toward the car, then realized their mistake, and many countries have gone heavily toward the bike since 1970. They had to create a bike culture -- it didn't just always exist.)

(Hope the link works -- it was loading slow just now. Maybe it's overloaded with bike advocates!)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Future visioning for San Diego: some local examples -- know of any others?

We got to re-introducing ourselves on the sdishmael list, and Chet Fagin shared the following.

"future" (photo: carf)

[. . .] I live in San Diego with my wife and 2 year old daughter.
I joined the list mainly because I am concerned about where humanity is headed and about its long term survival. I wrote a piece earlier this year (inspired by Ishmael of course) called "Four Generations" which theorizes where we'll be 4 generations from now. I've referred to it as a "thinly veiled manifesto wrapped in a science fiction story". I consider it a work in progress so I'll be starting a blog soon to continue the conversation.
Meanwhile, if you're interested to read, you can download it here. I certainly welcome your feedback.

- Chet

My response (which began a short email and led to this post!):

Thank you for sharing this!

"The more you do, the more your mind will shift, and the more you’ll discover."

That is a beautiful view. I've been following a general feeling of beauty / aesthetic sense / sense of what is right (sort of summed up by "carfreeness") where it leads me for many years now, and my mind shift continues to take me more interesting places.

I don't want to get wrapped up in commenting on your presentation--

I think it is more important to encourage everyone who can take it on to practice the kind of long visioning you model here (following the lead of The Long Now Foundation & Stephen Covey's 8th habit).

"Some things don't change at all" was my last attempt at the theme.

The breadth of your manifesto reminded me of Arth's The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems.

It is also nice for us to celebrate ourselves as local authors, enlivening and visioning our local future, instead of, say, always looking to the Bay Area, Cascadia, etc.

A local example of a well-published author practicing future visioning is Vernor Vinge's SD County-set Rainbows End, the entire text of which is online. (What a sentence! but I don't want to spend all night revising). I found his vision both life-changing--in how it affected my view of personal use of technology--and, regarding future transit and industry, conservative.

Hmm. And my two cents on your presentation (only since you wrote, "I certainly welcome your feedback."):
  1. You give us an odd, unexplainable scenario right off the bat (a good device for encouraging us to read on), but, as far as I can tell in my quick read, it is never resolved or elaborated on!
  2. Maybe differentiate the voices more--perhaps with more description interspersed with the dialog, since, for me, sometimes the voices ran together.
So, do any of you have more local future visioning projects to share? Literary, visual, or otherwise?

And, Larry, I love that you're helping keep this blog alive, and that you're finding pictures for your posts! So I scrounged up a photo for this post too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wild Salad Bowl

Saw this article on Grist, about using weeds and invasive species for food. Wondering if the same thing could work for our local California wild mustard?

Anyone have any good recipes?
Photo by Lars Jensen, who also has stunning photos of other San Diego locations, including Anza-Borrego.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speak Out for Real Renewable Energy

Interested in getting real renewable and clean energy alternatives for San Diego? Then hie ye to Borrego Springs on Monday, to tell the California Public Utilities Commission to reject the Sunrise Powerlink boondoggle and to pursue instead the alternatives recommended in the San Diego Smart Energy 2020 report. Two separate hearings start at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

One activist is running 50 miles to the meeting. Another is hiking from the mountains to the desert and then hitch-hiking the last few miles. However you get there, we hope to see you.

Full details are on the Desert Protective Council's Sunrise Powerlink page, or check the running commentary at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

BarCamp San Diego 3; The evolving network and whole-system health

Saturday Sunday

I had been thinking I needed to write a post-mortem for this blog--this site was intended to demo technology, and it has. I've moved on from obsessively hacking at it however. Recently I've just been posting at Colin's Forest Blog.

Well, Bar Camp this past weekend pushed me to post here again. Let me list the reasons:
  • Bar Camp is intensely collaborative (a main intent of this--the SDTJDPH--web space).
  • I met Jed Sundwall(T)--who's put up a google map of places to find & eat local food. I've added this map to our map channels. Jed helped get Jay Porter of the Linkery to show up at Bar Camp -- a main reason I decided to head out there for the weekend. Jed also has helped make a documentary on cilantro. And he gardens.
  • I met Rachel -- who informed me about a group of San Diegans who, from what she told me, are quite serious in helping there be affordable, sustainable, land trust housing for community-minded San Diegans.
  • I met Robin--a proclaimed non-techhie interested in social justice activism.
  • The empowerthyself crew was there--from Santa Barbara, LA, and some other CA town.
  • But our local indymedia/ hacklab wasn't really there--except through Rachel!
  • Eric Bidwell(T) was there--updating us on his mayoral campaign.
  • Ian Miller--another SDFNL participant (more active than I am) and California Rare Fruit Growers participant & gardener was there.
  • There was interest in many of the sessions I posted to the board:
    • Barcamp in the forest - well attended, appreciated
    • Net philosophy / visioning / Sci-fi / Transhumanism -- Where do networked identities lead? What examples do you have already? Participants shared their past awareness-changing experiences with the net + future visions; well attended, appreciated.
    • Morning Exercises - Integral Transformative Practice Kata: easy yoga, tai chi, qi gung at 8am brought out Jay, who did some qi gung while I followed my routine, as we looked out over the bit of canyon.
    • There was a lot of interest in Carfree cities / Carfree living, but I wasn't sure how to best manage this and I tend to get a little crazy / emotionally involved. . .
    • Meditation (Walking & Sitting) + what is it about? Peace? Creation vs. Reproduction? didn't get any takers. Nor did the Plant Walk. But it was nice to get out of the office­ building and do some sitting and relaxing.
    • Permaculture: what is it? (hacking the landscape?) didn't draw a soul--though many of the first-day attendees mentioned interest in this, and both Jay and Jed wanted to look more into this concept. To be fair, I hardly touched a computer the whole weekend, so my presentations were nothing special, except where they benefited from a good round-robin type sharing--when I managed to set it up well with some good questions. No slideshows, photos, or video here. I was too busy enjoying being with people to want to look at a screen.
  • Presentations I was able to get to and enjoyed:
    • Jay Porter on the Pre-industral / slow-food vision behind the Linkery and what they've accomplished so far.
    • Jeff's (Jeffrey Johnson of Pictearth) presentation on unmanned aerial vehicles + imaging.
    • David Horn (and at raconteuring, [T] ) on location based services. LBSs use info about one's location, often through GPS, cell phone tower location, or manual entry. Some sites mentioned:
    • Hacking the mind (I forgot who did this--but it had a good audience & good things came up)
    • Andy Mesa - (T) on the iPhone
      • iLiberty, iNdependence, iPownage -- all utilities for jailbreaking (allowing third-party apps) and unlocking (allow use with other mobile providers)
      • He uses a prepaid plan with TMobile--$20 for unlimited data $20 for 1000 min / month (is this accurate?) + tmobile hotspot wifi access
      • Phring (use iphone as phone over ip)
      • A carfree discussion enthusiast-- and had many great stories to share on Portland
      • He informed me that SD is on google transit. . . I guess it has been for a while. But it doesn't integrate with North County Transit.
    • Richard Hilton on Lucid Dreaming
    • Nikolaj Baer on python and pygame . . . & pyglet.
      • He showed a quick demo where tilting his laptop would roll a circle (ball) around his screen and bounce against the sides of an n-gon. Different segments of the polygon made different tones when hit. Very simple code attaching into 2-d physics libraries (pymonk?), plus the alsa/timidity synth, cat-ing the tilt sensor device (had to add kernel module for that).
      • He rode his bike the first day from PB. A long ride. Once upon a time he was a major gear(bike)head.
  • People I met:
[Well that's about 6 hours of Internetting. What's left to explore?]

I'm in the dark about many things at this event. Twitter in particular. . . Here's the
#Nom = food (not sure why. Natural Organic Matter??)

[I'm hoplessly lost in netland--back to now taking a look at some other people who I noticed and only now have their names/online ids:]
[Alright. The Internetting is petering out. . . I'm up to 12 hours at this point. Nearly. . .
The free connection failed. . . as a result I got out and got some exercise, and was compelled to walk to campus this morning. So now this is the second day of fiddling with this post. What's left?]

A lot more can be said. The contrasts between this gathering and the Feral Visions Against Civilization 2007 in location and feel. . . I could address that.

I camped in the canyon. . . the scrap of canyon left.

Here's the bird's eye view of the location. University City--very Le Corbusian. I thought the bird's eye view would bring it out, but street view may be better. Looking south toward the building:
Every office monolith surrounded by an asphalt sea or harboring a parking tower. A new monolith and tower combo was nearly completed in the adjacent lot. The garage lights are on all night.

Overall, what was going on at barcamp?

Here's one vague way to look at it: The physical and social technologies there are developing the wiring and self-organization of a global organism. And there should be some new, emergent qualities of this network of consciousness/spirit/interest/motivation.

Notable is the intrinsic motivation apparent in this type of gathering.

Participants are not paid to be there. It is an economy based on curiosity, interest, and ability to inspire rather than potential for $$ profit or fear of some force.

Twitter in particular and the sessions organized around it show how this group is figuring out the wiring, flow, and organization of the sending of signals throughout this networked entity.

Some were attempting to address the overwhelming amount of tweets and other content coming in.

Others are exercising the location-sensing capability of mobile devices--and considering what this makes possible.

The iceberg of data-flows below the surface of an in-person encounter: I become aware of someone's presence. Looking into the twittering of the conference--or just the list of registrants--I find connections to data flows and can explore more contact.

I notice the compelling connection with the networked entity--as, for example, in the sending and receiving of tweets on a mobile device.

To click a link and see a recent short statement of another's focus of attention--that is easy to digest--is compelling.



Expanding awareness?

It is easy to follow what is closest to our current state and stretches us just a little? Creating the background familiarity enables deeper, more changing communication later on?

In considering who I might twitter-follow--Thich Nhat Hanh?--I found the mindfulness chimes of innertwitter. Ken Wilber has an account, but no tweets.

But twittering is participative?

There's no johnheron twitter account. . .

Barcamp seethes. They are creating.

An element of creation is withdrawal for reflection.

The balance between jumping in the flow of barcamp,

between compulsively exploring the new links/flows/personalities/patterns/concepts/realms,

and withdrawing to care for body and independent perspective.

The jumping of attention & immediate reaction & creation vs. single-pointed mind or expansive all-awareness.

I'm done exploring this

I'll let this go.

Bringing consciousness into matter

The Aurobindian view on what is occurring?

My challenge is

reconciling the somewhat body-destructive behavior of working with the computer/mobile devices all day with how compelling it can be to do so.

It may come down to seeking connection and not having healthier sources close at hand.

I can't ignore the barcampers--

Some of them handle the tech well, and are thriving & healthy.

I find the outdoor gatherings more healthful and nourishing. More body, life, ecosystem awareness there.

Both styles of community are converging. Green anarchists, permaculturists, & others use the tech the barcampers mature. Barcampers seek personal, social, and ecosystem health.


Garret Lisi's Science Hostel + Ongoing barcamp in the forest . . .

We may be challenged by a large amount of differentiation. We have lives & landscapes of dis-integration that we're learning to consciously re-integrate-- using & incorporating evolving capabilities.

As a result we have what can be overwhelming gatherings, bingeing, drinking from a fire hydrant.

I can learn to drink what I can handle as well as to integrate in moderation more of the elements I usually lack into an ongoing life.

I can spend more time in the state of no lack/great awareness/great care.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smart Energy Solutions for San Diego (No Sunrise Powerlinks Need Apply)

This is an adaptation of a post originally made on the Desert Protective Council's DesertBlog.

One reason that activists in San Diego may find it hard to focus on forward-thinking solutions to environmental problems, urban design issues, social justice issues, and sustainability issues -- the kind of topics discussed on San Diego-Tijuana Design Plant Harvest -- is that our policy makers and corporations keep coming up with backward-looking, wasteful and unnecessary schemes that do more to enrich corporations than to solve any particular problem. Activists then need to spend energy and resources battling these boondoggles, and explaining the dirty reality behind the greenwashed veneer, rather than working for positive change.

The Sunrise Powerlink is one example of this syndrome. Billed by SDG&E as an environmentally friendly way to bring renewable energy to San Diego, this proposed 150-mile transmission line that would stretch from Imperial Valley to San Diego (and beyond) is not the clean green machine its supporters would have us believe. Instead, it is really just a smokescreen for SDG&E/Sempra's ultimate goal of completing a fossil fuel loop from western Baja, east to Mexicali, and then north to Los Angeles. Sunrise Powerlink means more pollution for the border region, destruction of San Diego's backcountry, and greater costs for utility consumers. Fortunately, in this case there are real, forward-thinking solutions that will bring us true green energy, produced locally. These ideas are contained in the "San Diego Smart Energy 2020" report, and exemplified by Southern California Edison's local solar initiative, mentioned in the original post that follows:

“That’s so San Diego!” This was my wife’s response to Dean Calbreath's excellent column in the U-T, comparing SDG&E's proposed Sunrise Powerlink with Southern California Edison's plan for locally generated solar power from photovoltaic panels. In particular, she was responding to the article’s conclusion that solar power delivered by the Sunrise Powerlink would cost almost twice as much as locally generated solar ($6 per watt vs. $3.85 per watt). Gee, what does that remind you of? Maybe the Chargers ticket guarantee, energy deregulation, or the city’s underfunded pension plan?

In addition to the cost comparison, Calbreath’s article covered most of the other bases, and he relies on quite a bit of documented evidence: San Diego does in fact have ample sunshine (SDG&E says the sun never shines here) and ample rooftop space for photovoltaic panels (SDG&E veep Mike Niggli says there are no buildings in San Diego). Niggli also dramatically overstates the cost of rooftop solar. SDG&E wants us to believe the only alternatives to the Sunrise Powerlink are static electricity or “weasel power.” (Seriously! Just check YouTube.)

The worst part of this is that SDG&E has made similar promises on renewable energy in the past, but failed to deliver. When it was pushing for the Southwest Powerlink in the early '80s, SDG&E claimed it would bring renewable geothermal energy from Imperial Valley to San Diego. Today, the Southwest Powerlink carries less than 5% renewable power, the rest of its capacity having been filled up with power from fossil fuel and other non-renewable sources, including from plants just across the border in Mexicali. You know the saying: "Fool me once..."

The article leaves open the question of why SDG&E hasn’t pursued local solar more aggressively. Why does the company keep ridiculously overestimating the costs and underestimating the capacity of local solar? Perhaps the company isn’t really interested in pursuing renewable energy at all? Perhaps what it really wants is to complete one more section of parent company Sempra’s original “Full Loop” for fossil fuel energy?

The real question at this point is why the expensive and destructive Sunrise Powerlink is still on the table as an energy option for San Diego, especially when there are so many better options out there. As comments from San Diego County’s land use department pointed out, “It is unclear why this alternative was selected" as the main alternative in the recently published Draft Environmental Impact Report, given its large toll on the environment. Could the fact that this bad project refuses to die be a result of the usual alliance of San Diego power brokers pursuing anything but the civic interest?

Let’s see, city officials and Chamber types getting behind a “solution” that is the most environmentally damaging, the most wasteful, the least secure, and the most expensive for the average citizen, but the one that enriches the wealthiest corporation in our region — that’s SO San Diego.

For real solutions for clean energy, go to

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Weekly Share 2008-04-04

This was composed using Google Docs, which automates posting the doc to the blog, using Firefox 3 beta 5 on an 8-year-old Sony subnotebook. I'm blown away by how easy it was (I exaggerate a bit--I doubt I'll go this crazy in the future--if I keep this up).


Food & Water

Urban Design

Collaboration (media & politics)


SDTJDPH-family blogs updated or modified

See my links tagged for:sdtjdph for some of what didn't make it in. Subscribe to this newsletter by feed reader or by email. To share things here, send an email to sdtjdph.share at

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Weekly Share 2008-03-28

To share things here, send an email to sdtjdph.share at, following the format below.

(I tried to restrain myself to three items per category this time--but I fudged some, so it's odd--but it's out.)


Item types
  • Event, News, Resource
Item categories
  • Food, Urban, Collaboration, Indigenization, Health
Urban Design (for a permaculture)
Collaboration (Media & Politics)
Indigenization Health See my links tagged for:sdtjdph for some of what didn't make it in.
Subscribe to this newsletter by feed reader or by email. Any errors found will be corrected in the version at sdtjdph.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Weekly Share 2008-03-14

Our newsletter has a new name: "Weekly Share" (previously "Weekly Wrap")! To share things here, send an email to sdtjdph.share at, following the format below.
You may subscribe to this newsletter by feed reader or by email. Any errors found will be corrected in the version at sdtjdph.


Item types
  • Event, News, Resource
Item categories
  • Food, Urban, Collaboration
Urban Design (for a permaculture)
[It's late--I got the food section done. To get an idea of some of the rest I would add, sort through my links tagged for:sdtjdph. If I keep this up, the next newsletter should come out Wednesday or Thursday of next week.]
  • News
  • Resources
Collaboration (Media & Politics)
  • Events
  • News
  • Resources

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 7, 2008 Weekly Share - SDTJDPH

I'm testing out the idea of creating a weekly newsletter that I post to SD/TJ Design, Plant, Harvest. The newsletter will have sections that I will email out separately to several email lists. I'll need volunteers to help keep this going by contributing and also to help post if I'm not near a computer that week. I have started a separate blog to be used for contributing to the newsletter and preparing the weekly newsletter. Basically, email your contributions to sdtjdph.share at, following the format I've used below. The newsletter has its own feed, and you also can subscribe to it by email. If any errors are discovered after posting, they will be corrected in the version at SDTJDPH.


Item types
  • Event, News, Resource
Item categories
  • Food, Urban, Collaboration
Urban Design (for a permaculture)
Collaboration (Media & Politics)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The gods of streets renaissance blogging are a little closer to San Diego

Welcome, Streetsblog LA. (Thanks to carfreeusa)

So how can we get someone in San Diego to write about planning for: streets as public places, carfree living, carfree transit, and proximity all the time like Streetsblog (NYC) and Damien Newton (LA)?

Here's the links for background on Damien and the LA Streetsblog:

Streets are more than just car corridors; they are valuable civic spaces, resources, which must be wisely allocated. The New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign is building the movement to re-imagine our streets as lively public places.

[no mention of "carfree" of course--so I've probably already spoiled this venue. The strategy seems to be: encourage people to re-imagine, re-design, while advocating & providing data for reducing car use and leave it at that.]

If anyone from WALKSanDiego or SDCBC wants to give this a shot, the SD/TJ Design, Plant, Harvest blog was meant to be a demo space for this kind of discourse, if not the actual thing.

Here's a proposal: that someone (WALKSD?) start a pedestrian advocacy email list allowing discussion of streets and an announcement of the kind of walking tours / audits / re-designs that it does.

Eventually, we can combine the efforts of WALKSD, SDCBC, and other groups such as SD Food Not Lawns which seek to transform our public spaces to be more life-enhancing, and come up with complete street redesigns and reconstructions. We can tear up the middle of vastly overpaved streets such as Streamview Dr (just one example of many), plant orchards and gardens, bike lanes, crosswalks, water-harvesting curb cuts, traffic-calming curb-extensions, and so on.

Does that sound like fun? We could continue this conversation at sdtjdph. SDCityRepair is another possibility-- I'd love it if someone with a bit more savvy and leadership experience would take this up.

We'll figure this out eventually!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Videos, Photos, & Links tagged 'sdtjdph'

Videos | Photos | Links

Links tagged 'for:sdtjdph' at

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
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Videos in the sdtjdph group at YouTube
It's not perfect--not all of the videos in the group are displayed below. You can also tag the videos you upload with 'sdtjdph'. Wait 12+ hours for newly-tagged videos to appear in the search results and

Photos tagged 'sdtjdph' at Picasa

Just exploring what is possible!

We can probably merge feeds from multiple sources--which content-sharing sites do you like best?

If you start tagging things so they show up here, add other tags too--such as 'sdfoodnotlawns' or a tag unique to your organization--so we can sort things out later.

If you have a whole album of photos related to an event, consider tagging only one 'sdtjdph', and caption it with the name of the event.

This post was inspired by Streetsblog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Allow me to introduce myself...

I am a Landscape Architect with varied interests that include effective transit, design of all sorts, environmental issues, livable communities and green living to name a few (my profile). About 9 months ago I began a blog which chronicled my attempt at going without a car in San Diego (my blog) and Colin Leath happened to come across this back in December. Colin is part of a carfree yahoo group which I have since joined and frequently post to.

One of the most significant topics that I intend to blog about is public transit and mobility in the region. Effective public transit is something I am passionate about as it goes hand in hand with lower carbon footprints, freedom from big oil, financial freedom, cultural interaction and freedom of mobility.

Here in San Diego we have some good things working for us but we really are behind the curve when it comes to public transit and land use planning. A city with effective transit policy will no longer embrace the automobile like we do but rather develop a transit forward approach to planning. It is inevitable that a society will move toward mass transit as a long term solution to mobility. What remaining land we have is too precious for wider roads and more parking. I could go on and on about how bad the automobile is and how great transit is but I will leave it at that.

Eventually people will decide to ditch their cars (GASP!), and some already have for a number of reasons. They may live close enough to work/school or possibly transit trip times or routes have improved. Some people are "captive" riders and cannot drive or afford a car.

When people decide to give up their cars there is this revolutionary and relatively new concept of carsharing that can fill the void of not owning a car. Essentially you become a member and reserve cars near you by the hour. The rates are extremely affordable, about $9 per hour here. Flexcar was established in San Diego several years ago and they had vehicles in many neighborhoods from downtown through metro San Diego and at UCSD. You may have heard that Flexcar was recently acquired by Zipcar; this brings some good and some bad.

Zipcar has a fantastic user-friendly website and the same can be said for their phone reservation system. They also offer a great lineup of car models in certain metros. In San Francisco, for example, they have everything from Honda Civic Hybrids to BMW 3 series vehicles. When you are a member you can use their cars nation wide. Zipcar recently decided that in southern California they are going to focus their fleets on campuses. This is bad news for those who live downtown or in the metro area but should be good news to me as I live near SDSU and work near UCSD. The only problem is that SDSU has not welcomed Zipcar to their campus.

This week I sent an email to President Weber of SDSU, below is an excerpt from that letter.

"The recent addition of the trolley line was a significant boost for those who prefer not to drive their cars to campus for environmental, economic or reasons of convenience. Those who decide to not bring their cars on campus or those who are not vehicle owners would benefit greatly by having more options for mobility. You are probably familiar with the concept of carsharing, a system whereby people reserve vehicles for by-the-hour use. When carsharing vehicles enter communities parking demand is reduced, privately owned vehicles become less necessary and result in reduced traffic congestion. In this new era of environmental awareness this concept has been a growing part of the overall transportation network in cities and on campuses.

Zipcar is an established national carsharing company and its regional focus is on providing carsharing opportunities for campuses in southern California. I do not work for or represent Zipcar. I am simply a proponent of carsharing and am a resident of the college area. It is my understanding that Zipcar does not have any contacts at SDSU who have expressed any interest in partnership opportunities. I would ask that you consider the benefits of a carsharing program on the SDSU campus and pass this information to other decision makers on campus."

If anyone has contacts at SDSU please feel free to pass this along or to put me in contact.

This post has become quite lengthy and it is my intent to keep future posts more brief. Let me know what you think of the style and content.

Don’t forget to visit the maps and calendar here. They are great tools for staying connected to our community.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Visions of the Future: about the 1/31 Foundation for Change gathering

[This was written for the foundation4change discussion board.]

John, thanks for hosting Salon Pro Cambio last night.

For those who weren't there, these questions were handed out at the gathering:

  • Imagine two people living in San Diego 25 years from now. One of them says, "I can't believe the world was like that 25 years ago." What are they talking about?
  • Which presidential candidate, if elected, would bring about the greatest change for good in the world? What change do you hope that will be?
  • Which candidate would bring about the greatest change for the bad if elected? What change do you fear that will be?
  • When was the first time you crossed the U.S.-Mexico border? When was the last time you crossed the border? What do you feel when you cross the border?
  • Do you consider yourself part of a movement? If so, which one? What is a social "movement" anyway? How can you know one when you see one?
Marnie and I did get around to addressing the first question.

I had already done something similar to this for the Car Busters Post-Petroleum Writing Contest of 2005: "Some things don't change at all."

The main idea from that I'd carry forward to this conversation is:

"I can't believe that people 25 years ago didn't live and work in the same neighborhood--I can't believe they used cars (or even public transit) as part of their daily lives."

(I believe that community land trusts--which do involve waiting lists and exclusion of people that way--are a part of this vision, as a way to remove land from being (1) seen as investment income and (2) a slave to "highest and best use". Could cities become composed entirely of community land trusts?).

There are increasing numbers of people outside the carfree movement who are coming to believe that carfree living is a central solution to many environmental and social problems. As only a few examples of new(er)comers to this focus, we have:
I think where the foundation for change discussion is headed though is: "I can't believe there was a border 25 years ago", along the lines of the vision of the Organic Collective and Delete the Border.

As for the questions on presidential politics, how about this:

"I can't believe that 25 years ago some people still thought US presidential politics mattered."

Although, more realistically, I would look for reforms such as those called for by George Monbiot in Manifesto for a New World Order (a world parliament, for one) and by Michael E. Arth.

I found something in Yes! magazine (Winter 07-08) to be encouraging:
"The leadership of ordinary people" is what is needed now.
"The best antidote to the fear, helplessness, and isolation that drives people into apathy is community and joy." Gelder, Pibel. 19.
Regarding the border, I haven't crossed it for a while. But I recently was in the Pine Creek Wilderness (PCW) for a week. And many border crossers pass through there. I've been eating some cans of chipotle tuna some of them left behind. PCW is a very interesting place--it contains one of the few wilderness pedestrian trail networks in the US that is used primarily for making a living rather than for recreation, and it is perhaps the future location of a section of an historic continental migration trail.

I'd love to cross the border in the wilderness, or by walking through the spaces in the pylons on the beach, and not go where all the cars go through and where pedestrians are funneled like cattle.

As for movements, I consider myself part of the carfree movement. I have followed this movement to where it has led me--to learning about Buddhism and meditation, among other things, and to wanting to help people to make their neighborhoods places worth staying in. I think movements just have individuals who self-identify as being part of a movement. And it was a significant moment when I went from non-identification to identification with the movement (see the bottom of this page). Please note I aim to be open to moving beyond/ transcending all my earlier statements and identifications.


Near the end of the gathering, Zach put the question in the air of whether the mixer should be more or less formal in the future. Here's some ideas.

Next time, perhaps have a go-around for each attendee who wants to to briefly share a vision or a project.

If it's a huge group, a volunteer can time things and tell people when some interval has passed -- 15 or 30 seconds or whatever amount of time seems reasonable.

If people have trouble speaking, or even if they don't, they could first pair up with a partner they haven't talked to and share in small groups. Later, people could share what they heard from their partner, as above (this makes us practice listening).

Two more personal notes:
  • "Salon" and "Mixer" seem a bit too snooty for me, but I suppose it fits with the Urban Solace vibe, and the need of the foundation to bring in donors--not just to be a gathering place for eccentric activists.
  • I didn't get around to meet everyone. I didn't feel a great need to get around and network with every person. A go-around would have helped me at least get a message out and hear messages I wouldn't otherwise get. Maybe in the future I will focus more on getting the word out about the things I work on.