Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sharing, it's a good idea.

The Washington Post has a great article about the popularity of websites that help users coordinate and share goods and services. It use to be that everyone had to have access to everything all the time. People bought tools that they would use once, clothese they would wear only occasionally. Now there are sites to make sure goods are used when they are just sitting there. There are even services where people help each other out just like the old barn raising days. If there is anything this recession is doing is for all the wealth destruction, there seems to be community creation. And in the words of the queen of consumerism "That's a good thing."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

And out of the ashes...

The New York Times has a collection of essays by American writers observing their local communities. My personal favorite is Toby Barlow's Bike Among the Ruins observing the resurgence of bicycling in Motor City Detroit.

Detroit was built on the premise that the car was king, but with the economic and environmental recoil reshaping Detroit, cars are now relics of another age. Barlow details the advantages that Motor City would have transformed into Crank City: the wide open roads, the absence of hills, the affordable cost of living in the area. Oddly, Barlow fails to mention that Detroit winters are in a word brutal, but equally odd, Minneapolis is considered one of the best bicycling cities.

This is a great essay because it's a visionary one, that takes the world as it exists today and imagines a different, and arguably better one. Every great building starts with a blueprint, this is one for a different kind of town. Real estate is cheap, they have internet, there's a great university close by. Does the migration begin.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The travails of schedule...

In looking at how my environmental habits have changed for the worse in the past six months and one thing comes out. It's the freaking schedule. My life has become incredibly packed with commitments on my time. I get deluges of email that I have to process, note the word process, rarely do I get the mental headspace to actually craft a response. I have endless meetings and scheduled commitments that the leisurely time to bike to work is no longer an option.

Now how about mass transit? I have written about the joy of being able to do something while being transported, but now if I miss a train (or worse get bumped off because the bike car is full) I lose time, I can no longer make my commitment that I have to get to. If I decide to take mass transit to San Francisco, and I miss the last train. I am stuck overnight in San Francisco. I have been out in NYC until all hours (Veselka is 24 hours of heaven) and still been able to catch a subway train home.

The interplay of distance and time are related. d = ts is the classic equation. Distance = time * speed. For us to fit our lives into t while living further and further away requires that speed get faster. If speed gets faster, unfortunately carbon consumption increases because faster vehicles generally consumer more energy.

How does your schedule influence your carbon free decisions? How does your distance from your life (work, friends, famuly) influence your transportation?

I don't know who said it, but in the end life is time.