Category Archives: collaboration

52 WoLP #26: a Green Partnership

Well, glory be! another week totally got away from me. Such is life in the summer when being online gets demoted in favor of a zillion outdoor things.
Still, something came across the reader-board this week, before the bombs-bursting-in-air re-enactment took place in Lincoln Park and elsewhere: Green Seattle Partnership.

What they do is interesting, and involves a lot of our urban population that might not otherwise have an opportunity to interact with or basically give a second thought to our urban forests, such as Lincoln Park. Part of their purpose goes like this:

Now many of those big trees are nearing the end of their natural life, and the ivy – like a disease taking advantage of a frail, elderly individual – may speed the decline. The ivy is an invasive plant and over time it will kill the tree. It robs the tree of nutrients and creates the “sail” effect – high winds in the winter months can be caught by the ivy, helping to pull the tree over.

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To accomplish this humongous task, Green Seattle counts on lots of our help. Alas, sometimes that help is a little clumsier than nesting birds and other creatures might want, but the end goal of replacing an aging canopy with new life is pretty awesome. In LP, they’ve planted what could amount to a new generation of someday-mighty-trees. Involving our very urban population in the endeavor has many benefits down the road. All in all, Green Seattle is something to crow about.

52 WoLP is a year long contemplation of one of the loveliest city parks in the world, Lincoln Park in beautiful West Seattle.

Day 264-266: MLwC and a Seattle Transit Rider’s Union?

I continue to be intrigued with the idea of a bus and transit rider’s union, which I touched on in a recent post. What would a transit rider’s union do and why might it be a good idea here in Seattle? In Los Angeles, the bus rider’s union has a voice in most if not all transportation plans and strategies, making sure that everybody has access to effective, useful, and affordable mass transit.

This means taking on large, well funded, contractor friendly boondoggles like light rail propositions that serve a tiny sliver of the population at the expense of the transit riders. It means making sure the routes serve all groups and that rates remain affordable. It means maintaining a holistic view of alternate transportation options to the single-occupant vehicle muddle that most urban areas struggle with now.

What might a bus and transit rider’s union do in Seattle? It would help the city hear the Voice of the Transit rider, as well as all the other voices that are shouting for traffic relief. That voice and presence at the table would maintain the perspective that effective routes and timetables, reasonable rates, safe buses and bus stop areas will help Metro Transit attract and keep new riders, thereby reducing SOV traffic and improving the environment to boot.

I’ve been so intrigued with this idea that I’ve started a wiki to begin tracking resources regarding transportation, and will add more categories to it as time goes along. Please feel free to add any resources or start new pages as you see fit–the them is personal action and the environment.

How can we start a Transit Rider’s Union in Seattle? I’m no organizer, for sure, but I’d be happy to help and to learn from others who have ideas about this.

Daily Stats (Mon, Tue, Wed)
Car: 20 miles and 3 tasks
Bike: 0
Ped: 6
Bus: 0

Day 203 and 204: MLwC and Blog Action Day

Just a note regarding Blog Action Day–the idea is that everyone will blog on the same topic on the same day–October 15th, that topic being the environment. That’s a big, wide open topic and the date is right around the corner, it will be pretty interesting to see what comes of it.

Blogosphere

There are currently 3,557,195 blogs signed up to participate in this experiment. Check it out, and join–if only for the fun of something new in the blogosphere.

Daily Stats:
Car: 31 (3 tasks–seems like biz is taking me to the eastside a lot lately)
Bike: 7 miles
Ped: 0
Bus:0

Day 152: MLwC and Christian Environmentalism

I was raised Southern Californian, which back then meant something more along the lines of west coast new-age power-thinking. Sometimes my mom went to an Episcopal church but I rarely attended and am basically a clean slate when it comes to dogma. In my adult life I’ve veered off towards american Buddhism via yoga and meditation and that, truly, has made me a nicer person to be around–including to myself.

Yesterday as I took a walk through Lincoln Park after work, I got to thinking about a stat I’d seen, that something less than 7% of bloggers include opposing perspectives on their blogs–and I’m not talking about including opposing perspectives only to trash them. I would fall into that category, for sure. On the other hand, I feel that much of mainstream news is based on divisive headline grabbing, so I don’t exactly feel like “opposing views” is getting short shrift in the world.

That said, the notion of Christian Environmentalism wafted into my head. I’ve heard some mention of the “movement” in the last 6 months or so but nothing recently. I realized this was an opportunity to include viewpoints that are more challenging to me in my thinking–and I like that a lot.

A quick search on Google blogs reveals a lot of Christian Environmental discussion wherein lefty liberals are trashed for making up the whole issue of global warming–false science, global warming as the new lefty “idol.” Whatever. Global warming is kind of like God–if it’s true, you can’t escape it. Time will tell.  Wikipedia has an entry for Green Christianity which seems a bit more charitable than the cursory view I gave the blogosphere–that entry is worth reading.

I’d wanted to find a more reasoned, reasonable discussion of environmentalism and was a little disappointed, until I stumbled on the Chrysalis blog by Tim Keyes. Here was a calm discussion of the various concerns of this planet we inhabit and our spiritual/religious relationship to it. I was relieved. Here’s a nice quote from the entry:

Long ago, when a clergyman asked British naturalist J. Haldane what can be learned of God through the study of creation, he replied, “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” God has an inordinate fondness for life, too, which is all around those who have eyes to see it.


What I like about this post is that it tries to understand our relationship with the amazing gift of life that is the natural world all around us. I didn’t do an exhaustive search by any stretch, but I did peek into a lot of posts and too many of them focus on the “man in god’s image” therefore what I do must be godly and good and dominion over the rest of nature means I get to use it for my own ends–which of course are God’s own ends too, since we are made in God’s image. There is a real, live tautology there.

I welcome any readers out there to send me to other sites, because I really want to know: is there a Christian Environmental movement? Or is it more rhetorical maneuvering to maintain the status quo? I want to be introduced to some of that good old fashioned Christian fury that Christ was famous for when he spoke out against injustice and big business.

And finally, Look at me, Ma! I managed to find opposing viewpoints that more closely reflect my own!

Daily Stats: Monday
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3 miles
Bus: 0
Desk: sitting nearly all day! 😦

Day 140-142: MLwC, trees and ivy

As my mom used to say: “mad dogs and englishman go out in the noonday sun...” I was thinking of that the other day when I was running in the middle of the hottest July 12th on record in Seattle. Here’s the breaking news: it’s a lot harder to run in the hot weather than cool. Unless you’re one of those marathoners who do Death Valley every year…I’m clearly not.

Did you get the video I posted the other day–The Wind? It was very clever and took me twice thru before I realized the dude was the wind. Great ad for green energy in Germany.

So, I was running through Lincoln Park and came to the far beach trail only to find these three college kids, all roped up in climbing gear and harnesses–they looked so buff. I asked them what they were up to–taking advantage of the opportunity to stop–and they said they were going to climb down the cliffs and remove ivy from the trees. God love them, they’re from earthcorps and partnering with the Seattle Parks Dept to organize groups and volunteers to remove ivy. You can read more about it here.

urbanforest.jpg

What’s the big deal about english ivy? English ivy is a non-native, invasive plant that literally takes down large (and small) trees, overwhelms the native understory and generally wreaks havoc if left unchecked. Worse: it’s sold in lots and lots of nurseries and hardware stores. Why? Cuz it grows so easily! It would be nice if it could be outlawed but no such luck yet.

We’ve removed most of it from our lot, but not all. Our neighbors have done a great job of getting rid of theirs. People are starting to get a clue about it, so that’s good news. Here’s what it looks like, there are different kinds of ivy, but only English Ivy is the invasive:

englishivy.jpg

It’s beefy, but easy to pull out, so if you have any, grab it by the roots before it takes over.

Anyway, kudos to the teams of volunteers out there (more global immune system in action?) and in other parks in the region for tackling the job and helping to save our urban forests.

Daily stats: (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)

Car: 29 miles (2 tasks)
Bike: 0 miles
Ped: approx 7 miles
Bus: 0
Other: not so much as you’d notice.

Day 132: MLwC and the growing web of organizations

rooted_substrate.jpg

 Michael Spalding, one of the editors at WiserEarth commented on Hawken’s seminar noted here earlier. I thought his comment was worth highlighting as the wordsmithing captures the ideal and mission of WiserEarth so well:

That long list of grassroots organizations that scroll on and on, is actually a part of WiserEarth (www.wiserearth.org), an online tool to improve the quality of connections between anyone interested in social justice, environmental restoration or indigenous rights. If the unnamed movement is analogous to the immune system, as Paul suggests, then its success does not depend on the strength of any one organization or individual, but on the quality of the connections between them. WiserEarth was designed to all the community develop the connections that they need to better do their work.

We live in an age when “quality of connections” has a meaning its never had before, and WiserEarth is creating a space to leverage the potential of our connectedness.  Will this change how the world works? Early days, but I have no doubt whatsoever.

Thanks Michael!

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Ped: 0
Desk: about 15 hours worth.

Day 124: MLwC, the hundredth monkey and a global immune system

I’m into the second half of Hawken’s book in which he discusses the varied organizations that in hundredth-monkey ways are tackling the many issues of our day: poverty, corporate abuse, pollution, disease, and dozens of other concerns. Through the interconnectedness of the wired world today, these organizations can share best practices, learnings, energy, inspiration and sweat equity to move en masse towards a more equitable, safe, healthy future.

He suggests that these organizations can be seen as the antibody response of our planet to the threatening disease of pollution and environmental degradation. It’s really a cool idea, and it makes sense too: a growing number of us sense the threat we face, understand the very personal toll that pollution and diminishing resources are taking on us, and we are making choices that correspond to the way the body wards off infection and viruses. It’s the Gaia philosophy expanded out even further…and it makes sense to me. We are an organic part of an organic system–as much as we often like to think the real world really is composed of the shiny new products we create. I welcome the idea that a growing majority might be compelled to respond to the potential crisis we face in a naturally evolving fashion–albeit with urgency.

Some examples of the localized antibodies that are collecting at the margins of our global culture (Hawken’s names names in his book, a list that is too lengthy for me to go in to here but I suggest you watch the video for more, if you can’t get the book):

the list goes on and on, and includes very powerful, very well known billionaires , ex-presidents, and celebrities, as well. It is a coalition of every level–from the margins of our society, working like antibodies to fight the many threats to our environment. There are more of us all the time.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all over the place

Day 115 & 116: MLwC and Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest

I’m continuing to read and appreciate Paul Hawken’s new book Blessed Unrest.

One of the compelling aspects of the structure of the book is to wander back through time, considering the many cases where citizens have risen up in outrage or unwillingness to accept the status quo. This is followed by real time cases of outrageous events in our own time: Bhopal and Union Carbide, Standard Oil and other Big Oil co’s in places such as Zimbabwe and the Amazon jungle. The invitation demand for action is nearly implicit.

Michael Spalding is part of another of Hawken’s creations: WiserEarth, a gathering site for input and joining of disparate organizations or individuals who are working on improving the world we currently live in–in lots of different ways. Michael contacted me to let me know about this web based growing un-named movement that is gathering at wiserearth.com. I’ve gone through the site and note that it’s “beta”and there is a definite feeling that the meeting place is trying to find its stride. That could just be me, I’ve asked Michael for more information.

It is exciting though–Hawken and like-minded people are trying to find a way to communicate and come together in a net-molecular way that will create even more energy and focus on issues that matter.

I’m going to spend more time in the site the next couple of days, as I can, to see if I can dig deeper.

Daily stats (Wed & Thu)
Car: 12 miles
bike: 0
ped: 3
bus: 0
air: 1700

Day 105: WLwC, John Doerr at Ted

John Doerr’s talk at this year’s Ted conference is heart-felt and intelligent. His 15 year old daughter challenged him and his friends to fix the problems his/our generation has created. His bottom line: there is a time when panic is appropriate and that time is now. He doesn’t believe we can do enough to change the course of climate global change we’re on.

For me, to hear Doerr touting WalMart’s recent green changes was a challenge in itself. And a refreshing challenge. His questions are excellent and the talk is worth listening to.

He calls out the stupid behaviors in our culture (such as bottling water in Fiji and shipping it to Sacramento, California, or traveling to a store in a two ton hunk of plastic in metal to buy a quart of ice cream).

His focus on the importance, the absolute necessity of governmental participation in policy–local and national and global.

I sort of agree: none of this is enough, but it’s encouraging to hear the long list of changes that groups of interested people are putting in place and the good its doing. Take the good where you can find it.

Daily stats (Friday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Foot: 1.5 miles
Bus: approx. 15 miles

Walking, and how to think about “transportation”

Tom followed up yesterday’s piece on walking with a great entry of his own–with gorgeous snaps of his daily route through Lisbon–including time, transportation mode (mostly walking) and some thoughts about the added benefits of not driving. It reads at time like a poem, at other times like a mini-travelogue.

Jodene followed up this morning with a comment on her own walking method and a tangential thought about the long term (very nice nod to investment strategies!) benefits of walking–intellectual, physical, emotional, environmental.

So, I got to thinking: how cool would it be to get feedback from anyone/everyone who actually shakes it up in the transportation department. Those who are doing something other than the regular single-car/single-passenger-moving-through-urban space routine–and what you think about it. What does your transportation method allow you that you would not get from driving?

This would be more than a survey with radio buttons. This would be postcards from the urban-travel edge. We’ll see, maybe it could work.

Day 92 & 93: MLWC plus Command-and-Control Knowledge

Alright, it’s about time “My Life w Car” got its own acronym, doncha think? So, here we go: MLWC. For a while, I’ll link back to day 90 for an explanation of the project and then, once it’s so common place that I hear it on the nightly news, I’ll stop linking 😉

Command and Control Knowledge “Management.”
I consult on operational issues relating to the customer and the front-line worker—that vital connection between the company and the public. Of late, that connection has shown some wear and tear. Its been commoditized as companies try to manage costs—and when they try to manage costs, they head for the frontline first. They buy software, dream of robotic systems, outsource their service—not because it’s better but because they hope it will make the problem of the frontline-to-customer relationship go away.

Knowledge Management, in all its many forms, is a command-and-control oasis. With very few exceptions (and those exceptions are basically Web 2.0 leaders), companies desperately hang onto the notion that they should, and can, control the information that flows from the agent to the customer. This subverts the agent’s role into that of a robot and so far in all my agent observations, I’ve yet to meet a robot.

Internet-based knowledge sharing—wikis, blogs, online collaboration tools—is both revolutionary and elegant. It engages people at an intuitive level and collects tacit knowledge in natural, accessible ways. Legal will hate it, IT will distrust it, Management will eschew it because they don’t understand it. The New Knowledge Sharing–how many more Knowledge acronyms can we bear??–which will take place online is the one innovation that will engage the front-line, enable JIT knowledge transfer, help the customer, and give command-and-control management style a run for its money. I know where I’m placing my bets.

A couple of articles to consider about this issue:

    A local fave rave consulting group, Ramp Group, has some interesting thoughts about knowledge and content sharing on their blog.

    Here’s a great rundown of articles tackling the problem of knowledge sharing across global groups and in enterprises–note the dates of the articles, the more recent ones are coming to the same conclusions as above.

Daily Stats:
Car: 13 miles (1 person/3 tasks)
Bike: 0
Bus: 0

Note: Jorge Gajardos Rojas from Chile wrote yesterday to ask why I don’t just walk? He lives close to work and ammenities and walks daily. Such a great question–most Americans don’t walk unless it’s for leisure. We don’t walk to the grocery store, for sure. We couldn’t carry back the massive amount of stuff we buy. But elsewhere in the world people walk everywhere, daily. I’ve walked to the grocery store a few times in this project but haven’t kept track of it; I imagine if I walked to the store daily, I wouldn’t have to pay for a gym membership. Thanks Jorge!

Day 85 & 86: my life w car, Urban Birds and Green vs. Gray

Cornell Ornithology Labs–which sounds pretty daunting for us average folks–is really stellar at bringing bird watching to kids and communities all around the world. Their focus is the coolest: Citizen Science. They make awareness of birds fun for urban kids and country kids, for seasoned bird watchers and rank beginners, for scientists and regular folks as well. I’m a huge fan of this organization!

city_song_birds.jpg

So then, I’m really psyched about their latest online endeavor: Urban Bird Watch. Mainly for kids, but for anyone who wants to participate, it’s an online, multi-month, easy-as-pie survey of the birds around us. Sign up and they’ll send you a packet of pretty cool stuff to get started. If you have kids, or have friends or family with kids–check it out. It’s a great way to spend 15 minutes with the birds…and your kids!

Here’s an interesting site with a discussion of Green vs. Gray Economy. Not sure “gray economy” conjures up what they hope it does–it really does feel more akin to Black Market than Green Economy. But the point is: there are companies that are taking steps toward sustainability or improved carbon footprint…and then there are the other companies. The ones that will live and die by fossil fuels.

dinosaur.jpg

Daily Stats:
Car:0
Bike 19.5 miles (4+ tasks)
bus: 2 miles
flexcar: 0

day 81 & 82: My life w car

Read an oldie the other day, The Victorian Internet, by Tom Standage. It was a quick, fun read but sort of silly in some ways.

telegraph.jpg

His claim is that the singular invention of the Telegraph was the first Internet…and to take a phrase from Standage himself (out of context): “Well, sort of.” In fact, it seems the invention that is most strikingly a first step on the way to the modern internet is the use of electrical pulses as a means of conveying information and data from point A to point B. The rest—how humans wrestled with the new communication potential—may well be a repeat of previous “great leaps” in human history and a reflection of the human impulse or instinct to communicate and share information—whether it be in words, electrical impulses, art, oral tradition, trade, or teaching, we seem driven to communicate—and to leverage communication to our own ends.

Among the interesting tidbits that have stayed with me is the change in work culture (from a sun-up-to-sun-down schedule to a newly global 24/7 schedule)–we struggle with our 24/7/365 always-on, always-open global culture and it’s interesting to consider how 24/7 changed things way back in the Victorian age. But in the end, Standage lost me when he boldly asserted that the changes Victorian era society went through during the introduction of the Telegraph so thoroughly modernized them that “time traveling Victorians…would, no doubt, be unimpressed with the Internet.”

I mean, come on. In my own lifetime, I’ve marvelled at the new forms of technology that interconnect the world. I’ve even marvelled at the innovations with bicycles, ferchrissakes. To think that folks from the 1880’s would not be blown away by our technology and interconnectedness now is surely ridiculous. But, someone 100 years from now will be writing something similar to Victorian Internet and gather together a treasure trove of quotes about how the internet made our lives (choose one): easier/smarter/harder/better/faster/worse and will come to various conclusions about technological impacts based on that.

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The world is on a trajectory of inter-relatedness (interesting related thought here). When the printing press was invented, it spawned the creation of entire new religions and the Holy Roman Empire took a huge hit. Suddenly the written word was available not just to those in the cathedral but to anyone who could get a hold of a manuscript. The rise of the first person narrative novel can be linked to MySpace; oral tradition can be linked to the blogosphere; tribal knowledge can trace a direct line to wikis; and certainly the old market and bazarre network can be linked to craigslist and ebay. But all those parallels speak more to human nature and the impulse to inter-connect than to any of the devices invented to achieve that goal.

Daily travel stats:
Internet: a million miles, give or take
car: 6 (4 tasks, 1 person)
bike: 10.5 miles
bus: 2.5 miles
flexcar: 0
passenger ferry to downtown Seattle: 3 miles