Category Archives: green

52 WoLP #23: what we talk about when we talk about sharing the Park

A couple of things while walking through Lincoln Park this week, and they both have to do with sharing. West Seattle has more people in it than ever before, and that means Lincoln Park does too. By a mile.

We share the park with each other, which sometimes requires grace and skill, and we share the park with creatures, which always requires TLC and respect.

The first story involves a sea otter–did you know we have them? They’re interesting creatures: live in the water, hang out on the shore rocks sometimes, and make their homes on terra firma, in the bushes or under structures, etc. The one I saw this week, and who is making regular appearances down at the water’s edge, was finishing up dinner and just chillin on the beach. At the same time, a large group of elementary age kids was rambunctiously making its way up the walkway.

The kids and teachers stopped to watch the otter, along with the rest of us. Then a couple of the girls edged closer and closer until finally they chased the otter back into the water. I mentioned to one of the adults that that was actually illegal, it’s against the law to harass marine mammals on shore, and she shrugged as if the kids were making the rules now.

I don’t want to get all in the teacher’s biz, but wasn’t that, oh I don’t know, a LEARNING OPPORTUNITY? . Yeah, I think it was. The kids need to learn we share the park. We share nature. We don’t own it.

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The next opportunity came just yesterday when I was walking down the center trail to the shore at sunset–a little dusky, a beautiful evening. I hear voices behind me, yelling back and forth, approaching quickly. Before I have a chance to turn and look, three cyclists come racing by at full speed, downhill, about two inches of margin between them and me. Then another. And another, and yes, several more. I finally stop and look behind me and there are even more barreling down the trail. I ask how many more, and someone says, a lot! I’d say there were about 30 twenty-somethings in all.

So I step back onto the trail and let them know I’m going to keep walking and they need to slow down for pedestrians, which they immediately do and I give them full credit for that. They’re just having fun, and I understand the allure of that trail, I’m a bike rider and live for the downhill. But at one point I was nearly nailed against a tree by a guy who didn’t know the trail tightens up at one turn and then another.

Again, they need to balance their fun with the rights of others on the trail to feel and be safe, not to mention the creatures that cross the trail all the time. I never thought I’d say this to bike people, but that gang needs to share the road better.

So, the park is busy. We all love it. So, in the immortal words of Sgt. Esterhaus, hey, let’s be careful out there.

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52 WoLP is a year long dear diary to my favorite park in Seattle. Enjoy!

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52WoLP #14: I Just Wanna Celebrate!

Celebrate Lincoln Park is a combo of two free events being offered by Fauntleroy Community Association. Here are the deets:

  • April 23, Tues., 6:30-8:30 at the Hall at Fauntleroy: speakers (such as the fabulous Trileigh Tucker) tables, fascinating people sharing fascinating information (full disclosure, I will be part of the crew at the ALPN table)–and who else? Seal Sitters, Whale Trail, Puget Sound Partnership, Seattle Parks, and more. Come get some history, some future, some ongoing thangs.
  • April 27, right smack in the park itself, all kinds of things going on! First, there will be a low tide and naturalists available and also, therefore, a zillion happy kids running around. ALPN, Alliance for Lincoln Park Nature, will be offering Art in the Park with three sessions of writing and sketching and having some fun ;-). I’ve heard a rumor that the guy who makes those beautiful balancing driftwood sculptures will be down at the shore making beautiful balancing driftwood sculptures.(full disclosure: I love what Sky Darwin does.) There will be nature walks, nature talks, nature all around. Don’t miss this.
  • All activities will start at the south of the park, much more information will be available at the Celebration on April 23, plus I’ll be keeping the faith here, check back as we get closer.

    Mark the dates! April 23 & 27–see you there!

    52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long project chronicling and loving the seasons of LP in beautiful West Seattle.

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    52 weeks of Lincoln Park: the art of nature

    Week #4 finds us careening towards February, which means Valentine’s day which means love. Denise Dahn, another West Seattle artist and Lover of Lincoln Park, sent me a couple of photos of a few of her favorite things in Lincoln Park: The Dancing Otter and The Cedar & Doug entwined trees.

    The otter is down along the water, north of the pool, and Cedar & Doug can be found on the trail that heads east from the fence trail, between the main Colman Pool trail down, and the Beach Trail a little further South. Well, might’s well just take all the trails, you’ll love it.

    Cedar & Doug have grown together and are completely entwined at this point, roots, trunk and all.  They make a stunningly beautiful couple.

    I added of my faves, too–what Denise calls the Pock Marked tree ( a tree which has become a virtual cafeteria for flickers and woodpeckers, and they are so systematic, it’s awesome) and finally, a semi permanent text based outdoor installation of found objects 😉
    If you have any faves, let me know or share them here. Coming up soon: the birds of spring.

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    plastic: the dawning realization

    So, what I’ve figured out over the past two weeks: not using my car is like a walk in the park compared to managing plastic. You can clean and save all the bags and re-use them week after week at the grocery store until you are blue in the face and it will still barely make a ripple in the vast ocean of plastic that comes into the home simply in packaging.

    recyclable plastic containers

    And those are the recyclable kinds of plastic. Everything, it seems, is wrapped in some kind of plastic–most of it non-recyclable. So, we’re already a little bummed. The bag of plastic recycling under the sink is growing more slowly than it used to, but it’s far from empty. Where are we going to put all this plastic the entire world is now using to package everything–just packaging, mind you! This is just the stuff you take the desired item out of and toss–landfill, landfill!

    Today, with little prodding from me, my partner remembered to use the recycled plastic bags I’d brought and we managed to get out of the store with No New Bags in tow. But hey, if you’ve set your sites on living a wee bit greener, ditching your car and riding your bike is a thousand times easier. Why? Because you have more choice in the matter.

    Okay, a little bummed but undaunted, I continue in my quest.

    plastic bags

    And I wanted to share a little story. A friend of mine, when she heard about my new project to reduce plastic bags and such from my life, read the previous blog and told me of an amazing plastic bag feat: the trash can liner in her home office is the same plastic bag she’s used for 12 years. 12 Years! That is so awesome and such an indication of how plastic lives on and on and on and on….

    So, the experiment continues… I think the next step is to begin learning about what other people are doing about Plastic. More soon.

    Days 360-365: MLwC hits the Year End Mark

     So, I thought in honor of the project that has changed the way I think about driving–this grew-up-in-Southern-California-you’ll -take-my-car-from-my-cold-dead-hands girl–I thought I’d review some of the high points along the way.

    bianchi bike

    First, recollection of the project’s goal as I’ve stated it on the blog:

    MLwC stands for My Life w Car, a year long project to think differently about alternate transportation options and related issues…like, jeez, I never knew how angry driving made me until I stopped. Nowdays, I mix it up: bike, bus, ped, and yes, I still drive…though nowhere near as much as I used to. I may ditch my car at the end of the year–I like to think it’s possible. But I’m spending the year figuring that question out. For now, it’s enough that I’ve changed my habits in a big way.

    For the big question, will I ditch my car? No, it became clear about midway that it made no sense to ditch a perfectly good, fully paid for car that works fine and is not sooo old that it’s a polluting disaster. Flexcar is good if you don’t have a car. But I’ve managed to completely change my transportation habits to include bike, bus, walking, ride sharing in my normal activities, and drastically reduce my car use period. Good enough.

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    And now for some of the high points along the year where I had some clear and habit changing insights. Here are the posts I would send the interested reader to:

    Day 95: Walking! The subject of walking instead of driving brought up a lot of feelings for readers and myself. Walking takes longer, but the calm and enjoyment one gets from it really resonated with people. I started walking more and found I loved the parenthetical space it created–when you’re walking, you’re just walking. Looking around, hearing birds, being part of your town–and slowing things down a lot. Maybe some can’t imagine slowing things down and to them I just say: too bad, your loss. You should try it, you might like it.

    Day 99: I really started to understand how things would change if I changed my habitual approach to transportation. Also, I found that discussing the project with others opened up a lot of questions and interest with my circle of friends. I didn’t expect the kind of interest the MLwC project engendered.

    Day 116-118: In the process of removing habitual driving from my life, I became aware of the connection between driving and CONSUMING! You get in the car and you go…to get stuff. The two–the need for stuff and the trek to get the stuff–are so intertwined it takes a real effort to untangle them. This realization led me to discover the San Francisco Compact–a group that is dedicated to not buying anything for a year. Amazing.

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    Day 160: Continuing on the issue of consuming, I truly get it! Moving quickly, hopping in the car, is the quickest route to impulse buying possible. Making things easy is truly making things a lot worse in the whole big picture. Fast food, fast cars, fast this and fast that–I’m just not sure we’ve got the right goals in mind. I know this perspective makes me a bad capitalist, but hey.

    Day 191-194: I’m starting to really understand how things have changed from the 50’s to now. Unbridled populations growth as a machine for consuming and using every resource that’s not nailed down. No wait, we’ll use the ones that are nailed down, too.

    station wagon promo pic

    Days 213-214: Considerations about the older car, the urge to have something new, new, new! And plus, I just love the title of the post: The discreet charm of the older car.

    Days 218-221: this is an important post, one of those posts where I really get an insight into my mind. Bill McKibbon hits the nail on the head when he points out that more has not made us happier, it’s just made us anxious for More. And that mirrors my experience with driving precisely. And my driving is inextricably linked to my consuming.

    Day 233-237: The Puget Sound region rejects a proposal to build more roads! This is a watershed moment in more than one way!

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    Days 273-277: I took my car on a road trip, a rare experience. How rare? Well, I was completely unaware how expensive gas was, and I had a rude awakening that cars actually need oil now and then.

    Days 241-243: One of my most favorite posts of all. This chronicles a trip I made to a day long meditation…and how crazy I made myself trying to get there on time in a traffic jam. I learned well the concept of “No Escape.” And I’ve thought of it often since this day. There a follow-up of this post here. This period was a real turning point in understanding the habit of driving, the real deep down problem of it.

    Days 287-290: a plea to change your life and change the world. We can all make a difference. We must all make a difference.

    Days 332-338: a video about the Story of Stuff. I just want to call this out because it’s excellent and Annie Leonard deserves traffic!

    So this year comes to a close. I know not many folks will want to read all the stuff I’ve chronicled over the course of this year, but the upshot is: I’ve learned how to live differently. I’ve learned that I can learn to live differently.

    The crowd roars

    And because of this, my next target has already been selected: plastic bags and plastic containers. I’ll begin this project soon and have a killer kick-off post planned. Of course, the new post series title? MLwP.

    Daily Stats: (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri)
    Car: 63 miles
    Bike:5.0
    Ped: 5.5 miles
    Bus:

    Days 308-313: MLwC and random New Year Thoughts

    It’s going to be a very good year. I got a new squirrel feeder for Christmas from my nephew’s kids who are smitten with our resident squirrels, all of whom are named (of course) Sandy. The new feeder is the one they use in some state parks, and is pretty cool, looks like this:

    Squirrel Feeder

    Ours is rougher than this, but the same idea. So far, the stellar jays have made it their own because Sandy is accustomed to coming to the door for direct hand-outs, but they’ll find it soon enough.

    A friend of mine in Sandpoint, ID, where we spent some lovely days this week snowshoeing, eating well and playing, was wondering what kind of bird feeder she could get that would keep squirrels and other varmints out, and after years of experimentation, I suggested the one we’ve currently got which is the only one that not only feeds our target audience of finches, chickadees, juncos, and others, but keeps the local ring tail doves from chowing down every last shred of food, and the jays and the flickers and others. They get the scattered seed on the ground as well as other treats, but will clean out your store of small bird feed quick as you can say Yipes. This feeder is called a Squirrel Buster and you can

    It looks like this:

    Squirrel buster bird feeder

    So why should anyone care about this, other than because having song birds around is a pleasant thing? Especially in urban settings, habitat loss is a real threat and food sources become key–not just to resident bird populations but to migratory birds as well. Most of us don’t consider that our homes may be part of a larger migratory pattern and some species may actually come to rely on food we supply to get where they’re going. I know the Wilson’s Warblers and Varied Thrushes come through our yard at specific times every year, on their way somewhere…who knows where, but they show up like clock work. At our house, we’ve participated in a number of backyard and neighborhood bird counts that help larger organizations like Cornell Ornithology Labs and Nature Conservancy track movements of populations through urban areas.

    “The greatest threat to songbird populations is habitat loss and fragmentation in their wintering and breeding grounds, and along their migratory routes. Birds must find rest areas with an adequate food and water supply to enable them to continue their journey. Conservationists are placing greater importance on these stopover points hoping to reverse the trend of songbird decline. “

    So, making a sweet spot in your own backyard could have untold positive benefits for bird populations that you might not even realize! It all counts, and anyway, the heralding sound of song birds in late February is a treat not to be missed.

    Happy New Year Everyone!

    Daily Stats: (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue)
    Car: 8.5 (three tasks)
    Bike: 0
    Ped: approx 10 miles
    Bus: 0

    Day 291: MLwC and green holidays

    We have a house nearby our West Seattle home that is a veritable beacon of light every holiday season. Literally, you can see it for miles, if not smell it. There’s something about that many lights burning bright in the night that smells like…well, like electricity or something. People drive from miles around to see this house; the family has a big crane come out to drape the evergreens with the longest strings of light I’ve ever seen–and these aren’t LED lights, they’re the real deal.

    I can’t imagine how much energy they burn, and I’m not sure what all this has to do with the holidays or the birth of Jesus. If I were a believer, I would be confused, if not offended, to have Jesus and the whole entourage within 4 inches of a rockin’ rendition of Santa and his merry reindeers. Every motif in the world is going on in that yard, with grostesque results. But I will admit: the kids love it. And it IS a neighborhood tradition.

    So, in this season of good cheer and energy consumption, is it a total faux pax to consider the environmental impact of all these lights?

    LED lights are all the craze, and that’s great because they use soooo much less energy than the big honkers. And you might want to put your lights on a timer, the christmas tree too–so you don’t forget and leave ’em on.

    Everybody seems to be in the mood for one reason or another to simply buy less this year. I know we’re looking forward to spending at least some of our budget traveling to spend real time with those near and dear–a better gift for all of us, or at least we hope so. We’re thinking: share more time, meals, tea, coffee, whatever with your friends and family, and focus less on the mountain of gifts we’ve all come to dread. You dread getting stuff you don’t want, they dread buying it. Why do we persist in this madness?

    Whatever you do buy, make sure it’s as recycleable, reusable, renewable as possible. Avoid the stuff with lots of packaging material. Maybe the companies that do that will get a hint.

    And if you’re hosting dinner, etc, remember: Cloth napkins, real dishes and flatware. Just think how happy the earth will be to not get more plastic “presents” in landfills all because you did it differently this year. You go, you!

    Daily Stats:

    Car: 0
    Bike: 0
    Ped: 3
    Bus: 0

    Day 188-190: MLwC and Pay as you go car insurance

    First, here’s a picture of my poor neglected darling:

    My Car, the subject of my year long project

    She’s the star of the show, you’d think she’d be pleased and yet…and yet….she sits day after day, forlorn and lonely, dust gathering, begging someone to please take a moment to write “Wash Me!” and still, no one does.

    Well, I took her out for a ride the other day, over to the eastside and she (in her fantasies, if not reality) flew down the road, white line fever for 33 miles roundtrip, returning home just barely breathing hard and ready for more action. It’s not to be my lovely. In this lifetime, you were joined to me, she who does not appreciate your secret Jetta prowess.

    Okay, I’m a little cabin crazy. I’ve got a sinus infection which renders me useless for days and days on end. But here’s a bit of news I picked up: Washington state is going to be trying a pay-as-you-go auto insurance program next year. Pay-as-you-go auto insurance has been around in the UK, AU, NZ and other countries for a while, and has not as yet caused the downfall of anything. I called my Pemco agent a while back cuz I didn’t want to pay so much insurance. “I hardly drive the poor darling,” I said. The agent said, “Look lady, your rates are incredibly low as it is–they’re the lowest I’ve ever seen. I’d kill to have rates this low.”

    But I want lower. Cuz I just don’t drive much, that’s why.

    There’s apparently another PAYG program in Oregon that’s been in operation since January of this year. Read about it here. I signed up for the Washington version; we’ll see if I get selected to participate in the pilot.

    Daily Stats (Tue, Wed, Thu)

     

    Car: 33 miles (3 tasks, 1 person)
    Bike: 0
    Ped: approx 2 miles
    Bus: approx 4 miles

    I would like to add here that I just don’t know why travel east and west in the puget sound area is so lacking in mass transit options, but north and south has more every year. East, West, she said as loudly as possible!

    Day 183-187: MLwC and what are YOU doing?

    This remodel seems determined to eat my life.

    But I digress. Carless in Seattle is an interesting blog that attempts to untangle the very very tangled mess that is Traffic in Seattle. A recent post takes apart a ballot measure (RTID) for tackling traffic issues. His bottom line findings:

    I spent ninety minutes this weekend reading through all the RTID projects and trying to categorize them. The results: 47% of RTID is about expanding service for single-occupancy vehicles (SOV). King County, mind you, is spending 61% on things other than roads expansion for SOVs. But the new Cross Base Highway in Pierce County is a huge factor (new SOV capacity is 75% of Pierce County’s portion of RTID), and there’s a bunch of road widening in Snohomish County as well.

    He gets to the nub of it here: Why are we focused on more of the same, ie, Single Occupancy channels, instead of alternatives? As someone said, more lanes will just fill up.

    Why SOV?

    The question should not be more or less lanes, but rather Why SOV? Our contractor needs to drive to our house to do the remodel (the one that’s threatening to eat my life), he’s got a truckload of tools and supplies. He’s a valid SOV case. The 15,000 people who drive in and out of Seattle every day to sit at a desk carrying little more than a laptop and a phone are unexplored opportunities to find better ways to get around. Better mass transit, better car sharing, better bike infrastructure.

    Grist offered a good overview of the issue the other day, highlighting the problems in figuring out what to do with the traffic problem in Puget Sound. While I understand that most people bought their big expensive cars in order to drive to work, in a congested urban environment, more lanes for more SOVs just don’t make sense. There are so many other ways we could solve this problem.

     

    The Wizard of OZ

    A tee shirt I have in mind to make, specifically for biking (big print on the back….I’ll probably get run over): “What are YOU doing about traffic in Seattle?” People seem focused on what the local government is going to do about traffic, all the while continuing to drive the same way they did 10 years ago, despite staggering population density, concentrations of businesses downtown, bigger cars, more trucks…What do they think? That the government really is the Wizard of Oz? And if the gov did do something radical to change things, those same people would be the first ones to sabotage it. So I’m skipping the whole government bullshit and going straight to it: What the heck are YOU doing about traffic?

    Daily Stats (Thur-Mon)
    Car: 11 miles (2 tasks)
    Bike: 10 miles
    Ped: 0
    Bus: 0

    Day 180-182: MLwC, the Half-Way Point Data Extravahhh-ganza!

    It’s the mid-point mark in my year long project to change how I think about getting around! So far, the project is a massive success. But first, a few items:

    Neighbor Susan noted yesterday re the amount of waste created on a daily basis while traveling. This being The Travel Month for a lot of people, that observation seems particularly apt:

    I had similar feelings on our two-week road trip where the combination of eating on-the-road, the absence of the usual recycling bins and the need to stay contained in a small vehicle meant that we were throwing things into the garbage that at home we would have recycled.

    It would be nice if Recycling were a national program, rather than a very uneven local option. I’ve been lots of places where recycling isn’t even available, much less an option. And traveling, where you pretty much don’t have reusable-anything, really surfaces the issue of waste in a palpable way.

    Bike considerations.

    My pal B2 has put approx 1500 miles on his bike since May. Whoa–nice job, my slim and good lookin friend! I’ve been reading Sightline Institute’s many great articles regarding the environment and the Northwest, and following Alan Durning’s blog Bicycle Neglect–excellent posts. Here’s one entitled Bicycle Shame, a lament and study of the many patently ridiculous stereotypes about bicyclists. To whit: bicyclists are wimps (let me see, I know I’ve been hit on a bike and sent flying through the air, only to get back on my bike as soon as I could…yeah, that’s pretty wimpy) and bicyclists are elitist (Alan suggests cyclists also probably speak French but anyway, that’s so weird, like a BMW is not elitist but a mountain bike is?). Here’s a clip from this excellent blog:

    Biking is the least exclusive form of vehicular transportation there is. It’s not restricted to people with money, or people with drivers’ licenses and insurance.

    Biking isn’t just cheap for bikers, it’s cheap for the communities in which people bike. Bikeways and bike racks are inexpensive to build and maintain.

    Biking is also cheap for nations: they don’t have to import as much oil or defend their access to that oil with billions of dollars and divisions of soldiers. It’s cheap for health-care institutions: they don’t have to treat as many car-crash injuries, as much lung disease, or as many cases of diabetes and others maladies of obesity. It’s cheap for our grandchildren who won’t have to endure as much climate disruption; cheap for polar bears who won’t have to go extinct; cheap for our consciences, our karma, our souls.

    Biking, walking or sharing transportation even one day a week does a world of good.

    The MLwC project half-way point

    And speaking of One Day a Week: when I first started this project, I remember setting small goals of just one day a week without using my car. Then two days, and then after that, walking-biking-bussing-sharing was just more and more part of my thinking. And now? Well, right now, I’m in the midst of this small remodel which requires picking up things like carpet cleaners and finish molding and schlepping around. It’s a drag but there you have it: sometimes you need a car.

    Here’s the great thing: it seems weird and irritating to drive. I would never have expected that when I started this project. Back then, driving was the norm. Now it’s not. And I find the whole traffic-parking-gotta-get-somewhere tension pretty aggravating and weird. It’s true: I find biking/bussing/walking to be a preferable method of transport, call me elitist. 😉

    So, without further ado, here are the stats.

    The crowd roars

    Review round-up from Day 90 :

    Car: 535 miles, approx 85% multi-task, multi-occupant
    Bike: 176.30 miles, increasing daily mileage from Day 1 to Day 90 (by a lot!)
    Hybrid-electro Bus: 60 miles (didn’t utilize the bus until around day 60)

    From Day 90 to present:

    Car: 301.4 miles, approx 95% shared, with average 3 tasks per outing
    Bike: 154.3 miles, a little less than the first round-up
    Hybrid-electro Bus: 136 miles–more than double
    By foot: 156.5. I didn’t track this previously.

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    Big changes:

    • Significant reduction in use of my car, which is interesting since during the first 90 days, I was out of the country a lot and couldn’t use my car. So reducing my usage while still being in Seattle is a big improvement.
    • significant increase in bus usage–which I attribute to “learning to love downtown Seattle again.” Meaning: if you don’t have to deal w parking and traffic, Seattle’s a great place to visit!
    • Much more conscious use of walking, jogging, or other foot powered transportation.
    • Weird little decrease in bike usage. Not sure what’s up there.

    I believe, for now, I have seriously and successfully changed my habitual transportation thinking.

    Daily Stats: (Mon- Wed)
    Car: 7 miles (2 tasks)
    Bike: 10 miles
    Bus: 15 miles
    Ped:0

    Day 179: MLwC, schlepping and such

    We are remodeling my partner’s office space here in West Seattle, a lot of it on our own. This requires an enormous amount of schlepping stuff around, running errands to the hardware store to pick up a lousy little something or other.

    Sort of blows my no-car ideation to hell.

    Not only that, what a lot of waste goes with remodeling. Everything from paint roller sleeves (multiple) to packaging to cans, drywall bits and pieces, discarded hardware, change-in-plan waste, and on and on. When you think this is happening a million times everyday all over the country…it’s enough to make you sort of give up.

    The Northwest has a lot of green remodeling companies sprouting up everywhere, and of course a lot more green resources than ever before. Right here in Seattle is the Environmental Home Center, a great resource we’ve used on other projects in our home. We have carpet made out of recycled plastic bottles, for example–wears really well and still looks good. We’re not using an eco-contractor per se but are instilling recycling and reduced waste practices into what we do…even so, I can see how much waste you could produce if you just didn’t care.  Plus there’s the stuff you can’t do much about.  We have a ruined carpet down in the basement of this office that is beyond reclamation, and that is headed straight to the landfill.

    I hate contributing to landfill.  It just bugs me inordinately.   Does anyone else out there think about landfills a little more than is healthy, or is it just me?

    But I won’t lose sight of my year-long project in all of this upheaval.  Even if this little blip does add to my overall car usage, I’ve radically reduced it over the course of the last several months and I won’t let this project get in the way. It’s temporary.

    But just for the record: remodeling is a pain in the butt.

    Daily stats (Monday)
    Car: 7 miles
    Bike: 0
    Ped: 0
    Bus: 0
    No exercise, yipes!!!

    Day 172: MLwC plus the Sherlock Holmes formula

    I love the Sherlock Holmes formula:

    “It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

    Andrew Mason notes in his blog on Global Climate Change, that a similar situation is arising in the ongoing argument over whether climate change is due to human impact or not. He doesn’t site Sherlock (I’m not sure that would win him any rhetorical points), but the gist of his argument is the same.

    We observe that the earth is getting warmer ….Scientist offer plausible explanations. Some suggest it is caused by non-anthropogenic factors such as natural solar cycle increasing solar radiation, volcanos belching green-house gases, the tilt of the earth’s axis, reduced cloud cover due to natural factors. Some suggest it is caused by green-house gases resulting from burning of fossil fuels and the loss of forests and other CO2 sinks due to human activity.

    One by one, scientists uncover evidence that falsifies the proposed explanations. They succeed in falsifying all theories but one: the increase in greenhouse gases, principally CO2, due to human activity….until someone proposes another theory, or is able to show that the evidence which destroys an alternative theory is wrong, we are left with the anthropogenic model. And that is as close to ‘proof’ as anyone can get.

    I’ve been perusing stories about weather anomolies and discussion of global climate change around the world and note that African nations such as Ghana and Nairobi are entering the global conversation, as climate changes become more apparent. When all of us have observed the same thing, everywhere, will the naysayers still be claiming it’s not happening or it’s solar flares?

    Daily Stats (Monday)

    Car: 0
    Bike: 0
    Ped: approx 3.5 miles
    Bus: 0

    Day 145: MLwC and the little things

    La Marguerite and Substrata both commented yesterday on the radical act of simply paying more attention (those are my words, their comments are here). There are all kinds of ways of being more conscious–writing a blog is a way of noticing things. Talking about your stuff with a friend–your friend helping you to link your life together–that helps you to be more conscious.

    And watching what happens when you decide to do something different, that’ll really help you pay attention. I’ve learned that so vividly on this MLwC project.

    A friend of mine sent me a link the other day to a site I’d forgotten but is worth visiting. I was stuck working on something and his email came right at the perfect moment (thanks Paul!). I was able to take a break and play with Brian Eno’s site Oblique Strategies for a while. It really helped to jog my brain a little!

    So, why am I mentioning this? Because doing one unexpected or different thing helps you see everything differently for at least a little while, and sometimes even longer. I’m convinced that’s why Marguerite mentions (as well as a few commentators on her blog) that before she knew it, she felt things in her life were shifting just a little–just on the basis of having changed a few habits.

    I recently finished A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson–a great read, highly recommend it. One of the things they discuss is the link between mess and creativity and specifically: it’s tough to be very creative if you do the same thing, the same way, all the time. Mess it up, they say, and find your brain more than a little woken up simply by taking a different route to work.

    So, yeah, if you decide to take on change such as committing for 90 days to turn off the water when you brush your teeth, or taking the bus to work one day a week, the rewards are huge. Yes, you’ll get instant enviro-karma/dharma points but even better: your brain will wake up, colors will be brighter, ideas will appear out of nowhere…who knows where it could lead. A happy, active brain is a good brain.

    Daily stats: (Monday)
    Car: 0
    Bike: 0
    Ped: 0
    Bus:0
    Desk day, and do I feel it in my body!

    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 139: MLwC and the long, hot days of summer

    In Seattle, unlike a lot of places, we don’t usually get a whole lot of really, really hot summer weather. I grew up in S. California and know (and have missed) truly long hot summer days.

    But the last few years, it does seem that we’re getting more of those long, hot summer days and often, even though it’s cold and rainy for much of the year and people go a little cabin-crazy around February, you hear a lot of grumbling among natives about when the rain and clouds will return. Can’t please everyone, it seems.

    This last winter was, well, treacherous. Mind you, for the most part all we usually deal with is lots of rain and Seasonal Affect Disorder. Last winter we had record breaking amounts of rain and wind like you wouldn’t believe–this is not hurricane country by any stretch and yet we had hurricane force storms roll through large swaths of the region. The biggest storm is now known as The Hanukkah Hurricane, for its timing right on the holiday.

    Why do I mention this? Because a lot of trees fell during that storm, which was bad enough–I mean, a LOT of trees. Power was out for a couple of weeks in many areas, roads were blocked. This is an area with a lot of urban trees…though less than we used to have.

    Because a lot of trees fell and did a lot of property damage, the following months were marked by the daily cacophony of chain saws and chippers. Not just to handle the fallen trees, but to take down the remaining trees around houses. There are several houses just in our neighborhood with huge (I mean huge) trunks in the lots where once were mighty and beautiful evergreens and pines.

    Now, when the hot weather has hit, these houses no longer have any shade at all and the sun is hitting full force, causing the house and gardens to heat up. Result: much more dependence on air conditioning and watering to maintain the status quo. (I’m not even going to get into the loss of habitat resulting from the urban clear-cutting).

    wilsons_warbler pic

    Do I blame people for being nervous about trees around their house? No, I don’t. I’m a little nervous myself–our house is surrounded on all sides by madronas, cedars, pines and we watch them with real trepidation when the winds hit–which interestingly is much more than ever before. I recall reading in The Weather Makers that one of the impacts of global climate change will be an increase in extremes–bigger winds, bigger droughts, bigger rains–in all the places that used to have “normal” amount of same.

    The point is, we live in a systems based world. You do one thing and it has an impact over here, over there, and in places you can’t even predict. Because of that, yes, our choices matter.

    Trees have always been a source of natural air conditioning and protection for homes. Sometimes that protection can turn into a liability. Many of the more knowledgeable people I’ve talked to have suggested that hard-core pruning, thinning out of volunteers and the like will make the existing trees stronger and less likely to fall. Degradation of soil, lack of care, removal of necessary understory brush will cause the trees to be weakened. We sort of live in a magic world where all things– trees, animals, weather, people– are seen as objects to be used as we wish, rather than as a healthy systemic environment requires.

    So, here’s to a long, cool drink this afternoon in the hammock. Shade–sure, it’s old fashioned, but it works.

    Daily stats: (Tuesday)
    Car: 0
    Bike: 0
    Bus: 0
    Ped: 0
    It was a lot-of-deskwork-day.