Category Archives: social networks

Days 267 & 268: MLwC and Good Carma

Pal Brian sent me a a link to a new site that’s getting some buzz. It’s Carma–Carbon Monitoring for Action, and it maps and rates carbon footprints of power plants and power companies by region and country, all over the world. It’s a deep site, with lots of drill down options so when you poke around, be sure to toy with the many options for viewing stats and facts.

Carma–Carbon Monitoring Map of the World

A world view shows Asia as producing the biggest carbon footprint in the world, in terms of power production, which isn’t surprising I guess when you consider the population density.

Closer to home, the midwest and east coast of the United States has the biggest carbon footprint. And even closer to home, the Seattle area has a tidy little zero for carbon footprint. However, if you dig even deeper into the stats, you’ll find very specific information on power plants within the zone. For example, if you look below, you’ll see that most of the plants in the Seattle area are green or at least yellow, but interestingly, our own University of Washington is red, meaning they have a significant carbon footprint:

Carma–Carbon Monitoring Map of the World

Another really great aspect of the site is its social network–it automatically picks up conversations and news stories through RSS and posts them on the site, but it also has engaged a LOT of conversation on the site itself, with everything from scholarly inquiry and feedback, to more pedestrian interest.

The site is very new and will undoubtedly be changing constantly as it has the resources to grow and evolve, in response to demands and questions. A cool thing about the project is its focus on actionable information. It’s a resource for change (nudge to the University of Washington Enviro-watchers…)

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri)
Car: 5.5
Bike: 0
Ped: 4
Bus: 15

Advertisements

Days 261-263: MLwC and the Blog of the Day

I’m just getting so much enjoyment out of La Marguerite’s blog and her blog actions. Two different things: her own writings that she is posting on her blog chronicle her daily actions–like ALL of her action and how they impact the environment. She calls it her Daily Footprint Project and she uses it to track usage of the car, walking, eating, flushing the toilet–all of it. I could no more do that than jump over the moon, I don’t have the attention span to do it, but I’m so enjoying her journey, and learning a lot.

Her posts make me think about things differently. And that’s not surprising: Marguerite has a strong background in psychology and comes at this project and blogging in general from a very behavior oriented perspective, as well as vivid systems thinking. Systems thinking can drive a person crazy after awhile but I’m convinced that without it, we become numb with various denial techniques such as frenzied lifestyles and useless anxiety. Marguerite seems to have a helpful approach to systems thinking that asks the right questions and offers some good answers.

The other thing she’s doing is inviting certain bloggers to share their BlogAct--what they’re doing via their own blogs to encourage consciousness around the environment. In my own case, I’ve radically changed my relationship to my car. That in turn has changed my relationship to the dominant culture in a lot of ways that I chronicle here in my blog. There are many others on La Marguerite’s site and because of this collection she’s started, I’ve been introduced to some really great bloggers and encouraged once more by the vast conversation happening online about the environment.

So head on over to La Marguerite’s site and enjoy!

Daily Stats (Fri, Sat, Sun)

Car: 0
Bike: 17.5
Ped: approx 1.5
Bus: 15

Days 229-232: MLwC and there’s a bus in the urban garden!

My pal Yo recently pointed me to an article on Putting People First about the Mobile Experience Laboratory at MIT, and how the thought leaders there are trying to take advantage of the current global-climate-change-dependence-on-oil moment in our collective lives. Federico Casalagno is a sociologist on the MIT team who is focused on making bus stops more interesting, inviting and useful.

Casalegno views the urban landscape as a garden of communication, the better the communication, the healthier the garden. He wants to create bus stops that encourage riders to use the bus, sure, but also to enhance and enable communication. He sees our movement around urban environments as part of the larger flow of communication between people, places and things. It’s a systemic approach to transportation and I have to admit, it’s a challenge to envision since one tends to think of buses as the means to get from point A to point B–the very thing Casalegno questions.

MIT bus stop design

The uber-modern bus stops would have walls of digital images and information, some very useful such as when the next bus is going to arrive, other bits including civic events, activities, local neighborhood postings, etc. Casalegno goes further and takes on the interior of the buses themselves, suggesting that those dull and often empty spaces above the seats and the ceilings themselves could be used as a means of communication of all kinds. I shudder to think how much of that communication would become advertising…and how quickly.

Still, I read about what MIT, Boston and Massachusetts is thinking about mass transportation and I am both envious and wistful. In most cities and states, mass transit is the last thing on the list of government things to do and the Puget Sound area is no different. I would love to see this kind of forward thinking and investment that would actually help drive (no pun intended) higher ridership on mass transit alternatives.

Daily Stats (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu)
Car: 0
Bike: 8
Ped: approx 5 miles
Bus: approx 15 miles

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 195-197: MLwC and more on Green Christians

tomato.jpg My neighbor Susan, from whom I learn so much and with whom I have a deadly serious tomato growing competition, recently dropped me a note regarding her evolving thoughts re the environment and Christianity. But first, let’s get back to that deadly serious tomato competition (Lower Cloverdale Tomato Wars). For those who are interested in such things, I believe Susan is the Big Winna this year, both in Quantity and Quality. We have a stunning selection of tomatoes–French salad, black Italian plums, an heirloom and a Japanese variety. All good but because of work earlier in the year, we neglected to properly prune our apple and pear trees and only too late did we notice that our tomato bed was in shade most the day. Anyway, right now, the Japanese variety–the Momotaro–is the run-away favorite, while the French salad are monster big and impressive, but not as snappy tart as the others.

But I digress. Susan mentioned to me that she’s noticing the presence of Earth Ministry at her college, SPU, and will be checking in with them to see what they’re up to. Earth Ministry is primarily Northwest based and is currently celebrating its 15th year anniversary–good for them! They have a quarterly publication called Earth Letter with contributions by such luminaries as Wendell Berry, Bill Moyers, Barry Lopez, Pattiann Rogers, and others. They’ve celebrated previous events such as the Celebration of St. Francis (even I know that St. Francis is the nature-guy in the constellation of saints) with talks by Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibbon, and others. It seems like an outstanding organization and a proud offering from this beautiful neck of the woods.

She also pointed to an article in the latest Sojourner magazine that includes three articles on the green movement and what it means (or should mean) to Christians and Christian leaders.

Here’s a funny thing: when I went to the Sojourner site, I found the articles and clicked through. The magazine is more than willing to let me read the article for free, but predictably asked that I give info on who I am, etc in order to get it. I could lie (Mary Brown/111 Brown St./Brownsville, OK) but I tend to not do that so often; giving them my real info wasn’t an option…because I don’t consider myself a christian (or anything else, to be honest).

See? That’s why I don’t like these artificial boundaries like religion and politics and what not. They lock people in ideologically and block others out. Well, I won’t get on that rant. It just struck me that I didn’t want to give my name to an organization with a strong religious identity to which I didn’t belong. I dream of an open source world.

Last but not least, I ran across a Blog for Green Christians, by Sander Chan out of the Netherlands. It’s interesting, you may want to check it out if this topic intrigues you.

Daily Stats: (Tue, Wed, Thur)
Car: 28 miles (trip to Eastside, 3 tasks)
Bike: 16 miles
Ped: 1 or 2 miles
Bus: 5 miles

Day 155 & 156: MLwC and a wee bit more on Chinatown

Interestingly, after the post the other day re Green Films, New West offers another story that sounds chillingly like the Owens Valley rip-off that was the true-life basis of the fictional noir film Chinatown. The story, entitled “Water again,” (the infamous quote from detective Jake in Chinatown) takes place in Southern Idaho and follows a proposal to take millions of gallons of water out of the Snake River every day in order to sustain housing and development in the Idaho desert south of Boise….Hmmm, I wonder where I’ve heard that before.

Cadillac Desert chronicles what happened to the Owens Valley farmers and the vast, fruitful agricultural areas that supported local economies and provided fresh food for the whole region. When the water was siphoned off for L.A and the San Fernando Valley, those farms dried up–literally–and became part of history.

I wonder if Idahoans will allow the creation of their own Cadillac Desert, lining the pockets of Mulholland type developers who have purchased desert land on the cheap, hoping to turn it into an oasis–on the backs of tax-payers, local farms, and the eco-system at large.

Daily Stats: (Thu, Fri)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 7 miles
Bus: 0
Desk: miles and miles deep into the early morning light.

Day 153 & 154: MLwC and one cool thing

Here’s a cool idea for those omni-readers among us that falls in the category of re-use and recycle: a book trading site. I found this on Teensygreen’s blog–(a great blog for Moms looking for smart ways to be more green) the book trading site is called BookMooch.

Pile o books–seacat.wordpress.com for more

The deal is you list the books you have that are looking for a new home, trade them off to folks for points and then cash in the points for books you want. Best to know what books you want because even though the search function is good, the browse function is horrible. Still, I entered Jane Smiley and got a full page of available books of hers and even a few I haven’t read.

All you do is pay the shipping to the requester, (if you’ve ever participated in Amazon’s marketplace, you know shipping books is pretty affordable ) and when you select a book, that person pays the shipping to you. Interestingly, they also participate in Amazon’s referral program, so if you don’t find the book you want, you can pop right over to Amazon for a fresh-off-the-press version, full price and shipping included.

So why do I think this is good? I haven’t tried it yet, so the jury is still out but it does a few things that are cool: it creates social networks of mutual benefit, it recycles perfectly good books to people who really want them, and it avoids chopping down more trees to print more new books. For those of us who mostly transitioned to the library a while ago, this is a logical extension. There is the issue of carbon based shipping, which excludes this from carbon neutrality, but hey, you can’t have everything. I’ll let you know how it works when I give it a whirl.

Daily Stat (Tues, Wed)
Car: 10 miles (3 tasks, 1 person)
Bike: 8 miles
Ped: 6 miles
Bus: 0
other: 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 148 & 149: MLwC and a 4 minute vid about how we connect

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

Take 4 minutes and watch this vid created by a group of students at Kansas State University’s ethonography dept. It’s amazing and inspiring and beautiful in its weird way. it’s the world we are living in and participating in. it’s us.

I’ve had family in town all weekend with a ten year-old to show the sites of Seattle and environs to. We did a lot of it via bus, ferries, monorails and foot–you know when you’ve worn a ten-year old out, you’ve walked a lot.

Daily Stats (Thur, Fri)

Car: 0
Bus: approx 5 miles
Ferry: approx 8 miles
Monorail: approx 2 miles
Ped: approx 7 miles

Encyclopedia of Life and E. O. Wilson’s one wish

I just visited the Encyclopedia of Life and watched E.O Wilson’s 20 minute video, upon receiving the 2007 TED prize.

Wilson discusses the vast importance of insects to our living environment….he focuses on the massive scale of insect life that is simply unknown and yet are key parts of our great chain of life.

Also: there’s a fabulous vid-within-vid moment accompanied by Billie Holiday.  Worth a watch and a listen.

So, what is E. O. Wilson’s one wish?  That we work together to build the Encyclopedia of Life– built and shared by all communities around the world.  For the first time ever, the ability to gather and share the enormous magnitude of knowledge about science, biology, the climate, global warming, species preservation–the ability to gather this information is within reach due to the internet.

Well, if you check out eol.org, it looks like Wilson got his wish.  Cool.

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 126: MLwC, more on The Biggest Movement

For those who are interested, Mytechvision sent me a link to another Paul Hawken discussion, the MP3 file of which you can find here. Much longer than the previously mentioned video, and more complete in terms of his entire working theory that he writes about in Blessed Unrest. Some good clarification of the global immunity theory, and clarification on why he calls this a Movement–even though it doesn’t have (as he puts it) a white male charismatic leader in charge of it. It’s a mass movement because large swaths of the global population are experiencing climate change, corporate activity, disease, social change and saying collectively, no, this isn’t right. We are agreeing on that single thing: this isn’t right. And that is what unites us.

One cool thing about this seminar is how you really get a hit of how funny Hawken is, and how huge his thinking is. An amazing fact: he has compiled a list of grass roots organizations around the world that are actively involved in making changes. The list scrolls across the screen and scrolls and scrolls…and he calculates that you would in fact have to watch this list scroll for an entire month, 24 hours a day before you would reach the end. That is a lot of grass roots.

It’s a good seminar where he covers most of the stuff he covers in his book in a very conversational way–but it’s long. I hope you have the chance to listen.

Daily Stats: Wednesday
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 5.5 miles
Bus: approx 15 miles
air: 0

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 119 thru 121: MLwC and WiserEarth.com

Traveling again this week, and really rushed for time. Time is a critical factor in selection of transportation modes. I elected to drive to the airport and park rather than risk not getting picked up by the shuttle again….Anyway, I was thinking about how much I travel over the course of the year and how much this impacts my carbon footprint. I’m a consultant and this travel issue won’t likely change a whole lot in the near future which makes my activities while at home even more important–walk, bike, bus, etc.

On Sunday, I hung out a while at Paul Hawken’s site WiserEarth, trying to figure out how it works. I heard back from Michael regarding the beta site re my sense that it wasn’t targeted well; I couldn’t figure out if it was for professional .org people or for regular people like me. He confirmed that they are still working out some aspects of the site (it’s beta) but:

“In a nutshell, it is definitely for people like you. I encourage you to check it out and make sure your favorite organizations are represented in there. And we are always looking for feedback on usability and for ideas on future enhancements to make the site more useful for your line of work. We can’t guarantee everything will be implemented (we have constraints on tech support and funding of course), but we do value community feedback.”

So , I went back to the site and created an account, and then went for a run.

alkilincolnpark.jpg

During the run I began to think about all the stuff rolling around in my head and realized (this may be a Doh! moment for some of you but it was sort of exciting for me): The Compact, my own MLwC project, Wildlife Alliance, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Critical Mass, the Backyard Wildlife movement here in Seattle and a hundred other things that I personally take an interest in, are all part of a much, much bigger movement that as Hawken puts, is as yet un-named and is potentially the biggest movement in the history of the planet. People like you and me–perhaps not doing big global projects, but doing things we care about, passionately, and that contribute to a larger common good.

And it’s the combination of all those things that is creating this massive global movement that Paul Hawken is writing about.

When I returned from my run, I went to the site and entered my first organization. I’ll follow up with others. I’m no expert on so many things out there, but I know about my own life and interests, and that’s what I can share. How the site will evolve, how it will utilize my interests, network us all, remains to be seen. How I will use it remains to be seen.

Participating is sort of a leap of faith. Take The Compact, for example. You use your big car to go shopping and buy things, much more than you really need, without thinking about alternate paths, and it’s all so easy, so fast, who really thinks about it. So the Compact has groups all over the planet finding different ways to live outside the planned path of consumerism. Once that habit is busted, these people like Rachel in SF, or myself here with my own habit-busting project, we find ourselves connecting to our city, our community, our planet in a whole new way. Rachel, just like me, just like you, is one little atom bouncing around out there amidst a gazillion atoms, changing the way atoms bounce here in Seattle, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and who knows where else.

And that, I believe, is what Paul Hawken is talking about. Bring what you have, share it, find your community, find energy, find a different path and share your map. And Hawken clearly understands the internet has made the path to sharing your map possible.

Daily stats: (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Car: 25 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.0
Bus: 0
Air: 2400

Day 116 thru 118: MLwC and the way things are interconnected

I’m old enough to remember when the term built-in obsolescence began to gain currency. Apparently, the movement on the part of manufacturers to create goods that would have a shorter, definitive life-span started in the 30’s (I wasn’t around then 🙂 ) and really became part of our culture in the 60’s (I was around then) and is now so common we rarely think twice before trashing something we bought a week ago, year ago, two years ago, whatever.

There was a time, really, when you bought things and expected them to last. And last a long time.

This built-in obsolescence or planned obsolescence is, in many ways, at the root of our collective carbon footprint now and I find myself thinking about it with relation to My 30 Days of consumer celibacy and how The Compact works, that was mentioned here the other day. The author, Wendee Holtcamp spent 30 days not buying anything new and chronicled the adventure. According to the Compact, the goal is to wean oneself from our consumer addicted society….

What happens in an experiment like this, I imagine, is similar to what has happened in my own experiment with urban transportation: once you break a pattern of behavior, you begin to view everything in relation to that pattern differently.

So, now I’m starting to wonder about this buy-nothing-new project that started in San Francisco by Rachel and others. It’s not some anti-corporation, self-punishing hard-core movement–it’s smart people who understand that the more new stuff we buy, the more landfill we create and the more we put into motion this global supply chain that is at the heart of an unsustainable consumer culture.

When we first bought the house we’re living in now, we had to do a lot of very necessary repairs right off the bat. Some of them involved new wood siding on the house to repair dry-rot, etc., and I remember thinking, “what would it be like to follow the production of this lumber from the forest all the way to our house?” Because it’s not just the lumber yard where you purchase it, it’s the trucks, trains, ships that get the wood from the forest (sustainable or otherwise); it’s the rubber in the tires, the steel in the chassis, the hardhats, the gloves, the dock with its hauling equipment and cranes; it’s the computerized programs that track inventory, the reports, the finance and banking; it’s the plastic ties, the labeling, the marketing and the packaging…it goes on and on.

Marley’s ghost

For some reason, it makes me think of the Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol who shows up to haunt Scrooge dragging a long line of chains and money boxes rattling behind him.

Basically, that’s what buy-nothing-new is getting at: recognizing that the mass of stuff we buy new involves a greater participation in this completely unsustainable pitch of manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sales–unsustainable because it takes resources to create and distribute stuff, but the model doesn’t put stuff back in.

So, the Compact is focused on not introducing more new stuff into the world, borrowing or buying used, and thereby perhaps driving a market demand that items be built better to last longer. That then got me to thinking about Seth Godin’s post commented on here a while ago that he will know we’re actually gaining ground in the environmental movement when cars have LED readers on their bumpers that advertise the mileage–encouraging longevity over new, new, new.

I’m not ready to do the compact quite yet, and when I do, I’ll definitely do a 30 day trial first; but I’m really captured by the thought of reducing the massive global supply chain that goes into our consumerism–making things last longer, repairing, recycling, borrowing, lending. There’s also a wonderful network and community aspect to the Compact that is attractive.

Daily Stats (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Car: 8 (2 tasks)
Bike:7 miles
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bus:0
air: 0

PS. I have a confession to make. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on whether or not to include other people’s cars in my daily stats. I’ve been incredibly ambivalent about it but have this last week decided: No. This project is about My Car, not all cars. So, I’m really only looking at ways I use my car…and the possibility of living without a “my car” in the future. Thoughts?