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Content about The Road to Resilience

April 11, 2018

About eight years ago, Steve Graham handed me, and a few others, copies of the Transition Town Handbook in hopes that we might do something with it while he was off on a trip of many months. 

About eight years ago, Steve Graham handed me, and a few others, copies of the Transition Town Handbook in hopes that we might do something with it while he was off on a trip of many months.  For those that aren’t familiar, the Transition Town movement started in Great Britain to increase local resilience in the face of general destabilization due to climate change and resource depletion.  Some time later, at Cathy Fulton’s Food Summit, Margot Boyer announced that she wanted to start a discussion group based on the Transition Town Handbook.  In fact, we realized t

March 28, 2018

“…  Her enthusiastic two-hour presentation, punctuated with dramatic readings, wry humor, and songs, traces the evolution of the love story across the centuries. The emphasis is on the evolving role of women and the emergence of feminist sensibilities.

 

“…  Her enthusiastic two-hour presentation, punctuated with dramatic readings, wry humor, and songs, traces the evolution of the love story across the centuries. The emphasis is on the evolving role of women and the emergence of feminist sensibilities. The crowd is thrilled by the literary depth and intellectual breadth of the evening and rewards Katrín Jakobsdóttir with a standing ovation, which she graciously accepts before heading back to her day job—as prime minister of Iceland.” (The Nation, Apr. 2, 2018)

March 13, 2018

When we talk about the scourge of money in politics, we are generally talking about large contributions that drown out the importance and influence of small donations.  The disproportionate share of campaign donations by the big donors has meant that, barring really significant public unrest, elected officials naturally consider their interest above ours.
 

When we talk about the scourge of money in politics, we are generally talking about large contributions that drown out the importance and influence of small donations.  The disproportionate share of campaign donations by the big donors has meant that, barring really significant public unrest, elected officials naturally consider their interest above ours.  This has been scientifically proven (see Gilens and Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” American Political Science Association 2014, doi.10.1017/S153759271400

February 28, 2018

Like many of you, I’ve tended to be fairly satisfied with our sources of electric power here in the Northwest.  After all, we live in the land of cheap and abundant renewable hydropower.  Our utility, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), has always encouraged us to be more efficient with our energy use:  to insulate and seal our homes and buy more efficient appliances. They also offer subsidies and rebates to do that.  At our house, we have opted for the Green Energy Purchase.

Like many of you, I’ve tended to be fairly satisfied with our sources of electric power here in the Northwest.  After all, we live in the land of cheap and abundant renewable hydropower.  Our utility, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), has always encouraged us to be more efficient with our energy use:  to insulate and seal our homes and buy more efficient appliances.

February 14, 2018

At the recent town hall, Congresswoman Jayapal said that, among her constituents, Vashonites were probably way ahead in addressing climate change.  It seemed to me at that point that, if that is true, then we are in big trouble.

At the recent town hall, Congresswoman Jayapal said that, among her constituents, Vashonites were probably way ahead in addressing climate change.  It seemed to me at that point that, if that is true, then we are in big trouble.  Don’t get me wrong:  most of us are clearly very aware of climate change and the kinds of things we need to do to address it.  I just don’t think that we understand the magnitude of the changes we as a society need to make.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a mantra that most of us are working on.  The problem is that it impli

February 1, 2018

With warmer weather and the sounds of Spring birds, my mind goes to growing food.  I recently read a great article in the Jan 12 addition of  Common Dreams (online news service) by Frances Moore Lappé called “Farming for a Small Planet.”  Lappé writes, “People yearn for alternatives to industrial agriculture, but they are worried.

With warmer weather and the sounds of Spring birds, my mind goes to growing food.  I recently read a great article in the Jan 12 addition of  Common Dreams (online news service) by Frances Moore Lappé called “Farming for a Small Planet.”  Lappé writes, “People yearn for alternatives to industrial agriculture, but they are worried. They see large-scale operations relying on corporate-supplied chemical inputs as the only high-productivity farming model.

January 3, 2018

In the article in The Beachcomber about housing prices on Vashon, several things seemed clear to me:  1) demand far exceeds supply, 2) properties always go to the highest bidder, 3) low and moderate incomes lose out, and 4) everybody seems to think this is an inexorable situation like the tides or the seasons.

In the article in The Beachcomber about housing prices on Vashon, several things seemed clear to me:  1) demand far exceeds supply, 2) properties always go to the highest bidder, 3) low and moderate incomes lose out, and 4) everybody seems to think this is an inexorable situation like the tides or the seasons.

December 21, 2017

The winter solstice has always seemed to me to be more meaningful than the summer solstice.  The promise of longer days at the darkest and coldest time of year is more heartening than the beginning of shorter days in the summer.  The darkness of December lends itself to stillness, introspection, and peace:  Silent Night.

The winter solstice has always seemed to me to be more meaningful than the summer solstice.  The promise of longer days at the darkest and coldest time of year is more heartening than the beginning of shorter days in the summer.  The darkness of December lends itself to stillness, introspection, and peace:  Silent Night.  From the very beginning, when humans first reflected on such things, I believe the winter solstice has been the most important time in our yearly cycle.  Once we were confident that the sun would return, it became a time of celebration.  It is

December 6, 2017

My column on affordable housing in the last issue was one that was first published several months ago.  I was delirious with fever at the time last week’s column needed to be in and didn’t even get it together to tell as much to The Loop.  One of my older columns was chosen to fill in, one of my better one’s, if I do say so myself.

My column on affordable housing in the last issue was one that was first published several months ago.  I was delirious with fever at the time last week’s column needed to be in and didn’t even get it together to tell as much to The Loop.  One of my older columns was chosen to fill in, one of my better one’s, if I do say so myself.  However, there was a meeting announced in that article that happened months ago.  I hope not many of you were inconvenienced by that.  I will say that there is certainly strong interest/concern out there to deal with af

November 19, 2017

Back in 1988, Joy Goldstein strong-armed me into working with her and a handful of others on the Community Council Affordable Housing Committee.  We went on to form Vashon Household (Joy’s name).

Back in 1988, Joy Goldstein strong-armed me into working with her and a handful of others on the Community Council Affordable Housing Committee.  We went on to form Vashon Household (Joy’s name).  I put about twenty years into the effort, and despite some notable successes, such as Charter House, JG Commons, Roseballen, Eernisse Apts., and Mukai Commons, I’ve never felt that our efforts put a dent in the structural foundations of housing unaffordability.  All of these projects were heavily subsidized, with stringent and restrictive requirements.  The causes o

November 8, 2017

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, plastic was one of the most exciting new materials.  Everything from dinner plates to furniture were being made from plastic.  It was lightweight, strong, and would never rot.  In the 1960’s film, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside by his likely-to-be-father-in-law and given this sage advice in one word:  “plastics.”

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, plastic was one of the most exciting new materials.  Everything from dinner plates to furniture were being made from plastic.  It was lightweight, strong, and would never rot.  In the 1960’s film, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside by his likely-to-be-father-in-law and given this sage advice in one word:  “plastics.”  So true:  we now have 450 billion pounds of plastic on the planet and counting.  We continue to add to it and never subtract because of the aforementioned fact that it wil

October 25, 2017

I’ve referred before to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to characterize our unrelenting belief that we understand how the world works and we can alter portions of it without any adverse consequences.  The story goes that while the sorcerer is away, the sorcerer’s apprentice decides to dabble in a bit of magic to make his chores a little easier.

I’ve referred before to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to characterize our unrelenting belief that we understand how the world works and we can alter portions of it without any adverse consequences.  The story goes that while the sorcerer is away, the sorcerer’s apprentice decides to dabble in a bit of magic to make his chores a little easier.  He knows enough to engage some magic but does not know how to stop it, and the situation quickly gets completely out of control.  

October 10, 2017
PSE

Harvey and Irma have reminded us that we need to step up the pace in transforming our energy system to carbon-free renewables.  We in the Pacific Northwest have been the fortunate recipients of cheap hydroelectric power for about eighty years.  The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was formed by the Federal Government in 1937 to meter out the power from the newly built Bonneville dam. 

Harvey and Irma have reminded us that we need to step up the pace in transforming our energy system to carbon-free renewables.  We in the Pacific Northwest have been the fortunate recipients of cheap hydroelectric power for about eighty years.  The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was formed by the Federal Government in 1937 to meter out the power from the newly built Bonneville dam.  Up until that time, our power source was primarily natural gas, and it has been sold to us by Puget Sound Energy since 1873.

September 13, 2017

I get about a hundred emails every day.  I screen them for communications from people I know, but I end up deleting about 95 percent of them.  I have learned to screen quickly, so I don’t waste half my morning doing it.  I’ve considered unsubscribing to them, but there are so many, it would take a day or more to do it.

I get about a hundred emails every day.  I screen them for communications from people I know, but I end up deleting about 95 percent of them.  I have learned to screen quickly, so I don’t waste half my morning doing it.  I’ve considered unsubscribing to them, but there are so many, it would take a day or more to do it.  Almost all of the ones I delete are asking for money.  Most of those are from political campaigns with the remainder from organizations that I agree with.  A large part of this assault is just due to the ease and economy of communica

August 30, 2017

A single payer health care system makes so much sense, it’s hard to imagine how we got stuck with the system we have.  We all have to take responsibility for our own health, but if somebody is sick or injured, it is in nobody’s interest that they not receive the care they need. 

A single payer health care system makes so much sense, it’s hard to imagine how we got stuck with the system we have.  We all have to take responsibility for our own health, but if somebody is sick or injured, it is in nobody’s interest that they not receive the care they need.  Treating health care as a commodity means that many need to decide whether to buy groceries or go to the doctor.  This is too close to a Monty Python skit.  All developed countries understand this and provide health care when and where needed without the huge expense of trying to deci

August 10, 2017

While reading a book by a Finnish woman who had become a US citizen, I was reminded that this country really is an historically and culturally significant place.  It is the combination of cultures that makes it unique, and I think that a textile is a better analogy than a melting pot.

While reading a book by a Finnish woman who had become a US citizen, I was reminded that this country really is an historically and culturally significant place.  It is the combination of cultures that makes it unique, and I think that a textile is a better analogy than a melting pot.

August 2, 2017

(*Thanks, E.F. Schumacher, for a 40 year old idea that is still good as gold.)
Most futurist visions I have seen are of shining high-tech cities with high rises covered in solar panels and rooftop gardens.

(*Thanks, E.F. Schumacher, for a 40 year old idea that is still good as gold.)

Most futurist visions I have seen are of shining high-tech cities with high rises covered in solar panels and rooftop gardens.  People are whisked about in clean and efficient electric transport and the hinterlands are either pristine wildlands or automated farms.  I am very leery of this vision.  

July 17, 2017

Many of us like to think that Trump is the ogre that crashed our party.  He is but the fruit of a long period of division and bitter strife in our country.  Just the same, Trump’s behavior is aiding and abetting that behavior in a powerful way.  I don’t think any parent, conservative or liberal, would tolerate such behavior in their children, so what do you tell them when it seems okay for the President to act that way?

Many of us like to think that Trump is the ogre that crashed our party.  He is but the fruit of a long period of division and bitter strife in our country.  Just the same, Trump’s behavior is aiding and abetting that behavior in a powerful way.  I don’t think any parent, conservative or liberal, would tolerate such behavior in their children, so what do you tell them when it seems okay for the President to act that way?  His example is harmful and contagious and we have to denounce it as outside the realm of acceptable behavior.  

July 3, 2017

It was about eight years ago that we formed Transition Vashon, and about six years ago that I started writing this column as a means of getting transition ideas out into the community.  Our goal was to orient our community towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and putting together an energy descent plan.

It was about eight years ago that we formed Transition Vashon, and about six years ago that I started writing this column as a means of getting transition ideas out into the community.  Our goal was to orient our community towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and putting together an energy descent plan.  If it wasn’t clear then, it certainly is now that we need to transition to renewables, and making a plan to use less energy would make us much more resilient in the face of energy shortfalls.  In 2009, it was clear to many of us that we needed to make serious ch

June 21, 2017

Most of us remember, however vaguely, being taught in grade school that our government has an ingenious system of checks and balances between the three branches of government that insures that no branch wields excessive power.  I, at least, don’t remember going over the US Constitution line by line, and, in fact, would have been bored to death if we had.

Most of us remember, however vaguely, being taught in grade school that our government has an ingenious system of checks and balances between the three branches of government that insures that no branch wields excessive power.  I, at least, don’t remember going over the US Constitution line by line, and, in fact, would have been bored to death if we had.  Now, however, as the old R&B song goes, “You don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry.”  Well, brothers and sisters, I find myself wondering where all those checks and balances are when

June 7, 2017

Suppose the federal government could make money out of nothing and spend it freely.  Suppose they could do it not only without raising taxes, but possibly lowering them, and that the country would thrive on full employment. 

Suppose the federal government could make money out of nothing and spend it freely.  Suppose they could do it not only without raising taxes, but possibly lowering them, and that the country would thrive on full employment.  This sounds like the kind of promise that a snake oil-peddling politician might be able to buy some votes with.  Amazingly enough, there is a possibility that such a scenario could turn out to be true.

May 24, 2017

Last issue, I was talking about the various dichotomies that define each of us, conservative/liberal, authoritarian/libertarian, naturist (my version)/ humanist.  There is another that we mostly don’t freely choose but has a very great influence on our lives.

Last issue, I was talking about the various dichotomies that define each of us, conservative/liberal, authoritarian/libertarian, naturist (my version)/ humanist.  There is another that we mostly don’t freely choose but has a very great influence on our lives.  We are all to varying degrees owners and non-owners.  To the extent that we are owners, we have more control over our lives, we can live more cheaply, and, if we own stocks, bonds, real estate or maybe companies, we can often gain income that is on an order of magnitude greater than what one can earn through labor

April 24, 2017

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.  Shortsightedness and ignorance rule at a time that needs laser focus decision-making and action to preserve any semblance of the world we know today.  It could be that rubber boots will be de rigueur at Mar-A-

April 6, 2017

Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality.  W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times:  “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” 

Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality.  W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times:  “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”