San Francisco also had an ugly, elevated highway running between downtown and the waterfront. After the 1989 earthquake dealt the Embarcadero Freeway a mortal blow, the citizens of the city bucked conventional wisdom and decided to tear down the structure and replace it with a grand boulevard. It wasn’t easy, but as this clip shows, the results were well worth the effort.
First, The American Chemistry Council spent almost $200,000 to force a referendum vote to reverse an ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council to charge a 20 cent fee for disposable bags, and–now that the election is almost upon us– this same group has coughed up another $1.4 million to finish the job.
It’s the best democracy money can buy.
Luckily, you can still do something about it. If you live in Seattle, give The American Chemistry Council the finger and vote yes on Referendum 1. If you can’t vote, click on over to the Green Bag Campaign and lend a hand.
“It is critical to plan ahead and start building radically sustainable infrastructure capable of supporting future urban populations while the resources to do so are still available. Instead of waiting for governments, corporations, or city planners to start being responsible, radical sustainability is about people taking initiative today. Transformation from the ground up is our greatest hope for the future.” –Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, Introduction.
There are so many things I love about this book.
First off, It’s where I learned one of my new favourite phrase: radical sustainability, which perfectly describes the book’s gritty, let’s get on with it approach to changing the world.
Radical sustainability is all about starting small, and slowly closing the nutrient loops in our lives, as this passage from the book explains:
When designing a sustainable system, it is important to be mindful of the relationship of its components. Many of the systems described in this book have yields that become the inputs of others. For example, food scraps produced from garden vegtables can be put in a worm composting box, worms grown in the box can be fed to fish, whoses wastes (along with worm castings) can be used as nutrients by plants that can be used to generate methane gas. Cycling nutrients throughout a sustainable system in this manner makes a closed loop. Creating a closed loop minimizes the amount of external inputs needed for a system to function, and reduces the waste products that are exported.
Whether it’s keeping backyard chickens or diverting your food scraps to a worm box, radical sustainability starts with picking an activity that turns your crank, and then having the courage to jump in, and give it a shot.
Who knows, through a bit of hard work, you may become master of the chicken yard–or worm box–and hunger for new challenges which, in turn, will further expand your urban homestead and close even more nutrient loops.
Heck, it’s even possible you might have a whole lot of fun in the process.
O.K., California didn’t get its waiver in the first 100 days of the Obama administration, but I’m still extremely pleased with this development. From the New York Times:
President Obama announced tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.