Sunday, September 14

The Roslings on global knowledge

Hans Rosling is always fun and engaging. His son, Ola, is a chip off the old block.

Friday, September 12

Coke bicycle project


Yes, it's a Coca-Cola commercial. But you've got to give them credit when they give back to the community in ways that potentially make a real difference. Coca-Cola has a long history of identification with bicycles -- Coke branded bikes, bike networks, bike sharing sponsorship... This particular endeavor is a partnership with South Africa's Wildlands Conservation Trust, which already has a huge bicycle program of its own.

Thursday, September 11

The Low Line

Creative way to squeeze in some additional protected green space -- recycling what was wasted. I'm wondering, too, if some of the abandoned malls around the US couldn't be repurposed in a similar way -- perhaps creating some housing in abandoned stores opening up to enclosed green spaces. Who knows, maybe it might make sense to reintroduce some neighborhood retail activity in the midst of it all.

Wednesday, September 10

Panduri

My latest musical fascination has been with the panduri. This Georgian lute has some qualities similar to my uke lutes. If you combine the panduri with the polyphonic harmony of the singers it all feels very extraterrestrial -- like the divine liturgy in an Eastern Orthodox church -- except with instrumentation and rhythm. Lovely.

The Speaking Exchange Project

Windsor Park is one of 14 senior living communities operated by the Evangelical Covenant Church. This is an example of how retirees can continue to engage in significant mission -- even cross-culturally.

Tuesday, September 9

Do indoor plants make people happier?

My gut answer is, Duh! Of course they do! Unless they are plastic or silk or some other imitation. Faux plants give off phoniness vibes which drag people down.

Bicycle

Looking forward to seeing this -- documentary on cycling at its humble point of origin in the UK.

Saturday, August 30

Bike Friendly Cities: Copenhagen

Once again Copenhagen excels in prompting itself as ground-zero of the renaissance of cycling. There are worse forms of boasting. And as much as I love bike friendly cities -- my greatest admiration goes to those who daily mount their wheeled-steeds and pedal through the non-friendly cities. Sometimes -- more times than most recognize -- bikes just make good sense -- even when there aren't yet protected bike lanes.

Friday, August 29

Inspiring shipping container home designs

There are some great container home designs in this Jetson Green article. The one that captures my imagination today is the Tim Palen Studio in the Mojave Desert.


More pictures

What riding my bike has taught me about white privilege



I don't feel in the least bit guilty about being white nor that I experience white privilege. I didn't personally choose either. But I've become profoundly aware of privilege and the power to privilege others through empathy. The more realistic our understanding of self in society the more we can lift others.

Jeremy Dowsett has done an outstanding job of using his experience as a bicyclist in a non cycling city to explain how white privilege works. I highly commend his article -- What riding my bike has taught me about white privilege.

When we lived on Guam we used to take visitors to one of the country clubs to catch the beautiful view. In order to get in we had to pass through a security check-point. But in spite of the fact that we drove an old beat-up Toyota Corolla we were always waved through without question.

Then one day I began to notice that not everyone got waved through. So I started watching more closely. The security guard, a dark-skinned Micronesian, would stop all the cars not driven by white or Japanese people, and he'd question them about their purpose for being there. Most of the visitors questioned were there for the same reason as us -- to enjoy the view. But they were always having to explain themselves. Why would they want to see the view?

White people never had to explain themselves. In that society that is what white privilege looks like. It's nothing I earned -- or accumulated -- and certainly nothing I'd sought. It doesn't make me a racist. But it highlights where the system itself is racist.

The fact is that as a dark skinned person in that context you can't climb out and better yourself. Even the rich and successful have to prove themselves in ways that us white folk never have to do.

If you are dark skinned and you notice that only dark skinned people get grilled -- and if it happens over and over again -- day in and day out -- that can start to wear on you. You start to build up anger and rage toward the system. Eventually you either lash out or you crawl into your shell believing that you can never amount to anything.

That's what racial privilege does. As we become aware of the phenomena -- empathize (rather than criticize) with those stuck in it -- and whenever possible intervene on their behalf -- we make possible what they can't do themselves. We lift them up by taking them and their concerns seriously -- thus more fully humanizing them. That's how it is overcome.

Tuesday, August 26

The Man Behind Copenhagenization


Mikael Colville-Andersen interview -- comparing Copenhagen and Amsterdam -- and the challenges of designing bicycle friendly cities. He's sounding a bit jaded these days, but matter of fact about the practical benefits of developing urban cultures in which cycling is the most practical transportation option. He's more of a pragmatist than a romantic Utopian.
If you make it accessible for people to do it, they will do the right thing. You can't just sit here waiting 40 years for them to live the environmentalist's dream. Environmentalism is the greatest marketing flop in the history of homo sapiens. It doesn't work...
In a way he is on target. If we're matter of fact about the benefits of cycling -- treating it as normative -- something that normal people -- wearing normal clothes -- running normal errands do -- all because it's the most practical way to go about -- only then, will people start to think of biking as normal. The more it comes across as a cool pop culture fad the less likely it will be to stick or have a long-term impact.