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.

Monday, August 25

Shipping container office building

Without even considering the reduce, reuse, upcycle philosophical dimension, this is simply a FUN building.

Sunday, August 24

Indian container home

This family did a great job. Very creative and functional design -- especially in light of strong cultural expectations about what a house should look like.

Friday, August 22

Stayin' Alive in Chattanooga

My father, a good Tennessee boy, was so embarrassed about where I was born that he taught me to tell people I was born in Chattanooga. I think I was five or six years old before I realized that I was actually born in Chicago.

Anyway, that explains a lot about how I ended up with my warped sense of humor -- AND why this hokey video caught my eye. I'm not sure I'd call this a flash mob but it is a fun little introduction to CPR -- AND it taught the recruits at the fire academy that their job involves more than riding around town in a red truck with red lights and sirens. You've got to be able to sing and dance, too. (Fire fighting gets harder every year.)

Wednesday, August 20

Is your social network bloated?

When do children need to start processing the notion of God? What can those of us who work in spiritual formation learn from cognitive psychology? Ten stimulating minutes with Dr Justin Barrett --

Tuesday, August 19

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast get first taste

Wonderful, ah-ha moment! It seems unfair that they'd not have access to chocolate. But now that they know -- perhaps they'll jump on it.


Saturday, August 16

50+ container houses

Which do you prefer -- the houses that maintain the raw shipping container facade or those with a more finished exterior?