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  • Hugh Geenen's avatar
    Hugh Geenen 1/09/2019 9:49 PM
    Okay, now the bad news.

    From Singapore to D.C. to Lagos: Global Thinkers on Ideas That Died in 2018 (CityLab) 

    Obituary for sustainability (1987 - 2018)

    Why has sustainability proven insufficient, at least as currently practiced by the majority of us who claim to subscribe to it? Perhaps in part because... sustainability has largely been about minimizing harm: doing less bad. I wonder whether sustainability’s focus on future generations, however noble, may also obscure the reality that we are already on the brink of bankruptcy.

    [Sarah Ichioka is a Singapore-based urbanist, curator, and writer. She currently leads Desire Lines, a strategic consultancy for environmental, cultural, and social-impact organizations and initiatives.]

  • Hugh Geenen's avatar
    Hugh Geenen 1/09/2019 9:40 PM
    Hey Sustainable Ballard group, we missed this story by one day! 

    Climate change: 'Right to repair' gathers force (BBC News) 

    It is frustrating: you buy a new appliance then just after the warranty runs out, it gives up the ghost.

    You can’t repair it and can’t find anyone else to at a decent price, so it joins the global mountain of junk.

    You’re forced to buy a replacement, which fuels climate change from the greenhouse gases released in the manufacturing process.

    But help is at hand, because citizens in the EU and parts of the USA will soon get a "right to repair" - of sorts.

    This consists of a series of proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend.

    The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances.

    At least 18 US states are considering similar laws in a growing backlash against products which can’t be prised apart because they’re glued together, or which don’t have a supply of spare parts, or repair instructions.

  • Hugh Geenen's avatar
    Hugh Geenen 12/17/2018 4:00 PM
    Today the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) posted an article about walkability in cities from walking advocate and urbanist, Jeff Speck. His new book is entitled Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places shows how to make communities walkable—and better places to live.

    Obviously, I am not going to list all 101 steps in this post. However, I thought it would be worth considering the four main conditions of walkability

    • Useful means that most aspects of daily life are located close at hand and organized in a way that walking serves them well. 
    • Safe means that the street has been designed to give pedestrians a fighting chance against being hit by automobiles; they must not only be safe but feel safe (a more difficult standard to satisfy).
    • Comfortable means that buildings and landscape shape urban streets into “outdoor living rooms” rather than produce wide-open spaces, which usually fail to attract pedestrians.
    • Interesting means that sidewalks are lined by unique buildings with friendly faces and that signs of humanity abound.
    Each of those conditions is essential; none, by itself, will make a place truly walkable.

    The article continues to describe in large outlines what many of the 101 steps are without listing them out. The article is part book review, part details about walkability and part what the author's personal interests are. I just thought the timing of the article for fortuitous. 

    You can't make this stuff up. 

  • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
    Carol Mikkelsen 12/05/2018 10:57 PM
    Thanks, Hugh.  I always appreciate your perspective and insight.  I think I've 'been around' the earth a tad longer than you, but you've been 'consciously green' for longer than this Chicago-bred "girl."  Way, way too many quotation makrs for a short post, but you know what i mean.  

  • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
    Carol Mikkelsen 12/04/2018 11:00 PM
    Hi team.  I didn't mention in our meeting tonight that the SDOT group I work with is focused on Public Space.  It's messy as it involves permitting (you put this in shared space, now you need a permit) and programming (block parties, festival streets, parklets, streateries, weddings, marketing, food trucks, lots of activation (think "vibrancy," yay!)), but also what competing desires for shared space means ("I want this, you want that -- you're obviously wrong.").  It's a relatively new group and not fully focused yet,  but it's front and center for community and has great potential (to inject effectiveness or  maintain and increase bureaucracy).  It's a very interesting place to work.  We think about public space all the time.  There are always (always) two or more sides to an idea, approach, program, policy, ACTIVATION of public space.  Yikes.  I can tell you that this group wants to do good things.  I can not at this time tell you that they/we fully understand what is good (my opinion, not necessarily that of my colleagues).  But good intentions abound.  

    • Hugh Geenen's avatar
      Hugh Geenen 12/05/2018 9:24 PM
      Messy and good intentions are frequently intertwined with newly formed groups. Good luck! 

  • Hugh Geenen's avatar
    Hugh Geenen 12/03/2018 11:03 PM
    The Seattle Planning Commission *just today* released a report called "Neighborhoods For All." It can be found at this link: 

    It features an interactive story-board providing the most up-to-date data and information about housing trends in our neighborhoods. This is what I have been working on intensively for close to four years. It may not be intuitively related to "sustainability," but I believe it is amongst the most important sustainability work I can do. 

    It is complicated work and challenging for people to understand because it is related to their very tightly-held fundamental beliefs and assumptions. 

    [A bunch of controversial ideas deleted here.] 

    But the main point is that I just wanted to share this *brand new* report about the neighborhoods in our community... 

    • Hugh Geenen's avatar
      Hugh Geenen 12/05/2018 9:16 PM
      Thanks for having a look, Carol! FWIW, it wasn't clear where or how I could respond to your comment -- so I'm just responding to myself in order to respond to you.

      FYI, I was not calling into question with the quotes. I now see that there is an option to bold things for emphasis. I often am writing in text mode where rich text options are not available so I use *asterisks* for the equivalent of bold emphasis

      I am totally supportive of this Neighborhoods For All (N4A) plan -- for many reasons. I find nothing contained in it unreasonable or necessary to be compromised. 

      This is a daunting topic that people often find incredibly intimidating or boring. And a small sliver of people (the nerds, geeks and dweebs) dig into it. So I am not going to sell it as anything other than what it is -- a long-term project of continuous learning. Rather than point to a specific starting point, I would encourage you to just have a look around and see what draws your interest. The graphs? Bullet points? Summaries? References? Which parts seem straightforward? Obtuse? 

      FYI, if you go to the link within the website story-board you end up at the Planning Commission website. Click on the N4A link, then feel free to download either the executive summary and/or the full report. The summary might be a good place to start just to get a feel for the whole picture. Then if there's anything that piques your interest you could download the full report and do a deeper dive into it. 

      Don't feel embarrassed about anything having to do with these issues or the larger ones within the group. You're obviously intellectually curious and fully engaged, you are posting here more than anyone. That makes you in the top 10% on the issue of sustainability right there. And besides, who am I to judge. 

      "Being involved" (quotes) is both a blessing and a curse. I would encourage you to have a look around yourself and see what you think, especially given the community frame that we used in the book. What holds up and what might seem insufficient as an explanation of our current situation in Seattle. 

      Until next time! -H 

    • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
      Carol Mikkelsen 12/04/2018 10:49 PM
      Hey Hugh -- thanks for posting and noting the post in our meeting tonight.  There's a lot to this, but I'm very interested and will read it through.  Since you used quotation marks on "just today," "sustainability," and "brand new" though, could you clarify what you 
      mean?  Are you supportive or skeptical of this plan?  What do you, if anything, want us to look for or note?  Clearly you've been involved, so I would appreciate your opinion.  I still feel like a newbie to sustainability issues; embarrassing but true, so please feel free to be explicit.

  • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
    Carol Mikkelsen 11/20/2018 9:35 PM
    Hi Team -- an organization I mentioned briefly at tonight's meeting:   Also, Jenny was right -- the water to our taps all comes from the watersheds rather than any of it being returned from the treatment plant:  It does pass through a treatment facility, but this is not the same as the sewage treatment facility 'downstream.'  
    I will try not to make things up at the next meeting....  :)

    • Hugh Geenen's avatar
      Hugh Geenen 12/02/2018 11:53 AM
      We’re all doing the best we can, Carol. FWIW, I make things up all the time...  😬

  • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
    Carol Mikkelsen 11/20/2018 6:48 PM
    While flying home from vacation yesterday, I became conscious of the extraordinary amount of plastic cups and utensils 'consumed' on one 5-hour flight.  It's pretty astounding -- why haven't I noticed this before?  Sadly, I was drinking from one such plastic cup when enlightenment arrived. (One step at a time....)

    • Hugh Geenen's avatar
      Hugh Geenen 12/02/2018 11:56 AM
      You’re making an argument to carry a reusable water container all the time. It’s well worth the reminder... 

  • Margaret Wetter's avatar
    Margaret Wetter 11/17/2018 1:26 PM
    Today I calculated my water footprint.  (You may notice under "Suggested Group Activity" on p 68 that the web address is missing ... I went to  My footprint is 1,601 gallons / day.  Not bad, I guess -- the U.S. average is 2,220.  Note that this calculator takes into account your direct water use PLUS your virtual water use -- the amount of water it takes to produce your food, clothes, gas, etc.

  • Carol Mikkelsen's avatar
    Carol Mikkelsen 11/09/2018 11:08 PM
    Oh, sorry fellow team members. I'm going on vacation tomorrow and hate flying in big metal objects so I had extra coffee today and am now out of hand.  Nonetheless -- third post in a row: I hope we can speak in a future meeting (that I can attend), about choices.  I'm staying at a 'school/camp' for a week which I'm not  conflicted about, but then I'm adding on 3 days in an AirBnB cabin.  It's solely wood-heat.  Is that pollution-bad or carbon-better or .....   I lived with solely wood heat on Vashon Island many, many years ago, but I could never 'do the math' on this.  Meanwhile, I am checking my linen closet for items with which to fashion non-plastic produce bags. I can (and will) do this, but it doesn't seem overly effective. 

    • Hugh Geenen's avatar
      Hugh Geenen 12/02/2018 12:00 PM
      Would be interested in the conversation because I am unclear if the choices are around transportation or accommodations. Or both... 

    • Margaret Wetter's avatar
      Margaret Wetter 11/17/2018 1:29 PM
      I'd love to have a conversation about choices at one of our upcoming meetings.  And producing non-plastic produce bags ... definitely want to do this!