Pick up and go [updated]

[I’ll be traveling for the latter half of December, perhaps without benefit of computer or phone! The horrors!]

A few assorted things from the past few weeks of being away:

* “If I lived 17.5 miles from work, I wouldn’t bike to work, either — I’d move. Remember, location and locomotion are two halves of an equation where neither is constant.” [posted at updated metrorider link]

Todd Litman calculates that every nonmotorized (active) trip displaces about seven vehicle miles traveled — not because active trips are seven miles long, but because they’re associated with smarter patterns of development.

“Not every walking or cycling trip causes seven miles of reduced driving. The lower vehicle mileage in cities with relatively high nonmotorized mode split reflects various land use and transport system factors, such as density, mix, street design, parking supply, and pricing which affect the relative attractiveness of motorized and nonmotorized travel. But programs that increase nonmotorized travel tend to create such communities, which is to say that smart growth supports nonmotorized travel and nonmotorized travel supports smart growth.”

* The Pacific Northwest spends more on oil and gas — 100% of which is imported — than on public K-12 education in 2006 or hospital care, and more than 3.5 times total spending on prescription drugs. [Sightline Institute] All that goes “up in smoke,” as they say. Interestingly, Idaho is separated on that counter — an interesting point of comparison, since as many people live within 10 miles of my house than in all of Idaho.

* An interesting “List of Privilege Lists” — ways of “unpacking the invisible knapsack” that accompany those of us with unspoken social privileges, whether racial, sexual, class, religious, gendered, or ability.

* Jay Mouawad in the Times notices that the oil producers fear the geo-green agenda:

“What we are worried about is for industrialized countries to use climate policy as a pretext to discriminate against oil,” [said Mohammad al-Sabban, a senior Saudi government adviser on climate change].

Over in the UK, $100/bbl oil has led gasoline across the magic 1.00 line: one pound per litre. That translates to about $9.50 a gallon, so really, quit whining about gas prices in America already.

* While in Toronto, I picked up a brochure distributed by Alphabet City — not the Chicago Humanities Festival, not an academic symposium, but rather something in between — outlining a program of events around local food in the Toronto area. (Ongoing online discussion hosted by the Walrus.) It opened up first to a manifesto (er, open letter) that posits food distribution as another problem of internalized profits and socialized costs, principally because “healthier, tastier” food is not necessarily more profitable. Indeed, it’s often less so. As such, it calls for market intervention and political action:

Ontario’s working landscapes, farms, rural communities, and cities are linked in a web of complex exchanges. But our food policies to date have usually ignored that web, dividing rather than connecting. If we are going to build a healthy and sustainable village, we have to make the connections… [W]e believe that food is connected to every major problem being raised in the current provincial election campaign—rising medical costs, poverty and hunger, declining farm incomes, the paving-over of farmland, wildlife protection, urban sprawl, youth unemployment, and communities at risk.

These problems will only be solved when we connect the dots.

Local farmers markets, community and school gardens, food co-ops, urban gardens, food access centres—all of these emerging possibilities support healthier, tastier food for all villagers. As this happens, everyone benefits and communities become stronger and more inclusive.

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