blogokhine

An eco slacker’s trip

blogokhine header image 1

Check out The Canadian Environment – thecaen.ca – for the latest Canadian environmental news

June 18th, 2012 · No Comments

The Canadian Environment – thecaen.ca – is my new project providing the latest Canadian environmental news. We summarize the top Canadian environmental news stories from across Canada to keep Canadians up-to-date and informed with the latest environmental issues.

→ No CommentsTags: carbon tax · climate change · gmo · public policy · science · sustainability · urban

Hashtag Laurier bike lane fail

August 11th, 2011 · No Comments

A segregated bike lane comes to Ottawa – this is great news, but it’s a hashtag fail for sure. Forget that it’s just one lane (Montreal meanwhile is blanked with segregated lanes) and it cost $1.3 million for a trial lane. Yes a million bones for one trial lane – who is the project manager on this, c’mon?

Too far into Centretown

Likely this lane will be deemed a success, but it won’t attract the number of riders it could if it more effectively connected the Byward Market with Centretown, the Ottawa River bike lanes, and the bridges to Gatineau. It is just too far inland to capture the bike traffic off the NCC paths – currently one of the biggest gaps in Ottawa’s bike lane infrastructure.  No one is going to come off the NCC path at Portage Bridge and bike up to Laurier. There is a steep hill and then left turn on Bronson and it’s totally avoidable – why bother? The obvious choice Albert street is a cyclist’s worst nightmare, but in the cycle/energy equation, it’s the better option.

Too many red lights

Next, the lights on Laurier are designed to turn red from one block to the next – it is maybe the most frustrating commuter experience possible. Since it is so far south into Centretown, you could ride Nepean street two blocks further south if you’re heading East with two lights compared to Laurier’s six lights – again why bother? (Heading West, Lisgar or Gloucester also has fewer lights.)
One expensive, poorly planned lane smacks of bureaucratic visionless placation instead of turning the capital into a bike nation. (There, my one turn of phrase for this otherwise angry boring post.

Too much money

A side note on the million and change spent:
  • Why do you need two painted lines between the concrete barrier? (We have three lines there, hmm maybe we need a fourth?)
  • Why do you need reflector polls on the curb? (We don’t have that on our sidewalks currently and somehow we persevere.)
  • Green paint bike crosswalks with designated bike turning sections? (Are we idiots? People figure that out – we are a highly educated population.)
  • Why the flower planter boxes?
  • Now repeat all those questions but add the following: “…if it is just a trial basis?”

Meanwhile where the NCC paths meet Wellington is a death zone. Just do the hard part and connect the paths with proper segregated lanes. Oh and while you are at it, block off more roads to traffic in the market on summer weekends. The half block there now is a joke.

¿dónde está la visión?

→ No CommentsTags: regulation · skeptic · sustainability · urban

The problem with the nanny state.

June 20th, 2011 · No Comments

First it’s not fun. I mean a ticket for drinking in the park after a soccer game with the mates? That is some messed up sh*t!

It’s at times comical. I went to Meech Lake (managed by the National Capital Commission) for a swim and the lifeguard would not allow swimming past the booeys. It was like a kiddy pool and then booeys; pure nonsense. But if I walked 30 feet beyond the booeys and then swam out, there was no problem. So would the lifeguard save me if I was drowning outside of the booeys? Do their lifeguard powers fade outside the booeys?

Second it turns us into boring automaton tools. Foreigners laugh and gawk in disbelief when they see us standing at a red light when there are no cars.

Boating licenses to drive a 9-horse power put-put across the lake? C’mon. Now there are those pushing a mandatory life-preserver law — the creep begins. Yes drowning is a sad preventable cause of death, but where does personal responsibility come into play? Or a simple risk equation? Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death in Canada for people under 60, but 51% of the population is dying from cancer and heart disease – 120,00 Canadians in 2007. compare that to to under 400 drowning deaths (2005), with 112 of those from boating. Oh everyone needs a license now? Really? Is that the answer?

Why do we need a sign that tells us to use the revolving door and not the other doors? What is special about the revolving door? What is wrong with the other doors. Why can’t I just do what I want here?

All of that nonsense adds up and it weighs on our yearning to be free. Ultimately, (this is my own non-scientific theory here) it builds in the population a sense that we are over-regulated, increasing the effectiveness of simplistic political messages that demand cutting red-tape and getting the government out of way of private citizens.

But some regulations are good, like ensuring pipelines don’t burst and chemicals don’t leech into our drinking water. Maybe it’s just me but politicians that want to see pipelines secure better start thinking about what regulations matter to them and which ones don’t, because if i’m thinking this idea, than others are too.

→ No CommentsTags: accountability · regulation · skeptic

227 Union street: The Life and Death of Vancouver

April 28th, 2011 · 3 Comments

At 227 Union Street there once lived a little blue house.

He was an old house. For over a hundred years he watched the city of Vancouver grow from a resource town into a major metropolis. The town he knew crept deep into the valley. It grew from 40,000 to over 2 million; 26th street became 328th street four cities away; while 10 million tons of goods exiting the port a year ballooned into 75 million.

227 Union Street Vancouver

227 Union Street Vancouver


Slowly as the paint coats thickened, the pioneer house became out of place on his block. First his neighbours across the street were bulldozed into an on-ramp. Then his wood friends on either side became concrete warehouses. He on the other hand was a “stubborn house,” a “unique house” as a couple of his many admires described him. He weathered the changes for another thirty years as all his wood friends on the former all wood block fell to the wrecking ball. He stood as a reminder of when the block wasn’t an on-ramp overshadowed by glass towers and industry, but part of a diverse history of Vancouver.

He was destroyed one windy January morning in early 2007. As the politicians said the ancient trees of Stanley Park were laid to waste by SUV-powered winds, 227′s old growth beams were unceremoniously resigned to the same carbon cycle in the sky. Meanwhile in an ironic twist, around the corner, his style, once deemed out of fashion was being duplicated by skilled craftsman for style conscience wealthy urbanites, causing his admires to question “why couldn’t he have been saved?”

227 Union Street Vancouver

227 Union Street Vancouver bulldozed


At the end, by all accounts he stood out like a sore thumb: old, wooden, and faded. Boxed in, but he was beautiful; beautiful to the eyes of the street level historians, the authors, writers, artists and photographers, who now eulogize his loss. 227 was where Byron Barrett’s photographic eye was born. It was a launching point for James Johnstone’s career researching historic homes. Well known street artist, Byron a.k.a. Cameraman, in his characteristic style pasted a photo of 227 on an adjacent warehouse. He wanted to remind the commuters locked in an unchanging routine that our system is a system rooted in change, and we must be aware of it, question it and remember the past. And for writer and part-time historian Wayde Compton 227′s destruction was part of a pattern started long ago. It was the last building on the block demarking a neighbourhood – a community – that was dispersed by a stroke of a pen.

When I first stumbled upon 227 it was like finding a great work of art in a mediocre gallery. It was sedative, relaxing and meditative. Later I would come back for another look like a junkee. This was 227 to me and many others. I, like the two Byrons returned time and time again to old blue paint at 227 Union Street. Cameraguy would often find himself walking up the Georgia Viaduct just to look from a different angle, even without his camera. Barrett shot the house in every season with every light, front and back.

Compared to many beautiful pioneer homes, 227 wasn’t ornate mind you, but he had subtleties of greatness, like the front window rimmed by stained glass, or the white curved iron bars on the window. Once there was quality fret work on the front gable. He had a subtle elegance in design, but his visual uniqueness was rooted more in his unorthodox qualities any typical architectural uniqueness.

His colour was vibrant – aqua green, almost blue. I called it the little blue house, while Cameraman called it the little green house. Johnstone said it was probably a green that lightened from the sun. Whatever it was, the nontraditional colour contrasted brilliantly with the grey and white that enveloped him on all sides. His age, over a hundred years old, amplified the unorthodox colour, faded from the sun and weathered by the rain, it was striking. But as I tried to capture in my viewfinder the fullness of the house, I realized that on its own, wasn’t enough to explain my exaggerated detours and meditative states, nor the Byrons’ multiple years shooting, Johnstone’s hours spent record digging, or Compton’s after hours memorial project making.

As I uncovered the history of the block, starting at the archives and then by a chance Google search finding the professional history by Johnstone and Compton, I discovered its beauty was a result of the story surrounding the house. There was a reason all these people from different mediums were drawn to the small two story house on Union Street.

I eventually realized all the pushes and pulls bringing the disparate people together was about the often nasty business of city making, a process that never ends, but leaves a trail for good or for evil. 227′s past led to a black mark in the city’s history and you could see it visually just by looking at this little house next to these two imposing industrial buildings. Anyone with an eye for the past knew 227′s story was unique. For everyone to see, 227 exemplified the tension, the uncertainty, and risk associated with modernity, progress and change. He, all aqua and old, was the parts of history often whitewashed by the boosters and or found to be too complex for the textbooks.

The popular history of Vancouver tells of a great ground swell of public opposition to a proposed freeway that would have rammed like a stake through the heart of old Chinatown. The Chinese community, victimized by a decade of city hall engineered social improvement schemes preceded by years of informal and institutionalized racism, rose up en mass to oppose the plan.

This was time when it was believed high modernist design and architecture under the banner of order and progress would usher in modernity and civility around the globe. It reached such absurdity; the Brazilians aimed to build a utopian capital out of nothing in the middle of the jungle. Today their capital Brasilia has awkward heat boxes for government offices jutting from open air plazas devoid of life, and then a green belt surrounded by ghettos.

In North America, the high modernist formula repeated in city after city was to bulldoze the ‘slums’, build housing projects and highways. The nightmarish consequences are most pronounced in urban centers in the U.S. where the projects became dystopian ghettos.

In Canada, if today’s scars are less visible the same thinking pervaded the halls of power. As an example, in 1962, Ottawa expropriated and bulldozed the homes of 2800 residents in Lebretton Flats for no other purpose than to improve the view of the parliament buildings from the west.

In Vancouver, through the fifties and sixties homes were being expropriated and bulldozed and then came the freeway. It was packaged and financed as a similar ‘social improvement’ scheme. The plans envisioned a third crossing to the North Shore at Brocton Point in Stanley Park. The crossing would then feed into a waterfront freeway that was linked north/south by an overhead connector along Carrall Street to the Georgia Viaduct at False Creek. From the Viaduct it would then barrel out east to the Trans Canada along Venables. By today’s standards it would be a concrete spaghetti monstrosity, but back then it was billed as “whisper quiet” and built with the latest technology from Japan – it sounds magical.

This was the prevailing thinking and it pissed one woman off. After seeing her friends and neighbours across the street dispersed by a slum-busting scheme, financed by every level of government, a tireless Shirley Chan with her daughter in tow walked door-to-door organizing the Chinese community in opposition.

Chan and her compatriots organized protests and packed city council chambers where they met allies from across town, a new breed of urban planning academics inspired by distributive justice thinkers like Jane Jacobs and mortified by the city’s technocratic and scientifically outdated plans.

It was scientifically outdated because as early as 1962 a man by the name of Anthony Downs demonstrated that adding more lanes of traffic only induces demand. Freeways may ease congestion in the short run, but soon more people are driving and the problem returns. It’s so well accepted in transportation circles it’s become known as Down’s Law. (It’s a law still flagrantly flouted by today’s progress-pumping, road-building politicians, but that’s a gateway to another story.)

In 1967, the anti-freeway coalition in its greatest showing of strength, converged 500 deep on city hall and caused a “near riot” in opposition as it was characterized by the then pro-development mayor Tom Campbell. The waterfront freeway was a lame duck by the early 70s. It’s a great story with heroes, villains and victory for the little people and of course Vancouver’s livability.

“I like saying that’s not true, we didn’t put the freeway through but we did everything but, and right up to the point of putting the freeway through was enough to destroy at least one neighbourhood,” said Compton, an author in resident at Simon Fraser University.

Born at the turn of the century, the little aqua house, who was then probably beige or red, witnessed lots of excitement in his early years. When he was just young house, his street was called Barnard after the street car magnate Sir Francis Stillman Barnard. When he was 11, some city men came and replaced all his street signs with new ones, Union it read. Apparently too many thick-accented locals came knocking on his door looking for 227 Burrard, said Johnstone. When the house turned 15, major changes swept across the land. Just south, the eastern part of False Creek was filled in to make room for a railway; and to the west, the Georgia Viaduct was completed to move people from downtown to the east end. 227 watched as the great engine of progress turned water into land and a waterway into a people way. He should have been worried about the changes because it marked him for death, but he was happy with his block. It was home and becoming home to all types of new and interesting people.

227 was built by the strong hands of a Newfoundland-born carpenter named John Bruce Smith – a migrant like many from the east, who later took the job as a pile driver. The four bedrooms of smith’s all wood house packed in the entire Smith family. Smith, his sister, his brother with wife and kids, and his widowed mother all shared the four bedroom on the top floor. Eventually Smith married late and lived at 227 Union, without the extended family, until 1923.

Today the 200 block of Union is considered on the edge of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, but in its early years it was a melting pot (or cultural mosaic) of multiple ethnic enclaves.

The 200 block started off mainly Anglo. Smith’s early neighbours were a teamster named Allen, a carpenter named Thomas and a labourer named Bradley. But by 1911, the Vancouver street directory listed Chinese at 231. (Though surely they had names, the directory, indicative of the times, only listed the inhabitants as “Chinese”.)

By the time the Great War was decimating a generation overseas, Italian immigrants were flocking to the neighbourhood. After the war and into the depression, the 200 block welcomed the Poziannis, Clozzas and Morellis, to name a few. Just down the road at the corner of Union and Main, Italian officials worked at Vancouver’s first Italian consulate (1916-1920). The last standing symbol of the Italian community’s first home is the food wholesaler Tosi & Co. at 624 Main Street, two blocks from Union. It is still run by Angelo Tosi, the founder’s son.

After Smith left in 1923, 227 became the home of a migrant from the south, an African-American labourer, named Elijah “Lige” Holman. Holman was no doubt attracted to the 200 block because from the 1920s through the 60s, the area around the 200 block was becoming home to Vancovuer’s first concentrated black community.

A job Canadian black men could get in the early 1900s was working the rails as a porter. It was rough work; too rough for ladies, but at the same time too gentle for the gentleman. It was job that brought black men from the east and once they had a look of the land, the eagles in the mountains, the whales in the bay, there’s no turning back. Union was just a few blocks from the new rail stations and was a part of town where a black man could rent without facing Canada’s silent racism – the kind that tells you with a smile that “Oh, sorry the house was just rented, shucks.” Once a few settled, it soon became an enclave for migrants from the east and south and for other blacks already in the area after coming up north during the gold rush.

On Sundays, the community gathered to pray together two blocks up from 227. The African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel was founded in 1915 and was primarily ministered by black reverends from the south. After church, the community would gather on the steps and socialize, but once the sun set, the alley across the street from 227, between Prior and Union would groove and shake well into the night. It was an area notoriously known as Hogan’s Alley and it was purposely destroyed by the city.

So while the majority of the rebar and concrete for the freeway was never laid, the Georgia Viaduct was ‘upgraded’ in 1970. The upgrade in the form of a new exit was right over top of Hogan’s Alley. The location, expropriating the 200 block of the north side of Union and the south side of Prior, was chosen in paternalistic terms to help clean up the ‘slums.’ The decade leading up to the ‘improvement,’ the city cut back services in anticipation and built a housing project to house the eventual displaced renters. Post civil rights movement, the black renters instead of being herded into the projects integrated into the more welcoming community.

Hogan’s Alley, the two blocks from Main Street until Alexander Street, between Union and Prior was notoriously known at the time. From the 30s to early 50s, Vancouver’s vice laws were laxly enforced and a red light district sprouted up right in the neighbourhood around Hogan’s Alley – there were brothels on Gore and Alexander Street. The strip had late night smoky jazz clubs called “bottle clubs” and fried chicken joints, run by enterprising black woman, serving up a delicious southern import. The most enduring, was located down the street from 227 at 209 Union Street, Vie’s Chicken and Steak house, a Vancouver institution most have never heard about. It opened during the Second World War and served up chicken fried steaks and late night drinks until the Viaduct on-ramp slowly sucked the life from the joint. Vie sold the shop in 1975 and by ’76 it was closed. During it’s heyday however, Hogan’s Alley with it’s main black and Italian communities, plus a smattering of others, was the scene and there was harmony.

“It was a situation where you had Italian bootleggers and then black bottle clubs, said Compton who still wonders how this notorious night scene with all its vices co-existed with a religious church going community.

“You hear some really contradicting stories, it was a church, it was residential and you had this vision at night as this rowdy, dangerous place – it’s hard to tell what it was,” said Compton, who leads a group called the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project that is trying to figure that out while preserving as much as possible.

“It’s all kind of fantasy; it would be nice if it had stayed and coverted into something that marked the neighbourhood,” said Compton “Ideally, it would be nice to have a community centre or something like that down there and if it were in one of the old buildings it would be good way to preserve the memory.”

By 1971 the onramp was built, and the block rezoned. One year later, 211 Union Street was food processing plant. Three years after, 221 Union Street was also a food processing plant. But 227 survived and by the eighties, things were looking good. The mandarins at city hall had finally stopped slum busting and started thinking about architectural heritage instead of imposed modernity. The entire city was surveyed and a heritage list was made. If a house made the list, it could still be demolished, but deals could be cut with the city and things worth saving wouldn’t be so easily crushed.

227 – the last pioneer building on the block, a part of the first little Italy, the red light district, Hogan’s Alley and a memorial to the unknown victims of Vancouver’s freeway boondoggle when it was assessed didn’t have enough ‘heritage’ to make the list.

The heritage appraisal wasn’t much of an evaluation. The reviewer wrote that the “known” construction date was 1905. It was not; a tertiary glance at the old city directories showed otherwise. The only comment the reviewer wrote was in the “description, date(s), comments” section. It read: “drop siding; full front verandah; fret work in front gable.” That’s it. The reviewers wrote three comments only capturing the significance of the architecture. There was a historical/cultural section, but that was left blank.

What if the history was known anyways, the heritage bylaws for historic Chinatown encourages a specific Chinese-style building, 227 and its history is a round peg in the city’s square hole. At some level, does not the black or Italian community deserve a right to their heritage? But that is really beside the point, the bylaws are not set in stone, they are voluntary. What is the greatest threat to heritage is the type of development that will replace 227.

Where the hundred year old pioneer house once stood, a nine story condo with retail on the ground floor and three levels of underground parking is slated to be built. And around the corner another condo called “Ginger Living” is on its way. The old is being sacrificed for the new in a neighbourhood just minutes away from ground zero of the Downtown East Side, Canada’s poorest postal code. With HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C rates comparable to the third world, is it ready for the new? Nevertheless here it comes.

All of the street level historians agree there are too many old homes in Vancouver being gobbled up in Olympic-fuelled building boom and many think it will not likely slow down as American housing market implosion spreads north. 227′s neighbourhood, Strathcona, is now being touched by the condo craze that has previously sanitized entire neighbourhoods to the west but largely up until now ignored the east. The monolithic glass towers so devoid of historical uniqueness and lacking a subtle elegance of design is a monoculture in the field of gentrification. Artist like Cameraman are feeling the squeeze, “I’m thinking of moving out of Strathcona,” he said. “Things are changing.”

To the street level historians it is seen as a threat to the city’s diverse identity on so many levels, from style to economics – 227 is just one example. The anxiety over being part of a city bent on forgetting its history is what brought Johnstone, the Byrons, Compton and I together in memory of 227.

The house inspired Johnstone and Compton to go on illegal trespassing, salvage and documentation missions and then they both wrote articles. Johnstone’s architecture friend who accompanied him on the trip took measurements and drafted up blue prints to one day be stored in a virtual museum. Meanwhile, the two Byrons published their art, one on the street and the other in a magazine to live on in memory.

In 227, we all saw the mistakes of the past, but also a window into the future. In the back of our minds, our attraction to 227 was founded in our anxiety about the path the city is currently on. We wonder if the condo craze will be viewed in the same light as the high modernist period. Is the condo today’s freeway boondoggle? And if the condos blanket the city, are we then all just residents of Hogan’s Alley about to get the boot.

→ 3 CommentsTags: British Columbia · globalization · houses · photos · public policy

Solar-Powered Ontario Green Energy Act

March 26th, 2011 · No Comments

It’s alway interesting to see policy inaction, sorry that was a Freudian slip, I mean in action, not inaction. I’m talking about the tangible real-world implications of polices forged in boardrooms, backrooms or god forbid even the legislature (oh man I am just nailing geeky policy jokes right now).

Solar Panels at the Ottawa Green Expo

Solar Saturation

At the Ottawa Green Expo, the energy section was almost all solar energy dealers, offering consumers the (ahem) power to create energy from the sun and sell it back to the Ontario government for real money! Except for a friendly face marketing the Toronto renewable-energy company Bullfrog Power, it was a full court solar saturation.

I asked one of the many young faces working to hustle new business – or should I say reNEWable business (wow so bad) why there weren’t any sellers hawking mini windmills or bio-gas systems. He said it was a direct result of the technology and the Ontario Government’s Green Energy Act.

It’s easier for a home owner to install a solar panel than it is to throw up a backyard windmill and the Ontario government gives way more money for solar projects, he said.

It’s true, the Green Energy Act pays out ¢80 per kilowatt for roof-mounted solar, compared to ¢13.5 for wind — a huge difference!

Solar Energy the Technological Winner?

The Ontario government is picking technology winners, I said. The young solar dealer clearly wishing I was in the market for solar not a policy discussion said solar technology was the best choice for a feed-in-tariff system. I don’t buy it.

As far as I understand there is no clear alternative energy winner. Arguably it’s dangerous for Governments to try an engineer certain technological future — what if they get it wrong and our energy system is not diverse enough to respond to a changing future — or even win the future. Furthermore think of a future where a small army of solar power generators is providing a significant amount of energy and it clouds over, would we not want a diverse mix of systems to provide resiliency? Is the decentralized feed-in-tariff program just window dressing masking a big energy future?

I suppose for the bureaucracy at Ontario Power Authority it’s hard enough switching from centralized big coal, hydro, gas or nuclear to small decentralized anything. The Green Energy Act was not a bureaucracy-driven project, it was the political agenda driving the policy. Imagine OPA was also running around attaching bio-gas plants in suburban Sudbury or mini-wind mills in the GTA, they can barely keep up with the current demands.

From the Ontario Power Authority’s website:

Prices for Renewable Energy Projects that are 10 kW or less

Revised August 13, 2010

Renewable Technology

Price

Contract Term

Escalation Percentage

Solar PV

Rooftop

80.2 ¢/kWh

20 years

0%

Ground-mounted

64.2 ¢/kWh

20 years

0%

Wind

13.5 ¢/kWh

20 years

20%

Waterpower

13.1 ¢/kWh

40 years

20%

Biomass

13.8 ¢/kWh

20 years

20%

Biogas

16.0 ¢/kWh

20 years

20%

Landfill gas

11.1 ¢/kWh

20 years

20%

→ No CommentsTags: climate change · public policy

Greenoogle, Greeggle, Gooreen, ok Google does Green

December 5th, 2010 · No Comments

Google Earth Engine, a new tool by Google, gives scientists the power to examine terrestrial changes in satellite imagery from their laptop. It was just announced at the International Climate Change Conference in Mexico. The Google cloud of computing power is giving scientist the ability to analyze massive amounts of satellite imagery that otherwise would be sitting collecting electronic dust in a hard drive somewhere.

Scientists, armed with data and Google’s computing muscle can build applications to mine the data for scientific purposes. Already, it’s been used to estimate tree coverage in Mexico, deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to detect deforestation and degradation in the Amazon.

Unintended Consequences

I wonder what strange and unintended applications this tool will be used for now that it’s out there in cyberspace, like using it to determine the best place to plant next years crop of weed, or something. It is the web after all, i’m sure someone, somewhere will be using it to jerk-off. sigh.

Too Big to Fail

Anyway, this is very cool, think of it, poor countries now have access to a powerful tool to understand changes in their landmass, where previously they could only make guesses. Now if only we would do something positive with this information. If only we had an international conference where the world sent representatives to come to an agreement on fixing problems that are too big to fail. If only climate change was a mega-bank — we’d all be getting bonuses! Instead, we get Inconvenient Truth II and another meeting in four years or so.

Google Earth Engine Map of Forest in Mexico

Google Earth Engine Map of Forest in Mexico

→ No CommentsTags: climate change · science

Useless Bike Racks Must Die

October 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Whoever designed these bike racks and whoever then purchases these bike racks has never been a biker.

Kilborn medical, Canadian federal and public school where I play volleyball – I’m talking to you. Not cool. Get rid of that weak no help bike racks.

Your urban pollution is ruining my living experience. It’s these types of urban noises that compile into troubles we could deal without. blah.

bad bike rack

Poorly designed urban spaces is bad for your health.

→ No CommentsTags: urban

$200 a barrel Oil

September 27th, 2010 · No Comments

Jeff Rubin and Andrew Nikiforuk talk oil on Big Ideas. Here.

Rubin says that we need to create a localized economy because the high price of oil will shatter the thin veneer of functionality of the globalized economy. $200 a barrel oil will occur and then recession won’t be far behind. The middle of the greatest recession and we are at $86 a barrel – and this is now considered low, says Rubin? Three years ago the Globe and Mail would have called this record oil prices, he said.

Rubin nailed it. Look back ten years during the 2000 election, Gore got Clinton to release the strategic petroleum reserve. Yah the same inconvenient Al Gore. The decision was intended as a signal to OPEC to cut prices that had hit $ 35 a barrel. How did Gore loose that vote again?

Imagine that was today — $35 a barrel! It’s nothing. Amazing how easy we adjust to the new normal.

→ No CommentsTags: oil

eco-anxiety

June 4th, 2010 · No Comments

I guess I have eco-anxiety. When I see the images of dying sea-life –beached dolphins, oiled birds, and slicked up turtles – from BP’s underwater oil geyser / oh god we added too much vinegar to the baking soda high school gong show – I get shutters. If this goes on to august, I’ll likely wake up with cold sweats, check that green sweats. It’s just so much destruction with no end in site. A Coñaso!

Yet all of what I’m seeing is virtual: photos on the net, video images on youtube, voices on podcasts. While my current life involves lots of outdoor activities: biking, gardening, running by rivers, and canoeing in lakes. So I’m more at peace in my day-to-day life and yet also deeply disturbed by the images of BP’s science experiment gone wrong. It’s not reconcilable – it’s like living in two realities.

The only strong physical connection I have to the Gulf Coast is that I once camped out on Grand Isle’s beach, now covered in copious amounts of Texas T. There I was lucky enough to kiss a very lovely lady friend on our road trip, who is now dead from brain cancer at age 25. So maybe there’s a message in there? Oh yah: “Smoke em if you got em, boys”.

→ No CommentsTags: bp · oil

Some places I knew

April 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine
house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine
house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine
house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine
house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine
house,urban,houses,raphael lopoukhine

→ 2 CommentsTags: houses · photos · Uncategorized · urban