More Encounters On the Road Less Travelled

Julia Russell - eco homesHey, guess who I saw today! Recall, that I passed a woman on a tricycle a while back? Well, at exactly the same spot, I passed her again today. She’s called Julia, as you may recall from her comment on the blog sometime later, (as I’d met her subsequently and said hello properly). I briefly said “hello and how are you” this time as our bike and trike passed each other, but I apologized for having to rush off, and rushed off. I was trying to catch the next bus in order to get to my classroom by 9:55am. The class’ first midterm was at 10:00am today and I wanted to make sure to be on time. So I dashed off to the stop…

…Only to be accompanied five minutes later by Julia, calmly arriving on her tricycle. She was also catching the same bus, it turned out, and I’d landed in the gap between buses and needed to wait anyway. After checking with me that this was indeed the stop she needed, she chained her splendid red machine to a tree. I contemplated taking a picture of us and the two extraordinary conveyances together to show you. However, while I dithered over this, the bus came. So I’ll cheat and re-use the old picture (right).

Anyway, we chatted quite a while about things (including the frustration of trying to convince friends and colleagues that using the bus and the subway is not such a bad thing), and boarded the bus. We chatted some more. She asked if there was anything new in my life recently and my response was that I’d been composting on Saturday. While there’s a little bit more than compost in my life of late (yes, really – but I figure you’d be bored with tales of wine, women, song, and so forth, so I don’t trouble you with those…), this was good to talk about for a while since it turns out that she’s a big composting fan too – it is all part of her eco-homes project! I realized now that I did not point you to the website about the eco-home project before, so here is the description of it. It is clearly worth a visit, if you’re interested and in the area, and I must do so myself. So, compost on the mind, we chatted about the pros and cons of soil improvement vs raised beds and so forth, and trundled along on the bus.

green lofts renovation project imageSo anyway, the main point of this post was to tell you about one particular thing that came up in our conversation. There’s a whole new project about to be unveiled. It is, and I quote: “Green Lofts, a fascinating eco-renovation of a derelict old factory into stylish live/work units in south Los Angeles.” There’s a description of it on the site, and there’s an open day on Saturday the 13th. From the architectural plans and progress pictures there, I’m itching to go along and have a look. I asked if I might get a preview visit of it, and she said we can probably work it out. (This is especially good since I thing I’ve some wedding celebrations to go to that day.) green lofts renovationThis is great, since I will try to do an extended blog post on it and report back to you either here or on Correlations, giving you a taste of what there is to be seen in time to remind you and encourage you to go on the open day if you’re in the area. This should be fun – I’ve a number of architect friends who might be interested in this, given their own interests in projects that strive for more sustainability, re-use of materials, and so forth, so I’ll be spreading the word a bit.

-cvj

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11 Responses to More Encounters On the Road Less Travelled

  1. Mary Cole says:

    Funnily enough, I was thinking about your posts about Julia’s tricycle this morning as I did the school run! This was prompted by my reflections on the various different types of cycles I encounter walking this relatively short distance each day.(Cycling to work or school is very popular here.) There are some interesting options for conveying young children on cycles. Thanks for the link to the eco-homes project.

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  3. spyder says:

    Imagine that, eco-building, green building, what a concept????

    Oh wait, Europeans have been doing it for more than 20 years, indeed whole communities and small cities of it. A little bit doesn’t hurt, but until there are a million solar roofs in LA, not much will change. Beginning next week in Portland will be a conference called clusters 2007: Collaboration, Innovation and Sustainability that presents a variety of ongoing ecologically appropriate developments and technologies. If you can spare the time please visit. A rare Northwest convocation sponsored by state, regional, and local governmental entities, all on the same page about being pro-active.

  4. Clifford says:

    Hi Spyder,

    Thanks, as usual, for your comment, although I’d like to respectfully point out that your opening remarks:

    Imagine that, eco-building, green building, what a concept????

    Oh wait, Europeans have been doing it for more than 20 years, indeed whole communities and small cities of it.

    …perhaps do not represent the best or most spirited way of encouraging people to adopt important new behaviours and practices….

    A little bit doesn’t hurt, but until there are a million solar roofs in LA, not much will change.

    Indeed… And how do we get to a million? A million all on one go, or one or two here and there to start out, gradually building up to a million? Probably the latter, with some jumps here and there as examples become more widespread. All the more reason to be hugely enthusiastic and encouraging of even the slightest efforts in the right directions, I’d say.

    Thanks for the link!

    Best,

    -cvj

  5. Hi Clifford,

    What fun to read your account of our encounter of a pleasant kind yesterday and thanks for getting out the word about our Green Lofts Eco-Building Forum on October 13th. I hope to see a lot of your readers there!

    I agree with both you and Spyder on the subject of eco-building, green building, solar power, etc.

    Yes, it’s been developing in Europe for more than 20 years, and I started Eco-Home over 20 years ago, which means it isn’t a new trend but a growing trend with staying power that is starting to show characteristics of actual cultural change. Cultural change is what we’re aiming for.

    And it’s true that the real impact of cultural change isn’t easily identifiable or highly effective until it is adopted by millions and millions of us, but it’s also true that enduring cultural change begins with and rests upon individual change.

    As you suggest, Clifford, one by one we are making the shift from a culture of consumption and waste to a culture of regeneration and stewardship to create a sustainable civilization – what a concept! Is it possible that we humans can actually inhabit the earth in symbiosis with the rest of the family of life instead wresting our survival from it through domination and extraction?

    This is our hidden agenda, we eco-builders, composters, ocean defenders, forest protectors, recyclers, bus riders and bicyclists, wild eyed organic greenies of all shades. We are evolving a sustainable civilization as we build (or eco-renovate) our structures, cultivate our gardens, recycle our plastic, reduce our consumption, have fewer children, redesign our cities, eat lower on the food chain, bike to work, invest in socially and environmentally responsible businesses, redesign our cities. . . . you can see it taking shape, can you not? What can be more exciting than to take part in this conscious evolution of our species?

    Will we make it in time? Will we transform ourselves and our civilization quickly enough to prevent ecological collapse even more catastrophic than what we have already caused? Who knows?

    I choose not to try to answer a question that can’t be answered until the answer is self-evident. Instead I live each day as though I am a vital part of the living earth and everything I do and everything that I don’t do has a direct impact on the rest of the family of life which in turn has a direct impact on me and my neighbors and our city and our region and our planet. In this way I become the cultural change I wish to see in the world.

    It sure beats just waiting on the sidelines to see how it turns out.

    Thanks, Clifford, for the invitation to this dialog. I hope I’m not violating some protocol of blogging by being too verbose. I’m a newcomer to this mode of communication.

    I went to bed at my usual bedtime of 9PM but found myself thinking about getting to your blog so I finally gave in and turned on my computer and here I am, after midnight, blogging away. But now I have to turn in for a busy day ahead.

    Best,
    Julia

  6. spyder says:

    I do apologize for the snarkiness, but it is out of frustration that so little is really being done when we have so much to do so quickly. The million solar roofs is not a pipe dream at all, and is in fact a funded mandate of the State of California, with another two million in the pipeline. It is just that people don’t seem to either know about it, or care about it. And as Julia points out there are so many little daily things we can all do to make that first ripple of substantive difference. So yes indeed, i thank Julia, and you for your promotion of all these things that really matter.

  7. Clifford says:

    Julia:- Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ll be in touch about coming to see the projects you mentioned.

    Hey spyder… it is frustrating, I agree. (And sometimes I get a bit snarky about it too.) Thanks for your thoughts, and the information, as always.

    Cheers,

    -cvj

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  9. spyder says:

    perhaps a peek at an example of what is frustrating (it took them almost a year to publish this???):
    > This is a 184 page report of the multi-federal-agency Climate Change and
    > Federal Lands Workshop, November 2 and 3, 2006 held by GAO and the National
    > Academies’ Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.
    >
    > Link to the one-page GAO Highlights –
    > http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07863high.pdf
    > Also attached here:
    > (See attached file: d07863high.pdf)
    >
    > Link to the entire report: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-863
    >
    > Excerpt:
    > GAO Recommendation for Executive Action: To better enable federal resource
    > management agencies to take into account the existing and potential future
    > effects of climate change on federal resources, we recommend that the
    > Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior, in consultation with
    > the Director of FS; the Administrator of NOAA; and the Directors of BLM,
    > FWS, and NPS, respectively, develop clear, written communication to resource
    > managers that explains how managers are expected to address the effects of
    > climate change,
    identifies how managers are to obtain any site-specific
    > information that may be necessary, and reflects best practices shared among
    > the relevant agencies, while also recognizing the unique missions,
    > objectives, and responsibilities of each agency.
    >
    > September 6, 2007
    >
    > The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following
    > reports, testimony, and correspondence:
    >
    > LETTER REPORT
    >
    > Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects
    > on Federal Land and Water Resources. GAO-07-863, August 7
    > http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-863
    > Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07863high.pdf

  10. spyder says:

    perhaps a peek at an example of what is frustrating (it took them almost a year to publish this???):

    > This is a 184 page report of the multi-federal-agency Climate Change and
    > Federal Lands Workshop, November 2 and 3, 2006 held by GAO and the National
    > Academies’ Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.
    >
    > Link to the one-page GAO Highlights –
    > http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07863high.pdf

    > Link to the entire report: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-863
    >
    > Excerpt:
    > GAO Recommendation for Executive Action: To better enable federal resource
    > management agencies to take into account the existing and potential future
    > effects of climate change on federal resources, we recommend that the
    > Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior, in consultation with
    > the Director of FS; the Administrator of NOAA; and the Directors of BLM,
    > FWS, and NPS, respectively, develop clear, written communication to resource
    > managers that explains how managers are expected to address the effects of
    > climate change,
    identifies how managers are to obtain any site-specific
    > information that may be necessary, and reflects best practices shared among
    > the relevant agencies, while also recognizing the unique missions,
    > objectives, and responsibilities of each agency.
    >
    > September 6, 2007
    >
    > The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following
    > reports, testimony, and correspondence:
    >
    > LETTER REPORT
    >
    > Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects
    > on Federal Land and Water Resources. GAO-07-863, August 7
    > http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-863
    > Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07863high.pdf

  11. Hi Spyder,
    Thanks for the links to that report which, though belated, seems to be inching us along in the right direction, anyway.

    I agree, it is maddeningly frustrating to witness the vast chasm between how things “should be” and how they are.

    One antidote to the feeling of impotent rage that I’ve found, because impotent rage is one of my least favorite emotions, is to look into myself to find the very same failing that’s infuriating me in someone else or some external situation. Procrastination, for instance.

    It gives me something to work on that I do have some control over, instead of railing against something I don’t have any control over.

    Which isn’t to say that a well crafted, written rebuke to the agencies involved in such sluggishness isn’t a good idea. I believe it is, and a fully legitimate outlet for snarkiness, if I’m understanding the meaning of that fetching word correctly. And after the Oct. 13th event that I’m working on is over, I might just try my hand at it.

    Thanks.

    Julia

    Oh, and Clifford. I look forward to hearing from you about when you might visit either Eco-Home – did I tell you it will be open this Sunday, the 7th?- or the Green Lofts, if not before October 13th, then after. The eco-renovation will be in progress for several weeks, maybe even months, more.

    In fact, welcome to anyone and everyone interested in either of these projects. Visit our website for more info.

    And thanks again, Clifford, for this opportunity.
    Best,
    Julia