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Content about The Road to Resilience

November 8, 2017

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, plastic was one of the most exciting new materials.  Everything from dinner plates to furniture were being made from plastic.  It was lightweight, strong, and would never rot.  In the 1960’s film, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside by his likely-to-be-father-in-law and given this sage advice in one word:  “plastics.”

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, plastic was one of the most exciting new materials.  Everything from dinner plates to furniture were being made from plastic.  It was lightweight, strong, and would never rot.  In the 1960’s film, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside by his likely-to-be-father-in-law and given this sage advice in one word:  “plastics.”  So true:  we now have 450 billion pounds of plastic on the planet and counting.  We continue to add to it and never subtract because of the aforementioned fact that it wil

October 25, 2017

I’ve referred before to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to characterize our unrelenting belief that we understand how the world works and we can alter portions of it without any adverse consequences.  The story goes that while the sorcerer is away, the sorcerer’s apprentice decides to dabble in a bit of magic to make his chores a little easier.

I’ve referred before to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to characterize our unrelenting belief that we understand how the world works and we can alter portions of it without any adverse consequences.  The story goes that while the sorcerer is away, the sorcerer’s apprentice decides to dabble in a bit of magic to make his chores a little easier.  He knows enough to engage some magic but does not know how to stop it, and the situation quickly gets completely out of control.  

October 10, 2017
PSE

Harvey and Irma have reminded us that we need to step up the pace in transforming our energy system to carbon-free renewables.  We in the Pacific Northwest have been the fortunate recipients of cheap hydroelectric power for about eighty years.  The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was formed by the Federal Government in 1937 to meter out the power from the newly built Bonneville dam. 

Harvey and Irma have reminded us that we need to step up the pace in transforming our energy system to carbon-free renewables.  We in the Pacific Northwest have been the fortunate recipients of cheap hydroelectric power for about eighty years.  The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was formed by the Federal Government in 1937 to meter out the power from the newly built Bonneville dam.  Up until that time, our power source was primarily natural gas, and it has been sold to us by Puget Sound Energy since 1873.

September 13, 2017

I get about a hundred emails every day.  I screen them for communications from people I know, but I end up deleting about 95 percent of them.  I have learned to screen quickly, so I don’t waste half my morning doing it.  I’ve considered unsubscribing to them, but there are so many, it would take a day or more to do it.

I get about a hundred emails every day.  I screen them for communications from people I know, but I end up deleting about 95 percent of them.  I have learned to screen quickly, so I don’t waste half my morning doing it.  I’ve considered unsubscribing to them, but there are so many, it would take a day or more to do it.  Almost all of the ones I delete are asking for money.  Most of those are from political campaigns with the remainder from organizations that I agree with.  A large part of this assault is just due to the ease and economy of communica

August 30, 2017

A single payer health care system makes so much sense, it’s hard to imagine how we got stuck with the system we have.  We all have to take responsibility for our own health, but if somebody is sick or injured, it is in nobody’s interest that they not receive the care they need. 

A single payer health care system makes so much sense, it’s hard to imagine how we got stuck with the system we have.  We all have to take responsibility for our own health, but if somebody is sick or injured, it is in nobody’s interest that they not receive the care they need.  Treating health care as a commodity means that many need to decide whether to buy groceries or go to the doctor.  This is too close to a Monty Python skit.  All developed countries understand this and provide health care when and where needed without the huge expense of trying to deci

August 10, 2017

While reading a book by a Finnish woman who had become a US citizen, I was reminded that this country really is an historically and culturally significant place.  It is the combination of cultures that makes it unique, and I think that a textile is a better analogy than a melting pot.

While reading a book by a Finnish woman who had become a US citizen, I was reminded that this country really is an historically and culturally significant place.  It is the combination of cultures that makes it unique, and I think that a textile is a better analogy than a melting pot.

August 2, 2017

(*Thanks, E.F. Schumacher, for a 40 year old idea that is still good as gold.)
Most futurist visions I have seen are of shining high-tech cities with high rises covered in solar panels and rooftop gardens.

(*Thanks, E.F. Schumacher, for a 40 year old idea that is still good as gold.)

Most futurist visions I have seen are of shining high-tech cities with high rises covered in solar panels and rooftop gardens.  People are whisked about in clean and efficient electric transport and the hinterlands are either pristine wildlands or automated farms.  I am very leery of this vision.  

July 17, 2017

Many of us like to think that Trump is the ogre that crashed our party.  He is but the fruit of a long period of division and bitter strife in our country.  Just the same, Trump’s behavior is aiding and abetting that behavior in a powerful way.  I don’t think any parent, conservative or liberal, would tolerate such behavior in their children, so what do you tell them when it seems okay for the President to act that way?

Many of us like to think that Trump is the ogre that crashed our party.  He is but the fruit of a long period of division and bitter strife in our country.  Just the same, Trump’s behavior is aiding and abetting that behavior in a powerful way.  I don’t think any parent, conservative or liberal, would tolerate such behavior in their children, so what do you tell them when it seems okay for the President to act that way?  His example is harmful and contagious and we have to denounce it as outside the realm of acceptable behavior.  

July 3, 2017

It was about eight years ago that we formed Transition Vashon, and about six years ago that I started writing this column as a means of getting transition ideas out into the community.  Our goal was to orient our community towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and putting together an energy descent plan.

It was about eight years ago that we formed Transition Vashon, and about six years ago that I started writing this column as a means of getting transition ideas out into the community.  Our goal was to orient our community towards transitioning away from fossil fuels and putting together an energy descent plan.  If it wasn’t clear then, it certainly is now that we need to transition to renewables, and making a plan to use less energy would make us much more resilient in the face of energy shortfalls.  In 2009, it was clear to many of us that we needed to make serious ch

June 21, 2017

Most of us remember, however vaguely, being taught in grade school that our government has an ingenious system of checks and balances between the three branches of government that insures that no branch wields excessive power.  I, at least, don’t remember going over the US Constitution line by line, and, in fact, would have been bored to death if we had.

Most of us remember, however vaguely, being taught in grade school that our government has an ingenious system of checks and balances between the three branches of government that insures that no branch wields excessive power.  I, at least, don’t remember going over the US Constitution line by line, and, in fact, would have been bored to death if we had.  Now, however, as the old R&B song goes, “You don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry.”  Well, brothers and sisters, I find myself wondering where all those checks and balances are when

June 7, 2017

Suppose the federal government could make money out of nothing and spend it freely.  Suppose they could do it not only without raising taxes, but possibly lowering them, and that the country would thrive on full employment. 

Suppose the federal government could make money out of nothing and spend it freely.  Suppose they could do it not only without raising taxes, but possibly lowering them, and that the country would thrive on full employment.  This sounds like the kind of promise that a snake oil-peddling politician might be able to buy some votes with.  Amazingly enough, there is a possibility that such a scenario could turn out to be true.

May 24, 2017

Last issue, I was talking about the various dichotomies that define each of us, conservative/liberal, authoritarian/libertarian, naturist (my version)/ humanist.  There is another that we mostly don’t freely choose but has a very great influence on our lives.

Last issue, I was talking about the various dichotomies that define each of us, conservative/liberal, authoritarian/libertarian, naturist (my version)/ humanist.  There is another that we mostly don’t freely choose but has a very great influence on our lives.  We are all to varying degrees owners and non-owners.  To the extent that we are owners, we have more control over our lives, we can live more cheaply, and, if we own stocks, bonds, real estate or maybe companies, we can often gain income that is on an order of magnitude greater than what one can earn through labor

April 24, 2017

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.

If you are a believer in climate change, you really don’t need to know who is in charge of the various federal agencies that deal with it.  You can pretty much assume that the person in charge of the agency in question is probably the worst possible choice for that position.  We are all walking about in a daze, having a hard time believing what is happening.  Shortsightedness and ignorance rule at a time that needs laser focus decision-making and action to preserve any semblance of the world we know today.  It could be that rubber boots will be de rigueur at Mar-A-

April 6, 2017

Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality.  W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times:  “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” 

Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality.  W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times:  “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”  

March 27, 2017

Economics as it has come to be studied has got to be one of the most stultifying subjects known to man.  Within the first three equations, my mind starts to wander and the soft murmurs of slumber begin to crowd out my consciousness.

Economics as it has come to be studied has got to be one of the most stultifying subjects known to man.  Within the first three equations, my mind starts to wander and the soft murmurs of slumber begin to crowd out my consciousness.  Yet, as time goes by, the ideas and considerations revolving around how we distribute goods and services in a complex society captivates me more and more.  On the one hand, you have resources that need to be grown, dug up, found, processed, transported, transformed.   You have the tools, machines, buildings, and other wherewithal that y

March 13, 2017

Since the national elections, it looks like Democrats, such as they are, will be primarily in reactive mode as they really have little control over what happens at the national level.  There is the historical surge of resistance from the grassroots, which is very encouraging, but the question is how long will we be able to keep it up?

Since the national elections, it looks like Democrats, such as they are, will be primarily in reactive mode as they really have little control over what happens at the national level.  There is the historical surge of resistance from the grassroots, which is very encouraging, but the question is how long will we be able to keep it up?

March 1, 2017

In girding our community loins for the tumultuous times ahead, we need to be looking toward maximizing our ability to subsist locally and regionally.  In addition to broadening our skills and strengthening our community bonds, we will need to optimize and cultivate our resources.  For some time now, we have been carefully managing our water supply.

In girding our community loins for the tumultuous times ahead, we need to be looking toward maximizing our ability to subsist locally and regionally.  In addition to broadening our skills and strengthening our community bonds, we will need to optimize and cultivate our resources.  For some time now, we have been carefully managing our water supply.  Of the sacred triad of air, water, and soil, perhaps our weakest effort is in maintaining and enhancing our soil.  When in doubt, we can always look to nature as a guide and mentor.  Nature builds soil from dead leaves,

February 15, 2017

The world we find ourselves in today has thrown most of us into a real quandary.  The fact is that nobody knows what is going to happen next, and most of the options are not that appealing.  It is easy enough to see utter disaster looming.
 

The world we find ourselves in today has thrown most of us into a real quandary.  The fact is that nobody knows what is going to happen next, and most of the options are not that appealing.  It is easy enough to see utter disaster looming.  There are possible glorious end points we might achieve, but the problem is not knowing what we will have to go through to get there, or, in the case of the climate change challenge, if we will be able to act fast enough.  In a time of great change, some new avenues will open and some old ones will close.  The fact is, almost all

January 26, 2017

Whether we’re in a dangerous situation or simply inconvenienced, it is our level of resourcefulness that determines if and how quickly we resolve the situation.  We in the developed world really don’t need to know much about the places we inhabit or the things we need or use. 

Whether we’re in a dangerous situation or simply inconvenienced, it is our level of resourcefulness that determines if and how quickly we resolve the situation.  We in the developed world really don’t need to know much about the places we inhabit or the things we need or use.  As long as we earn money, we can find somebody to provide whatever it is we need.  With a smart phone, we have command of much of the knowledge and resources in the world, yet we can end up as dumb as rocks.  Exercising our intelligence requires the use of logic and analytical thinking.

January 18, 2017

In case you’ve been procrastinating on your New Year’s resolutions, I have a few suggestions.   This was a tough year, and 2017 looks like it could be worse.  The ball is definitely in our court, and we have to decide whether and how we are going to put it in play.

In case you’ve been procrastinating on your New Year’s resolutions, I have a few suggestions.   This was a tough year, and 2017 looks like it could be worse.  The ball is definitely in our court, and we have to decide whether and how we are going to put it in play.  

Resolution #1) No matter how much or how little, we all must definitely put our own personal ball into play.  This is no time for spectators nor for people that find the situation to painful to think about.  

January 4, 2017

Last column, I wrote about tribalism being a force that encouraged suspicion and hatred between different racial and ethnic groups.  A friend pointed out that our indigenous people, who call themselves tribes

Last column, I wrote about tribalism being a force that encouraged suspicion and hatred between different racial and ethnic groups.  A friend pointed out that our indigenous people, who call themselves tribes, are now doing a tremendous service for us in standing up to the oil interests at Standing Rock.  I knew immediately that I would need to clarify that my discussion of the concept of “tribalism” was not intended in any way to cast aspersions on those peoples who use that term to describe their polities.  In thinking further about it, I realized that tribes, n

December 21, 2016

We have come to a time when those with racial, ethnic, and sexual biases think that their views have achieved some level of legitimacy.   The only way we can counter that opinion is by showing by sheer numbers how small—hopefully—a minority they really are.  Before we can do that, we should all spend some time confronting our own biases. 

We have come to a time when those with racial, ethnic, and sexual biases think that their views have achieved some level of legitimacy.   The only way we can counter that opinion is by showing by sheer numbers how small—hopefully—a minority they really are.  Before we can do that, we should all spend some time confronting our own biases.  Are we really as progressive and tolerant as we would like to think we are?  It took us a while to accept the fact that we still live in a racist society.  Many of our preconceptions are so ingrained that we never

November 22, 2016

A year ago, who could have imagined that a perfect storm of discontent, fear, and blind folly would land us in the world we have today?  I’ve always said that this is one of the most exciting times to be alive, and our current scenario fits that description in spades.

A year ago, who could have imagined that a perfect storm of discontent, fear, and blind folly would land us in the world we have today?  I’ve always said that this is one of the most exciting times to be alive, and our current scenario fits that description in spades.  The idea of excitement for me has always been something that seems scary but is actually reasonably safe, like the big plunge on a roller coaster.  What we have is the big plunge without knowing for sure that there is any track beneath us.   

November 20, 2016

Back in 1988, Joy Goldstein strong-armed me into working with her and a handful of others on the Community Council Affordable Housing Committee.  We went on to form Vashon Household (Joy’s name).  I put about twenty years into the effort, and despite some notable successes, such as Charter House, JG Commons, Roseballen, Eernisse Apts., and Mukai Commons, I’ve never felt that our efforts put a dent in the structural foundations of housing unaffordability.

Back in 1988, Joy Goldstein strong-armed me into working with her and a handful of others on the Community Council Affordable Housing Committee.  We went on to form Vashon Household (Joy’s name).  I put about twenty years into the effort, and despite some notable successes, such as Charter House, JG Commons, Roseballen, Eernisse Apts., and Mukai Commons, I’ve never felt that our efforts put a dent in the structural foundations of housing unaffordability.  All of these projects were heavily subsidized, with stringent and restrictive requirements.  The causes o