Smaller is better.
In fact, if you want to be an optimist about America today, stand on your head. The country looks so much better from the bottom up — from its major metropolitan areas — than from the top down. Washington is tied in knots by Republican-led hyperpartisanship, lobbyists and budget constraints. Ditto most state legislatures. So the great laboratories and engines of our economy are now our cities. This is the conclusion of an important new book by the Brookings Institution scholars Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, entitled: “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.”
via I Want to Be a Mayor – NYTimes.com.
By the end of the first part of this essay I’d made my way to Jersey City and bought a point-and-shoot camera. Jersey City was where I lived, but not my home. I had no home, unless it would be the virtual world of intellectual activity.
What that camera allowed me to do was to connect my intellectual world to Jersey City itself. It’s not merely that Jersey City is where I live and so where I conduct that intellectual activity, but that Jersey City itself became the subject of that intellectual activity. And more.
It’s 2004 and I return from my conference in Chicago with a camera full of photographs of Millennium Park. I turned them into an online exhibit that my friend (and one-time teacher) Bruce Jackson put online as a working paper. And I shelved the camera. Except every now and then I’d get it out and walk around taking photos, mostly of this and that.
In the Fall of 2006 I decided to photograph signs: street signs, billboards, signs on cars, storefronts, and, of course, graffiti tags, which were plentiful.
I decided they might be particularly interesting. After all, this mural was just across the street from my apartment:
What if there were more like that? Continue reading
Our current power grid is a balkanized mess owned and operated by 500 different entities. It needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. But we also need to allow for resilience at the local level so individual communities will have their own power from renewables sources.
For now, engineers in the grid redesign project have determined that conducting business as usual between 2010 and 2030 would require $18.5 billion in new transmission lines in the United States, while a system designed to integrate renewables like wind energy on a large scale would cost $115.2 billion. In some places, however, renewables could cut electricity costs by allowing the replacement of high-cost generators with lower-cost ones.
The technology, the engineering skill and even the money are all available, experts say, but the ability to reach agreement on such a grid is not. Dozens of experts said in interviews that there were simply too many players, both commercial and governmental, and too many conflicting interests.
via Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners – NYTimes.com.
There’s a mathematical form to systems too big to succeed:
Three years ago, Stanley and his colleagues discovered the mathematics behind what he calls “the extreme fragility of interdependency.” In a system of interconnected networks like the economy, city infrastructure or the human body, their model indicates that a small outage in one network can cascade through the entire system, touching off a sudden, catastrophic failure.
First reported in 2010 in the journal Nature, the finding spawned more than 200 related studies, including analyses of the nationwide blackout in Italy in 2003, the global food-price crisis of 2007 and 2008, and the “flash crash” of the United States stock market on May 6, 2010.
“In isolated networks, a little damage will only lead to a little more,” said Shlomo Havlin, a physicist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel who co-authored the 2010 paper. “Now we know that because of dependency between networks, you can have an abrupt collapse.”
via Math Models Seek to Prevent Network Failures | Simons Foundation.
Reget Ebert has seen lots of documentaries about global warming, and he’s scared.
Sally Potter’s new film centers on two teenage British girls (Elle Fanning and Alice Englert ) who get involved in the Ban the Bomb movement at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. I remember that time. On a weekday afternoon, Soviet warships bearing missiles were approaching a line drawn in the sea by President Kennedy. If they crossed it, JFK had vowed retaliation. Would our missiles take flight? Would the Soviet bloc Would there be war? We felt so powerless. Craning my neck to see over the heads of the crowd, I was jammed into the front lounge of the University YMCA. At a time like that you do not–you cannot–want to be alone.
This time the line has not been drawn on a map. This time the enemy, if we can use the word in this context, is an American lobbyist group. They seem focused on maximizing profits and shareholder benefits, at the cost of any environmental conscience. It seems possible that their policies will lead to a different kind of seasonal calendar. Instead of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, this new generation will know Blizzard, Flood, Heat and Fire. Month follows month as the seasons tear themselves apart.
via New seasons with new names – Roger Ebert’s Journal.
We need our own gardens so we can be victorious against agri-business.
Today, people are gardening for all sorts of victories: saving money, sharing with others, teaching themselves or their kids a skill, fighting hunger, promoting physical well-being, helping the environment. Gardening is the perfect cause and the perfect solution to many personal and larger-scale issues. Gardening is victory!
via Why Victory Gardens Still Matter — Bonnie Plants.
Seems a bit like C. Keil’s Global Organization of Democracies.
Founded in May 2004, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government. UCLG is the largest local government organization in the world. Representing over half the world’s population, the members of UCLG are present in 136 UN Member States. Over 1000 cities are direct members of UCLG, as well as 112 national associations which represent all the cities and local governments in a single country.
The main objective of the UCLG Committee on City Diplomacy, Peace Building and Human Rights is to promote the role of local governments in social cohesion, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.
via City Diplomacy – Organisation – City, Diplomacy, Sponsorship, UCLG, Conference, First World Conference, First World, The Hague, Peace Palace, cities, villages, local governement, governement, local.
The USofA is too tightly connected. More states would help:
Competitive federalism has many advantages. Citizens can move to communities that better reflect their preferences for public goods, they can vote with their feet, thereby penalizing poorly performing governments, and they can serve as a salutary example for others by trying out new ideas in governing.
The Great State of Northern Virginia.
Here’s a triple, a trifecta, a trinity, from Charlie Keil. It’s about a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD). Let him explain it.
An Open Letter to Citizens of the World
I think we need a common GOOD, a Global Organization Of Democracies, one nation one vote, (so that a confederation of indigenous peoples up the Amazon can have the same voting power as the USA, Okinawa the same vote power as Japan, etc.) [big so-called democracies may not want to be members at first], to be meeting year round to suggest ways of: stopping “ethnic cleansing” and “administrative massacres,” terrorism, and wars; sharing air, water and resources fairly; raising global carbon taxes for local carbon sequestration (planting trees, fostering permacultures) going strong everywhere; planning and fostering a global literacy campaign focused on young women, etc., etc.
For every real problem you can think of, the world needs to hear these discussions, suggestions, planning sessions year round so that hopes can realistically be raised about stopping climate destruction, reducing global storming, etc. Can you give these “self-determination of peoples” and “conserving the speciation” ideas 8 minutes a day? 12 minutes a day on Saturday and Sunday?
Peace is the Way! (to ecological balance)
For the common GOOD
To stop the ecocatastrophe and build world peace processes a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD) supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) could coordinate efficient regional police forces to help prevent “administrative massacres” and terrorism, thereby enhancing the security of all peoples and encouraging states to redirect a growing portion of their military budgets to economically sustainable problem-solving over time. Continue reading