Megaregion Commutes

Megaregions and Public Lands: This Week Better – Dec 11, 2016

Climate, Parks & Open Spaces, Take Action, Transportation

With only three weeks left in the year, I’ve been thinking about how I can best use my project time in 2017.

What I’m reading this week:

Four Million Commutes Reveal New U.S. ‘Megaregions’ – “As megaregions grow in size and importance, economists, lawmakers, and urban planners need to work on coordinating policy at this new scale. But when it comes to defining the extent of a megaregion, they find themselves running into the same problems geographers and cartographers have always had when trying to delineate conceptual areas. Because megaregions are defined by connections—things like interlocking economies, transportation links, shared topography, or a common culture—it’s tough to know where their boundaries lie.” –via National Geographic

DO: Check out the “megaregion” map for your area. Is where you live and work in a region that makes sense from a transportation planning funding perspective?

 

Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule. – This is a great, short read by Trevor Noah. “the vast majority of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, wanted many of the same things: good jobs, decent homes, access to opportunity and, above all, respect.” “When you grow up in the middle, you see that life is more in the middle than it is on the sides. The majority of people are in the middle, the margin of victory is almost always in the middle, and very often the truth is there as well, waiting for us.” –via The New York Times

DO: How can we focus on more nuance in our daily life?


Sally Jewell on the Future of the Department of the Interior
– Interesting interview with Sally Jewell, our outgoing Secretary of the Interior on climate change, public lands and advice for incoming Secretary. “We all come with a set of skills, and those are useful but not sufficient, so surround yourself with people that help fill that gap. Second, this job is about listening deeply to different points of view. You can’t go in with a fixed frame.” “the first outdoor-industry study based on hard data showed that the recreation economy is almost as big as pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, and motor-vehicle parts combined. That is extraordinary. That narrative has been lost, oftentimes, to the value of public lands for extractive purposes. But what the REC Act begins to do is to monetize the value of lands in conservation. This is an industry that employs millions of people. It supports rural economies. The legislation will ensure that it continues. “–via Outside Online

DO: Keep your eye on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State, she’s expected to be Trump’s Interior pick.

 

Real Christmas Trees Or Fake Ones — Which Are Better For The Planet? – Since it’s December, I was thinking about Christmas trees and the impact on the environment and community. In the Pacific Northwest, it seems like real Christmas trees are the way to go since it supports the local economy – the trees are grown for the purpose of being Christmas trees and trees are “recyclable” back to nature. Things I hadn’t thought about: buying a fake try can make sense in areas that don’t have Christmas trees local or if you keep it for a very long time (8-20 years). — via HuffPo

DO: Consider the pros and cons of real versus fake as you decorate this year.


Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story
Gordon Price (urban planner and influential in a lot of transportation and land use success for the City of Vancouver for several decades) was our final lecture for my Traffic & Transportation class. This video shows some of the more resent work the city has made to reach 50% sustainable mode share (bike, walk, transit) a full four years earlier than goal (2020). –via StreetFilms

DO: How can we help reach a more sustainable split of driving versus walking, biking, transit here? This week, if you’re going less than 1 mile, try walking.


A policy that works: Raising the minimum wage
– Higher minimum wages result in greater earnings for low wage workers, and no loss of jobs. “The key argument against raising the minimum wage is that it would somehow cause employers to reduce the hours of work of employees subject to the minimum, and thereby lower the total number of job opportunities.” Such a strange phenomenon that the going thought is still that raising minimum wage reduces employment, when research and real examples has proven otherwise. –via City Observatory

DO: Read up on Oregon’s minimum wage rates that will increase to $14.75 by 2022.


PBOT moves forward with carfree ‘Sullivan’s Crossing’ bridge over I-84
– I’m super excited for this new bike and pedestrian crossing over 84 in the Lloyd area to connect NE Portland to SE via 7th Ave. Sounds like construction will be starting in 2019! –via Bike Portland

DO: Check out PBOT’s Project website to keep up to date on the project and give feedback.

 

This Week’s Actions: This week, I did more thinking than acting! I donated to a local environmental nonprofit through GiveGuide, and stayed off Facebook (33 days now!).

What are you reading and doing this week?

Climate Action Plan - Portland 2050 Vision

Climate Action & Legacy: This Week Better – Dec 4, 2016

Climate, Land Use, Take Action

This week was my final Traffic & Transportation class at PSU. It’s been super inspiring to learn from regional transportation professionals through the weekly lectures, and to see what interests fellow Portlanders to make positive changes in our communities. Over the next quarter, I plan to keep up a weekly “class night” to work on projects and learn.

What I’m reading this week:

Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency: Inside a stunned White House, the President considers his legacy and America’s future. – This one is a long read, but worth the time. Some quotes I enjoyed: “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”

“The thing that I have always been convinced of,” he said, “the running thread through my career, has been this notion that when ordinary people get engaged, pay attention, learn about the forces that affect their lives and are able to join up with others, good stuff happens.” –via The New Yorker

DO: In the words of our President… Get engaged. Pay attention. Learn about the forces that affect your life. Join up with other. Good stuff will happen.


ODOT wins $28 million federal grant for Historic Highway project
 – Great news for Oregon. The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail project just won a $28 million grant from the US Department of Transportation for the Mitchell Point Crossing. –via Bike Portland

Does rent control work? Evidence from Berlin – It’s been a year since Berlin enacted a cap on rent increases on existing rentals (based on age, size, # of floors and amenities etc) with modest increases over time. New construction and apartments that are substantially renovated are exempt from the rent control limits. “While posed as a way of promoting affordability for low income households, in practice, rent control may actually provide greater benefits for higher income renters. High income renters may be more savvy in dealing with landlords and exercising their rights, and less subject to the economic dislocations that force low income households to move from rent controlled apartments. Over time, having acquired the “right” to live in a rent controlled apartment, some better off households may choose not to move, or to buy a home, with the result being a lower rate of turnover in apartments: further restricting the supply of housing.” –via City Observatory

DO: Housing affordability is a really complex issue. I’m trying to learn about the different sides and the cause and effect of what some policy changes might do here in Portland.

 
Mayors Set a Tight Deadline to Initiate Climate Action – “The C40 plan calls for member cities to reduce the average emission per person from 5 metric tons to 2.9 by 2030. That reduction will largely come through city-wide “climate actions,” which include things like installing bike lanes and retrofitting buildings with clean energy sources. Collectively, cities have taken 11,000 actions like these so far. By 2020, they’ll need 14,000 more, and roughly three-quarters of that must come from wealthy, high carbon-emitting cities located mostly in the global north.” “Mayors, state, and subnational governments are in a stronger position to deliver on their promises than national governments.” –via City Lab

DO: Portland is an “Innovator City” in the C40. Portland has a Climate Action Plan hidden in the depths of despair that is the Portlandoregon.gov website. Here’s a link to the full pdf The “At a Glance” section is 26 pages in. “This Climate Action Plan identifies twenty 2030 objectives and more than one hundred actions to be completed or significantly underway in the next five years.”

This Week’s Actions: This week, I attended my final Traffic and Transportation Class at PSU, donated to a local environmental nonprofit through GiveGuide!, and stayed off Facebook (25 days now!).

What are you reading and doing this week?

NE 28th Kerns parking

Hopes & Fears: This Week Better – Nov 27, 2016

Take Action, Transportation

I’ve had some fascinating conversations in the last week about land use (rent, housing, parking), transportation, politics, public lands, and race! Like many, I’m feeling a mix of hope and fear for our communities and country. I’ve been trying to listen and ask more questions. With the holiday season here, the next month is going to fly by. I need to make a conscious effort to keep this Better Portland project going.

What I’m reading this week:

Parking: The price is wrong – this article has an interesting look at Portland handicap placard use and how changing the policy around it freed up parking and abuse of the placards “Spaces occupied by placard users dropped 70%.” “The larger lesson here should be abundantly clear: charging users for something approaching the value of the public space that they are using produces a transportation system that works better for everyone.” –via City Observatory

DO: Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is currently studying parking in five neighborhoods: St Johns, NE 28th, Hollywood, Division, Mississippi. Portland City Council will be discussing NW parking on Dec 22, 2016.


Choosing a Daily Political action –
 I signed up for several of these daily political action emails/websites this week to see what they recommend. MyCivicWorkout (5-30 minute “workouts” for civic activism), Flippable (winning the country back one seat at a time), and DeedsDigest (Deeds not words). One of the things I found in common when I signed up for these, they’re geared more for folks in red states, but still useful reminders.

DO: Sign up for a daily political action email and see if it’s useful or changes any of your weekly behavior.


City of Portland boosts network with 5.6 miles of newly buffered bike lanes
 – PBOT used $80,000 that was left over from larger capital projects that came in under budget to upgrade 5.6 miles of bike lanes around Portland for safety upgrades. “Along with new buffers on existing bike lanes, the city has also put the money toward bike-related crossing treatments at major intersections, signage, and new bike lanes where they didn’t exist before.” –via Bike Portland

DO: Have you noticed any of these upgrades? There’s a full list on the link above. Share or reach out to let the city know you like this and want to see more!


Why Protected Bike Lanes Save Lives
 –
 “The more physically separate cycling facilities provided, the more cycling levels grow, and in particular, the more women, children, and seniors are willing to cycle.” –via CityLab

DO: Take a look at the Central City 2035 plan and how to stay informed.


We elected a climate denier, so now what? Roll up your sleeves for the outdoors
– 
“It’s going to be a long, hard four years for environmentalists and outdoor advocates. We seriously just put a climate denier in the White House, and now we have to face the consequences.” –via The Morning Fresh

DO: Check out the idea list halfway through article. Give to organizations, start using your social channels for advocacy, make calls etc. GiveGuide has a great roundup of our local environmental nonprofits to support.

10 Ways To Resist Donald Trump: Activists Share Concrete Actions You Can Take Right Now – There have been so many lists, I know, but still a great reminder of small real things we can do. –via Bitch Media

DO: Pick one thing from the list and do it this next week. This last week I tried to focus on diversifying my media.

Rents are plunging in the most expensive markets – Fascinating article about housing market and the new apartment supply. Average rents are actually decreasing year over year, and landlords are piling on the concessions… “Nearly all of the new supply is high end, and it is pressuring the market from the top down.” “None of the razor-thin capitalization rates landlords used a year ago to bamboozle creditors into lending them money make sense anymore. Vacant units make their plight worse. Creditors are getting nervous. But the renting folk, after having their lifeblood squeezed out of them over the past years, will have the option of moving again a year later, with lots of apartments to choose from – or commence tough negotiations with the landlord – to get a better deal in this new phase of Housing Bubble 2.” –via Business Insider

DO: Here in Portland, average rent for a 2 bedroom has actually decreased 4.7% year over year to $1,620. Have you seen any signs of a “Housing Bubble 2”? Think about how another could impact you and your community.


This Week’s Actions:
 This week, I shared what I’m working on with a few more people, stayed off Facebook (19 days now!), signed up for several “political action” emails and websites, and contacted a few political leaders in Washington.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela via swissmiss

What are you reading and doing this week?

What do we do now? This Week Better – Nov 20, 2016

Take Action, Transportation

Week two. Did you know that the average person spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook (and Instagram)? We spend more time on Facebook per day, than we do reading (19 min), exercising (17 min), and at social events (4 min) combined. Source

That’s almost 6 hours per week of scrolling and tapping through our friends’ lives. As you can see, I’m having a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media this month. I tried to spend more of those six hours doing something – learning, creating, participating, but I also probably spent too long on Twitter. Ha!

What I’m reading this week:

Guerrilla Bike Lanes: San Francisco Makes Illicit Infrastructure Permanent – good reminder that sometimes just taking action gets results from your city. The video at the end will make you grin. –via 99% Invisible

DO: We actually have a lot more power than we sometimes think. Know of a bike lane or pedestrian area that is a safety concern or needs work? Be vocal. Let the city know. Here’s PBOT’s Traffic/Safety reporting form.


In election aftermath, Blumenauer resolute on transportation agenda
– here’s a great interview with Earl Blumenauer, our congressman on his current agenda and the future of “livable communities”. “If we can connect with people on things that matter to them and we can engage activists and advocates, than people can be persuaded to support the things we care about.” –via Bike Portland

DO: Have a conversation with someone about what matters to them from a transportation perspective.


Leaving Women out of Donald Trump’s Cabinet is Not Just Wrong It’s Dangerous
 – Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new prime minister, appointed a 50:50 ratio of male and female to his cabinet. Obama’s was 35% female. Trump’s is currently projected to be less than 10%, the lowest representation since the 1970s. “Group problem-solving abilities significantly improved for mixed-sex groups compared with all-male groups. Duke University researchers similarly found that women reacted to decision-making under stress by making safer, surer decisions, while men reacted by making riskier, go-for-the-big-win choices.” –via Newsweek

DO: Trump’s transition website is asking for you to “Share your ideas” (red link at the bottom of the page). Tell him you want more women and people of color represented in cabinet positions.

Oregon side-note on the above article: On the state and county level my current representatives are 43% female. On the city level, it will be 40% for the new year (city council will be an even split male/female and mayor is male). But, only one person of color, so 8%. Not sure how those stats look on a state level, but that’s the breakdown for my districts living in North Portland.

John Oliver Quote

John Oliver: How did we get to this point? And what do we do now? – “It is going to be too easy for things to start feeling normal, especially if you are someone who is not directly impacted by his actions. Keep reminding yourself ‘THIS IS NOT NORMAL’. 2016 has been the fucking worst”. –via John Oliver

DO: As John Oliver said, donate if you can: Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights, NRDC.org, International Refugee Assistance Project – Refugeerights.org, NAACPLDF.org, thetrevorproject.org, maldef.org will all need help. Give money in the name of your relatives! Support actual journalism: propublica.org etc. Here’s a website that’s cataloging them.


Resist: How Donald Trump Threatens Portland—and Why You Must Fight Back 
– A look at how Portland and Oregon could be impacted in 2017 and beyond with Trump as president and very different national policy decisions. It’s a good start at looking at potential threats and what we can do on a local level. –via Willamette Week 

DO: Read through the list of possible predictions and identify your top 1-2 fears or concerns. How can you help?

 

This Week’s Actions: This week, I donated to a local cause through Give!Guide, shared what I’m working on with a few people, went to my Traffic and Transportation class at PSU, presented my project to the class (I’ll post about it soon), stayed off Facebook (12 days now!), I’m using Twitter to share my thoughts and @-ing political representatives, I also followed all my local reps so I can easily see what they’re putting out on social, and followed a dozen people that are different than me to see a different perspective.

“Good ideas don’t matter if people don’t hear them.” –President Obama

What are you reading and doing this week?