Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama Pattern Language Primer

I first read Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction" in the late seventies. Having grown up in the sixties, and after my early experiements in community, College and Graduate School, I wanted something real with new age sensibility. Rather than join a commune, I wanted to build one along with others of like mind. We bought 110 acres of beutiful Texas farmland north of Austin and all read this well conceived guide to building "as if people mattered." Like all such experiements, it was local zoning and building codes that ruined us, and we eventually sold the farm to a local farmer who wanted nothing more than to farm.

That book stayed with me, however, and served as guide to all built things, from houses to cities. Stephen Rose recently posted the following series at, a primer for President Obama. Alexander talks about a "timeless language" and so, now, that is needed as guide on rebuilding our entire world, not only as if people mattered, but all of life.
Getting people to understand this alternative to metrosprawl is a Promethean task. Getting the Obama administration to understand why this widely ignored and buried thinking is the essential missing link in all the talk of “economic” recovery is utterly necessary if we are to have change that will actually work for everyone.

See the brief at and then read in sequence:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four,, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Joe O'Brien announces he's entering the race for Mayor

Check out his post at Joe I'm sure will invigorate the race for Mayor and provide some much needed contrast on the issues facing the city. Good luck, Joe.

Speaking about the upcoming election, seems we're going to have a crowded field again, making the job of the electorate (that's us) all that more difficult. Check out the Worcester CEO project at - Coalition for Educated Options, to "help empower the electorate" and "reverse the decline in civic participation." They want to act as a community broker for questions of the candidates, and are making that easy to do.

I've got one question that will put the candidates to a real test. Question: How has the City used ARRA funding to create jobs here in the City? Please be specific and include examples. How would you have used the funds differently?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A New Economy

I recommend reading Robert Reich's blog, frequently. He's a former secretary of labor, tenured academic economist, and well regarding author. He blogs at Why? Because we all need some serious new guidance on the economy, and the actions we must take to survive (forget about thriving.) Reich is, along with past recommendations to look at the work of The E.F.Shumacher Society (, what we must understand as a Guru on economics ("as if people mattered".)
My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can't get back on track because the track we were on for years -- featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere -- simply cannot be sustained.

The X marks a brand new track -- a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can't "recover" because it can't go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin. More on this to come.

So, in a nutshell, the economy we grew up with is gonzo and there's nothing, yet, to replace it. Fortunately, "we the people" are, and always have been, in control of the emergent economy. That's by virtue of our choices, of what to buy and do to make our wages. That, of course is what ACES is all about ... see below. ACES, as it happened, must be considered more a green jobs bill than a Global Warming Solutions Act. It is in essence, what Krugman and others are calling for, as a "second stimulus" package. It is much more specific, however, in where the money goes.

ARRA was more about immediate recovery, getting the money out quickly, mostly to preserve state & local government ability to retain its local labor force. ACES, on the other hand, is more about the right recovery, no matter how long it takes. Money for cleantech and the new economy that Van Jones has consistently called for. In case you hadn't noticed, Van Jones got what he asked for in ACES, so did Congressman McGovern (as follows).

So, you ask, ACES was a good thing? Well, no. Because it was really supposed to be a national Global Warming Solutions Act, meaning a significant lowering of CO2 emissions. It won't do that in time, and we'll likely pass the climate tipping point, and end with catastrophic climate change. Start building those life boats.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Congressman McGovern on ACES June 26th

Congressman McGovern provided support in the Rules Committee for passage in the House of the American Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009. It is important for those of us working for a Senate version which is more likely of averting catastrophic climate change, to understand why:

The article mentioned by Ken Hackett, Ppresident of Catholic Relief Services, can be found here:
Combat hunger by investing in agricultural development

Some key points:

  • as the co-chair of the congressional hunger caucus, is particularly concerned with the impacts of climate change upon the hungriest in the world

  • portion of the allowances to international adaptation financing, funding to help poor save their farm lands, sources of water and homes

  • funding for domestic and international adaptation in clean technology transfer - will spur a boom in jobs, such as irrigation technology, can create jobs here while solving problems abroad

  • will be investing in sustainable agriculture culture and practices

  • a moral imperative to be good stewards of this earth

  • as we look toward the negotiations in copenhagen, the world is looking for leadership from the united states for global solutions - devoting portions of a cap and trade system to adaptation to those countries' most vulnerable is a sign that the u.s. can and will combat climate change