The Eleven September 2019

The Eleven – September 2019

Creek near Carson, WA
Greetings!
I hope you’ve been having a great Summer. If this is your first time here, welcome! I’ve been writing this newsletter, The Eleven, since 2008 – that’s right, 11 years! How time flies 🙂 This month I want to share with you some thinking I’ve been doing about world/neighborhood change – the concept is basically issues vs. candidates.
There are many ways to effect change in our world, and boy does it need changing. From logging old-growth forests in the PNW to climate change we have our work cut out for us. There seems to be mostly one path towards change that is encouraged in our society and that is getting behind a candidate or political party. If that’s exciting to you – by all means – I do think it’s valuable service – especially voter registration and voting! And, the type of work that is involved in politics is not for everyone. It can often be confrontational – and I think the biggest problem might be our inability to get behind leaders. Leaders are people and people are fallible. We want perfection in our leaders and it’s just not going to happen. So, we get stuck trying to get behind Warren, Sanders, Harris, or a local leader and then feel disillusioned when their humanness is revealed. For some, it’s no matter, and they’ll keep on fighting for their candidate(s). For others, though, there seems nowhere else to go where one can make a difference. I think issues are a great place for many people to put their energy.
The Case Against Leaf Blowers by Singer
I’m going to use an example that I’ve been working on for the past year. Eliminating gas-powered leaf blowers (GLBs). If you’d like to receive news on this topic, click here .
About a year ago I met Michael Hall at a candidate meet and greet for Joanne Hardesty who was running for Portland City Council (she won!). Michael had just written an article I’d read about gas-powered leaf blowers and raised the issue in this meeting. That led to our meeting and Michael invited me to join a group of people who meet at his house every 2 weeks to discuss what we can do to eliminate GLBs in Portland and beyond.
There are a lot of interesting aspects of meeting together as a group (home-made baked goods being one of them!). There is a lot of warmth, shared vision, a chance for group members to shine, successes, challenges – just like with a candidate running for office. The difference is that if one stays with the issue there’s a real chance that something can be changed. Long-time readers of this newsletter know that I’ve been involved in societal change for most of my adult life.
How to use Nextdoor.com to effect Neighborhood Change

I posted an article about my love of Nextdoor.com and why it’s useful a few years ago. Since then, my thinking about nextdoor.com has changed and grown. I see Nextdoor as a much more powerful tool for neighborhood change than I did in the past.

Read more
albertideation.com

Working on an issue rather than via a candidate or party really is a completely different thing. Here are some issues I’ve been working on at the neighborhood level. There is something about working with a small group, too. So, if any of this has resonated with you and you have room and interest in your life to make a difference at some level in society, pick an issue and see what you can do. If you’d like to discuss which issue might make the most sense for you to get involved in, please write me and let’s talk.
On a personal level I’ve been doing a bunch of yoga lately. I got to visit Breitenbush for 3 days last week, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. Last weekend I attended Epic Jam #2 in Carson, WA ( pic @ top ) – and got in some great playing with some of my favorite musicians. This week I get to hear one of my musical heroes – Martyn Joseph, of Wales, perform in a house concert and Dave Bromberg on Saturday! Btw, I didn’t make it to Burning Man this year – though after attending so many years sometimes it feels like I’m there while the event is going on 🙂
Here comes Fall. I hope life is treating you super fine.
Keep in touch and let me know how things are going.
Sincerely,
Albert
PS – If you want to keep up with politics I’ve found an interesting channel. Robert Hubbell of LA writes an interesting newsletter 5x a week and I’ve been very inspired by it. For instance, he encouraged people to put http://vote.gov in their email signature lines with this note:
Visit Vote.gov to register to vote and to learn about voting requirements in your state. Tell a friend.
If you write Robert @ rbhubbell@gmail.com and ask to subscribe, you’ll be subscribed to his newsletter. Like mine, you can hop off at any time.
Albert @ Beloved 2019 by Carlton Ward

Defeating Climate Change by Dismantling World Economies

Climate Change

Climate Change

I’ve been working on a campaign to rid my City, Portland, Oregon of gas-powered leaf blowers. This seems like low-hanging fruit in our fight to stop climate change. DC just banned them, so I figure we can do the same. While I’m working on this it got me to thinking what other simple changes could we make that would have a great impact on our climate.

For a long time I’ve had a few ideas that I think would make society simpler and in case #2 reduce commute times. The first is “Where does this dirt go?” The idea is that there is a centralized database that could track when dirt is being dug and moved — which could connect those who have dirt/fill with those who need it — rather than what currently seems to happen — dirt is dug, and then moved to a pile in the sub or ex-urbs and then brought back in via dump trucks. The 2nd idea is also database driven and has people who do exchangeable jobs switch with others to move their jobs closer to their homes. Ie, I am a 3rd grade teacher who drives an hour each day to my school — instead I switch with another 3rd grade teacher so that both of our commutes shorten — this might involve many people switching.

But really on a larger scale, a great way for us to combat climate change will be to pretty much shut down our current economy. I’m in the US, but other countries would probably benefit from this action, too. Our current economy is pretty new and does not have to be the way things are — it just is. So, what do I mean by shut down the economy?  Basically, everything that is not necessary to peoples’ lives should stop being produced. Especially, anything that has to do with war or killing (speaking of low-hanging fruit). Yes, many jobs will disappear and the transition will both take time and be a challenge to all of us. And, the other choice is cooking ourselves to death and moving towards a planet that is uninhabitable. So, please hear me out and possibly suggest ideas that could shape this into an actual policy.

Here’s further what I have in mind: the complete localization of everything. I wander my neighborhood in SE Portland and imagine a future where more people are at home — spending time with their kids; learning french and the piano. Imagine a life like that lived by Bill Murray in Groundhog Day — where we’re spending our precious lives learning, playing, cooking food together and being in community with one another. Doesn’t that sound more appetizing than commuting to a cubicle and spending 40+ hours a week working, anyway?  It does to me. I think it does to a lot of people.

So, what would go? Well, war-related everything. Health insurance companies seem unnecessary — I could see the US copying Germany’s version of healthcare. The production of a lot of stuff — I’m sure there’s some way to figure out together what’s useful and what’s not? And then for those jobs that are necessary, we share them.  The stock market and the way companies progress by driving up share prices for shareholders obviously needs to change. That’s leading to the using up of our natural resources — I’m watching as Oregon forests get chopped down for toilet paper and phone books by out of state investment companies looking to make a quick buck. These trees are the planets lungs — there should be an immediate moratorium on cutting trees, worldwide and planting as many as possible.

And, as quickly as possible we should all be moving towards solar and wind-powered everything. Wow, there’s a lot to think about here.  The gist is — how quickly can we transition away from our current way of doing things to something that looks more local, village-like, less resource-intensive, and less fossil-fuel based.  While we reduce our human population.

Last word on that idea: there’s a lot of talk about “replacement level” population growth. Why on God’s earth would we want to be at replacement level? Why is that seen as a good thing? The US with 320 million people is crowded. Forget replacement level — shrinking could be a great thing for all of us.

Further thought is needed on a lot of this. And, my a-ha moment about changing how we do things seemed valuable enough that I wanted to share it. Let me know if you have something to add. Thanks. For a better world, Albert Kaufman

PS – this article was also shared on Daily Kos – if you’d like to read some interesting comments check it out.

4.7.19 – this books looks like a good guide. How to Do Nothing

Why Do We Hurt Ourselves and Each Other?

Leave the Leaves by DKG GraphicsWhy?

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make my neighborhood and world a better place to live.  Sometimes I’m focused on climate change issue – big ticket items like population growth or stopping clear-cutting. But much of the time I think about how to make change happen on the local level. After years of planting trees; talking to neighbors about planting more trees and trying to figure out how to encourage more quiet and dark (less noisy things like amped up motorcycles; leaf blowers; car alarms and better outdoor lighting) – I’m coming up against something that’s confusing me. Knowing that some of our actions are going to harm ourselves and others why do we keep doing them?  Here are a couple examples.

Gas-powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn and garden tools. AGZA

The above graphic from AGZA (American Green Zone Alliance) really spells out the problems and solutions in this area.  Given that we’ve known for years how polluting and noisy gas-powered leaf blowers are (one example) why do we continue to allow their use? And this is often something we do to ourselves. The person using the device is probably facing the most harm. Whether it’s a worker who uses a leaf-blower repeatedly, or someone using one once a year – in either case – that person is putting themselves at a health risk that is unnecessary. Join a group working on this issue.

Here’s an example from the noise department. Using one’s car fob to lock a vehicle – setting off the horn. At first this probably seemed convenient – but I hope that most people agree that it’s actually a nuisance and should never have been allowed to be developed by car companies. Most cars and trucks can be adjusted to stop this from happening. Hearing a car horn go off is usually a warning sound which used to be used by vehicle operators to indicate to others that there is some kind of emergency happening. Though the sound of a car horn going off is a nuisance for people in the vicinity – the person most harmed by the noise is the person closest to the sound. I’ve written about the dangers of losing one’s hearing before, here. If you love hearing music, let’s say – figure out how to dismantle this system for yourself. And, again, the question I posed at the opening – why, if we know that a system is harming our health, do we let it persist?

From the lighting department. The City of Portland is often an early adopter. We chose to switch to LED street lights a few years back but in our excitement chose lights that are too bright and glaring.  These new lamps make everything much too bright and make walking around at night less pleasurable than it used to be. They also make driving more hazardous as the lights also blind drivers. Why, when we know there’s an issue with these lamps didn’t we stop installing them once it became obvious they were too bright? And why do we keep them installed when there are better choices. This is true for residential lighting, as well.  If you walk outside of your house at night and can’t look at the lighting of your house for more than 10 seconds then please consider replacing the bulbs and/or fixtures you have to improve the experience for your neighbors. And, for yourself – because who is likely going to be seeing the lighting on your house most?  You.

Living in a quieter and darker place is good for all living creatures. Keeping all of our tree canopy standing which provides our oxygen would also be something we could do to make our lives better.  I love to think about my neighborhood and how our lives can be improved. I believe by paying attention to the ways we’re hurting ourselves and others and making changes to our behavior we’ll create a healthier and happier environment. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to see more stars one day.

For a better world, Albert Kaufman, 3.5.19

AGZA

Join My Newsletter
to receive my marketing checklist. Click here to discover what's further downriver (other news) 
Sign Me Up!
Not right now...
close-link