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October 25, 2010 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Worldchanging Bright Green Future City - Alex Steffen sits down with the mayors of Portland and Seattle to talk about which is better the 'future city' and the confluence of urbanization, social justice and environmental change, not to mention political pushback amid high unemployment and cultural inertia.
posted by kliuless (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the Bright Green Future City of Portland, bike lanes will be funded from sewer money.
posted by wcfields at 10:02 AM on October 25, 2010


Of course, if those are porous bike lanes, stormwater management costs could decrease over the long run. Replacing impermeable surfaces with permeable ones is a proven stormwater management strategy. The article does not specify whether the city intends on doing so, but that would be a smart and appropriate use of the funds. Not to mention that taking cars off the road by offering more options to an already bike-happy city will also reduce future road maintenance costs and toxic elements in stormwater runoff.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:09 AM on October 25, 2010


We have a $40 million tram in Portland, that takes doctors from their high-rise on the river up to OHSU.

That was a great deal for everybody. Oh, and our Trimet transfers don't get you onto the tram, despite promises that they would.
posted by Sukiari at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2010


More importantly, tribalism and monoculturalist nationalism belong to the past (as do essentialist versions of multiculturalism, in which people are defined by birth into some particular culture). The possibility of sustaining, in any country[3] a majority group (or even a dominant minority) that can be defined homogeneously in terms of race, religion, sexual politics and world-view (all at once) is slipping away fast.

So let me get this straight: people can't be defined by birth into any particular culture, and we can't maintain a majority group which can be defined homogeneously in terms of world-view... but we're all going to be multicultural and social-democratic. There's no such thing as a monolithic culture, yet everyone -- everyone, everywhere, around the entire world -- is going to abandon all of their cultural ideas which "belong to the past", and sign on with one particular world-view. Except "maybe" China and Japan... presumably in the same way that Venus is "maybe" exempt from a rule which states that all planets have a human-breathable atmosphere.

This is wishful thinking in the extreme. Worse, it conveniently ignores the fact that social democracy is a cultural belief, one which is not universally shared... and one which comes from a dominant minority which is, actually, largely homogeneous in terms of race, religion, sexual politics and world-view.
posted by vorfeed at 12:47 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in Seattle, the Bright Green Future City mayor has plenty of money for new bikes lanes and boxes, while his budget cuts mean some libraries will no longer have librarians.

At least in our Brawndo future we can all ride bikes to Starbucks.
posted by dw at 1:20 PM on October 25, 2010


Arlington Virginia is the city of the future (though we are technically a county).
1-We have better coffee and telling us otherwise is really not ok., even with all the Starbucks
2-Walk/bike anywhere
3-Great Public Schools
4-Growth Industry
posted by humanfont at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2010


All coffee is the same. Do you get your beans from "fair trade" brokers, who do not allow the commodity demands to dictate prices? Or do you get yours from people who just buy them on the market.

Reminds me of my beloved friend who thinks there is something called Italian coffee. Here's what Italian or French or Fair Trade coffee is: you get your shit from brown people and crank p the price 100 fold, then you either roast it (or not) and pass it off as your own.

Nobody buys "british" tea, do they? If they do, please let them know I am selling limited edition, fair trade North American Indian dirt at $40 / lb.
posted by Sukiari at 8:02 PM on October 25, 2010


All coffee is the same. Do you get your beans from "fair trade" brokers, who do not allow the commodity demands to dictate prices? Or do you get yours from people who just buy them on the market.

Don't tell Nick, he'll punch you in the dick*

*murky coffee has closed, but Nick is now at Chinatown Coffee in DC.
posted by humanfont at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2010


This is wishful thinking in the extreme.

fwiw, clay shirky in comments put this nicely: "The astonishing thing about humans is that we are willing to believe any emotionally appealing frame for group identity, no matter how little it comports with reality."

but, echoing william lecky, shirky proposes: "There are two groups because there are always two groups: there’s Us, and then there’s Them. The way your project has always succeeded in the past is to expend extraordinary effort to extend, slightly, the ambit of the group contained in Us, and to commit ourselves, at enormous cost and with equally slight results, to treating the remaining Them slightly less abominably."

wishful thinking or no, my bottom line is simply that unless some sort of global consciousness is achieved, we're all doomed to hell in a hand basket... like one way to look at the history of the world is that unless 'we' all stand together, we all fall apart. reality is non-negotiable, as it were, so rather than pie-in-the-sky idealism, i tend to look at it more as just being pragmatic.
posted by kliuless at 9:17 PM on October 25, 2010


wishful thinking or no, my bottom line is simply that unless some sort of global consciousness is achieved, we're all doomed to hell in a hand basket... like one way to look at the history of the world is that unless 'we' all stand together, we all fall apart. reality is non-negotiable, as it were, so rather than pie-in-the-sky idealism, i tend to look at it more as just being pragmatic.

This is like standing in the middle of a flood and declaring that the only way to save everyone is to work together to build an ark. This may even be the unvarnished truth, but it'll never convince anyone who knows how to slap together a raft.

At the bleeding edge of survival, it's pretty obvious which strategy pays off more for any given group: making an "extraordinary effort to extend, slightly, the ambit of the group contained in Us, and to commit ourselves, at enormous cost and with equally slight results, to treating the remaining Them slightly less abominably," or competing with Them to put Us in a better position before We die out. By eliminating this option, you're basically asking all of humanity to play prisoner's dilemma with a cooperate-only strategy... but if we're being pragmatic, then we must admit that someone somewhere is bound to notice that defection pays off. Thus, if "reality is non-negotiable", then we need to admit that the most likely outcome of climate change is a world in which those species and individuals which are lucky, strong, well-adapted, and/or vicious enough to occupy viable areas survive, and everyone else doesn't... just like every other period of climate change which has ever occurred.

In short: we are animals. Animals don't build species-wide arks... and for good reason. Sometimes they sink, or aren't finished before the flood comes. Sometimes the effort of building destroys the builders themselves, leaving an empty ark bobbing on the waves, when all it would have taken to save their species is a hundred thousand leaky little life-rafts. This is why quick, we've all got to put our eggs in one basket! is never going to be a "pragmatic" solution to anything.
posted by vorfeed at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2010


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