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Cascade Bicycle Club, a leader in creating more livable communities through bicycle education, advocacy, events and commuting and riding programs, announces that Wednesday, April 1, 2009 is “Jurassic Petroleum” Drive to Work Day.

Cascade Bicycle Club invites regular non-drivers to join millions of car commuters for “Jurassic Petroleum” Drive to Work Day. While almost two thirds of Americans drive, 37 percent are pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and can’t or don’t get behind the wheel each day.

In the state of Washington, over two million people do not participate in the act of driving an automobile. Alarmingly, this number may be increasing. The INRIX National Traffic Scorecard showed a three percent decline in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2008 from 2007. This resulted in a reduction of road congestion by 30 percent, meaning that our citizens spend much less time in their vehicles. Increases in the number of people who walk, bicycle and ride transit are contributing to a decline in driving that, if continued, would one day make cars scarce on our roads. Our citizens, as well, may shrink in size and become gradually healthier. Something must be done to curb excessive fitness, as increased life expectancies would further tax our broken Social Security system.

Cascade Bicycle Club would like to ask Americans to renew their commitment to driving by leaving their bus passes or bicycles at home. If the cost of parking or gas is a burden, employees may request that their employers help offset those costs by participating in Jurassic Petroleum’s Drive to Work Day.

For media inquiries or more information, click here.

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Great City (formerly Seattle Great City Initiative) is hiring a new Executive Director. As you may have heard, Michael McGinn, Great City’s founding ED, has decided to run for Mayor this year. We wish him well, but the work of Great City must go on.

About Great City

Great City’s mission is to bring together all members of the community — conservationists, neighborhood advocates, and business people — to listen and learn about obstacles and opportunities, and above all, work to implement pragmatic solutions to realize our common vision. Our effectiveness hinges on our ability to engage diverse communities, and to transcend political and social barriers in order to achieve a common cause.

Great City recently fledged from under the wings of the Cascade Land Conservancy’s Cascade Agenda program and is now an independent 501(c)(3) organization. We also invite you to review our strategic plan to see where we intend to move in the future.

Great City has always been a place where people of differing backgrounds come together to find the areas of common purpose and to work toward those ends. In working together, we have been able to create significant results including:

About the Executive Director

While there are a number of skills that are desirable in a Great City ED, the following qualities are requirements:

  • Ability to work with neighborhood, business and environmental leaders
  • A belief in the power of people working together to achieve common goals
  • A desire to make Seattle a model of economic and environmental sustainability

The right candidate for our new Executive Director will have the right combination of the following skills:

  • Leadership experience and the ability to inspire action
  • Non-profit management experience:
    • multiple programs;
    • personnel;
    • Grants
    • budget ($100K+)
  • Fundraising experience including grant writing
  • Campaign experience including familiarity with Web 2.0 tools and organizing techniques
  • Proven ability to be a clear, effective written and verbal communicator
  • Experience working with and lobbying elected officials including an understanding the legal parameters of a 501(c)(3)

Compensation rates and work schedules are flexible and will be discussed with the Executive Committee as the hiring process moves forward.

Please email your resume, cover letter, and references to Great City c/o Allison Burson at the following address: allison.burson@greatcity.org.

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via Inhabit

What are you making?

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Last week at the National Bike Summit, Rep. James Oberstar (head of the House Transportation Committee and a bicycle commuter) pledged to bring us nationally to “Copenhagen levels of bicycling.”  In case your only Danish points of reference are pastries and large blue cookie tins, half of Copenhageners commute by bike.  While this may be an unrealistic goal in the US, there’s low-hanging fruit in our large cities.

Localities often have the ingenuity and flexibility to drive change, and more metropolitan areas are recognizing positive impacts of bicyling on the road and for public health.  The majority of trips we make nationwide are less than three miles, so encouraging bicycle transportation for commuting and short trips through the day is a no-brainer.

Summit attendees agreed that much can be learned from each city’s strengths, though all have at least one blind spot.  New York is striping lanes at a breakneck pace and even closing part of Broadway to cars!  But they don’t have enough bike racks to accommodate hordes of new bicyclists, while Chicago is a leader in providing bike parking.  Coordinated data will soon reveal where better facilities, and innovative safety and eduction programs, are getting more cyclists on the road.

What’s keeping more people from riding more often in Seattle?  Is it safety concerns, the weather or simply the distances needed to be travelled? Add your feedback to the 2009 Report Card on Bicyling by taking Cascade Bicycle Club’s survey here.

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Noted demographer Richard Florida has taken a look at what American
cities and “mega-regions” will rebound from our nation’s great
recession – and which won’t survive.  Check out his ideas in the March
Atlantic Monthly.

Florida looks at the ways that high tech cities, America’s magnets for
educated, skilled people, will adjust to the new economy that will
emerge from the deep recession.

“Now we need a ‘new spatial fix for the next chapter of American
economic history.’ That fix will be high-quality, dense urban spaces in
the elite mega-regions, places where ideas and innovation can most
efficiently percolate much like what were seeing take shape in
(Seattle’s) South Lake Union.”

Seattle Times business columnist John Talton and Florida argue that
Seattle needs to be more attractive and affordable for all of Americas
classes, not just the upper crust.  Urban centers must have
economically diverse populations.
Florida doesn’t believe that
suburbia goes away, but that it must be retrofitted with its own urban
centers, just as Seattle is doing.

However Talton and Florida agree that it will be “a hard sell to an
America accustomed to the age of the automobile and the illusion of
endless, wide-open spaces.“

As they predict, key improvements to Seattle’s emerging urban centers
beyond downtown continue to be denounced by an unlikely combination of
neighborhood folks and poverty activists.

A short piece in early March by John V. Fox of the Seattle Displacement
Coalition dismissed the Mercer East street improvements as a gift to
South Lake Union Urban Center developer Paul Allen – and presumably to
the other developers in the revitalizing South Lake Union.

Fox’s Seattle Displacement Coalition has also secured the gutting and
subsequent failure of the bills in the State Legislature’s current
session that would require some density around mass transit stations.

He claims that such redevelopment would displace low-cost housing
tenants.  But the bills designated stringent goals for the inclusion of
low-cost and subsidized housing in denser redevelopment around light
rail stations.  Erica Barnett in the Stranger wrote about the
irrationality of Fox’s position on transit station density.

Times writer Talton feels that successful urban centers are key to our
city’s economic future.  Florida predicts in his At
lantic piece that
the re-set of the American economy will shape cities like Seattle which
Florida includes in his short list of “elite mega-regions.”

But Talton warns, “Even many people in blue-and-green Western
Washington may have a hard time with Florida’s ultimate conclusion:
that the spread-out, suburbanizing trends of the past 60 years have not
only run their course, but played a major role in distorting the
economy and fueling this recession.”

John Coney

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Originally posted on Facebook

After spending a lot of time in 2008 watching local land use debates and discussions I found myself feeling more than a little frustrated. Where was all this going? Council discussions seemed to lack focus on a broader agenda for the city. That agenda could be the Comprehensive Plan but that document has become a repository for ‘good ideas’ and political statements. One would often hear “sure put it in the Comp Plan; it doesn’t mean we actually have to do it.”

But what if someone asked me “what should our larger focus be, Roger?” I felt as though I needed to at least think through my answer. At the time it seemed to me that it all came down to making the city affordable to a wide range of people, supporting a self-sufficient and sustainable city and making the city livable.

So I proposed that we create a series based on these three ideas and solicit people’s best and most succinct thoughts on each topic. The Affordability, Sustainability, Livability series was born. Thanks to Shawna at the DJC we were on our way to at least sparking some discussion about the bigger picture. Seattle is missing a determined effort define what we want and measure our progress toward getting it–whatever it is.

That is why the whole series ends up being about definition and measurement. My experience thus far is there isn’t much enthusiasm out there for defining and measuring anything. Defining and measuring doesn’t make for great campaign slogans.”Vote for me and I will work to get us a clear idea of how far we have to go to effectively address the issues we face as a city!” Not exactly “I Like Ike!”

Unfortunately discussion on zoning, for example, tends to fall along party lines, not Democrat or Republican, but various interest groups claiming they will lose if certain legislation passes. Whether its a parking lot in Capitol Hill or incentive zoning its always a scrimmage between the developer who needs to get the project moving, the local neighborhood and parties on either side that see this particular project as representative of “what’s wrong with Seattle.”

If this does not substantially change our city will not be able to make progress on addressing big issues like the viaduct, climate change and the health of Puget Sound. And our city simply cannot prepare for coming growth amid such economic turmoil by having a house to house fight (see Edith Macefield) on issues like land use and housing. It will simply be a case of Bambi Meets Godzilla. We will be crushed by events and we’ll just have to live with whatever happens to our natural and built environment and our economy.

I hope that doesn’t happen.

If you have thoughts on livability (50 words) please submit to them to Shawna (shawnag@djc.com) by Thursday of this week. It would be great to have you and others you know weigh in.

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Did you miss the Streets for People forum?  Never fear because David Albright recorded it for SeattleIAM.com

Check it out:
Streets for People Forum Kickoff Video

http://www.seattleiam.com/videos/e663bb77ed46

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From our friends at Stewardship Partners:

“As you may know, Stewardship Partners is promoting Low Impact Development (LID) practices to the building community throughout central Puget Sound as a means to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and protect fish and wildlife habitat.  Our current focus is a series of rain garden design and construction workshops for homeowners, facility managers, landscapers and the general public.  Rain gardens are an effective method for infiltrating stormwater while also enhancing habitat and beautifying the landscape.

As part of our Rain Garden Project, we have obtained funding to install six demonstration rain gardens around King County. We are currently seeking potential sites for the installations to take place.  Criteria include: adequate area for the rain garden (approx. 600 square feet), proximity to a building or other impervious surface that could drain into the rain garden, visible site with public interface, willingness to participate in basic maintenance after initial 2 years, and educational mission and/or interest of the host (optional).  Potential recipients may include schools or universities, corporate campuses, public buildings, libraries, parks, or private residences. The recipient will not incur any costs for the installation.

If you have suggestions for potential host sites, please forward that to us (preferably with contact information). We will be making selections over the course of the next several weeks.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Larry Nussbaum
Program Director
Stewardship Partners
1411 Fourth Ave., Suite 1425
Seattle, WA 98101
ph: 206-292-9875
www.stewardshippartners.org

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Richard Florida author of The Rise of the Creative Class has a great article in the Atlantic Monthly about “How the Crash will Reshape America”  check it out for Florida’s predictions about how American Cities, housing, and economic centers will shift.  See below for a pdf of the article.

how-the-crash-will-reshape-america-r-florida-atlantic3-09

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It’s here!  The Mayor’s office has released a 277 page document proposing updates to Seattle’s vintage 80′s multi-family zoning code.  From the overview, it looks to be a tiny, wobbly baby step in the right direction. However, its general focus seems to be on maintaining  Seattle’s commitment to unsustainable, traffic-generating, climate-destabilizing exclusionary zoning.   If global warming is a house on fire, the Mayor is proposing that we dribble some lukewarm beer on it.  Which, I suppose, is better than ignoring it.

The steps in the right direction:

  • Reduction in parking requirements;
  • Acknowledgment that people may want to live near transit hubs;
  • Floor Area Ratios instead of footprint controls in L3 zones, plus additional floor bonuses in Station Areas;
  • Substantial height bonuses for “affordable” high-rise housing on First Hill

Over the next few months, Sally Clark’s Land Use Committee will be working on this. While the update doesn’t look like it will do much to improve Seattle, it probably won’t do much harm. Unless you think missing an opportunity to mitigate traffic, sprawl, and climate destabilization is harmful.

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What role should social networking tools play with regard to government?  One obvious use is as a tool to organize individuals to lobby elected officials, e.g. Facebook Cause pages.  Another is to organize individuals into communities to take action  — as parks advocates did with the Seattle Parks For All levy.  But there is the opportunity for online networks to deliver something potentially more meaningful  –  real and rich  conversations between government employees and citizens.

With the launch of the my.greatcity.org community website, we have our own little experiment going on regarding citizen interaction with government.  Specifically, the city’s online invitation to Seattle residents to participate in shaping Seattle’s Summer Streets events, which closes streets to automobiles and opens them up to alternative uses.  Not earth-shattering, but definitely an evolution from the typical government website which pushes information out, but does not encourage dialogue.   Another example is the request for volunteers for the first Summer Streets event in Greenwood. I posted some information from a recent Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group meeting that I thought might spur discussion.  And our green infrastructure campaign has pulled in observers from city government.

These are, at best, toes dipped into the water of online interaction between government and residents.  We have created a place where government employees and residents can talk, if they choose.  But the promise appears so much greater.  Can government jump into the Web 2.0 pool and use it to deliver better government services?  We have some pretty powerful examples in Wikipedia, Linux, and YouTube creating an encyclopedia, a computer operating system and a massive media catalog by harnessing the power of the crowd.

It turns out that thousands of government employees from around the nation are asking themselves the same question on the social networking site GovLoop.com.  How can government go Web 2.0?

Seems to me that tech-friendly Seattle could lead the way.  The barrier, of course, is not technology.  It is about taking a risk and engaging new ways of communicating.

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photo: Chris Jordan

photo: Chris Jordan

The City of Seattle has announced a revamping of its recycling program starting March 30th. The goal is to make the process simpler and increase the number of individuals who recycle, reducing the amount of garbage to be processed. The new program will allow residents and businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle more than ever before.

The biggest changes are the ability to combine glass, paper, plastic and aluminum all into the same bin rather than separating. Now you can also recycle additional paper, plastic and metal items including plastic cups, deli trays, aluminum foil and plastic plant pots. In the yard-waste bins you will now be able to toss food waste that will be composted rather than thrown away. The yard waste bin will be picked up every week to keep food odors to a minimum.

These changes are possible due to Seattle’s new recycling contract with Rabanco, who will process, sort and market the recyclable materials. The Rabanco Recycling Center is the largest on the West Coast. The combination of the recently added high tech recycling equipment and 40 additional sorters allows more volume and higher quality sorting.

Read the full story at TheGreenNW

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The Danish seem to have it figured out…

They have one of the highest bike ridership in the world and they do it in style. More than 36 percent of all Copenhagen commuters arrive on bikes, as cycling has clearly become a way of life there. The city is currently planning and implementing infrastructure improvements to increase bicycling commuter use to 50 percent by 2015. Currently over 60 percent of Copenhagen’s residents use their bike every day and 85 percent own a bike creating a diverse bike culture.

The Livable Copenhagen study shows how flexible streets-capes have encouraged pedestrian and bicycle use while enhancing urban life. Employing blue painted bike lanes and set back car stop zones are examples of the creative strategies used to improve safety and draw awareness to the presence of the bicycling community. Other innovative ideas include setting the traffic lights to the average speed of bicycle commuters and buses which happens to be the same 20km per hour….commonly revered to as the “green wave“. Cophenhagen has 15km of cycle lanes, 350km of cycle tracks and are building another 115km of green cycle tracks that supplement the existing network. Programs like the City Bike allows users to make a small coin deposit, use the bike for the day and simply return the bike to a City Bike rack and the deposit is returned. With such a friendly environment for cyclists and pedestrians it does not make sense to drive a vehicle in the city unless a unique situation requires it.

In my home town of Seattle the Bicycle Master Plan has been adopted to create the most bike friendly city in the nation. Seattle’s plan calls for 118 miles of bike lanes and 19 miles of dedicated trails, with a goal to triple ridership. Seattle is taking examples from cities like Copenhagen to compete with its neighbor city of Portland that has a booming bike culture and higher ridership.

Read the full story at TheGreenNW

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Cheesecake, over at CHS wondered what would happen if Pike St. on Capitol Hill were a little more like La Rambla in Barcelona. The result is wonderful:

If you’re interested in making this a reality, join the new Capitol Hill Streets for People group at the Seattle Network.

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Here is a great posting and video on Seattle’s Bus Chick.  Thanks to a website we love, www.streetfilms.org.

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