Letters to the Editor

Inspiring event

May 28, 2007

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To the editor:

After attending the recent sustainability forum, I would not only like to thank the organizers for the time and energy they spent in organizing the event, I would also like to put the following points up for consideration to participants and the larger community:

1. How about making this an annual event so we can track our progress toward greater sustainability and discuss new challenges?

2. I liked one woman's comments about how other cultures have practiced sustainability for millennia. How about overtly soliciting an ongoing relationship with other places in a kind of Sustainability Sister City program? Think of all the goodwill we could develop on both ends, something we need now more than ever with our brothers and sisters around the world.

3. Other cities are pursuing sustainability as an organizing principle, too. There are strengths and additional resources when you are not doing things in isolation; let's join forces with other towns and cities in this important endeavor.

4. A piece of any sustainability scenario has to include the rest of life, i.e. the more-than-human species that we share this place with. We need to explicitly plan for our fellow inhabitants if we want them to share a sustainable future with us; indeed we cannot do it without them.

I was inspired and hope that the seeds planted that night will be well watered, take root and continue to be nurtured!

Ken Lassman,

Lawrence

Comments

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Excellent letter and suggestions. Keeping an eye on the city commission is a good idea plus showing up at meetings when sustainable issues are on the agenda. We all need educated and updated even our elected officials.

The Smart Code/Placemaker Group left behind some very good ideas such as narrow streets to slow traffic and a "row house" residential concept not to mention keeping downtown as the core business district. These are green/sustainable concepts in nature.

http://www.greenprintdenver.org/ is a good reference for what could happen here.

  • Green Collar Employment is a key to Sustainability as well:

http://marketplacemoney.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/04/13/green_jobs/?refid=6

http://www.greencollarworks.org/

http://www.dcgreenworks.org/Training/benefits.html

http://www.dcgreenworks.org/Training/home.html

http://www.bioneers.org/node/1414

Green Collar Industries are the wave of the future. Lawrence,Kansas should not waste time in seeking out these industries many of which are quite practical. Early birds get the worms. This commission is going to require a huge amount of input from citizens to move in this direction. The more they hear and receive about such the better.

Green Collar jobs are not unusual jobs they are blue collar and white collar employment!

============================================ Bringing current housing and buildings up to LEED standards = green employment. Energy Star lighting, new windows,doors,insulation,roofing etc etc

Energy Star Appliances are quite helpful. See Stonebacks Applicance in Hillcrest Shopping Center.

Buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions. Green buildings can lower CO2 emmissios by half. Using less energy = less overhead dollars.

http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=298

http://www.usgbc.org/

Nick Yoho 8 years, 1 month ago

Dang my poor organizational skills!!!I wanted to attend that meeting! crud.

pelliott 8 years, 1 month ago

Great letter. It is worth trying, even more worth doing.

Curious 8 years, 1 month ago

Was the meeting "sustainable?" Did they have paper handouts? With ink on it? Were the lights on? Did people drive to the meeting? Did anyone use the bathroom?

I guess I don't understand why row houses are more sustainable? They could be very wasteful depending on who lives in them and how they are built. And downtown as the core business area -- that would mean a lot more driving for those near other shopping areas. And cars idleing looking for a parking space. Or would you fill up the surrounding area with parking garages? Or make everyone take the bus?

I have been in one of the sustainable cultures. We were at church with 500 people and there were three cars in the parking lot. Everyone walked or took the local transportation. But you know what? If the drivers of the local transportation don't pay protection money every day, they are murdered. Sustainable cultures spend many hours of each day walking, gardening, marketing, etc. So, what happens is that each person is not valued by others. They don't accomplish anything more than sustaining their life and the lives of some of their children, which is valuable.

When they come here to study, they are amazed. As one gentleman told me a month ago, "You are able to accomplish things even when the weather is bad -- in the winter. In my country, the weather is the same all the time, and we can't accomplish things."

They can't accomplish anything because the roads become impassable when it rains. People can't ride their bicycles to the local market with their produce so it spoils with no refrigeration. Sure they eat fresh food -- when it is available, otherwise they are hungry.

We went to the medical clinic when my son got sick. We were lucky to be in a town with a clinic and we had a car. Some people travel many days by cart to the nearest clinic.

But they are a wonderful people. There isn't much trash because they don't have anything they don't use again and again. They want a better life. There are no telephone lines to most areas so many of them have cell phones. You see a man pulling a cart made from the axle and bed of a truck and he is talking on his cell phone. We talk about how many times the cell phone has saved us trips to town. I can't imagine how much it is helping them as they go about their daily work.

With communications comes better information. They have two newspapers, the pro government paper and the opposition paper. Everyone buys both -- if they read -- to get a better perspective on the news. With phones comes the ability to talk to more people -- to learn things. To hopefully quell rumors, to hopefully stop some of the pervasive corruption of the courts, the police, the government employees.

With sustainability comes great need. We want to go back -- certainly not that far. We will do what is convenient for us -- someone else has to do the rest, by force? if necessary?

Sigmund 8 years, 1 month ago

Curious, great questions and comments. The unintended consequences (or perhaps intended consequences) of the sustainability movement could severely negatively impact the quality of life of the citizens of this country. And before anyone dumps on the quality of life in America, just how many people sneak across our borders every year to live on the lowest rungs of this society?

I honestly believe that if Saloth Sar was alive today he would be living in Lawrence Kansas leading the Potential Politic Coalition (PPC) and preaching fanatically about a return to the countryside in an attempt to purify Lawrencian's as a step toward a primitivist-agrarian future while denouncing his "bourgeois enemies" on the LJWorld website. Saloth Sar? You may know him as Pol Pot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot

Ken Lassman 8 years, 1 month ago

Curious, Sigmund, I think you both bring up essentially the same point: there needs to be a balance. I honestly think that the Pol Pot fear is somewhat of a straw dog that has no more traction in this town than any other, as I think the true consensus of Lawrencians is one of finding the balance. Advocating for more sustainability is asking for people to change, something that so many of us try to avoid at all costs, which is why the forum was so encouraging to me. Folks were consciously choosing to take the positive high road instead of basing the need on fear-based arguements. This civility and honoring of diversity creates the opportunity where true community consensus can be possible.

I think your homeland, Curious, could still teach us a lot about how to do more with less, just as we in Lawrence could help make your home a better place to live. I don't think it's an either/or scenario. We all have a lot of history from which we can learn from, both about ourselves and from other cultures. A wonderful book I've been reading of late is Jared Diamond's Collapse, which looks at the historical record of a large number of cultures and their response to challenges that threatened the continued existence of their culture. Some made changes that allowed them to continue for millenia, and some didn't and collapsed. It's not a simplistic environmental determinism type of book, either. Lots of food for thought, there. I recommend it to everyone interested in sustainability.

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