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Yesterday, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) released their budget request in which funding for safe routes to school, bike boulevards, and other bike/walking projects were cut or went unfunded.

Below is my letter to the Mayor and Commissioners. Please call or email them and let them know about your transportation priorities.

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After a year of collaborative work, the Mt Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group had the opportunity yesterday (12/17/08) to present our proposal to Portland City Council cocerning our plan for updating the central maintenance facilities and nursery.  Much has been written about this process – a lot that is available on this blog (specifically in my Master’s thesis project for Portland State University), so I need not rehash many of those issues. But there are two things about yesterday that I feel that I need to point out.

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This is just a blog – just one man howling in a sea of wolves (in all the wolf forms – patriarch, matriarch, pups, etc. – all that is beautiful about wolves). And I’m not even howling – just pointing towards the obvious in a time where the obvious makes the MOST sense, but no one considers it.

Dear Mr. Mayor Elect Adams… From your communique:

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Members of the MTCY&NPG meet with Susan McKenney from the Bureau of Development Services.

Members of the MTCY&NPG meet with Susan McKinney, Supervising Planner for the Bureau of Development Services.

I was able to participate in the meeting with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) yesterday, September 10, to discuss whether or not the construction of a new maintenance yard and nursery is “accessory” or “non-conforming” use.  There was much back on forth on what the different categorizations mean to this process, so my understanding is only one point of view.  This is what I got out of the conversation and the repercussions for MTCY&NPG:

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One of the first actions I took when I began to question society’s faith in a growth economy and realized the hazards of dwindling natural resources was to switch my transportation method from relying primarily on a vehicle to relying primarily on my bike.  Getting into the habit of jumping on my bike was a welcome solution and I had little trouble with discarding my car… most of the time.  Occasionally, whether the air was a little too crisp, the rain a little too heavy or the desired destination a little too far away for my taste, the convenience of a car won out in the battle of transportation options.  Working and attending school downtown, where parking is at a premium, having a vehicle was not a feasible option.  Having my bike as the only option for transportation transitioned me into having a greater appreciation for two wheels and pedals.

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I received an email request last week from Sam Adams, Portland’s Mayor-Elect, asking for Portlander’s advice on ways our region can capitalize economically by introducing sustainability to China. Adams leaves September 4th for a two-week trip to China hosted by the National League of Cities to discuss green practices and energy efficiency.

“Supporting China in its efforts to become sustainable is not only a moral imperative; it is also an economic opportunity.  One of the goals of the trip will be to place Portland and its businesses in a strategic position to benefit from the ‘greening’ of China,” says Adams. (For text of the entire email, please read It’s Time for Portland to SELL more good and services TO China)

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At our August 8th MTCY&NPG meeting, Greg D. from the Water Bureau was present (his first time at a meeting?… I believe he and Chad T. share a seat on the committee and Chad has often been present) to offer the Water Bureau’s perspective on land ownership of the site and how a re-design would affect them.

Land ownership of Mt. Tabor is complicated and not something I completely understand (does anybody?…) but, in a nut shell, the Water Bureau owns part of the land that the maintenance yard sits upon. If/when the re-design of the yard occurs, the Water Bureau is requesting that they “trade” the piece of land they own for an equivalent piece of land near Mt. Tabor to be used as a staging area for future construction projects on or near Mt. Tabor (e.g. work on the water reservoirs).

A couple of things bother me about their request.

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If you’d like to read further…

Anderson, J. (2004, June 22). Activist’s secret? Words, words, words. The Portland Tribune. Retrieved April 26, 2008 from www.portlandtribune.com

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

City of Portland (1999, June). Maintenance facilities plan: Guidelines for improvement and development. Portland, OR: Portland Parks & Recreation
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Though I have often turned a critical eye on this process, pointing out that the limited amount of time and large number of meetings have strained the nature of collaboration, it is important to point out that the planning group is making successful progress.  The MTCY&NPG is accomplishing everything it has set out to do: committees have formed to delve into research on the various facets of the project, architects have signed contracts for the design process (though we are awaiting final budgets), PPR has opened up conversations with employees outside of the planning group, the greater Portland community has been kept apprised of the headway, and we are meeting our established deadlines.

For all intents and purposes, there is no reason to think that this partnership won’t continue along a successful path.  Read the rest of this entry »

The interactive Internet, coined “Web 2.0” largely as a marketing term by businesses and media pundits in the mid-2000s, takes the passive medium of the Internet (passive for the majority of users without IT departments, servers, graphic designers, etc.) and turns it on its head.  Wikis, blogs, instant messaging, and mail lists are just a few of the tools that are empowering users of all abilities to have two-way conversations with audiences across the globe. 

Tim O’Reilly, one of the first to evangelize the concept of Web 2.0, reflected at the start of the trend that the key lesson of the technology is that “users add value” (2005).  Ian Davis, in his Internet Alchemy blog, asserts, “Web 2.0 is an attitude not a technology” that enables participation not only on open software, but also in an open society (Lin, 2007). 

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