'Defeating the Nazis required more than brave soldiers,' writes Bill McKibben in a new piece published Monday. 'It required a wholesale industrial retooling.'
By Jon Queally, Common Dreams.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Original appeared at CommonDreams.org.
As we head into October and the Strong Towns Oregon tour by president and founder Chuck Marohn, OregonPEN (a principal sponsor of his Salem appearance) continues to highlight the important work and thinking from this superb organization, which helps people all over America get new and important insights into how cities and towns can think better about how to invest their resources so that they build resiliency rather than just debt.
See "Excitement Builds for Strong Towns Oregon Tour" for more. The schedule is Monday, 3 October, in Portland, Tuesday, 4 October, in Independence and Newberg, and on Wednesday, 5 October in Salem.
In anticipation of the Strong Towns tour, OregonPEN this week offers another Strong Towns interview, a June 2016 conversation that occurred in Detroit between Chuck Marohn and Janette Sadik-Khan, a creative and innovative powerhouse who helped New York City rethink the uses of streets. As Sadik-Khan says in the interview It just really underscores that it's not a zero‑sum game between people, and buses, and bike lanes, and cars. It's just about better balancing your streets. They can be used for more than just moving cars.
Chuck Marohn: Hi, everybody. This is Chuck Marohn. Welcome back to the Strong Towns Podcast. We are at CNU24 [Congress for a New Urbanism] here in the Detroit Opera House lobby.
"The hardest thing to see is what's right in front of your nose"
George Orwell neatly summarized one of life's most important struggles in a single, short phrase:
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
In television-marinated America, where a reality show shuck-and-jive con artist can win a major party nomination for the White House, the amount of struggle needed to see reality accurately is magnified by several orders of magnitude.
One of the most interesting examples of that problem is in the rise and conquest of America by the "Big Box" stores, behemoth warehouses of goods that have done more to destroy the middle class than nearly any other social innovation, and yet are held blameless by most Americans for their sins, which are almost entirely unrecognized.
Happily, not entirely though. One of those engaged and often successful in the struggle to see reality is "Strong Towns," led by its free-thinking president and founder Chuck Marohn, who will be touring and speaking in Oregon for three days in early October, with OregonPEN a principal sponsor of his Salem appearances. The schedule is Monday, 3 October, in Portland, Tuesday, 4 October, in Independence and Newberg, and on Wednesday, 5 October in Salem.
Another clear-thinking group is the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, another heroic organization fighting against the tide of unreality and shuck-and-jive consumerism. Stacy Mitchell, of ILSR, is author of the outstanding book, "Big Box Swindle." Mitchell spoke with Chuck Marohn on a podcast interview recently, transcribed below.
The ghostly images are a perfect accompaniment to the theme this week -- even stock graphic image suppliers can't bring themselves to actually show real Big Box "power centers" (as they are known in the trade), so the graphics-seller whitewashes off all the identifying features, which only serves to show how soulless and ubiquitous the actual "Big Box" centers are.
Chuck Marohn: Hi everybody, this is Chuck Marohn with Strong Towns. Welcome back to the Strong Towns podcast. This week is "Big Box Week." We are taking a look at Big Box retail. When we were thinking about this a few weeks back, I said there's nobody that I want to talk to more than Stacy Mitchell. I have her on the line today.
Strong Towns, an iconoclastic nonprofit organization working tirelessly to help people think more clearly about what helps cities and towns prosper and endure, focused on the increasing degree to which poverty in America now is more prevalent in suburban settings than urban ones. As part of its exploration on this subject, Strong Towns recently interviewed Elizabeth Kneebone, a public policy researcher, on the subject. The transcript is below.
Chuck Marohn, president and founder of Strong Towns, has an Oregon tour scheduled for October. Marohn will be appearing and making presentations on Monday, 3 October, in Portland, Tuesday, 4 October, in Independence and Newberg, and on Wednesday, 5 October in Salem. OregonPEN.org is a principal co-sponsor of the Salem appearances and presentations.
Strong Towns (ST): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the “Strong Towns” podcast. This August, we hosted a week of content on our website focused on “Suburban Poverty,” exploring the causes and effects of the suburbanization of poverty in America.
ST: We've talked about the transportation challenges, we've talked about the social service challenges of reaching the suburban poor, what are the other main impacts and challenges that come to mind for suburban poor that you guys discovered through your research?
ST: That reminds me. I did want to ask you about, you mentioned generational poverty. Have you seen or noted the experiences of the elderly who are living in suburban areas? Are there particularly any challenges for them?
David Bragdon's talk to the Portland City Club on Oregon's inability to make mobility improvements
David Bragdon, a former Metro Commissioner, gave some straight talk to the Portland City Club last October. Bragdon correctly observes that funding formulas can turn into straightjackets that only perpetuate dysfunction, which is the case in Oregon today.
What Bragdon failed to point out is that the root cause of the problem is Oregon's century-old Constitutional dedication of gas tax revenue to "highway purposes" only. This foolish commitment of revenue to serve only one form of travel creates a "Sorcerer's Apprentice" problem in the United States that has led to dominance of the automobile and the destruction of much of what made American cities productive and wealthy. It's not enough to fix funding allocation models if the ultimate use of the funding is still restricted because of how it was raised, no matter who spends it,
Oregon's gas tax was the first in the nation; Oregon needs to be first in the nation to abolish the foolish dedication of gas tax revenue to supporting only more of the same paving.