Local experts and national author to discuss state of sustainability in metro Phoenix, Jan. 17

Downtown Voices Coalition hosts a sustainability forum featuring local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City” on 17 January 2012

PHOENIX, Arizona – A panel of local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City,” will discuss the current state of sustainability in metropolitan Phoenix at a public forum on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The event, free to the public, will be held at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at 415 E. Grant Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., panel discussion 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., audience Q&A 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and reception with complimentary refreshments 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Panel moderator will be Charles Redman, Arizona State University (ASU) Virginia M. Ullmann professor of Natural History and the Environment and founding director of the ASU School of Sustainability. The current slate of panelists (with two to be added soon) includes:

  • Maria Baier, state land commissioner, Arizona;
  • Steve Betts, former president/CEO of SunCor Development and current Arizona District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute;
  • Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and former Arizona attorney general who now teaches a course at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus: “Phoenix and the Art of Public Decision Making;”
  • Taz Loomans, architect and writer/blogger on sustainability issues;
  • Kris Mayes, former commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission and current director of the ASU Law and Sustainability Program and professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law;
  • Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.
  • Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance, Raza Development Fund

According to Susan Copeland, steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, “Issues of sustainability are paramount to the future of Phoenix. Ross’ book is a great springboard from which to begin, or continue, discussion.”

The Downtown Voices Coalition is sponsoring the event with in-kind support from the Lexington Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Four Peaks Brewery of Tempe and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Bird on Fire” is available at Made Art Boutique, 922 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix and at Changing Hands Bookstore at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. It is also available at Burton Barr, Cesar Chavez and Mesquite Branch libraries in Phoenix.

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown. For more information, visit downtownvoices.org


Why I’m voting for Greg Stanton

…in which I endorse Greg Stanton to be the next Mayor of Phoenix.

As I am sure you have noticed by the endless campaign signs on Phoenix’s streets, there’s a major election on Tuesday, November 8. All Phoenicians will be voting for mayor, and the final two candidates are Greg Stanton, a former city councilman and assistant attorney general, and Wes Gullett, an erstwhile corporate lobbyist.

If you’ve been following my tweets on Twitter or my occasional update on Facebook, you’ll note that I have been emphasizing the importance of getting involved in local issues. Much has been made about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that have spawned regional events around the globe, including in our own city. I’m an ardent believer in the belief that true, honest, and sustainable change begins at home.

We want change to happen. We crave change. Other than a very few people, nobody is content with how things are going. And rather than look at things from the big picture and agonize over how we’ll change things (ultimately settling with the status quo), let’s look here. Let’s look at our own Phoenix.

It’s probably redundant to say that Phoenix has fallen behind in many things over the last decade. We have let side conversations drive our political conversations instead of looking at the major issues. If you read The Arizona Republic‘s endorsement of whom they want to be Phoenix’s next mayor, they identified changing the city’s pension system and revising its employees’ benefits package as the two big issues that will face Phoenix in this decade. And while these are important issues, as you and I know, there are far more important issues that need to be not only addressed but tackled by Phoenix’s next mayor.

In its next decade, Phoenix has to address many issues that are far more important than how the city compensates its employees. Our local leaders have to look at how we can move forward far more sustainably. And I mean absolutely more than just installing solar panels on parking shades: I mean looking at supporting things that can and ought to be sustained. We need to look at expanding and enhancing the region’s public transportation, we need to look at making historic preservation a top priority because “the greenest building is the one already standing,” we need to encourage people-friendly pedestrian development, and we need to develop networks for alternative modes of transportation. My list could go on and on.

These issues aren’t conservative issues nor are they liberal issues. Nor is this race about garbage collection, water rates, or permitting processes. The race is about advancing LOCAL issues like thoughtful investments in our local economy, including education, quality jobs, and smart economic development. We want a leader who will advocate for Phoenix first and use the bully pulpit afforded to the Mayor to challenge and to change this state’s regrettable education policies, missed action on advancing clean energy, and reputation in the nation and around the world.

By the City of Phoenix’s own laws, this election is a nonpartisan race. One can argue how the election has turned extremely partisan. One sees signs about whom “taxpayers support” and what sides the public safety employees support. Or one sees which candidates are being supported by political parties and by political action committees.

For me, although endorsements are nice, it’s not about that. At the end of the day, it is about two things: it’s about the candidate who dreams outside of our community’s collective comfort zone and it’s about the candidate who works with all sides and builds consensus.

If our civic leaders didn’t dream outside of our own collective comfort zone, we would never have seen a strong bioscience presence in downtown or not one but three vibrant colleges and universities in the heart of our city (four of the constituent colleges of Arizona State University, the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and the Phoenix School of Law). If we just looked at numbers, Phoenix would never have blossomed into the city that it is. If we just looked at numbers, there would be no reason to save this city’s history or to build a strong downtown and midtown core. And certainly, if we just looked at numbers, we would never have seen METRO light rail, whose ridership numbers continue setting records.

Also, it is about supporting the candidate who will build consensus and support in the community. It’s about the candidate who will bring all sides to the table in issues like the city budget or how to deal with unions, not just attack them and disenfranchise them because it’s politically expedient to do so.

The candidate that will build consensus in Phoenix, bring all sides to the discussion, and lead Phoenix forward by dreaming outside of our collective comfort zone is Greg Stanton. I encourage you to join me for voting for Mr. Stanton and making Phoenix’s next decade its best decade. Mail-in ballots have been mailed out and voting ends on November 8. For more information, check the City of Phoenix’s Elections website.

Thoughts on 99, 1, 53, and 100

…in which I argue for simplicity as the true answer to “occupying Wall Street.”

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about this whole Occupy Wall Street movement and corporate influence. And I have to agree with the movement that there’s too much influence of big companies in American politics and other institutions that make life possible.

But I think that the problem lies within ourselves. We live in a society of consumption that has, unfortunately, dictated that unless you have the latest and greatest of anything, you’re looked at with a bit of disdain.

(And yes, in writing this, I’m know that I’m a bit of a hypocrite in saying what I’m going to say. I’ve got a new Macintosh notebook and an iPad. Plus I have the requisite accessories for these various devices, like printers, headphones, trackpads, and mice.)

Anyway, I believe it’s a cause-and-effect thing here. We (society as a whole) have purchased so many things from big corporations that these big corporations have gained so much influence in national politics and in the national economy. This is why I’m prepared to argue that we, the people, have only ourselves to blame. In exchange for cheap prices on basic goods and services or the latest and greatest in technology, we’ve purchased from national chains or multi-national technology firms, who in turn have co-opted our interests into their own.

I’m prepared to argue that the best way to occupy Wall Street (or whatever region you so choose to occupy) is to change your habits and not buy everything. And when you buy, buy locally.

Instead of purchasing food from a mega supermarket, there are many great local alternatives. Instead of getting the newest, latest, and greatest iPad or Kindle, use the current one you have. Or, if you must, purchase a refurbished model (which not only is cheaper but better for the environment!). With the December holidays coming up, consider getting your gifts from a local store.

In addition to helping the LOCAL economy, it helps LOCAL interests as well. These businesses are here for the same reasons why you are.

I’m sure I’ve probably lost some of my progressive liberal credit here. I sympathize with the movement and I believe that people rallying around a cause is noble because the First Amendment to the Constitution gives the “right of the people peaceably to assemble.” I also believe that we need to consider some Constitutional amendments to limit the amount of corporate influence in government and politics and overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case.

And the last thing: VOTE. In Phoenix, we have a mayoral election coming up in November. Mail-in ballots have been mailed out and voting ends on November 8. If you’re not informed, get informed. Your vote is your voice, so VOTE!

Park(ing) Day 2011 [edited, more photos!]

Today was just a great day to be alive and in downtown Phoenix. The weather was finally beautiful after an endless summer in the desert! Also, pictures and videos from Park(ing) Day in downtown Phoenix.

[Author’s edit: Check the bottom of this post for a link to my photos.]

Today was just a great day to be alive and in downtown Phoenix. The weather was finally beautiful after an endless summer in the desert!

And this morning was also Park(ing) Day 2011, an annual event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. It forces us to consider public policy and what type of parking is more appropriate in an urban environment: car parking or people parking?

This year, my friend Donna Reiner and I set up and played some piano duets, ranging from absolute beginner to Clementi, Mozart, Diabelli, and Fauré. Even at sight-reading, I thought we were pretty good.

Anyway, some pictures and videos (with more being uploaded throughout the day…check back tonight for more):

Park(ing) Day Phoenix, morning photos

Park(ing) Day Phoenix, morning photos

Park(ing) Day Phoenix, morning photos

Edit, 9:45pm: All of my photos from the day are on my Park(ing) Day 2011 set on Flickr.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence (9/11, ten years on)

I’ve been struggling with how to mark the tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks appropriately. And, I’ve also been struggling with what words to put here in this post.

I’ve been struggling with how to mark the tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks appropriately. And, I’ve also been struggling with what words to put here in this post.

It’s the morning of 11 September 2011 as I’m writing this and having read through the Sunday edition of The New York Times (as well as the local Arizona Republic) and watching very tiny bits of the cable news channels, it’s obvious that this is a big thing. And rightfully so: 9/11 is our generation’s most pivotal day. So much changed (for better and for worse) in the decade since then.

But what is the most appropriate way to reflect, to observe, and to remember the events of that day and those who died–not just on that day but in the wars waged since then in Afghanistan and Iraq?

The title of this post borrows from a Christian hymn (and also from a recent entry on the Episcopalian author Diana Butler Bass‘s blog). And it’s from that post that I have found the words to observe the day:

Silence makes room for remembering. I don’t want to hear patriotic songs, jingoistic speeches, or even well-considered rehearsals of “what happened on that day.” I want to see no pictures of burning towers or flags waving. I wish for empty public space, a communal practice of quiet, to reflect on not only what happened on 9/11 but in the long, sad decade since. For just a brief time, I long for, in the words of an ancient hymn, “all mortal flesh keep silence,” in the face of the fear and trembling that gripped us one September day ten years ago.

My breakup with Google+

It’s not me, Google+, it’s you (or: in which I break up with Google+).

It's not me, Google+, it's you.

I had such high hopes for Google+ when it came out a couple of months ago and when I got my invite to the service. “Finally,” I thought, “a service that’s sort-of like Facebook but completely not evil.” As a technophile, I am completely fine with this. The idea of circles to share content with specific people is absolutely genius. Or hangouts, which are live in-the-browser video chats with our friends. Or editing posts after I’ve posted them (as I’ve done with this post…three times!). There is so much potential here.

But there are times when the point of social media is that social aspect; more specifically, I want to create a conversation and dialogue here. (Ideally, I’d like to take that conversation and move it offline into a face-to-face setting. But that’s just me.) Of those in my circles, the last person posted something here over 36 hours ago. The last person to comment on one of my posts was three days ago. And it’s not that I care or that I demand comments to what I post. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that people are reading, internalizing, reflecting, and acting on what they’ve read.

And it’s that lack of communication here that have caused me to break up with Google+ for the time being. It has such great potential to be something absolutely so amazing but it seems like Google is hampering its development. Where’s our API so we can update G+ or see others’ posts from other applications? Why are you still playing around with Buzz? Where is integration of the “+1” buttons that are starting to dot the Internet? What is your compelling reason to use G+? Are you seeing it as a profile page? Or as a new way in which people can share content with each other?

Anyway, I’m not going away. I’ve started a tumblr blog, “#dtphx musings,” in which I post photos and share content that my friends have posted to their own tumblr blogs. It’s at downtownmusings.com — and I still tweet with great regularity at @edwardjensen.

I am not a robot. I am a unicorn.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to each other.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to (and occasionally insult!) each other.

Thank goodness that IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing computer, had a much nicer disposition. And credit to Crave, CNET’s gadgets blog, for first posting this video.

The Lion roars on my Mac!

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it.

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it. The new iOS-like features are new, and although I’m not sure how to use them now, I’m sure I’ll figure that out later. I’m not sure what to make of the new Dashboard and Mission Control: They’re like Exposé but they’re kind of not like Exposé. Grin.

Screen capture from my Macintosh of OS X LionAll of the programs I had running under Snow Leopard still work well, including MS Office 2011, Firefox, Thunderbird, Spotify, Picasa, Skype, VirtualBox, and Sibelius 6. Connections with my network drive seem to be a touch faster in Lion than in Snow Leopard. I did try the revamped Mail, iCal, and Address Book apps and I still don’t like them. I’ll stick with Thunderbird since that has true Gmail integration. Also, battery life seems to be a hair better, but that’s just based on my gut feeling, not actual science.

If you have a trackpad, you’ll find that the scrolling gesture is different. It’s like that on iOS devices, not traditional trackpad gestures. The default Lion scrolling gesture is counter-intuitive, in my opinion: to scroll down, for instance, you move your two fingers from the bottom to the top of the trackpad. If you don’t like it, it is an easy change in System Preferences but it’s just a bit annoying at first. Also, there are a few new gestures that are enabled by default that take place of some gestures from Snow Leopard. Again, an easy change in System Preferences.

While I wasn’t originally thrilled with the App Store-only delivery of Lion, I was thrilled that one could easily create a recovery DVD based on a disk image hidden within the installer app. To test it out, I actually formatted my Macintosh’s drive and installed Lion from the DVD I created. Also on the recovery DVD is Disk Utility so that’s great. The Lion installer creates a recovery partition on the local disk but I’m not a big fan of on-disk recovery partitions since I have had far too many hard drives fail on me.

The only issue I have discovered thus far is that I have to get Boot Camp to recognize that I have Windows 7 installed on the “BOOTCAMP” partition on my computer. I suspect that if I did an in-place installation of Lion, I wouldn’t be having this issue. If I run the Boot Camp Assistant, it would have me reformat the drive to reinstall Win7. I’ll have to do a bit more digging to see how to get Lion to recognize that partition. Also, because I did a clean install of Lion, I need to install the iLife suite from my Snow Leopard disks. But that’s a trifle since I don’t use iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand.

So there. From those who installed Lion in place over their Snow Leopard installation, the installation was very easy. I took the more difficult route because: 1. I’m Eddie and that’s just what I do, and B. I wanted to start my computer over from scratch just because it had gotten a bit slow.

Phoenix debates land use near light rail stations

The City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

[cross-posted from the Downtown Voices Coalition blog]

Camelback/Central LR station public artThe City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

State law requires cities, towns, and counties to update their general plan every 10 years and this is the first revision of Phoenix’s general plan after the development of METRO light rail.

Phoenix is amending the city’s general plan for land-use planning near light-rail stations and is asking residents for input.

A public meeting to discuss the station at Central Avenue and Camelback Road is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Days Inn, 502 W. Camelback Road.

The general plan is a blueprint that outlines land-use and policy guidelines on how the city should grow and redevelop for decades into the future.

State law requires cities, towns and counties to update the plan every 10 years but legislation the state passed last year extended the deadline to 2015 to give budget-constricted local governments short on planning staff more time to update their general plans.

Attendees will discuss a general range of appropriate building heights for future real-estate redevelopment.

By having stakeholders identify what they want to preserve, promote and will accept in advance, the general plan can better guide future real-estate development.

The meetings are not about property ownership, existing zoning or uses, city officials have said.

Properties along the light-rail route are in a transit-overlay district, which means less space is dedicated for parking due to the proximity to the train.

Read more here.

If you go, the nearest light rail station is 7th Ave/Camelback Road (Melrose District). For more information, call 602.256.5648.