Spring Cleaning

 

It was time to do a little Spring Cleaning on the blog and I’ve re-launched the blog. Happy February!

There are a few new features on the latest version of edwardjensen.net that you should know. First, page organization is handled a little differently. I’m beginning to focus on three key areas: bicycling, downtown Phoenix, and technology. Those key areas are in the header bar above. You can also find my current biography (under biography) and the latest posts (under blog).

Over on the right-hand side are other links to other resources that I’ve found useful online and to my various profiles on various networks. Find and follow me there.

There might be a few hiccups along the way. In exchange for that, I’m going to be introducing some new features. Bear with me…and we’ll all win.

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!

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.