Monday, June 15, 2009

Copenhagen Address

By Abe Lincoln and Andrew Munn

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what our nation does or does not do at Copenhagen. It is for Barack Obama to undertake the unfinished work of climate change mitigation and nobly advance a treaty that will ensure the survival of all nations and peoples.”

On the last day of unproductive climate talks in Bonn, Germany, Abraham Lincoln came to the Hill with a message for President Obama: it’s time to rise to the challenge of the century and solve global warming.

Honest Abe was joined by a group of young climate activist from around the country in calling for President Obama to commit to attend the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December. As Lincoln demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges, so too must President Obama show bold global leadership in halting climate change. By publicly committing to go to Copenhagen, Obama will prove that stopping global warming is truly a priority of his administration.

In the halls of Congress (and outside the Capitol South metro station) Honest Abe delivered his “Copenhagen Address”—a riff off of Lincoln’s most renowned speech tailored to address the crippling lack of US leadership in halting climate change:

“It is often said that global recession precludes the possibility of strong climate mitigation. But, in a larger sense, we cannot back down from this challenge, lest it continues to grow until waters overwhelm out coastal cities, deserts encroach on our fertile plains, and the parched voice of a mother with no water for her child calls to her relative far away, only to find that she has been displaced by floods. In the face of such a future, we have no choice but to demand that our leader, Barack Obama, consecrates the negotiations at Copenhagen with his presence.”

Lincoln drew the attention of hundreds of commuters slowly winding their way out of the metro station, and caused quite a stir outside the Energy & Commerce subcommittee markup before he was asked to leave by the capitol police.

The Copenhagen Address was strategically delivered at a key point during the buildup to Copenhagen, on the last day of the UN climate talks in Bonn. The Bonn negotiations failed to spark the dramatic progress that is necessary to produce a strong international climate treaty in December, and time to make crucial international agreements is quickly running out. Industrialized countries refused to agree to the aggressive emissions reductions in the near-term, and the talks largely stalled as developed countries pushed for even weaker targets. Although Obama’s team has claimed to support a strong treaty, the US failed to take a leadership role at Bonn.

Our message as youth is simple: actions speak louder than words. To prove that the US will truly take the lead in solving climate change, Obama must utilize his global political capital to push all nations toward a scientifically sound, politically aggressive Copenhagen treaty. In openly committing to going to Copenhagen, Obama will draw much-needed attention to the negotiations, and send a clear message to other nations that the US will not obstruct climate negotiations this time around.

As President, Obama must also pressure policymakers at home to ensure that the US takes a leadership role by addressing global warming at home. Passing a vigorous domestic energy bill that provides for clean, sustainable energy infrastructure is a crucial part of this process. This bill in it’s current form, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), provides for only a 3% reduction in CO2­ emissions below 1990 levels by 2020. As such, ACESA will likely fail to cut US emissions enough to slow climate change, nor is it sufficient to convince other nations that the US is prepared to take global warming seriously on an international stage. With special interests continuing to poke holes in the bill, it is possible that ACESA will generate even poorer results.

The President’s appearance in Copenhagen, in conjunction with moving a strong climate bill through Congress, would provide a serious and committed stance on battling climate change. As young people, we will inherit the disastrous results of global warming: rising ocean levels, extreme storms, widespread drought and desertification, the spread of disease, the rapid loss of entire ecosystems—the list goes on and on. Because we are the ones who must live with the consequences of inaction, we have united around the globe to call for a strong climate treaty. Lincoln’s appearance at the Rayburn Building during the ACESA markups served as a reminder to Congress that domestic leadership is crucial to building an effective, equitable, and aggressive climate treaty in December.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Moves You?

The amount of energy that is required to operate a bicycle is 100 watts, about the same as powering one light bulb. The average amount to operate a car is about 100,000 watts, or 1,000 light bulbs. Something that we all need to start asking ourselves when we step into a car is whether we really need to use that much energy for most of our travels? There are without a doubt lots of trips that a car makes the most sense to travel in, on a rainy day I always appreciate a ride to school. Anyone who unconditionally refuses to ride in cars is out of touch with reality, but I think these people would be very hard to find. On the reverse, the people who refuse to ride in anything but a car are much more common but just as equally out of touch with reality.

The uncomfortable truth is that the world cannot afford to have everyone using 100,000 watts of energy to travel to the grocery store. It is mathematically impossible for everyone to create this amount of energy with petroleum and have this lifestyle last. There is obviously not enough petroleum. Lewis and Clark prides itself on being part of the global community. A crucial part of any community is responsibility to people throughout our community. Our overconsumption of fossil fuels today is not only leading to climate change, but also makes it more difficult for developing countries to develop.

Our demand for petroleum raises the prices of oil worldwide, limiting the availability of its usage to the poorest countries. Not to mention all the political problems this resource create. If we really consider ourselves to be part of a global community we need to think about this before the next time we drive our cars somewhere. What are the true costs of our dependence on petroleum?

Bicycling is not the only answer to our transportation crisis but it can make up a big part of the solution. They are cheap, available to most people, don't require much energy to operate, good for your health, fun...

We need to start thinking about what are the reasons that we depend on cars that require so much energy to operate. How and why did we create a society in which everyone has to own a car? Who benefits from this society and who loses out? And most importantly we need to start acting.

We need to start demonstrating in our own individual lives that a society that doesn't require the energy of 1,000 light bulbs to move around is not only possible but is preferable. A more sustainable transportation network is only going to happen if people decide to make it happen. There is no better place in America to plug into this new society than in Portland. Check out and or just get on a bike.

Getting your bike ready for the summer

Here are some basic tune ups anyone can do to get your bike ready for some good summer riding.
What you need:

Rags, WD-40, Bike Chain Grease, little piece of sand paper (you can get all of these at Fred Meyer or just stop by the Bike Room located in JR Howard)

First we are going to improve your braking capability.
Begin by cleaning off all the residue and junk on your rims with a dry towel

Next lightly sand the inside of your break pads to get off any residue build up on them, this will increase your breaking ability. To do this you will need to unlatch the breaks and take off your wheel.

Unlatch your breaks – the latch might work differently depending on what kind of breaks you have

Next unlatch your wheel and unscrew the lever until you can just pull the wheel out. When you put it back in make sure it goes in the same way it came out, lever on the same side as your gears.
Lightly sand the inside of your break pads and then rub with a dry cloth to get off any extra residue. Then check to make sure your breaks are tight enough. This is somewhat of a personal preference.

However the break lever should not go to the handle bar

Twist the break adjuster until your breaks are tighter, you want to be able to spin your wheels without rubbing onto the breaks.

This is about how tight I like my breaks

Next we are going to clean and lube the chain, begin by spraying WD-40 into a dry cloth and then running your chain through the cloth. This will remove any grim from the chain.

Then liberally apply bike chain lube to your chain. As you drip it onto the chain have someone crank it and go through all the gears. This will make sure everything is lubed up!

Run another dry cloth over the chain to pick up any loose lube. This will prevent your chain from attracting lots of dirt.

Lastly get on your bike and enjoy your ride!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Comes After Environmentalism?

By Charles Halvorson

With just three short weeks remaining between now and graduation, the urge to reflect has begun to occupy this senior. In what must be a perennial activity for graduating classes everywhere, I fill out cap and gown measurements and I recollect. Often this recollection takes me down paths of social remembrances of little interest to anyone who wasn’t there. But sometimes, the object of my reminiscence has far broader relevance.

Central among these is the problem that dwarfs all others in its significance – climate change. Within our four years at Lewis and Clark, we have witnessed a transformation in the discussion of this issue. What was once a demand for radical change put forth by an almost exclusively liberal base has been taken up by mainstream society. This would have been a good thing except most Americans did not want to radically restructure the way we live our lives. Maintaining the status quo has hitherto taken precedence over enacting meaningful change and the solutions we have put forth seek to address the issue in terms that do not threaten the hegemony of capitalist accumulation in our culture.

As it was commercialized, global warming lost its urgency and its capability to inspire radical action. Green became the new black and proved itself an equally capable color when it came to denoting the bottom line. Emission credit swaps and the Hybrid Cadillac Escalade illustrate the degree to which our response to the threat of global catastrophe has been co-opted by the forces of capitalism and to our willingness, our eagerness to let this happen.

Skepticism cuts through the rhetoric of “buying green” and reveals our collective desire to hold environmental protection in high esteem without challenging the status quo of conspicuous consumption. We cannot simply change the names of our deities and presume to continue our vociferous consumption unabated. Our burgeoning population inhabits a planet with finite resources; clearly, our strategy for continued survival clearly cannot be predicated upon unlimited want.

Hardworking environmental advocates have capably synthesized and presented what will be the dire fate of our planet should we remain stuck in our current patterns. The threat of environmental catastrophe is real and plaintively evident to all who care to look: the dreidel on which humanity currently spins is coming perilously close to the edge of the table.

Recollection may remain in the realm of mere nostalgia. But remembering and empathizing with our younger selves also presents an opportunity to reconsider our present condition. The current state of environmentalism is not the inevitable conclusion of our historical circumstances. Indulging in our memories offers a poignant reminder of our continued agency.  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Earl Blumenauer

Lewis and Clark is a place where ordinary people become legends. Earl Blumenauer graduated from the same grounds that we walk on 38 years ago with a major in political science. At the age of 24 he ran and won a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. Ever since then he has worked his way up through politics. In 1992 he lost his bid for mayor of Portland, however this turned out to be a stroke of luck because a US congress seat opened up afterwards which he won. He has been there ever since.

During this time he has taken a leading role in advocating action against climate change and bicycling as an alternative means of transportation. While many congressmen still sport their American flag pins, Blumenauer shows off a bicycle pin. The Wall Street Journal once commented that Blumenaer's “congressional office is one of the few – if not the only one – that didn't even apply for a parking permit. On occasion, Mr. Blumenauer has cycled to the White House. On Mr. Blumenauer's first visit, the Secret Service, more accustomed to limousines, was flummoxed at the sight of his bicycle.” He is one of only a handful of congressmen to vote against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War.

This past week in a heated debate on the floor of Congress he called out Republicans for fabricating numbers on climate change. In a moment of political passion he called the Republican claim that climate legislation would cost every American $3,100 a “canard” and “outright incorrect” based on the same MIT study the Republicans cite. He has recently been rewarded for his bike advocacy with the passage of the Bike Commuter Act, which pays people $20 a month to bike to work. (wouldn't it be nice if the LC administration followed in his footsteps and offered $20 a month for students to bike to school?)

At a college whose legacy into the foray of politics is usually only referenced to blow jobs and Monica Lewinsky, it is nice to see someone making a difference.

Monday, March 9, 2009

To be or not to be

The past year has not been an impressive for sustainability at Lewis and Clark College. Only two initiatives really stand out of the school fighting to become more sustainable. We increased in financial aid and the bookstore adopted a “sweatshop free” clothing policy. The school has also decided to turn down the heat in all building to save money.

While all of these advances should be applauded in many regards we have moved backwards. While the cutting of the shuttle service will save the school money, the costs will just be paid by the community, as we have to pay more money for cars, parking, and time spent driving around. The campus farm project, which was covered here the other week, failed to get off the ground and has been shelved because no department was excited enough to take charge of it. The school bike loan library program was a failure.

LC used to be at the forefront of sustainable leadership but over the last few years we are quickly being passed by. If we are ever going to return to being competitive with other schools we must ask ourselves why LC is at a stand still. Here are a small fraction of the exciting things going on at other schools and not at LC. The question is why?

-PSU got a $25 million grant from the Miller Foundation (the same people who our Miller Hall is named after) for sustainability. PSU must match the grant in 10 years, this means that at PSU in the next 10 years $50 million is going to be spent on sustainability.

-Oberlin College has agreed to provide $40,000 to fund a “sustainable house” on campus for students to live at. The renovated house is part of an eco-design class. The class will continue to work with the house after the renovation is complete.

-Oregon State University retrofitted 22 elliptical machines to generate electricity back into the power grid. This will produce an estimated 3,500 KWH every year.

-The University of Washington has begun using goats to eat english ivy and mow its lawn on their Bothell campus.

-The University of Delaware has a hydrogen powered bus

-Following a nine day hunger strike by students, Stanford University is expanding its living wage policy. This policy has now been expanded to include contracted workers. The reason we contract out all of our services is because LC has a similar living wage policy and contracting out allows us to avoid paying living wages. Where are the LC kids going on hunger strikes for our cleaning ladies?

-The Oregon Institute of Technology installed a 150-foot-tall drilling tower to eventually power its entire campus by geothermal energy. The heat trapping plant has a initial price tag of $4.5 million but will result in the school never having to pay for electricity again.

-Construction has begun at California State University, Fresno on a solar panel-topped parking structure system. 1 MW of photovoltaic panels are being installed atop 10 metal shelters that will shade more than 700 parking spaces. The panels will provide about 20 percent of the university's base electricity demand, which is equivalent to the power needs of 1,000 homes. The installation will cost about $11.9 million. LC just finished installing solar panels on top of the gym, which supplies .67% of our energy. And our micro turbine is broken.

-New Hampshire College, which like many other colleges (not LC), already has a full-time paid Sustainability Coordinator. However to show how much they value that position they moved that office along side the Office of the Provost.

All of these things have been dreamed up by someone at LC but those dreams have all lacked support to become realities. Instead every year we spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars on football which benefits a very limited number of students. At LC there has been no creative action to change the priorities of our school to promote sustainability. What are our school's priorities and how do we see those priorities receive the resources they require?

“To be or not to be” was the question Shakespeare once poised to us. We have the ideas to become a more sustainable campus, we have the desire, we definitely already have the words, but we lack action. If we as a community are going to become more sustainable it is going to require people taking action, getting involved, and fighting to make it a priority within our community. If a liberal arts college can't become sustainable then who can?

We should have a hydrogen bus instead of canceling buses. We have the same resources and similar opportunities as these other schools. The reason we are not on that list is that we put our resources elsewhere. Whether it is the football team or not (I think that would be a start) we need to look at that list and think about why we aren't on it and what needs to change to get us on it. Most importantly we need to act. Change requires action. I choose to be.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Taking The Road Less Travelled

By Sarah Bobertz

Somewhere on South Campus, there is a garden. It went mostly unnoticed by students, until Alex Johnson (’09) wrote a proposal last fall to institutionalize the garden and take advantage of a great opportunity to bring sustainability home to Lewis & Clark. The dream? An organic, sustainable farm project that could employ work-study students and give the Lewis & Clark community an amazing resource: truly local produce. The produce grown on the farm could supply produce to students, professors and neighbors in the Lewis & Clark community.

“This is about making the best use of our resources,” said Johnson, whose advocacy for this project has pushed it closer to reality than ever before. A Lewis & Clark farm would be the first college farm in Portland. The farm would also be a part of the growing CSA community. CSA stands for Community-Sustained Agriculture, and there are about a dozen member farms in the Portland area. It is a trend in local, sustainable agriculture, bringing local produce to a community level.

Lewis & Clark is the perfect place for a community farm. Its students are passionate about organic, local food and outdoor activities of any variety. The chance to learn about sustainable agriculture is a great educational opportunity, equal to any that could be found in a classroom, and there is a lot of interest and support on campus for the idea.

“The project grew really quickly and interest grew really quickly and before I knew it, it was like a wildfire,” said Johnson. Student, faculty, and staff support for a project proposal is not enough on its own to make projects a reality. Funding problems put the farm proposal on the proverbial back burner, presumably to be revisited in better economic times. After much budget trimming, operating costs for the first year of the farm are estimated to be about $15,000, and the profits from the first year would cover the operating budget for subsequent years. However, funding is not currently available from any Lewis & Clark source. Discretionary budgets of various departments have been cut, and there is no ASLC avenue to fund this type of project. Like with so many environmental initiatives, cash flow problems ultimately shelved the proposal.

The moral of the story is one of missed opportunity. The path to sustainability is about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves to us, no matter what the cost. Energy efficient and environmentally friendly options are most often those that cost the most or are the least convenient in our current system. Organic produce is more expensive than non-organic, solar and wind energy is more expensive than oil and coal, and toxic materials are cheaper than biodegradable options

The opportunity for Lewis & Clark to run its own organic, sustainable farm is expensive, yes, but it is ultimately the best use of campus resources. Lewis & Clark’s commitment to organic, local food has earned the school notoriety among private liberal arts colleges. The chance to launch the first college farm in Portland, maintained by its own students, would create opportunities for both education and experience in sustainable agriculture, an increasingly important industry in the 21st century. Like solar power and biodegradable chemicals, a campus farm is not the easiest option to pursue, but it is the best one in our search for sustainability.  

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eco-Olympics Podcast

listen to me talk about the eco-olympics

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live Without Dead Time!

“Live without dead time; enjoy without chains.” This was the slogan Parisian University students shouted as they fought for a social revolution. In 1968, these students took over their campuses in the name of shaking up the establishment. The people who participated in this revolution were about as engaged as they come, yet as soon as they took over their campuses nothing overtly changed. The unquestionable lack of apathy that had accompanied their triumphs didn't lead to the leftist economic models proposed or even a change in government. For the large part these student revolutionaries failed to connect the real world with the ideals they had written about. Many of the grand idealists eventually abandoned their revolutions not because of lack of effort but because their effort was not sustainable. The only successes of the “May Revolutions” where were students were able to combine what they learned with pre-existing social issues.

In last weeks PioLog Mariah Sheilds asked if LC students could do better. Her concern is what seems to be a general lack of apathy on campus, students don't go to events, sports are a joke, no one really seems to care that our campus is abandoning its promise to reduce carbon emissions by canceling a significant portion of the shuttle service, people drink coca-cola... It is not at all difficult to find the “missed opportunities” Mariah talks about. Last week I hosted a movie night for the Eco-Olympics, however I found out hosting a movie night on campus might as well be called “watch a movie by yourself” because that is what I ended up doing when no one showed up. It would be easy to blame a lack of advertising or that students don't care about the environment but the issue is deeper than that.

Why is it that I can throw a movie night about a deeply thought provoking movie (Children of Men) and no one shows up, however, if I were to host a triple kegger with multiple games of beer pong and blast the same shitty music we listened to at our middle school dances, I would have so many people at my doorstep my doorstep would be made out of people? Student apathy is not about students not caring, it is about them caring about other things too. The apathy Mariah talks about is a result of there not being a connection between the two.

The divisions we create between our school life and our social life dictate how we spend our time. These lines are institutionalized in many ways. Fun is supposed to be spent drunk with your buddies. While drinking is pretty fun, advertisements also try pretty hard to make sure we understand what fun is. On the opposing side work is supposed to be about learning how society is going down the crapper because everyone is out drinking. Our teachers and academia do a good job at rewarding this kind of thought. However, the two are never connected. When was the last time any of us had a truly thought provoking conversation at a kegger? When was the last time someone had a kegger in their classroom? This separation “chains” us to a certain ways of thinking about how we spend our time. This is part of what the French were rebelling against and this is what we need to rebel against as well.

The “Paris Revolutions” only lasted for a little more than a month. The overarching leftist dreams were not sustainable, just like getting people to come watch an environmental themed movie with me is not sustainable. Events must reach out and combine already existing things that people do. We must find ways to put our messages into already existing social functions, otherwise they will never become permanent. How do we make a kegger sustainable? Anyone concerned about sustainability should be asking these questions and working to create solutions. “Sustainable keggers” should be a workshop our school offers, not movie nights with Kiel. It is only when we combine the knowledge we learn in school with how we see the world can change occur. Apathy is not about a lack of effort it is about how we institutionalize and reward effort. We must not be trying to reinvent the wheel constantly because we will never be able to move past the wheel and start working to building the rest of the bicycle.

Last year Focus the Nation was so successful because it combined school with environmentalism. For a day the teachers that we love took a day off from teaching classes and talked about global warming. Rooms were packed. Apathy is only apathy if we choose to see it that way. I hope that student leaders and the leaders of the school are constantly revaluing how we spend our time and money to revision how academics meet the social sphere. This is the only way real change can occur. The trick is not getting students to “Live Without Dead time” it is getting people to realize where deadtime ends and live time begins.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


By Dana Crane and Kiel Johnson

How we interact in our environment reflects the virtues we wish to uphold. Two weekends ago in one of the dorms this virtues seemed to be guided only by ignorance and selfishness. This may be an over-statement, but the evidence is appalling: someone went into a dorm and purposely left on all the showers and a stove. The attack could have been aimed at throwing a competition: forcing this dorm to waste energy during the start of the Eco-Olympics, or it could have been to make a statement that the Eco-Olympics are trivial. Since the prize is a party with the President it is hard to imagine someone sabotaging just to win. Whatever their reasoning the message was the same.
This attack was waged on two fronts. The unattended stove could have easily led to a fire and done untold damage to dorm and its inhabitants—this violation of personal safety is a blow against the trust we hold as a community to keep each other safe. The attack also made an ideological statement. The Eco-Olympics are the first time the entire campus has been asked to work together to investigate our connection to our resources and avoid wastefulness. By purposely wasting water and electricity the culprit is making the statement that this connection is insignificant. If this was the case any environmental action would be impossible. This attack should be taken seriously and make us question what would prompt such an action.
This person wasted energy while attacking the very values of what it means to be a community. A foundational value of any community is the interdependence of its constituency, which leads to the necessity of being mindful of each other’s personal rights. This incident is not only an embarrassment to the majority of us that share a respect for each other’s right to freedom of action, but a disappointing illustration of a deficiency in our common social upbringing. Our society teaches us to each strive for individual success but this lacks an appreciation of an individual role within a community. It is one thing to choose not to participate in an opportunity to do good, but it is the work of an egotist to ransack the good efforts of peers.
There is no doubt that 99.9% of people at Lewis and Clark would condemn this act of defiance and ignorance. However it’s very hard to deny that such an act characterizes at least a minority within our student body—it is hard to imagine someone doing this without at least believing their friends would get a kick out of it. It is difficult to imagine how the college environment, which is built on integrity and education could breed such blindness. However, we must forgive this crook because at the roots of the attack lie unawareness. This is what the Eco-Olympics and going to college is all about. This attack is a reminder that we must make sure that society provides an opportunity to make real connections with the sources of life that we depend on.
In order to avoid destructive mishaps such as these in the future, I urge you all to get outside and observe what surrounds and supports you. Then look inside at what it has created, and consider the relationship between the two! You are a product of your environment and it continues to be the source of every new cell in your body, idea in your brain, and pulse of your heart; respect it thus!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flex your econess in the Lewis and Clark College Eco-Olympics. Go to the website to get more info and a calender of events. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The National Teach In and Letters from a Birmingham Jail

 The inherent problem with a sustainable world is that it requires everyone to consider sustainability to be a good idea. This does not make it a futile venture, just a difficult one. What is required is that the more people continue to be engaged. While you should never trust someone that compares their movement to Gandhi or Martin Luther King the scope of the tasks are similar. Sustainability requires a change in how we see the world. Just as Gandhi showed people that India could be an independent nation and Martin Luther King made people see the flaws of racism, environmentalism requires a shift in how we value our resources.

This past week Lewis and Clark hosted the National Teach In On Climate Change. While all of the talks were well attended and the speakers were engaging, something was missing from the day. For the most part all the people at the events were the same people at every other environmental event. It is almost as if there are about 150 or so people who consistently attend these events and who are also responsible for putting them on. I fear that the environmental movement at our school has become too entrenched within itself. It only serves to preserve itself and in the words of Trotsky, “that is what they become, dried preserves”. Preserving the values of environmentalism is not enough.

The National Teach In exceeded all my expectations and was without a doubt a success. However, these events cannot continue just for the sake of continuing. They must embrace larger goals and draw in people from all areas of the community. Where were the athletes? The cleaning ladies? The leaf blowers? If we are going to have a teach in on global warming solutions it must involve everyone. We must be creative in how we draw these people in, environmentalism must connect in a real way with not only people's existing values but their everyday actions. Otherwise all that is be accomplished is that we had another teach in.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

National Teach in on Climate Change

The National Teach In on Global Warming Solutions is happening this Thursday the 5th as well as the beginning of the Eco-Olympics. I'm going to be documenting the day and taking some pictures to put up here. If you see me at one of the events please say hi and let me know what you think.
Here is the link for the events calender 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lewis and Clark is a place where people have great ideas, tragically it is also a place where great ideas suffer the neglect of their creators who either eventually graduate or have an even better idea. Bicycling at Lewis and Clark is a great idea, and many people have attempted to do things that make it easier for everyone to enjoy this means of transportation. The bike room is a great idea, as was the bike library, but they have all suffered from the difficulties of any other idea at LC. 

Earlier this year the LC Sustainability Council voted to create a bike coordinator position. The goal was to hire someone to organize all these ideas to promote a bicycling culture at LC. After a difficult search the Sustainability Council picked a freshman named Daniel Boyes for the job. For Daniel the decision to promote bicycling is an easy one, he said that, “because of the need for alternate means of transportation, cycling will inevitably become a much more prolific activity in the future. Because of this need for cycling, as well as the health benefits associated with it, I think that it is our responsibility to invest a lot of time and effort into forming a friendly environment at Lewis and Clark where students will be encouraged to cycle, and will experience the benefits immediately.”

Some of Daniel's immediate goals are to create consistent hours for the bike room. When the school rebuilt Howard they included a room for a bike room. Currently this room is just used to store old bike parts. Daniel wants to turn this space into a working bike room. From February 21st to the 22nd the bike room will be open for people to get their bikes tuned up and ready for the spring as part of the Eco-Olympics. There will also be an all campus bike ride on February 23rd. Having a bike coordinator at Lewis and Clark will help turn the great ideas on campus surrounding bicycling into more than just ideas. The question is whether people will get on their bikes and join Daniel.   

Friday, January 30, 2009

everyone is having energy competitions

New York Times endorses the eco-olympics here

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Refusing To Let The Journey End

It is rare that the mention of a single name can fill a person with so much excitement and hope for the future. Barack Obama is our leader and for the first time since I can remember I am proud to be an American. During his inauguration speech, which was shown to a packed Council Chambers last week, Obama asked us to take responsibility for our future. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter.Obama asked us to make a moral obligation to protect the future.

After his speech and inauguration the mode of Council Chambers was different. People felt changed. Everyone who watched that speech at some point questioned what the words they were hearing meant. After the poet began speaking, and on que everyone started leaving, what had really changed? I doubt anyone left Council Chambers and immediately decided to volunteer at a food bank. I certainly did not. We still all took actions which diminish the chances of our future generations to succeed. We drove our cars, ate bananas grown in distant countries by people who have no future, and made a lot of waste. Hearing about the need for change is easy, actually doing it is much harder.

While Obama's speech instilled the desire take take responsibility it did very little to show how we can do this. Obama started us on a journey, the rest is now up to us. We must learn about how our decisions effect the future and change to protect this future. We know that driving cars is warming the globe. We know that the coal used to power our light bulbs and computers (50% of all electricity in Oregon is from coal plants) is having the same effect. We know that our consumption is wasteful and unsustainable. That seeking profits for the sake of profits creates a careless society which only values the individual. We can no longer place the blame on government or something larger than ourselves for our future. Barack Obama makes it clear that the future is ours. We must all change if we are going to protect this future.

On February 5th we will all have an opportunity to participate in this change. Lewis and Clark will be holding it's first ever Eco-Olympics. The Eco-Olympics are a competition among dorms to find ways to reduce electricity and get people to attend events throughout the month that empower us to make these changes. There will be sewing and bike workshops, and chances to volunteer in the community. Our problems can no longer be blamed on other people, their decisions, or their idleness. Barack Obama shows us that we have the power to make change ourselves, all it requires is action. We now all share responsibility for our future. 

Sustainable Capitalism

here is an interesting article about Wal-Mart becoming "sustainable". At the end the CEO of Wal-Mart says, "There is no conflict between delivering value to shareholders, and helping solve bigger societal problems.” What do people think? Do you buy it?

Friday, January 23, 2009

A letter about responsibility

This is a letter I wrote to the head of facilities, groundskeeping, and IT.

As a school and a society we are pushing ourselves further and further into debt. Each year Lewis and Clark is asking it's community to find more ways to save money. As we all know some of the ways the school is looking at doing this is by limiting bus service, reducing sabbaticals, and reduce energy use by 10%. Tuition has also been raised every year since I've been going here.

However, by shifting the focus of our financial problems on shuttle service and reducing energy no one is taking responsibility for our financial troubles. These troubles are everyone's and we all need to talk about what we can do to solve them. They will not be solved by the executive council holding lots of meetings among its inner circle. They can only be solved when everyone on campus starts talking about them. The students, the cleaning service, the groundskeepers, the facility, and the administrators. A perfect example of this is the President's letter in which he told the school the Sustainability Council was going to find ways to reduce energy by 10% yet he never asked the Sustainability Council to do this.

There is a lot of waste at this college. Today I returned to campus and found that all the computers in the library and templeton are still on. There are only two people on computers right now in the library yet around 70 computers are being left on 24 hours a day to serve those two or so students every hour. As a student it is easy for me to blame the administrators for this waste, they are the ones who are supposed to be "administrating" the campus and should take responsibility. However the administrators blame the students, since the students are the ones who use the computers. They blame it on a communication problem. Students would simply just turn the computers back and so it would be too difficult to monitor. In the end we are both working against each other and blaming the other for our problems. All the while the computers have been left on and nothing is getting done.

One of my favorite symbols of waste are the leaf blowers. Today I saw two leaf blowers blowing a sidewalk that has only a few leaves. In my head I was trying to calculate how much the school was paying these two people to clear a pathway that was already perfectly clear. Again I am troubled as to how to solve this problem. Why don't the leaf blowers take responsibility and only blow leaves when there are leaves and work on other projects in between? My guess is that they are told to just go out and blow leaves. They get paid either way, but in the end we all lose out. Since we spend money on powering computers that aren't in use or paying people to blow leaves that don't exist we aren't able to afford to run a shuttle service that a lot of people at this school rely on, we aren't able to hire as good teachers because they can't get good sabbaticals, and admissions drop, all because no one wanted to take responsibility. The administration is not to blame and neither are the students, we as a entire community all share responsibility. Our problems will only be solved when we all get together and take responsibility through action. Turning off computers and not paying leaf blowers when there are no leaves are not going to bring the college out of financial trouble but it is a start.