Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sustainability Film Series

The little germ of an idea planted by Doug Watson is beginning to bear fruit. This fall we will hold a Sustainability Film Series at the local library. The idea is to open public conversation in advance of “top down” efforts coming our way to develop a regional sustainability master plan.

Details on the series are at


Walkability and Social Capital

A friend gave a presentation last week on her doctoral project: studying ten neighborhoods in each of two New Hampshire cities (Manchester and Portsmouth) to tease out the relationship between walkability–the number of places you can (and do) walk to–and social capital–a measure of community trust, engagement, and a sense of agency. (You can learn more about measuring social capital at Robert Putnam’s Saguaro Seminar.)

The bottom line is a linear correlation between walkability and–lots of things, chief among them, social capital, environmental sustainability, and personal health. Some interesting statistics: (1) 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to transportation, (2) for every 10 minutes you commute, you are 10% less likely to get involved in your community, and (3) two-thirds of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have not been built yet. Now is the time to design and construct the kinds of places we want–sustainable towns and cities with lively “village” centers within them with places worth walking to for shopping, for socializing, and fresh air.

Fired Up!

Can it be that Obama has found his voice again and is prepared to do some radical social capitalism by putting people to work and harnessing all this energy we Americans have? The disparities in wealth are so huge that it seems only a matter of months before we have a revolution on our hands. He face the same situation FDR did: act, or face revolt. The Tea Party is certainly revolting but not in the way I mean. They are dupes of the wealthy.

Day at the Beach

What is more joyful on a hot summer day than to be at the beach? Hurrican Earl brought bigger than usual waves. Three French-speaking surfers caught the same wave I did (on a boogie-board) and we dashed through the froth and flowed to shore. Ellen packed a lunch; Lynn brought an umbrella; and we baked and swam. The waves pounded us, ice-cold against our hot skin. The seagulls broke into our food bag, dragging our bag of perfect local potato chips into the surf, sending us searching for the bag, way down the shore, slapping in the waves.  The man and woman with the radio finally left. The tide moved in until it reached our blanket and we left.