Good, bad, uh-oh
This is a week for keepin’ it simple, with apologies to the ’60s soundtrack:
The Good: Portland Mayor Sam Adams is America’s 20-Minute Man. While not the subject of a 12-bar blues song on the downsizing of sexual sustainability—heh—he suggests tucking the necessaries of life within 20 minutes of home, thereby limiting time in the car. In conversation with Fast Company, Adams noted as “two-thirds of all trips in Portland and in most American cities are not about getting to and from work … if I can offer quality, affordable goods and services, eliminate food deserts, have neighborhoods with schools and parks and amenities—if I can create these 20-minute complete neighborhoods all over Portland—it strengthens our local economy.” No doubt there are those who would go further, favoring perhaps a five-minute neighborhood concept. But how happy would you be living in a four-story yurt? Or, rephrased, how softly can you walk on the earth before you just float away?
Anyway, Auntie Ruth is all a-ponder trying to picture Sacramento as a cluster of 20-minute neighborhoods. You?
The Bad: Aunt Ruth cringes as the fingers point this way and that in the evaluations of the Obama administration after the BP calamity. Still, The New York Times’ Tom Friedman opined: “The gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina. It’s his 9/11—and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake Bush made. …. Sept. 11 was one of those rare seismic events that create the possibility to energize the country to do something really important and lasting that is too hard to do in normal times.” Naw: The BP spill has not brought America together against a common enemy. We’re too fractured a country right now. But that’s how bad it is out there—for Obama, for the environment, for us all.
The Uh-Oh: Auntie’s heart was warmed with SN&R’s mention in the last edition of Utne Reader. Warmed, then chilled. Editor David Schimke was taken by Fred Branfman’s SN&R piece last December (“Do our children deserve to live?” SN&R Feature Story; December 3, 2009). In a subsequent conversation about climate-change denial, Branfman told Schimke: “I feel like I’m living in a giant insane asylum. … Not only because there’s a high percentage of people who simply can’t face reality, but because most of those who do accept the overwhelming evidence are still acting as though humanity isn’t at stake.” Amen. Uh-oh. Goodnight.