Dan Coleman's blog

N&O Names Jensen one of "Seven Who Will Matter"

From "Seven who will matter in 2007" (News & Observer, 1/1/2007):

Tom Jensen has worked on two dozen political campaigns. He writes weekly columns for a local newspaper. He helps edit a local political blog. He's on Chapel Hill's planning board.

And he is 23.

Jensen's latest project is to persuade North Carolina cities to sign a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

The effort, based on a climate protection agreement by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, amounts to sort of a local government version of the international Kyoto Protocol, Jensen said.

Five cities have already signed up. The N.C. Sierra Club's goal is 12 by the end of 2007, although Jensen confided that he is hoping far more will commit. Jensen said he isn't interested in only the biggest cities.

"There's no reason small cities shouldn't be environmental leaders, too," said Jensen, who rides the bus from Chapel Hill to Raleigh for work each day.

"Controlled Chaos" - Europeans Eliminate Traffic Signs

Heidi Perry, chair of Carrboro's Transportation Advisory Board, sent us this link to an article on a new trend in traffic "management" in Europe.

Seven European cities and regions are doing away with traffic signs, "dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs....

"They demand streets like those during the Middle Ages, when horse-drawn chariots, handcarts and people scurried about in a completely unregulated fashion. The new model's proponents envision today's drivers and pedestrians blending into a colorful and peaceful traffic stream.

"It may sound like chaos, but it's only the lesson drawn from one of the insights of traffic psychology: Drivers will force the accelerator down ruthlessly only in situations where everything has been fully regulated. Where the situation is unclear, they're forced to drive more carefully and cautiously."

Agricultural Incubator to be Located in N. Orange

Big news in today's N&O on a farming incubator being established in Orange County by the county, the state Cooperative Extension, and NCSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is very good news for Orange County as the continued vitality of local farming will be critical to our future sustainability.

Consider the following, according to Michael Pollan:

Food energy in a 1-pound box of prewashed organic lettuce: 80 calories

Fossil-fuel energy spent growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting box of lettuce from California to East Coast: More than 4,600 calories

That's a 57.5 to 1 ratio. And, there is nothing on the horizon to improve upon it. In fact, as gas supplies dwindle while demand rises, it is likely to get much worse. This means that the value of locally grown produce will continue to rise as will the value of farmland (and even garden space).

"Authentic Food" at WSM

Weaver Street Market has taken an important step forward in the movement toward realizing a more sustainable food system. Calling the new development “authentic food”, the market is looking beyond the organic pedigree of a food product to incorporate additional elements such as the production environment, working conditions, and transportation.

WSM's initiative is in response to the entry of the likes of Wal-Mart into the organic food market, which “mean we risk losing important values traditionally associated with organic farming, such as improving the environment, keeping family farmers in business, and treating farm workers fairly. We also risk losing a labeling distinction that has helped us make meaningful choices on your behalf.”

Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore's Dilemma” and who recently visited the area puts it like this:

Orange County: Ready for Prime Time?

In what the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau has highlighted as a national publicity coup, Mark Kleinschmidt takes viewers on a tour of Chapel Hill in an episode of the LOGO Channel's U.S. of Ant show:

Ant talks politics with Mark, an openly gay city council member in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He shows him around town and is soon introduced to Thomas, a student at Chapel Hill who was the victim of a gay bashing.

I don't doubt that the Visitors Bureau is correct about the public relations value of this segment for its audience. Says Director Laurie Paolicelli, "Special thanks to Mark and Mike for carrying the torch and making national viewers/travelers even more aware of our area."

We locals will find the bussing and hugging a salutary alternative to the serious business of mainstream TV journalism.

[Note: those of you who've been around as long as he has will forgive Mike's forgetting that he first ran for Alderman in 1989, not 1993.]



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