Archive for May, 2008

Great, Green Job Opening

I’m hiring! Rather, the state agency I work for is hiring me a full-time assistant to work on the Governor’s Commuter Challenge (I am the program manager). Full job description and link to apply is here

Perhaps I’m biased, but this is the coolest project in the greenest state in the nation (Oregon). The theme of the Challenge is “Save Money, Reduce Emissions, Share The Ride.” My assistant program manager will help me reach out to 8,500 Capitol Mall employees and encourage them to commute without driving alone, with a special emphasis on carpooling.

Please help spread the word to people who want to work in sustainability.

Visit us at www.diamondcutlife.org

Exciting News: We’ve moved to diamondcutlife.org

Please update your bookmarks to point to our new home at diamondcutlife.org. We have a new look, new features [with more to come soon!] and some fresh posts waiting for you. There are still a few bugs to work out, but we’re going live and look forward to your visit. Feeds should update automatically, but if you’re having any trouble, please let us know!

Getting Consumed By Sustainability

How do we sustain ourselves as we work on sustainability? There is so much work to do, how do we keep from being just another group of American workaholics, set apart only by a bigger vision and slightly different consumption patterns?

It’s 3:49 a.m. as I’m writing (I have insomnia). My upcoming day, my recent days, and entire upcoming summer all look packed with the Governor-backed initiative I am leading to reduce commute trips. Blogging itself, while I love it, [Read more →]

Paying For Our Airline Baggage

“More Ways To Make Us Pay” was the Oregonian’s headline yesterday for an article on airlines now charging for baggage due to the rising cost of fuel.

In my counseling days, we called that attitude ‘playing victim’. I would have used a different headline for the paying-for-baggage story, something like “Now We Get Paid To Be Disciplined”.

Background to which my husband Thor will attest: I struggle [Read more →]

Jeff Merkley For U.S. Senate

Jeff MerkleyJeff Merkley, of my home state of Oregon, is now one of the top hopes in the nation for the Democrats to take leadership of the U.S. Senate. Yesterday’s election results mean that he’ll be running against Republican incumbent Senator Gordon Smith in the November election. I want him to win!

I’ll be supporting Jeff with dollars and time, and so will my husband Thor. We got to meet him last summer at a big house party in the country. (A great thing about a state the population-size of Oregon is that elected officials and candidates are truly accessible to you.) When I shook his hand and spoke with him I was struck by his kind, sincere, soft-spoken manner. Jeff is not slick, not full of himself, not drunk with dreams of power. And his leadership as Speaker of the Oregon House has been excellent.

In theory, I favor bipartisan politics and avoiding the polarization that our two-party system creates. That’s one reason I support Barack Obama: he is inclusive and not entrenched in ideology. But it’s impossible to ignore that Democrats get global warming, and the urgency of acting on it NOW, while Republicans do not. While I could say the same thing about universal health care, and corporate responsibility, and ending the Iraq war etc., global warming trumps all those issues. Global warming threatens civilization itself, and dealing with it means retooling ourselves into low-carbon lifestyles. It’s doable.

photo courtesy of Thomas Le Ngo

Sex And The City, Portland style

Sex and the City

Here is my Portland, Oregon response to Sex And The City: The Movie. It is Green Girls Take On CRAG. Read it to see what I mean. My Green Girls social circle has more fun and is more joyful, I suggest, than the characters in the hit HBO series.

Why do I think that? We green women of the West are bonding with the land as well as each other, and a sensible lifestyle that flows from love of the land. The women in SATC have no connection to the earth, and are consuming at a rate that 50 planets could not support. Research, including that of Juliet Schor (a brilliant woman of the East Coast, Harvard to be exact) is clear that more consumption does not lead to more happiness.

Even given the fantasy nature of entertainment, I think the women in SATC are irresponsible. I don’t know anyone who wants to be like them. But Portland is, after all, a green enclave, a city-state of its own. Please post a comment to broaden my earthy-wonky perspective.

photo courtesy of hagit_.

High Energy Prices: Good

I’m sipping my coffee at 6 a.m. at Stumptown in Southeast Portland (joy). The Oregonian’s front page shows an ocean of the 72,000 faces that turned out to see Barack Obama yesterday (yes, I voted for him, too) and the lower right corner story is: “Who loves high energy prices? The environment.”

The gist is basic economics: when price goes up, demand goes down. And we have got to demand (use) less energy, because it costs the earth heavily. I’ve seen oil fields and coal mines described as war zones, and that makes sense, because we’re violently wresting fossil fuels from the earth that have been millions of years in the making (hence the term fossil). Moreover, burning them causes global warming, because the atmosphere cannot quickly absorb millions of years worth of carbon dioxide and methane. High prices help us slow all this down. In fact, slowing down is crucial all around.

The big problem with high energy prices is that they can make the poor suffer, which of itself is immoral and unethical. If you can’t afford to get to work or heat your house, then you deserve a price break or assistance. (But you also should carpool!) We need a more progressive tax system altogether, and those who have enough need to just voluntarily share more with those who don’t have enough. My household gives about 5% of our net income to philanthropy, but I think we can and should increase that.

If the earth loves high energy prices, let’s get it straight that we are part of the earth, too. Would we put a rock-bottom price on our own lives? No; our civilization is built on valuing human life. Because our fate rises and falls with the earth’s fate, we have to put a high price on energy and use it as the incredibly costly stuff that it actually is.