Posted: October 12th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Sustainability | No Comments »
I’m reading this truly amazing book called Closer to the Ground – the story of a family that appreciates modern conveniences while enjoying the bounty they get from foraging, growing their own food and fishing. Dylan Tomine’s tale is not about rejecting modern life but about appreciating and nurturing the natural world around us. But it’s this line from the introduction that I think best defines his approach:
“People are baffled at having to choose between the gang plows of industrial farming and a two-man goat cheese operation.”
It does often seem like life’s choice are cast in extremes; the unappealing description of both sides is at best unflattering, at worst deceiving. And in most situations in life, the question is not really one of either or. Much the same can be said of cycling. It’s either portrayed as some sort of elite, exclusive, exhausting endeavor or as a completely unrealistic form of transportation.
Is there a middle way
There’s a time and place for both, I guess, except if you are one of the ducks. But I think cycling should be more like:
Fun with a friend
Posted: March 29th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Sustainability | No Comments »
My professional Development
How often does a person get to include the Rolling Stones and Texas Live Oaks in a blog post. But I think the two themes fairly represent my approach to trying new things.
I wanted to help. I wanted to change how we all view the environment. Transform it from a concept that is separate from our daily lives, and our pocket books to one that is an enriching and valuable part of who we are. I took classes on green building, ultimately earning my LEED AP; I took classes, earning a vague Sustainable Practices certification and the more substantial GRI; I interned at a Green Consulting company and I networked. I was excited and eager to get involved to show that maybe we didn’t need to make a choice between clean water and making a living.
But somewhere along the way, I began to hear ‘so, you’re a wannabe” sustainability person. And I heard it more than once. As if all my aspirations, money and time had merely earned me a grudging glance from some more well-established peers. Yes, I was a ‘wannabe’ – an enthusiastic, reading everything, going to conference person, who wanted to be involved. I read tons, visited Web sites and tried to understand how assigning a real value to our environmental resources could be accounted for in how we paid for things.
It was a little over a year ago, when I decide to get off the treadmill of conferencing going and course taking. I failed. I just couldn’t break through and no amount of education and enthusiasm was going to transform me into a sustainability professional.The blame lies with me: maybe I should have gone and gotten my MBA in Sustainability, maybe I didn’t want to make the tough choices to make a career transition, like move to another location.
Or maybe not. To borrow a phrase from the most hedonistic people I can think of The Rolling Stones - “you don’t always get what you want, you get what you need”. It’s a line that I find particularly galling coming from them but it does seem to hold some validity. I didn’t make the transition, didn’t cross the bridge but I did meet some extraordinary people and the experience set me up to be more willing to get involved in other movements and events, like TEDxBoulder.
I feel like my professional composite of experiences more closely resembles one of those Texas Live Oaks, with branches shooting off in different direction in pursuit of knowledge. Some of the attempts ended up grounded, others continue up and out but the resulting effect is pretty unique, at least in my eyes.
And despite all the twisting and skewed growth, the core of what I believe is maintained. I still firmly believe that understanding technology, writing and communicating and gaining a better understanding of how businesses can thrive is all useful in helping to build a better, more environmentally-valued future.
So, yes, I did fail to make the career transition. But I still wannabe learning, growing and working and maybe that’s what I need. Damn, the Stones.
Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Sustainability | 1 Comment »
I’ve been reading several posts lately about the expected rise in gas prices in 2012 and the potentially positive influence it might have on the cycling population. I think there maybe some influence but I definitely don’t think there’s much causation.
When people get excited and eager for gas price increases, I think they are exhibiting a lot of misplaced optimism. Maybe they live within walking distance of their office, grocery stores, and great restaurants. Perhaps, they live in temperate climes and in flat regions and don’t have to ride through ice and snow, searing heat, up hill riding a Huffy. No offense to Huffy, of course.
But I would suggest that the average commute for most people isn’t in the 3-5 miles range and may actually be closer to 29-50 miles. I tried to find a national average but was unable to find a definitive number. And because of those distances, I think that the burden of rising fuel costs will be felt disproportionately by the people least likely able to afford it.
I think about this conundrum- the effectiveness of offering alternative forms of transportation – every time I go out to Denver International Airport. It’s about an hour long drive from where I live. But I imagine that for the people that work there making minimum wage their commute can’t be much less. Why do I think that? Because Pena Blvd is 13 miles of prairie, uninhabitable waste land. Yes, there are a few condos out there, but no where to buy groceries, go to school, or out for an evening. In other words, the barista serving you coffee probably drove in from places quite a distance away and just had to spend approximately two hours of their working day just paying for the gas to do it. And it’s not like commuting by bike is an option. Yes, I’ve seen the commuter bus, which drops off and picks up airport employees to take them to DIA, and it’s somewhere out in the middle of cow pasture-ville, which in order to get to they had to drive. There the ones that get hurt, when the price of gas spikes.
I did not take this picture nor can I remember where I saw it
Yes, I believe commuting and other forms of transportation are important but let’s be honest that without investment in other ways to get around, rising gas prices just means many are stuck paying higher fuel prices. That’s it. Rising gas prices doesn’t immediately translate into a cycling-friendly utopia, with everyone riding Dutch bicycles. It more likely means less alternative and more creative ways to get around.
Posted: February 6th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Sustainability | No Comments »
A View from the Hotel Boulderado
Hubby and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary this past weekend so we treated ourselves with a night at the Hotel Boulderado. The Hotel Boulderado is a historical landmark, boasts that Teddy Roosevelt stayed a night and has that old world feel. We were lucky and got to stay in the older part of the hotel. They remodeled many years ago and essentially bolted a Holiday Inn style extensions onto the back of it. Sigh.
There are a couple of room accessories that are both modern and strangely out of date. The digital alarm clock. I haven’t seen or used one of these for a several years . It’s red block letters gleaming from the faux wood box was out of place amongst into the traditional wall paper and wrought-iron bed frame
The view from the window the next morning was classic Colorado especially since we had received an 18inch dump of snow over night. The grey, overcast skies gave the whole morning a lovely older world sheen, which got me thinking about the appeal of olden times. When did that appreciation for days gone by begin and which ages are really missed? I don’t think people of the Renaissance thought “oh, I do so miss the black death from those medieval times”.
Before Fast Tracks You Could Catch a Train
But here we are 2012 and guys are wearing flat caps, we have Tweed Rides, and speak-easys. Not that I’m complaining. There’s are quite a few things from the past that I wish we still had, like the train that used to run from Denver to Boulder, old-timey looking bars and safer roads to ride. Of course, there are a number of exceptionally awful things that I think best remanded to the past.
But it’s interesting to note what styles and trends come back around. But I don’t think the digital bed side clock will be one of them.
Posted: January 4th, 2012 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Sustainability | 4 Comments »
From a great collection of women on bikes
Recently, I was chatting over coffee with a young woman about cycling in Boulder. We were talking about the various trails around town, our commutes, and our fear of getting our bikes stolen from downtown. She went onto to describe a new fear she was experiencing; she was becoming more nervous about riding in town due to the increase in the number of aggressive riders. Cycling, for her, was simply not fun anymore. Sadly, I understood what she was saying. Although Boulder is probably one of the most cycling-friendly places in the U.S. (and yes, I have lived elsewhere, namely San Antonio & Austin, which when I left were probably ranked 150 and 151 respectively out of a group of 151 friendliest places to ride a bike), it’s also packed. Whether you are riding, driving or walking in town, Boulder is a busy little town. I don’t think Boulder has an inordinate number of aggressive drivers. I just think the chance of a cyclist and a driver having a negative encounter is probably a little greater simply due to the number of people getting around using lots of different forms of transportation (i.e skate boarding, roller-blading, etc).
Later, what concerned me more than my friend’s fear was that she was considering giving up commuting by bike. And that’s when I realized this is how it begins. Young women, who may have been commuting for some time, weary of the conditions of the road, the interactions with drivers and begin to abandon cycling. It’s not just that there is one less commuter on the road but what that change in perception means for her and our community over the long term. If people, especially women, begin to abandon cycling as an option for getting around then our hopes for more significant transportation changes will be an even greater struggle.
This point was further expanded on in a great article titled, Women in Cycling: Why We Matter, written by Sarai Snyder over at GirlBikeLove. I recommend checking it out because if you are interested in seeing cycling expand in our communities then it’s critical to have women’s continued involvement and support. Can you imagine how much further along cycling adoption and commuting support there would be if more women were involved? I think we’ll move the needle that much more quickly if both men and women are part of the solution.
Posted: October 13th, 2011 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Cycling, Sustainability | No Comments »
Momentum Magazine was on it, as was Copenhagenize, who wrote a great article on it and the PathLessTraveled, each sounding the alarm about GM’s tone-deaf ad trying to persuade an already in-debt audience (students) to get further into debt and out of shape by buying car to save face. Here’s the ad:
Outdated and I'm not talking about the bike
There’s been so many great responses to the ad and even Giant got into the act with a super ad in response that I don’t think I have anything to add. Well, maybe just one question. What do GM and (and now) Zipcar know about the emerging commuter culture that has them on the defense like this? Are they responding to a shift in the market or just trying to appeal to the next generation of car owners? If you believe in the product marketing maxim that if you get them early, you get them for life then maybe it’s the latter. But maybe, just maybe we are beginning to see a shift from perceiving commuters as outliers and recognizing the real health and financial benefits of cycling over driving. Perhaps the misconception of a sweat-drenched, hemp-wearing, Huffy-riding commuter on their way to work at a co-op is changing to be one of everyday folks: office workers, parents, kids, educators, students, etc using a cleaner, cheaper, healthier way to get around. I’m not suggesting that cars will be replaced by bikes anytime soon but it’s refreshing to see that an alternative way of getting around is being perceived as less alternative.
Posted: September 26th, 2011 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Sustainability | No Comments »
Nearly 18 months ago, I started working out at Crossfit Roots, where I met a bunch of people who did interesting things, including working out til they were breathing out their ears (I wish I could claim that phrase but alas I cannot.) It’s there that I met Andrew Hyde, who was heavy into the startup community and was actively working on creating a TED event for Boulder. In between jobs, I offered to help out not really knowing what I was getting into. at. all. But I have to say if most of my spontaneous, why-not decisions brought such unexpected and great experiences I would be living a more amazing life.
This year was the second TEDxBoulder and I think it was really something special. The whole organizer team comprising:
Jamie Harkin – stage
Ken Fricklas – music
Ef Rodriquez – PR
George Morris – co-organizer
Arthur Nisnevich – slides, projector
Dan Storch – t-shirts, programs
and, of course Andrew
came together and I think helped bring together a lot of ideas and input, the audience (including me) rarely gets the chance to hear and experience.
I enjoyed each of the speakers and there were a number of talks that have really stayed with me but I think the theme of “just doing one thing” to make a change, make a difference, is a concept that I am still thinking about two days later. Like a good book or movie, where the characters or plot stay with you, the calls to get involved by some of the speakers from TEDxBoulder certainly inspired me.
I think I did “do one thing” when I asked to get involved with TEDx and I hope that the experience I had Saturday night, which was so positive and inspiring, was shared by the community in which I live. Certainly not every chance or risk I’ve taken has been so fulfilling but this is one experience from which I have gotten so much more than I could have expected.
Now, it your turn. What will your “one thing” be?
Posted: August 31st, 2011 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Sustainability | 4 Comments »
I was reading a blog post by Gini Dietrich (ginidietrich) over at Spin Sucks called Public Relations for Sharks. It’s about misplaced fear; people are more likely to die of obesity than from a shark attack. Yet the perceived threat of being eaten by a shark far outweighs any concern about the influence of weight on our health. Gini suggested that sharks need better PR and I would suggest that Sustainability does, as well.
We can’t go back and reframe how the ideas around sustainability and climate change reached the general public. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” brought home for many of us the human impact on the planet in a way I, at least, had not experienced before. But because of the messenger, the message immediately became politicized and the insights from movie were overshadowed by political discourse. Since then we have been inundated with facts, videos, and news feed of the changing climate and its impact on our lives, communities, health, food, etc yet the argument has not shifted.
We need a new narrative. But one that maybe does not try and address the full story of climate change. Perhaps, it is a series of stories that presents ideas and solutions in a manageable and digestible manner that gives people a reason to believe, change and have hope that their changes do make a difference. I think convincing people that their actions make a difference is critical and probably the biggest thing that is missing from the sustainability discussion.
It seems most discussions around sustainability or green are simply too large: BP oil spill, droughts in Texas, that it’s hard to connect our day-to-day behavior with events that seem large and complicated. Maybe it’s taking a step back and tying choices and behaviors directly to the health and wellness of individuals and communities.
It’s hard. I don’t always see the line that is drawn through our systems that impacts and influences our world. Talking about the health of the Amazon doesn’t give me enough to go on to change what I buy, from whom, or when. But I do know that clean air is healthier, safe food is critical and people need healthy environment to live and work. And that might be the story that needs to be told.
And this maybe where social media can help craft that story. I was shopping around for some new underwear and happened to notice an article on Pact, a maker of responsibly manufactured underwear. I can’t remember where I read about them but I noticed that a friend of mine had liked them on Facebook, so I read more about them and how they sourced and designed their products. I liked their story “Change starts with your underwear and PACT is here to prove it.” I gave them a try because I felt like by doing something as boring as buying underwear my choice was making a difference by supporting a company that is doing business in a sustainable way. The way you choose to make a difference may be different.
The important point is to create new stories about sustainability that changes people’s perception of sustainability from one of austerity and shortages to one of abundance and hope.
Posted: August 30th, 2011 | Author: JenniferSRoberts | Filed under: Sustainability | No Comments »
Hubby and I spent the weekend in San Diego. We went out to learn to surf but the beach, where we stayed was shut down due to two (yep, not just one) shark sightings. But we didn’t complain.
We spent mornings wandering around looking at strangely shaped seaweed.
and taking in the sun-drenched scene