Sunday, August 31, 2008

City Curbs on Cars: Now Accelerating

City Curbs on Cars: Now Accelerating

For Release Sunday, August 31, 2008
© 2008 Washington Post Writers Group

Neal Peirce

By Neal Peirce

For close to a century, the automobile has so boldly seized Americans’ imagination — sparking the economy, paving the continent, designing our neighborhoods — that even the thought of curbing its dominion seems unnatural.

But check what’s happening right now:

High gasoline prices are prompting millions of us to think again about how often, and how far, we drive our cars. Recent months have seen total vehicle miles driven nationally fall off sharply– a radical reversal of decades of increase.

Across the country, there’s pressure to reclaim city streets for the city’s own people. Fueling this pressure is the alarm raised over high accident and death tolls from pedestrians struck by autos and trucks.

The “Complete Streets” movement — urging city and neighborhood streets be made as welcoming and safe for pedestrians and cyclists as they are for autos — is gaining attention, now backed up by legislation pending in Congress.

Public transit use is enjoying a banner year across the country.

A vanguard of cities is banning cars from their public parks.

There’s increased effort — lead cities range from Seattle to Buffalo, Toronto to New Haven — to tear down ugly motorways that divide neighborhoods and occupy valuable space near city centers. (Demolition of a Milwaukee freeway in 2003 helped unify the city’s downtown area and sparked hundreds of millions of dollars of new development).

Bike stations — quick ways to rent a bike, cruise around a downtown — are being proposed across the country.

A new “Walk Score” website lets users type in their home address and discover its “walkability” score — from 0 (”must have car”) to 100 (”walker’s paradise”).

A few cities are starting to charge true market costs for parking on public streets. Example: fees of up to $40 for four hours near the new baseball stadium in Washington, D.C.

The Nation’s Capital is, in fact, emerging as an epicenter of restraint on cars. One-way streets — virtual “freeways” through cities — are a first target. Already portions of Constitution Avenue N.E. have been transformed from a reversible commuter artery back to a quiet side street. Concerned about high pedestrian injury levels, the city may soon increase penalties — from $50 to $500 — for a vehicle encroaching on a crosswalk.

Some commuters are grumbling about Washington’s moves; a spokesman for AAA calls the Distict of Columbia “the most anti-car city in the country.” But city officials say they’re just intent on reclaiming Washington city streets for the people who live there, creating a walkable, bikable, transit-oriented metropolis.

In a parallel move, Washington’s Office of Planning wants to revise post-World War II zoning regulations — similar across the country — that require new buildings to provide ample off-street parking. Such city rules are totally outmoded, says parking reform advocate Donald Shoup. They inhibit smart compact development and drive up the cost of housing.

What made America such an incredibly pro-auto nation in the first place? Our wide open spaces, love of personal freedom explain a lot. But our streets, like those of all the world, were chiefly for pedestrians before the automobile emerged.

A new book by Peter Norton — Fighting Traffic — The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City — recounts a concerted early 20th century campaign by auto makers and their allies to redefine city streets as motor throughways, with pedestrians “safely” relegated to sidewalks.

Unsatisfied with their initial success, automakers campaigned for more street space and Herbert Hoover, an engineer and future president, to convene a 1928 conference on traffic. It obligingly demanded more “floor space” for trucks and cars.

In 1939 came General Motors’ Futurama exhibit at the World’s Fair in New York. It depicted a world literally planned around motor vehicles. Superhighways (as wide as 14 lanes) would dominate the cities they passed over. The impression on the public was profound.

So are today’s auto-curbing efforts simply wisps in the wind? Possible– but not likely. Our once world-dominating automakers are tetering economically. “Peak oil,” mounting energy scarcity, climate change are realities.

Of course autos and trucks won’t disappear; they’re a key to modern nations’ economies. But one senses a new genie out of the bottle — a demand for streets, urban and town roadways that enhance peoples’ lives, restraining motor vehicles, not eliminating them. Every agenda from health (better air, less obesity) to aesthetics, energy-saving transit to quality of life, demands it.

And just think that our population will grow by 100 million by 2040 or so. Do we have the stunning amounts of steel, asphalt, public space to accommodate them as we’ve been living? We’re dangerously behind maintaining the vast but overtaxed roadways we have. Realism says this century simply can’t be a repeat of the heavily motorized 20th.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Till Death Do Us Part

till (tĭl)

[Middle English, from Old English til, from Old Norse.]

Till and until are generally interchangeable in both writing and speech, though as the first word in a sentence until is usually preferred: Until you get that paper written, don't even think about going to the movies.

Till is actually the older word, with until having been formed by the addition to it of the prefix un–, meaning “up to.”

In the 18th century the spelling 'till became fashionable, as if till were a shortened form of until. Although 'till is now nonstandard, 'til is sometimes used in this way and is considered acceptable, though it is etymologically incorrect.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Click on Screen to Start TV Clip

Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden

Bruno Torfs was born in South America and lived there with his family till the age of fifteen. At this point the whole family made the move to Europe in seek of new opportunities.

After training and working as a sign writer Bruno made a gradual transition to become a fulltime artist. Through his diverse talents and a spirit for adventure Bruno created a unique style full of culture and character. This was achieved through many trips around the world, both alone and with his wife Marleen.

Sketching the scenes and faces of his journeys allowed Bruno to return home and make oil painting and sculpture versions of his experiences. These artworks would then be sold in a series of annual exhibitions hosted in the lower levels of the family home. Bruno in India After several years of this lifestyle, Bruno and the family made a decision to pack up and move to Australia to create a sculpture garden that he would run as a permanent attraction. The family arrived in Melbourne and shortly after had found the perfect place in the small Victorian village of Marysville.

The luscious sub-alpine forests of the surrounding area were the ideal setting for Bruno's plan and luckily the property he purchased he a large section of rain forest attached.

After five months of backbreaking work Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden was opened to the public.

Also on the property was a gallery that housed over 200 of his artworks brought over from Europe that included oil paintings, sketches and smaller sculptures. The garden began with just fifteen life sizes terracotta sculptures, today there are over one hundred and fifteen pieces on display and Bruno is still making regular additions. The unique experience of the garden and its wondrous inhabitants attracts thousands of visitors a year. Bruno and the family still live there and always take great pleasure in being able to share their magnificent art treasure with all that come.

Very short grammar lesson


by Jean Nordhaus, from Innocence. © Ohio State University Press, 2006.
from the Writer's Almanac

Would it surprise you to learn

that years beyond your longest winter
you still get letters from your bank, your old
philanthropies, cold flakes drifting
through the mail-slot with your name?
Though it's been a long time since your face
interrupted the light in my door-frame,
and the last tremblings of your voice
have drained from my telephone wire,
from the lists of the likely, your name
is not missing. It circles in the shadow-world
of the machines, a wind-blown ghost. For generosity
will be exalted, and good credit
outlasts death. Caribbean cruises, recipes,
low-interest loans. For you who asked
so much of life, who lived acutely
even in duress, the brimming world
awaits your signature. Cancer and heart disease
are still counting on you for a cure.
B'nai Brith numbers you among the blessed.
They miss you. They want you back.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

WES Commuter Rail To Open this Fall

TriMet WES Commuter Rail

Weekday rush-hour service between Wilsonville and Beaverton

Commuters in Washington and Clackamas counties will soon have a new alternative to I-5/Highway 217. Starting in fall 2008, you can travel hassle-free from Wilsonville to Beaverton on WES.

TriMet’s WES (short for Westside Express Service) is a new commuter rail line serving Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. WES will run about every 30 minutes, Monday through Friday, during the morning and afternoon rush hour.
Instead of sitting in traffic, you'll have your own "WES time" to use however you like. Plus, you can depend on WES to get you there on time. Now isn't that a nice way to start your workday?

* Rush-hour service from Wilsonville to Beaverton
* Free parking at four stations
* Free Wi-Fi internet access on board
* Comfortable seats and a smooth ride
* Real-time arrival displays at all stations
* Bike racks and lockers at stations

Public Art on Commuter Rail

Working in collaboration with project partners, TriMet is continuing its commitment to public art with the Washington County commuter rail project.

The project has allocated $500,000 to fund the commuter rail Public Art Program based on 1.5 percent of eligible project costs.

The program is guided by an Art Advisory Committee, which is composed of representatives from every station area. The committee selected artists Frank Boyden and Brad Rude to develop artwork for the stations.


Frank Boyden is one of the region's most accomplished and versatile artists, equally at home with ceramics, printmaking and sculpture. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and Governor's Arts Award and most recently was the subject of a retrospective at the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem.

Boyden and Washington sculptor Brad Rude, who collaborated on artwork for Doernbecher Children's Hospital, have teamed up again for commuter rail. Artwork

Boyden and Rude have created a series of five sculptures, called Interactivators, for the five commuter rail stations. Each sculpture features moveable, cast-bronze heads and a vehicle mounted to a stainless-steel table. The heads, which appear in different guises at each of the stations, symbolize a wide range of emotions, traits and conditions. Like the cross section of humanity that may be found on any train car, these sculpted archetypes serve as a metaphor for the human experience. The bronze vehicles each carry a sculpted scene of an animal representative of the station area where they are located. Sculpture for Commuter Rail station

At each station, a table features sculptures of 16 heads expressing the full range of human experience, from comedy to pathos.

The figures and vehicles are attached to the tables in a way that allows them to move within "tracks" cut into the surface of the table. The sculptures, in addition to being unique works of art, offer a potential game that can be played by one person or an entire station full of people. There are no winners or losers, but rather opportunities for infinite encounters that can create social connection, offer insight or produce a simple moment of pleasure.

Other artwork includes a mural painted on a wall at the Tigard Transit Station and a willow pattern etched in the windscreen glass at stations in Tualatin and Wilsonville.

Art in the Pearl Labor Day Weekend

Art In The Pearl®, the annual arts festival, occurs every year on Labor Day weekend in early September. This festival fills the Northwest Portland Park blocks with art, theater, music, and hands-on activities for people of all ages.

Art In The Pearl® is a wonderful community event. Over one hundred artists show and sell work ranging from fine wooden furniture to beautiful paintings to photography, glass, clay, metal, jewelry, and much more!

The new World Music Stage has a variety of music, and the education pavillion has hands-on art activities for children and adults. There is also delicious food for sale.

Location and Date Art In The Pearl, is located in the Northwest Park Blocks, between W Burnside and NW Glisan at NW 8th Ave in Portland, Oregon. [Map] The dates are always on Labor Day weekend in early September. Hours are 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm on Monday.

Macular Degenerations Expo Saturday, October 4, 2008

Do you or a friend have age-related macular degeneration?

This Expo
Saturday, October 4, 2008 at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach might be of great interest to you.

To find out details and register online Click Here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Follow-up on the black helicopters black helicopters

Here is a follow-up story from the Oregonian on the black helicopters I reported 2 days ago. Watch for them again tonight.

Click on photo to enlarge

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dahlia Festival

Next weekend is the last time to see this year's Swan Island Dahlia Festival. We attended this last weekend. I forgot to put the battery in my camera, so you'll have to settle for a view of the cut bouquet we brought home plus this link to the photos I took last year.

Dahlia Photos.
Click Photo to enlarge.

Helicopter training mission creates big buzz in dowtown Portland

One of the joys of urban living is watching the night sky. We had quite a show last evening. We watched as the three black helicopters with no markings landed on top of the Fox Tower, immediately took off and streaked away faster than we've ever seen helicopters fly.

Helicopter training mission creates big buzz in dowtown Portland
11:12 PM PDT on Monday, August 25, 2008

A lot of people were buzzing about all the helicopters jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper Monday Night.

They're coming back.

Those helicopters that began buzzing downtown at 7 on Monday will be returning Wednesday evening as part of a U.S. Navy training exercise.

The Navy was conducting "urban military" training with multiple helicopters flying at low altitudes in downtown Portland and the surrounding area for a few hours, said John Doussard, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Potter. The Navy had approached the mayor's office last November requesting permission to conduct training in Portland, and the city agreed in April.

The scene of choppers ferrying apparently armed crews over Southwest Broadway and landing on a high-rise roof, however, spooked many, prompting dozens of calls to emergency dispatchers and the mayor's office. The Portland Police, which is helping coordinate the training, issued notice to media organizations less than 20 minutes prior to the start of the exercise.
"My personal opinion is I wish we had done a better job of (alerting citizens)," said Doussard. "(The Defense Department) like to get in and do their training and get out without a lot of hoopla. But when you fly a helicopter over a busy downtown, there is a certain amount of hoopla involved."

According to the letter granting permission, Potter wrote that "members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment would utilize buildings in the jurisdiction of the City of Portland for this training exercise. I understand that this training will include low visibility movement, military operations in urban terrain, manual and low weight explosive breaching, fast-rope insertion, live fire, low-power training ammunition, simmunitions, flash bang, surveillance and counter-surveillance."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lost Boy's True Olympic Moment: Carrying U.S. Flag

Lost Boy's True Olympic Moment: Carrying U.S. Flag

by Tom Goldman

Morning Edition, August 8, 2008 · Sometimes it's hard to cut through the Olympic hype, the television coverage with swelling music and stirring stories, to find what games organizers like to call a true Olympic moment — one that embodies hardship and triumph and humanity, all through the prism of sport. In Beijing, runner Lopez Lomong is having one of those moments.

The 23-year-old native of Sudan, now a citizen of the U.S., was chosen by his teammates to carry the American flag in the opening ceremony. On Friday, he struggled to describe what the moment means: "I don't even have a word for it. I'm just so happy — very happy."

Here's why: Seventeen years ago, when he was 6, Lomong was kidnapped by rebels, looking for child soldiers to fight in Sudan's civil war. He later escaped and fled to Kenya where, in 2000, two critical events propelled him to a startling new life.

To listen to his story Click Here and then click on "Listen Now."

Now he'll compete in China, a country that supports the Sudanese government, which is blamed for the civil war that uprooted Lomong and thousands of other so-called "Lost Boys of Sudan."

At a news conference Friday, Lomong, a member of the athlete's activist group called Team Darfur, avoided criticizing the host country. He chose instead to tell his story.