Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bicycle Parking (Regionally Appropriate Design)


Two-wheels have become more important in my life (again!) lately, and I find its self-sufficient metaphor applicable to something my friend Asheen twittered a few weeks ago from the Biomimicry event in San Diego. Seems Ms. Benyus (I desperately want to read her stuff, maybe when I graduate) mentioned something about regionally appropriate design. A synapse must have closed in an odd way as I started thinking about thermodynamic economics, bio-regionally determined political boundaries, and the connection with maintaining an overall energy (and therefore material) balance within regions. Imagine if we accounted for the energy in and energy out of these regions, and the net outflow must be countered by a net inflow?

So, beyond talking about cycling as one of the basic solutions to our unsustainable economy (in terms of localized transit), I read Thomas Friedman's latest Op-Ed in the NYTimes called the The Inflection is Near. There's an underlying message in it, one that wonders if we have indeed reached some sort of a limit. In it, he references an article from the Onion, here's the excerpt he included:

FENGHUA, China — Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the “sheer amount of [garbage] Americans will buy. Often, when we’re assigned a new order for, say, ‘salad shooters,’ I will say to myself, ‘There’s no way that anyone will ever buy these.’ ... One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless [garbage]? I hear that Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I’ve made for them,” Chen said. “And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible.”
As Mr. Friedman goes on to say, the folks at The Onion were pretty much right. Satire is great isn't it?

So does all this stuff I've written tie together? I think so. As we sit here looking into the maw of a wounded and still falling economy, I can not help but feel confused and a bit befuddled that the behaviors that got us into this mess, over-consumption, debt, overproduction, etc. are the ones we, and the leaders we've elected are advocating to reignite.

Back to growth without the acknowledgment of limits..sounds like a great plan...

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