Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get Involved in Local Emergency Management

Emergency management and disaster response is too important to be left to professionals and to governments, if for no other reason than those two groups will be overwhelmed by a big disaster, as the events in Japan have shown over the past week. One good way for individuals to learn more about how to be useful in an emergency is to participate in a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program. Besides general information about the program, the site has an index of local CERT programs, so you can find one close to you.

Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan

In light of recent events in Japan, I thought I would look into the state of emergency planning in Cascadia. The first thing I have dug up is the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (499 pg. pdf).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Most Significant Peaks in Cascadia

The most significant peaks (over 4,000 meters) in Cascadia are:
Mount Logan
  • Mount Logan  5,959 m
  • Mount Rainier  4,392 m (Tahoma)
  • Mount Shasta  4,322 m
  • Grand Teton  4,199 m
  • Mount Waddington  4,019 m  (Mystery Mountain)
The St. Elias Range is one of the highest in North America, and includes eight other peaks, besides Mount Logan, which have an elevation over 4,000 m and which lie inside the borders of Cascadia. These are:
  • Mount Saint Elias  5,489 m
  • Mount Vancouver  4,812 m
  • Mount Fairweather  4,671 m
  • Mount Hubbard  4,577 m
  • Mount Alverstone  4,439 m
  • McArthur Peak  4,389 m
  • Mount Augusta  4,289 m
  • Mount Cook  4,196 m
Mount Shasta

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tips for Starting a Community Garden

One of the biggest issues facing us as we deal with resource depletion will be keeping ourselves fed. By necessity, we will need to grow more food closer to home. One way to encourage movement in this direction is to promote local neighborhood gardens (also known as community gardens or P-patches). If you don't have one in your neighborhood, start one! I know from personal experience that it takes no special experience or knowledge to establish a new community garden.

My tips:
  1. Find a good location. This can seem like the hardest part, but it is not that difficult. Talk to local churches (many of whom have large underused church yards and who are institutionally interested in helping to feed the hungry), community centers, and schools to see if they have land they could set aside for a community garden. Also talk to local government - sometimes, local government is willing to set aside land for a community garden.
  2. Find partners. Local garden clubs are a great place to start, as they will often have a bunch of members who are eager to participate. Other community organizations may be able to help as well.
  3. Advertise what you are doing. Try to get an article in the local paper or at least write a Letter to the Editor describing what you are doing. Also, if your partner group(s) has a website, advertise on that.
  4. Solicit donations. Local businesses may be able to help provide materials, particularly if you have a clear plan and specific requests. Also, there are many grant-making non-profit organizations that can help if you submit requests.
  5. Find a mentor. There are a surprising number of people out there who at one time or another have been involved with a community garden. Find them and learn all you can from their experience.
  6. Just do it! Enough said.
If you have specific questions about how to make a community garden happen in your neighborhood, please feel free to contact me, and I will help in any way that I can.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cascadian News Roundup

Oregon's Aprovecho Research Center builds stoves to help the environment, health and humanity This is a great example of development of appropriate technology that actually meets the needs of people. It isn't glamorous, but it works great!

Fate of border-crossing wolves in hands of U.S. judge This situation is a great example of why our political structures need to be designed with bio-regionalism in mind. The wolves don't care at all about the 49th Parallel.

Tea Party Boise backs nullification of federal laws at upcoming hearing As an advocate for less federal power (eventually leading to the elimination of federal power) I am theoretically in favor of this. However, like the situation in Egypt, letting regions actually practice self-government may lead to situations where regions make silly choices.

Tunnel opponents must wait for fall vote on I-101
Panel rejects pricey, innovative design for Portland-to-Vancouver bridge; suggests three cheaper plans Cascadia is still trapped in the mindset that using vast amounts of resources to build new automobile infrastructure is a good idea as oil supplies decline.

Labour dispute blamed for slowdown at B.C. ports
Ports already feeling pain of possible strike

A Bank of Washington could help state businesses on road to recovery This may be a good first step to declaring Cascadian economic independence from the Federal Reserve System.

Bill proposes state websites should sell advertising Advertising is what makes our consumerist society consume, and consumerism is a major source of our current difficulties. This is a horrendously bad idea that nonetheless will probably pass.

Metro vs. mansions: Province asked to help curb sprawl on ALR land Metro Vancouver officials are worrid about the right thing: How will we feed ourselves if we allow agricultural land to be devoured by sprawl?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Throwing Perfectly Good Money into a Hole in the Ground

It looks like the debate about a tunnel replacement for the Alaska Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle is nowhere near over. Most recently, as a result of an initiative filed Tuesday, the city will vote in November about whether to allow the State to build a planned tunnel. Replacing the Alaska Way Viaduct doesn't make sense, and replacing it with the most expensive and riskiest replacement idea just compounds the error.

Some reasons we should stop all expansion of automobile infrastructure and take advantage of opportunities to reduce it:
  • The world is past peak oil, so one way or another the amount people drive is going to have to fall.
  • The American Empire uses about 3-4 times its fair share of oil based on population, mainly due to economic and military dominance. Eventually, we can expect that the rest of the world will decide this arrangement no longer suits them, and then we can expect the amount of automobile usage to decline dramatically. Why not plan for this future and accept it gracefully rather than go on kicking and screaming like a two-year old about our lifestyle being "non-negotiable". We'll get to the same place either way, the only difference is how much pain we inflict on ourselves by fighting it.
  • This state desperately needs the money that will be used on this project to finance other things, like basic health care and education.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Public Banking for Cascadia

Yes! Magazine reported last week that Washington State Joins the Movement for Public Banking. To anybody who is familiar with the history and success of the 92-year-old, publicly owned Bank of North Dakota, this is is very good news indeed, although judging by the low level of local news coverage, it is hard to say if the idea is going anywhere in the Legislature. The predictably pro-oligarchy Seattle Times has been dismissive of the idea (So much for a state bank). But the advantages of a state-owned bank, vs. continuing to send the state's money to Wall Street to earn profits for bank shareholders rather than for our own citizens and government, are pretty strong:
  • A public bank doesn't pay outrageous salaries and bonuses to executives, or reward them for the sort of reckless risk taking that brought Wall Street down in 2008 and is threatening to do so again.
  • Profits on the savings held by the state stay in the state rather than being funnelled off as bank profits to private shareholders.
  • A public bank is better able to provide affordable credit to local business.
  • A public bank would be operated in a financially conservative manner. The Bank of North Dakota remained profitable throughout the recent credit crisis unlike banks such as Bank of America, which Washington State currently uses to hold state savings.
  • Unlike most of the banking system, which is private in name only (for more on this, read Why Do We Keep Indulging the Fiction That Banks Are Private Enterprises?), profits are privatized and losses are socialized (i.e., paid by taxpayers). A state bank would socialize the profits and could very conceivably avoid the losses, because it would be run like a bank and not like the current Wall Street casino.