Category Archives: musing

“We’ve never needed geniuses more than we do now.”

Look around the world today. Consider your country, your city . . .  Do you see signs of genius or even better “excess genius”, a deep-seated,  awe-inspiring 21st century Renaissance already underway?  We will dig into this later in the context of our Equity work, but for now let me draw your attention to this thoughtful piece  by Jonah Lehrer. And for myself just to take a bit of time to ponder this from the vantage of the place I am in today, Helsinki and Finland more generally.   (The following appeared in the Frontal Cortex column of Wired Science on March 22, 2012 .) Continue reading

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Musing: "Old Mobility" = mechanical solutions to biological problem

I like this concept, and while by itself it may not move the earth I would like to invite your comments and suggestions on this formulation which, self-evident though it may seem, some of us at least may find of use from time to time.  We need to get a firm handle on the reasons why old mobility thinking is proving so hard to dislodge. This quick characterization may be of help.

In a conversation yesterday with Katherine Freund of ITNAmerica, during which we were discussing her   participation in the forthcoming World Share/Transport Forum in Kaohsiung next month, the conversation rolled around as to the reasons why the narrow binomial choices which seem inevitably to frame the transport policy issues/choices in most places – i.e., either spend money to help cars or public transit as the two main options – are destined to fail. And in the process we eventually worked our way around to the phrase . . . Continue reading

"Drive for sustainable mobility" (You're kidding me, right?)

What a great idea! Fresh from the ever-busy “You’re kidding me, right?” Department” of World Streets, this title headlined an article appearing today in the “environment” section of a UK journal. No kidding!

For the full text of this thoughtful piece, you may click to http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/the-environment/2010/05/19/we-all-value-our-mobility-the-ability-to-move-around-freely-and-quickly-to-do-the-things-we-want-and-need-to-do-84229-26477125/

Bodhisattva in the metro

The Sanskrit term Bodhisattva is the name given to anyone who, motivated by great compassion and wisdom, has generated bodhichitta, a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. What makes someone a Bodhisattva is her or his spontaneous and limitless dedication to the ultimate welfare of others.

(May we suggest that you view this at least two times? Get comfortable.)

It’s not the destination, it’s the voyage.

Merci Christine.

World/Streets.

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Credits:
The scenarist and director of “Merci” is Christine Rabette (she is the one reading the book). Produced by Patrick Quinet and Artémis Productions, Belgium – www.artemisproductions.com With the support of the Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Communauté française (CCA), Belgium — //www.audiovisuel.cfwb.be/

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Paris, Monday, 29 March 2010

PS. What is it supposed to mean?

I was afraid I might be asked this question, and indeed I have on several occasions in the last day. So in all respect let me give this a stab, although I really do hesitate because in a way I see this as an intrusion on your interpretation, which is the only one that counts. So be it.

Essentially I had three thoughts lurking at the back of my mind in wanting to share this short film with you. None of them being ha-ha jovial.

The first is that I see it as pure Zen, by which in this case I mean it is what you want it to be. If you have the patience for it (your call!), it is well done, it is about life, and it is oh so gently about people. So to me, even as a World/Streets guy, the fact that it takes place in an urban transport mode is not at all the main point. But to each of us, her/his own.

The second idea was to see if this might serve for some as a quiet, close to subliminal call to encourage us all to get comfortable with different thinking about our mission, and more generally that of planners and policy makers when faced with the challenges that World/Streets among many others attempts to address. I hope I am hurting no one’s feelings greatly when I make the point that much of the work that is planned and executed in our sector all too often combines high technical virtuosity, or at least talent, with a bit too narrow vision as to what cities are all about. Too much attention given to infrastructure, and not enough to people. (Did that come across for you?)

Finally, I wanted to see if this might reinforce one of our fundamental precepts here at World/Streets, which is that we need to give more attention to happiness as a goal of our work and choices. As a reformed economist I certainly do not want to surrender all of the terrain of happiness vs. your favorite indicator to Amartya Sen and Joe Stiglitz (as per their exemplary contribution via the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress). They have helped to blaze this path, but we now need to take it further in our own work.

More happiness in transport, more happiness in cities. Tell me that this is not a noble goal?

Eric Britton
Editor, World/Streets

PS. And oh yes, tell us what you think this is all about. That’s what the Comments section just below is for.