New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘Jay Walljasper’

Walking as a Way of Life

December 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Jay Walljasper

A New Movement for Health and Happiness

by Jay Walljasper

Researchers have discovered a “wonder drug” for many of today’s most common medical problems, says Dr. Bob Sallis, a family practitioner at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Fontana, California. It’s been proven to help treat or prevent diabetes, depression, breast and colon cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety and osteoporosis, Sallis told leaders at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.

“The drug is called walking,” Sallis announced. “Its generic name is physical activity.” Recommended dosage is 30 minutes a day, five days a week, but children should double that to 60 minutes a day, seven days a week. Side effects may include weight loss, improved mood, improved sleep and bowel habits, stronger muscles and bones as well as looking and feeling better. (more…)

Riding Stylishly

November 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Do Bike Lanes Promote Gentrification?

by Jay Walljasper

While African-Americans comprise the fastest growing demographic of bicyclists, doubling from 2001 and 2009 according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, bike lanes proposed for African-American neighborhoods in several cities have drawn controversy.

There are widespread feelings in some African-American communities that bike lanes are the opening act of gentrification, says Adrian Lipscomb, a bicycle project coordinator for the city of Austin, Texas who is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on African-Americans and biking. One woman in the historically African-American neighborhood of East Austin told Lipscomb: “When the bikes came in, the blacks went out.” However, Census data shows the percentage of the population that was white in the neighborhood increased only one percentage point between 2000 and 2009, while the percentage that was Latino climbed eight. (The numbers of Latinos biking in the United States rose nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2009, compared to 22 percent for whites. Whites and Latinos now bike at the same level.) (more…)

Bike Lanes to Somewhere

October 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

On Race, Health, and Equity

by Jay Walljasper

Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church encompasses both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”

Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African-Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.” (more…)

Local Green Activism

October 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Save the Planet, Starting on Your Own Block

by Jay Walljasper

After 40 years of what felt like progress in protecting our environment, the ecological crisis now seems to be worsening. Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, is heating up. The massive exploitation of the tar sands in Canada might be the tipping point, from which we can never return. Fracking for natural gas and oil threatens underground water supplies. The oceans are being massively over-fished. Species extinction is accelerating.

The global commons faces massive threats no one could have dreamed on the first Earth Day back in 1970. What are we to do?

Obviously we need to address these mounting global crises — vocally and determinedly over the long term. But it’s also time to take a look around our own communities.

While we generally think of Greens rallying to save rain forests, coral reefs, deserts and other faraway tracts of wilderness, that’s just one aspect of saving the Earth. It’s also crucial to work together with neighbors on important projects in our own backyard. (more…)

Communities and Connections

July 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Neighborhood Activism and the Pursuit of Happiness

by Jay Walljasper 

At one point in my life, my neighbors and I were fighting battles on two fronts to protect our community. Our modest Kingfield neighborhood in Minneapolis was threatened on one side by the widening of a freeway, which would rip out scores of homes, and on the other side by the widening of an avenue, which would escalate traffic speeds on an already dangerous road.

I remember a dizzying round of strategy sessions, protest rallies, public meetings, more strategy sessions, and, eventually, victory parties, which wound up redirecting my life and work in gratifying ways Until that point, I rarely thought about opportunities for improving people’s lives by boosting public life and revitalizing public spaces. (more…)

Importance of the Commons

July 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

In Praise of Vacant Lots and Community Development

by Jay Walljasper

It’s easy to talk about the importance of the commons in grand terms — vast stretches of breathtaking  wilderness, publicly funded advances in science and technology, essential cultural and civic institutions,  the air and water which we all depend on for survival. But let’s not forget the lowly commons all around that enrich our lives. Things like sidewalks, playgrounds, community gardens, murals, neighborhood hangouts, and vacant lots. Especially vacant lots.

Modern society’s obsession with efficiency, productivity, and purposefulness sometimes blinds us to the epic possibilities of empty spaces that aren’t serving any profitable economic function. The word “vacant” itself implies that these places are devoid of value. But think back to all the imaginative uses you could discover for vacant land as a kid. You probably realized someone else owned it, but it was still yours to run around, play ball, plant a garden, host tea parties, pitch a tent or just get away from the watchful eye of adults. Thankfully, commoners in many places are working to make sure that vacant lots will be there for future generations of kids. (more…)

Ending Bikelash

June 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Support for Bicycling Surges Nationwide

by Jay Walljasper

Former New York mayor Ed Koch envisioned bicycles as vehicles for the future. In 1980, he created experimental bike lanes on 6th Green lane picand 7th avenues in Manhattan where riders were protected from speeding traffic by asphalt barriers. It was unlike anything most Americans had ever seen, and some people roared their disapproval. Within weeks, the bike lanes were gone.

Twenty-seven years later, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan saw the growing ranks of bicyclists on the streets as a key component of 21st-century transportation, and began building protected bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They had studied the success of similar projects in Copenhagen and the Netherlands, noting how to make projects more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. (more…)