New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Jay Walljasper’

Heart of Revival

July 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Jay Walljasper

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Great Public Spaces

by Jay Walljasper

It’s a dark and wintry night in Copenhagen, and the streets are bustling. The temperature stands above freezing, but winds blow hard enough to knock down a good share of the bicycles parked all around. Scandinavians are notorious for their stolid reserve, but it’s all smiles and animated conversation here as people of many ages and affiliations stroll through the city center on a Thursday evening.

A knot of teenage boys, each outfitted with a slice of pizza, swagger down the main pedestrian street. Older women discreetly inspect shop windows for the coming spring fashions. An accomplished balalaika player draws a small crowd in a square as he jams with a very amateur guitarist. Earnest young people collect money for UNICEF relief efforts. Two African men pass by, pushing a piano. Candlelit restaurants and cafes beckon everyone inside. (more…)

Revitalizing

June 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Young, Talented, and Living in Detroit

by Jay Walljasper

Declining, desperate Detroit is old news.

It’s not that the city’s economic woes, struggling schools, racial friction and crime have been magically solved. A glance at local headlines will tell you that.

But there are new stories to tell about Detroit today. Which doesn’t mean the old stories are all wrong — just that they’re not the whole story anymore.

In recent years, for instance, Detroit has become a magnet for ambitious young people. Some grew up in the area; some move in from the coasts or other parts of the Midwest. Many are motivated by idealism or a sense of adventure, seeking to play a part in reviving a Great American City. Others, however, simply see an opportunity to fast track their careers. (more…)

Commons Champion

June 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

R.I.P. Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), Advocate for Shared Resources

by Jay Walljasper

Elinor Ostrom, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her lifelong work studying how communities share resources, died June 12. She was 78.

The only woman out of 69 Nobel Laureates in economics honored since 1969, Ostrom taught political science at Indiana University.

In research conducted throughout the world, she increased our understanding of how commons function in a wide variety of communities. Ostrom’s work also debunked the Tragedy of the Commons — the widespread idea that shared resources inevitably end in environmental and economic ruin

This international acclaim for her work was heralded in many developing nations as evidence that their commons-based traditions of cooperation and communal resources was not a violation of basic economic common sense, as many Western economic advisers warned. (more…)

Bicycle Brilliance

June 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Greening Our Streets and Bringing Bicycling into the 21st Century

by Jay Walljasper

You can glimpse the future right now in forward-looking American cities — a few blocks here, a mile there where people riding bicycles are protected from rushing cars and trucks.

Chicago’s Kinzie Street, just north of downtown, offers a good picture of this transportation transformation.  New bike lanes are marked with bright green paint and separated from motor traffic by a series of plastic posts.  This means bicyclists glide through the busy area in the safety of their own space on the road.  Pedestrians are thankful that bikes no longer seek refuge on the sidewalks, and many drivers appreciate the clear, orderly delineation about where bikes and cars belong.

“Most of all this is a safety project,” notes Chicago’s Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. “We saw bikes go up from a 22 percent share of traffic to 52 percent of traffic on the street with only a negligible change in motorists’ time, but a drop in their speeds. That makes everyone safer.”

Klein heralds this new style of bike lane as one way to improve urban mobility in an era of budget shortfalls. “They’re dirt cheap to build compared to road projects.” (more…)

Volunteer Spirit

April 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper, Politics

Implementing Strong Pro-Commons Policies

by Jay Walljasper

The Tea Party, libertarians and other so-called conservatives devoted to slashing all government spending not related to the military, prisons and highways have an easy answer when asked what happens to people whose lives and livelihoods depend on public programs. They point to volunteerism — the tradition of people taking care of each other which has sustained human civilization for millennia.

It’s a compelling idea, which evokes the spirit of the commons (the growing movement to protect and expand the whole sphere of cultural and economic assets belonging to all of us together). Volunteers working largely outside the realm of government — neighborhood organizations, fire brigades, blood banks and other civic initiatives — are obvious examples of commons-based sharing and caring.

So that means Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney qualify as commoners (people working to improve the state of our commons)? Even with their adamant skepticism about Medicare, environmental regulations and campaign finance limits? (more…)

Less Waste/Waist

April 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Jay Walljasper, Politics

Everyone Benefits When More People Bike and Walk

by Jay Walljasper

For the past year powerful voices around Washington have singled out programs to improve biking and walking as flagrant examples of wasteful government spending.

Since last summer, proposals have flown around the Capitol to strip away all designated transportation funds for biking and walking — even though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips across America but receive only 1.6 percent of federal funding.

But last week the U.S. House of Representatives — the hotbed of opposition to bike and walking as well as transit programs — voted to extend the current surface transportation bill for another three months, saving the funding of bike and ped programs. The Senate followed two hours later. (This marks the ninth extension of the existing transportation bill since 2009 and another victory for the growing movement to ensure federal support for biking and walking projects.) (more…)

All That We Are…

March 01, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Annie Leonard Discusses the Influence and Importance of the Commons

by Jay Walljasper

Annie Leonard is one of the most articulate, effective champions of the commons today. Her webfilm The Story of Stuff has been seen more than 15 million times by viewers. She also adapted it into a book.

Drawing on her experience investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues in more than 40 countries, Leonard says she’s “made it her life’s calling to blow the whistle on important issues plaguing our world.”

She deploys hard facts, common sense, witty animation and an engaging “everywoman” role as narrator to probe complex problems such as the high costs of consumerism, the influence of corporate money in our democracy, and government budget priorities.

In 2008, she founded the Story of Stuff Project, to help people get involved in making the decisions that affect their future and to create new webfilms on critical issues such as The Story of Citizens United and The Story of Bottled Water. Her most recent film, The Story of Broke, provides a riveting rebuttal to claims that America can no longer afford health and social protections. (more…)