New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Transforming City Life

July 06, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Pedestrianizing Urban Space and Undoing the ‘Auto-cracy’

by Jay Walljasper

I am perplexed by the almost complete lack of pedestrian districts in North America.  Why is it that car-free streets — designed for pleasurable strolling, shopping, and hanging out — which have become as common as stoplights or McDonald’s in European city centers, are almost non-existent here?

I’ve only seen a few — a couple of blocks in downtown Boston, Rue Prince Arthur in Montreal, Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and short stretches of downtown streets in college towns like Boulder, Ithaca, Iowa City, Charlottesville, and Burlington, Vermont.  (A glance at Wikipedia turns up a few more, although I notice many on the list, like the Nicollet Mall here in Minneapolis, are not truly car-free.) (more…)

A Fair for What’s Fair

May 05, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Diane Lefer, Economy, Politics

Labor, Solidarity, and the Future of Public Education

by Diane Lefer

Two weeks ago, I walked into an alternate universe. While the rights of American workers are under attack all over the country, I found myself at the 3rd Annual Labor, Social & Environmental Justice Fair — a whole-day event at California State University Dominguez Hills where students have been able to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Labor Studies since 1977.

Hundreds of community members and students heard speakers and live music, attended film screenings and standing-room-only workshops, and visited more than two dozen booths set up along the East Walkway in front of the Loker Student Union.

They could register to vote, learn about community gardens, protest the sale of sweatshop clothing in the university store, learn how the UFCW can fight to protect workers in the food industries, support health care for all, sign postcards to Senators Feinstein and Boxer urging a vote against the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia (where 51 union leaders were assassinated in 2010), petition the university for a Women’s Resource Center (for a campus where 70% of the students are women), and meet a beaming Madelyn Broadus who is now a proud member of Sheet Metal Workers, Local 105, thanks to the apprenticeship she was able to access through the efforts of the Black Worker Center in South LA. (more…)


March 18, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Mary Sojourner

Traversing the Spaces in Between

by Mary Sojourner

la·cu·na; pl. la·cu·nae (-n?) or la·cu·nas

1. An empty space or a missing part; a gap

2. Anatomy: a cavity, space, especially in bone…

A guy I knew forty-five years ago lives in Thailand.  He somehow found my email address and wrote me.  He’s still a lush. He’s still brilliant.  He sent me a link to a Thai newspaper article.  The site was no longer there.  I wrote him back:

The newspaper article is gone.  Those damn tricky lacunae.  Lacuna has been my favorite word for a few years.  Lacunae are a characteristic of the black widow spider’s web. People?  By and large we are tedious in our predictability.  The black widow spider isn’t surprised that she spins an asymmetrical web or that there are ragged holes in it.  The web catches food.  What more could a hard-working spider want?  Found myself by luck and not settling for less, standing in the perfect place at the base of a little mesa on July 4 to watch the fireworks being launched from its top.  Galaxies and luminous jelly-fish.  Nobody singing about bombs bursting in air.  My gratitude was doubled, for what was and wasn’t there. (more…)

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