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Offset Indulgences: Portland

November 28, 2012

After the gratifying success in giving away the rough equivalents of carbon offsets to those who attended the lectures that I flew some distance to give (Cairns, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand), I thought I’d do the same for the annual lecture I give on transportation and land-use for the City of Portland/PSU Transportation Class – even though the amount was only $50.  (Actually, the cost of an offset is about $1.64 – but I consolidated all the trips I’ve taken there in the past.)
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Got two interesting responses:
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From Karl Lisle, Senior Planner – Central City Team, at the City of Portland – Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Problem:
High-density urban living is great if you have some experience with it.  It can be pretty scary if you don’t.  It’s a big, expensive, risky experiment to dive in and try it if your whole history is in single-family settings. 
Idea:
Mission-driven, foundation/public funded short-term high density experimental housing opportunities.  Let suburbanites try on the walking city for size with limited financial or cultural risk.  Offer affordable 3 month stays for households who are interested in living in the high-density, high-amenity (car-free or partially free) urban core.  Let them keep their existing homes and experiment with the the post-motordom world.  I would guess a significant percentage would end up liking it and making a shift to permanent post-motordom lifestyles.
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Intriguing idea, but I didn’t think $50 would be quite enough to pull it off.   So the recepient is – Patrick Loftus:
In that lecture you offered $50 transportation guilt money to the person who could best spend it on real incremental change.  Giving me $50 won’t make that change, but, as I suggested in class, donating it to Portland’s Community Cycling Center will.  This December the Community Cycling Center will hold its 17th annual Holiday Bike Drive where 400+ kids from families living on low income get to pick their first bike.  Check out this short videoto see what one bike did for one Portland family.

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These bikes are donated throughout the year, fully cleaned, and overhauled by hundreds of volunteers.  Despite all that amazing volunteer work, each bike still costs the Cycling Center $50.
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This is just a part of what the Community Cycling Center does to broaden access to bicycling and its benefits to everyone.  I believe in the mission so much that I sponsored a child by donating $50 through the Give Guide just before class.  If you know how $50 can make a bigger change than getting a kid their first bike, please let me know.  I’ll donate $50 too.
The cheque is on its way.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebecca permalink
    November 28, 2012 11:41 am

    Great choice! The cycling center does amazing work for our community. And, Patrick gets more people on bikes than anyone else I know (10 anyones, in fact)!

  2. December 4, 2012 8:37 am

    For anyone looking for a local (Vancouver) organization that performs a similar service, please consider a donation to P.E.D.A.L. — the charitable organization that runs Our Community Bikes, the Pedal Depot, Our Community Bike Club, and other ongoing workshops and services. From womyn-only bike maintenance classes, to working with a variety of other non-profit groups, the organization fills an important niched in the local cycling community, by making affordable bikes and D-I-Y repair training accessible to anyone, regardless of income or other barriers.

    http://pedalpower.org/pedal/

    (full disclosure – I am a member of the board of P.E.D.A.L)

    thanks!

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