Egan Warming Centers and Mary S. [repost]

Editor’s Note: I posted this almost a year ago today. The Egan Warming Centers will be activated for the first time this year tonight, November 18. I received such positive feedback from the original post, I thought it warranted a repeat. I’ve not seen Mary S. since that cold November evening in 2010, but here is her story again:
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The other day, I saw a post on my Facebook News Feed about the Egan Warming Center. I’ve lived here in Eugene for most of my life and had never heard of the Warming Center. Administered by St. Vincent dePaul, the Egan Warming Center’s mission is to provide homeless people in Lane County a place to sleep indoors when temperatures drop to 28º or below between November 15 and March 31. Several churches in our area open their facilities for people to sleep when it gets cold. So I reposted the link on my Facebook and said, “this is worth getting the word out.” Then I went about the rest of my day.

Little did I know that on my way home that night (I had a late meeting downtown and was catching the late bus), a lady who appeared to be homeless got on the bus wanting to know where a particular church was. It happened to be one of the churches that host the homeless on cold nights.

I told her it was a couple of stops after my stop, and a young couple on the bus also said they were headed there, too. She was grateful for the help and caring and we struck up a conversation. Actually, it was more I got to listen to her story for the 15 minutes until my stop. About halfway into the conversation I said, “My name’s Bill, what’s yours?” and she said “I’m Mary S.” and we shook hands.

It’s interesting how it’s easy to judge someone by their looks yet when you talk to them (I did get a few words in), you find they have a lot on the ball. Mary S. had thin hair, deep furrows on her perfectly-round face and meticulously-applied pink lipstick. Yet her lipstick wasn’t gaudy; it was tastefully applied.

I listened as she talked about the atrocities of shooting gray wolves, the slaughter of seals, global warming and the awfulness of animal farming and how selfishness was really at the root of it all. It was a fascinating time. She had some very deep insights into this world and life in general. It looked like she had most, if not all, of her possessions in the two plastic grocery bags she carried with her.

And it made me realize just how fortunate I am. As I came home to my warm house, hot mocha and electric blanket, I thought of Mary S. and the wonderful volunteers who will spend all night giving her, the other young couple on the bus and who knows how many others the ability to have a warm, dry place to sleep.

And it made me think how the simple act of riding the bus goes way deeper than just reducing my carbon footprint and living a simpler, sustainable lifestyle; it’s an opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t normally talk with. And that can open up some amazing conversations and friendships.

By reducing my carbon footprint, I think I just increased my heart footprint.

Transportation Options Redux

A while back, I did a series on transportation options. I recently stirred the pot (as I’m wont to do) on Facebook and that discussion generated enough activity to warrant another post here.

What got this discussion going was an observation that the new proposed bus rapid transit line (EmX) in Eugene would result in approximately the same number of bus trips on the road as currently exist. But it would end up being one bus every 10 to 15 minutes instead of four bus routes running every half hour. And it has proven to increase ridership. Having ridden both the regular bus lines and the EmX, it seemed to me to be much more efficient and convenient than the system that currently is in place.

This, of course, generated a flurry of comments and opinions. I do have a group of Facebook friends with widely differing views on many topics, even this one. I enjoy this, because it generates lively discussions and topics to write about here.

I’m also going to make my comments here in the framework of the triple bottom line. The TBL concept is one that, I believe, we can apply to most any topic, especially one related to transportation. And it’s an easy format for me to use. So I will talk about my opinions related to the EmX in the context of economy, environment, and equity.

ECONOMY
Some of the comment related to the EmX discussion are centered on economy. The new line infrastructure will cost about $95 million. Yes, that’s a lot of money. About $75 million will be from Federal funding and the remainder from State funding. LTD (Lane Transit District) has already factored the additional operating costs into their budget.

It’s sometimes hard to separate thoughts and ideas into three simple categories, too. As I often say, “everything’s connected.” So there are some economic equity issues, too, but I’ll save some of those for the other sections of this post. So bear with me as I try to categorize my thoughts as best I can.

Aside from the initial costs of EmX, the impact on businesses during construction is also a concern often raised. And while I think it is a valid concern, I also believe it’s still worth it. In the current two EmX lines that have been constructed, not one business has gone out of business because of the EmX. I also have noticed that none of the current businesses along existing EmX lines have joined the “No Build” sign war currently going on along the proposed route. It would seem to me that if the EmX resulted in such an adverse impact on businesses along the routes, those businesses would be joining the fight. But they aren’t.

With all the concern about cost and the complaints about traffic congestion along the West 11th corridor, I wonder what impact simply widening the road would have and how much that would cost? Businesses would still be affected by the construction. Even more right of way would have to be obtained from private land owners. And I think we’d just end up with six lanes of congestion instead of four.

Historically, the EmX is more efficient for LTD to operate and will inevitably increase ridership. Both are win-win situations.

ENVIRONMENT
I have always been a strong proponent of protecting the environment. Transit systems are inherently more efficient and create less pollution (by about 95%) than single occupant vehicles. Simply, if you have 55 people (seated) in one bus, versus 55 vehicles, there is less air pollution, congestion, etc. And the EmX buses are hybrid electric, using less fossil fuels.

One point to make, too, is the proposed EmX route will also upgrade bike and pedestrian connections along the route. That benefit seems to get lost in all the hoopla and hyperbole. We have a decent bike route along the new EmX route, but it has some major gaps. We also have a marginal sidewalk system along the route. The proposed extension also upgrades those. Options.

EQUITY
This one is where I have the most passion. We have a society and transportation system that relies heavily on the automobile. So much so that we have effectively legislated a culture that requires you to have a car to get around. And yet we have many people (including friends of mine) who don’t own a car, can’t afford a car. And some can’t ride a bike.

When you think of this, if we have a society where a car is pretty much required to get to a job, how are those who can’t afford a car supposed to find and keep a job? And if the bus system is inefficient, requiring long waits to transfer, that keeps the husband away from his wife or the single mom away from her kids even longer (just as an illustration). We are perpetuating a cycle of social inequity and injustice.

I’ve had some say the EmX conversation is pitting the “98% against the 2%.” In reality, according to the US Census, 64% of Eugene residents commute by single occupant vehicle, 8% carpool, 5% bus, 7% walk, 11% bike and 5% work at home. EmX is trying to even out these numbers to make transportation more equitable for people.

SUMMARY
Change is often difficult. Investing in our future is also hard. It forces us to think and plan beyond the “now.” And as a culture, we’ve gotten away from that. We have developed a mindset of the immediate. From fast food to streaming movies on the internet to text messaging, we have placed unrealistic expectations on our culture. We have also become selfish. If I’m part of the 64%, why should we spend all that money on the others? After all, it doesn’t directly affect me.

But it does. There are societal issues we are facing (poverty, crime, dissent) that, I believe, are a direct result of us not considering the impacts decisions we make have on anything or anyone other than myself. And that’s where I fear we may miss the mark.

Republican Debate and Obama’s Job Speech

A friend of mine recently challenged me via Facebook to watch the Republican debate. I responded that I would if he would, in turn, watch President Obama’s jobs speech to Congress. My friend and I generally have opposite political views, so we took each other up on the challenge. The rules were that we had to watch both in their entirety (no edited, out-of-context sound bites) and no talking-head commentaries (Hannity, Beck, Colbert or Stewart).

So I watched them both. Last night. Via YouTube and the White House website. The nice thing about the internet is you can watch whenever you want. Without commercials, commentaries, etc. And my mind has been racing enough that I woke up this morning at 4:00 am with the debates and speech going through my mind. I finally got up at 5:00 and decided to start writing my opinions and observations. My wife had come home from a meeting near the end of my watching and asked if I was truly watching both with an open mind. I said, “I think so.” I’m not completely sure about that last one because we all have our biases and our opinions that are hard to change, but I tried.

I used to be what would probably be considered a Moderate Republican. But as the Tea Party rose and the Republican Party became more and more whatever they are, I left and voted for Obama in 2008. Or, to misquote Ronald Reagan, “I didn’t leave the Republican party, they left me.” Which leads in to my thoughts on the two topics at hand, since the debate was at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

THE DEBATE
Tom Brokaw had a comment about the debate format that rang true throughout the evening. He said they set up very strict rules on how the debate would run and then the candidates ignore them anyway. I found that generally true throughout the debate. The most frustrating thing was when a candidate would get a question and respond with “what I REALLY want to say is…” then totally go off on a tangent.

But I don’t want to get sidetracked with that. There were plenty of questions asked and actually answered to generate a good discussion.

Obviously, the economy was the major focus, as it was with Obama’s speech, too. However, probably the single most disturbing thing in the debate that I heard was that the economy was the ONLY issue. Pushed aside, denigrated, or ignored were the other two factors of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL): the environment and social equity. This was what bothered me the most. We should drill in the Everglades (responsibly, of course) to have domestic oil to help the economy. We need to first put up a fence along the Mexican border to keep people out (and, as Ron Paul aptly warned, keep us in) because of what they are doing to the economy, then deal with immigration issues. The economy is the single issue. If the environment or equity don’t fit the immediate economic model, let our immediate economic condition control.

THE JOBS SPEECH
I’m going to tie these together, but this seemed like a good time to segue to Obama’s Jobs speech. I’ve often recently believed and said that we need to increase revenue to get out of our economic mess. Not a popular idea in some no-tax-increase circles. But you have to increase revenue to make up the difference we currently have, regardless of how many spending cuts we propose. That can happen through higher taxes (Warren Buffet and other wealthy people seem to be on board with that) and/or through removing some tax breaks that are not needed anymore (a prime example would be the huge tax breaks oil companies still receive while at the same time reaping huge profits while renewable energy receives a tenth the subsidies and is labeled as “economically unfeasible”).

I’ve also believed for some time that spending money in this time to update our failing infrastructure (roads, transportation systems, electric grid, etc) is an opportunity we should not ignore. Look at history. Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad. FDR and the New Deal (granted, with mixed results) and Eisenhower and the Interstate Highway System. Granted, each of these men and “programs” did more than just stimulate the economy. They set the stage for better things. The railroad opened up the West. The New Deal programs resulted in the Civilian Conservation Corps and much of our ability to enjoy our National Forests. The Interstate Highways enhanced our ability for commerce and, simply, connected our nation.

The overarching similarity in all of these (and, I believe, in the proposal the President put forth the other night) is they weren’t simply focused on one thing. When we get that type of tunnel vision, when we look solely at the economic aspect without also considering the social equity or the environment, we will have missed the boat.

CONNECTING THE TWO
I could go on a lot longer with my opinions. But this post is already long enough I’ve probably lost some people.

Our society, our culture, our lives are much richer and vibrant when we take a full and interconnected view of what we are doing. I said I was going to tie these two events together and that is it. While economic recovery in our country is important, we need to guard against single-issue tunnel vision. Too many aspects of our lives are intertwined with each other. Let’s not get so bull-headed about just the economy that we also strip away the beauty of the natural environment or the dignity of another human being.

Best of Eugene 2011

I vote every year in the Best of Eugene balloting done by Eugene Weekly. I noticed as I was voting this year, there is a new category, “Best Blog.” Now, I want to be careful to not be accused of ballot stuffing or anything like that, but I think there are a lot of you out there (or at least a bunch… well, maybe a few) who like thesimpleHOUSE and might like to vote for my blog.

I think the prize is simply recognition in the Eugene Weekly and bragging rights around town. But my thought is if you enjoy my blog and would like to vote for me/it, I’d be delighted. Please only vote once and please only vote if you really like my blog. Don’t vote for me if you feel sorry for me. (There’s nothing to feel sorry for. I have a very blessed and happy life. If you’ve read my blog, you’d know that.)

It’s just so many of the local places I like have been recognized in past “Bests of Eugene”: Cornucopia (amazing burgers), Sweet Basil (best Thai food around), Papa’s Soul Food (best BBQ), Full City Coffee, the Willamette River Bike Path, among others, that when I saw the blog category, I thought, “Hey, I blog! Maybe I can shamelessly plug my site.” So I am.

Voting has to be done by September 25. And you have to vote in at least 10 categories (I think). So if you like thesimpleHOUSE, visit Eugene Weekly’s Best of Eugene voting link and vote for us (and at least nine others).

Thanks!

And, by the way, I took the photo for this blog a couple of years ago at the Eugene Celebration. My wife and a friend of ours were walking back to our car and I saw this couple strolling in front of the Hult Center. I grabbed my camera, took a quick shot and it turns out this has become one of my favorite pictures. And it’s a picture that captures the essence of Eugene and why I love living here so much.

Kampuchea 2011

My wife and I recently returned from a week and a half trip to Cambodia. We went with a team from our church to work on helping to build a church in a village near Takeo as well as paint at a school near the same village.

While there, we accomplished quite a lot for 13 people, but the work was back-breaking (the building project) and tedious (the painting project.) During our few days working, we found ourselves saying things like “all we really need is a back hoe” or “an air compressor and paint sprayer would sure make this go faster and easier.”

Yet a simple comment from the missionary we know there gave me pause and created some contemplation. His remark was “Yes, but with that, you’d probably have just put about 5 or 6 Cambodian people out of work.” As I thought about that, I thought about my desire to live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

Maybe all our time-saving devices aren’t necessarily the best things for us. Things like styrofoam cups are easy, disposable and cheap. But a glass cup is more durable and better for the environment (even if we have to wash it each time.) Disposable diapers are easy, but are clogging up landfills. What would happen in our society if we went back to returnable, washable milk bottles? We’d create (or restore) a whole segment of industry that we’ve lost.

And I think we’d restore some of the relational connections that we’ve lost with technology. We Facebook our friends, but how often do we actually meet them in person for coffee? Or lunch? Or dinner?

As my team in Cambodia was painting shutters, we had some very wonderful times of conversation. Talking, philosophizing, getting to know each other better. Did it take longer? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Maybe as we live our lives, we should consider the face-to-face relational things more. Seems like it would help us politically in our Country (that’s a whole other post…) as well as with our desire to live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. I encourage you as you Facebook that friend, to see if they want to get together for coffee. Live. In person.

I think you’ll be glad you did.

“Bike Traffic!”

Eighty Four. Forty five plus thirty nine equals eighty four. I’m kind of a numbers freak. So last Tuesday, as I was riding home from work, I decided to do a little counting.

Recently, Eugene, Oregon (my home town) was recognized as the number one town for bicycle commuters per capita in the country. The national average in the US is about 0.6% and Eugene has 5.6% of its workforce commuting by bike on a regular basis. I thought, I should count the number of bike riders on the paths and streets on my way home.

What brought this about was my wife and I were riding by our downtown lot (we hope to build our house and live there some day, but that’s another post) and encountered a number of bicycles at the intersection just a block away, had to stop and wait for them to pass (we had the stop sign) and when the last cyclist rode through the intersection, he raised his arms in the common bike-rider-victory-position and shouted “Bike traffic! Woo hoo!”

We chuckled at that, but then really started noticing all the bike traffic. Ever since right before the local Business Commute Challenge, I have been trying to be diligent in riding rather than driving. I’ve managed since May 10 to only drive to work three or four days and ride the rest. A total of just at 600 miles commuting and riding to meetings.

And that was what prompted my counting. I had also perceived there seemed to be more bike traffic on the paths than the streets, so I separated my counting on last Tuesday’s ride home. About the first half of my ride is along the wonderful Riverfront Bike Path here in Eugene and the second half along very bike-friendly streets.

It seemed pretty much split equally. I encountered 45 bicyclists on the bike path and 39 on the streets. Just about 50-50. That actually surprised me a bit. My perception was that the paths seemed more crowded. I guess if you add in the pedestrians, they were.

Regardless, it was a beautiful ride home. And it has only furthered my contention that everything is connected. Because I now have over 2,500 miles on my bike (saving roughly the original cost of my bike by the gas I haven’t purchased), I’ve dropped 12 pounds (2 more than I wanted, so I’m trying to eat a little more), I’m in a MUCH better frame of mind when I arrive at work and I have seen the goslings grow along the path, I hear the birds chirping and even the wind in my ears.

Sure beats listening to talk radio on my commute.

“Bike traffic. Woo hoo!”

Business Commute Challenge – Follow-Up

In my previous Business Commute Challenge 2011 post, I kind of put the carrot out there and challenged myself to see if I could ride my bike to work every day for a month. Not just the one week of the BCC, but until June 10.

Today’s June 10 and I want to report back to you that I made it.

Well, almost.

During the month between May 10 and June 10, I only drove my car to work two days. I rode my bike all the other days. To and from work. To and from meetings. I logged 224 miles on my bike. Which means I saved about $40 in gasoline, lost about 5 pounds and got some pretty good workouts.

The two days I drove were the two days right after Memorial Day weekend. I got a bad cold over the weekend and was still feeling sick Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn’t feel like riding. Hey, I was having trouble breathing and was coughing just sitting still. So I drove.

But the point isn’t that I didn’t exactly make my goal. The point is I think I enjoy biking even more now than when I started. Fair enough, we’ve had some pretty mild weather this last month. Very little rain (at least in the mornings coming in and the evenings going home). But I enjoy riding even more now than a month ago.

And, also fair enough, Eugene, Oregon, where I live has to have some of the best bike paths, lanes and streets of any community I know. So when it’s easier to get somewhere by bike, we are more likely to ride. And I have to admit, riding past a line of cars stuck in traffic has a certain feeling to it that’s a little hard to describe.

And riding along the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail bike/pedestrian path and enjoying the fresh, crisp morning air, chirping birds, pooping geese (well, I could live without the pooping geese, but the goslings are cute), and the spring flowers has a certain feeling, too, that is kind of hard to describe.

I’m finding I like biking better than driving. Not being stuck in traffic, inhaling exhaust fumes, enduring tense, uptight drivers. Oh, there are the few bikers and pedestrians that are uptight, but they are the few. And some of my biking is along a busy street, so I suck my share of fumes. But I have some good gear: a good helmet, rain gear, wrap-around eye glasses and wonderful saddle bags.

For me, at this point, it’s become less about saving gas, having a smaller carbon footprint, polluting less and more about sheer enjoyment.

So I’m REALLY hooked now. I’ll check back with you on July 10 and give you all another update.

Energy Subsidies and the “Free Market”

Time and time again, I hear people say that renewables should be subject to the “free market” and should not receive government subsidies. After all, if renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal are viable, the consumer should decide, not the government. And while I understand (and even to a point agree) with those comments, the problem is we simply don’t have a level playing field. Nor do we have (or will we ever have) a truly free market economy. As Wikipedia says, “purely free markets… are theoretical constructs.” So after a recent spate of posts on a couple of threads on my Facebook page, I thought I would address some of the issues that came up.

PURPOSE OF SUBSIDIES
I think the purpose of subsidies is to get fledgling industries off the ground so they can be viable. Call it investment capital, call it what you want, that’s how our culture works. Entrepreneurs have an idea and get investors and/or tax breaks for a period of time so they can build a good foundation and become productive. There is often a huge amount of research and development costs associated with a start-up company. And I’ll be the first to say I’m not an economist. But I will go on to say this isn’t rocket science, either.

The chart I’ve included with this post is based on a 2009 report by the Environmental Law Institute report titled “Estimating U. S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-2008.” The source of the information in the report comes from the Internal Revenue Service, the US Department of Energy, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and the US Department of Agriculture. The report covers the 6-year cumulative period of 2002-2008.

It’s a telling chart because it shows just how disproportionate the playing field really is. 72% of Federal subsidies for energy go to fossil fuels, not renewables. And if you group biofuel in with the fossil fuels (I do; biofuel is stupid), it’s more like 88%. The report goes into a great amount of detail regarding how the subsidies are parsed out.

Historically, a large amount of the subsidies for fossil fuel goes to coal. You know, the same people who brought you mountaintop removal. And black lung disease (and those suffering from it also are subsidized). Oil companies also receive a huge amount of subsidies for off-shore drilling costs, foreign exploration credits and the like.

But I guess my point here is that oil and coal have received subsidies for decades and at least the oil companies, who realistically hold a monopoly over us, are still seeing record profits. It seems subsidies should help companies get established, then phase out, not add on to profits. And the argument that we need to look at how much tax the oil companies pay would be valid if they weren’t paying tax on money we give them. Would you be willing to pay $300 tax on my gift of $1,000 to you? I sure would.

ON AGAIN/OFF AGAIN
In the 1980s, there were some pretty substantial tax credits (yes, subsidies) for solar. During that time, my parents installed a solar hot water system on their house. It’s still plugging along, churning out hot water. Then the Federal credits expired in 2000, 2002, 2004 and almost in 2008. They’ve currently been renewed through 2016.

But in my home state of Oregon, with one of the most aggressive tax credit programs around, the Legislature may look at eliminating them.

It’s this on again/off again situation that never allows any renewable energy company to ever really get off the ground. Why can’t we commit to a consistent subsidy for renewables over 20 or 25 years? It’s that see-saw effect, much like Roland Martin said in his blog about gasoline prices posted here a while back. And it essentially is strangling any hope of renewable energy ever coming close to competing with Big Oil.

LOOK PAST OUR NOSE
It’s the short-sighted view we have, where we don’t look past our nose to the future. We have these spurts of knee-jerk reactions when things get “bad” then fall into complacency when it evens out temporarily.

We can’t keep living like that. If we evened out the subsidies and shifted $30 billion of the oil subsidies to renewables, it would help. I believe even with fossil fuels’ head start, that shift alone, if continued consistently for 20 years, would make renewables viable and an integral part of our culture. And it would go a long way toward leveling that playing field.

Is anyone willing to give it a try?

Business Commute Challenge 2011

In a previous post last October, I talked about transportation options. It was my first year trying the Business Commute Challenge and I drove, rode my bike and rode the bus. It was that year I “discovered” the bus.

Well, this year, I “discovered” my bike. Not that I didn’t bike a fair amount over the last couple of years, after all, I have just passed 2,000 miles on my bike, but I made a commitment to ride all week during the Challenge. Regardless of the weather.

You need to understand, I’ve traditionally called myself a “fair weather cyclist.” I’d ride if it was nice and ride the bus if it wasn’t and drive if it was more convenient. And driving is still an option. But the week before the Challenge, it was nice weather and I rode. Partly to get in shape for the BCC and partly because it was, well… nice weather.

I work a four day week, so on May 11, I rode my bike. May 12 I had a bunch of meetings where the bus was a better option. The week of the 16th, which was the week of the BCC, I rode my bike.

Every day.

Rain or shine.

And then, I got inspired enough since my car’s gas tank was on empty for a week and a half and it was OK, to ride the week of the 23rd.

Rain or shine.

And I did. And it was mostly shine. But there was some rain. One day, I called it the Master and Commander Day.

It REALLY rained.

But you know what I found? I can ride in the rain. After all, I spent money on rain gear, was I actually going to use it?

I did.

And now, I’m thinking the personal “challenge” for me now is to see if I can go a month until June 10 (at least) riding my bike.

That’s my next goal.

I’ll let you know.

Envision Eugene

I recently wrote an op-ed piece for our local newspaper, The Register-Guard. here it is in its entirety:

The Envision Eugene draft document, which is poised to create “A Legacy of Livability,” is open for public comment; a public hearing is scheduled for Monday before the City Council. I know some have expressed frustration that we aren’t jumping in and drawing lines and getting to the details faster. As one who has lived in Eugene almost all of my 54 years, I’ve observed our community’s ups and downs and would like to offer my perspective on this process.

While the original mandate from the state Legislature was for cities to identify and establish a 20-year supply of buildable residential land, our city’s officials decided this was an opportunity to carry the process further and with more depth and completeness than just meeting the legal minimums. We had not performed such a comprehensive analysis since the 1980s, and it was long overdue.

These two goals — accommodating the next 20 years of growth and creating a livable, sustainable future for our community — are outlined in the draft Envision Eugene document.

What this meant was taking a few steps back to see the big picture and establishing some goals that went beyond just the mandate. And it means taking a little longer for the process. We must come to grips with the concept that everything is connected. Land use, transportation corridors and many other elements are inextricably dependent on each other.

Past planning decisions have not always recognized this. Plus, we also have a community that is known for its very diverse views on how to approach solutions, sometimes leading to no decision.

A Community Resource Group was formed by John Ruiz, our city manager. This group represented people with a broad range of interests, backgrounds and opinions.

What I observed with the CRG and other listening sessions was a bringing together of diverse members of our community in a way that started with our common thread. Then, the sessions took the common threads our community agrees on and used those as the foundation to build our collective vision for what we’d like Eugene to look like over the next few decades.

And that intentionally must start with general concepts before we delve into the details; we have to decide and agree on our destination before we choose the method of how to get there. That is what the whole Envision Eugene process, the seven pillars and the strategies and tactics attempt to do: provide the framework for actually “drawing the lines.”

Those seven pillars are objectives set out to: 1) provide ample economic opportunities for all community members, 2) provide affordable housing for all income levels, 3) plan for climate change and energy uncertainty, 4) promote compact urban development and efficient transportation options, 5) protect, repair and enhance neighborhood livability, 6) protect, restore and enhance natural resources, and 7) provide for adaptable flexible and collaborative implementation.

In short, these pillars address at least one aspect of the “triple bottom line” regarding the economy, the environment and social equity within a framework that allows flexibility and adaptation in the coming years.

As an architect, whenever we design a project for a client, we first require them to go through what we call a programming phase. This is where they lay out and establish what their goals are with their project: what their needs are, what they want it to feel like, look like and cost. Until those things are established, we won’t start designing or drawing lines. And when our clients have done a good job of thinking through their needs, goals and resources, our design and the end result for them is always successful.

I believe it will be the same with Envision Eugene. If we are patient enough to really establish and articulate our goals as a community and resist the urge to prematurely dive into drawing lines, we will have a much better result, a much more livable Eugene and a framework we can use for decisions in the future that will achieve the goals of our community.