The following was sent yesterday by the editor as a private communication to a small group of long time colleagues, as a kick-off to and call for collaboration in the new year ahead. Since the reaction has been so immediate and positive I have decided to post it to World Streets, as part of our transition strategy and general preparations for the year ahead. Comments more than welcome. Eric Britton, Editor, World Streets (Shown: Our editor at his desk as he reflects on 2009.)
New Mobility Partnerships – http://www.newmobility.org
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Paris, 1 January 2010
Was there anything horrible that we did NOT see in this old year just about to scuttle out the revolving door of time? War, plague, pestilence, famine, drought, genocide, global warming, economic meltdown, greed, indolence, indifference, and a feeling of hopelessness in the face of all that. So terribly biblical. Even poor old Job would have found all this altogether familiar.
Other of course than the National Rifle Association which, if ever there were a symbol of the failure of democracy, has to be right at the top of our list (though if we search around the Old Testament we may find some reference to something along those lines).
2009? Sir, out! And kindly be sure you shut the door behind you. Thank you.
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2010? It’s ours to make
And then there was . . . the rotten cherry on that awful cake, the last minute events of COP15 and the Carnage of Copenhagen. A very great disappointment for me in my work and concerns, but of course one that we had just about all entirely anticipated. Still . . .
But let’s not whine about it or accept this as our inevitable lot — we can all do something about it, if we care to, if we dare to. And here is how for my part I intend to spend 2010 to do my bit to help things move along just a bit in the right direction. Without boring you to death, let me slot in here brief mention of a handful of things I have targeted for my own work in the year ahead.
1. World Streets – Last year I took the initiative of setting up the planet’s only collaborative, worldwide, independent, 5/7 sustainable transport daily. It was probably the best move of my entire career, though a very costly one, which you can easily check out real time at www.WorldStreets.org. (Or if time is short check out http://tinyurl.com/ws-nutshell.) It has been a fair success, and over the year we have learned a lot about how to do better. In the first nine months of daily publication we printed more than 300 original articles, by dozens of expert contributors from all over the world map, had well more than 100,000 visitors, from more than eighty countries, and received 100 votes of confidence which you can see here at http://tinyurl.com/ws-readers
2. China – The Green Giant: We have over the last several years been working with a number of groups and colleagues in China and Taiwan, as well as simply keeping our eyes open. And as a result we have decided this: China – with its 1.3 billion people, half of whom already living in cities: two million kilometers of roads and streets, and more fast abuilding; 170 million motor vehicles and already the world’s largest and fastest growing car market; the new world champ in terms of emissions; and a planning and investment process that is still all but entirely locked into “old mobility” — is going to be our main target for communicating and supporting new approaches to sustainable transport in 2010. China is the only big country, the only elephant in the world that can turn on a dime. If it decides to Our draft work program notes can be found right here: http://tinyurl.com/ws-ch2
3. Africa’s Streets: Close to one billion human beings, among the poorest in our planet and who deserve a break. Through World Streets and a growing network of contacts there, I am hoping we shall be able to make some meaningful contributions there in 2010. A special target for our work is focusing on the needs of women and children. Get things right for them and everything else follows in good order. It’s in fact the only way to go. Click here for the first draft work plan notes – http://tinyurl.com/ws-af2
4. Sharing transport: This might surprise you but we are going to be doing a lot more sharing in our daily transport routines in the coming years, and it is definitely not going to be a step down the ladder of comfort and quality of life. I think you may find this exciting. As do the growing panel of experts and concerned citizens and activists around the world who are joining our project at www.COST.ShareTransport.org.
5. Personal responsibility: Oops. This is the hard part, but we all have to do it. We need to modify our culture of transportation, and it all starts with http://personalresponsibility.newmobility.org The bottom line is that each of us has to think more about the implications of our personal mobility choices. The formula is pretty simple: We just need to drive and travel less, move around at much lower speeds (speed kills more than just people you know), and we need to do a lot more sharing in our transportation choices. I promise you, you will like it. And so will the planet.
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There you have my first-ever New Year’s message. Life does seem to keep moving on though, so it’s a good idea that we stay in touch more closely than we have over the last year. And if you do come to Paris, come ready to ride a bike and see our beautiful city with me in the best way possible. Then we can pedal over to the Luxemburg Gardens and enjoy a great open air lunch. Even today in December, but dress warm.
And should you want to follow me in my peripacies in various corners of the world over the coming year, an easy way to do it is to tune in every once in a while to check into http://www.WorldStreets.org. I hope you find it a good read and of course if you have ideas, suggestions, or critical remarks of any kind, well it would be great to have them. As we say, it’s all about collaboration. And sharing. And caring.
So until we meet again, warm wishes from Paris on a splendid winter day.
PS. If you have not had enough of me yet, you can always check out the thirty second film clip from a one hour CBC documentary of this just-past autumn, at http://www.vimeo.com/6856553. It’s part of our New Mobility Partnerships media project, which you can see in detail at www.media.newmobility.org .