Intermediate Pictures

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to advocacy is that there’s a confusion between having a clear picture of intermediate change and that of slow changes.

I have stated before that I do believe in rapid improvements in infrastructure for cycling. Everywhere I studied had changes in the matter of a few years and dealt with blowback mainly by ignoring their wishes.

Aside from more or wider roads and freeways, however, I have had serious problems conveying the kind of intermediate state that we will be in before we become Copenhagen with palm tress. How will our high speed roads look? What will happen with on ramps to the freeway? We can’t do it all at once.

Worse is that this has been a distinct character of modern America: that we don’t think of our neighborhoods as organic and subject to change:

“Only in the America of the Suburban Experiment do we culturally expect that, once a home is built, the neighborhood around it should remain ever static. The traditional development pattern and the success of prior human settlements were based on the notion that neighborhoods, particularly those near the core the community, would continue to gain value and mature over time. ”

Thus no matter what happens things will change, but we must think in terms of shaping and adapting to changing conditions rather than remaining static.

When I read planning documents, I get a similar feeling that the writers believe that their children’s lives are going to be very similar to their own with the same types of homes, desires, opportunities, and oil prices. Static existence is not the way of the modern world.

Still, as a society, we would really, really love to keep the status quo. Here’s an article which highlights some of the reasons for this desire:

“However, this article eloquently describes one source of uneasiness that has been growing in me for a while. I think I’d sum it up as follows, the status quo has grown too strong.

In today’s world, HSBC can launder money for drug dealers and illegally do business with Iran and avoids prosecution because it could upset our economy. Yet, we throw people in prison by the boatload for possessing marijuana. Or worse, we throw Bradley Manning in prison for years before giving him a trial and threaten Aaron with decades in prison for downloading documents that were available to anyone at MIT.”

I suggest that we shouldn’t limit our hopes and dreams to minor changes within the status quo. We should look to see where the world is headed then we can shape that world to that which benefits the most humans.


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