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Posts Tagged ‘Velib’’

Green social networks are popping all over the place. This morning, I got word from Meryn, of yet another one, and another one. Frankly, I have stopped keeping track. They want us to become engaged, and to change our behaviors, fast. They claim to have all kind of tools to help us accomplish the impossible. How come then, I am not more enthused? I, out of all people, who spend so much time on the topic, should be an easy sell.

Here is what I think is missing from all these sites. A lack of understanding of basic psychology, and of the way real people change their behaviors. I do not decide ‘I want to be green’, and ask for someone to whip me into shape. Actually, I may, but the truth is, that kind of intention is not sustainable. I do not need to add yet another thing on my already long to-do list. I want solutions to my everyday problems, as in more convenient, cheaper, smarter.

Social networks I really dig:

How about you? What is your favorite social network? What are your primary motivations for joining? How do you feel about virtual versus ‘real’ networks?

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On the fifth day of the Daily Footprint Project, I relied on my magic key, a bit more than usual.

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Three meetings back to back in the morning, a trip to the gym, another trip to Whole Foods, and last an outing to the restaurant with Prad. I calculated. That’s 27 miles, all in the Prius. Each trip an average of five miles, not counting our night out. This is pretty typical for me. I conduct most of my business locally.

Then, comes the question. Why not bike? The answer is, I am considering the idea. Emphasis on ‘considering’. The truth is, I looooove my car. What is there not to like? The immediacy, the convenience, the privacy, the spaciousness, the experience of moving around in my little cocoon. I can get on the phone while I drive, listen to NPR, spread my stuff on the passenger seat. I don’t have to worry about the other cars so much, I am not as invisible as on a bike. I can cram a lot more activities in the day. I am free to go wherever, freeway if I please, don’t have to plan. No need for a disgraceful helmet. I can wear a dress without having to worry about it flying off. I had never thought about all the advantages, until now. Ask my sixteen year old daughter, car = freedom. Not what the green people want to hear, but the truth nevertheless.

Compare with biking. It has been a while since I have used a bike. I lost my bike in our move two years ago, and even before that, I hardly ever used it. I have to go back years to remember what it is like to bike in the outdoors. What is so good about biking, that would make me want to switch, aside from the obvious environmental benefits? Biking is also about freedom, just like cars. Only, it is a different kind of freedom. No need to refill with gas. No more being stuck in traffic. A bike is small and light, it can fit anywhere. Parking becomes a non issue. Biking can be another way to exercise. It is a way of getting in touch with the environment, the city, nature, neighborhoods. Biking is zen, as in simplicity.

Driving, biking. Two very different kinds of experiences. Driving has the advantage of already being a part of my life. I need a little nudge to make room for biking. That’s where city based initiatives like Velib‘ in Paris are so important. They help jump start the process. I have forgotten how good it feels to be on a bike. The other aspect I want to bring up, is the need for cities to create a safe environment for bikers. In my town, there are only a few routes I could take, where I would not have to worry about sharing the road with cars and trucks.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #5

Water

personal:
flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
two showers at the gym
mom:
communal:
rinse dishes 2

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 4'
microwave tea 2’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on all day
mom:
toast catherine
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
oatmeal with organic milk
organic apple
organic persimmons
tea
cup of coffee at coffee shop
organic orange
left over noodles
dinner at restaurant
mom:
egg
toast
communal:

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
paper cup at coffee shop (almost forgot to include)
mom:
toast
communal:
three newspaper wrappers
molded cream cheese in fridge
plastics (we take to recycling center now)

Transportation

personal:
drive to 1st appointment 3miles
drive from 1st to 2nd appointment 5 miles
drive from 2nd to last appointment 4 miles
drive from last appointment to home ½ mile
drive to gym round trip 6 miles
mom:
communal:
drive to Whole Foods 4 miles
drive to restaurant 4 miles

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:

 

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The Americans have the ecosexuals. Now, the French have the Velibataires. My friend Christine, just back from Paris, told me about a new breed of French males. The Velibataires is a clever play on words between Velib’, the Paris bikes initiative, and celibataire, the French word for ‘single’ male. Parisian men are notoriously aggressive when it comes to flirting. Now they have another weapon, the velo! Anything to sell green, is good on my book. Still, how come is it, that males, on both sides of the Atlantic, are getting all the credit for green sexiness?

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Otis’s post in The Thought Kitchen reminded me of the importance of visual cues to trigger personal action. In his post, Otis shares his impressions from his recent trip to Vienna. The Austrian capital is alive with many green visual cues. Very similar to what I saw during my last trip to Paris, it seems, including the Velib bikes. We are sensing beings. Cues of that nature are much more powerful than lectures, and to do lists. We may not be able to feel the effects of global warming directly, at least not yet, but we can feel the joy, and surprise from green installations, all over our cities.

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Last night, walking around the Marais, we were met by swarms of bicyclists at every corner. I learned from my brother, that the City of Paris just released 10,000 bicycles for people to use as they please. There are stations in every neighborhood, where one can rent a bike for only one euro a day. Riding the bikes seemed like so much fun. We are going to have to add this to our list of to-do things before we leave. Which brings me to my point, that being green does not have to be a chore, proof in point with the bikes initiative. This is where the American could learn from the French. The French have the innate ability of turning pretty much any activity into pleasure. They don’t diet, they just eat right. They don’t exercise, they walk on their way to places. They do not work at being green, they just have fun with it.

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