Saturday, September 23, 2017

Connected and Getting Green


At this point in my life, I have the ability to design a way of living which walks my talk.  So my goal in the future is zero emissions, and as much reuse as possible.

I'm getting rid of my gasoline-fueled car, and have bought a 2017 BOLT.  Capable of 230 miles on a charge, it's charged every few days at night from a dedicated circuit at the front of my garage supported by the 24 solar panels on my roof.  The panels supply more than enough to charge our cars, and during most of the year reduce our demand for external electricity from Sonoma Clean Power to very little.  The City of Santa Rosa treats our 160,000 gallons of wastewater, and sends it to the Geysers up in the hills east of us to CalPine to generate electricity which it sells back to Sonoma Clean Power.

So our wastewater and the sun on our roof fuel our cars.  The Bolt is a mobile hotspot, so a wifi-accessible handheld substitutes for a cell phone.  All my computer devices access our email and the internet through it.   Hardly anything I consume isn't readily available whereever I am.  I'm finding myself moving as seemlessly through my community as I have been through the house.

So how could my community help more of us take actions like this?  Encourage the use of, and the affordability of electric cars.  The City should designate and equip more of its parking lots and structures with charging devices powered by the solar panels recently installed on City building roofs.  Electric car-charging parking spaces should be free (but time-limited), and subsidized by higher rates for gasoline-fueled car parking spaces.

Waste from portable toilets should be allowed to be deposited into the City's wastewater treatment intake for free, and the reduced costs of their operation used to expand the number of free portable toilets at parks and in other public areas.

Let's all work together to help us walk our talk.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Old Courthouse Square Civic Engagement, Last Round


A couple of months ago, those planning the reunification of Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square revealed their plans.  Most complaints focused on the removal of some redwood trees and the addition of parking spaces.

This week, another design was revealed, and the planners are again asking for comments.  Though no public meetings are being held before it is voted on at the City Council, you do have an opportunity to send in comments and questions which will be forwarded to the Council.  Here is some information on that.

Revisions to the Master Plan for the Reunification of Courthouse Square
The Master Plan showing the design features to be built into the Reunified Courthouse Square is being revised.  The design team of Carlile-Macy, has been busy making refinements to the design of the interior improvements for the Square. Revisions to the Master Plan are being proposed for Council approval.  The proposed changes are minor in nature, and generally relate to changes in placement of various features.  Changes to the Master Plan include:
  • The new site of the Asawa Fountain will be in the south end of the Square near Third Street and the public art space area will be in the north end of the Square.
  • The shade trees have been better distributed and relocated to accommodate various design features, and will be planted in a staggered alignment throughout the tree areas.
  • The location of the accessible parking space on Hinton Avenue has been placed closer to Third Street. The accessible parking space on Exchange Avenue has not moved.
  • Information kiosks that will also function as small storage buildings have been added at the south end of the Square.
  • Locations have been identified for the various commemorative plaques and time capsules currently in the Square.
  • The plaza paving has been revised to allow use of colored concrete.
Comment on the Revisions – We want Santa Rosa residents to view themselves as part of the team helping to reshape Courthouse Square.  The Square is the heart of our City and as such, you are part of this endeavor.  We want to know what you think about the proposed revisions to the Master Plan for the Courthouse Square Reunification Project.  Please click a button below to submit a comment or a question by Friday, April 15, 2016.  You may also submit comments and questions by calling Carlene Okiyama, Senior Administrative Assistant at (707) 543-4284.

City Council Meeting on April 19, 2016 – At the City Council Meeting on April 19, we will present your comments to the Council, along with the proposed revisions to the Master Plan, for their approval.  The Master Plan changes and any other direction given by the Council will be incorporated into the construction contract.  The construction contract is also proposed to be awarded by the Council at this meeting.
Construction Activity Schedule – The City opened bids for the construction of the Courthouse Square Reunification Project on March 30.  The bid results are available online.  Construction activity is expected to commence in late-May and be completed by mid-November.  You can track the progress of the project and subscribe for email updates at

Here are my comments:

Response to the Revised Courthouse Square Master Plan
Thanks for the chance to ask questions by Friday, April 17th on the changes to the Old Courthouse Square Master Plan.  I brought out my copy of the Master Plan distributed last week at the CAB Board meeting, and compared it to your new version.

Here are the changes I see:
·      18 fewer trees, with a huge shift from flowering accent to deciduous shade trees.  The previous version had 117 new trees, with 53 flowering accent trees, and 64 deciduous shade trees.  The new version has 12 flowering accent trees, and 77 deciduous shade trees.  Looks like you chose to lose the color.
·      102 fewer bike parking spaces.  The previous version had 120 spaces, the new version has 18. 
·      The elimination of all moveable furniture (16 pieces).
·      The elimination of four picnic benches.
·      The addition of hydration stations in the map key, but I can’t find any on the map.
·      Though there seems to be a designated area for children, it’s located amidst a cluster of trees, and the circular surface designation has been removed.
·      The four large trees with circular benches in the center of the Square have been reduced to small trees with circular benches, with indications that this is a future addition.
·      Moving the color-changing LED lights from the middle of the square to the ends of the pedestrian and vehicle passageways, tripling the number of them, and indicating this is a future addition.
·      As you did indicate, the northern and southern fountain and art space have been swapped.  And the handicapped parking space has been moved from in front of the existing restaurant, and placed in a distant isolated corner space.
·      You also indicate changes to the ground surfaces, most of which seem to be various types of concrete. 
How do you think these changes make the square a more inviting and pleasing environment?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cost of Service


Those of us whose time and resources are consumed by nonprofit work are driven by doing good and serving others.  It's our religion, causes some grief, and often great sacrifice.  We like to believe that there will always be followers, who will take our place as we did for others.  But I'm worried about that assumption.
Volunteerism and community service have drawn from the ranks of those with reserve time.   Parents used their reserves to provide an enormous wave of service to their communities in the late 19th and twentieth centuries, supporting causes which benefitted their families and the future of their children.  Today, the reserve time of parents is disappearing.  Grandparents used their accumulated reserve to give back to their communities, but now find they have less available than they thought they'd have.

But an even greater threat to the nonprofit world has begun to concern me.  Beyond volunteers, we are running out of those who will work for pay within our organizations.  The conditions of the work, and the careers we offer, are not sufficient to attract and retain motivated young people.  And we are approaching the point where our excellent nonprofit managers, whose long-time dedication deserves far more than we've given them, are reaching burnout.  They are examining their ability to continue holding together our dreams, and are considering putting their own needs first for once.

That should frighten all of us into action.  We should see that change as unraveling the fabric of what holds us together.  We should re-examine the sources and levels of revenue for these organizations, and institute a new commitment which recognizes their real value.  We can't afford not to, and we don't have much time.  Every day, we're losing the best of the generation who responded to President Kennedy's call to "Ask not what your nation can do for you, ask what you can do for your nation".



Friday, June 13, 2014

Internet Conscious


On Google +, I've created 61 blogs, 34 communities, 8 pages, 153 videos, 55 maps, and 38,171 photos.  They support my volunteer activities in community nonprofits here in Sonoma County, and tell the stories of heroic work done by my friends.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Where's Your Charity? Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is!


Now that most of us have filed or tax returns, and revealed to the feds who our favorite charities are, I think it's time to tell each other.  Here's mine:

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods
Coastwalk California
Sonoma Coast Surfriders
Windham Historical Society
Point Loma High School Alumni Association
Roseland University Prep

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time, Content, and Place Management on the Internet


My efforts to help my young and old friends learn more about the tools available n the Internet to better organize their lives has led me to think about producing some Google Hangouts on Air which show how I use them.  I'll also invite some of those I know have found them useful to explain how it works for them.

Time, content, and place management tools seem to be blending together in application packages which make it easier to keep track of what you and others who work with you are doing.  Those skills are essential for young people to learn if they are to make their way through an increasingly complex future, clouded with online activities and real world demands.

Hopefully, I'll be able to channel the results of my thinking through Sonoma State's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Santa Rosa Together's work with our young residents.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Santa Rosa Civic/Community Engagement


Looking for opportunities to engage your skills and talents in the City of Santa Rosa?  Look no further. Santa Rosa Together is a group of residents who are working to improve those opportunities, and they've established a web blog and some pages which will be used to keep track of their work.

Check it out at: Santa Rosa Together