Reader Thoughts?

[Publishing of Steady State College September 24 edition will be postponed until tomorrow.]

Email correspondence with David Stone, cc: Evan Myers (State College Borough Council); Mark D. Huncik; Johan Zwart; Tom Fountaine (State College Borough Manager); Steven Maruszewski (PSU Asst. VP Physical Plant); Mark Whitfield (State College Public Works Director)

Katherine to Dave:

Thinking about your comments during our phone call Sept. 22 about opportunities for green zoning and whether I’d be interested in participating in community organizing around that.

That’s not an approach I’m interested in, mostly because I think it’s too late: that zoning, LEED-certification and the like are luxuries of a wealthy nation with functional, responsive, empowered local governments, which we no longer have.

My approach is from the emergency response point of view – that the economy is already falling apart and will not be put back together on anything like the scale enabled by high EROEI fossil fuels; and that hunger and hypothermia are already problems for the lowest income populations, and will be steadily climbing up the socio-economic scale (or rather, more middle class people will be falling into that low-income category).

Anyway, that’s why I don’t get more involved in the high-rise issues, the radon and particulates monitoring, etc. Those seem like deck chairs on the Titanic, and I’d rather work on getting as many people as possible into the lifeboats.

Also, if the high rise apartments get built, which they may not due to collapsing credit markets for builders, but if they do, they’ll be readily convertible into farmworker housing if Central PA positions itself as primarily an agricultural production community producing food for its own population and selling surplus to regional cities (NYC, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.)

If the high-rise apartments don’t get built, there will still plenty of farm worker housing available around here as student enrollment shrinks at Penn State (again, due to the collapsing debt-financed higher-ed system).

And those urban lots will make good, centrally located community garden sites, or community orchard sites, or indoor farmers market sites.

Dave to Katherine:

As always, thanks for the chance to talk – and the thought you always put into it. You express a viewpoint which is not often said out loud around here in “don’t worry let’s all be Happy Valley.” Very important for us all to hear.

When we talked about the green zoning idea, I referenced this article from this Sunday’s New York TimesDe Blasio Orders a Greener City, Setting Goals for Energy Efficiency of Buildings, by Matt Flegenheimer, Sept. 20, 2014

Many themes similar to yours get expressed in this article. So NYC is now adding emergency preparedness and economic equity into the green mix: a recipe not for those in Manhattan high rises only. Centre County planners too are already talking about resiliency.

So how could your “dark view” analysis be explored, worked out, and fact-checked so that local municipalities, Penn State, and the neighborhoods might act upon it?

What kind of reforms in how the public participates in local government do we need to help do that? 

For my part, I suppose that trying to lash together enough of those deck chairs to make a lookout platform and/or raft is at least a way to begin.


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