Sunday, June 21, 2009

Citizen Input to Portland's Climate Action Plan

Portland, Oregon's Transition Town group (Transition PDX) is sponsoring a two-part Forum to discuss the City/County Climate Action Plan that is currently being drafted. If you look closely at the slide behind David Johnson, you will see a list of seven focus areas:

  • Buildings and Energy
  • Land Use and Mobility
  • Consumption and Solid Waste
  • Urban Forestry
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Community Engagement
  • Climate Change Preparation

At the Forum, we broke into groups covering these areas, and our discussions were recorded and will be submitted back to the the City/County for inclusion in their final draft. The second session will be 06/24/09; details here.

I went to the (surprise, surprise) Community Engagement discussion, and also buzzed, Open Space-style, over to the Food and Agriculture discussion. I was really appreciative of the wisdom and experience in the room. It gave me a sense of confidence, that as we kick the unloving elements back off the planet, we really will be able to solve our problems.

We talked about our message: the content (hopeful, manageable, useful); the delivery (creative and fun, Portland-style); and the audiences (diverse, with different concerns, that all need to be included). We thought it was important to take advantage of the science of persuasion (although people didn't put it in those terms--it's the Speech Teacher in me talking) and to set up metrics to track the effectiveness of the messages.

In fact we began by discussing motivation, and that is obviously the key factor--and it will be different things for different audiences. I really liked the idea of target marketing--finding out what each individual household needs. I think combining that with buddy systems and humorous reward systems could help people make changes. Georgia Interfaith Power and Light has a wonderful annual rewards dinner, where they hand out "Gippys" to congregations taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

I, personally, post my daily to do list on a forum almost every day, and as I accomplish things, I get to indicate that with a smiley face. "Gold stars" work for adults as well as kids. I often think I should make a t-shirt that says "will work for Smileys" :)

After scribing for a while, jet lag hit me, and I went to the Food and Agriculture discussion. They were talking about putting gardens in at schools, and a couple of obstacles that they would have to overcome. One is that cafeterias no longer have the equipment to actually prepare meals, like pots and pans--they just heat things up. The other is that the kids are out of school when the gardens need tending--ironically, because they are supposed to be helping with the harvest!

On a side note, my cousin, who I am staying with in Portland, gave me Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which is already, as the cover promises, changing my life. We didn't put in a garden this spring because we thought we were moving, but I am going to find out what I can do to rectify that.

I had lunch with the Transition PDX team that put on the event, thanks to an invite from Liz Bryant from my Atlanta Beyond Oil days, and got to congratulate them for their excellent event. Part two can only be better. I'll keep you posted on the final product.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

social networking for beginners

For me, it started with peak oil... it led me to doing research on the internet, which led me to my Meetup group, which led me to blogging, which led me to a career change, which brought me back to networking, and to my trusty blog again...

Last year, at the urging of my high school friends as we reconnected for a reunion I joined Facebook. My generation has mixed reviews about it. The biggest concern I hear from my friends who haven't joined is how much time it will take. But I only visit it every couple of weeks. I do enjoy hearing the updates from my friends and making comments. It's fun to stay in touch and say hi in a very non-obligatory way. It took me a long time to figure out how it all worked, cause I didn't spend very much time exploring it. You can have it search your Outlook, Yahoo and Google email accounts to see if people you know are on it, and then ask them to be friends with you. It will also suggest friends based on mutual friends that you know.

My older friends and family say that their generation is not participating on it, so there is no point for them to be on it because their friends aren't. But I think as their kids get on it, they do too, so the demographics are slowly changing.

I have recently learned of ways to link your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and update them all at once, which I will share at the end of this post, which cuts down on the time it takes to keep your network updated.

You have probably heard of Twitter. Think of it as a micro-blog or just the status update of a Facebook page. You choose who you are following on-line. Again, you can ask it to search your address books and start out by following people that you know. You can also search by key words with some applications that you can download to find people that share the same interests as you do. For me, the lightbulb went off when I thought of it as the blogosphere in miniature. I am slowly understanding that it is a way to have a conversation.

Here are some of the symbols that are used in posts, and what they mean:
  • @lizlogan: everybody's user name starts with an @, so the @ means you are talking to or about a specific user
  • #facilitator, or #green: # is called a hashmark, and it indicates a searchable term on This is one way to find people to follow.
  • L:Atlanta: L: indicates the location (and is usually more specific than Atlanta)
  •; these websites take long urls and make them shorter, allowing you to fit them into the 140 character format of the Twitter post
Here are some applications for Twitter that you can download:
This site will link Facebook and Twitter:

This site will enable you to update all your accounts at once: You can do it from your laptop, mobil, or set up an email account and send an email. Easy peasy!

This site will enable you to update all your accounts--and have them post in the future! www. It will also feed your blog posts into Twitter. And if you have already Pinged, it will not double post.

So here are your action items:
  1. Create a Facebook page (and add me as a friend--tell me you saw this blog post!)
  2. Create a Twitter account (and follow me--send me a message that you saw this blog post and I'll follow you)
  3. Create a Ping account
  4. Update your status once a day
  5. go to Facebook and Twitter once a week and read the status of your friends and write back
That's it! Stay connected, and reap the benefits that will come.