Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

marble falls

marble falls's Journal
marble falls's Journal
July 30, 2015

The Pentagon paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million to 'salute troops'

The Pentagon paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million to 'salute troops'

Natasha Bertrand

May 12, 2015, 11:16 AM 17,976 10

The NFL reportedly accepted millions of dollars from the defense department over the course of three years in exchange for honoring troops and veterans before games, the New Jersey Star Ledger reports.

The Pentagon reportedly signed contracts with 14 NFL teams — including the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens — between 2011-2012 stipulating that teams would be paid sums ranging from $60,000-$1 million each (in federal taxpayer money) to pause before the start of games and salute the city's "hometown heroes," according to nj.com.

Agreements also include advertising on stadium screens and sideline 'Coaches Club' seats for soldiers.

Congress and the President recently imposed strict caps on military spending as part of an austere new budget.

The military has defended the funding it provides to the NFL, stating that it is an effective recruitment tool for soldiers.

"Promoting and increasing the public's understanding and appreciation of military service in the New Jersey Army National Guard increases the propensity for service in our ranks," National Guard spokesman Patrick Daugherty told nj.com, referring to the $377,000 the Jets received from the Jersey Guard between 2011-2014.

nfl veteransOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesMembers of the Seattle Seahawks run onto the field during ceremonies honoring veterans prior to the game against the New York Jets at CenturyLink Field on November 11, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.

Other teams that received taxpayer funds include the Cincinnati Bengals ($138,960) Cleveland Browns ($22,500), the Green Bay Packers ($600,000), Pittsburgh Steelers, ($36,000) Minnesota Vikings ($605,000), Atlanta Falcons ($1,049,500), Buffalo Bills ($679,000), Dallas Cowboys ($62,500), Miami Dolphins ($20,000), and St. Louis Rams ($60,000), according to a nj.com breakdown.

New Jersey senator Joe Pennachhio has since called for the teams to donate the money to charity.

"If these teams want to really honor our veterans and service members they should be making these patriotic overtures out of gratitude for free," Pennachhio told nj.com. "And the millions of dollars that have already been billed to taxpayers should be donated to veterans' organizations."

The payments are being criticized by some who say that the practice is not only unethical, but also hypocritical — citing a renewed focus on integrity and transparency, the NFL fined the New England Patriots $1 million and suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the team's alleged role in deflating footballs before games.

Many fans are aware that the NFL is a leading recruitment tool for the military — the National Guard advertisements displayed on stadium screens are clearly sponsored content.

But few fans know that the defense department is funneling taxpayer money into the NFL in exchange for veteran tributes.

"The public believes they're doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism," U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told the Star Ledger. "It leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

July 29, 2015

Allegiant Air pilot pleads with tower to make emergency landing

Allegiant Air pilot pleads with tower to make emergency landing

NORTH DAKOTA -- An Allegiant Airlines pilot declared a fuel emergency and had to land at a North Dakota airport even though the airport was closed for the Blue Angels practicing for their weekend air show, reports CBS News' Kris Van Cleave.

The pilot of Allegiant 426 can be heard arguing with the airport tower at the closed Fargo's Hector International Airport saying he doesn't have enough fuel to divert the plane. In an audio recording of the incident the tower can also be heard scolding the pilot.

"Your company should have been aware of this for a number of months," the tower controller can be heard saying.

"Ok, we'll follow up on that," the pilot responds.

Play Video
Pilots question safety of Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant released a statement about the incident saying they are investigating.

"At this time, we are coordinating with the FAA and the airport to investigate all channels of communication regarding the flight and the circumstances leading to the declaration of emergency," Allegiant said.

In a statement the FAA said the Blue Angels were practicing in that airspace that day for their air show. There was a temporary flight restriction covering the airspace from noon to 5 p.m.

"The Fargo airport management had notified airlines of the planned airspace closure, practice and air show as far back as December, and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) were issued 72 hours in advance," the FAA said. "It is a requirement for pilots to review NOTAMs before flight."

FAA said for this reason, all arriving flights had scheduled arrival times. Allegiant 426 missed its scheduled time, as it was an hour late departing from Las Vegas.

"Knowing the airspace was being used by the Blue Angels, the Fargo tower was waiting for the flight to come in, expecting it to divert to Grand Forks," the FAA said. "The pilots of Allegiant 426 would have been talking to the FAA's Minneapolis Center before entering Fargo's airspace, and would have been well aware of the Blue Angels practice."

Play Video
Pilot pleads to land on closed runway

FAA said that the Fargo tower talked to Allegiant's operations and was assured that the flight did have an extra 45 minutes of fuel on board, as required by FAA regulation. This extra 45 minutes is required on all flights to enable diversions, if necessary.

Allegiant's operation center told the FAA the flight had an extra 45 minutes of fuel on board, but the pilot said otherwise, and requested landing at Fargo. It is unclear how many people were on board the flight.

The Blue Angels were moved to a holding area, and the flight landed without incident.

Allegiant has had a series of mechanical issues this summer, including smoke in the cockpit of a flight. And another where passengers evacuated to the wing.

A few weeks ago, CBS News reported that pilots of Allegiant were accusing the airline of cutting safety along with costs.

In a letter to the board of Allegiant Airlines, the union representing its pilots complained about what it says is the company's bare minimum approach to maintenance and safety.

The letter cited 38 potentially dangerous incidents between January and March of 2015 including engine failures, pressurization problems, smoke in the cockpit and radar issues.
© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
July 26, 2015

Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil

Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil

Paul Fallon The Electronic Intifada 21 July 2015


Israeli soldiers patrol near the occupied Syrian town of Majdal al-Shams in the Golan Heights in 2011. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

According to Geoff Rochwarger, CEO of Afek, energy independence is the new Zionism.

The Afek oil and gas exploration company has almost completed its second drilling test in the Golan Heights, a part of Syria which Israel has occupied since 1967 and annexed in violation of international law.

The test is part of a three-year program to see if hydrocarbons in the area could lead to oil or gas for Israel.

Israel is fuel-poor and its domestic energy woes could be eased in the interim if the government progresses on deals in relation to the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, Israel is now taking advantage of the chaos in Syria to look for precious resources to extract from the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel relies heavily on imports to meet its energy consumption, and with frequent vicissitudes with its neighbors, its need for energy resources continues to shape the nature of its occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as the Golan Heights.

With the Syrian government in disarray, Israeli authorities gave the go-ahead to Afek, a subsidiary of Genie Oil and Gas, to conduct drilling in 10 wells in the occupied Golan Heights in their search for fossil fuels.

According to Howard Jonas, chairman and CEO of Genie Energy Limited, the parent company of Genie Oil and Gas, the company’s team of experts believes that what lies under the Golan Heights could make Israel energy independent and “contribute to the diversification of the free world’s energy supply away from a crippling dependence on unfriendly sources” (see the Genie Energy annual report for 2014).
“Kill them all”

Genie Oil and Gas has some high profile investors and advisors: Media baron Rupert Murdoch, former US Vice President Dick Cheney, American hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt and British investment banker Jacob Rothschild are all members of the company’s “Strategic Advisory Board.”

Murdoch stated in 2013 that “Israel is the greatest ally of democracy in a region beset with turmoil and radicalism.” This was an audacious statement given his investment in a company breaking the basic tenets of international law.

The chairman of Genie Israel, Effie Eitam, who lives in the Golan Heights settlement of Nov, is a former military commander and member of the National Religious Party. He once referred to Palestinian citizens of Israel as a “ticking bomb” causing a “cancer” in Israel. He also told The New Yorker in 2004, that Palestinians were “creatures who came out of the depths of darkness” adding that “we will have to kill them all” before backpeddling slightly: “I know it’s not very diplomatic. I don’t mean all the Palestinians, but the ones with evil in their heads.”

Afek claims on its website that Syria’s occupied Golan Heights is part of the “State of Israel.” The company was granted a petroleum exploration license by the northern regional planning and building committee, in direct violation of international law by completely ignoring the Annex to the Fourth Geneva Convention — which applies to the occupied territory.

In February, an Afek subsidiary started drilling its first exploratory well and drilled to a depth of 1,000 meters. The samples extracted are now undergoing analysis and drilling continues. In the event that the company finds oil, it will request the required licenses to begin the production stage.

There are grave breaches of international law as well as environmental concerns at play here. Firstly, the type of oil expected in the area may not be in liquid form and could require fracking — a process that involves injecting large amounts of scarce water and toxic chemicals into the ground in order to force the hydrocarbons to the surface.

Whether it is conventional oil or shale oil, fracking or drilling could lead to oil seepage into the underground water table, polluting Lake Tiberias — the biblical Sea of Galilee — potentially rendering local water supplies undrinkable and destroying the ecosystem for generations to come.
Looting Syria’s resources

The Golan plateau was occupied by Israel during the 1967 War. UN Security Council resolution 242 and several other resolutions since have called for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territory and condemned Israel’s actions there.

These have included: annexation and imposition of Israeli law in 1981, an action the UN Security Council declared “null and void.” Israel has also transfered its own population into the area for the purpose of colonization and the use of the territory’s resources for its own economic interests.

The Golan’s fertile land and water resources have been a strategic interest for Israel and now its energy potential may bring huge financial rewards.

Despite international criticism, Israel’s inherently discriminatory and exploitative policies inside the Golan continue without sanction. Israeli ministers have voiced their desire to capitalize on the destabilization of Syria as an excuse to cement Israel’s illegal hold on the territory.

Whilst Israel continues to exploit the natural resources of the territories it occupies, the international community continues to do nothing to enforce its decisions as the occupation of the Golan verges on reaching the 50-year milestone.

The Syrian government had planned to build a pipeline across the Middle East into Lebanon and the Mediterranean for the European markets. It had signed agreements with Iran and Iraq towards this end.

With Syrian oil reserves in decline and the country in chaos, the government has no capacity to challenge the current Israeli exploitation of the country’s Golan resources.

It seems likely therefore that Israel will have a free hand to loot Syrian oil from the Golan, backed by the West.

Paul Fallon is a legal researcher and writer with Al-Marsad, a human rights group in the occupied Golan Heights.

July 26, 2015

Bernie Sanders Becomes the First Candidate to Speak Out on Sandra Bland: 'We Need Real Police Reform

Bernie Sanders Becomes the First Candidate to Speak Out on Sandra Bland: 'We Need Real Police Reform'


Days after tense confrontation with #BlackLivesMatter activists, Sanders decries 'all-too-common' problem.

By Sophia Tesfaye / Salon.com
July 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 9, 2015:- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent -Vermont) speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club
Photo Credit: Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com

Bernie Sanders released a forceful statement blasting the conduct of Sandra Bland’s arresting officer as “police abuse” and calling for “real police reform.” So far, Sanders is the only presidential candidate to speak publicly about the death of Bland while in police custody.
The arrest and subsequent death of the 28-year-old African American woman in a small Texas town set-off a national outcry last week after local officials ruled her death in a jell cell a suicide. Witness cell phone footage later released revealed Bland yelling during the arrest that the officer had slammed her head on the ground. Authorities said she hung herself with a plastic bag in a jail cell three days later on July 13. Following Sanders’ tense confrontation with #BlackLivesMatters activists at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix on Saturday, the independent Vermont senator added a passage to his stump speech in Houston on Sunday referencing Bland’s death, a reference the Texas Tribune said drew the longest and loudest applause from the crowd. “It is unacceptable that police officers beat up people or kill people,” Sanders told the audience in Houston. “If they do that, they have got to be held accountable.”

After dashcam video of Bland’s arrest was released last night showing the officer, who had pulled Bland over for what he described as failing to signal a turn, open Bland’s driver side door and threaten to “light her up” with his taser if she didn’t stop smoking a cigarette and exit the vehicle, Sanders was quick to release a statement Tuesday condemning the arrest:

This video of the arrest of Sandra Bland shows totally outrageous police behavior. No one should be yanked from her car, thrown to the ground, assaulted and arrested for a minor traffic stop. The result is that three days later she is dead in her jail cell. This video highlights once again why we need real police reform. People should not die for a minor traffic infraction. This type of police abuse has become an all-too-common occurrence for people of color and it must stop.

Two Texas state lawmakers have already called Bland’s arrest unlawful, but the two Texans running for president, Sen. Ted Cruz and former Governor Rick Perry have not yet commented on Bland at all. Sanders is the only presidential candidate to mention Bland on the campaign trail, so far. Activists have utilized the #SayHerName hashtag on social media to garner attention to the Bland case.

July 25, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Record of Advocacy and Support of the TPP

Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 06:55 PM PDT
Hillary Clinton's Record of Advocacy and Support of the TPP



I am linking the full contents of the source document as I wrote it and administer the group on facebook.

On the Transpacific Partnership; the trade deal that will cost American jobs, give power to multi-national corporations to sue the American tax payers' for creating laws that protect the environment, land, food/water supply, workers rights, and public health from their toxic policies and practices and create international tribunals staffed by multi-national corporations to hear the cases outside of US courts.

The US media has portrayed Clinton's record on this policy as undefined and tried to frame her obsfuscation on the subject as indicative of possible opposition while failing to report her direct involvement and advocacy of the policy as Secretary of State:


This article profusely praises Hillary's involvement in the TPP and highlights her direct involvement in playing a LEADING role in DRAFTING THE TPP.

Second page, fourth paragraph down:

"She’s pressed the case for U.S. business in Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in China’s shadow. She’s also taken a leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free-trade pact that would give U.S. companies a leg up on their Chinese competitors."

Hillary has referred to the Transpacific Partnership as the Gold Standard of trade agreements in 2012, here is the quote in context of the speech given at Techport, Australian on November 15, 2012. This speech was actively promoting and selling the TPP and it is utterly absurd that the media proceeds to report on Clinton's stance on the TPP as unclear, abstract, and unknowable. She has had direct involvement in creating the TPP and advocating its passage internationally, yet she is portrayed as an outsider to the issue and someone who has yet to form an opinion. It is disingenuous. Here is the direct quote from the speech with a link to the entire speech following the quote:

"So it's fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world's total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment".....


(thirteenth paragraph in article)

In 2011, Hillary Clinton spoke out in favor of the TPP in her remarks in Honolulu, HI at America's Pacific Century (November 10, 2011):

"There is new momentum in our trade agenda with the recent passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and our ongoing work on a binding, high-quality Trans-Pacific Partnership, the so-called TPP. The TPP will bring together economies from across the Pacific, developed and developing alike, into a single 21st century trading community. A rules-based order will also be critical to meeting APEC’s goal of eventually creating a free trade area of the Asia Pacific."

(20th paragraph down from beginning at the start of Clinton's speech, after introductory remarks)

Hillary spoke out in 2013, again in favor of the TPP (Global Town Interview, Washington DC Town Interview)


Additionally, Clinton has a long history of utilizing placating language to her political base to denounce trade policies while continuing to speak positively about the legislation to her corporate backers. Here is a long litany of opposing positions Hillary has held as First Lady and Senator, including her contradicting positions on NAFTA (TPP is often referred to as NAFTA on Steroids):

"Speaking to union members at a debate in Chicago in August, Clinton said something her audience wanted to hear: "Well, I had said for many years, that, you know, NAFTA and the way it's been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers."
By contrast, in her 2003 autobiography, Clinton describes NAFTA as an "important. . . goal" of her husband's tenure. A year before, she told the centrist Democratic Leadership Council that NAFTA was one of her husband's accomplishments.

In the Senate, Clinton has voted for several trade deals fought by labor, including agreements with Singapore, Chile and Oman. The first two deals were opposed by 24 Senate Democrats, including three of her rivals for the Democratic nomination: Edwards of North Carolina, Biden of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. Twenty-seven Senate Democrats opposed the Oman deal."

(2nd page, top paragraphs)


Given Clinton's direct involvement with the crafting of the TPP and her global advocacy for the policy, it is outright absurd that her position is being portrayed as unclear and unknown. Currently, she is attempting to triangulate her past positions with obfuscating rheoteric to present herself as skeptical and possibly against the TPP legislation.

Her record and history outright contradict these claims.

And, the White House has said as much:


Additionally, as hundreds of thousands of Americans have come together to fight to oppose the TPP, Clinton sought to dismiss the significance of the TPP as a 'process issue'....

She failed to oppose it, and she utilized triangulation to speak about how it could obtain passage:

“The TPA is a process issue. The issue for me is what’s in the deal” she said. “I think this is a chance to use this leverage so that the deal does become one that more Americans and members of Congress can vote for.”
“I believe that you take whatever happens to you in a negotiation, and you leverage it,” she said minutes later when pressed again on the topic.

This was countered by one of her democratic primary opponents, Martin O Malley:

Democratic rival Martin O’Malley quickly seized on what he called Clinton’s political dodge on the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, which he and progressives in Congress have come out strongly against.
“For the thousands of American workers whose jobs are on the line with TPP, fast track is not a ‘process’ issue, it’s a straightforward vote on their future and their livelihood,” O’Malley aide Lis Smith said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/...


July 25, 2015

Hillary Clinton has a Keystone XL problem (+video)

Energy/Environment Energy
Hillary Clinton has a Keystone XL problem (+video)
csmonitor icon


After six years of delays, the Keystone XL pipeline still hasn't been approved or rejected. Hillary Clinton's entry into the 2016 presidential race has renewed calls for the former secretary of State to take a stand on the divisive issue.
By Jared Gilmour, Staff writer April 13, 2015

Washington — Hillary Clinton announced Sunday that she will run for president in 2016, and environmental groups are welcoming her to the race with the first of what could be many Keystone XL protests.

The controversial pipeline has become a litmus test for environmentalists concerned that Ms. Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, won’t take a bold enough stance to fight climate change. As Secretary of State, Clinton said she was “inclined” to sign-off on the pipeline, which would carry emissions-heavy oil sands from Alberta to US Gulf Coast refineries. Since then, Clinton has remained silent on Keystone XL, while the Obama administration has spent six years deciding whether to approve or reject it. A final decision, which could come in weeks or months, would take some of the heat off Clinton.

But for now, the pressure’s on: Climate activism group 350.org, which helped catapult Keystone XL into the limelight as a symbol of the contemporary environmental movement, is spearheading a protest outside Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters Monday.
Recommended: Keystone XL: 5 basic things you should know

“We all remember when Clinton said she was 'inclined' to approve Keystone XL. If the pipeline goes through, she'll shoulder part of the blame, and this protest today will be just a small taste of actions to come,” Jamie Henn, spokesperson for 350 Action, told the Monitor in an email Monday. “Clinton is saying many of the right things on climate – Keystone XL is an easy way to start doing the right thing.”
Keystone XL: 5 basic things you should know
Photos of the Day Photos of the day 07/21

Clinton might seem an unlikely target, given the strong marks she has received from other environmental groups. But with few Democratic challengers and a Republican field that questions the science of climate change, green groups are training their eyes on Clinton, who they believe could take a more vocal stand against climate change. According to an ABC News poll, 59 percent of Americans say they “want the next president to be someone who favors government action to address climate change,” while 58 percent call climate change an important issue.

Environmentalists are also mindful that Obama’s environmental legacy – including plans to slash US power plant emissions 30 percent by 2030, and his work toward a binding international climate accord – will be carried about by his successor.

July 25, 2015

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World
A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.

—By Mariah Blake
| September/October 2014 Issue


One icy morning in February 2012, Hillary Clinton's plane touched down in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which was just digging out from a fierce blizzard. Wrapped in a thick coat, the secretary of state descended the stairs to the snow-covered tarmac, where she and her aides piled into a motorcade bound for the presidential palace. That afternoon, they huddled with Bulgarian leaders, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, discussing everything from Syria's bloody civil war to their joint search for loose nukes. But the focus of the talks was fracking. The previous year, Bulgaria had signed a five-year, $68 million deal, granting US oil giant Chevron millions of acres in shale gas concessions. Bulgarians were outraged. Shortly before Clinton arrived, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets carrying placards that read "Stop fracking with our water" and "Chevron go home." Bulgaria's parliament responded by voting overwhelmingly for a fracking moratorium.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Clinton urged Bulgarian officials to give fracking another chance. According to Borissov, she agreed to help fly in the "best specialists on these new technologies to present the benefits to the Bulgarian people." But resistance only grew. The following month in neighboring Romania, thousands of people gathered to protest another Chevron fracking project, and Romania's parliament began weighing its own shale gas moratorium. Again Clinton intervened, dispatching her special envoy for energy in Eurasia, Richard Morningstar, to push back against the fracking bans. The State Depart­ment's lobbying effort culminated in late May 2012, when Morningstar held a series of meetings on fracking with top Bulgarian and Romanian officials. He also touted the technology in an interview on Bulgarian national radio, saying it could lead to a fivefold drop in the price of natural gas. A few weeks later, Romania's parliament voted down its proposed fracking ban and Bulgaria's eased its moratorium.

The episode sheds light on a crucial but little-known dimension of Clinton's diplomatic legacy. Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe—part of a broader push to fight climate change, boost global energy supply, and undercut the power of adversaries such as Russia that use their energy resources as a cudgel. But environmental groups fear that exporting fracking, which has been linked to drinking-water contamination and earthquakes at home, could wreak havoc in countries with scant environmental regulation. And according to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.


Long article well worth the read.
July 22, 2015

Some steps to cleaning up police problems:

1. Police must live in the towns and cities they patrol. If they aren't patrolling their home communities aren't they really patrolling as an outside occupying force, almost as mercinaries?

2. Return all military hardware to the military: no modified tanks, armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, assault rifles etc.

3. Demilitarize all uniforms. No military type medals, no parachute pants, no military helmets, no combat boots or jumper boots etc.

4. As bad as it sounds: no recruitment of ex-military straight out of service without a several year cooling down period unless the candidate has at least a MP/SP background.

5. Tamper proof cameras with audio on all police and police vehicles.

6. Establishment of an outside board to review all police shootings and all police complaints. The police cannot police themselves without oversight.

7. Establishment real police academies with state guidelines outside the control of local police forces.

July 14, 2015

Here's What Happened When A Neighborhood Decided To Ban Cars For A Month

Here's What Happened When A Neighborhood Decided To Ban Cars For A Month
Viewers to Volunteers
14 May 2015


Two years ago, an average neighborhood in the South Korean city of Suwon embarked on a radical experiment: For one month, the neighborhood suddenly got rid of every car.

Called the Ecomobility Festival, it was created as a way to help the city move much more quickly to a low-carbon future by helping citizens get a visceral sense of how that future could look.

"Usually in planning you do a computer simulation—an artificial picture of the future, and maybe a PowerPoint presentation," says Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, creative director at The Urban Idea, who helped mastermind the festival. "We're doing it in a different way: in a real city, with real people, in real time. It's like a piece of theater where the neighborhood is a stage."

When planning began, the neighborhood was filled with cars, and people typically drove everywhere, even pulling up on sidewalks to park in front of shops while they ran errands. "Most of the people could not envision how their neighborhood would be car-free," Otto-Zimmerman says. "They simply said it couldn't work."

The planning process took nearly two years and countless meetings to get support from skeptics. Finally, in September of 2013, 1,500 cars were moved out of the neighborhood to parking lots elsewhere in the city. The city handed out 400 temporary bikes and electric scooters to neighbors, and set up a bike school to teach the many residents who didn't know how to ride. Mail was delivered by electric vehicles. Shuttle buses ran every 15 minutes to take people to their cars.

The neighborhood transformed. Cafes and restaurants added new sidewalk seating, and the streets filled with people. It often looked a lot like car-free streets look during "Sunday Streets" events in other places, but the length of the experiment helped show how people could actually live without cars in everyday life.

"They live it for a month so their daily routines have to adapt," says Otto-Zimmerman. "If you only have a car-free weekend, many cities do that, this is not exciting anymore. If it's only a week, people can still reschedule their way to the dentist or whatever they have that week to work around it. It has to be a month in order to hit people's daily agenda, so they really experience ecomobility in their daily life."

Though the planners originally considered the idea of switching everything back to normal after the month-long experiment—and then letting citizens push for lasting changes—the city's mayor decided to add some permanent improvements before the festival, like widening sidewalks on major streets and adding new pocket parks.

"The mayor felt that, if after all this effort, and people changing their lives for a month, there would be nothing remaining, people would think the city doesn't take it seriously," Otto-Zimmerman says. "He felt that in order to be credible, he wanted people to see it was the start of a real improvement."

After the festival ended, the city also gathered residents for a huge meeting to ask for ideas for more permanent changes. The biggest result: The speed limit was cut nearly in half, to about 18 miles per hour. That meant that commuters no longer wanted to use the neighborhood as a shortcut, and traffic started to disappear. Neighbors also decided to eliminate side parking on some major streets—and parking on sidewalks—which helped encourage people to start walking and biking to run errands. Every month, the community also hosts a car-free day.

This fall, Otto-Zimmerman will repeat the experiment in Johannesburg, South Africa, and another city will follow. "It takes an open-minded mayor who likes innovation and provocation, and has a greener vision of a city," he says. "And someone who has enough influence and supporters to go through the exercise, because it's in principle controversial."

It's also expensive: The project in Suwon cost over $10 million dollars to produce, though much of that budget went to renovating streets that were already in need of repair. Still, it's not necessarily a simple experiment to produce.

The South Korean experiment was documented in a new book calledNeighborhood in Motion: One Month, One Neighborhood, No Cars.

This article was written by Adele Peters from Co. Exist and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Profile Information

Name: had to remove
Gender: Do not display
Hometown: marble falls, tx
Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 03:49 AM
Number of posts: 55,307

About marble falls

Hand dyer mainly to the quilters market, doll maker, oil painter and teacher, anti-fas, cat owner, anti nuke, ex navy, reasonably good cook, father of three happy successful kids and three happy grand kids. Life is good.

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»marble falls's Journal