31 August 2007


I went by myself to the morning’s AGM by way of breakfast with Ton and Thiago. We talked about bike infrastructure in Latin America, the need for partnering with other NGOs and municipalities, etc. the sweet waiter gave us tea gratis which extended our discussion by a bit, and then we headed to the film center and the AGM meeting. Our first workshop was Strategic Planning and Decentralization (see notes). Next on my list was Communications. TCC08 needs to develop a blog and participation profile area so that other participants can contact others about possible presentation coordination, organizational synergies, and so on. In a perfect world, all participants would feel as though they know everyone there before the Conference’s beginning. One thing discussed pretty extensively was how to encourage more participation by Network member organizations both with the Network’s Prague office and with other member organizations to increase membership value and usefulness. The Carrfree Green Pages was discussed as a possibility. Eduardo agreed that he could help research capacity and possible augmentation scenarios. The larger meeting had a hilarious vote trying to change the consensus voting structure . . . by consensus. Has this ever actually happened? I have to say, though, Ben is a great resource on process and consensus, and I have never seen a facilitator be more effective than Jason was. I shudder to think how the meeting would have gone without him. What a guy! We continued the meeting on the boat, but I think most people were talked out, and we ended up tabling some of the discussions in favor of carousing and conspiring and enjoying the last threads of a warm and exciting conference. Oh yeah, and they voted on the WCN Steering Committee of which I’m now a member. A great excuse to talk to Sara and Steeries current and past. Talked to Sebel about WRI, Andras about sprawl costs, Ralph about distance and relationships and how sometimes these can be mutually beneficial concepts, Joerie and Joroen and Sylvia and Corey on a number of topics including Joerie’s upcoming nuptials, Tijo and Milan about EcoTopia next year, Ben about Consensus, Randy and Markus and Pippa about Steering Committee, and Jason about how much he fricking rocks! Other discussions: Eduardo about website possibilities, Maura about what she’ll do next, and Idil (the psychologist) about her interest in the carfree lifestyle. After the boat, we went to an overpriced dinner with a Turkish band and learned about Kristi’s life who hails from Portland. After, we went to a bar along the pedestrian area near Taksim Square. Ton and I talked about dogs (his) and relationships (long distance and international). We were turning into pumpkins, so we left with Meghan and her vivacious even when jet-lagged friend, Tamar in a dolmus bound for Kadikoy.

30 August 2007

AlSo: Kucukcekmece, the Unpronounceable Neighborhood

Woke up to find another at the house. I had been hankering to get out of the house earlier to allow for more walking time, and even though he had been up late the night before, Ben was kind enough to accompany me. What a spring chicken! On the ferry, we talked about his work and experience with EcoTopia, , traveling in eastern Europe, and his work with Platform, a London-based NGO that, among other things, creates commemorative installations for the people’s heroes. He had us stop at a borekci. I’ve never had borek. It’s great and certainly staunched the spinach craving I’d been having, then found Aya Sofia and the bus to Kucukcekmece (say it 3 times fast). Carbon offsetting presentation there was only nominally about carbon offsetting, but what it was about were research methods and findings relating to carbon emissions by vehicle type in urban areas of Istanbul. This was done by Sebel of EMBARC and World Resources Institute. FANTASTIC! Their study was funded by Shell, Ford, BP, and Caterpillar, which raised Joerie and my eyebrows since we had just been discussing CSR and greenwashing with Joroen, Sylvia and Corey. When asked, Sebel said that they are interested in improving the fuel efficiency of their products. Her powerpoint will be available in November and has promised me in 3 different ways that I can grab a copy when it goes public. I was seriously salivating. Ton spoke about his bike programs in Latin America through his NGO, Movilisation, and Andras spoke about true costs of sprawl. Later, he was gracious enough to agree to send me some info. on the data he has collected. Yeay! Eda presented on the future of Istanbul transport, which captured a number of the themes that had been discussed through the last few days. We all piled back in the bus and stopped at a parade of sorts, which we were told was for Victory Day (the reason Rick had the day off school). A few of us just got a little skittish when the flags came out and the torches and applause for the speaker who was positioned on the roof of a nearby building and hooked up to a powerful sound system. So some of us soft-shoed out to the nearby bus terminal. Corey and I had a chat with Rick on a few housekeeping issues while Meghan and Elly had a bit of dinner. Then Team Portland headed to the tastiest vegetarian durum place in Turkey. Oh man, so good! And on the pedestrian street in Kadikoy, which was also a definite plus.

28 August 2007

AlSo: Presentations et al

Rick was off from work but was still up ahead of us on his daily walk or run. We headed to the Urban Center for presentations by the keynote speakers. The most stand-out presentations had to be by Halik and Ole Thorson. Halik talked about the urban planning history of Istanbul and was quite open about the city’s lack of planning for bike and ped master plans. I accosted him after the presentation to compliment and ask about how he would suggest dealing with challenges of changing traffic infrastructure in such an ancient city. Ole lives in Barcelona and has created an extensive ped master plan. He is adamant that all cities should develop a ped plan and decried that almost none do. Corey and Zeren had a lenghy chat with him just after the presentation, and I spoke with him later in the day. What a fascinating fellow, and such a marvelous presentation! After these presentations we were invited to go outside where there was a PARK-ing demonstration where the parking lot had previously been. Astroturf, benches, bike parking, a 4-tandem, bean bag chairs, art exhibition and yoga. Good times, good time. After lunch came time for our presentation on “Changing Car-Oriented Attitudes”. Meghan had put together a lovely powerpoint (though next time we should focus more on ped and calm down on bikes), and Corey, Meghan and I had been up late the night before tweaking it some and forming an outline. The presentation went well, I thought (although, to be honest, I am rather senSitive about being contradicted and interrupted during formal-ish presentations). We broke up the discussion into 4 groups and then came back at the end for general feedback which seemed pretty popular. Meghan typed up comments that each group had made based on our notes. Daniel then presented on Rails to Trails and Greenways with an interesting discussion about the evolution of master plans. A few people in the room had actually been involved with the inception or development of master plans and building networks. I believe Eduardo, Daniel and Thiago have all been involved with this process. Unfortunately we missed the presentations on carfree housing which had occurred the same time as ours, but we got a rundown from Ralph, Markus and Ed on the topic. The evening was all about a wonderful boat tour with lots of wine (that sadly ran out before the boat docked. Bikers can drink!). talked with Corey, Sylvia, Maura, Jason the Great Facilitator, Ben and Pippa. Pippa works with BankWatch, a largeish NGO that monitors WTO, European Bank, etc. Maura discussed how she decided to go into Urban Design and how their teacher decided to put Istanbul’s bid in for 2007 TCC. Maura and three of the other coordinators are working together on a baseline study and urban design project, so it was a natural extension to work on this Conference. They are all such good company. And good dancers! I try to remember what Sylvia, Corey and I talk about, but it’s hard because we seem to talk about . . . everything. Jason talked about his background in international activism and the G8 Conference. He has previously been involved in World Carfree Network and is acting as their facilitator for the AGM this year. When the boat docked, everyone spilled out. Corey and I, aged and wizened as we are, went back to Rick’s while Elly and Meghan headed out on the town with some others.

AlSo: Carfree Islands!

Rick laid out yet another wonderful Turkish breakfast complete with tomatoes, olives, fresh bread and cheese. Yumm! Thank you, Rick! Thus satiated, we took a ferry to Buyukada, a carfree island near Istanbul proper. We waited for the others to join us and found Bas, Justin and Sarap, who has the coolest hairstyle, sipping tea. When the others finally deigned to show up, we walked along horse- and bike-filled streets to the municipal building for welcome and questions. Markus asked a really good one about why there were sidewalks cut on a carfree island. Answer: codes. A group of us got bikes and roamed around the island with Milan, Corey, Joerie, Joroen, Sylvia, Kostos, Thiago, Andre, Eduardo and a few others. we had formally met Joroen and Joerie at lunch who told Corey that he should turn his cap around lest he be confused for an American. Titter. Around the top we spotted a restaurant near a cliff that happened to sell beer. Well, of course with two Belgians present we just had to stop. We headed back down, dropped off the bikes and headed to the rocks for more beer. It felt like a Portland ride!

27 August 2007

AlSo: TCC07 Conference

Elly, Corey and I flummoxed across the ferry to Karakoy (by now an old friend) and walked across the Galata Bridge, through the hardware peddling section of town and wended our way up to Istiklal Cadde and TCC07s headquarters. There were opening comments and introductions, including our 15 minute presentation on next year’s Conference, and then a split for some short workshops. We heard Ralph from Cologne talk about map making, Joroen and Joerie about the anti-SUV campaign from GreenPeace and Friends of the Earth, and Karen and Lena about leisure-focused transport and density (almost 50% of car trips in Sweden are for the purpose of leisure!). Panel discussion in the afternoon was about “Car Culture v. Public Space”. I had thought this would focus on infrastructure, but the overriding themes turned out to be fear, identity and isolation. We met Zeren and Sebel from World Resources Institute with some great conversation. There was a walking tour throughout the European side, but I honestly spent more time talking to other Conference-goers to the detriment of sightseeing. Oh well! Spoke with Milan, Thiago and Karl at some length. The evening was in Ortakoy for a movie night which we had to skip out on early in order to walk to a bus home. Then it was back to Rick’s and a talk about the basics of Turkish linguistics.

26 August 2007

Oddyssei: Alighting on Istanbul

we got to the bus stop to find Bas, Justin, Julia and Daniel, then the trek to the border crossing and then on to Istanbul. We took the tram to what we thought was the correct spot to find Rick. Note: Karakoy is NOT Kadikoy, even if they do have the same waterfront street name. after some unsuccessful explorations down cat- and litter-festooned alleys on the wrong side of the Bosphorous, Corey and I, with Rick’s help, managed to make the ferry to his hospitality. Met Elly who had preceded us and slept our first night in Turkey’s most bustling city.

25 August 2007

Oddyssei: The Train That Never Ends

mıdnight passed and we were still on the train to Sofia. apparently the train tracks from Novi Sod to Belgrade are under construction, so all of the train,s congregants shuffled off the train en masse and wended their collective way to a small fleet of buses headed for we didn,t know where. it was fun! caught a few glimpses of a fellow wearing a carfree cities tshirt and figured we knew where he was heading.

we got to Belgrade and changed a money whose name we didn,t even know the name of (Cyrillic is not currently ın my reading reportoıre), but the coffee we used it to purchase was delightful! an hour later we were on the train to Sofia on which a German lady unlocked the mystery of the reclining chairs which Corey and i enjoyed until a family of 3 Bulgarians required the use of the other seats. turns out one of them spoke Turkish, so i used all of the 10 words i had learned along the way. they had just come from Nice (Nisha?) after harvesting peppers.

in Sofia and completely at a loss as to where to stay. fınally met Justin, Julia, Daniel, and Bas whom we had seen ın carfree shirts on trains and buses the previous few days. their friend helped us out with bus tickets and dırections, and we got on the tram where we met two very helpful ladies who led us to their hostel. Anna ıs from France\England and Katryn from Germany, and they are both working as corporate lawyers ın Brussels. Julian, the Colombıan working at the Bulgarian hostel (of course!) was quite helpful ın making us feel at home amongst the Panamanians and Bulgarians among other natıonalities represented there.

24 August 2007

Oddyssei: Three Countries and Counting

Corey woke up fresh as a daisy, must say!

we hung wıth the gang as long as their schedules would allow and then got to some web searching for tickets to Istanbul by train or bus or whatever. after some failed attempts onlıne and by phone, we decided the best policy would be to just head to the train station in Mons.
we got on Shawn and Beccy,s bıkes and took off for the open road. wow, there really isn,t a shoulder on the main road from their house to Mons, must say. however, what it lacks ın road infrastructure it makes up for with landmarks. the SHAPE area. what is SHAPE? how,s thıs for a title: the SUPREME Headquarters of the Allıed Powers of Europe. who can beat that for a name?

we got into Mons and swung by the tourist center, whose proprietor promptly told us how foolish it would be to ride that stretch of road on bikes. too late.
we continued on to the train station after some puttering around Mons and asked the ticket booth agent about train reservations from Budapest to Istanbul. she first tried to get us a reservation from Budapest to Vienna, and when we described our route again to her, she blinked a few times, looked a little flustered, and then said, "most people fly". yes, we know. so that didn,t work out, but we were able to get tickets for our bikes for the train from Mons to Jurbise (why not?). we discovered that just because you have tickets for your bike doesn,t mean YOU have tickets, but the conductor took pıty on us. in the meantime, we enjoyed some great framboıse across from the train station.

had a few moments wıth Matt, Becc and Shawn before heading to the Charleroi airport with Shawn at the healm (John Cleese dıctating dırections). a fare thee well and we were on our way to Budapest. the only thing that held us up was the passport agent who looked through all of my visa stamps twice and the security check guy who made Corey slam a bunch of water.

on the plane, off the plane, a 30 second bus ride to the terminal, customs, bus, metro line, train station, running around for international ticket booth, nail-biting wait, tickets in hand for Sofia, sigh of relief, snatched plastic cups from Burger King, harried wait, and we were on the train to Bulgaria via who knew what route.

we met Alex the Spaniard who was going to work on the Serbian border at a zoo for an undisclosed period of time and Laura of LA fame who happens to live on an off-grid community and, by the way, knows the band TOOL personally on the way to what we learned was Serbia. Alex kept thinking he was getting off the train and was again and again repelled by the border police swarming the train. we started referring to him as the Spanish Boomerang and were rather suprısed (though happy for his ultimate success) when he didn,t come back. no sooner dıd Alex exıt than Mısha, the ınebrıated Austrian, grace our compartment wıth nothing but spontaneous and devoted love for Laura. quite an adventure overall!

23 August 2007

Odyssei: Trainspotting

today was the day i waıted for the coming of Corey. had a walk from Shawn, Beccy and Matt's place to the Jurbise train station and ended up seemiıng a complete train station groupie. ahhhhh!
Corey came, then Shawn did to whisk us back to their house, then some damn fine Belgian beer.

22 August 2007

Oddyssei: flirting with Jurbise & Soignies

woke up fresh as a daisy at 6:30 with the rest of the family. i'm telling you, don't sleep for two days but for hour-long naps, and jet lag shudders away.

as everyone else had work or school, i wiled away a good part of the day with emails and tried to figure out how the heck we were going to get from Budapest to Istanbul in time for our presentation on the 27th. i'm thinking Budapest to Sofia by train and Sofia to Istanbul by bus, but anything could happen from now until then to change minds.

took Shawn's mountain bike for a spin, which was like a whole 'nother world after riding Bill's bike. when one rides a road bike for years, one forgets the slow hum that accompanies the tread of a mountain bike on pavement or the cushy way it tackles road irregularities. i have to say, i missed Sparky something fierce this afternoon. it's also strange to be without the ram horn handlebars; one feels so upright that it's easy to imagine oneself to be royalty. crouching over ram horns, i tend to feel like i'm trying to outdistance the cars behind me that would sooner run me over, while upright today i felt like i was graciously allowing other cars to use the space to the immediate left of my mobile throne. strange. their house in Mons is just on the borders of Soignies and Jurbise, so i put a few toes and at least one wheel in each of those municipalities on my relatively short ride.

when the rest of the gang got back, we got to hear all about everyone's day, then a small road trip to Mons for dinner. what a swell Grand Place! there is a fountain on one side that gushes straight onto the cobblestones and is collected by storm drains immediately downhill. plenty of road signs with bikes, and even one cameo silver cruiser with ape hangers. we stopped at the Excelsior for brew and salad, though for future reference the Copenhagen is said to have a nice rose wine. before the meal, the Three Musketeers suffered me to read a poem from "Archyology". good times, good times. i seem to remember more French than i thought i knew . . .

back at the home ranch, i started to learn Turkish and to make flashcards while Shawn played WoW (World of Warcraft). Matt let me read him part of his bedtime story, a Terri Pratchett novelette, but i fear we got a little rambunctious about what was supposed to be a bedtime story. i think i've been fired as a post-dusk storyteller.

then Shawn showed me a little treasure of Warcraft culture: the Leeroy Jenkins video on youtube. amazing that there should be so much notoriety and buzz from such a small video. it was hilarious! i don't know how, but the conversation then morphed to teaching. why do politicians try to micromanage the school system? will something similar happen to hospitals if health care is nationalized? from there came the topic of how to keep respect among students and parents, and how to quash potential problems before it starts. we have similar methods, which makes me happy!

Odyssei: LA -> Mons

the flight from LA to Amsterdam was 10 hours with a 3 hour layover to Brussels. i read the last Harry Potter book from start to finish on the flight to Amsterdam and took a nap on the 2nd hop to Brussels as phase 2 of Jet Lag Avoidance.

the customs procedures in Amsterdam and Brussels were completely confusing because there. weren't. any. i took my little bag through "nothing to declare", and that was it. completely anticlimactic.

headed down to the train to Jurbise, and 2 hours after i touched down in Brussels, i was at the train station in Mons. Becc and Shawn had told me to go to the house across the station to call them, but i was wrong as to which house it was the first time and then got too shy to ask any other houses. so i went into town and managed to buy a phonecard in French with the 10 French words i knew and then by coating some Spanish with a French accent. i also learned that Elvis' face was everywhere because it is the 30th anniversary of his death. the things you learn in a Belgian convenience store!

Shawn picked me up at the station and whizzed me to their house in Mons, which is almost as beautiful as Beccy but not quite. Matt just finished his first day of 4th grade, and he recounted his recent exploits while we bounced on his trampoline. Shawn poured a pint (ahem, or two) from the keg in his petit maison-come-private pub, and we rambled and rambled until i completely shut down for about a 12 hour repose at 8pm.

jet lag averted.

18 August 2007

Oddyssei: Arcadia & Palm Springs

about 20 minutes after Brian so graciously dropped me off at Aunt Jan's, Jan and i were off again in another car heading for Palm Springs to see Bill and Rita. on the way, we swung by Kevin's new workplace, Game Stop. this was the first time i'd seen Kev in his natural habitat; usually our visits have been relegated to some wedding or other.

on the 2 hour drive to Palm Springs, we passed by a huge wind farm in the valley. AMAZING!! what a beautiful form of energy production, but why haven't they been painted more pinwheely colors, one wonders? think of how candylandish the desert would look.

the four of us kibitzed through the evening, and Bill and i plotted our bike ride the next morning. i admittedly felt a little anxious when i heard about his 60-mile per saturday habit, wondering whether i would just be slowing him down. however, the second he showed me what i'd be riding, all other thoughts left. it was a gorgeous and nimble carbon frame road bike with shimano shifters. i think the skirt i was wearing weighed more than that bike.

sorry, Sparky, but i'm getting a mistress. no offense.

we got up the next morning and were out the door at 6:15 to beat the heat, which was expected to top 110F that day. he showed me where the original Cheetah (from the B&W Tarzan tc show) lives as well as Al Jolson, whose music i adore. of course, who doesn't love "Alexander's Ragtime Band"? there were only a few hills (we hit 40mph on one of the downhills) with beautiful views of the canyon; the rest of the 25-mile ride were straight stretches. we had a great talk about comparisons between bike use and culture in Palm Springs v. Portland. Palm Springs needs bike culture! lycra-clad racers just don't count. and the bike was totally yare!

we got back to his house about 8:00am in time for Shelly's, their turtle's, breakfast and to get back on the road to meet with two of Jan's college friends. i think we convinced Rita and Bill to come up to Portland to ride bikes down the Springwater Corridor Trail with mom and i.

brunch with Molly and Linda, Jan's friends from college, was like something straight out of a Wendy Wasserstein play! i mean, three women who went to college during the women's lib movement meet to catch up with each other a number of years later and talk about how the roles and rights of women have changed or not since college? it's Act III of "Uncommon Women and Others". they all have such dynamic lives and rich insights. it was just heavenly. also, being at a table with 3 good friends to whom one has recently been introduced and not to feel excluded is rare, indeed. i chalk it up to Jan's great hostessing and Linda and Molly's graciousness.

after this, Jan and i went shopping. i haven't been shopping in years, and all of my clothes are supported by safety pins. Jan, you are a paragon of patience. we talked and talked until it was time for me to nap in preparation for an all-night workfest. all-nighters before a long flight is the only way i know of to combat jet lag. let's see if it works. the workfest commenced, Kevin came home, we hung out for a couple of hours, and by 8am it was time to head to the airport. thanks, Jan, Ed and Kevin! couchsurfing with you is just the bees' knees!

17 August 2007

Oddyssei: to Arcadia, a Craigslist adventure

as the first real vacation in almost 2 years, i decided that the trip to Turkey via California and Belgium should be a good one filled with transportational questionmarks and as many random experiences as possible.

and what better way to begin than a rideshare to LA through Craigslist, melting pot of all that is random and strange? all the more ironic to begin a journey to a carfree conference in a car.

i had started looking a couple of weeks beforehand and responded to two ads before getting a response from one fellow traveling from Seattle to LA. as soon as he said his name was Brian, i knew it was all going to be okay; my dad, brother, and former roommate are all named Brian, and all of them are luminous fellas.

Brian picked me up from work in Portland, and we started south. i was wondering how a Long Drive with a new acquaintance would be. how was it, you may well ask? a 15-hour conversation blitz! topics: what is it about our fellow Americans that promulgates celebrities and reality TV shows? have we as a society obliterated cohesion in favor of individualism? what IS scary, and how does one depict, say, a monster, in makeup? how is it that one can point to something in China, ask about it in Chinese, and not be understood? what does one do for fun in Mozambique?

and not only was the company sparkling, but it was, remarkably, a great prologue to the Carfree Conference. when one's primary transportation is a bicycle, one forgets certain conventions such as, say, the highway clover leaf. hypnotic, unyielding, monomodal clover leafs. the ballet of cars and trucks between lanes. lack of turn signal use in California. the complete absence of bikes or peds along stretches of road. drive-thrus. i TOTALLY forgot about drive-thrus. gas stations with adjacent motels. we have a long way to go, people.

so at the end of a long drive, we wound up on Jan, Ed and Kevin's doorstep. thanks for driving, Brian! you're fabulous.