Change your World, a night with Alex Steffen

Unlocking at Town HallA few weeks ago Tim and I attended a highly inspiring talk by Alex Steffen at Town Hall.

We had hoped to go with  Julian of Totcycle (family bike folks represent!), but that fell through. For Julian and others who couldn’t make it, check out  a few of these to get a flavor. Alex is also the keynote speaker at three of the major events during the Copenhagen summit, so if you are in the neighborhood…

The entire evening was magical: introduction by mayor-elect Mike McGinn in his first post-election appearance,  the inspiring and motivating talk by Alex, yummy beer in eco keg cups from Fremont Brewing, followed by hop-lubricated conversation with like-minded Seattleites interested in changing the city. Plus all of this bookended with rides to and from downtown with my favorite cycling buddy. Town Hall Seattle

We left Town Hall filled with hope for positive changes in Seattle. We all have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to grow Seattle into a dense sustainable city designed with people in mind.

How are we going to do this?

A few points Alex made resonated with us:

  • Encourage density.  Well planned big cities designed with people in mind are much more sustainable than suburban sprawl. Large cities have everything you need within a short walk, bike ride or bus from home. Cars aren’t needed when you live in a large city. Just look at New York
  • Young people are key to the city of the future – do what you can to attract them and keep them here. When young people decide to stay (rather than move to Portland), they reward you with their energy, creativity and enthusiasm to make the city better
  • Encourage nightlife. (see young people are key) Part of making a city livable is to make it livable at all hours.  When people are out appreciating art, supporting live music, and yes even drinking at bars, they are sending a message that the city is a safe, exciting, fun place to live.

Portland lives these last two points. Mayor Sam Adams has said he welcomes youth because he knows that they are future resource for the city.  Many of these young people may even be unemployed, but according to Mayor Sam, that’s OK. They can participate in arts, civics causes, and share their youthful enthusiasm. And then when the economy does grow they provide a built-in a pool of talented workers, committed to the community, and ready to help take the city to the next level.

We can go even further here. Steffen has a grand goal for Seattle to be carbon neutral by 2030. To make this admittedly lofty target a reality, everyone must decide to actively bring about change in our community. We at Car Free Days are thrilled say on record that we are dedicated to being part of the solution, and part of Seattle’s brilliant future!

No matter where you live, some things you can do to improve your city or community:

  • don’t be a NIMBY , encourage density because well designed compact communities are more sustainable than sprawl
  • leave your car at home on occasion. (you don’t have to do it every day, even one or two days a week makes a difference)
  • ride your bike (it’s fun and once you try it you’ll want to ride more and more and more)
  • take the bus (let someone else do the driving, reduce auto-induced stress during your commute and read a book or work or knit or whatever it is that gives you pleasure)
  • get involved (citizens can bring about change and we are much stronger in numbers than we are by ourselves)
  • attend public meetings and make your voice heard (see get involved)
  • Talk to your neighbors. The power of everyday conversation is amazing. Share, plan, and implement solutions together
  • inspire your children to take this to the next level

We’re doing our best to bring about change one bike ride and one conversation at a time. How about you?

– Anne

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3 responses to “Change your World, a night with Alex Steffen

  1. Still so sad I missed this. Tell you what. How’s about we ride down next Tuesday to catch the Metal Cowboy at his family cycling epic release party? http://www.cascade.org/EandR/Monthly_Presentations.cfm#metalcowboy

  2. Hey Julian – it was good getting to ride to the Metal Cowboy event. I got a couple photos of that fancy spoke light of yours, too.Must post them soon!

  3. Here’s a link to the talk Alex Steffen did the previous night…similar message.

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