Bicycle Commuting For The Beginner

I’ve been commuting by bicycle in some capacity for many years now, though I’ve taken breaks off in-between for things like recovering from ACL replacement surgery. So, no…Episode #18 wasn’t something completely new for me. I tried it as an undergraduate, before having some minor accidents, then decided to try it again in grad school and started liking it. The truth, however, is that I made the experience much harder on myself than I needed to by not getting properly informed first, and I think that this itself causes most people’s avoidance of (or premature departure from) bicycle commuting. This article (and my future ones on the subject) is designed to help with that, in the honest hope I can make the learning curve a little easier on those that come after me.

There’s a lot I could pick as a starting spot, but the most confusing mess for me has been the issue of equipment, and I think I’ve got a pretty good system going in that respect, so I’ll start with this. I’m going to do my best to give you an idea of the must-haves, the good-to-haves, and the rich-kids-toys. Buying my bike gear has been an iterative process from the essential to the mostly irrelevant. The goal here is to emulate that. Let’s start with the absolute essentials…

The absolute essentials

  • A bike – It’s not bike commuting without a bike, now is it? You’re definitely going to need one. Exactly what kind of bike you pick is going to be based on your distance, how experienced you are as a rider, conditions you’re likely to encounter, and your budget. If there is one thing I want to absolutely instill in you, it’s this — no two bikes are the same! If you stop reading at this point but walk away with that in mind, then you’ll at least have learned something that took me years. Every bike will offer you a different experience. Some are more “comfortable”, some tend to be faster, some deal with bad pavement, and some will chew your food for you. There are dozens of factors in bike sales that will overwhelm you, and many of them are not going to matter unless someone convinces you that they do. So, I want to make this second point absolutely clear — buy a bike that fits and feels right on a test ride, and disregard other factors for now. Outside of that, there are roughly three classes of bikes worth considering, each of them offering a different experience. Trust me…of the myriad configurations, just focus on these three groups.
    • Mountain bikes – Okay…I’m pretty sure we can picture what one of these looks like. They usually ride very low, they’re nimble, and they’re durable. Really, just close your eyes and think “mountain bike”. Yes…that’s fine. If it looks and feels like that, just call it a “mountain bike” for now. Now, my first commuter was a mountain bike, so I can tell you what you can expect out of it. The good balance and easy operation, plus the very familiar riding posture, will give you decent safety on the road and a pretty decent speed. The wider and knobby tires will also mean good traction on bad roads and in the rain. You will, however, likely feel like you’re working WAY too hard for the distance traveled. That’s a common experience with this kind of bike, and it’s because the riding posture won’t give you lots of power, the tires are meant to be used at very low pressure, and the frame is likely heavy. These are among the least expensive option, however, and you can get an entry-level one for $250. My first commuter was a Mongoose Rockadile SX, and even though it was heavy, I used it all through grad school and for the first several months of commuting at my current job.
    • Road bikes – Just think of Lance Armstrong racing. There you go. That’s a road bike. Again, dozens of configurations, but for here and now, they’re really all the same. Usually, their defining features are that they have thin tires, drop handle bars, and give you a riding posture that keeps you out of the wind and helps ensure power. They tend to be made of lighter materials, too, and they also tend to be more expensive. What can you expect from riding one of these? Well, there are a lot of experienced bike riders who still hate drop bars and the thin and hard tires can make the bike “twitchy”. They’re the best when we’re talking about turning your leg power into speed. It’s also important to note that those thin tires are going to notice bumps and cracks in the pavement more and that thin, hard, slick tires WILL skid on wet pavement. Oh, yeah, they will. If you’re going to be an “all conditions” rider like I am, you’ll need to learn defensive riding, because you’ll skid like a mofo if you just pull the brakes and pray. Keep in mind, too, that something that “goes fast” also “goes slower with a whole lot less effort”, so this could be a good choice for a long commute.
    • Hybrid / Comfort / Bike Path bikes – There’s really no way to close your eyes and imagine one of these because the term is a huge catch-all for bikes that didn’t fall into the above categories. They’re often called “hybrid” because they have some features of mountain bikes and some features of road bikes. Uh, sorta. I honestly can’t say I see the resemblance in most of them. A defining feature of these bikes, however, is that they’re not intended for off-road usage but are not the twitchy speed demons that are road bikes. The ride tends to be stable, the ride can be anywhere from moderately fast to cruiser-style, and the focus is generally on keeping you comfortable. These can be a crazy mixed bag, so you’ll have to try some for yourself.

Now, as for me and mine. I started out life on a $200 Mongoose Rockadile SX, which is a fairly heavy and relatively inexpensive mountain bike. It suited me fine for the 2.5 mile commute to and from class, and the 3.5 mile commute to and from work wasn’t bad, though I was happy to get a new bike. My current bike is kinda an accident, and this is a very important lesson to take away from it. My parends got me a Trek 7100 for Christmas, and I was elated…that is, until I actually rode the thing. The frame was lighter and it was almost twice as expensive as my “beater” mountain bike, but the first ride around town was a miserable experience, where I panted like a fiend while barely moving. I couldn’t ride it without feeling like I was in an easy chair, and the spring in the seat post made it hard for me to really push the bike. It was with me all of 18 hours, when I traded it for a Trek FX 7.2 which has been VERY good to me. In fact, when I eventually part with it, it’ll be a bittersweet time, because this bike has felt so perfect to me. I’ve taken it as far as 80 miles in a single day, and I can be anywhere in Ft. Lauderdale in under 30 minutes. It’s a great mix of comfort and speed.

If you look at those two bikes, they may not look very different, but oh how they are. Just a few degrees difference in the frame can change your riding position and determine how much effort you’ll expend for a given speed. It’s best for you to be honest about the distance you’re going to travel, how fast you want to go, and how much a sense of safety you want, because it’ll make a difference. A lot of people love the Trek 7100. For me, I hope to never sit on one again…

This brings up another point. Expensive doesn’t mean better. There are “price points” at which this seems to happen. Below a certain “price point”…say, about $300…all you’re going to find are inexpensive mountain bikes and hybrids. And, hey! Like I said, they can work just fine. Above that point, you find other companies entering the fray, and they bring in cruisers and inexpensive road bikes and things like that. A $450 cruiser, however, was worse for me than a $200 mountain bike. Even $100 bikes from Wal Mart were a better choice for me. I rode one of those briefly, until the pedal ripped from the crank shaft. So, just get a bike you can afford that supports a riding position you find pleasant and familiar and remember that longer commutes tend to benefit from a less upright riding style. Avoid pointless “bells and whistles” such as shocks. Really. They’re pointless. I promise.

That’s pretty much all I want to say about bikes.  When you’re a commuter, you don’t have to be complicated, and I’m not going to complicate things here, either.  Everyone else is complicated, so I’m being simple.

Really, there are only three other things that you need in the “absolute essentials” list, and once you’ve got them, you’re ready to go.  Two of them are safety items and one of them is a security item.

  • A Helmet - Yes, you need one.  You need one right now.  This is not an item you can worry about later, because “later” might be after you’ve had your first fractured skull.  Medical science is amazing, but it can’t put your brains back in, so just get a helmet and wear it.  Get a quality helmet, which is a universally available item, and then make sure it fits tightly.  Cinch those straps up.  This isn’t a hat.  It’s a helmet, and it doesn’t work if it falls off your head at the critical moment.  You can get a good one cheaply, and in all honesty, there isn’t a lot to improve on, so I don’t recommend spending up on your helmet.  Just get something that fits snugly and will protect your brain-pan.
  • Eye Protection – At first, I was going to put “sunglasses” in the “nice to have” category, but I wised up and consider this almost as essential as a helmet.  Yes, I realize you probably ride a bike as a kid and never used eye protection, so what’s the point?  Well, I tell you what…go have a chat with the two mosquitoes I wiped off my sunglasses yesterday.  When you’re riding daily, and especially when you’re riding at speed, there’s all sorts of stuff in the air that can ruin your day.  You can get a bug or a falling leaf in your eye.  Your front tire or a passing car might kick up a pebble.  It might start raining and now you’re getting rain in your eyes.  Even some cheap sunglasses or a construction worker’s eye protection is a good idea.  In the last year, I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences that tell me eye protection is almost as valuable as your helmet.
  • Bike Lock - If you’re going places, you’ll need to secure your bike when you get there.  Bikes, lacking ignition keys, need to be secured to a heavy object to prevent theft.  There are all sorts of different kinds of locks.  I suggest skipping on combination locks and on cable locks that look really flimsy.  I’m still carrying around the Kryptonite U-lock I bought 11 years ago when I first went to college.  It’s nice, but it’s also heavy and it’s not very flexible in how it can be used.  Flexibility and security are on a continuum here, so a heavy U-lock might make sense if your bike was expensive.  On a long ride, though, that U-lock gets annoying.

So, there you go, you’ve got your bike, your essential safety gear, and your lock.  You have all the critical items, and you’re now ready to start bicycling on your shorter errands as well as for pleasure trips in your own neighborhood.  Good for you!  This is all the material you need to last you for a while, but in my next installment, I’ll be discussing things that will improve the safety and comfort of your commutes, and this will also mean an increase in your comfortable riding distance and bring you even more joy in using your two-wheeler for practical ends.

Stay safe and enjoy the road!

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Life after CSA

Back when we joined Redland Organics, we did a video addressing what we hear as the number one concern regarding CSAs– learning how do deal with what you’re given. It seemed really intimidating to us when we started. In a lot of ways, it continued to intimidate us throughout the season, and I won’t lie…there were plenty of times when we didn’t get around to eating a bunch of callaloo (a Jamaican green somewhere between spinach and collards) or the odd head of lettuce went yellow in the refrigerator. You try not to let it happen, but it happens. We’re young, busy professionals and we sometimes forget to cook.

What’s been such a shock, though, is what’s happened since the shipments stopped. While there may have been a mad scramble every Saturday to fit all the food in the fridge and figure out what to do with it all, it’s become clear to me that we’d actually grown dependent on the CSA shipments. It’s hard to really put a finer point on what a convenience they were in our lives, even with the occasional problems they caused us. It’s only in not having them any more, and in seeing how our lifestyle has changed, that we really wish the shipments went on all year.

When we were getting CSA shipments, the week had a rhythm. We had to pick stuff up on Saturday. I’d start planning out the week’s meals. Amy would go out and get any extra staples we’d need…starches to fill up a meal or meat substitutes or whatnot. I’d often cook a pot of soup or a giant bowl of salad or something I knew we’d be able to have for a couple of days. Throughout the week, we’d have the soup or salad to lean on and I’d cook some main dishes to go with it. Sometimes we’d have too much food and I’d make refrigerator pickles. If produce started to go off, I’d make more soup. The question of keeping up with our food’s spoilage wasn’t all that hard. Now, however, we have the opposite problem. We have to shop, and we seem to have forgotten how.

No…it’s not like Amy can’t shop (and yes, she tends to do the shopping because I don’t leave work until it’s time for dinner). What’s happened is that we’ve gotten rusty at making choices. Our conversations about what to buy devolve into “I don’t know…find some local food.” We end up with some potatoes and tomatoes, and maybe a staple or two, and there’s no clear menu plan for the week. So, we end up going out to a restaurant. Bad Rhett. Bad Amy. We’re getting better, but it’s actually a bit confusing to us as to how to make ethical and interesting produce purchases.

It’s really one of those funny moments. Universally, when we talk about an environmental change we make, people ask us how hard it is for us to do. The CSA thing is a perfect case of that. People gripe about how they wouldn’t like some of the vegetables, or how they’d have to cook so much more, or how they don’t know what to do with everything. Invisibly, though, it’s taking away the other really difficult questions in a busy urban professional’s life…like “What’s for dinner?”

If only they were offering summer fruit shares. Waiting for autumn is so frustrating.

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The Environmental Nontasker

Solar powered backpackWhen someone first comes to the idea of greening his/her life, there seem to be one of a few different paths s/he takes. A lot of people decide to “go off the grid” and establish a somewhat more modernized version of a rural homestead. I really applaud the efforts of these modern homesteaders, even if I don’t think it’s the complete solution for everyone. It’s not the path I have taken, nor is it the path I wanted for Greentime. Not only is it not entirely the life that I want to lead, I don’t believe that it’s achievable by everyone in our modern urban and suburban world. The increasingly popular path for people in my position and temperament is that of the modern technological eco-geek. It’s not a difficult premise. Eco-geeks think that technological advances can lighten our footprint, and that an important part of pioneering the new green lifestyle is to be early adopters of emerging technology.

Sadly, this is a domain that’s easy to stack with marketing. I don’t want to dissect the practice of greenwashing…that’ll wait for another time. I also don’t want to suggest that the makers of many eco-gadgets are cynically doing them because they know some rubes out there will buy them. I think there’s a perfectly nice way to think of the problem of eco-geek marketing, and I’m going to take that course.

Over on Unclutterer, one of my favorite blogs, they have introduced the concept of the unitasker, a device that performs only one function and is otherwise useless. Consider the myriad uses for a spoon, bowl, or pot. Now think about how many uses you get from a snowball scooper, automatic marshmallow turner, or steak monogrammer. These latter products have only one functional purpose, cost money, and waste your space. Unclutterer features them in a humorous post each week. I think I might start doing the same with the pile-o-crap out there designed to appeal to eco-geeks.

I’m coining a term here. In a tip of the hat to Unclutterer, I’m calling it an Environmental Nontasker. It’s a gadget that is generally marketed at being able to replace some facet of your current not-green lifestyle with a single green alternative. This already qualifies the object as a Unitasker because it does only one thing. The rub is that it often does this one thing sporadically, poorly, or only when you remember to operate it. On top of this, the object often reduces an aspect of your overall footprint that is itself quite small.

I’ll give you a prime example of an Environmental Nontasker. I was once gifted a hand-crank powered cellular phone charger. It’s a pocket-sized device with a power cord and some adapters and…a crank. You plug in your phone and crank the little handle and charge your phone’s battery. Let’s apply my criteria. It essentially does one thing– charge a phone with a crank. It does it poorly, as you have to crank for hours to get a decent charge and many of these devices only charge up their own system to supply enough power for a 2-8 minute call. It greens a very tiny part of my life in that the power I consume charging my cellphone is nowhere near the dominating factor in my power consumption. It’s clearly an Environmental Nontasker.

So, what’s so bad about this? First off, the ultimate goal of footprint reduction is to reduce total net impact. The Nontasker was made somewhere, at the expense of some energy and resources. It adds to your net impact. If it doesn’t, over some reasonable period of time, reduce your impact enough to cover the impact of its own production, then you were basically better off without it. Without getting into intense and detailed accounting, you’ll never concretely know if a product is going to reduce your footprint well, but I think that there are good common sense guidelines to follow. Avoiding an item that does a single task badly and offers a reduction in your footprint that is tiny is already a good indication.

I’ve come to understand that, while there are a lot of products out there that can completely change the way you live your life, they’re generally awash in a sea of one-off gizmos that aren’t really meant to do anything meaningful at all. If they don’t do much of use, though, why do people sell them? Because these items have been made to sell to you a dream of a lifestyle. They aren’t built on fundamental principles. They’re built primarily to provide the dream that, through their use and ownership, someone can get a taste of a dream future. In the case of the eco-geek’s future, it’s one where technology is ubiquitous and directly improves the problems of global warming, habitat destruction, use of non-renewable energy sources, poverty and hunger, etc. It is not the product that is being sold, but that dream. It’s evident everywhere you look, from the obvious Nontasker of the solar cell backpack to the more nuanced criticism of the One Laptop Per Child XO. The adding of another fantastic gadget, however, will not solve the big problems. The only way that a new technology solves big problems is if it is utilitarian, works well, genuinely reduces some critical factor in a large-scale problem, and…most importantly…is used ubiquitously.

Environmental Nontaskers never fit those criteria, no matter how good of a dream they’re really selling. Behind the scenes, they’re really just business as usual. That’s why I do my best to avoid buying them and certainly don’t review them on Greentime. My personal criteria require that a new product have multiple good uses, clearly provides a sustainable alternative to my current lifestyle, lasts a very long time, and/or doesn’t carry a large footprint itself. This is why I talk so much about my bike but don’t talk about the AeroGarden. It’s why I shave with a straight razor rather than buying a cartridge razor sharpener or engaging in a recyclable razor program. These things don’t really help your life out, they’re wasting your money and space, and they’re trading our genuine sustainable future for the dreams we read about in science fiction novels and, sometimes, Scientific American.

I’ll keep the future in my heart and dreams. I’ll keep my home free of Environmental Nontaskers, too.

(Solar backpack picture courtesy of sustainablerotterdam on Flickr)

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We’ll Never Make It Alone

I’ve been dreaming of saying this for a long time, and I wanted to save it until this blog had developed further, but it just can’t wait any longer.

I want to share with you a brief moment in time. This happened on a very ordinary Thursday night while Amy was on her research trip in London. I went to the grocery store to get some food for the cats, and as Whole Foods was closed at that late hour, I went to the Albertsons across the street instead. Besides, the cats won’t eat fancy cat food. I was riding my bike, as I make every trip that isn’t time-sensitive on my bike. I sleepily swiped my card and the cashier put the case of cat food in a grocery bag. “Oh, you know what, man? I don’t need a bag. I’ve got one here,” I said, pointing to the messenger bag that accompanies me on every ride. The cashier, also tired and clearly less interested in this transaction than I was, shrugged, removed the grocery bag, and promptly threw it in the trash.

It was late, and I was too tired to react to the moment. I don’t think it even registered. It was, however, a moment beyond all others that demonstrated the elephant in the room where the “personal lifestyle change” of the green movement is concerned.

Simply put, friends, we’ll never make it alone.

So many, myself included, have taken to heart the message that personal lifestyle changes are making a difference. To be sure, in some small way, they are. There is, however, no way to escape the defeatist adage– “For every one person trying to save the world, thousands are part of the problem.” I’ve never seen a good response to this that didn’t simply reduce down to “Well, at least I’m trying to do the right thing. It’s still the right thing to do.” This is true, but only vacuously. The sacrifices of civilians in World War II become invoked. Unfortunately, the analogy is partial at best. It’s true that World War II would have been a different story without civilian upon civilian toiling through the dark and waiting for the light, only to go home and live without meat to be grateful for just the bread. These people, however, did not merely volunteer for the war works or ration themselves. Their toil in factories was work done for a paycheck, and their austerity was enforced by government oversight. To be sure, it’s demonstrable that the rationing system was widely cheated on. Austerity may have been patriotic, but short-term self-interest is eternal.

All of this brings me back around to look at this moment at Albertsons. There were three outcomes to this situation. If I took the bag, it’d get reused at least once before disposal. If he gave the bag to another customer, at least it’d have saved the one bag otherwise given to me. If he threw it away, it was a waste without use. The least sustainable option happened by sheer accident and, at that moment in time, I didn’t want to become a moralizing jerk about it. I absolutely cannot stress this enough, because it is the central theme here– The least sustainable course of action happened by accident. This, my friends, is why we’ll never make it alone.

I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m a young, mostly physically fit, child-free member of the bourgeoisie. This means that I have two things available to me: disposable income and leisure time. These two things combine together to form something I like to call “economic agency”, or the ability to apply spare capital and labor to make active choices about the way one lives. The more disposable income one has, the more easily one can adopt a new product. The more leisure time one has, the more room one has to seek out less convenient options, learn new skills, and generally develop new ways to live. These critical features are further enhanced by things such as having a fit body, which equates to a greater efficiency of certain kinds of labor. My condition in life is rich in economic agency. My earning power has allowed me to rent an apartment close to my place of work. My leisure time allows me to think about new experiments in DIY greenness, to research shows and blog posts, or even smaller things like learning how to shave with a straight razor. My level of health and fitness affords me the ability to day-trip via bicycle to cities that are over 30 miles away. So many of my choices are privileged ones I can make because I can afford to make them. I am, however, part of a fairly elite group in that respect.

Consider the staggering number of people in America alone who live below the poverty line. Consider the number of people who live near the poverty line. Consider how many of these people have families to provide for, for whom the real daily choices may reduce down to which bill is the farthest behind or whether they can afford gas or food. Take a daytime tour through those parts of town you dare not enter come nightfall and try to spot all the new cars. You won’t find many. These are not people who are considering buying a Prius, even if the fuel efficiency would help their stretched home budgets. The impoverished have whatever car they can afford, should they even have one at all, and while it might be comforting to assure ourselves that not having a car is some sort of “working class greenness”, it’s disingenuous in a world where access to a motor vehicle can mean the difference between poverty and financial stability. That is the spitting image of having no economic agency. Without money or time, a person doesn’t have the luxury to ask if their base subsistence is healthy or green. Yet those barely getting by hand-to-mouth are sinking in the same global problems as the rest of us.

While I could stop here, it doesn’t paint the complete picture. There’s the other side of this coin– those who have the agency to change their lifestyles but who, by sheer inertia, don’t. It’s so fashionable to moralize these days, and within liberal circles, the new moral standard is “conscious living.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of us live as “consciously” as we want to believe. Inertia is endemic and, to a point, natural. It’s with that that we must realize that personal moral solicitation is not the answer to the inert. A very politically aware friend of mine admitted recently that he knows it’s not sustainable to take his groceries home in plastic bags, but he does it anyway because they’re there. For a harried mother with screaming children, voluntarily remembering to pack the cloth bags on the grocery trip is a bit uphill. I’m embarrassed to admit that I myself often forget the cloth grocery bags…this is why I’m so glad to use my bike, because I always have a bag with me.

Let’s revisit the metaphor of fighting fascism in Europe. Try to imagine, just for a moment, that America didn’t mount a national effort, didn’t build a military-industrial complex to supply the effort, and didn’t conscript. Let’s say that, instead, we fought the Axis through a grassroots effort of people building their own guns and paying their own boat passage to the Western Front. Let’s say recruiting was strictly done by the families of volunteers trying to morally outrank the families who hadn’t volunteered. Could any person of intellectual honesty say that an effort of this nature would have worked? If it took several national initiatives…governments, industries, and voluntary civilian efforts…working in tandem to topple a very clear and material foe, what chance do the distant and nearly invisible foes of pollution, climate change, and global poverty have?

No, my friends. Don’t confuse Greentime or the efforts of my blogger friends like Vanessa or Collin as the solution. Personal change is not the final answer. To extend the WWII metaphor correctly, Pearl Harbor has not yet happened. We’re in the phase of national neutrality, and we’re the idealistic hawks doing our best to argue against the tide of neutrality in our culture. We are merely standing against the tide to show that it can be done and to encourage people to look at things in a new way. We’re just beginning to develop popular demand. We’ve not yet begun the real fight.

When the real battle for our environmental and economic future comes, it’s going to take serious petitions of government and industry at all levels to exhibit the necessary courage to make the huge turn towards sustainability. It will require a change of nearly every behavior we have right now until every action, no matter how accidental, favors sustainability. To do otherwise is to have lost the plot. You can’t win in Iraq fighting door to door, and it works even less on a global scale.

The time has come, now that greenness is popular, for us to take of the lenses of bourgeois privilege. If we are to progress, we must admit that we’ll never make it alone.

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Why Germinate?

It may sound trite, but I always think the best way to start off a new blog is to describe the reason why it exists.  It’s very common for me to refer back to my first video or my first post in a blog, because it’s usually that first moment of creation where I am unfettered of realizing that perhaps my ideas may exceed my resources.  I am always free of compromise in the first post.  This only makes sense.  As the old saying goes, no battle plan survives an encounter with the enemy; likewise, no creative project ever survives its encounter with reality.

If I already run Greentime, why start another blog?  There are actually a number of reasons, some of which might surprise you to hear…

  • First and foremost, there is the issue of time and effort.  From research to planning to scheduling a shoot to post, it takes days of free time to generate one ten minute Greentime video.  The effort can be draining, dealing with mistakes can be demoralizing, and the end result is a relatively simple format of ten minutes of talk and some basic visual aids or motion graphics.  If there’s any respite at all, it’s short, and then it’s time to scramble to research a new idea.  In terms of my own life and Amy’s, doing video at the density we’d originally intended just wasn’t sustainable, and this is clear if you look at all the times that life has gotten in the way.
  • Second, we developed Greentime to have a very clear and specific format.  Everything we brought to our viewers would have some aspect of research to it.  We would take the controversial and clarify it.  We would take the intimidating and simplify it.  In every case, we would be the cheerful faces saying “We can do it, and so can you.”  We wanted to take some of the sting out of going green and show people that you don’t have to be a hippie and spend your days working hard just to get your basic chores done.  I think that, in that respect, Greentime hit its target as well as we could make it.  Unfortunately, I feel this has not really used the powers of blogging and Internet culture.  Blogs are meant to be two-way, conversational, controversial, and inspiring.  While I think that Greentime has inspired some, for the most part, we have not brought controversy or conversation to Greentime.
  • I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the past month, and I’ve realized that, while working in video offers me valuable creative opportunities, deep down, I’m still a writer.  I’ve been a very active and heavy blogger since 2001, and I have a lot on my mind to write about.  There’s no reason I should restrict my writing and blogging to my LiveJournal, especially as I am finding a loss of love with LiveJournal’s management.

“Germinate” is such an apropos term for a blog like this.  It’s literally a picture of the seeds sprouting in my mind and life that inform projects like Greentime.  It’s a place where I can share what I really think about the efforts to promote green lifestyles and economies.  It’s a place where I can comment on show research that’s still in motion.  It’s where I can share bits I find in the news.  It’s where I can praise and criticize without being as concerned about “making a good video” or “dividing the audience”.  It’s a place where I can simply share a quote, a story, a picture and leave these fragments of my experience out to grow.

In short, Germinate represents a freedom to write and comment in ways I’m not sure I’ve ever had before.  It’ll never replace Greentime, but it will plant seeds in many of the empty spaces.  I hope you’ll join me.

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