On Flags and Losing

I am glad the Confederate Flag is coming down in so many places. I am also glad that the attention on it has allowed its actual history as a explicit symbol of race hatred and resistance to civil rights and desegregation, rather than a battle flag, to become more widely known. It is good that we having an opportunity to clear up the “it was about states rights” lie, even if some politicians are avoiding it.

I have been more uncomfortable with the number of people in my own social networks who have been arguing that one of the reasons that the flag should come down is that it is a symbol of treason and after all, “the South lost!” Continue reading

See, Click?

In a move of technological savvy, last May, the city of Albany became the first city in New York to launch a partnership with SeeClickFix, an app/website designed to encourage people to report various issues to their local governments, last May. This means that when you enter something on the site or app—say, “the snow plow knocked over the street sign on my corner,” city officials will see it, acknowledge it, and assign it to the person responsible.

I had apparently signed up on the site and entered my neighborhood as an area to “watch” long before the city partnership, but suddenly in the past month activity fired up and I began getting all sorts of notices, which inspired me to bring up a signal timing issue that I’ve been complaining about for a long time, but had not done anything about, dreading finding my way through a bureaucratic maze to the right person who may or may not want to be talking to me about it. It was pretty exciting to get a response within days that they’d adjust the timing and thanks for the heads up. Continue reading

Bring on the Chickens

When I was an environmental studies student in college, it seemed like many people interested in environmentalism (including my profs) wrote off cities as inherently unsustainable, the dark, unpleasant, polluted nemesis of a happy green country residence build into the side of a hill like a hobbit’s hole. I have been really enjoying since then how that mindset has been challenged significantly by the smart growth movement, public transit and cycling/pedestrian advocates, environmental justice activists, and the like. Continue reading