Thursday, November 12, 2009


I tossed this recording of "Greening Portland" into a small line at the bottom of last week's Radio Ecoshock blog, thinking maybe a few people would be interested. To my shock, over 400 people downloaded it within two days! I didn't know that many people read my humble show notes... Thanks for being here.

I'll go into a description of this week's program and speakers, followed by a bigger question about the role of cities in solving climate change, now that we see big governments too paralyzed, or too corrupt, to act. We'll role through the latest Scientific American article, James Howard Kunstler's theory, Derrick Jensen's despair, and a glance at the ideas of Dr. Bill Rees. Maybe cities are the leaders, the only meaningful level of government?

What makes the city of Portland so desirable as a place to live? It's walkable, a national leader in bicycle commuting, and a green model in many respects.

Yet this West Coast allure also drives unique problems for Portland. Sure the economic crash brought high unemployment, as everywhere else. But Portland has become a refuge city, a place where people come seeking jobs and a comfortable social culture. That's raised unemployment and problems like homelessness. As other West Coast cities like Vancouver and San Francisco know too well, perceived success breeds it's own challenges.

To give you ideas for your own city, we're going to hear a brief from Portland's Green Mayor Sam Adams. But in a sign of the times, Adams cedes the stage to the two women who are leading the city's sustainability drive, Susan Anderson and Erin Flynn. Susan Anderson is the Director of the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Erin Flynn is Urban Development Director for Portland. She's also the driving force behind Portland's new Five-year Economic Development Strategy.

Mayor Sam Adams was elected in May 2008 with a good majority, after four years on Portland City Council. In addition to his outstanding green credentials, Adams "is the first openly gay mayor of a top U.S. city" (according to Wikipedia).

All this recorded by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock, at the Gaining Ground Resilient Cities conference in Vancouver, Canada, on October 20th, 2009. Download this presentation from the Cities page at

At the end, we'll also hear a clip from Sarah Severn of the Nike corporation, which has headquarters in Portland. Did you know the "air" in Nike running shoes was actually a terrible global warming gas? (Sulfur hexafloride). We'll hear how Nike fixed that, and their other efforts toward sustainable energy.

That same morning, Sarah Severn of Nike, the shoe maker, outlined their efforts to green the corporation. She covered such things as water usage, toxics in their materials and manufacturing, and this brief on Nike and climate change. You can download Sarah Severn's full 26 minute presentation from the Cities page at (26 min, 6 MB here)

Sarah has been the Global Director of Nike's Environmental Action Team (NEAT), a department of Nike's Corporate Responsibility division. She's also on the Board of Directors of the non-profit group "Focus the Nation" ("Community and the Road to Copenhagen")

The introduction is by Rob Abbott, the corporate greening consultant, and author of the upcoming book "Conscious Endeavors: Business, Society and the Journey to Sustainability"

Find out more about the conference at



Oh, and by the way, we just added our 18th station to broadcast Radio Ecoshock. It's WRFA_LP 107.9 FM in Jamestown, in Western New York State. Another is coming, in Whitehorse, in Canada's Yukon. Please write, email or call your local radio station requesting Radio Ecoshock. It's free, and ad-free, all for the cause of a better climate.



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