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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities

Infinite Earth Radio is a weekly podcast produced by Skeo and the Local Government Commission and hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. You will discover new leading edge strategies for lifting up and building great 21st century communities, along with cutting edge strategies for revitalizing under resourced communities and empowering excluded populations. Smart Growth, Prosperity and Sustainability are not possible without social, civic, and economic inclusion for people of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 29, 2016

Topic:

The Shared-Use Strategy of Transportation

In This Episode:

02:33 Introduction of Susan Shaheen.
02:56 Susan explains what shared-mobility services are.
03:46 Susan describes the societal and individual benefits of shared-mobility services.
05:48 Susan shares if car-sharing services are being universally accessed or if they are more concentrated in certain areas.
07:10 Is anyone currently making car-sharing services available to other parts of the population?
07:42 How is the Zipcar model—individuals sharing a car—expanding, and what is the market acceptance?
10:38 Susan shares the benefits of shared-mobility services to municipalities and society.
12:34 Are these shared-mobility services putting cab companies and their drivers out of business, and is there any data about these services driving down wages for those drivers?
14:35 Are all communities being served by shared-mobility services?
16:30 Are shared-mobility services impacting the need for public transportation, as well as the investments that would result in the reduction of vehicle-miles traveled?
20:29 Susan shares where people can learn more about her work.
21:31 Susan shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
22:17 Susan describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
22:34 Susan explains what our communities look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Susan’s interest in environmentally- and socially-beneficial technology applications led her to focus her doctoral research on carsharing, linked to public transit in the mid-1990s. Today, she is an internationally recognized expert in mobility and the sharing economy and co-directs the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She is also an adjunct professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. She has authored 57 journal articles, over 100 reports and proceedings articles, four book chapters, and co-edited one book. Her research projects on carsharing, smart parking, and older mobility have received national awards.

Organization:

The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) was formed in 2006 to combine the research forces of six campus groups at UC Berkeley: the University of California Transportation Center, the University of California Energy Institute, the Institute of Transportation Studies, the Energy and Resources Group, the Center for Global Metropolitan Studies, and the Berkeley Institute of the Environment. Since TSRC was founded, it has been a leading center in conducting timely research on real-world solutions for a more sustainable transportation future. In addition to performing research informed by a diverse array of perspectives, TSRC also engages in education and outreach to promote its core values of sustainability and equity, to ensure that we are able to meet the transportation needs of the present without compromising future generations.

TSRC conducts research on a wide array of transportation-related issues, addressing the needs of individuals as well as the public. Research efforts are primarily concentrated in six main areas: Advanced vehicles and fuels, Energy and infrastructure, Goods movement, Innovative mobility, Mobility for special populations, and Transportation and energy systems analysis.

TSRC uses a wide range of analysis and evaluation tools, including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, automated data collection systems, and simulation models to collect data and perform analysis and interpretation of the data. The center then develops impartial findings and recommendations for key issues of interest to policymakers to aid in decision-making. TSRC has assisted in developing and implementing major California and federal regulations and initiatives regarding sustainable transportation. These include the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the Low Emission Vehicle Program and Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, the Pavley Law, Low Carbon Fuel Standards policies, California SB 375 (anti-sprawl legislation), and the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Take Away Quotes:

“Shared mobility is broader than just car sharing or what we call ride-sourcing services that are on demand, like Uber and Lyft. It’s the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle, or other mode; and it’s a strategy that enables its users to gain access on a short-term basis to transportation modes that they need.”

“…what we found was that in a round-trip model similar to the Zipcar model, that’s quite popular around the world, that about 25% of the people surveyed said that they gave up a car. Another 25% postponed an auto purchase…We found that people who engaged in round-trip car sharing report saving anywhere from about $150 to about $435 per month.”

“One of the things we’re really interested in seeing is, can we start to scale these services to other parts of the population, to individuals from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds and also to the disabled population and elderly population.”

Resources:

Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 018, “The Future of Transportation: Mobility as a Service,” with Steve Raney

University of California, Berkeley, Transportation Sustainability Research Center

Innovative Mobility Research

Jun 23, 2016

Topic:

The Multi-Generational Housing Model Movement

In This Episode:

02:49 Introduction of Rachel Ginis.
03:30 Rachel describes what an accessory dwelling unit is.
04:05 Rachel explains how she become an advocate and champion of accessory dwelling units.
06:51 Rachel shares the benefits of individuals who create accessory dwelling units.
08:52 Is the multi-generational housing form a good thing in society?
10:30 Rachel describes the obstacles that are involved with this model.
13:07 Rachel explains the regulatory environment of an accessory dwelling unit.
19:47 Rachel talks about the rise in the cost of housing and creating affordable communities.
23:28 Rachel shares how people can learn more about her work.
24:26 Rachel explains what people can do to introduce accessory dwelling units in their communities.
26:15 Rachel shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
26:31 Rachel describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
26:44 Rachel explains what communities look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Rachel F. Ginis is the Executive Director of Lilypad Homes. Rachel held on to her home as a single working mom by temporarily turning the master bedroom into a lovely junior apartment. That experience led her to develop an innovative model for flexible housing and to successfully advocate for its adoption in California. Rachel is a third-generation designer, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. She received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Maryland where she studied housing patterns as a reflection and influencer of society. She has been in high-end residential design for over twenty years, is a LEED accredited designer, and a general contractor. Rachel has a passion for small, efficient spaces and believes the home plays a critical role in financial and personal well-being.

Organization:

Lilypad Homes is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating flexible housing that offers more affordable housing options for homeowners and renters. We do this by supporting and facilitating the creation of second units or in-law apartments that meet individual homeowner needs. Lilypad offers services to help homeowners assess their home’s suitability for a second unit, and to assist them through the financing, design, permitting, and construction process.

Lilypad Homes was created for many reasons: to provide much-needed housing, to make homeownership more affordable, to house loved ones, caregivers and people who work in the community, and to create resilient, self-sufficient communities capable of housing critical service providers. While all of these are true and vital reasons they do not actually explain how Lilypad Homes got its start. The idea for Lilypad germinated in 2000 when Rachel Ginis, the organization’s founder, became a single parent. As a residential designer, she did not earn enough money to remain in her home in Marin County (California). Rachel determined to temporarily repurpose the master bedroom into a lovely little living space. The income from that 230 square foot efficiency apartment allowed her to hold onto her home, keeping her daughter in school just down the road from her father’s house. Because Rachel’s daughter was 4 years old at the time, she did not feel that taking on a roommate was a viable option; she needed to secure their privacy. She also needed to ensure she could meet the monthly mortgage. Privatizing a bedroom was a sensible solution and created a reliable income stream from a little-used room.

Rachel created Lilypad to empower other women going through transitions to hold on to their homes, since women are often left with the house after a divorce or death in the family. And because they make less money on average than men, they are often not in a position to cover the costs of homeownership on their own. She recognizes, of course, that this housing strategy is an opportunity for everyone.

Take Away Quotes:

“An accessory dwelling unit is a home on a property that’s secondary to the main living space. It acts as a completely independent living unit, meaning that it has kitchen, living, sleeping, and sanitation facilities. In general, they run on average around 750 square feet, and most people require that the owner occupies the property.”

“I can tell you from my anthropological background I recognize the fact—and many people do—that we are moving back towards a multi-generational housing model. In other words, families are more and more pooling their resources to maintain and even purchase homes, and so people are also more often looking to their home as a resource to create income because we are in the middle of a massive housing crisis and yet we are the most over-housed community, I think, in global history.”

“I think it’s true that families are again coming together and we’re creating more long-term, vested communities; and I also think that we are living in a time of great diversity, and resilient communities have diversity built in. I say that this type of model allows us to really create communities with, if it all goes well, the people who serve our community, who participate in our community—whether that means family members or the people who actually work to make our community happen every day—can actually live in that community. And based on, from an environmental perspective, the idea that people can live close to their work is, I would say, vital for our very survival, if you will; but it also builds diverse, resilient communities.”

Resources:

Show your support for AB 2406 that will make Junior Accessory Dwelling Units possible throughout California!

Interested in introducing an ordinance where you live? Contact Lilypad Homes for a model ordinance!

Lilypad Homes

Learn More about Lilypad Homes Homeowner Services

Jun 16, 2016

Topic:

Addressing the Economy, Climate Change, and the Challenge of Global Unsustainability

In This Episode:

01:39 Introduction of Joel Makower.
01:56 Introduction of Mark Mykleby.
02:29 Where can listeners buy a copy of the book, “The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security, and Sustainability in the 21st Century”?
03:22 What is grand strategy, and have we had grand strategies in the past?
05:38 Why did we stop using grand strategy?
07:25 Is the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II considered one of the grand strategies?
08:23 Why was the Pentagon interested in a new grand strategy?
09:57 Why wasn’t the plan embraced by the Pentagon or the Obama administration?
11:24 What are the three pools of pent-up demand that are currently seen in our society, and how will tapping into them make us safer?
16:28 What would need to happen to tap into these three pools of demand?
21:44 How do we move forward in getting this grand strategic plan in place? Are there people who could drive this within the business community that would then drive the politics in Washington to be more supportive?
27:09 How could a grand strategy affect the conversation about climate change?
30:45 How would a grand strategy address the growing income inequality and lack of social mobility? How does this help the working class and disenfranchised communities of color?

Guests:

Joel Makower is chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group, Inc., a media and events company focusing at the intersection of sustainable business and clean technology. He also serves as a senior fellow at the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University. A former nationally syndicated columnist, Makower is author of more than a dozen other books, among the earliest books on corporate environmental responsibility and corporate social responsibility. In 2012, he was awarded the Hutchens Medal by the American Society for Quality, which cited “his ability to tell compelling stories that both inform and inspire business leaders toward profitable action.” In 2014, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Institute of Sustainability Professionals. The Associated Press has called him “The guru of green business practices.”

Mark Mykleby is a founder and co-director of the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987. Designated as a qualified F/A-18 pilot in December 1990, he served in five fleet fighter squadrons from 1991 to 2006. In 2007, Mykleby was assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command, where he developed strategy for the Special Operations Forces. From 2009 until 2011, he served as a special strategic assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that capacity, he coauthored with Navy Captain Wayne Porter A National Strategic Narrative, a concept and vision for a 21st century grand strategy for the nation. Mykleby retired from the Marine Corps in 2011. From 2011 until 2014, he served as a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, working alongside Patrick Doherty to develop the framework for a new U.S. grand strategy.

About the Book:

“The New Grand Strategy” tells the story of a plan, born within the Pentagon, to recapture America’s greatness at home and abroad by elevating sustainability as our new strategic imperative. It aligns our enduring national interests of prosperity and security with a new framework that addresses pressing economic, social, and environmental issues at home, tapping into a trillion-dollar market demand for walkable communities, regenerative agriculture and resource productivity. It is an inspiring vision of what’s possible when Americans hold a collective view of the future and come together to bring it to reality.

This is no idealistic pipe dream or wonky policy prescription. The story that unfolds in this book weaves together hard-nosed economic analysis, a clear-eyed study of demographic and societal shifts, the realities of climate change and resource scarcity, a risk-based assessment of America’s challenges and opportunities, and on-the-ground reporting of how much this is already unfolding throughout the country. By rediscovering the power and discipline of grand strategy―and taking responsibility for our future―America can reimagine the American dream and once again take on “the cause of all mankind.”

Released during one of America’s most divisive presidential election campaigns, The New Grand Strategy avoids the partisan rhetoric dividing our nation today. Instead of placing blame, it offers a clear, pragmatic plan that can unite Americans and launch a new era of prosperity and security.

Why sustainability should be America's 'grand strategy'

Get the Book:

“The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security, and Sustainability in the 21st Century” can be found anywhere you buy books! Find it in local stores near you or on:

Amazon (hardcover & Kindle)

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Take Away Quotes:

“America, right now, is standing on the unique opportunity to reframe its grand strategic approach, its grand strategic framework, by focusing in on sustainability as our grand strategic organizing logic, where we can stand on our economy and we can align our governing institutions and our foreign policy to take on this big, global challenge of unsustainability.”

“The idea of grand strategy originated primarily in the worlds of military and foreign policy, and that certainly is how we’ve used it—America has used it—in the past, doing things like fighting fascism or containing communism…but the way we’ve played this out in the book is not a military, not a foreign policy, not even a government strategy—at least not a federal government strategy. We’ve taken this concept that has been used successfully in this country to take on the big challenges of the day.”

“The three big pools of the demand…are walkable communities, regenerative agriculture, and resource productivity…each of these, we’ll say right now, are massive economic opportunities to realign our economy with sustainability and security, creating resilience…and, therefore, be in a much better place as a nation to then take on and address the larger global needs.”

Resources:

“The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security, and Sustainability in the 21st Century”

Green Biz

Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University

Learn More about Joel Makower

Jun 9, 2016

Topic:

Enhancing Resilience of Human and Natural Communities

In This Episode:

01:27 Introduction of Louis Blumberg.
01:57 Louis describes the moment when he realized that combating climate change would become the focus of his career.
03:29 Louis explains what ecosystem services are.
04:37 What are some of the other natural solutions to climate change?
05:26 Louis describes the comprehensive suite of natural climate-change solutions that he’s working on.
06:28 How do these natural climate-change solutions impact low-income, people-of-color, and indigenous communities?
07:29 Does working with the people in other countries translate to low-income, people-of-color, indigenous communities in California and on the West Coast?
08:20 Are there any leading-edge innovators or implementers when it comes to natural climate-change tools?
09:52 Is there anybody in the private sector supporting your work?
11:21 Louis explains the three-prong approach of using nature to address climate change.
12:41 Are there any large-scale projects of using nature to actually restore carbon?
14:10 Is the decrease in forest cover an international issue or a domestic issue?
15:01 Are urban forestation programs going to make a significant difference, or should we be focused on larger international projects to reforest large areas?
16:38 How can people learn more about your work and support it?
17:16 Louis shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
18:22 Louis describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
18:48 Louis explains what California and the West Coast look like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Louis Blumberg, is the Director of the California Climate Change Program of the Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter where he leads a multidisciplinary team developing a comprehensive suite of natural climate solutions including strategies to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas emissions from forest and other natural lands, and to enhance resilience of human and natural communities from the escalating impacts of climate change.

Follow Louis on Twitter

Organization:

The Nature Conservancy - protecting nature, for people today and future generations. Founded in 1951, the Conservancy is the world's leading conservation organization. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Our vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives.

The Forests 4 Climate Network consists of several nonprofit organizations working together to fight one of the world’s worst climate change problems: deforestation. Through tropical forest credits, these organizations believe jurisdictions across the world can limit greenhouse gas emissions by saving and restoring forests.

Take Away Quotes:

“We see that nature is a very powerful tool to address climate change; and by using nature, you often are able to accomplish—make progress, at least—in all three key strategies; and those are (1) reducing or avoiding the emissions of greenhouse gas; (2) restoring carbon to the earth; and (3) reducing climate-magnified risk and enhancing resilience of both human and natural communities.”

“In California, there are two Native American tribes. Both of those tribes have been able to produce forest carbon credits and sell them on the market, and…they’re using the revenue to buy back adjacent cutover timber land that was part of their ancestral land base. This is a great way to protect and restore their cultural heritage while protecting the environment and fighting climate change.”

“Unfortunately, many of the other large environmental groups have not focused on the role of nature to address climate change; and while their work is very important at helping to transform the energy, electricity, and transportation sectors, the Nature Conservancy is the only group I know that’s taking a full, comprehensive, three-way approach, that I mentioned earlier, to addressing climate change.”

“What we need to do right now is stop deforestation, wherever it’s happening. That’s quick and easy…If we can stop the destruction of forests, we can maintain the carbon that’s there and benefit from the carbon those forests will store over time, the increased sequestration value over time.”

Resources:

The Nature Conservancy

Learn How You Can Get Involved

Forests 4 Climate Network

Jun 2, 2016

Topic:

History of an Unlevel Playing Field

In This Episode:

01:41 Introduction of Morgan Grove.
02:05 Morgan explains what the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) is.
03:13 Who is participating in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study?
04:07 Morgan shares what his role is on the BES team.
05:06 Morgan describes some of the sub-projects that he’s working on.
07:40 Morgan shares economic and social inequality and diminished access to nature.
15:20 Morgan talks about health disparities and other quality-of-life indicators.
17:42 What have been the most unexpected findings that have emerged from the BES so far?
19:36 Morgan explains how we can overcome the misunderstanding of white people to the persistence of the disempowerment of African Americans throughout history.
23:35 Morgan shares where to learn more about the BES.
24:27 Morgan shares where to find his book, “The Baltimore School of Urban Ecology.”
24:58 Morgan shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.
25:12 Morgan describes the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.
25:49 Morgan explains what Baltimore city and the Chesapeake Bay looks like 30 years from now.

Guest:

Morgan Grove is a social scientist and Team Leader for the USDA Forest Service's Baltimore Urban Field Station. Morgan has worked in Baltimore since 1989, with the Forest Service since 1996, and has been a Co-Principal Investigator in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) since its beginning in 1997.

Learn More about Morgan Here

Organization:

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study is a long-term ecological research project. It is funded by the National Science Foundation to learn how an urban area works as an ecological system. We want to know the ecological interactions in the whole range of habitats -- from the center city of Baltimore, out into the surrounding rural areas. We are conducting research on the soil, the plants and animals on land and in the streams, the water quality, and condition of the air in and around Baltimore. For that information to make sense, we are also studying how families, associations, organizations and political bodies make decisions that affect ecological processes. In other words, we are treating the whole collection of urban, suburban and rural areas as an ecological system that includes people and their activities. This is a really unusual approach to ecology because it combines with social sciences, physical sciences, and education to understand a big metropolitan area as an ecological system. Saying that an urban area is a system just means that we are concerned with the interactions between wild and domestic organisms, people and their organizations, and the natural and built environment all affect one another. It is these relationships that determine the quality of the environment we experience in the places where we live, work and relax. The research project is long-term, because conditions in the past affect the urban environment we experience now, and we also need to be able to say what environmental effects the things we are doing now in and around our cities will affect the environment in the future. This information can help people, including individuals, families, organizations and government agencies, to make decisions that have the environmental effects that they want.

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) seeks to
• Pursue excellence in social-ecological research in an urban system;
• Maintain positive engagement with communities, environmental institutions, and government agencies;
• Educate and inform the public, students, and organizations that have need of scientific knowledge; and
• Assemble and nurture a diverse and inclusive community of researchers, educators, and participants.

Take Away Quotes:

“Because [the Baltimore Ecosystem Study is] an urban site, we’re interested in studying not only the environmental long-term change of the city but also the social and the economic change of the city. Quite humbly speaking, our goal is to understand Baltimore and its region from 1650 to 2050, building data and understanding and, ideally, tools that can be used to understand how the city has changed, to understand how it’s come to be, and to try to understand where it might be going.”

“We need to do three things: we need to look at how we can improve the environmental quality of [disadvantaged] neighborhoods, we need to remove the housing stock that no longer is habitable, and we need to do it in a way where we don’t have greenwashing and people are displaced because of the improvements to the neighborhoods.”

“Baltimore was the first city in the United States to use race as a driving factor in local land use and zoning, and this whole pattern of residential segregation really took off from the process Baltimore city put in place in 1917. So it’s really interesting…to hear…it’s still with us…and it’s still framing and shaping life outcomes.”

“I think that we need to disabuse folks of the notion that everyone has choice, that we can all live where we want to live, that we all have been able to live where we want to live…Some people weren’t able to live where they wanted to and other people enjoyed privilege, and to help people understand that it hasn’t been always fair and it’s still not fair; and even as we work to make it more and more fair, we have the footprint of history upon us, and it affects not only what we have—the patterns of decline of poor environments and economic situations and of housing—but also affects the way that we can move forward.”

Resources:

Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Morgan’s book, “The Baltimore School of Urban Ecology: Space, Scale, and Time for the Study of Cities”

New Approach to Urban Ecology Emerges from Forest Service Research in Baltimore

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