I've been walking around my neighborhood lately, and have noticed lots of spray-painted areas where sidewalks are cracked and are to be repaired. My thoughts when I see this is: are we really spending all of this money to replace something that's just going to break (either through tree roots pushing up sidewalks, or regular wear and tear) again in the not too distant future? If we were thinking 50-100-200 years into the future - we might consider different solutions - perhaps leaning towards removing asphalt rather than replacing it. And all of the money going into turning corners into easier-to-use corners (ADA accessible), that really makes me wonder - isn't there a cheaper way to turn what we have into something that can be biked/skate-boarded or roller-skated on and off of - like a small ramp instead of completely re-doing, and re-pouring the sidewalks seems like a good start to me. Anyway, that got me to thinking about how we might be doing things differently if we were planning for a Portland 100 or 1,000 years from now.
We all know cheap oil is going away - so that probably also means the cheap fixing of our streets is also going away. So, I'm mostly wondering out loud here, but I guess I'm posing the question and I'm curious what people think about the concept of long-range planning.
For instance: we all know that putting on chains and studded snow tires wrecks our roads. So, why didn't the message come out loud and clear over the past 2 weeks: Please don't drive unless it is absolutely necessary. Why wasn't that transmitted loud and clear by every government agency with a loudspeaker/blog/radio transmitter/e-mail/TV, etc.? Instead, we heard that we should support the economy through shopping, and get to work, if possible. During the storm I wondered to myself, do we have the ability to stop if we need to? I'll rephrase it - when it makes sense for our society to come to a stop - for our own good, for our own economic good - are we capable of doing so? My sense is that the damage done to our roads by people driving with chains and studded tires far outweighed the profits made by area retailers. And I know, local retailers are hurting, no doubt about that. I'm not trying to be insensitive here, but am trying to make a few points about how looking down the road a few years, we might do things differently.
We seem to be on a very "live for today" diet in this country. If we were looking further down the road how might we do things differently? Portland Mayor, Sam Adams wants to plant 80,000 trees in a year. If we were envisioning a future where we had to grow more of our food (I do), might we want to plant 80,000 fruit and nut trees a year, starting now? How about policies that make it really simple to grow food in your yard and sell or share that with your neighbors - how about a City Urban Ag department - helping Portland transition into a city that grows more of its own food?