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Post Carbon Cities on a snowy time-out

Like many places, Portland, Ore. is seeing a lot of snow -- snow it's largely unprepared for. But despite the county's declared state of emergency, those in walkable neighborhoods are actually doing pretty well. Unusual conditions lend a special, festive air to everything, encouraging acts of play and goodwill. Post Carbon Cities will be on break through January 4. We wish you and your community resilience and joy in the New Year.

Summary: 

Like many places, Portland, Ore. is seeing a lot of snow -- snow it's largely unprepared for. But despite the county's declared state of emergency, those in walkable neighborhoods are actually doing pretty well. Unusual conditions lend a special, festive air to everything, encouraging acts of play and goodwill. Post Carbon Cities will be on break through January 4. We wish you and your community resilience and joy in the New Year.

Well, Portland's vehicular traffic has been brought to a near-standstill by the unusual amount of snow we've seen over the last week. We're just not prepared for this; hardly anyone owns a snow shovel. The city's few plows are out and about at all hours1, but can't cover the miles sufficiently.

But as Chris Smith of Portland Transport notes, those of us who live in walkable neighborhoods are still doing fine (as long as the deliveries still get through to the stores). He refers to the "20 minute neighborhoods" concept that is a popular part of the Portland Plan. Such neighborhoods would be resilient in more ways than this, of course, but they sure make a difference to the experience of being snowed-in.

But lest you think we're suffering deprivation here, check out this article on "street joy" in Seattle. For at least some of us, this is like a large-scale temporary street reclamation -- maybe without the tango lessons that attended this summer's Sunday Parkways, and less bike-friendly than most ciclovia-inspired events2, but still a special and playful time for those of us who can get around.

Post Carbon will be on break from December 25 through January 4. I plan on checking in with the neighbors I haven't seen yet, to make sure that they are doing ok in this particular state of emergency. I consider it a good way to lay a foundation for later states of emergency, and to spread a bit of cheer and goodwill.

And to our readership, cheer and goodwill -- may you always make the best of interesting times.

downtown snowballs!
Photo by Kyle Meyer

1^ The rumor is that Portland only has four dedicated snowplows. I saw three on a major street at 4 am on Sunday morning. They're working hard to make the roads passable, though even on the major roads this seems to entail making an even, packed snow surface rather than removal. Not a bad tromping surface!
1^ Another notable trend of the past year, temporary street closures modeled on Bogotá's ciclovía have proved popular in cities all over North America (including El Paso, Portland, New York, Ottawa, and Vancouver).

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