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Short report on Earth Car Free Day 2001 - "A good beginning"

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    Note: This is the final email communication in this series. Dear Car Free Friends, Well, as of today we have this first Earth Car Free Day a full week behind
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 27, 2001
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      Note: This is the final email communication in this series.

      Dear Car Free Friends,

      Well, as of today we have this first Earth Car Free Day a full week behind
      us. And what is it that we can most honestly say about what has been
      accomplished after all these months of hard work by so many people and
      groups across the planet? A great achievement? Have we changed the world?
      Even one city?

      Hmm. Well, here we will do well to be both modest and absolutely honest.
      Here in a couple of paragraphs is how we have been responding to enquiries
      about this from the media and some of the government and international
      organizations that have shown various forms of interest in or involvement
      with the car-free day approach.

      ECFD I: THE BALANCE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT:

      A wide range of self-organized events, large and small, in a hundred or so
      of cities involving millions of people all over the world. A wide array of
      city wide programs in places like Halifax, Pune, Taipei, Katmandu, Seattle,
      Pusan, Hong Kong and a surprising range of other towns and cities of vastly
      different sizes and kinds. Cooperative neighborhood projects led by cycling
      and walking groups, schools, health agencies, environmentalists, and at
      least one museum and one church. That plus a terrific range of projects and
      proposals by individual citizens and families, many of which not only useful
      steps for sustainability for the individuals involved and their immediate
      communities, but also interesting models for all of us who wonder what we
      might do to do our part in all this.

      Our own conclusion about this finally is that what is most notable about
      what has been done thus far is that we are off to a great start. We have
      targeted a very important problem area which is not only enormous in its
      dimensions and just about universal in its reach but also where there is
      enormous potential for creative interaction and "cross-learning". And of
      course with the emerging toolkit of the world wide web we now have the means
      for doing this in a way which is as potentially effective as it is 100%
      independent and entirely free to any and all who want to use it.

      Certainly one of the accomplishments of this whole effort has been the
      creative use of the Internet to create the permanent infrastructure of
      freely available information, tools and materials that you now find here at
      www.carfreeday.com. And indeed this wide open public site provides all of
      the information that anyone might conceivably need to arrive at a mature
      understanding of what indeed have been the achievements of the first Earth
      Car Free Day. All you have to do is turn to the database and to the several
      guest books that have been maintained over the last months to see not only
      what has been done thus far, but also what are the attitudes of people and
      groups toward these issues, coming as they do from vastly different places
      and cultures.

      For all these reasons, and encouraged by the enthusiastic responses of many
      people from many places, we have decided to continue to build on and develop
      this base not only in the coming months but for at least the full decade
      ahead. And if you go to www.carfreeday.com you will see that even in this
      last week a number of things have gotten underway to make sure that this is
      going to emerge as a useful part of, let's call it, the 'new sustainability
      infrastructure'. The direct integration of the latest Gist software into
      the site so that it can now be quickly if ever so roughly translated into
      half a dozen languages, including already basic Japanese and Chinese as well
      as the more usual... (In fact, we will be very interested to have your
      reactions and suggestions about this new part of the site. We have been
      working with machine translations on our programs and site for several years
      now, but this appears to be the best yet.)

      A final section of the site that we would call to your attention is the
      TODAY! paperless journal, which we are using as a window on leading
      projects, events and concepts around the world. Tomorrow, for example, we
      shall be featuring the first car-free day project ever in Dushanbe,
      Tajikistan, where they have taken quite an interesting first cut at the
      challenge of increasing awareness of the problems before it is too late.
      And many others will follow in the days and months ahead. Including perhaps
      yours?

      But let me not belabor all this. The fact is that the Earth Car Free
      Day/Sustainable Transportation Forum now sits firmly on the Net and is
      there to speak for itself. To complete this update note, I now turn to . .
      .

      NEXT STEPS:

      A. IF YOU WERE INVOLVED IN AN EARTH CAR FREE DAY EVENT THIS YEAR, may we ask
      you for:

      1. A brief description of how your project went: the good, bad and the ugly
      2. Estimated number of participants and how they participated
      3. Pictures, if you have them (links to them are best)
      4. Any links to news articles regarding your event, or if they are not on
      the web then emails of these articles
      5. Whether you plan to participate next year in ECFD 2002 -- which will be
      on Monday April 22, Earth Day

      B. IF NOT, BUT YOU HAVE ALREADY SIGNED IN AS "READY TO PARTICIPATE", may we
      ask you to have a look at your Profile, going first to the Registration Desk
      and from there to your city to see your entry. You will see that there is
      place there for you to post your ideas for future local projects and
      partners, as well as your suggestions for how we might do a better job of
      supporting future events and projects.

      C. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SIGNED IN, and would now like to do so to indicate
      your interest in future events, we invite you to go to the Registration
      Desk, click the Quick Sign-In and pop in the first set of items, plus if you
      think it appropriate the "Ready to Participate" item on the drop down menu.

      D, FOR OUR PART, we intend to extend, maintain and improve this site, the
      database, the various communications and language tools, and to maintain
      this communications channel as a LOW-VOLUME information link. Ideally, the
      whole thing will work as a window on the world of car free and other
      examples of sustainable transport "pattern breaks" which you can open when
      and as you wish. It will be our job to make sure that it is interesting and
      useful when you turn to it. Over the course of the coming year we intend to
      mail out a short monthly progress report and update, but other than that you
      should be freed of unwanted mail from here.

      CALENDAR OF COMING EVENTS In closing we would like to invite you to keep us
      informed of related events over the coming year. Our Calendar of Coming
      Events already has two dozen national and local projects such as Walk to
      School Days, Free Bus Day, Cycle Weeks, Shed your Car Day, Telework Centers,
      Car-Free Challenge Month, Sustainable Transport Months, and the list goes
      on -- and we feel it will be handy to have good information on all these
      good events available for easy reference in one central place here. We
      would also like to ask you to suggest or nominate one other group or project
      known to you whom we should perhaps be adding here as 'part of the
      solution'.

      We heard two phrases by people working on these challenges which strike a
      chord for the future as far as our own work and attitude is concerned. The
      first was when our friends in Pune India explained to us so nicely that "we
      are in this for the long slog". And the second was the great expression as
      one participant put it so well: "With your first Earth Car Free Day, the
      nose of the camel is now under the tent".

      Yes it is.

      Eric Britton

      Earth Car Free Day is permanently at www.carfreeday.com
      Sustainable Development and Social Justice

      The Commons ___technology, economy, society ___
      Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara, 75006 Paris, France
      Eric.Britton@... Tel: +331 4326 1323
    • Lauren Cooper
      I m heading out on a bike tour of West Virginia for several weeks, so I m unsubscribing from this list for awhile. I ve enjoyed everyone here tremendously,
      Message 2 of 2 , May 3, 2001
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        I'm heading out on a bike tour of West Virginia for several weeks, so I'm
        unsubscribing from this list for awhile. I've enjoyed everyone here
        tremendously, and will resubscribe when I get back.

        I wish you all good health and many happy bicycling miles.
        Happy Trails.
        Lauren Cooper

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