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1440Re: WorldTransport Forum How many more conferences??

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  • Richard Layman
    Sep 6, 2010
      change takes decades.  When I was talking to my ex-boss about building a complete robust infrastructure for walking and biking in Baltimore County, MD (800,000+ residents, 660 sq. miles) she countered, how much did it cost to build the road system (many billions) and how long did it take (50 years)?  (My most recent job was as a temporary grant funded bicycle and pedestrian planner in Baltimore County, MD, where I project managed the creation of a bike and ped plan.  They edited out about 1/2 of what I wrote, but for the most part, the relatively robust recommendations have remained in the final draft document, www.baltimorecountymd.gov/westbikeped).

      It wasn't until I was about 45 years old (now I am 50), when I really started to understand (even though I studied and practiced social change and organizational development and community organizing in college and my first job outside of a college town was for a national scale consumer group with 250,000 members) how long it takes for social change to come about.

      Even a fast tracked transportation project--at least in the U.S.--takes 8-10 years.  The planning processes for light rail and subway projects is 3-4 times that.

      When you are working to change paradigms (cf. Kuhn _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_, Rogers' _Diffusion of Innovations_, maybe Katz and Kahn's _Social Psychology of Organizations_, plus Wright and Fung and John Friedmann, and these articles from a 2009 issue of Stanford Business School's quarterly magazine

      it takes a whole lot longer.

      That doesn't make it any easier to take.

      But the other thing you need to think about is marketing ideas, marketing and implementing social change, "design thinking," etc.

      I have developed over the past few years what I call an action planning perspective.

      Action planning:

      - uses the design method and design thinking instead of relatively static rational planning processes
      - social marketing
      - branding and identity systems
      - delivered through integrated systems of programs, policies, and services, including support systems of encouragement and educaction
      - on a foundation of participatory democracy, civic engagement, and empowerment.

      Even that takes a whole lot of time.  (Some of the examples that have influenced me are the transportation demand management programs of Arlington County, Virginia, and of course, the State of Victoria in Australia, the Idea Store repositioning of the libraries in the Tower Hamlets borough in London, and the resident attraction program Live Baltimore, in Baltimore City, Maryland.)

      And by the time you figure out what to do you are getting "long in the tooth", not to mention that most traditional organizations, especially local governments, are pretty conservative and unwilling to hire or keep on people pushing for change.

      I joke that I ended up working in the private sector because despite my best efforts, interests, and inclinations, the public/nonprofit drove me out.  What I am doing now (more about that maybe when we get some wins) is working for a startup focused on the development and implementation of integrated systems of bicycle facilities.

      At the same time Eric, I will tell you my complaint about conferences, as much as I love them.  I state that for the most part they are still at the level of case studies, and that we aren't utilizing conferences to adequately capture and use learning in practical, focused ways.

      Here's what I say we need to do as people, within and outside of our professions, when it comes to bringing about urban revitalization and transportation improvements.  We need to:

      - indicate --figure out what we are doing/what we did, what works, what doesn't and why, and build the frameworks and typologies so we can do something with the information;

      - duplicate --after we figured it out, and have the right frameworks, structures, processes, plans, apply the knowledge somewhere else, successfully, and ideally more quickly based on the previous learning

      - communicate --after you've figured it out and "proven" that it works by duplicating it in places other than the first, communicate the results -- wrt your conference in China, you need to look at what you are doing to, why is it that people aren't learning driven (but that's a whole other issue that is not solvable within my lifetime)

      - replicate -- scale up the change, communicate out the info and process, through workshops, etc., across knowledge networks and communities of practice, and move change forward.

      Rogers is excellent for understanding why change takes so long.  I do think Malcolm Gladwell's _Tipping Point_, which for the most part merely reinterprets Rogers, does add to the discourse in his discussion of how to accelerate the diffusion of new ideas and change in his discussion of connectors (which isn't much different from Clyde Brown's work in college student program development from the 1960s and 1970s), "salesmen" (people who are great at convincing other people to change their behaviors), and "mavens" -- experts who know everything about a subject but only make a limited amount of headway in getting change to happen.

      We need to be all three -- mavens, connectors, and salesmen -- at once.  Most of us are not.  I am pretty good at being a maven and a connector.  The salesman piece is harder, but I am getting better at it...

      Richard Layman
      now, director of business development and community engagement
      BicyclePASS LLC
      Washington, DC

      --- On Mon, 9/6/10, Rishi Aggarwal <rishiagg@...> wrote:

      From: Rishi Aggarwal <rishiagg@...>
      Subject: Re: WorldTransport Forum How many more conferences??
      To: WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: sustran-discuss@..., "Dinesh Mohan" <dmohan@...>
      Date: Monday, September 6, 2010, 6:07 AM


      Eric..I was on the floor laughing out when I read this...i share your angst a lot and all I can say currently is have a look a the news below...its a small project I am trying to see through...has just started and will keep you and group updated...Regards, Rishi

      On 4 September 2010 14:01, eric britton <eric.britton@...> wrote:

      Friends. Here's my problem.


      How is it that a country like India, with so many good and wise people working on and understanding in many profound ways the challenges and possibilities of the New Mobility Agenda at its best, continue to do so very very badly when it comes to spending money and making even half decent policy and investment decisions.


      This strikes me particularly as  I read some of the very fine papers coming in from our Young Scholars for the Kaohsiung conference, which strike me by the quality of their understanding and lucidity (and generosity of spirit) on many (but not all '-) of these matters.


      I am not V. S. Naipal (with all the prejudices that entails), but I suspect there is something very profound  going on in that huge continent of a country which I as a naive guy from the Unglobal North simply is not capable of understanding. 


      We are thinking very seriously of organizing the 2010 World Share/Transport Forum in India, but maybe it will just be more flapping of the arms and sugared words shared among a few wise but powerless souls.  Why do it if it serves no good purpose?


      Can someone out there help me out?


      Eric Britton



      Co-Chairman, World Share/Transport Forum - Kaohsiung 2010

      ·         Www.kaohsiung.sharetransport.org

      ·         http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/kaohsiung/



      Eric Britton | WorldStreets.org | NewMobility.org  | Skype: newmobility 

      8, rue Jospeh Bara  | Paris 75006 France | +331 7550 3788


      "Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know."
      -- M. King Hubbert --

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