systems thinking & LeLc learning programs

Everything is interconnected.  Yes – and it’s complicated and simple at the same time.  I’ve been there.

With the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center at WinSol) I’m going to be exploring the simpler side of this interconnectedness.

I spent five years on the complicated side:  (2001-2006) with some of the leading brains in the world from Peter Senge (MiT)and his SoL org and their first Congress in Vienna,  then with Dr. Andrew Ford at Eastern Washington U and his ‘environmental modeling’ work, and Dr. Braungart in Hamburg with his EPEA Cradle-to-Cradle.  I have fond memories of speaking at a Systems Design conference in Bergen, Norway and a ‘moose safari’ in the fjords with a executive friend from Det Norske Veritas in Oslo.

I worked with Peregrine Systems, PowerSim software, and Cisco Systems on developing some pretty advanced complex SD (System Dynamic) models for lease holdings and workplace productivity.  And the result?  Once again (sigh), I was too far ahead of the curve and couldn’t squeeze a profit to keep the business operations going.

But, man did I learn a lot!  Things are complicated and counter-intuitive, and they sure are interconnect
ed!  And it sure was fun teaching it at CSUS’s GBO program on sustainable business practices… carbon bathtub and all.

Fast forward a decade, and now I find myself deeply engaged with Joanna Macy’s WTR work – and trying to figure out how to leverage that for some good.  And by good, I mean RESULTS.  I learned as an auditor for the Senate Baldridge Quality Award, that results are what matters – the rest is mostly marketing (aka window dressing).

So the challenge with the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center)  will be how to incorporate all of this SD modeling, educational intents, inspiration, ancients’ wisdom, Gaia’s pleadings: calling us to PLEASE STOP this destructive onslaught… into real RESULTS for LeLc attendees that effect real change.

Fast forward to experiental learning.  i think that’s the sweet spot.  All the lecturting, field trips, powerpoint & prezi shows are fine, but figuring out processes and exercises and DEMONSTRATING things in a lab type setting so that people can PLAY with things – that’s my new passion, and that’s where the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center) is headed.

I ran across this interesting business playwheel (aka mandala? 🙂 about STEM and learning – what do you think?  is it worthwhile  pursuing?  stay tuned…

 

 

…  my opinion:   I think it’s a lot better than Bloom’s taxonomy – but that also has its purpose.  Sometimes I wish permaculture PDC and other programs would have some discipline in putting their learning programs together, rather than just follow some book or concept or brainstorming… but focus on REAL learning methods: like a taxonomy of learning?

stay tuned… now that the LeLc construction is winding down… the REAL thing begins… wheeeeeeeee……

 

my next civil disobedience…

The next civil disobedience I will participate in will  be in the Pacific Northwest either at Vancouver or Longmont, Washington.

These two areas are prime candidates for development of deep sea ports and sizeable increases of rail-yard volume to accommodate oil and coal rail cars from the Bakken fields of North Dakota and beyond (think Alberta tar sands). More pipelines are already being built unbeknown to most people, skirting around any opposition silently underground.

The little town of Mosier, Oregon experienced a close call oil derailment not too long ago.  On a Friday in early June, more than 40,000 gallons of Bakken crude spilled in a fiery oil train derailment that burned for 14 hours. Jerry Oliver is a port commissioner in Vancouver, Wash., and a vocal supporter of what would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country, known as the Vancouver Energy Project.  If built, the terminal would more than double the number of mile-long oil trains traveling along the Columbia River, to about 46 trains per week.

The Mosier derailment has led the Oregon Department of Transportation torequest the federal government issue a moratorium on oil trains in the Gorge and elsewhere throughout the state.

Protests have already started, and are sure to get bigger.   More than 100 protesters blocked BNSF Railway tracks in Vancouver, Washington, on Saturday, June 18, 2016, to protest oil train activity in the Northwest. Police arrested 21 people who refused to vacate the tracks as they protested oil train activity in the Pacific Northwest.

————————————————————————————-The current volume of oil & coal being shipped is staggering, and there’s a lot more profits to be made by increasing this volume. Is this a good thing? Is it good to keep supplying our addiction to gasoline and to keep prices down?

We are all enjoying cheaper prices at the pump. But at what price? Are we leveraging our grandkids’ future for instant gratification today (cheaper prices)?

There may be some short term pain at the pumps, but the sooner we start paying the real price of climate change fossil fuels, the sooner electric/hydrogen cars and more renewable technologies will be sprouted and competitive.

Since our systems looks mostly at short term returns and risks, oil trains are once again coming front and center.

The Quebec derailment and tragedy is a distant (3 year)
memory. 42+ people were killed… here’s the wikipedia link.  

Do we really need to wait until we have a similar disaster before we act?  I think not!  And I’ll be doing my small part by helping block the tracks… join me if you dare.

Asthma & Diesel

I turn my car’s fan OFF whenever I am behind a belching diesel truck or bus (especially if their muffler is located down low – like school buses) and for good reason:  diesel exhaust fumes. I’m overly sensitive to chemical smells, and whenever I smell diesel aldehydes I hold my breath and wait for cleaner air.

According to wikipedia diesel exhaust contaminants include substances listed as human carcinogens by theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer of the U.N.‘s World Health Organization.

It made me very, very sad decades ago when I saw children (including my own) being required to stand in line next to a running school bus, breathing in diesel exhaust into their young pink lungs. What a travesty! I knew they were breathing in aldehydes and other carcinogens which would cause health problems decades later.  And it would be such an easy fix (it still is!): just raise the damn exhaust muffler from the ground to higher up! Saying something about this, or worse – complaining! – always falls on deaf ears.

Try telling a trucker to stop idling their rig.

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As with many modern ailments, asthma and other lung infections are caused by modern lifestyles. There’s a markedly lower asthma rate in industrialized countries that have clean diesel than those that do not.

It’s actually kinda easy to wean a person away from an onset of asthma: breathe cleaner air! It’s that simple. Close your windows when the first school buses and garbage trucks start rolling. Open the windows up again after these trucks stop running. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is one of the few things you can control.

An article in the NYTimes Well clearly states the impact of exercising in polluted cities: “The potential health impacts are worrisome. Studies show that athletes who spend long hours in ice rinks filled with exhaust from Zamboni machines, such as figure skaters and hockey players, have unusually high rates of asthma compared to other athletes.”

So next time there’s a smog alert day in your area, besides trying to pollute less, maybe you can rest your body until the air gets cleaner… you’ll be healthier for it.

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Searching on ‘asthma & diesel exhausts’, there’s an entry from a UK study in 2007:

Diesel exhaust fumes on polluted streets have a measurable effect on people with asthma, according to the first study looking at exhausts and asthma in a real-life setting, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Most countries in Europe have had ‘clean diesel’ for over two decades – and it’s WAY cheaper than regular gasoline. Whenever I rented a car there, I always opted for a diesel one. At ~$8/gallon, fuel costs are often higher than rental fees in Europe.

But the USA, thanks to a powerful lobby group, refuses to pass legislation mandating clean diesel – except for California.

Starting in 2010 cleaner diesel truck engines were phased in. California is leading the USA toward cleaner diesel:

https://www.ajot.com/news/future-freight-plan-for-california-depends-on-clean-diesel-power-to-ac

According to 2015 data compiled by IHS Insight for the Diesel Technology Forum, there are over 900,000 Class 3-8 commercial vehicles in California and about 18 percent are the newest generation clean diesel (2010 Model Year and newer) that achieve near zero NOx and PM emissions. Since 2010, these vehicles alone have saved or eliminated 700,000 tons of NOx and 20,700 tons of PM. They have also saved or eliminated 5.8 million barrels of crude oil and 2.5 million tons of CO2. This compares with just over 15,000 natural gas powered commercial vehicles. Nationwide, almost 26 percent of the diesel commercial vehicle fleet is powered by engines that are 2010 and newer generations.”

These points and others were outlined in the Forum’s final comments submitted Wednesday on the draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan concerning the development of strategies to improve freight efficiency and the transition to zero-emission freight technologies.

And it’s going to get even cleaner with diesels in California, according to Cal’s CARB web site:

The regulation requires diesel trucks and buses that operate in California to be upgraded to reduce emissions. Newer heavier trucks and buses must meet PM filter requirements beginning January 1,2012. Lighter and older heavier trucks must be replaced starting January 1,2015. By January 1,2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.

The regulation applies to nearly all privately and federally owned diesel fueled trucks and buses and to privately and publicly owned school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds. The regulation provides a variety of flexibility options tailored to fleets operating low use vehicles, fleets operating in selected vocations like agricultural and construction, and small fleets of three or fewer trucks.

Now, if we can only get other states to adopt similar clean diesel mandates and save our children’s lungs (and retrofit those school buses!!)

WTR related:

Something as mundane as cleaner diesel is part of ‘The Great Turning’ within the Work that Reconnects (WTR).  It’s always easier to remain numb to realities than acknowledge our pain, and make the world a better place – a cornerstone of Joanna Macy’s WTR work: “acknowledge your own pain that ended up as numbness. It’s painful, and hurtful to embrace & acknowledge all the ugliness, violence, chemicals in our daily lives: better just ignore it for your own ‘peace of mind’… which really never comes from numbness.”