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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Help Start a National Depaving Group
Depave a Wasted Nation

by Don McMillam

I admit to having once supported The Nature Conservancy. Its membership solicitations enticed with glossy images of happy wildlife saved by contributions like mine. However, another slick image with the Nature Conservancy's insignia jarred me to my senses.

A factory-polished Cadillac DeVille shared the foreground with a family posed at The Conservancy's Consumnes River Preserve. The caption stated disjointed assertions claiming Cadillac's utmost concern both for its customers' safety and for biological integrity. Below this promotion was the Nature Conservancy's oak leaf logo. And I encountered the same logo in promotions for GM trucks. (For both ads, see Audubon, May/June '95.) The Conservancy satisfied my telephone inquiries about these ads only with its own name for its transactions with GM and Cadillac: cause-related marketing.

Car-maker donations in exchange for the Conservancy's apparent stamp of approval for the advertised products seemed as fitting as though the American Lung Association had accepted a grant from Philip Morris in exchange for the non-profit's logo licensed to appear in the tobacco giant's advertising. Few sensibilities of U.S. residents seem more antagonistic to preserving habitat than our unwillingness to questionólet alone kickóautomotive addiction.

After publishing an appeal to boycott the car-coddling Conservancy and seeing Conservancy supporters respond with unanimous disfavor, I determined that Conservancy rank and file were as unwilling to consider the organization's complicity with car makers as is the general public to question the nation's reliance on the automobile. Building opposition to the Conservancy's cooperation in car sales through collective action appeared futile.

But my brush with the Nature Conservancy's auto-dependent reality led to an idea for a conservation organization focused, like the Nature Conservancy, on influencing land-use patternsóbut also concerned with fostering economic independence from motor vehicles. The organization would operate much like Habitat for Humanity, soliciting contributions to a revolving fund. This fund would lend to inner-city community agencies, purchasing parking lots and other over-paved real estate. The borrowers would then involve constituents in removing pavement and sowing and harvesting the plot. For example, a loan-receiving agency might divide its depaved lot into family-sized garden plots. These plots would then be rented out to community residents. The agency could return some portion of garden plot rental revenues to the revolving funds to pay off its interest-free mortgage. Through the revolving fund, people left behind by suburban "progress" could regain a sense of communal well-being through reaffirming ties with the earth.

Inner-city communities could become livable by rejecting a currency of nuclear and petro dollars in favor of an ecological economy. This would lessen public and private investment in more highways to pave new suburbs. A revolving fund directed at restoring paved urban deserts to agricultural fertility could ultimately preserve vital rural landscapes outside city limits by reducing pressures to pave them.

Many hurdles remain for such a fund to become operational. This article is a means of testing whether there is sufficient interest to move forward. I am certain that I lack adequate knowledge and experience to make it work single-handedly. However, if I find others to contribute time, talent, and money to this cause, I could justify devoting energy toward establishing such a fund.

A low-key start-up project might involve pooling prospective names for the organization. Names already suggest include Depave America! and Depave a Wasted Nation (DAWN). Offers of know-how or financial support, too, would be of great assistance.

Finally, I'd like to hear from anyone already doing such work, so we could discuss collaboration: (707) 822-1544 or e-mail to Donations and correspondence should be earmarked for Depave America! and be mailed and payable to the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium, P.O. Box 3387, Santa Cruz, CA 95063. Should the depaving fund this article proposes not emerge, donations will be turned over to the Alliance's road-fighting fund.


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change (Trademarked) is published by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) California non-stock corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.