08 December 2004

International peer support for a sustainability prize nomination

Wednesday, December 08, 2004 12:18 PM

From: EcoPlan, Paris [mailto:eric.britton@ecoplan.org]
To: NewMobilityCafe and Sustran Network
Sent: International peer support for a sustainability nomination

Dear World Wide Friends of Sustainable Transport,

(I would in fact prefer to get this message out without actually alerting the person in question, but we all know how this works and so I will just have to live with this and keep moving.)

Every once in a while the phone rings and I suddenly have an opportunity – which as you can well imagine I am greatly honored by -- to name for some form of international recognition or support one or more outstanding sustainability advocates or groups working to expand the boundaries of knowledge and human interaction– including people who work outside of conventional reward systems. Which is why I write you all this morning.

Now as some of you know I am always very interested to lend a hand to anyone or any institutions that wishes to award or support this kind of person in their work to advance the sustainability agenda anywhere in the world. My work under the Stockholm Partnerships for Sustainable Cities has been a wonderful instrument for this, and I am always on the lookout for ways in which I can make a contribution along these lines. I might note in this context that a major focus of my personal interest and approach – as indeed this note duly attests – is in the ways in which we can make use available technology to achieve our sustainability objectives, not least of which all that often goes into the ball of wax that many call IT.

So here is my idea in reaction to this latest phone call and here is where I am looking for your thoughts and support. I am greatly impressed Todd Litman’s long term dedication in developing, at his own expenses and without external support, the Online TDM Encyclopedia, a much consulted sustainability tool (for example this morning there were no less than 1160 references to this title under Google) of more than 80 chapters, 1,000 pages and hundred of links, and in his forcefully working day by day to make sure that this important reference is consulted internationally when it’s time to make a decision in our much troubled transport sector. Many of us here know how hard this job is, how subtle are the distinctions that need to be made, and how important it is for us to have access to solid information and wise counsel in our work as we go about to alter the patterns of what we here like to refer to as ‘old mobility’ or a supply oriented approach to the needs of people in a world of finite resources and limited geometries of our cities – and heavy entrenched interests and old habits nearly all of which are working in the other, wrong direction.

To this end, I would like to ask any and all of you to consider taking a moment and letting me know if (a) you think this is a worthy idea and (b) perhaps a few of your own thoughts and reactions on Todd’s approach, accomplishments and goals. In truth, I cannot of course be in any way sure that this particular award will go this way, but my interest in supporting this approach goes way beyond any one particular possibility. Moreover, I am hopeful that perhaps even this note to you and our eventual follow-up will help us all to focus on the approach that he is taking and perhaps even scratch around among our own sources and contacts to see what might be done to give him further support and guidance for his worthy initiative.

There you have it. As many of you will remember, we have put this kind of collaboration to good and great purposes in the past, remember Bogota in 2000 for example and a few things since (see below for latest). So if this agrees with you, I would like to ask you to respond privately to my personal email address at mail@ericbritton.org. I will then work with this in my corner for now, but I am sure that in good time we will be able to make this better known to a world in need of new ideas and better examples of how people care, and are also able to care together.

Best to you all dear friends as this patently unsustainable 2004 stutters to an end,

Eric Britton

PS. Not all of you may be aware of the final outcome of our last collaborative peer support effort, in which many of you kindly and actively participated. The result that the candidate we supported for this year’s World Technology Environment Award, Ken Livingstone and his team for their path-breaking work in introducing the pioneering Congestion Charging project in London, was indeed awarded the top environmental prize in the solemn ceremony that took place at the World Technology Summit on October 7/8 in San Francisco. And as we know one of the results of this project is that, whether you agree with all the details or not, it is serving to reshape attitudes toward road pricing in cities to the extent that virtually every major city in the world is today giving careful consideration to this option. So all we have to do now is stay tuned for the next series of city projects that are sure to follow.

The New Mobility Agenda at http://newmobility.org/
Free video/voice conferencing: Click to http://newmobilitypartners.org/

The Commons: Increasing the uncomfort zone for hesitant administrators and politicians; pioneering new concepts for business, entrepreneurs, activists, community groups, and local government; and through our joint efforts, energy and personal choices, placing them and ourselves firmly on the path to a more sustainable and more just society.


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