My Midterm Campaign Experience

Well, we lost. I knew it was a long shot but with all the enthusiasm for Jamie I thought we had a chance. Jamie got almost 40% of the vote and Walden got 57%. Better than any recent run against Walden but it’s hard to see how a Democrat wins this district without turning out non-affiliated voters in a big way and I don’t think we generated enough enthusiasm to do that.

I canvassed, called, texted, and helped organize events in Deschutes County. I was excited to see the volunteer support for Jamie’s message and the desire for change. There were some volunteer heroes who consistently put in 20, 30 and even more hours every week. These people give me hope. Some of these folks had jobs, families, and a lot of reasons NOT to be involved. For some, all those things WERE the reasons to be involved. They inspired me to do more.

I like to remember all the positive interactions, but realize we need to deal with the following if we want to become a better Republic:

‘I hate Trump so I’m not going to vote’

‘I hate both parties’

‘I’m working 2 jobs plus raising kids so don’t have time to read about the candidates’

‘I’m apolitical’

The above are quotes (or the best that I can remember) from citizens who don’t think they have enough of a stake to mark a ballot and mail it in. Oregon makes it so easy to vote and still many don’t. Imagine the barriers in states where citizens are actively dissuaded from voting.

In this Oregon midterm, 68% of those eligible sent in ballots. So, 1 person in 3 didn’t care or felt it was too much trouble. Nationwide, we are told to celebrate the fact that 47% of those eligible voted. If we were a new democracy (or Republic in our case), one would be dismayed by such a low participation rate.

How do we fix this? How do we get more people to vote? Nationwide, participation by youth (18-29 years old) was said to be just 31%. So, the group with the longest time remaining on this planet hardly participated and we (progressive) oldsters are wishing they had.

It’s easy to say that Trump’s base doesn’t support democracy as this text exchange suggests (to be fair it might be just an auto-correct issue) but clearly we have the fight of our lives ahead of us if we want to avoid sliding further into authoritarianism.

What do you think? How do we get more people involved and interested in the issues, not just slogans and propaganda?

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Seattle by Lime Bike

I spent 5 days in Seattle staying close to the U of W and the Burke-Gilman bike trail. Lime bikes are everywhere with what looks like an even mix of traditional pedal bikes and ebikes.

My insights:

  1. Super-convenient. I never had more than a few minute walk to find a bike. Even when I was at the West Point Lighthouse, I found the one bike that was there (but wonder if I stranded the person who rode it). I had done a fairly long walk to the lighthouse and was really happy to rest my feet on the return trip.
  2. The bikes take a beating. Handlebars often are not aligned with the wheel and there are a lot of squeaks, rattles, and brake noise. Not surprising since many of the bikes are dumped on their side. I encountered one bike with a bent crank and one with a broken front basket. Out of 10 bikes I rode, 5 had an annoying issue but still could be ridden. 2 could not be ridden. The app has a tool to report issues but I have no idea how fast Lime responds.
  3. Easy to sign up and use the app!
  4. It’s expensive! $3-$4 for a 15 minute Ebike ride. Less for a pedal bike. I guess the cost reflects the convenience of finding a bike nearly anywhere and the (likely) high cost of maintenance.
  5. The Lime ebikes work well. Zippy on the flats and helpful on the hills. They seem to be speed-limited as I couldn’t get going very fast on the downhills. I know class 1 ebikes are limited to 15 mph with assist but assume they can go faster with pedaling. Not sure if this was a regenerative braking effect or whether the speed was intentionally limited.
  6. Like pedal sharebikes everywhere, they are heavy and slow. Not a problem on a short, flat commute but I had a long hill to climb from the lighthouse and I think I was slower on the bike than walking.
  7. I’ve always ridden with a helmet. Didn’t have one and was surprised how little I thought about it since I was mostly on some excellent separated bike paths. When I was mixing with traffic (especially bike lanes in the door zone) I was very vigilant watching drivers.

As a tourist I am very happy to see this option. Every day in Seattle, I mixed public transit, walking, and biking, choosing the best mode at the time. And I never missed not having a car. Certainly a boon for travelers like me.

Bend Trail Work

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I’ve landed in Bend in the last month and I think we’re going to stay for a while. Being on the move for the last 13 months has been fun and rewarding but it’s time to stay somewhere for a bit longer and Bend feels like the right spot.

I’m fortunate to find a number of volunteer opportunities and particularly to find that COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance) is such a force for good here. They have been creating and maintaining trails for over 25 years and seem to be very well organized.

Yesterday, I joined a group of about 20 other trail workers to get our Level 1 Trail Steward Training. Everyone seemed to have experience and we made fast work of repairs on the COD trail. It made for a fun and rewarding day – I’ll definitely be back.

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More Spanish Street Art

We’re back in Madrid this week and enjoying just walking around – there is no lack of interesting barrios to visit

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And this one in Alcala da Henares (birthplace of Cervantes) with a nod to Don Quixote

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And I love this symbol of the University of Alcala showing the storks that you see everywhere on tall buildings throughout the city

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