Love, Power, and Justice for Children

My junior year of college I took the most collegiate class ever, at my Christian university, from Dr. Leffel. It combined principles of Nazarene (Wesleyan) theology and psychology, and included challenging deep texts and high-level conversation. I loved it.

But one premise in the class bothered me. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs seemed in conflict to me with the teachings of Jesus. Leffel told us that humans cannot live to their fullest potential if they do not have not only food, clothing, and shelter, but also don’t live with fear of wanting for any of these basics. At the time, I felt this was in conflict with the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor…” I’ve pondered this over the years, observing the experiences of myself and others. Sometimes financial insecurity forces us to value our families and relationships more. Sometimes wealth comes with a whole host of other problems. What’s best? I don’t know. But of course: food and shelter are necessary to basic heath, regardless.

I digress.

There was one time I really stumped my professor, unfortunately, because I really wanted an answer.

Dr. Leffel was talking about the power of personal narrative. He gave the anecdotal story of a mother and her son. The father had died when the boy was too small to have many memories of his dad. Continue reading

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Know better, do better, help children thrive post-divorce.

Last night as I was pretending to sleep during a bout of insomnia, some of my worst memories resurfaced.

My early adulthood was traumatic. I was married at 20 and had my first child at 21. We scraped by on food stamps, his full time service industry job and my two part time, slightly better than minimum wage jobs. Before I was done nursing my first daughter, by some miracle (because the relationship had deteriorated by then) I was pregnant with the second.

That pregnancy was the most isolated I have ever been. My Aunties, cousins, and Grampie were my only local family, and I didn’t tell them or my Mom, Dad or Stepmom that I was alone with my toddler every day. That things were combative or sullenly quiet every evening. That many evenings he would go back out and I would be alone again with my suicidal thoughts. Only the love for my growing, talking, snuggly child kept me going.

In that state, I mostly felt shaken, broken, and vulnerable, but a couple times I lashed out in ways I deeply regret. Continue reading

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Anatomy of an Apology, and Living Atonement

So, how does one apologize?

If things have become so broken and toxic between two people that the parties no longer speak, and either via spoken or unspoken agreement there is no contact, how does one extend a for-real, heartfelt, growth-evident, highly specific apology, perhaps seeking but not expecting forgiveness?

And if such deep wounds require layers of cyclical healing to mend, such that additional apologies over time would deepen accordingly, how can complete peace be achieved in the absence of communication?

If a heart-wrenching “I’m sorry” is cried in the middle of the wilderness and there’s no one there to hear it, does it do any good? And is it still helpful if no forgiveness will ever be offered?

Often, social norms and our stoic legal system prevent healing. The icy, quit-cold-turkey separation that is necessary for a time serves to sever unhealthy connections and cycles, but that’s a tourniquet. It serves its purpose to stop the bleeding and prevent re-injury. Continue reading

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Leadership Qualities and Presidential Candidates ~ The Deal with Trump

I’ve read a lot of hand-wringing statements over the years about ‘What’s Wrong with this Nation.’ I agree with some, and many are blown way out of proportion. Many are essentially the same kinds of generational worries that have stressed out humans for millenia (“Kids these days ain’t got no upbringin’ at all,” Dad used to joke).

We tend to have selective memories about the “good old days,” waxing nostalgic about ‘simpler’ times because the bad stuff didn’t apply to us. Or, like childbirth, we survived the excruciating parts but got a wriggly, living bundle of joy with happiness that completely overwhelms the memory of experienced pain.

That said, I’ll throw in my own “What’s Wrong with this Nation” statement: We have experienced too few admirable leaders in recent years. Servant leaders, with great strength in their ability to listen, respond, and lead. Not roll over under the auspices of negotiation, but able to compromise effectively. Able to apologize and grow from occasional mistakes. Able to take an uncompromising, unapologetic stand when needed, but porous and humble enough to adjust policies to encompass broader perspectives wherever possible.

The stalemating and strong arm tactics between Congress and President Obama have made his many compromises to accommodate his political enemies look weak, though he is still loudly blamed for executive overreach. Our media-frenzy- and dirty-money-fueled two-party system has every politician screaming bloody murder and pointing fingers at the other side, with no tact or rightful respect for elective offices.

If you trust one pundit or politician, and they’re spewing carefully tailored, angry political rhetoric, they strike fear and hatred in your heart. You care about this nation, yet they are manipulating that care for financial and political gain and making us all miserable.

It’s no way to live.

Enter Donald Trump. Because there are so few commendable leaders, not only in politics but our daily lives, his hate speech sounds like strength. He sounds like a guy who could go to Capitol Hill with guns blazing to force needed change.

Such war language, especially that which denigrates and raises suspicions toward other Americans, does not bring healing to a hurting nation. Hate does not create peace and prosperity. It’s all bluster and no substance, and it is damaging us.

America is more populated and diverse than ever before. We need a leader who will consider the whole and knit us together with words of unity, not disparagement. Not one who gets attention by saying the most extreme, shocking statements that bully the underrepresented.

Politics is a mess, and one leader isn’t going to fix our nation. But electing a person of grace, inclusion, and strength in leadership is a necessary start.

Check your own internal responses to the things you see and hear. Do you find yourself saying, “Yeah!” out of a sense of inspiration and optimism for the future, or out of fear and anger that some group of people that aren’t “The Real America” might be threatening how you envision our shared country?

We used to have 30 minute sitcom-length attention spans. Now 15 second Instagram videos or Vines seem long. We need to take more time for introspection and reflection.

There can be no political savior, but there can be a great leader. A leader will strive to serve everyone on this soil. I’m going to attune my ears to healing language this electoral cycle, and pay close attention to the red flags of language that inspires or doubles down on division.

The healing of America must come from within each of us. We can help lead our country to new greatness by taking captive the thoughts that separate us. We are accountable for our own attitudes and how we feed them, and we must give leadership positions to those who foster growth and feed our best potential, not our worst.

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Comments on "San Diego Forward"

July 15, 2015

Rob Rundle                                                                                          via electronic mail
Principal Regional Planner                                                              rob.rundle@sandag.org
401 B St. Ste. 800                                                                               sdforward@sandag.org
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: Draft San Diego Forward Plan; Draft EIR

Dear Mr. Rundle, SANDAG staff, and Members of the Board:

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my comments on The Draft San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). While I serve as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I submit these comments in my individual capacity as a 20-year resident of San Diego County. I am a parent, taxpayer, and citizen engaged in volunteer efforts to advance social justice and environmental protections. I want San Diego to be an amazing place for tourists to visit, but primarily I want the region to be the best it can be for current and future residents from all walks of life who call San Diego home.

With great power comes great responsibility. SANDAG is one of our region’s largest agencies, and you are responsible to use the full extent of your expansive budget, power, and influence to serve the best interests of all San Diegans. Some of you, in your official capacities as SANDAG board members or representatives, have made public claims that the agency’s role is limited in scope and responsibility. When you attempt to limit SANDAG’s great potential to make a beneficial difference on climate at this critical time in history, you are shamefully abandoning your political and professional responsibilities. You are choosing politically charged language to abdicate your duties to we, the people who live here, who are impacted daily by your decisions and pay your salaries, and you are doing so in order to maintain a fundamentally broken approach to transportation planning. It is a failure of leadership.

In analyses of various mobility options to serve the growing San Diego population, the presupposition is that SANDAG must build roads. No other approach to moving people and goods throughout the region is given equal consideration. The “balance” you acknowledge you must consider and implement to provide a variety of transportation options to serve the whole of San Diego’s population has long been weighted in favor of roadways. This is a failure in your own terms when you use the word “balance.” ‘Widen freeways now and promise a few transit projects later’ is insufficient to actually provide a variety of functional mobility options, and you are far overdue to shift the priority to other modes of transport to correct the imbalance. The longer you delay implementation of functional, integrated transit, the more it will cost. It is imperative to prioritize transit infrastructure now, without further needless delay.

Your bias favoring roads has served to create polluting congestion with limited non-car options that is our current reality. This continued approach does not take into account one of the most important segments of our population: the young who will be middle aged and older adults by the time many of the roadways projects listed in the DEIR will be built, and who have a declining interest in personal car ownership and driving (Exhibit “A” The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials are Driving Less, CityLab, July 13, 2015).

We can’t pave our way out of the current problem, and more pavement certainly will not serve to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater runoff pollution, nor traffic congestion (Exhibit “B” The One Chart That Explains All Your Traffic Woes, CityLab, March 2, 2015) and will not adequately serve the San Diegans of the future.

figure4

Clearly, as referenced in Figured 4.8-1, priorities must shift if we ever hope to reach the greenhouse gas reductions targets necessary to achieve climate stabilization. There is a remedy. It is an approach to transportation that can exceed state emissions reductions requirements, provide complete mobility choice, benefit the local economy, and protect San Diego’s future without expanding roads and their negative impacts. You, our heavily funded transportation agency, are obligated to study it, seek federal, state and local funding for it, and prioritize implementation of it.

Your current proposal contains all the same road-based projects as the prior iteration of the RTP, although as the years have passed cost projections have increased. Thus, transit projects have been removed (including the incredibly important below-grade transit station at UTC) in the DRTP to fund your hallowed freeways, and the region thus fails to meet regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets set by Executive Orders S-3-05 and B-30-15. While it is not currently a requirement for SANDAG to adhere to the additional emissions reductions set forth in S.B. 32 (Pavley) (which, if passed and signed into law will go into effect January 2016), the trends are clear that California’s legal framework is evolving to include increasingly stringent requirements to limit climate impacts.

The writing is on the wall. You, our leaders and representatives at SANDAG cannot continue to plan in a vacuum as though scientifically deduced targets for the continued viability of humankind are arbitrary guidelines to be ignored.

While some of you give lip service to such principles as “Vision Zero” and its goal of zero pedestrian and traffic deaths, you continue to perpetuate the paradigm that can only induce more traffic-related deaths; not only from collisions, but also the slower forms of death caused by particulate matter emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Much like the discussion of human health impacts in the DRTP concluding in a veritable shrug (‘impacts are inevitable, because we build roads’), you among SANDAG leadership refuse to meaningfully study or adopt any vision for the region that does not include an expansion of existing freeways.

This is despite documented benefits of a no new roads plan to accommodate the transportation needs of the region by maintaining (but without expanding) existing freeways and instead adding significant investments in light rail transit networks and safe active transportation infrastructure.

Although presented to SANDAG on multiple occasions by various individuals and organizations, I include here a copy of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation’s 50-10 Transit Plan: A World Class Transit System for the San Diego Region (Exhibit “C”), which lays out the feasibility and framework of implementing fifty years’ worth of projected transit in ten years. Realistically, the first phase of such transit investments would build out capacity along existing rail lines within the first ten years, which would lay the foundation for the expansion of the network arterials in the following decade.

More recently in April of this year the same renowned expert, Norman L. Marshall of Smart Mobility, Inc., released a supplemental report: “The 50-10 Transit Plan: Quantifying the Benefits,” (Exhibit “D”).

The human and environmental benefits of the proposed planning approach as discussed in the new report so significantly outshine those documented in the DTRP, the plan deserves more than a dismissive response by you who hold San Diego’s transportation future in your hands. Roads and rail direct growth patterns, thus San Diego’s land use future is also in your hands.

I encourage thorough consideration of the documentation enclosed, primarily the quantification of the benefits of the 50-10 Plan. It is your duty to build mobility options for San Diegans that will not exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions to further degrade our health and increase climate instability.

———–

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Comments on “San Diego Forward”

July 15, 2015

Rob Rundle                                                                                          via electronic mail
Principal Regional Planner                                                              rob.rundle@sandag.org
401 B St. Ste. 800                                                                               sdforward@sandag.org
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: Draft San Diego Forward Plan; Draft EIR

Dear Mr. Rundle, SANDAG staff, and Members of the Board:

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my comments on The Draft San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). While I serve as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I submit these comments in my individual capacity as a 20-year resident of San Diego County. I am a parent, taxpayer, and citizen engaged in volunteer efforts to advance social justice and environmental protections. I want San Diego to be an amazing place for tourists to visit, but primarily I want the region to be the best it can be for current and future residents from all walks of life who call San Diego home.

With great power comes great responsibility. SANDAG is one of our region’s largest agencies, and you are responsible to use the full extent of your expansive budget, power, and influence to serve the best interests of all San Diegans. Some of you, in your official capacities as SANDAG board members or representatives, have made public claims that the agency’s role is limited in scope and responsibility. When you attempt to limit SANDAG’s great potential to make a beneficial difference on climate at this critical time in history, you are shamefully abandoning your political and professional responsibilities. You are choosing politically charged language to abdicate your duties to we, the people who live here, who are impacted daily by your decisions and pay your salaries, and you are doing so in order to maintain a fundamentally broken approach to transportation planning. It is a failure of leadership.

In analyses of various mobility options to serve the growing San Diego population, the presupposition is that SANDAG must build roads. No other approach to moving people and goods throughout the region is given equal consideration. The “balance” you acknowledge you must consider and implement to provide a variety of transportation options to serve the whole of San Diego’s population has long been weighted in favor of roadways. This is a failure in your own terms when you use the word “balance.” ‘Widen freeways now and promise a few transit projects later’ is insufficient to actually provide a variety of functional mobility options, and you are far overdue to shift the priority to other modes of transport to correct the imbalance. The longer you delay implementation of functional, integrated transit, the more it will cost. It is imperative to prioritize transit infrastructure now, without further needless delay.

Your bias favoring roads has served to create polluting congestion with limited non-car options that is our current reality. This continued approach does not take into account one of the most important segments of our population: the young who will be middle aged and older adults by the time many of the roadways projects listed in the DEIR will be built, and who have a declining interest in personal car ownership and driving (Exhibit “A” The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials are Driving Less, CityLab, July 13, 2015).

We can’t pave our way out of the current problem, and more pavement certainly will not serve to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater runoff pollution, nor traffic congestion (Exhibit “B” The One Chart That Explains All Your Traffic Woes, CityLab, March 2, 2015) and will not adequately serve the San Diegans of the future.

figure4

Clearly, as referenced in Figured 4.8-1, priorities must shift if we ever hope to reach the greenhouse gas reductions targets necessary to achieve climate stabilization. There is a remedy. It is an approach to transportation that can exceed state emissions reductions requirements, provide complete mobility choice, benefit the local economy, and protect San Diego’s future without expanding roads and their negative impacts. You, our heavily funded transportation agency, are obligated to study it, seek federal, state and local funding for it, and prioritize implementation of it.

Your current proposal contains all the same road-based projects as the prior iteration of the RTP, although as the years have passed cost projections have increased. Thus, transit projects have been removed (including the incredibly important below-grade transit station at UTC) in the DRTP to fund your hallowed freeways, and the region thus fails to meet regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets set by Executive Orders S-3-05 and B-30-15. While it is not currently a requirement for SANDAG to adhere to the additional emissions reductions set forth in S.B. 32 (Pavley) (which, if passed and signed into law will go into effect January 2016), the trends are clear that California’s legal framework is evolving to include increasingly stringent requirements to limit climate impacts.

The writing is on the wall. You, our leaders and representatives at SANDAG cannot continue to plan in a vacuum as though scientifically deduced targets for the continued viability of humankind are arbitrary guidelines to be ignored.

While some of you give lip service to such principles as “Vision Zero” and its goal of zero pedestrian and traffic deaths, you continue to perpetuate the paradigm that can only induce more traffic-related deaths; not only from collisions, but also the slower forms of death caused by particulate matter emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Much like the discussion of human health impacts in the DRTP concluding in a veritable shrug (‘impacts are inevitable, because we build roads’), you among SANDAG leadership refuse to meaningfully study or adopt any vision for the region that does not include an expansion of existing freeways.

This is despite documented benefits of a no new roads plan to accommodate the transportation needs of the region by maintaining (but without expanding) existing freeways and instead adding significant investments in light rail transit networks and safe active transportation infrastructure.

Although presented to SANDAG on multiple occasions by various individuals and organizations, I include here a copy of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation’s 50-10 Transit Plan: A World Class Transit System for the San Diego Region (Exhibit “C”), which lays out the feasibility and framework of implementing fifty years’ worth of projected transit in ten years. Realistically, the first phase of such transit investments would build out capacity along existing rail lines within the first ten years, which would lay the foundation for the expansion of the network arterials in the following decade.

More recently in April of this year the same renowned expert, Norman L. Marshall of Smart Mobility, Inc., released a supplemental report: “The 50-10 Transit Plan: Quantifying the Benefits,” (Exhibit “D”).

The human and environmental benefits of the proposed planning approach as discussed in the new report so significantly outshine those documented in the DTRP, the plan deserves more than a dismissive response by you who hold San Diego’s transportation future in your hands. Roads and rail direct growth patterns, thus San Diego’s land use future is also in your hands.

I encourage thorough consideration of the documentation enclosed, primarily the quantification of the benefits of the 50-10 Plan. It is your duty to build mobility options for San Diegans that will not exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions to further degrade our health and increase climate instability.

———–

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Help us help San Diego!

Dear friends:

As a board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I have been an advocate for better transit and San Diego’s urban quality of life as responsible anti-sprawl solutions for many years.

In that time, we have utilized our limited funding on experts who have done the work our tax dollars SHOULD do: identifying key areas already zoned for density in San Diego, funding thorough, professional comment letters on our local transportation plans demanding they prioritize building low-pollution, functional transit alternatives to highways, producing and submitting our own “50-10” Plan: a transit-first vision for San Diego and recently released study quantifying its benefits, and winning litigation when our agencies fail us as residents.

The next phase of CNFF’s advocacy has begun, both in defending our prior court wins and in yet again giving our local transportation agency highly qualified transit-first input regarding the next iteration of our region’s multibillion dollar, multi-year mobility plan.

Our historical successes have been fruitful in establishing some of the good projects and policies around the city and a modification of some language in the new Plan, but we must continue to engage to ensure SANDAG implements responsible planning. So we must continue our efforts.

My biggest request right now: Please help us fund this critical work.

Additionally, there are two upcoming public forums hosted by SANDAG. One is tonight, 6-8:30 p.m. at Jacobs Center (404 Euclid Ave., SD). This will be live streamed at sdforward.com, though you will not be able to submit questions and comments at the forum if you view the live stream. The final forum is tomorrow at UTC Forum Hall, 6-8:30 p.m., 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite E-25.

You can also submit comments on the latest Regional Transportation Plan through July 15, 2015.

Thank you for being a friend and an ally, protecting San Diego and making it a vibrant city for the future, and thank you in advance if you are able to make a donation to support our work.

Sincerely,

Sara

Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment