Monthly Archives: July 2008

Trustees Market

On Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 88 Randolph Street from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.. Trustees Market will host its 3rd celebration of a growing community of producers and consumers of local, sustainable products. Trustees Market features local farmers, music, art and food.

Trustees Market will Savannah’s second annual GreenFest on Sept 13. Upcoming Market dates are Sept. 3, Sept. 13 (GreenFest) and Sept. 24.

For more information, contact Tate Hudson at  (912) 443-3277, tate@trusteesgarden.com or visit www.trusteesgarden.com.

We get what we pay for

I admit I was happy to see the dreadful City Market Parking garage demolished. It sat like a giant concrete machine gun battery right in the middle of one of Savannah’s busiest commercial and entertainment areas. And I’m excited about the plans for Ellis Square.

Still, I can’t help but note the figures reported by local media about the cost of the project. The price of the underground garage? $30 million. The price of the square that sits atop it? $1 million. From these figures, I think we can infer something about our priorities as a community. Namely, storage of private automobiles is somewhere around 30 times more important to us than public space that could serve as a place for social gatherings, a venue for recreational activities, a stage for cultural events, or simply a shady refuge on a hot day.

Yes, I know the project has generated around $100 million in nearby investments. Yes, I know parking spaces were lost when the old garage was leveled. Yes, I know downtown merchants demand more parking.

Still, 30X. I’m just saying.

This local project to stimulate car trips in and out of the Historic District is in keeping with national trends, as noted yesterday on Slate in an article by Daniel Gross called “Highways Paved with Gold” (Subtitle: “You think the government is wasting a few billion a year on mass transit subsidies. But what about those huge subsidies for cars and trucks?”):

What hasn’t been acknowledged is that the automobile is supported by a government subsidy that dwarfs anything provided to mass transit. How big is the subsidy? By my (admittedly extremely crude) calculations, it could total nearly $100 billion per year. Americans can drive so much because there is an extremely extensive system of (largely free) roads for us to use.

I wonder how Gross’ figures would change if he added public parking garages into his admittedly extremely crude calculations.

Dealing with high gas prices: WTOC offers reason, instead of rote reaction

picture-1.pngWhether contained in a motion graphic or uttered by an anchor, the appearance of the phrase “pain at the pump” on television offers an unmistakable clue to what’s coming next. The networks and local affiliates use those four words to introduce stories featuring at least one (and probably all three) of the following components:

1. A profile of a motorist shocked by the current cost of using a large, truck-based vehicle as a passenger car in an environment designed and built on the mistaken assumption that cheap gasoline would be eternally available.

2. Advancement of the notion that we are entitled to an exemption from the law of supply and demand, that it’s reasonable to expect price relief even as our demand for a finite resource increases infinitely.

3. A subtle suggestion that practical steps taken to reduce personal fuel consumption must always be sacrifices or worse, are somehow unpatriotic.

I was mildly surprised, then, to see a package called, “Five reasons why the price of gas isn’t that bad” on the Big Red Eleven.

Of the reasons, my favorites were five, three and one. Speaking to No. 5, Savannah resident Lisa Reinhardt claimed limiting her car trips gave her more time to work in her garden. Al Stillings of Tybee Island took care of the third reason. He bought a bicycle and is now making trips to the post office under his own power. WTOC reporter Christy Hutchings set up the No. 1 reason, claiming many tourists, “come to town with family and friends,” yet travel in separate vehicles. “But not anymore,” Hutchings said. As proof, she produced a tourist from Arkansas, who testified that her party arrived “all in the same car together.” She also claimed they, “had a great trip,” despite having to share a conveyance.

victory.jpgThe common thread between all three interviewees is their descriptions, not of unreasonable sacrifices or deviant behavior, but of practices common to daily life in America — before we became completely addicted to automobiles.

I’m almost certain gardening has been around for awhile now. Some folks apparently enjoy it. I’m told you can even grow food items, previously thought to be available only in supermarkets. Riding bicycles to take care of errands? That’s been with us for a couple years, too.

Cars filled with passengers? I’ve heard family stories about this kind of thing. There’s my mother’s tale of the missing mittens on a trip from South Georgia to Knoxville and the infamous “Incident at Pecan Creek” (don’t ask) from my father’s side. The cars were cramped, but the journeys were memorable.

Instead of producing a boilerplate story reinforcing the idea that we are victims of oil companies or speculators or anti-drilling environags or recalcitrant nations that won’t respect our right to their oil, WTOC offered a different viewpoint, reminding us we can adapt to the situation and, what’s more, enjoy doing it. After all, we’ve done it before.

PARK(ing) Day

Conceived by REBAR, a San Francisco-based art collective, PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.
For more information visit the PARK(ing) Day Web site.

Goodwill Community Day on the River

The Savannah Waterfront Association in conjunction with First Saturday on the River is hosting Community Day on the River benefitting Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire, Inc. on Saturday Aug. 2,.  Participating restaurants and businesses will donate 10 percent of their daily sales to Goodwill Industries.  Goodwill Industries will also be on site with information explaining Goodwill Industries and their services.  For more information, please contact Joe Driggers, director of marketing and development, Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire, Inc. at 912-354-6611 ext. 128 (office) or 912-596-6208 (cell).