Monthly Archives: September 2009

Mr. Jalopy vs. the culture of disposability


I ride my bike past Scott TV repair just about every workday. Sometimes there are television carcasses sitting out front on the sidewalk. Sometimes I can see people moving around inside. Sometimes it’s open. More often it’s not.

A bigger mystery than Scott TV’s business hours is this: Who takes a television in for repair anymore? And perhaps an even more important question: Can a modern television set even be repaired by a local shop?

When ride past Scott TV, I usually think of Mr. Jalopy, who I wrote about last year on my other blog. A leader in the “Makers Movement,” and creator of the “Maker’s Bill of Rights,” Mr. Jalopy has become the standard-bearer for a new generation of workshop tinkerers and inventors. There’s one passage in the Maker’s Bill of Rights that speaks to everyone, even those of us who can’t read a schematic or turn a wrench or use a soldering iron without making a subsequent trip the to the ER. This is it:

“Ease of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought.”

That means even if I’m not capable of repairing something I buy — if Mr. Jalopy’s standard is followed by product designers — there’s a chance someone in my neighborhood probably could. And this presents business opportunities for local folks, who have the skill and equipment to repair consumer products. I think it’s much better than the alternative, which is fretting about how to recycle unrepairable (at least locally) consumer products.

What if these items were designed and manufactured to be serviceable and even upgradable, instead of disposable? What if a slight malfunction meant a trip to a local repair shop instead of a trip to the landfill? Clearly there are many high technology items that cannot be serviced outside of very exacting environments. But there are many others that could be, if they were designed with serviceability in mind.

Knowing that a product could remain functional and useful with locally sourced repair and maintenance would allow consumers to follow another of Mr. Jalopy’s maxims: “Buy your first to be your last.”

Forsyth Farmers’ Mkt./Health Pavillion

September 12th 2009

Health Pavilion Presentations

Free and open to the public

  • 9:00 am — “WE CAN” — youth nutrition lectureChristina Hanson, Youth Development Coordinator, Coastal Health District

    We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children Activity and Nutrition) – Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers. We Can! Energize Our Families: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers, is a six-lesson curriculum with dynamic activities for parents to encourage a healthy weight in their family. The core concept explored is “energy balance,” or the long-term balance between ENERGY IN (calories from food) and ENERGY OUT (calories burned through activity). In a fun and hands-on way, the lessons focus on helping participants learn essential skills that can help their families increase access and availability of healthy foods and make healthful food choices, become more physically active, and reduce recreational screen time. At the end of each lesson, participants are encouraged to try new nutrition and physical activity tips with their families over the next week. Participants later share their experiences trying the new behavior with the group.

  • 10:00 am — Starting an exercise program / Exercise for kidsCatie Hawks, Exercise specialist at Candler Wellness Center
    Menzana Blakely, St. Joseph’s/Candler
  • 11:00 am — Jump Start! Jumping rope for youth fitnessPat McKinnon, American Heart Association
  • 12:00 am — Space saving techniques for your gardenAndy Schwartz
  • 9:00 am til 12:00pm — Health Screenings and InformationBlood Pressure Screenings — Grace Badiola, Fitness/Wellness Instructor of St. Joeseph’s/Candler Hospital’s African American Health Information & Resource Center

    Diabetes Information — Alesha Wright, American Diabetes Association

Stage is set for a livable streets renaissance in Savannah

Among those who want to make Savannah a more sustainable community, this past week may be remembered as a particularly important one. It marked a growing awareness of the economic, environmental, social, public safety and public health benefits to be derived from encouraging Savannah’s residents and visitors to move around the city on foot or by bicycle. Throughout the week there was evidence that local support for livable streets is gaining momentum, as residents and government officials came together to learn about how to make Savannah’s streets more livable.

Monday: A walking tour of downtown Savannah was led by staff from the City of Savannah and Metropolitan Planning Commission, along with volunteers from Pedestrian Advocates of the Coastal Empire. On the tour were attendees of the Governors Highway Safety Association convention including Tom Vanderbilt, who’s done critical work to help America understand Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). Vanderbilt wrote about his experience in Savannah here. Also on the Tour was Dan Burden, the nation’s leading expert on walkable communities.

Tuesday: Burden met with a group of City of Savannah staff representing a range of bureaus from the fire department to Park and Tree. Later, Burden and neighborhood association members visited areas of the Southside that have been seriously degraded by automobile traffic volume and speed that are incompatible with neighborhood streets. Burden explained how traffic calming could address these problems and suggested ways to modify poor street design that stands in the way of greater walkability. The neighborhood visits were covered in the media here and here.

Wednesday: At a public forum, Burden presented a program on traffic calming to about 150 citizens at Armstrong Atlantic State University. Burden used photographs taken earlier in the week to demonstrate problems and solutions, such as on-street bicycle parking.

Thursday: Burden conducted a workshop for members of the city’s new Traffic Calming Committee, which is made up of neighborhood association leaders and facilitated by the Citizens Liaison Office. They were joined by personnel from the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, Parking and Mobility Services and other city departments.

3893517026_285cd32177Friday: Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson led the September edition of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s 2 Wheels 2 Work monthly bicycle commuting convoy. He spoke at a press conference in Johnson Square, emphasizing how bicycles fit into the city’s Thrive and Healthy Savannah initiatives.  A new public service announcement, aimed at educating motorists on how to share the streets with cyclists, was screened at the press conference. Bicycle-friendly businesses Jittery Joe’s and Blue Goose Cafe provided coffee and breakfast for bicycle commuters.

Saturday: More than 400 cyclists turned out for the Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Midnight Garden Ride. It’s always thrilling to see bicycles greatly outnumbering cars on Savannah’s streets, if only for a couple moments. Even bikes at rest provided an important visual clue about how increased bicycling can help Savannah. At the Distillery, where the ride began and ended, hundreds of bicycles were parked in the space required to store only a dozen or so cars.

walk$Sunday: The Savannah Morning News was full of stories on walking and bicycling. City Talk Columnist Bill Dawers wrote an insightful column on Burden’s visit. Adam Van Brimmer wrote about the link between walkability and higher property values and Arek Sarkissian covered the Midnight Garden Ride.

Still, in order to get more citizens out of their cars and on their feet and bikes, we need an environment that is safe and friendly. Other news, this week, of a pedestrian injured and a cyclist killed underscores how far we have to go. Progress toward more livable streets can help reduce the frequency of these troubling and tragic occurrences. Does this week represent the beginning of Savannah’s new era of livable Streets?