29 Nov 2012

A Glimpse of Tacoma’s Future

Front Page, Thoughts 2 Comments

A writer for carinsurance.org‘s blog contacted us this last week to ask what we thought about this info graphic on Peak Oil. Firstly, we’re glad this topic is getting more attention. We believe it will be one of the most influential issues of this century – maybe even this decade.

Local Life exists to help transition to a more walkable way of life for the community fruit and quality of life it produces, but taking a look at this graphic, you might see why it may be forced on us.




Our hope would be to see an intentional transition rather than one done in hasty reaction to oil prices soaring. A bunch of people forced together against their will doesn’t sound awesome. May our hearts be humbled and may we care for the walkable areas of our lives: our neighborhoods.

The good news for Tacoma
Much of our built environment is mixed-use and can sustain, in theory, a lot of life within walking distance (commerce, work, sleep, leisure, etc).  Yet we are still very spread out compared to most walkable cities around the world and there is also much suburban-esque, single-use-zoning sprawl, unfortunately.

We’re doing too well to try something like Flint is doing. But that just means we get to focus on bottom-up community development (those of you that came to City of Neighborhoods will appreciate that!). We get to make our neighborhoods everything we want them to be – together, from the bottom-up. In doing that we will help attract the density and nurture the small business growth needed to make more of our neighborhoods walkable.

We’re thankful for all of you bloggers, block watch leaders, grassroots project leaders and unsung neighborhood heroes.  Thank you for all your inspiration. We’ve heard of even more neighborhood development projects planned for this year. It’s spreading!

2 Responses to “A Glimpse of Tacoma’s Future”

  1. Morgan says:

    There is a fascinating podcast called A History of Oil. In it you hear how worries about peak oil have been present since oil was first discovered in Pennsylvania. Geologists, oil men, and popular belief all thought that once the Pennsylvania fields ran dry, that would be the end of it. Every decade since then, the debate/uncertainty has been replayed. So far it has always proved premature, new fields increase global reserves and new technologies let companies extract more oil from older fields.
    Oil is a finite resource, peak oil has to happen sometime, but I’m not convinced we’re there yet. I do think we can be confident that oil will get progressively more expensive in the future. I hope the shifting economic balance will lead to the changes in behavior and the built environment that you advocate. I doubt that we’re going to suddenly just run out of oil have be faced with some mad scramble.

    • admin says:

      Good points, Morgan! (apologies for just seeing your comment) Nobody knows when and to what extent we will be affected by a peak in oil production. And, ya, it’s good to clarify that the word “peak” doesn’t mean that we will run out of oil. It’s just a question of when we, as a planet, will peak in our annual extraction rate due to draining current wells and maximizing current technology. This happened in the US in the 70′s and, prior to that, folks thought it wasn’t going to happen until much later.

      That’s the supply side of oil. Meanwhile global demand is growing rapidly, as far as we last checked. India and China are suppose to surpass the US in car use by the middle of this decade. Who knows if that will happen, and even if it does, it most likely won’t produce a mad scramble. But it may still cause folks to build more hastily, like the suburban expansions of the the mid 40′s – 50′s in response to negative market conditions, instead of building more thoughtfully. Being thoughtful in our town planning and private development would allow us to more thoroughly take community life into consideration and how the built environment shapes it.

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