Following are notes from an initial conversation on how Peak Oil will affect the Lehigh Valley — and what we can do about it.
Peak Oil and the Lehigh Valley
Sponsored by Lehigh Valley Beyond Oil
Wed., May 31st, 7-9pm
Wildflower Cafe, New St., SouthSide Bethlehem
Alex facilitated the meeting, and we began by a round of introductions (who are you? what do you do? why did you come?)
Attendance (20): Alex, Peter, Bernie, Julie, Charyn, Dan, Chris, Catherine, Ruth, Len, Martin, Steve, Mark, Joris, Brian, Andy, Anna, Khandi, John, Jason
We then went over some of the basics of Peak Oil and the dilemmas to our communities and way of life that peak oil poses. What kind of life will we be living in a few years, without current systems which are based on massive amounts of oil and consumption of resources?
Next we split into 5 small discussion groups, based on the following 5 topics that people indicated they were interested in conversing about:
1. What Can I/We Do?
2. Crises – Peak Oil and Global Warming
3. Food – Organic vs. Non-Organic
5. Lehigh Valley Solutions
Everyone reconvened and we recapped what was covered in the small groups. Here are the notes from each group:
Group 1 – What Can I/We Do?
Anna, Catherine, Chris, Julie
What we do now: CSA – Community Supported Agriculture (volunteer), talk to people at work, no AC, bike, no meat 1 day/week, biodiesel
Do we start w/ 1 large project or many little projects? Ideas:
- start a local energy solutions resource center kiosk
- build up community
- educate kids
- co-op or CSA
- non-profit owned, rent out @ lower cost
- public demonstrations
- partner w/ Rodale for resources?
- land acquisition for our own co-op farm?
Group 2 – Crises – Peak Oil and Global Warming
Mark, Len, Joris, Eric
Alternative sources of energy – investment?
Impending problems: food costs, transportation, fertilizer, farming techniques, social unrest, commuting, plastics, job losses, unemployment, travel industry, construction industry, climate instability, financial markets, increased taxes, global warming
Solutions: L.V. invest in alternatives, CONSERVATION, support CSA, EDUCATION, telecommuting, helping those in need
see “An Inconvenient Truth” film about global warming – bring to 19th St. Theatre, Allentown? Contact theatre and ask for it.
Group 3 – Food – Organic vs. Non-Organic
Dan, Steve, Martin
Permaculture – Nature-mimicking design, multi-use functions and intersupport, nitrogen fixing around plants that need it (any size)
Problems – Direct food cost increases, panic about “Why?” “How bad?”, right now food not nutritious/toxic, health care, economy, expecting disease as a result
- Available Land and Nitrogen
- Institutional buying – schools, jails, etc.
- Addicted to low cost meals – industrial subsidies
- Institutional service gardening/farming, brown bagging?
- Stakeholders in the old system – Gov. Influence
- Community/Urban gardens – where’s the space? how to get it?
- Weed + Seed Program in Allentown – community gardens
- start Penn State co-operative extension moving greener
- Emmaus Market – market closed in Allentown
- Starting the local economy with food
- On-site CSA “Supers,” bus service, local market
- Resistance to Organic switchovers from farmers
- co-ops/market/sell off/planning, etc.
- CSA division of labor model/ get them involved!!
- Agricultural Summit
- East Penn school buying local organic
- Coop for institutions facilitation
- Fast living contradicts with long commutes
- Violence – dissolution of property rights
- Corporate land snatching
- Crime increase
Reminder – Wed. June 14th, 2–4pm at Greystone – Land Use, Ag. Summit Ideas
Group 4 – Transportation
Jason, Khandi, John, Peter, Pratima
- How do we change people’s love affair with the automobile?
- How to convince people Alternative transportation methods are safe/reliable?
- Change corporate paradigm?
- How can we estimate the pace of change? (10–15 years?)
Main areas of interest;
- Infrastructure (Rails, bike paths, new bus routes)
- Vehicles – bikes, light rail, buses, planes
- Biodiesel (WV, SV) – Organize Homebrewers
- Rail, light rail, regional, etc.
- Public Transportation
- Bike, bike paths, lockers, showers, CAT
- LANTA, better bus routes
- Hybrids, Hydrogen
- HOV lanes – more than 1 person in the car
- Land Use Patterns – people need to be able to live near where they will work, shop
- URBAN RENEWAL?
- Neighborhood school model
- Corporate Responsibility – telecommuting
- Transportation of goods, not just tansportation of people
Group 5 – Lehigh Valley Solutions
- ose the LVPC and LVP plan to widen Rte 22
- oppose new highways and rampant development
- develop a working relationship w/ local activists like Steve Schmitt of Coalition for Alternative Transportation
- promote LANTA and better bus routes (hydrogen buses?)
- push hard on light rail – get petitions signed.
- work hard on regional zoning
- work to strengthen state land use planning laws (with teeth)
- develop woprking relationships w/ local leaders like Freeman, Grucela, and Stoffa
- develop an online newsletter
- promote affordable housing in the cities and boroughs (RenewPA, coop housing)
- migration back into old municipalities
- change the laws
- education about benefits of local economy
- promote Regionalism for Lehigh Valley, regional development, growth boundaries, urban infill – brownfields, city + municipal tax credits
- Urban research: complete plans for open space, green way
Some final comments were made before the meeting ended, and it was determined that at least for now, we would like to meet on a weekly basis, and Wednesday is tentatively the best night, though we will discuss alternatives at the next meeting.
Next meeting: Next Wednesday, June 7, 7-9pm, Wildflower Cafe
Anyone with criticisms/suggestions/ideas for the next meeting, please email those to Alex !!
This meeting came together with minimal planning and expertise, so there is certainly room for improvement, and the format could be easily changed to accomodate what/how people would like to discuss at future meetings!
Also, if you have a suggestion for a new location for these discussions, that may be helpful because with 20 people the Wildflower was pretty packed. We may have more people in the future and need a larger venue. Email or bring your ideas next week.
Thanks to everyone for attending and I hope that you enjoyed it, and that you’ll be back to discuss next week!
P.S. Sign the Light Rail Petition
Contribute your ideas to the online forum! (Continue one of the existing topics or create a new topic!)
Continue (June 7 discussion)