Green Business in Orange County

I’ve just added a few posts to this blog about Green Business. I’m espcially interested in seeing it grow in Orange County, North Carolina. (That includes Chapel Hill and Carrboro.) So you’ll see on the top right of this blog a link to all the posts in the Green Business category. I hope this becomes a resource for others.

I define Green Business as socially and environmentally sustainable economic activity. Wikipedia defines Sustainable Business as:

A business is sustainable if it has adapted its practices for the use of renewable resources and holds itself accountable for the environmental and human rights impacts of its activities. This includes businesses that operate in a socially responsible manner and protect the environment.

I’m really just learning about this and trying to fit my business into this mold as much as I can.

Create Green-Collar Jobs in Orange County

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of seeing Van Jones speak. He co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and is founder and president of Green For All. He spoke convincingly of a future of increased equality and how one of the roads to this future is green jobs. Green-collar jobs are employment in the environmental or agricultural sectors of the economy. [Source: Wikipedia] But they also include any work that will help transform our society into a more environmentally sustainable one.

One way our local government leaders could participate in this national movement is to sign the Green Jobs Pledge. Its goal is to "rebuild American competitiveness and environmental leadership by growing a green economy that fights global warming, pollution and poverty at the same time." Here are the five steps this pledge asks our leaders to agree to:

  1. Commit to Action
  2. Create a Green-collar Jobs Taskforce
  3. Identify Goals and Assess Opportunities
  4. Create a Local Action Plan
  5. Evaluate, Leverage and Grow

So far the the U.S. Conference of Mayors has agreed with Green For All that this pledge is good idea. Mayor Martin Chávez of Albuquerque, New Mexico and County Executive Ron Sims of King County, Washington have put there name on it. You can download the Green Jobs Pledge Packet here. [PDF]

Let’s discuss ways we can build a green economy from the ground up, and see if we can get our elected officials to take the pledge.

This post was first published on

My Video on The Uptake

Yah! A video I shot and edited is on the fabulous Citizen Journalism site The Uptake. I love the video they make and have mucho respect for Chuck Olsen. (also of Minnesota Stories and Blogumentary fame) Check this video out!

From the progressive center of North Carolina comes this report from Brian Russell of He explores why music and politics go hand in hand, why young people get “it”, and how music can change the world.

On Friday May 2 the Obama campaign held a free get out the vote event called Change Rocks. On this day it was held in Carrboro, NC, a small town just west of Chapel Hill. The outdoor rock concert featured local indie rock band Superchunk and the hotness of the moment Arcade Fire. It was unseasonably warm and several thousand people showed up for this free event to rock out and vote.

Changes in the Local Political Blogosphere

There has been a flurry of activity in the Orange County political blogosphere this month. Changes that interest me as much as who is wining the presidential primaries. (Go Obama!)

First, the big news is the disappearance of the Squeeze the Pulp forum. In its place appears to be a site that could have a community, but it isn’y very clear how. The new site is based on software called DokuWiki. It looks like a bunch of semi-static pages can be created and edited by a group of people. So people will write rants and others will edit them. For what, grammar? The two-way communication of a forum has been lost.

Part of me is sad that all the STP writing is gone. Mainly because it would help people remember the slander and hateful crap. Why would we want to remember that? To inform the context of our local political history. For example, the dirty tactics some supported there. It could also encourage more long-term responsibility. Politicos won’t forget, trust me. But the new resident to Carrboro may like to know how that candidate got elected or defeated. I think the blog of record will be Orange Politics.

Last year sometime I reminded the folks at STP that all that content would be remembered. If not by Google then by us. A great example of the fear mongering some STP posters facilitated is here in my post Political attack from the Squeeze the Pulp forum. In the end, most of me is happy the STP slander against people is off the web. But I’m sure there will be more.

Second, there is a new community site set up by George Entenman called Orange Citizens or Orange County, NC. (depending on how you look at it.) It’s on the Ning software platform, a quality bit of social networking software. My first impressions are of the software mainly. I enjoy the look and feel of the theme but am not crazy about the threaded comments. It’s easy to have several off-topic threads, but it’s growing on me. It’ll be interesting to see how this site evolves. Especially from a usability standpoint. Already there are several local politicos there like Terri and MarkM, plus Chapel Hill Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt. Hopefully we’ll see lots of local elected officials participate in this new community.

Finally, we have a major upgrade to Orange Politics. At just over four years old Orange Politics has become the most-read local politics site in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It started off using MovableType and then moved to the open source WordPress blogging software in 2004. Now it’s powered by Drupal, a complex and very powerful open source, PHP-based content management system. I was a bit concerned about the move at first, but now that its full speed ahead I’m way impressed. One reason is there are more ways for people to get involved. There is real power in letting people publish their own blogs a la community sites such as Daily Kos. We should have more viewpoints now. Plus there are new OP community guidelines. I think Ruby has done a great job of balancing lots of factors. I would still like to see all commenters have a real identity (ie: no anonymous posters). But I see where in some cases anonymity is valuable on OP.

Donate to Help OP Grow

Please donate to the Orange Politics fundraising drive to help pay for site improvements. Read more here.

Our last update was 3 years ago, and OP is seriously needing better identity management and improved community tools. I think drupal will be a good solution for us, and I hope to work with the good folks at Advantage Labs to make OP more useful and (and more stable) than ever.

The work will involve importing all of our posts and comments from WordPress to drupal, configuring our a new drupal system, and getting us set up on a new server. I will probably be able to create a new drupal “theme” to match what OP looks like myself, so we should not have to pay for that. I expect this work to cost at least $1,000 (not including monthly hosting fees), so I am setting that as our target.

Using drupal will allow us to have individual blogs for each registered and verified user of OP. That means no more hoping Ruby will approve your guest post and not knowing when it will be published. On the new site, you can post whatever you like, within some limits, and the community will vote on which entries go to the front page, similar to the way and are managed.

Please chip in, and ask your friends to support this effort so that OrangePolitics can be an even better progressive community resource!

200kbps is NOT modern Broadband

The Daily Tar Heel has a new article about broadband in Orange County. Its called Initiative looks to expand high-speed internet access. Here is a small bit of it:

About 90 percent of Orange County can access high-speed Internet, according to a report released Friday by the e-NC Authority.

The report reviewed an annual study that began in 2002 to track the availability of high-speed Internet access across North Carolina.

“We look at high-speed access based on the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of 200 kilobytes or higher per second,” said Cary Edgar, communications director for e-NC.

e-NC works with Internet service providers to determine what percentage of households in a given area has the ability to subscribe to a high-speed Internet connection.

Here is how I responded in there comments:

When considering these numbers I think its important to know how e-NC defines broadband. New studies put the United States lower on broadband adoption because more modern studies defined “broadband” as higher than services provided to most subscribers in Orange County. Also methods of measurement where flawed in old studies. Such as determining that broadband was available in an area because one company had a T1 line while the rest of the community had nothing.

From e-nc’s website
“According to the Federal Communications Commission, high-speed Internet access is considered to include connection speeds of 200 kilobits-per-second (kb/s) and higher.”

200 kbps is an old number than needs to be updated. It is no longer an accurate measure of what Orange County residents need. Its also important to consider that broadband services in our area are asynchronous. Meaning download speeds are faster than upload speeds. Plus the actual usable speeds of our cable modems are not constant. They fluctuate based on the traffic on them and the bandwidth shaping that is done by service providers routers.

I recommend a report called the Broadband Reality Check for more information about the actual state of broadband in the US.

I will write something later to elaborate further and provide links to more info. There is also the Broadband Reality Check II.

Orange County, NC Elections Maps

Over on Orange Politics Ruby has posted a entry with links to some amazing Google Maps.
Southern Orange County NC Election Info Map

Last week I created a Google map of all of the candidates in Orange County in this year’s municipal and school board races. Now excellent electoral map maker Damon Seils has added two very helpful resources: a map of every polling site in the county, and another map of the voting precincts. All of these maps will be permanently available on the election info page:

This is going to be so useful to so many people. I’ve wanted to know exactly where the local precincts are. Google Maps rock! Overlaying several different kinds of data with Geo info can tell so much. I want to thank Damon Seils and B. Hammill for all their work on this! Also thank you Ruby for putting this out there for people to use. She has lots of other good ideas for maps too.

Now what I would like to see is to see is candidates overlayed with a map showing the average density and average income of each precinct.

Clap, Clap, Clap!

(Map Legend: Flags = poling places, Orange Boxes w/White lines = precincts, purple pins = Carrboro Candidates homes, yellow pins = School Board Candidates homes, blue pins = Chapel Hill Candidates homes)