I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Time with Thomas
The other day I flew home from Denver, jumped off the plane, grabbed my bag, and headed for the LA Flyaway. The bus was just pulling up, pretty cool. I get a particularly sick feeling in my stomach when forced to pay for airport parking, so I was determined to take the Flyaway.
The rather new Flyaway has been a great LA transit success, with four-dollar fares, two major routes, and lots of help with baggage. You can even check your bags to your final airport destination before boarding the bus.
I rode shotgun; front seat, passenger side. The driver guided the huge bus easily, his large hands in control, navigating through heavy airport traffic. I was struck by how polite and patient he was with anxious travelers. His cool was evident.
A striking black man, Thomas is an athlete well past his prime. He walks five miles a day to keep fit. Golf is a passion, but he's more passionate about staying productive and alive. After a few months of retirement, he needed to get out of the house. We talked transportation fuels, hybrid buses and cars, and the need to transform mobility in LA.
We talked about the meaning of his work. Thomas calls the airport route a "line." He prefers driving teams, orchestras, and other groups for special outings. He relishes driving the UCLA Trojans, and being part of the team on the sidelines during games. Work is clearly much more than supplemental income; he's rounded and wise.
At the end of the ride, I gave Thomas a tip, a handshake and thanks. He gave me a soulful handshake and to my surprise, a quick hug. We looked each other in the eye: "A pleasure talking to you," and he meant it. I walked away with such a great feeling thinking about two men who would otherwise have never met. We'd made a rewarding connection.
Mass transportation amazes me. Not all the time, it certainly can be a hassle. But people who use mass transit get the gift of routine interactions. These gifts range from quick hellos to profound discussions at high altitudes. I greet about 34 people every morning before getting to work. My train buddies are good friends.
When most people think of mass transit, they do not think of the interactions like the one I had with Thomas. Its a hidden benefit of socially responsible transportation.
Financing Solar in Santa Monica
The City's program now includes preferential financing for solar projects. Four institutions were selected after a competitive solicitation managed by EcoMotion: Electric and Gas Industries Association, National City Energy Capital, New Resource Bank, and Safe BIDCO. Solar Santa Monica now offers a wide range of financial products from signature loans to power purchase agreements.
Project Management Seminar
Ted Flanigan facilitated a full-day seminar on project management at EcoMedia in Manhattan Beach, California in mid- August. The sessions and interactive exercises focused on building team spirit, tapping into group synergy (facilitated brainstorming, the practice of creativity), how to make meetings and e-mail effective, use of daily logs and time management tools, and earning the trust and appreciation of peers and supervisors. "The tone was fun and informal;" reported Ted, "but the seminar was jam-packed with solid concepts for heightened individual and group productivity."
High Sierra Energy Summit
EcoMotion's principals joined the faculty at Cerro Coso Community College to lecture at the High Sierra Energy Summit in Mammoth Lakes, California. Virginia Nicols presented an overview of California's electricity market, its key utilities, regulators, and policies. Russ Flanigan (above) presented two popular "nuts and bolts" sessions on solar and household energy efficiency. Ted Flanigan gave an opening address, "the Big Energy Equation." Research of recent global and national data re-opened his eyes to the predominance of oil.
German Solar Research Tour
In less than three weeks, EcoMotion will be on tour in Germany, visiting Berlin, Leipzeig, Munich, Stuttgart and Freiburg to gain a first-hand understanding of Germany's rise to solar preeminence. EcoMotion is indebted to many German professionals who have helped shape the tour, as well as our hosts at Berlin Partner, the German Solar Industries Association, Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, SolarMarkt, ICLEI-Europe, and the Fraunhofer Institute. For more information on the tour, contact Tiffany Tay at (949) 450-7106.