Dethroning the King of LA / The Ebb of Car Culture

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Writing Coach, Nic Nelson IMN Mentor, Strategic and Ideational Leadership
Writing Coach, Nic Nelson
IMN Mentor, Strategic and Ideational Leadership

Los Angeles, California is known around the world as a place where the car is king. It is a bellwether city when it comes to automobile culture and traffic management. And on August 11, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council approved a controversial plan to begin removing, rather than adding, traffic lanes to the city’s most important thoroughfares.


Los Angeles has led the way worldwide in creative traffic management engineering for more than half a century. It was the first major city to be geographically and structurally determined by the capabilities of automobiles. Los Angeles’ first automobiles were designed and built there as early as 1897. Detroit soon took over as the heart of automotive manufacturing, but Los Angeles remained the heart of automotive passion and expression from the Roaring Twenties to the present day.

Yet the automobile was never without its challengers. From streetcars and bicycles in the late 1800s to CicLAvia-Ver-Latorre-Flickr_0residential canals, monorail, elevated trains, subways, and regular commuter rail in all the decades since, other forms of transportation have competed passionately against the automobile, and have either been utterly defeated or won very limited successes.

Automobile enthusiasts among urban planners have often pointed to Los Angeles as their inspiration for how a modern megacity can competently handle heavy automobile traffic. If Los Angeles gives up that dream, will another world-class city take its place as the heartbeat of the automobile-centric lifestyle? Or might this signal the beginning of the end of automobile-centric urban planning?


“The Roaring Twenties… set Los Angeles on an irreversible path as a city dominated by the automobile. L.A.’s population of about 600,000 at the start of the 1920s more than doubled during the decade. The city’s cars would see an even greater increase, from 161,846 cars registered in L.A. County in 1920 to 806,264 registered in 1930. In 1920 Los Angeles had about 170 gas stations. By 1930 there were over 1,500.”

“The approved plan places a high priority on traffic safety, including making Vision Zero official citywide policy. L.A. is now committed to ‘decrease transportation-related fatality rate to zero by 2035.’ Public testimony was limited to 20 minutes, and was heavily in favor of plan approval.”

“We’ve been building for the car for about half a century now [in Los Angeles, a whole century!], so it’s understandable that old habits die hard. But the evidence is growing that traffic does indeed disappear and that reallocating road space will lead not to commuter chaos but rather to better conditions for those on foot and on bikes. Research has established the theory of disappearing traffic. Now leading cities around the world are beginning to test it.”


On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life. Edited by Amy Walker; quoted article by Bonnie Fenton. Published by New World Library, Novato California (2011) p.349-354.

Cannabis and Church Leadership: a comment

Thanks to Greg for his comment on the Cannabis Question. The original scan hit from our “dispatches from the future” is pasted below Greg’s comment.
Greg Borchert, Guest Writer. Greg is a health enthusiast, business owner, and executive search professional.


On the marijuana question, I think those who are uninformed tend to lump it all together.  First, pot in some forms is an effective medication.  You have to separate recreational pot use from medical pot use.


Would you dismiss an Elder who was taking pot medically to control chemotherapy nausea?  Would you dismiss an Elder who was orally ingesting cannabis medication to handle chronic pain?
The insanity of our pharmaceutical culture is that people are fine taking dangerous prescription drugs, often with negative side effects and at great financial cost, but not OK with various natural forms of medication.
When I crashed my bike last August and broke my acetabular, requiring major surgery and now two six inch screws in my pelvis, I was on powerful painkillers.  That was necessary in the hospital but I wanted to wean myself from them as quickly as possible.  The doctors sent me home with 240 30mg Oxycontin, a smaller number of Oxycodone, and two or three other medications.  They expected that I would be taking this crap for months.
The Oxycontin was certainly effective for pain, but it also meant cold sweats, waking up in the middle of the night with damp bedding, hallucinations of sorts, active dream states while awake, and an inability to be mentally sharp at work.
I immediately established my own tapering schedule as you can’t just stop taking these things all at once. I worked my way completely off all of them 10 days after hospital discharge, and then switched to a strong Indica cannabis hybrid to help me sleep and adjust to the pain.
Since I live in Colorado, this was of course legal and readily available.  The cannabis was very effective.  I slept well, no cold sweats, and woke up the next day comparatively clear headed.  I did this cannabis treatment for another 10 days and then quit all treatment completely and got back to my normal life.
The surgeon told me that I would be in a wheelchair for 10 to 12 weeks minimally, and in rehabilitative therapy for another 4 to 8 weeks. I was out of the wheelchair and walking 4 weeks after surgery, and the physical therapist assigned to me stopped seeing me 2 weeks later because I could already do her full routines.
The biggest health problem in our culture is that people don’t think for themselves. They don’t take care of their health, don’t eat right, don’t exercise, and delegate the most critical aspects of their lives to medical practitioners who at best have only partial answers.


So, would a congregation dismiss me as Elder because I do what I need to do to take care of my health?  I think that’s the real question.
Also, again, people who aren’t very knowledgeable about cannabis should be aware that it’s extremely varied in effect.  Sativa cannabis strains are entirely different than Indica cannabis strains.  The problem with grouping it all together is that a little bit of Sativa might be like a glass of wine, and a little bit of Indica might be like a pint of Everclear…grain alcohol. One might be intellectually stimulating and energizing, and the other knock you on your butt and put you to sleep.

What we have in this era of hybridization is an extremely varied mix. There are strains now that have very little THC and no euphoric effects but high cannabinoid content and high pain effectiveness.


So, it’s dangerous to lump it all together.
I think much of the problem is that pharmaceutical companies don’t want people to self-medicate. They want to sell us drugs.  There are currently scores of different medical trials around the world using various cannabis-based substances. There are two pharmaceutical drugs on the market right now where the active ingredient is a form of cannabis. As soon as a big pharmaceutical company can sell it to us, it’s all OK.
I personally separate this though from recreational drug use.  I think implementing cannabis use into religious worship would be completely off the mark.  I would question why anyone thinks that’s a good idea. I also think that someone whose life is out of control because of any form of substance abuse, whether prescribed or not, might need some guidance and help with treatment and healing.  If I was a Head Elder I would first honestly evaluate the situation and see how I could help.
And here’s the ORIGINAL SCAN HIT to which Greg replied.


CANNABIS. Majority of key swing-state voters support legal weed. In a recent session with Pastors I asked them to imagine a world in which Pot had the same social status as wine. Would the use of cannabis in their minds disqualify an elder from service?

To take things a bit further, I was recently chatting with a friend of mine, Gene, who works with college students. In our conversation I told him that I imagine that within 5 years, we’ll see a church incorporate cannabis into its worship experience. It could be a new church launch or it could be an established church. Either way, it will make having church in a nightclub or pub seem like the good old days when morality still meant something.

What do you think?