Make a donation with PayPal, VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover cards - it's fast, free and secure!

Home Page

Nonprofit founded in 1988

About SEI

Culture Change Letter
via email
61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2 1  subscribe  index  feedback

Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Yesterday's Auto-Free Times

by Olive Twining

I wonder whether people today can envision the sort of changes needed to reach an auto-free time. After reading Dennis Lueck's "My Car-Free Life" (Auto-Free Times #8), I began reminiscing about the car-free life I led in the 1920s and 1930s in Berkeley, Calif. In some ways life was more hassle-free, not only for those who rode bicycles but also for people like our family who owned no vehicles at all.

We lived in a residential district. Elementary schools were within easy walking distance. Two street-car lines were within Berkeley and Oakland, and ran past high schools, churches and parks. You could transfer to buses that led beyond the reach of the street-car lines. Two competing commuter-trains led to ferries that took you to San Francisco and its vast system of street-car lines and buses.

Small grocery stores were located within walking distance of homes everywhere. Some, like the one near us, made daily deliveries. You phoned in your order for the day and later a young fellow arrived at your back door with your groceries in a box, on his regular daily round. For us that meant no driving, no parking lots, no walking through endless aisles of supermarkets pushing carts, no lugging heavy bags of groceries home.

Dairy supplies were even easier. Very early every morning the milkman left your bottles of milk and cream on the porch. If you wanted to change your regular order, you put a note in one of the empty bottles that you put out for him every night. No need to keep a refrigerator running, as your vegetables, fruit, meat and milk did not have to be held for days between trips to the supermarket. If you wanted to keep something cold, you kept an eye out for the iceman on his daily rounds. Some people had standing orders.

Many doctors made house calls.

Buses, ferries and trains went everywhere on frequent, regular schedules, with excursion runs on weekends. The shortline trains returning from the Marin County hiking trail terminals were full of happy, singing, sunburned people every Sunday evening. Probably because we had no car I don't remember any parking lots.

By the mid-1930s it seemed everybody had a car. But there must have been a lot of people who, like me, were still afoot. Most of the infrastructures that supported our carless lifestyles persisted. The corner stores still clung to existence; the street cars, commute trains and ferries still ran.

The iceman was gone, but milk was still delivered to private homes. The gracious and charming Delta Queen (a sternwheeler) still plied her stately way nightly from San Francisco to Sacramento, picking up cargoes of rice and wheat along the way from the dark and silent docks of farmers, while we passengers slept in cozy staterooms.

World War II, with its frantic activity and enormous population increase, changed all this. Freeways and high-speed movement seemed essential. I can't imagine that until the earth's supply of petroleum finally gives out will it be possible to get rid of the perceived need for all this pavement.


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change (Trademarked) is published by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) California non-stock corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.