Welcome to the Blogroll: Kirsten Gronfield and Transform

6_5_09_gronfield.jpgGronfield, in costume for her role in 10 Items or Less, is trying to be car-free for June.

Trying to live a car-free, or at the very least a car-reduced, lifestyle can be challenging. While I personally have yet to achieve a car-free lifestyle, I do drive somewhere around 50 miles a month, far less than I bike and about how much I take transit.

In an attempt to encourage more people to consider reducing their dependence, or freeing themselves entirely from their cars; the Bay Area based TransForm is highlighting the efforts of five people as they take the "Car-Free Challenge" during the month of June.  Over 150 people have taken their challenge state-wide and you can join them by following the link at the end of the article.

Accepting the challenge on behalf of Angelenos is Kristin Gronfield, an actress best known for playing the part of Ingrid in the TBS Sitcom "10 Items or Less."  Gronfield is chronicling her attempts which at this early stage are more amusing than inspiring.  Of course, as anyone living in Hollywood could tell you, you don’t get to the inspiring part of the story until the end.

And Gronfield is already envisioning her Hollywood ending.  In a post entitled "Craptacular: The Story of LA Transit,"

I’ll start out hopeful, meet adversity and maybe a wise-old role
model lady on the bus who will teach me about life and how to navigate
LA transit.  We’ll both grow and be better people.  

Or maybe I
will have to rise up and be a hero I never knew I could be for all the
car-less people in LA.  and I will find the words to express the
frustration of thousands in front of a crowd that will at first be
skeptical but then realize that history is being made and one guy will
start clapping slowly, and then the crowd will join in until we band
together for FREEDOM!

To find out more about Transform’s Car-Free Challenge, check out their website.  Maybe you can be our next car-free champion.

  • “their attemps at going car-free this month.” As if this is heroic? I have been car free since coming to L.A. in the fall of 1981. I concede being transit dependent means adopting a zen-like attitude and acceptance of certain things like waiting for the bus, sometimes having odd characters sharing the ride, coping with fares/schedules/multiple interacting agencies, etc. But at least I don’t have to deal with parking, vehicle maintenance, insurance and such like. Like everything in life, it is a trade off.

  • Not heroic, but like kicking any addiction, it’s something that deserves encouragement.

    Dana, you can be my hero. Now I have a hero and en evil twin. Life sure is adventurous out here.

  • I forgot I carry a can of Oust to mask the odor of the occasional really smelly rider on the bus. And have had to use it a few times. Fellow riders were very appreciative.

  • It’s hard for me to believe anyone can go ENTIRELY car-free in Los Angeles without going to extreme measures, me being a spoiled Bay Area resident with pretty good public transportation options. But maybe meat eaters think that about me being a vegetarian?

    Anyway, I’d love for more LA people to prove me wrong and sign up to join Kirsten in taking the Car-Free Challenge. Anyone can sign up to take the Challenge.

  • Joel Ramos

    Go get ’em Dana! If you can be Car Free in LA (where, supposedly, “Nobody’s walkin’, and, probably, for good reason), you can be Car Free anywhere in CA!

    BTW, here’s a Transit Tip for you: Always have something you can “wipe up” with on hand, such as a rag or a paper towel. Just stuff one down (right now) into a pocket of your bag somewhere. Someday, you’ll get on a crowded bus or car, and a seat will be empty because it’ll have some “stuff” (rainwater? spilled coffee?) on it.

    Anyhow, you’ll look like the Transit Master when you pull out your wipe, do the do, and get your self a seat while those other suckas are left standin!

  • A zen-like attitude helps with car transit as well, for things like waiting in traffic, paying $37.50 to park, parking tickets, door dings, etc. (I’ll have to take Dana’s seminar.) My passengers need the Oust.

  • Dana being car-free is only impressive if it’s really obvious that you don’t have to be (actress, supermodel, movie industry something, nuclear scientist…) and have a different look than most people who don’t have a car.

    Think about the PETA campaign. There are really skinny starving people all over the world that eat dirt and sticks, but does PETA use them in their campaigns? No because they aren’t eating meat JUST because they can’t afford it. Now of course I’m not saying that you are car free because you’re poor. I’m saying you need to throw some fancy job in your bio, some summers as the Sorbonne, a story about how you had a Porsche, but then you saw the light, a degree from Yale, a PhD from a school that is not online. You need to make your non-poor firmly middle class status very, very obvious. Then your carfree story will be more palatable to real people and real people aren’t poor, so they don’t like hearing stories about how poor people live. You can’t be heroic or overcome an addiction unless you start off fabulous first. Remember this is LA.

    Though I don’t know how fabulous Kirsten is. I have never seen or heard of the show or her, but I think it’s fabulous she is going to be carfree for a month maybe it will be longer. I like helping the planet, but public transit in LA sucks. I hope she believes in some kind of higher power, because you’ll truly need it to stay car free in LA. I often find praying to the Timetable god makes it a little easier for me.

    Browne

  • Lindsey

    Man, this is one tough audience!

    I think ANYONE should be applauded – especially in LA – for attempting to drive significantly less in the U.S. It goes against our very culture, sadly.

    Car-free in LA seems near impossible. Some other LA people should take TransForm’s challenge and prove me wrong.

    But at the end of the day our community needs to embrace and support anyone who’s willing to go above and beyond the average person in terms of driving less. These people could be our next best advocates when they really how truly crappy the current system is!

  • walker_0

    If the system is crappy why go car free? Someone remind me why it is better to go car free? When I go car free I chew up an extra 2.5hours/day getting to and from work. Why is that good? What is the objective?

  • Walker_0,

    Great comment. Why go car free when our public transit system is so crappy.

    1. The more people who take it and have free time to complain the better it will be.

    2. The less you drive the less pollution you make and that helps the future.

    3. You’re a masochist.

    4. It’s a very interesting conversation starter.

    5. You get to meet new people.

    6. You get introduced to smells you never knew existed. Have you smelled urine scented with cinnamon. You haven’t really lived until you have experienced that.

    7. You can save alot of money. Lots, seriously.
    http://riceball.com/d/node/568

    8. You can win the title of The Greenest of all of your friends. The bragging rights alone are worth it.

    9. You know that vegan friend you have, well if they drive you can throw the driving thing in their face. That’s totally worth it, of course I’m also vegan so you can’t really throw that in my face.

    10. Driving a car is evil. You don’t want to be evil do you? Doing the right thing is always harder and more time consuming than doing the wrong thing, so if heaven exist, I think not driving will get you there quicker.

    I’ve hoped I have encouraged you to go carFREE

    Now Lindsey I was going to take the challenge, but that form on Transform wants us to sign seems seems mighty long and extensive. They get to use my blog, my image and not even have to credit me, hey I’ve been used to the blogosphere doing the “write for me for free thing” I don’t know if I’m also going to sign up use my image for someone else’s project thing without anything for me in return. I’m already carfree and vegan, how much more do you want from me.

    I’m not saying I will never sign up, but I have to see who Transform is and who is funding it before I sign up so Transform can use what I do without even a credit.

    And why do I need to sign up to a website to take a carfree challenge. I’m just wondering?

    Browne

  • walker_o

    Browne,

    Thanks for your comment. For discussion’s sake I’ll add a few challenge responses:

    1. The more people who take it and have free time to complain the better it will be.

    More riders doesn’t make it better. Complaining doesn’t make it better. You might think those tip the first domino toward a system that you would say was good, but what does that system actually look like and how do we get there (realistically)? Can we afford that, and then, do we really get the benefits you hope for?

    2. The less you drive the less pollution you make and that helps the future.

    The less gasoline, coal, and natural gas that I burn, the less C02 that is emitted? If I take the bus C02 is still produced. If I take the train C02 is produced. These are still carbon emitting. Now a lot of bloggers here aren’t going to like this… riding your bike long distance uses more energy than if you didn’t get that exercise. Consuming more food puts a bigger impact on our food and water supply, which in turn requires fossil fuel use. It is small but it still is an increase in C02, so is recreational riding a bad thing? Recreational trips are evil?

    Worse, C02 emissions are determined by fossil fuel producing, in the long-term. The less gas we burn in California the cheaper it is for India to buy oil. The cheaper it is to buy oil the more India purchases automobiles. Oil use is compensatory, as long as oil reserves are easy to pump.

    Considering all resource issues, only implementing policies that promote population decreases, through elective and free reproductive decline, will we have a chance of avoiding envioronmental collapse.

    7. You can save alot of money. Lots, seriously.
    http://riceball.com/d/node/568

    In my work truck I could save $60 a month, but not be able to have my equipment. In my hybrid I would save 80cents a month. Let us not forget that the bus is highly subsidized, and with California waking up to budgetary imbalance that subsidy is not going to grow. Actually, as we continue to grow our destinations will grow further apart and the transit system will become less efficient.

    8. You can win the title of The Greenest of all of your friends. The bragging rights alone are worth it.

    First, it is a trendy thing to brag about inconsequential dents in one’s carbon foot print. Minor. Even if you don’t ever get in a car again and you live above the poverty line you are probably far far away from living sustainably. At the current world population, what is a sustainable carbon foot print per person? How close are you? How about at the world population level in 20 years from now?

    I have one child and I teach my son about our impact on this planet and how selfish it is to have a large family. I could drive a hummer and have a smaller long term impact on the planet than all of my friends.

    9. You know that vegan friend you have, well if they drive you can throw the driving thing in their face. That’s totally worth it, of course I’m also vegan so you can’t really throw that in my face.

    I’m a lacto-ovo-vegie and have milked my own cows and raised chickens since I was a kid. We use to deliver milk and eggs to the neighbors. Now it is trendy but I think it is a serious distraction and enables people to think they have made a real difference, but it is irrelevant in the big picture.

    10. Driving a car is evil. You don’t want to be evil do you? Doing the right thing is always harder and more time consuming than doing the wrong thing, so if heaven exist, I think not driving will get you there quicker.

    This is the biggie and I appreciate your openness. The biking movement is not about options for mobility, it is an attack on the car. What about if my car is ultra efficient, is that still evil? What if my car is more efficient that taking public transit? Worse, what if live a mile from my work and shopping versus someone who commutes via a bullet train from the central valley (evenutally)? I use less gas so who’s mode is more evil.

    BTW, we all got suckered by the bullet train. That was A LOT of money that could have gone into local transit. Instead, the money is going to use to create sprawl across the central valley. The bullet train route will become a bedroom community for the metro areas. Less regional food production for us, and more long distance imported food…. Browne,

    Thanks for your comment. For discussion’s sake I’ll add a few challenge responses:

    1. The more people who take it and have free time to complain the better it will be.

    More riders doesn’t make it better. Complaining doesn’t make it better. You might think those tip the first domino toward a system that you would say was good, but what does that system actually look like and how do we get there (realistically)? Can we afford that, and then, do we really get the benefits you hope for?

    2. The less you drive the less pollution you make and that helps the future.

    The less gasoline, coal, and natural gas that I burn, the less C02 that is emitted. If I take the bus C02 is still produced. If I take the train C02 is produced. These are still carbon emitting. Now a lot of bloggers here aren’t going to like this… riding your bike long distance uses more energy than if you didn’t get that exercise. Consuming more food puts a bigger impact on our food and water supply, which in turn requires fossil fuel use. It is small but it still is an increase in C02, so is recreational riding a bad thing?

    Worse, C02 emissions are determined by fossil fuel producing, in the long-term. The less gas we burn in California the cheaper it is for India to buy oil. The cheaper it is to buy oil the more India purchases automobiles. Oil use is compensatory, as long as oil reserves are easy to pump.

    Considering all resource issues, only implementing policies that promote population decreases, through elective and free reproductive decline, will we have a chance of avoiding collapse.

    5. You get to meet new people.
    I meet knew people at the park all the time. I see the same people on the bus and train.

    7. You can save alot of money. Lots, seriously.
    http://riceball.com/d/node/568

    In my work truck I could save $60 a month, but not be able to have my equipment. In my hybrid I would save 80cents a month. Let us not forget that the bus is highly subsidized, and with California waking up to budgetary imbalance that subsidy is not going to grow. Actually, as we continue to grow our destinations will grow further apart and the transit system will become less efficient.

    BTW, we all got suckered by the billions dollar bullet train. That was A LOT of money that could have gone into local transit. Instead, the money is going to use to create sprawl across the central valley. The bullet train route will become a bedroom community for the metro areas. A lot of C02 will be produced moving people from the valley into LA and SJ and more by their families living in newly created suburban neighborhoods. Further, less regional food production for us, and more long distance imported food will result from the development of our farmland.

    8. You can win the title of The Greenest of all of your friends. The bragging rights alone are worth it.

    First, it is now a trendy thing to brag about inconsequential dents in one’s carbon foot print. Even if you don’t ever get in a car again and you live above the poverty line you are probably far far away from living sustainable. At the current world population, what is a sustainable carbon foot print per person? How close are you? How about at the world population level in 20 years from now?

    I have one child and I teach my son about our impact on this planet and how selfish it is to have a large family. I could drive a hummer and have a smaller long term impact on the planet than all of my friends. I also belong to several organizations that advocate for population issues. That is real bragging power.

    9. You know that vegan friend you have, well if they drive you can throw the driving thing in their face. That’s totally worth it, of course I’m also vegan so you can’t really throw that in my face.

    I’m a lacto-ovo-vegie and have milked my own cows and raised chickens since I was a kid. We use to deliver milk and eggs to the neighbors (with a pony driven cart). Now it is trendy to have chickens but I think it is a serious distraction and enables people to think they have made a real difference, but it is so insignificant in the big picture.

    10. Driving a car is evil. You don’t want to be evil do you? Doing the right thing is always harder and more time consuming than doing the wrong thing, so if heaven exist, I think not driving will get you there quicker.

    This is the biggie and I appreciate your openness. The biking movement is not about options for mobility, it is an attack on the car, and it is based on C02 emissions. What about if my car is ultra efficient, is that still evil? What if my car is more efficient that taking public transit? Worse, what if drive only a mile to my work and shopping versus someone who commutes via a bullet train from the central valley? I use less gas, so who’s mode of transport is more evil?

    If you want less fuel to be burned, increase the tax on gasoline and be direct and honest about your real motivations.

  • Now if we can get Leonardo DiCaprio and other Hollywood elitist to stop talking Green and ride the LA transit then that will get some press and some attention to improve things on transit.

  • Walking_0,

    I think these are all good points. I don’t agree with all of them, but I am going to take some time to write some real answers on my blog. For now we will see if the rest of the alt transportation movement has some answers for you. I am glad you are here, because in general if we can’t give you (and people like you) a good reason to go carFree this is all a pointless exercise of trendy bullshit, which will end when the next fad comes and people’s kids turn 6 years old. Still haven’t met many people in the alt transit movement with kids over 6 and spouses or partners that are also carFree or people who are seniors or disabled that person is not represented in LA at all in this movement, which makes me feel kind of like it’s not really real.

    I think a more universal type movement that included all classes, family types and age groups would be better.

    Fixhighways, actors are bs. Actors and Hollywood and people with more cash have really pushed this buy your way to green bs. Bike valets, have you seen that on the Westside, just sick that you can turn something that pure into some elitist activity.

    You know what I would rather have have a consume less movement that isn’t based on the economy going to hell. People could drive less, they could eat local, they can do all of these things, but if we had a spend less of your money movement, buy only used, that movement would do more to help the planet than any no more cars, no more meat, no more whatever the newest greenest crap is.

    That is also a movement everyone could participate in. You can be old, differently abled, have kids and you could still spend less. Consumerism is what is killing the planet not a specific item that people buy but the whole idea that you have to buy new things, retail. Maybe a spend less on object and more on people movement.

    Browne

  • Browne,

    Do you have any kids that participate in this movement?

  • angle

    Great thoughts from both browne and walker_o. I don’t have a blog, so I’m going to write a few responses here.

    Browne, I agree with your comments about a “consume less” movement, although I’d say that, for many people, we’re in the middle of an involuntary “consume less” movement right now!

    The problem is that, with consumerism driving 70% of our over-inflated economy, we’re experiencing shock waves now that people don’t have credit available to spend on frivolous things, or in many cases, necessities. It would be great if we could avoid the catastrophic failure of our economic system and ease slowly into a sustainable future, but I’m not seeing that as a likely scenario at this point. Hope I’m wrong.

    This leads me to some comments from walker_o:

    “The biking movement is not about options for mobility, it is an attack on the car, and it is based on C02 emissions.”

    The biking movement is about a lot of things, not just reducing pollution. It is ABSOLUTELY about giving people options for mobility, as the bicycle is an ideal vehicle for covering short to moderate distances. This localized travel also encourages local commerce, and can strengthen communities, which are going to be very important in the event of an extended economic depression.

    By contrast, our almost completely car-dominant transportation system has had some very negative effects on communities. It has facilitated sprawl, urban blight and remote suburban enclaves, which require extensive freeway systems and the consistent availability of cheap gas to remain economically viable. I don’t think cars are going to disappear, or that they are inherently evil, but our society’s dependence on them is a huge problem.

    “What about if my car is ultra efficient, is that still evil? What if my car is more efficient that taking public transit?”

    The bicycle is the most efficient vehicle ever created, as far as energy expenditure is concerned (it’s even more efficient than walking). An ultra-efficient car can never be anywhere near as efficient as a bicycle, and unless you’re picking up and dropping off a thousand people on your way to work, it can’t possibly be more efficient than public transit, either.

    “..riding your bike long distance uses more energy than if you didn’t get that exercise. Consuming more food puts a bigger impact on our food and water supply, which in turn requires fossil fuel use. It is small but it still is an increase in C02, so is recreational riding a bad thing? Recreational trips are evil?”

    I’ve heard variations of this argument before, and I think they’re a lot more nuanced than they appear to be. A human being needs to consume a certain amount of calories to stay alive, even if he or she is sitting still. Certainly, an active person will need to consume more calories than a person at rest, but I’d be curious to know how an exercising person’s environmental impact and resource consumption compares to a sedentary, obese person (as I’m sure you know, we have a significant obese population here in America). I also wonder how personal health ends up affecting a person’s societal productivity, and if a fit person’s body processes food more efficiently. Obviously, a healthy person puts less stress on the health care system. I would hazard a guess that the benefits of a population that is healthy probably outweigh any extra usage of resources, but, like I said, it’s a complicated question.

    “If you want less fuel to be burned, increase the tax on gasoline and be direct and honest about your real motivations.”

    Absolutely. It can be argued that the incredible and disastrous ballooning of our economy has been entirely fueled by the availability of dirt cheap oil. My understanding is that a barrel of crude oil contains an unprecedented amount of energy in relation to its cost, and that it’s unlikely that a comparable energy source will ever be found. It is a very valuable substance, and is ridiculously underpriced in this country.

  • kill the fatted calf! an actress is going car-free for an entire month… then what, back to the bmw – sneering at bicyclists and old ladies crossing the street?

  • Marcotico

    Way to make friends and influence people david_p! My 1st grade teacher taught me, that if you don’t have anything nice to say about a person, don’t say anything at all.

  • marc.
    dale carnegie pursuits aside – i was merely poking fun. don’t take it so serious.

  • Joel Ramos, I always have a roll of paper towels (VIVA brand–sturdy and good for wiping up) in my tote bag. They come in handy often.

    I ride the bus to get around. It isn’t a political statement or some attempt to save the world. Many tout transit as a means to other goals (reducing pollution etc.) I have long suspected the Sierra Club among others of mostly being so oriented. But I see transit mostly as a form of mobility, facilitating my life. Getting around and doing stuff is important and making that possible by itself makes transit important and laudible.

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