Center for the New Northwest

Innovation and ideas on life, energy, policy, and the arts.

Mission Statement

Center for the New Northwest provides a forum for the exchange of ideas based on accurate information so that we can anticipate change and make smart decisions in shaping the future of our communities.

Vision Statement and Values

At Center for the New Northwest, we believe the inevitability of change should be welcomed and embraced as a pathway to shaping the future.

We believe that people who are given good information and the chance for an open exchange of ideas will make smart decisions about what they want their lives and their communities to be.

We advocate for public policy, not for politicians. We look for ideas and vision that can guide the next generation of leaders.

We are looking for solutions, not sloganeering. We believe those solutions are based in our common humanity and not in an us-or-them choosing of sides.

We want those solutions to determine the systems we use to bind our communities together, rather than accepting systems that determine solutions we are bound by.

Think banking, communication, economy, education, energy, entertainment, politics, religion, and transportation. Think about all the systems we rely on. Are they serving your needs? How might they be better?

Think about what works for you and what you work for.

We believe an inflection point is coming. We want to be prepared.

 

  • Big Questions
    Here’s a fascinating study of human origins, migration, and the development of language that derives from new techniques for capturing DNA from our prehistoric relatives. The sweep of evolution from Olduvai Gorge, though the migrations that eventually populated the world, and all the languages that were developed to communicate the experience, are the stuff of great Read More
  • Art and Artifice
    Ruminating over a collection of slightly related subjects as a theme for this article. Art and artisan are featured here, and artful living in an age of late stage capitalism with its lure of artifice.  Writing about a time in the past when creativity was rampant, life more carefree, aspirations communal, inevitably leads to contemplation Read More
  • Human Endeavor Writ (Very) Large
    Once in a while, in the deluge of “information” washing over us every day, we encounter something that is immediately unforgettable, something so staggering, perplexing, or simply stunning to behold that we can’t let go of it. It demands contemplation. It happened to me when I was a young man riding a motorcycle in Western Read More
  • Space To Contemplate
    My grandmother, Tina, was a young woman when she travelled with her family to California to visit relatives. It was her first trip to the West Coast. The second day there everybody hopped aboard the car to take in the ocean. When they arrived at the beach, Tina walked down the sand to the edge Read More
  • Prosperity Kills
    Is your prosperity killing people? All the glorious benefits of making it in the free enterprise system, where there are no limits on what you can make nor what you spend it on, has become a blood sport. Making and spending are the crux of climate change, which is killing people by the thousands.  Too Read More
  • Monocropping Culture
    You start with seeds of one type or another, maybe corn or wheat or whatever serves your market, and they are genetically modified. They are built to withstand the pesticides and herbicides you will apply to them at several stages of the crop’s development. You have water rights sufficient to spray copious amounts on even Read More
  • Medium As Message Maker
    Wow! Does it seem to you it’s hard to get through a day without confronting tragedy? The morning mayhem, the afternoon upheaval, the evening disaster. The chaos keeps coming. What to make of it all? The well regulated militia continues to slaughter innocents, big business jacks up prices because it can, rents are unaffordable, homeless Read More
  • Deejays Blazing
    Tom Donahue is listening to rock & roll on LSD in 1967 San Francisco and says to himself, “This music has to be heard in stereo. AM radio is a rotting corpse stinking up the airwaves.” He starts calling FM stations listed in the phone book. When he finds one that’s disconnected, he says to Read More
  • College Adventure of Joseph McAuliffe
    My most memorable moment in college prior to meeting my future wife, Kay Eberle, would be November 7, 1969, the night I met my favorite rock group, The Who. I had returned to Bowling Green State University as a sophomore that fall as a full-fledged freak. The previous summer I had attended four rock festivals Read More
  • Maybe Again
    Maybe again. That’s what we were thinking when we considered the subject of this particular article. Maybe we can write about our freeform radio project again. We’ve been at it for a while now and haven’t been especially shy about sharing the experience with you. There’s that. Then, too, we don’t want to overstay our Read More
  • Corporate Underground
    Corporate underground? An oxymoron you might say. Yet the origins of underground radio in the latter half of the Sixties was at least partly the result of corporate initiative. Or, perhaps, corporate perplexion. The consequences of that curiosity reverberated through the years in very different directions.  New FCC regulations in 1966 were intended to develop Read More
  • Freeform Radio Archive
    We’ve written here in several previous pieces about our project to develop a freeform radio archive. Hopefully, we already answered why we want to do it. Suffice it to say it was a critically important aspect of radio history that is in danger of becoming if not forgotten then perhaps not much more than an Read More
  • Ephemeral Things
    Life as an artist. A career in the arts. It’s a passionate need for self-expression and a challenging way to make a living. Like most areas of enterprise in a capitalist system, a few people make a lot of money and most everyone else barely gets by. Employment for artists is an ephemeral thing, a Read More
  • Turn Your Radio On
    There was a new generation of music coming on and a new generation of people who wanted to hear it. There was a new generation of radio personalities, too, who wanted to play it for them. They had different ideas about how it should be done and what the purpose was. Traditional radio was about Read More
  • Radical Radio
    Radical what? Radio. Yeah, that’s what we said. There was a time, you know. And it mattered! Here’s why. It was called underground radio. Freeform was a better name for it. Radio without walls. No separation between different genres or types of music. No restriction on what you could play if you were at the Read More
  • Merited and Entitled
    Since the financial crisis of 2008, we’ve been presented with one example after another of the increasing disparity between the haves and have-nots in American society. Billionaires comprise the 1/10th of one percent and millionaires make up the other 9.9 percent of that gilded group that actually is prospering in our capitalist system. The remaining Read More
  • Cascadia
    Late in 2015, I thought about the recent election and why I continued each morning though November to wake up with the immediate thought that it was just a bad dream, until I was fully awake and realized once again that it wasn’t. I began to sketch out a novel about the dissolution of the Read More
  • Making a Living
    credit: Adam Borkowski for Unsplash   “What do you do for a living?” That’s a common question when people are introduced. A way of saying, “Who are you and what do you do?” “Where is your place in the social strata and how should I relate to you?” “Are you a doctor, a lawyer, an Read More
  • What If Again
    We have spent a lot of time and energy, yours and ours both, in arguing for a simple and equitable tax policy that will serve our society far better than what we have now. People tell us it’s complicated. Not that easy. Our efforts are appreciated, of course, naïve though they may be. But, really! Read More
  • Them Changes
    Last month in this space, we posted a blog entitled What If? It suggested we stop taxing income and start taxing assets. How’s that for a long shot? Wonder of wonders, a small piece of that idea briefly seemed like it might actually happen. When the President’s efforts to increase taxes on corporations and high Read More
  • Plastics
    Remember the 1960s movie The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is taken aside by Mr. McGuire, who says to the young man just setting off on his way to a career, “Just one word: plastics! There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.” “I will,” says Hoffman. “I will.” Many of us thought not enough Read More
  • What If?
    Do you ever ask yourself: what if? How things might be if we took a different approach. Maybe changed our priorities. Set new goals. See what the world might look like from one particular perspective or another if we altered our point of view. There are certain things we believe to be true that are established Read More
  • Inflection Point
    Do you ever get the feeling we might be reaching an inflection point? Not because the sky is falling, although it often seems to be when we wake to another day covered in ash. Not because strongmen (and they are nearly all men) in the service of plutocrats are once again the dominant political force Read More
  • Post-Growth Parameters
    At New Northwest, we love probing sacred cows, giving them a poke in the ribs, seeing which ones stand and which might fall with just enough of a push. All those sacrosanct, inviolable concepts, adages, and tenets we blithely accept because they are repeated by one and all so assuredly so often. Sometimes they are less Read More
  • Consumer or System
    More discussion about where we best might focus our efforts to deal with the critical problems of our time. None is bigger than climate change, none is more overwhelming to contemplate, and nothing else is quite as insidious at inspiring nihilism. But there are effective ways to address these issues if we’re willing to challenge Read More
  • Consumerizing Blame
    Recently, a friend was passing out those little curlicue florescent light bulbs, the type that every hotel now uses. She said we all needed to start using them because of climate change. They save a lot of energy precisely because they give off so damn little light. All we need to do is learn to Read More
  • Free Form
     “Whoever controls the media controls the mind,” said the poet Jim Morrison, lead singer for the Doors in the late 1960s.   “Who are the Brain Police?” asked Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention is his 1966 album Freak Out. Those quotes and so many more like them were just part of that drug-addled Read More
  • Policing Demonstrations
    Interesting statistics on policing demonstrations in the U.S. here
  • Acuity
    As we bid goodbye to the year 2020 and welcome 2021, it is for most of us a welcome change from a year unlike any other in our lifetime. Maybe that is true for one and all, but not everyone had such a bad year in 2020. Some people profited tremendously. Elon Musk, he of Read More
  • How Wide the Divide?
    Turn a few sacred cows on their heads. Think about the aphorisms that support our concept of American society. The place where meritocracy determines your fate. Anybody can get ahead, right? The great gift of our free enterprise system. Competition brings out the best in us and the cream rises to the top. If you start Read More
  • Performance
      Dramatists, directors, actors all will tell you the same thing about it: theatre is when strangers come together to share a common experience. What is so unique is the connection between artists and audience. The same could be said of all the performing arts in pre-pandemic times. What about streaming theatre?  The various ways the Read More
  • Basic Income
    As the pandemic of 2020 rages, a new Administration forms, and Congress lobs partisan volleys back and forth across that ever widening aisle on the Hill, we are at an inflection point of unprecedented gravity. Possibly not since the Civil War has the United States seemed so divided and likely to come apart. If ever Read More
  • No Kill Meat
    Big agriculture feeds the world. The energy industry keeps it lighted, warmed, cooled and mobile. Together they supply our most basic needs. In the process, both of them do tremendous damage to the natural world. The energy required to produce meat, beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, is no small matter. Neither is the havoc wrecked Read More
  • Supply and Demand Upended
    When supply becomes an ecological value and demand becomes a value of human need, the new dynamics of society as a living system begins. James Quilligan Thinking about where and why we invest capital, and what it costs us, is one of the critical considerations in examining late stage capitalism. The sanctity of our concept of Read More
  • Energy Source Comparison
    Energy Source Comparison Energy Source Pros Cons Solar Energy Non-polluting Most abundant energy source available Systems last 15-30 years High initial investment Dependent on sunny weather Supplemental energy may be needed in low sunlight areas Requires large physical space for PV cell panels Limited availability of polysilicon for panels Wind Energy No emissions Affordable Little Read More
  • Play4Keeps
    When we began this website, the focus was Center for the New Northwest, a non-profit center for ideas about change. One of the things we wanted to change was Ashland New Plays Festival. A proud promoter of new works for the stage and the playwrights who write them, ANPF for nearly three decades had been Read More
  • Center for the New Northwest: playbook
    We are about change. Big change, small change, spare change. Whatever. Everything we post here is meant to point out our realities and suggest ways we might make them better if we’re willing to change. We believe that solutions we want should determine the systems we use, rather than the other way around. Today, many Read More
  • CNNW playbook: page one
    We’d like to talk about capitalism. Late stage capitalism. A highly evolved system in the final throes of exploitation. We’d like to turn it upside down and see what it could look like if we went about it differently. Our free enterprise system today has the look of stalagmites rising from the floor of a Read More
  • Clownfrontational
    There’s nothing funny about authoritarian systems. But there are clever ways to protest them. Taking it to the streets, clown style here. And it is worth noting that activism roils clowndom, too, as our institutions undergo generational soul searching here.
  • Cascadia: Prelude II
      Some fifty miles off the coast of Cascadia, miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean and only 10 minutes ago, pressure built up between two massive tectonic plates over more than 300 years finally gave way. Along a 700 mile fault line, the Juan de Fuca plate slipped a few meters beneath the continental Read More
  • Pay It Forward
    The thing about change is that it usually is forced on us. Few of us go there willingly, foregoing the familiar for a venture into the unknown. When truly dramatic change happens, like the world wide pandemic we are suffering, all the pain is readily apparent. But sometimes, too, the sheer magnitude of the disruption Read More
  • Power Play
    It may surprise you to know where your electricity comes from. This state-by-state look at the sources of power generation over the past 20 years is provided by Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer in The New York Times edition of Oct. 28, 2020.  
  • Cascadia: an excerpt
      “So, what’s the deal?” he said. “Deal?” said the bum. “I thought we agreed you’d go away. I gave you money. You said you would!” “I did go away.” “Not for long. Just a few days.” “Had to get back to work.” “What?” “Money ran out. Need some more.” “More? From me, you mean?” Read More
  • Cascadia: Prelude
    It is Tuesday, the 13th of June, 2022, nearly 9 p.m. Flag Day. A full moon has just begun to rise above Mt. Hood. The dark, volcanic mountain silhouetted against the moon and the Willamette River flowing silver in the valley below is a classic snapshot of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. There Read More
  • How We Move from There to Here
    Think about moving things that are valuable. Things we can’t afford to waste. Things like water, electricity, food. Think about how we do it now and how we might do it better. Better Food There are many good reasons why the locavore movement is sweeping agriculture. Food is best that is locally grown, we are coming to agree. It is fresher; Read More
  • World Population Through History
    Our world is rife with problems. Many of them, some would say most of them, are related to the earth’s burgeoning population. A fascinating look at the growth of population world-wide from humankind’s earliest days to the present can be found HERE.
  • Birthplace of Climate Change Changes
    Maybe it’s unfair to call the United Kingdom the birthplace of climate change. The world’s burgeoning population is a factor, too. It is, however, the place where coal was first employed on a mammoth scale to provide energy, powering the Industrial Revolution. And it was an early example, with its soot stained buildings and poisonous Read More
  • Slip Slidin’ Away
    The majority of people in the United States live within a hundred miles of the nation’s coastline. For those who live at the shore, in some of the country’s most expensive homes, climate change is lapping at their equity with relentless force. Many $trillions of real estate is at increasing risk of being lost to Read More
  • Getting High is Energy Intensive
    According to an article in the March 8, 2017 edition of Energize Weekly, it takes a formidable amount of energy to get high. Lessons learned from the burgeoning marijuana industry: The paradigm of marijuana legalization across the country will have profound impacts and consequences on power operations and electricity consumption. Following the election of November 2016, Read More
  • Money For Nothing
    ‘It’s an incredibly simple idea: universal basic income – a monthly allowance of enough to pay for your basic needs: food, shelter, education.’ The rapid development of technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics may someday soon make large swaths of the human workforce obsolete. There may not be corresponding growth in job opportunities elsewhere Read More
  • Batteries Technology in Energy Systems
    Batteries can play an increasingly important role in energy distribution and storage, particularly in distributed generation systems. However, the emerging market is full of hurdles as well as opportunities. It’s a complex subject that should be examined by everyone with an interest in climate change mitigation and renewable energy. You can read an extensive article Read More
  • Energy Systems Writ Large
    If we want to talk seriously about mitigating climate change, there are going to be a lot of oxen gored. The energy producers, of course, will be up in arms. The utilities, too. Everyone of them wants to do it their way, which doesn’t benefit from distributed generation. That we would expect. Some related industries Read More
  • Subsidizing Deception
    Changing the way we do things is always a challenge. Sizing up the best thing we can do to solve a problem isn’t easy. If we make the right choice and have the solution in mind, the rest should be easy. But, it isn’t. The moment of change is when we bump up – hard Read More
  • Energy Industry Jobs
      “The American solar workforce grew at a historic pace in 2016, a year when one out of every fifty new U.S. jobs was in the solar industry, according to the new National Solar Jobs Census 2016, the seventh annual report on solar employment issued by The Solar Foundation. The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 found that solar industry Read More
  • Harbinger: Signs of Change
    Harbinger. I first heard the word when I was eight or nine. I asked my mother what it meant. “A sign,” she said. “Like the first robin of spring.” In my boyhood home of Colorado, where the winters could be long, the coming of warm weather, the melting of all that snow, was a sign Read More
  • Politicians
    Ah! Politicians! Another election cycle has come and gone. How’d this latest slate of candidates strike you? Who among us has not wanted to wring their neck or spit in their eye? But, hey, let’s be kind: it’s not an easy life they lead. Kissing babies, shaking hands, pretending to care. How’d you like to Read More
  • Systems
    Systems permeate our lives What do they do for your life? What do you do for them? Self-Licking Ice Cream Caught Live. Read About It Now! Systems permeate our lives. They are the connective tissue that hold society together. To a very large degree, they dictate the way we live. As they evolve, change and become more Read More
  • HARBINGER, Part Two: Star Power
    How much audacity does it take to pique the interest of the president-elect? For a man with a notoriously short attention span, something of spectacularly high stakes and monumental reward would seem to be required. Is it possible that such a project might actually serve the public good? Could his administration, for instance, bring us Read More
  • Changes Big and Small
    Let’s talk about change. Big change. It’s unsettling. A very human response is to resist it. We get disoriented, loose our bearings, feel lost, adrift. Let’s talk about natural disasters. They are a very dramatic metaphor for change. Imagine Cascadia. Imagine Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, with all their sophistication and verve, are brought to a Read More