Friday, February 20

A New Door opens to Direct Democracy -and how I got there


I was not-so-tight-rope artist and juggler Evan from Heaven for 20 years. I entertained some 500,000 on Boulder, Colorado's famous mall, but the City banned me from 1982-1985, in spite of a petition (see at bottom) of 4000 fans. I became homeless. Among others banned was mime David Shiner who was arrested at least twice for impersonating a policeman and went on to be Ringmaster of Le Cirque du Soleil and had his own show on Broadway.

I left Boulder, performed in Aspen and Key West, and then Yelapa, Mexico. Arriving penniless in this fishing/tourist village, I was given a free hotel room with a view.. The Mayor, known as Piri, fed me lunch daily at his restaurant at the foot of the town waterfall, where I entertained his diners by tightroping over the falls -see photo below. What a change from Boulder! I made enough in tips to live and travel back north. I was also honored to play Jesus for Holy Week celebrations there in 1986




I continued on to Guatemala, where I fell in love with Lake Atitlan, which Aldous Huxley called, "the most beautiful lake in the world." I started building a house on Maya artist friend Raul Velasquez Barrios' land (photo below, with 2 of the 3 volcanoes on the lake in the background), but abandoned it when 3 other Maya friends were killed by the Guatemalan Army -with U.S.-supplied M-16s. Some 200,000 were killed, tens of thousands horribly tortured, mostly in the '80s.

                       I returned to Boulder, depressed. I read in Howard Zinn's "People's History of the U.S." that "polls showed by 1975 that 65% of Americans were opposed to all foreign military aid" because it strengthened dictators. I realized if this was a binding vote and not just a poll my friends would still be alive -along with 200,000 other Guatemalans, and millions from Vietnam to the Americas. If we had real "government by the people", our shows would not have been banned in Boulder. The world would be a much better place.



So, I spearheaded Boulder's 1993 Voting by Phone ballot initiative, hoping this would make more direct democracy practical. We made the CBS Evening News, the Wall St. Journal, etc.

With a hostile City Council dishonestly attacking our initiative it was defeated 59-41%. I started Vote.org in 1995 to promote citizen power via better and national ballot initiatives. I sold that domain in 2015 and that site is now at EvanRavitz.com/vote.

(Initiatives are controversial, thanks to media dwelling on the few bad ones. But the full record shows the results are far better than what politicians do. Because it's a bit easier in Colorado than most states to get initiatives on the ballot, we have a stellar record. When signing initiative petitions is allowed online, it will be even better.)

I soon got a call from Jared Polis, a Princeton student who'd enabled student voting by web. We've been friends ever since.

Jared became the wealthiest and most philanthropic person in Boulder. He sponsored 2 Colorado ballot initiatives which passed becoming Amendment 23 (raising K-12 school spending) and Amendment 41 (the country's strongest prohibition on lobbyist "gifts" to politicians.) Jared is now our Congressman. He said on radio in 2008 that he would introduce a bill for national ballot initiatives in his first year. But he didn't realize it would take a constitutional amendment. Please encourage him: jared (at) jaredpolis.com.

In 2000 I devoted Vote.org to famed former Sen. Mike Gravel's project for better and national initiatives. I solicited endorsements from prominent people. Howard Zinn became one of the first, along with Patch Adams, Pete Seeger, Daniel Ellsberg, Julia Butterfly Hill, "Granny D," Michael Lerner, Ralph Nader etc. See the complete list. Gravel ran for President in 2008 mainly to promote this project. But the project has stalled. We now see 2 other ways we could get national initiatives:

1. We're hoping Bernie Sanders becomes our next President and that we can interest him in this. There are several ways initiatives can be made more deliberative and available to those without a lot of money that would make them more like New England town meetings. If you know Bernie or how we can contact him or his wife Jane, please let me know: eravitz@gmail.com.

2. Dan Marks somehow managed to get Congress to count the backlog of state requests for a US Constitutional Convention under Article V. The Young Turks did a fine video story.We have an Article V Facebook group you can follow. National ballot initiatives would make a great constitutional amendment that would make future amendments and laws doable by citizens without waiting another 200+ years for a constitutional amendment.

We need help. Almost all politicians and the people who buy their votes are opposed to government by the people. Read what "my" former Senator Mark Udall and other prominent Colorado "Democrats" said about our project to try to kill it.

Let my people VOTE!

Evan 'from Heaven' Ravitz

Wednesday, February 11

Transport that's fun and follows the laws of physics!


We all learned in school that bikes are the most efficient transportation, in both the artificial and animal worlds. But how can humans be more efficient than, say, antelope? Because of all the "embedded" energy already invested to smooth and pave the roads, which makes skinny wheels way more efficient than any legs. (Animals can't coast, for one thing.)

Cycling's also fun and keeps you healthy. In my 30s I rode across Mexico among other long rides. At 56 I still do all my local travel by bike. Bikes should be our first choice when practical. Bikes are, or can be, easy to take on public transportation, a great combination.

People talk about "transit" as if it were all good. But as the standard text Principles of Pavement Design or any pavement engineer will tell you, road damage increases as the FOURTH power of vehicle weight (assuming the same number of axles). This means that a bus weighing about ten times the average car does TEN THOUSAND times more damage! So buses and heavy trucks do almost all the damage to our highways and major roads.

Pounding our roads and highways, the most expensive infrastructure in the U.S., is just not "sustainable." Heavy transport should where possible run on steel rails, far cheaper and more durable than roads. Rail transport is also the 2nd most efficient, after the bicycle.

Until the 1940s, most urbanites commuted on streetcars -running on rails. Some of our "stimulus" money should go to rebuild them. Some should go to improve long-distance rail lines. And some should go to develop and produce an affordable electric car -especially since car companies are getting bailed out.

Electric cars don't pollute and go much further per dollar than internal combustion vehicles. Having far fewer moving parts and no explosions inside, they are far more durable and require far less maintenance. Soon, many will be charging them from solar panels on their homes, and their batteries will be tied into the electric grid, providing storage to even out the intermittent production of solar and wind energy, and uneven usage.

Hybrid cars save gas, but there's evidence the "embodied" extra energy involved in producing TWO engines -electric and gas- may outweigh that savings, unless, like cabbies, you drive a lot. The gas engine still requires lots of maintenance.

Once economics and physics force much transportion back to streetcars and trains, America's huge road and highway network will be much safer and more fun for cycling again. And the roads will last: A cyclist on a bike weighing (at most) ten times less than a car does TEN THOUSAND times less road damage, 100 MILLION times less than a bus!

Friday, February 6

Latest Iridescent (or nacreous) Clouds


I've been lucky to see and photograph these sublime clouds often. They occur when most water droplets are the same size, refracting the sun in a collimated way. You can see all my best iridescent and other cloud photos here