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Thread: Outting myself: Michele's rail plan

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Outting myself: Michele's rail plan

    I do not talk very much about this but this isn't exactly "news" to everyone, since I asked for feedback in Cyburbia at one time: I have my own local project that I have been working on for a couple of years or so. That is part of why I understand the frustration of folks who do this pro-bono.

    Here is what I have online so far: http://eclogiselle.com/rail.html I bought the domain name solanorail.com (and .org and a few others). The domain names are going to be redirect pages and I want to make it a separate sub-section on my website. But that is all in the works.

    Some things I have done:
    I have used several of my college classes to further this project. The GIS work was done in two GIS classes of mine. The environmental economic analysis was done in my environmental economics class. And this past quarter I began writing some drafts of letters I need to write to various people/organizations.

    I contacted an organization that promotes public transit. The guy there gave me the name of a local organization that advocates for environmental issues, among other things. I attended that meeting and they gave me some suggestions and feedback on a letter I have started.
    I contacted an organization that helps folks with disabilities. I met an interesting guy there who gave me his phone number and e-mail address and the name and number of another guy (after calling him to see if it would be okay). I called that guy and he gave me some useful suggestions, some of which are on my “to do” list (below).

    Some things on my “to do” list (a work in progress and it changes as I learn more – not sure I will really write the governor):
    Make Solanorail.com a sub website on the server
    Put statement of support up on the rail website
    Design bumper sticker
    Print off brochures and pamphlets and begin mailing them out
    Write to CCJPA and the governor
    Research whom to mail them to. (letters to the editor for The Reporter and The Daily Republic; and letter to the base commander)

    ---
    It all seems to take forever. I get frustrated because I feel like I am “getting nowhere”. But the actual rail plan of the county has been in the works for about 9 years and they have yet to break ground. I think I still have time to build support for a better alternative. I expect my “to do” list to change and my approach to change as I learn more and contact more people. So I expect some things on my “to do” list will probably never get done in the way that they have been initially conceived. I hope the thought process will be helpful to someone.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Sounds like you're doing good.

    This is obviously a large and long-term project/effort, so keep going on it. You are the kind, I assume, that doesn't give up easily, so I'm confident.

    Keep us updated about your progress.

    Also, be sure to enlist BKM. He needs something better to do than buy art glass and give Kunstler-ish rants.

    [cliche]Fight the good fight[/cliche]
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Sounds like you're doing good.

    This is obviously a large and long-term project/effort, so keep going on it. You are the kind, I assume, that doesn't give up easily, so I'm confident.

    Keep us updated about your progress.

    Also, be sure to enlist BKM. He needs something better to do than buy art glass and give Kunstler-ish rants.

    [cliche]Fight the good fight[/cliche]
    A)[serious part of reply] I was encouraged when someone more "in the know" than myself told me that they really have no intention of making this seriously happen until gas hits about $3/gallon (or was that $4??) because "surveys show" that folks will not use commuter rail much until then. So I think I do have time to start going to meetings and putting the research out there and letting people draw their own conclusions. [/serious part of reply]
    B) [humor] BKM? Are you serious? It takes 6 months to book an appointment with him for chips and beer! [/humor]
    C) [sarcasm induced by argument with hubby] Nah, I have no follow-through. I give up at the least little sign of resistence. I am a total slacker.[/sarcasm]

    Thanks for commenting.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Michele,

    Are doing all this pro bono or are you trying to pick up some consulting work on the side?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Michele,

    Are doing all this pro bono or are you trying to pick up some consulting work on the side?
    This may sound "dense", but I am not sure what you mean. I would love it if you attempted to clarify.

    Nonetheless, I will attempt some kind of answer:
    I really did not intend to do this at all. I went to some planning meetings in my county because I am a planning student. I expect to stay in this area for the foreseeable future and I really love California. So I figured it was time for me to get involved in local stuff and get my little student toes wet. In May of 2002, after a regional visioning process meeting that I participated in, I had a conversation with a couple of folks about the county rail plan. I expressed my thoughts as a military wife on why it was a bad idea to put a rail station up against the back of the military base here. One of the people I was speaking with asked me to come to a transportation meeting and express my views there. I never made the meeting because I went to GIS school on short notice.

    Then, I needed a project in GIS school for a couple of classes. So, in at least two of my GIS classes, I worked on the county rail plan. It was fresh in my mind and seemed like a good project and I had been struggling to come up with something GIS-related (I stood out like a sore thumb in GIS school, what with my only "gis" experience being Simcity -- initially, I felt utterly lost and out of my element). So, I came back and ...began 20 months of drug withdrawal, which prevented me from doing any "legwork". However, I have used the county rail plan as the basis for more of my class work in a couple of additional classes. One of them was an environmental economics class that yeilded a PowerPoint as the final project. I incorporated the work from my GIS classes into that effort, as well as research on my county from an earlier economic geography class. So, it is only in recent weeks that I have been in any position to begin trying to disseminate the information...well, I did create a brochure (with the link to the Powerpoint) more than a year ago and gave that out at a workshop I attended but it didn't get much in the way of results.

    Basically: I am a fruitcake with a vision. I had no intention of ...er...starting a grassroots movement or some such. I was just attending meetings because I am a planning student (Major in Environmental Resource Management with a concentration in Land Use Planning and Policy) and then I began using my classes to do research on the county rail plan. I originally thought I would just make the results of my research available to the REAL PLANNERS in this county but ...I didn't really know anybody and so they don't take me very seriously. So I have decided that the way I will be heard will be as an activist, not a "student". Because of my background (20+ year pro bono career and homeschooling mom and career military wife), I am very used to making a plan and making it happen and ...um...drumming up support from other folks as one human being to another, since I never had a title or anything. So I know that solid ideas will, EVENTUALLY, get backing. But I also know that folks will have to get to know both me and my ideas.

    RE the "getting to know me" part: on some homeschooling lists, I am adored for my sound advice. But whenever I go to a new homeschooling forum, I tend to upset folks who find me arrogant. In spite of all attempts to tone things down and be low key, I am very used to being taken seriously and treated with respect -- dating back to high school, where I had all kinds of academic awards, yadda yadda. So I know from long experience that, when I am going in to meet with a group of folks who don't know me, I have to be extreeeeeemely low key and humble and fly under the radar and let the ideas stand on their own...and let folks figure out for themselves whether they think I have a Brane or not. Announcing that I actually have a brain, thanks, and, really, you should listen to me...is a good way to get burned at the stake. :-} o Besides, as they would say in Persia, a tree heavy with fruit hangs low to the ground (or something to that effect). In other words, being genuinely humble and letting folks figure out for themselves that I actually know what in heck I am talking about is more effective than beating my chest and flaunting my gigantic ego. And it is actually kind of fun to watch folks realize that I have the goods. So, I expect I will have that kind of fun in my county for...a few years to come.

    But if you have some brilliant idea on how I can also make this pay, I am all ears!
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 17 Jul 2004 at 4:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    I'll PM you MZ.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    The Solano Rail website is temporarily down. When it goes back up, it will be a separate site from my business website. I will announce it when goes up. I am swamped right now with the changes necessary for coping with a media event that will impact traffic on at least one website that I manage -- traffic which is likely to spillover to my business website. I don't want anything "controversial" up on my business website at the moment and I also don't want to have major exposure of my rail plan when it is not adequately designed and organized. I feel that could amount to negative exposure and I don't want to create an "uphill battle" for myself unnecessarily.

    "Timing is everything" and all that.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    The website is UP

    I am about to crawl off to bed -- before dawn, like a good little vampire (bad habits rearing their ugly head again :-0 ). But if you are interested, the website for Solano Rail has been designed and I have a design for the bumper sticker (which you can see on the "support" page). I still need to change the redirect pages for the domain names I own to point to the new index page and I need to add a link on my business site...and probably 5 million other things. I will give a little time to some of those details "tomorrow" (ie, after I sleep a bit and then wake up again) and then give this a rest while I work on launching a business so I don't starve to death when hubby leaves in a few months. :-P


    http://eclogiselle.com/solano/rail.html


    If anyone notices a broken link or something like that, please let me know. Naturally, feedback is absolutely Welcome!
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 26 Jul 2004 at 8:50 AM.

  9. #9
    I am impressed Michele..its a good cause and you have done some really good work thus far..keep it up! unfortunately, I think the insider who made the comment about the $3 gas has some truth to what they said at least right now in this landscape of things. but, keep at it, because these things take time! the planning alone for such a project can take up to seven years!!!!!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by LouisvilleSlugger
    I am impressed Michele..its a good cause and you have done some really good work thus far..keep it up! unfortunately, I think the insider who made the comment about the $3 gas has some truth to what they said at least right now in this landscape of things. but, keep at it, because these things take time! the planning alone for such a project can take up to seven years!!!!!
    Thanks. I have three years invested. I hope the new website will help me build a grass roots movement so I don't have to do it all alone.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Another Update

    With permission, I have listed "Citizen Planners" as the discussion forum for this project on my 'Rail Online' webpage. Solanorail.com now points to the main page of the website (which has been modified slightly, in case you saw it yesterday ) and I have added a page of links to some of the resources I used for research in my Environmental Economics class. The links page might actually be of general interest to people working on various projects because it has links to smart growth stuff, wetlands valuation, ridership information (which is THE key to making a rail plan successful, according to my research), etc.


    Enjoy.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    I should get you the website for the light-rail expansion group here. Similar in a way to your reasons if not different (yours Amtrak, here local transit authority).
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I would love to have the link --- whenever you find the time. Thanks.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Here's some links

    http://go.to/crtc

    or just Google this for other cities "Citizens for Regional Transit"
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  15. #15
    Cirrus's avatar
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    The link to the pdf pamphlet on http://eclogiselle.com/solano/plan.html should read http://eclogiselle.com/solano/rail.pdf instead of http://eclogiselle.com/solano/pdf.rail.html. It looks like there are similar problems with the other two links on that page.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cirrus
    The link to the pdf pamphlet on http://eclogiselle.com/solano/plan.html should read http://eclogiselle.com/solano/rail.pdf instead of http://eclogiselle.com/solano/pdf.rail.html. It looks like there are similar problems with the other two links on that page.
    Thanks. I know you posted this like 6 months ago. I have been meaning to look at it. I just changed those two and I noticed some typos (well, errors really in the formatting...um, I mean stuff that can't be read properly so it comes up as question marks in place of they symbol I intended). Hopefully I can spend some time on this later today and begin fixing some of this stuff.

    My apologies for taking so very long to get back to you.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian ABS's avatar
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    Excellent work Michelle. I hope your will become able to influence policy enough to get the changes.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ABS
    Excellent work Michelle. I hope your will become able to influence policy enough to get the changes.
    Thank you.

    I hope to get back to working on this before the summer is over. I moved in May and it will take me a while longer to finish settling into my new apartment. In the mean time, a great many things have been on the back burner in recent months, sigh.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    MZ
    I am very impressed with the quality and content of your rail plan. This weekend I spent some time looking over your attached documents. Well-thought-out, good arguments.

    I have never been to California. I have never been to your area. But I came away understanding what was planned, what should be changed, and why. Nice work.
    _____

    Slightly-on-topic: My ex-wife Cynthia has been living in Davis for a couple years. She had been living in Ann Arbor for many years. My grand-daughters (Anjelica and Luna) are visiting her this week.

    Until I saw your attached rail map, I didn't know you were so close to Davis. Guess it is time to get out the Northern California DeLorme Map Book.

    Nice work.

    Bear

    EDIT: Did your military base make it through the recent cuts?
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    MZ
    I am very impressed with the quality and content of your rail plan. This weekend I spent some time looking over your attached documents. Well-thought-out, good arguments.
    I have never been to California. I have never been to your area. But I came away understanding what was planned, what should be changed, and why. Nice work.
    Thanks. That is a bigger compliment than you may realize: I haven't taken a class since I came off the last of my prescription drugs in May 2004, so most of the material on the website was put together in classes I took while deathly ill, in excruciating pain 24/7, and majorly drugged up. I feel much better these days.
    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Slightly-on-topic: My ex-wife Cynthia has been living in Davis for a couple years. She had been living in Ann Arbor for many years. My grand-daughters (Anjelica and Luna) are visiting her this week.

    Until I saw your attached rail map, I didn't know you were so close to Davis. Guess it is time to get out the Northern California DeLorme Map Book.
    I am 30 minutes from Davis. Nice town. Reminds me of Germany, in terms of density, walkability, etc.

    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    EDIT: Did your military base make it through the recent cuts?
    It made it through the cuts, so the website needs to be updated -- something I desperately want to work on but I have been too swamped with getting "settled" in to my new apartment (which basically means: throwing out almost everything I owned at the mildew-infested apartment and replacing a few essentials -- I am almost done. Two piles of papers left to go through, or something like that.).

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I started a Yahoo Group a few months ago for Solano Rail but chose to not advertise it initially because I wasn't ready to add that to my plate yet. I have now added a "join" button to the Solano Rail website on this page. Or you can sneak a peak at the yahoo group by clicking here.
    I also did some minor editing of text and cleaned up the pages visually (got rid of all that red).

    I wasn't sure I would get to this tonight, so forgive the "double post", but I added an online store via Cafe Press so that folks can buy t-shirts and bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/solanorail and put the link on the Solano Rail site. I hope that if folks in Solano buy bumper stickers and such, it will advertise the site. I still need want to put form letters on the website in hopes of spurring a letter writing campaign.

    As usual: I am posting this update here in part as an example for other Citizen Planners to follow.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 24 May 2006 at 3:02 PM.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    In recent weeks, I have spent a great deal of time updating the Solano Rail website. A good friend helped me upgrade it to CSS and XHTML coding (even though my grasp of the two is limited), I put up new content, cleaned up the look of it, etc. Today, I sent off half a dozen letters (details here) and took out an ad in a Solano County newspaper.

    I have no idea if this will go off with a bang or out with a fizzle, and I have no idea if this is really "the end" of my work on the project or the beginning of a new stage, but I feel a sense of wrap up of old business. I have been working on research that went into this project for at least 4 1/2 years and have been working more directly on this as a project for 3 1/2 years. It feels good to finally feel ready for a public unveiling -- whether it garners much attention or not, I didn't previously feel it was ready to try to attract major attention. Now I do feel it is ready for that.

    Crossing my fingers and holding my breathe,

    MZ

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    The Solano Rail website has moved to www.solanorail.org and now has a clean domain name.


    The old site should continue to work for a time but will eventually be cancelled. I may or may not be able to arrange forwarding from there. I am still trying to work that out but running into a number of snags.

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