What's Coming Back & What's Not

search the Original Green Blog

NYC blackout 2019 4824

   After 9/11, Katrina, and the Great Recession, there were many proclamations of “never again;” I made some of them myself. As Laura Clemons has said repeatedly on her quest to get towns to rebuild better after a disaster “there are very few human urges stronger than the need to put things back the way they were.” What does everyone think are the top three most likely and top three least likely things to come back essentially the way they were once the pandemic is over? My top 3s:

Most Likely

   The human urge to socialize is strong, so the things most likely to come back relatively unchanged all have something to do with our need for contact with other humans.

1. Third Places


   Look what happened in Wisconsin after the state supreme court killed the safer at home order: everyone streamed to the bars with no social distancing, including at least one nurse who should have known better. The most important thing here is scale. I believe there will be a lot of people uncomfortable with being in a restaurant that seats 300 people, but feel much better in places with a couple dozen neighbors. This favors neighborhood Third Places over large chain restaurants. Establishments that pull in large numbers from a distance have a greater risk of seeding the crowd with someone from a hot zone.

2. Religious Gatherings


   The only reason religious gatherings aren’t in the #1 position on this list is because not everyone attends them. But the passion here is probably higher than any of the others because when you combine the need to socialize with high stakes (heaven vs. hell, for example) religion in all its forms will be back almost exactly the way it was. I do wonder if one difference might be a new preference for worship in smaller groups? Even meeting in homes?

3. Fitness & Sports


   Both ends of the athletic spectrum will come back largely unchanged both because of the social need to work out with others if you're one of the athletes, and also the social need to cheer on the home team if you're not. Spectator sports in large venues may well be one of the very few exceptions most people make in the year or two after the pandemic is over to stay away from large crowds, and that’s because of their love of the home team. After the Spanish Flue of 1918, many people stayed away from very large gatherings for the next few years.

Least Likely

   To be clear, I’m not saying these things are unlikely to come back, but rather unlikely to come back as they were before. In other words, most likely to come back with big changes.

1. Offices


   Offices won’t disappear, but we’re in a massive test run on why many companies don’t need nearly the space they have. There's no doubt many are already doing the math & figuring out this new way. And the ability of millions to work from home at least most of the time could be a huge impetus to jump-start Sprawl Recovery when those who once worked in the city every day begin to really suffer from Social Deficit Disorder in the blandness of sprawl. I’ll blog more about this soon, and link to it from here. Office landlords should be nervous.

2. Transit


   Urbanists won’t be making this decision; millions of commuters will. There’s a chance the coming carpocalypse may push some back onto transit, but the percentage is uncertain. One big winner here is cycling and cycling facilities; one big loser is living a long distance from work because in some places, there’s a very real chance that if you leave at your normal departure time, you might not arrive until lunch at offices in cities heavily dependent upon transit. This is an existential time for transit, as much as it pains me to say that. I’ll blog more on some heretofore-unthinkable implications of this shortly.

3. Retail


   Look for a dumbbell migration to both the super-big and online like Amazon & Apple & to the super-small single-crew workplaces where people from failed mid-sized companies will set up shop again doing what they already know how to do, but smaller. Most won’t want to go to work for the companies that killed their businesses and are much more likely to try to reconstitute at the smallest possible size and give it another go. And many existing single-crew workplaces that already put out great products are doing great now. Our son Sam runs Dinner Bell Barbeque, a food cart in Portland, so he’s by definition a carry-out establishment and has been doing great since the lockdown, after a very dark and rainy winter.

What Else?

   As we navigate the new normal, what else do you see as most likely and least likely to come back the way it was? Help me out here, and I’ll post an updated list later with your items included… thanks in advance!

   ~Steve Mouzon

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

The Original Green at 10

search the Original Green Blog

Original Green cover front for post

   Ten years ago today, the Original Green went on sale for the first time after a launch party at Books & Books on Lincoln Road in South Beach the night before. I’m not sure what it has meant to anyone else, but it changed so many things for Wanda and I. So much useful stuff has resulted from this one little book in the decade that followed, including most of the ideas on this site, which would never have gotten worked out otherwise. For anyone who has found Original Green ideas useful, we’d really love to hear from you!

If you prefer buying from an independent bookstore, my favorite bookstore in the world is Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida, and they have them in stock.

   ~Steve Mouzon

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

The COVID Collapse of the Office Park

search the Original Green Blog

Sprawl Huntsville, AL 07MAR22 3347 modified

   Office parks are toast; if you’re a partner, director, investor, or trustee of one, start thinking now about how to redevelop your asset before it becomes a liability in the near future. Google “office park failing” and you’ll get million of results. The demise of the office park has been increasingly apparent for years, hastened by the Millennials’ distaste for boring suburban office parks; COVID19 is merely the coup de grâce. Here’s why:

The Brain-Dead Cool Factor

Glenwood Park 10MAY22 8956

the new reality: Cool Factor or Bust

   Millennials are legendary for picking a cool city, then finding a cool neighborhood in that city, then finding a job they can walk or bike to from where they live. Almost every office park fails every test for Cool Factor ever invented. If you want young talent, you absolutely cannot be in an office park less cool than the Apple Ring. Just forget about it. So how do you achieve a reasonable Cool Factor? Think back to when the Millennials were teens. Where did they go in your town? Almost everywhere, they congregated where there was some shred of urbanism; where the uses were mixed and the building types varied. Office parks are the antithesis on every count.

Efficiency Deficit Disorder

research park existing

a little bit of building, lots more parking
& lots of wasted space

   Le Corbusier, dead for over a half-century, still haunts the American landscape with his “drive 30 miles to work” edict, and also haunts the architecture academy as their long-dead god. Corbusier famously called for the destruction of the best of Paris to be replaced with his trademark “towers in the park” in his wretched Plan Voisin. In American office parks, his towers in the park have become “mid-rises in the parking lot.” And they’re hideously inefficient. Take this example from a place I know well. This is a 100,000 square foot building filled with people doing meaningful biotech work. It sits on 18 acres of land. But look at how much more they could accomplish using just basic urbanism like the 50 foot “green depth” and interior parking courts!

research park transformed

the same land, reconfigured as city blocks

   They would get their 100,000 square feet on the first floor, plus an additional 80,000 square feet of stuff like coffee shops, neighborhood groceries, pharmacies, and the basic necessities of life… all on the first floor! Then the two floors above that could be 360 1,000 square foot units, 720  500 square foot units, or whatever mix worked for the local market. Or they could get the entire 100,000 square feet on just a couple of the blocks using all three stories and have that much more mixed use on the street level. Either way, you’d be able to live, work, shop, eat, and walk home… all on the space currently wasted on today’s office park! Corbusier’s Curse on America is felt nowhere worse than the doomed office park. Let’s get to work fixing this mess! Why waste so much profit potential any longer? Make places that pay their own bills and keep on profiting!

The Infrastructure Burden

Sprawl Huntsville, AL 07MAR22 3349-1

parking area exceeds building area
in sprawl because you must drive
everywhere for everything

   Sprawling districts like office parks are not only inefficient in themselves, but impose a great infrastructure burden on the municipalities where they’re located roughly proportional to the inefficient land use within their borders. Charles Marohn of Strong Towns and Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 have been exposing the Ponzi scheme of sprawl for over a decade, showing how every city pre-COVID had a date at which it would go bankrupt due to its inability to continue to maintain the infrastructure in sprawl, which can easily have as much as 3-4 times the infrastructure per property as traditional urbanism. The pandemic may have compressed the bankruptcy timeframe for cities from decades or years to months or even weeks. This will be a question of survival for municipalities all over, and let’s be clear: office parks may have a lot of high-income white-collar occupants with political influence, but the development form puts them close to last in terms of tax revenue vs. infrastructure maintenance burden. In business terms, they’re “alligators,” and they will eat you.

Home Officing


working at home isn’t limited to indoors

   The previous three problems are long-standing; this one is newer. Yes, New Urbanists have been advocating for live/work units and other forms of working from home for decades, and some of us have tried it, but it was not so pervasive a practice in the pre-quarantine days. Now, however, the millions lucky enough to still be employed and able to work from home are giving it a massive test run. And no, not everyone loves it. Those with small children are finding it especially challenging. But these are enormously eye-opening days for many companies, as they ask “what if we don’t really need this huge space with its huge rent?” Expect many of those companies to downscale post-COVID to varying degrees. Others will follow the PlaceMakers example, which has since the beginning operated with everyone in different cities. I look for those companies to provide stipends for the cost of the home office and childcare for those who need it. If these things happen, then office rents will soon be far more affordable. Couple that with the fact that lease delinquency is massive, and it’s obviously high time for all office building owners, whether in an office park or somewhere else, to start getting creative on what to do now.

Real Solutions

Sprawl Repair Manual cover

Galina Tachieva’s excellent book

   Fifteen years ago, the common solution in most places to a failed land use type like office parks was decline and eventual abandonment. Fortunately, much work has been done in the intervening years on what is now known as Suburban Retrofit, Sprawl Repair, or Sprawl Recovery. There are now reams of techniques out there such as those found in the Sprawl Repair Manual and Retrofitting Suburbia. Other resources include Build a Better Burb, hosted by the Congress for the New Urbanism. And you can (and should) start small instead of huge demolish-and-rebuild plans. Begin the very first things tactically, then build in small increments because not many want to spend huge chunks of money at the moment.

Dinosaur or Chrysalis?

   Dinosaurs are… well, you know, dead. Will the office park be remembered as a dinosaur or a chrysalis? The chrysalis is the intermediate form between a caterpillar and a butterfly. The dinosaur ran out of chances to transform, but it’s in the blood of the chrysalis. What is the office park? It depends on the leadership in each one. If they’re willing to transform on the scale of an extreme makeover, then it’s not actually that hard to do since office parks are made up of big chunks of mostly-empty land, meaning that many things are possible. And it has already been done; check out the Township at Colony Park, which began 20 years ago to build a robust mixed-use community in a couple pods of an office park. Mike Thompson can tell you more about it. So it comes down to this for the leadership: are you willing to grow up and become a city so you can pay your own way and attract young talent, or will you get stuck and die? It’s your choice.

   ~Steve Mouzon


Subscribe to get Sprawl Recovery book updates

* indicates required

Earth Day at 50

search the Original Green Blog

Earth Day at 50

   Never before in our lifetimes has the daily flood of urgent things been so firmly dammed up. Treasure these most surreal of days for their greatest gift: revealing the most important things that in the endless stream of everydays get obscured in the fog and the flow.

   If these days do not change me, then the only thing I’ll carry forward is a lot of economic pain. But if they help me see more clearly the things that are most important and act upon them, the benefits that flow from that awakening can last a lifetime... and beyond.

   This pandemic has caused too much death and pain not to cause good change. The worst thing we could do now is get back to normal. Let’s get to work soon building a new normal based on the important things revealed in these awe-full days. The worst thing to do now is shut my eyes.

   And let’s face facts: what’s happening now is just nature being nature. We have built an industrial illusion that we have overcome nature, but nature tests every construct. And in this test, our financialized industrial system has been found wanting. In the words of the President of the United States on March 23 “Our country wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this.”

   No kidding. Since the Sustaining Economy this county and every nation before it was founded on was discarded and replaced with the Consuming Economy a century ago, the lifeblood of the country was ever-increasing consumption, as measured each quarter by Wall Street. The Consuming Economy values things by how quickly they’re used up; the Sustaining Economy values things by how far they’re handed down. I’ve written about this in detail in the new edition of A Living Tradition [Architecture of The Bahamas].

   But this Great Pause hasn’t been just unmitigated disaster for those of us still alive; it has also opened a window into a view of earth almost as profound as Earthrise, the first view of our home from space a half-century ago. Today it’s a view, however fleeting, of what earth would be like in just a few weeks if we quit spoiling it! Blue skies over Los Angeles, Beijing, and cities everywhere in between. Nature returning to places from which it had been exiled all over the world. Families spending time with each other, going for long walks or bike rides. People finally having time to think about the things that matter most.

   Obviously, this all can’t last. The financialized industrial system is raring to come roaring back as soon as possible, hoping to get things back to normal. But can we make at least some of it last?

   Think about what we’ve seen: cleaner skies and waters than we thought we’d ever see in our lifetimes even if all nations complied fully with all the agreements. They haven’t, and not by a long shot. So this is little short of a miracle that we’re seeing what we’re seeing now. What might we do to preserve some of this without completely wrecking economies around the world?

   The next posts over the coming weeks will look at several aspects of how we build our homes, workplaces, towns, cities, and lives to consume a lot less but live a lot better.  Better rather than more. Quality of life over standard of living. But for this one day, just cherish this miraculous view of something we never imagined we’d see, especially since it has come at such a great price to so many, almost 180,000 of whom have paid the ultimate price.

   ~Steve Mouzon

The COVID Collapse of the Office Park


Subscribe to get A Living Tradition [Architecture of the Bahamas] book updates

* indicates required

You'll receive an email from me with the subject line "Mouzon Design: Please Confirm Subscription." Click Yes to confirm your subscription for A Living Tradition [Architecture of the Bahamas] book updates.

What Tuscaloosa Just Did

search the Original Green Blog

what tuscaloosa just did

   The City of Tuscaloosa just pulled off something brilliant that every city should know about in states that aren’t already protecting their people with Shelter In Place orders. Alabama is a Dillon’s Rule state as established in the 1901 state constitution. This means that counties and cities are limited to powers expressly granted them by the Legislature. Shelter In Place orders are not one of those powers. Here’s Mayor Walt Maddox’s more detailed explanation.

   So did the city idly sit by waiting for the Governor to do the right thing? Not a chance. The Mayor was early in his first term when the catastrophic 2011 tornado hit, and so he and his team quickly learned how to get stuff done in a disaster. Last night, they pulled it off again.

   One of the powers expressly granted by the Legislature to cities is the ability to set a curfew. So the city established a 24-hour curfew beginning this weekend with all the conditions of a Shelter-In-Place order. Genius move! What a hack of the system! But in full respect of the rule of law, which is so very important to maintain in a crisis.

   If you’re in a state where the cities are similarly limited but your city or town wants to protect its people, please share this with them. Or just share broadly on social media and the cities that need the Tuscaloosa Hack will find it. As they say in these parts, Roll Tide!!

   ~Steve Mouzon

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

Hope for Italy?

search the Original Green Blog

Roma 11OCT23 6440

   I was beginning to have hope for Italy. Saturday through Tuesday they had about 3,500 new Coronavirus cases each day, which was a promising sign that their lockdown might be finally bearing fruit. But Wednesday it jumped off that plateau to 4,207 new cases, Thursday it was at 5,322,  and yesterday (Friday) it was 5,986. Granted, from the time they started the lockdown you should allow 5-12 days (the range I’ve seen) for people already infected to start showing symptoms. In other words, there would have been a bunch of cases baked in. The full lockdown began March 9, which was 12 days ago. So the real key is what happens over the next few days. If the lockdown has the intended effect, today should be the last day at which the baked-in infections should manifest, and the plateau really should begin to form tomorrow. But it’ll be another week before you can authoritatively say that the exponent has dropped below 1, and the curve definitely turns downward. There are several problems with lockdowns comparable to Italy’s in the US: 

The Denier Problem

   There is a segment of the US population that was quite large just a couple weeks ago that deny the novel coronavirus is much different from the flu. Some even say it’s just the common cold. Here’s what the World Health Organization says: Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Conflating COVID-19 with the common cold is akin to conflating a tiger and a house cat by saying “they’re both cats.” True. But one can kill you. I hope and believe that this segment is dropping in number as more people are turning to the stern reality of the situation. But those who are still Deniers to some degree are less likely to heed the warnings and may become carriers.

The Denouncer Problem

   There is a counter-segment of the US population who oppose the Deniers and denounce them vigorously, early, and often. The debates that rage in person and online suck massive energies away from doing things that actually give us a better chance of flattening the curve. This wasted time and energy is almost as damaging as the denials. If you’re a Denouncer and the facts emerging now highlight how wrong your opponents have been, the worst thing you could do is rub their noses in it because doing so prolongs their harmful denials. So just shut up, already! We need all hands on deck; both Deniers and Denouncers should become Doers. It is especially unfortunate that this pandemic is occurring in an election year in the US. But put that aside for now; if we flatten the curve, you can pick the campaign back up later in the year.

The Young Don't-Care Problem

   The #BoomerRemover hastag that sprang up a few days ago highlights the fact that there is a segment of younger people in the US who believe “we  should just party on and let the old folks die.” Here’s one example:

   Wednesday morning I posted this on Facebook: Why the Young Should Care - The news has been filled with stories of revelry over the weekend by those who regard #COVID19 as the #BoomerRemover and think it won’t hurt them. If you’re one of them, consider this: The more irresponsible your behavior, the more draconian the authorities will be in their responses. And the combination of wider spread & tougher response will do more damage to the economy. So in a worst-case world with few Boomers left, it’ll be you guys left to deal with wreckages of world economies for a long time to come. The bottom line is this: we’re all in this together. Let’s all be responsible.

   To which a young guy from Colorado who I don’t know commented: Did you know our planet is dieing because of your generations inability to change so here food for thought if you want someone to care about your future you have to do the same .. but you didnt so we wont either an eye for an eye makes the world go round thats the truth of life.

The Old Don't-Care Problem

   There’s an even more inexplicable subsegment of the “don’t care” group, and that’s the older people who are gravitating to bars and restaurants operating in defiance of the closing orders. I really don’t understand why those of an age known to be more likely to die from this stuff knowingly put themselves at risk like this. I haven’t spoken to anyone in this segment to find out why they’re behaving this way, but can only speculate that it has something to do with fierce independence and the thought that “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do.” Or maybe they’re thinking “we’re gonna die anyway; might as well live it up so long as we’re alive.”

   Both Don’t-Care sub-segments present big problems because of the virulence of the exponential spread of this disease. Little numbers are becoming big numbers very quickly with this thing. Look at how much of the history of AIDS was driven by that one Canadian flight attendant. And then imagine hundreds of thousands or maybe even a few million Don’t-Care carriers of COVID-19. Do I think this will run on until it kills us all someday? Emphatically no. There are a number of dampening factors that will kick in at some point, even though there are indicators that getting it once doesn’t confer longterm immunity. So someone could keep getting it until it weakens and kills them. But humanity will survive… the real question is what will society look like on the other side?

The Delay Problem

   But back to Italy. Let’s say that the Italian lockdown doesn’t produce results beginning tomorrow. Nations, states, and cities now considering lockdowns as robust as Italy’s could be swayed to say “if the lockdown doesn’t do the job in Italy, why do it here?” We’ve all seen the Italians singing, but we’ve also seen stories of the hardships of a real lockdown. This is a very real danger.

   It’s likely the Italian lockdown eventually will succeed, let’s say in another two weeks. We don’t know this virus very well yet, and it may not play according to our playbook. If people see a failure to plateau beginning tomorrow and steer away from more robust measures, they’re not only delaying starting them for two weeks (or however long it takes) but before that even happens, they have to start up the conversation again. Like an ocean tanker, you can’t turn this stuff on a dime. So let’s say the conversation restarts in two weeks and the measures that could be taken now are taken in three weeks. Three weeks ago yesterday, the global death toll outside of China was 107. Yesterday that number was 8,132. Seventy-six times larger! 282 have died so far in the US from COVID-19. 282 x 76 = 21,432 people dead. See how quickly this blows up?

   So Italy really is key. Everyone should watch closely what happens there beginning tomorrow. Will the plateau start to form? America should certainly hope so, in order that we make the best choices. And all other affected nations that are wavering as well.

   ~Steve Mouzon

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

PandemicPost Masks

search the Original Green Blog


image via Wikimedia Commons

<This later turned out to be true. The authorities were lying to us about the effectiveness of masks to keep non-medical people from making a run on them. I’m fine with the medical people having priority; it spurs creativity in the rest of us, like Christal (below)! ~Steve>

   Everyone says masks are ineffective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. But they also say the main means of spread is tiny virus-laden droplets when someone sneezes, coughs, or speaks. And then someone touches a surface the droplets landed on. The main point of entry mouth or nose, but sometimes the eyes. People have long said that the point of a mask is to remind you not to touch your face. Why doesn’t that work with COVID19?

   ~Steve Mouzon

Laura Hamilton The gist of this is that any mask, even a homemade mask, will provide better protection than no mask. You are being told not to wear masks because of hoarding and scarcity issues, and that's the only reason. Scarf tied around your face, dust mask, old surgical mask, particle mask leftover from wildfires, they are all better than nothing. 

This study also indicates that masks in general do a better job of protecting you from others than they do at protecting others from you. Mostly because when you exhale, the force of the air coming out can break your mask seal. Still, it's better to wear a mask than not. 

If you have to go out, wear a mask. If you don't have one, make one.


Delete or hide this


Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory…

Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population

Steve Mouzon Wow thanks Laura Hamilton! Good stuff.

Steven Schloeder I don’t see how wearing a mask cannot be better than not wearing a mask.

Michael Stayman This is an important time to listen to authority and heed the warnings, but this is why people don't trust the government. They speak out of both sides of their mouth.

Nancy Bruning Michael Stayman or they speak prematurely when they don’t have sufficient science.

Brian Vinson I understand that wearing a mask actually causes you to touch your face more often. You're not used to wearing one, and you tend to adjust it repeatedly. Yeah it might prevent you from spreading your germs, but it seems you're more likely to pick up others.

Andrew Laska Brian Vinson while others say it makes you conscious of your face and therefore not touch it.

Tom Richerson Masks work- but mostly to stop the spread from people who already have it to those who don't. It doesn't work so much to prevent one from getting it because it can still come through your eyes, ears, nose and even through the sides of the mask.

Laura Hamilton It actually works the opposite way according to the studies. Better at protecting you from others than protecting them from you. This is why we all need to be wearing masks.

Becky Tiffany There is significant discrepancy between American and Asian experts on this. It's more than cultural. Also prior to this many publications noted that masks protected individuals from viruses when worn correctly.

David Moye Masks make contagious people less contagious

Veronika Eagleson It's all about the hoarding and the fact that medical personnel need them. We have a big stack of old work masks for drywall etc and are not afraid to use them.

Pamela Asher I would love to be able to get masks, all out!

Christal Deeter Hudson Pamela Asher ... make one out of an old bra... that’s what I’m doing... lol
cut the bra in half... cut off straps & back...cut straps into skinny strips... sew strips for the ears onto the single bra cup.

<Now thats what I mean by creative thanks, Christal! Wanda is making our masks now! ~Steve>

Norma Whitehead Most people wear them wrong and studies show that the average person winds up touching their face more often when wearing one than when they aren't wearing one. So they do the opposite of what is intended to happen

Chris Kochtitzky Surgical masks are designed to keep the doctors and other healthcare professionals from infecting patients. They are open to incoming airflow on the sides. They also often cause you to touch your face more rather than less. Only n95 masks professionally fitted for each person’s face can prevent others from infecting the wearer.

Megan Marie They absolutely do protect the wearer . That’s the reason for the PPE taught in the very first few nursing classes in college . People not wearing them correctly can provide false security and they need to be paired with common sense and remember not to touch surfaces and then your face, etc. The shortage is the reason the govt is telling us not to wear them in my opinion. Also they have to go for “herd mentality” and tailor their advice for the largest survival %. They are advising what will save the highest % of people, not what is best for each individual.

Kitty Klitzke I read that the masks go on the sick people. Not so great at protecting those who don’t have it.

John Czarnecki clear plastic cones keep Fido from scratching. ;- }

Rick Geller There’s a shortage of masks for medical workers.

Kira Gould Yes: That, I thought, was the main reason not to have all sorts of random healthy people using them up (to shop) ... so that health workers and first responders have the supply that they need.

Sandy Sorlien Breathing into a scarf or mask all the time will build up moisture. Keep a lookout for fungal infections on chin etc., air it out frequently (which means you are touching your face a lot) Seriously. The mask is more for people who are sneezing and coughing, to protect others.

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

PandemicPost Stepping Back?

search the Original Green Blog

stepping back

image via Wikimedia Commons

<Thankfully, this sentiment didn’t last. ~Steve>

   I have not in a long time been closer than today to saying "I'll just leave you with it." Maybe I should just stay off Twitter. But in any case, I'm not seeing a lot of hope that most people will get out of their silos and do the right thing. So I'm wondering if now might be the time to just step back from debates and such, because everyone seems so stuck in their silos that they can't seem to see beyond them. If I can help with something, let me know. If not, I'll stick with the places where I can do some good. Be well, everyone!

   ~Steve Mouzon

Tracy Davis Heisler A lot depends on our indivdual networks, likes, and follows. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many people in my extended network are taking this seriously, following a path of caution, and more concerned about the common good than political posturing. I wish this could be the case for everyone.

Nicole Williams the next two weeks will be rough I think. Its going to either change or soften people or harden them, perhaps both.

Steve Mouzon FWIW, part of the frustration was about an offline architecture discussion. Let’s just leave it at that. Depressing to think about. Good folks ruined by ideology.

Kaid Benfield Learn to let argumentative others have the last word and move on. Works for me.

Steve Mouzon Kaid you're one of the wisest people I know!

Steven Semes This past year has been especially eye-opening, seeing how folks I thought serious and thoughtful descended into ideology or simple bigotry. I don't say that in self-righteousness and have had to admit that I was wrong about some things. Humility is a useful, if rare, attribute.

David Garner I have always been a "think outside the box" person. Now I'm a "think outside the roll of TP" person." Seriously Steve, I like your innovation and contributions to urban living and imo it's living with more freedom.

Theresa Tammy Ryan As long as you two do what you do, that’s what matters. You inspire people, very much.

Peter Annand Have you noticed the use of "conversation" redefined as "keep on talking until you give up and accept my shit as truth"


Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

PandemicPost Testing

search the Original Green Blog


image via Wikimedia Commons

   There is a lot of backward thinking on testing. Many are saying that you should only be tested if you’re having clear symptoms and/or in a high-risk group. But the most dangerous people are those who are asymptomatic, or who just think they might have a cold or allergies. Because it is these people who can spread it to many more.

  ~Steve Mouzon

C Fenno Hoffman That's why isolation is sooooo important in these first few weeks

Brandon Neary Even the best diagnostic tests in the world will have a small percentage of false positive results. Symptomatic patients with travel and or contact history will have a much higher pre-test probability than the general asymptomatic population and the benefits of testing outweigh the chance of a false positive result. With general population testing, you would end up with far more false positives than true positives and consume health care resources monitoring healthy people

Steve Mouzon Brandon Neary what is a reasonable small percentage of false positives to assume?

Brandon Neary Steve Mouzon I haven’t seen the performance characteristics of the coronavirus tests (they probably haven’t been established yet) but I would not be surprised if I heard it was 5-10% of true negatives that give a positive result. Especially if the test is calibrated for maximum sensitivity. A test that was so rapidly developed could have an even higher rate

Steve Mouzon Brandon Neary 5-10% false positive isn’t really a small number, but let’s think through this. If someone tests positive but is asymptomatic, they certainly won’t be hospitalized. Most likely they’ll be asked to self-quarantine. But what, after handwashing, is considered one of the best practices? Staying home. Help me out with why that’s a bad thing.

Brandon Neary Steve Mouzon In my mind, the hand washing, awareness, and social distancing that is going on now will be more effective than mass testing, although we should almost certainly be more than what has recently been available. The reality is that it would not just be the person with the false positive test who self-quarantines though, most likely it would also be everyone who had interacted with that person in the days preceding the positive test as well.

Steve Mouzon Brandon Neary so you’d rather not know who the asymptomatic carriers are? When lives are at stake, I’d rather know. Here’s the flip side: for them and their close interactors, staying home on a false positive may prevent them from contracting the virus had they gone out.

Brandon Neary Steve Mouzon I think everyone would love to be able to identify all the cases, the diagnostic tests just aren’t capable of doing that. And I say that as someone who has spent 15 years in an R&D capacity developing in vitro diagnostics. The asymptomatic carriers would likely have a low viral load and give a false negative result as well. Definitely no easy answer to the whole situation unfortunately

Steve Mouzon Brandon Neary I’m certainly not a medical person, so you obviously know things I don’t. But if I’m reading so much about identifying Patient Zero & reconstructing webs of relationships & contacts, it seems like knowing who has it is probably an important thing. But time will tell.

Brandon Neary Steve Mouzon agreed, definitely room for all viewpoints and discussion. I love your work, by the way. I have a place out at Carlton Landing which is how I came to follow you

Steve Mouzon Brandon Neary oh, cool! What a fabulous place! Carlton Landing isn’t just excellent, it actually pioneered several important things.


Jennifer Hurley Steve, ideally we’d be testing anyone with symptoms and also proactively going into high risk places (like nursing homes and prisons) to test and then trace all contacts of anyone who’s positive, but since we don’t have enough testing capacity, they’re rationing. It’s a huge fail and a big part of why this has gotten so far out of control.

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

PandemicPost Do-Gooders?

search the Original Green Blog


image via Wikimedia Commons

<I’m including this one because it’s the beginning of trying to work out the essence of the several roles people are choosing to play in this pandemic. It evolved well beyond this by now (almost 2 weeks later) ~Steve>

   Who ever thought it would go down like this? Tonight, it seems like there are three main choices: be a say-gooder, a do-gooder, or an I-don’t-carer. The say-gooders say it’ll all be fine, and everything will recover shortly. The I-don’t-carers say “I got mine and will enjoy what I can while I can. The do-gooders say “what can I do to help?” I used to turn up my nose at their self- righteousness but might have become one. What are your top ten things to do now? You post your ten; I’ll post mine. Just as soon as I figure out what they are!

   ~Steve Mouzon

Jennifer Hurley Stay home as much as you can so you aren’t unwittingly spreading the virus and so you don’t get it and take up a hospital bed someone else will need.

Christal Deeter Hudson I’m a Be-gooder. Take precautions and “it Be good”

Janna Whitley I think of Wanda's description of where I now live, "At the end of the road with no place to go, and trees on both sides." I plan to stick close to the trees.

Kris Payne Boyle Wash hands. Take a deep breath to relax, make sure you have analgesics and cold medicine, cook and freeze single servings (in case the chief cook gets sick), stay out of public places, go outside for fresh air, use extreme measures to care for your older loved ones, cancel nonessential doctor appointments, make sure you can work from home. Turn off the media. Check it only a couple times a day (don't feed your anxiety) take care of mental health and help others do the same. This will pass, but it will take its toll. Be cheerful.

Susan Ratliff Ask what others need, take care of my own health, be patient and don’t overreact with anger.

Hazel Borys 1. Stay home: except walks; don't hoard
2. Stay balanced: read, contemplate, exercise, sleep, limit media
3. Care for family: cook, conversations, laughter, games, films
4. Work: proposals, deliverables, conference calls, video chats
5. Encourage: be positive; hope purifies; call friends
6. Listen: stay informed but not constantly; obey health minister
7. Learn: what can we each do be well and cool the planet?
8. Get ready to rebuild: parse summer time
9. Document: leave knowledge for next round of what helped
10. Be grateful: we aren’t in it alone, so remember to say thanks

Walk Appeal book front cover

Subscribe to get Walk Appeal book updates

* indicates required

© Stephen A. Mouzon 2020