November 17, 2005
Talk Fast Ride Slow responds
I have recieved 2 missives from Hugh D'Andrade, of Talk Fast Ride Slow, to my series of correspondences with Chris Carlsson, and the article responding to Matt Smith that his group wrote.
I see you found that article yourself, good for you! There is in fact a live link to that page, but it must be accessed through the Writing Section of my site, as I said before. (I'm not a web designer really.)
I'm not sure if the word "powerful" in your post is meant to be sarcastic. Certainly the SF Weekly is not taken very seriously by myself, the Critical Mass community, or San Francisco in general. I wrote that reply because Matt Smith's point is a common criticism of Critical Mass that is easily refuted.
I advised Hugh of the Error Message on his site due to a slightly wrong, or possibly outdated URL for the article, and provided him with the correct link.
I hope he makes the change.
As for the Weekly: Of course folks who disagree with its agenda would not be impressed with it.
As for the Voters of San Francisco, and their Government:
In light of recent developements, this month, and over the last few years, it is safe to say that, now, more than ever, most of the rest of America, if not California, take their misguided antics very seriously.
There is much to be concerned about.
All the wonderful Bicycle Facilities, and cycling opportunites in town, notwithstanding. ;-D
Hugh's 2nd letter begins as a friendly, reasoned, support of my contention that Critical Mass, where ever it occurs, is not a "spontanious, un-organized, monthly happening".
Of course, I'm sure he didn't intend it that way. ;-D
Howdy! I'd like to reply to simply one part of your "critique", since the following section from the Talk Fast Ride Slow site was written by myself and not Chris Carlsson:
"That said, we plead guilty to having played a crucial role in helping create and maintain Critical Mass over the years. Several of our members are founders of Critical Mass and have created flyers, invented tactics, planned strategies, and otherwise helped organize the ride in an organic, participatory, non-coercive manner."
I remember thinking, when I wrote this, that there was a possibility that it could be misinterpreted, and apparently that is what has happened here. You seem to have taken this quote to mean that there is in fact someone in charge of Critical Mass, as if there were some sort of "board of directors" of this large scale social movement.
The fact is that there are some people who put more time and energy into Critical Mass than others. Mostly, this consists of creating flyers, discussing strategy, sharing information, etc. Ackowleging this fact does not mean that such people are "in charge", or that Critical Mass is somehow organized in a top down fashion.
Countless people, often independently of one another, have played these roles at Critical Mass. People step up, offer ideas, energy, suggestions, then step back and let someone else contribute. When we say "self organization", this is what we mean. For me, as a participant in Critical Mass since the beginning, this is one of the inspiring aspects of the ride that have kept me involved for many years.
I understand that you object to the disruptive nature of Critical Mass, but I would like to remind you of the enormous changes in traffic norms and infrastructure that have taken place here in San Francisco over these 13 years. More people than ever before cycle in this city, there are bike lanes and bike parking everywhere, and, more importantly, a shift has subtly but powerfully taken hold in the minds of motorists, in that they acknowledge our right to the road. These changes did not happen at the ballot box (nor could they have). They happened because of the large numbers of us took to the streets every month to meet, cycle, collaborate and demonstrate a better way of life. Whatever you may think of our tactics, they work.
That is the type of response I had hoped to get from Chris: One that takes my questions, and concerns seriously, and does something to address them in a rational manner.
Then he goes and gets all Leftist Political Radical on my Ass, and completely ruins the mood. ;-D
PS: I understand that you would like to engage the Critical Mass community in some sort of dialogue, but this is not possible with the sort of malicious red-baiting that you are engaging in. ("if you don't believe in America, and its freedoms, then why live in this country?" ).
I have wanted to say something similar to supporters of the Bush regime! If you support a government that is rounding up people, holding them in secret gulags without trial, access to lawyers, the Red Cross or independent observers, where these un-accused persons are tortured, raped and murdered, than I suggest that it is you who should be shopping around for another country. May I suggest Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, or China?)
My response to his correspondence:
Thank You so very much for replying to me in such a friendly, informative, fashion.
I really do appreciate that.
If you read my CM Archives you will see that I am not engaging in Red Baiting, just pointing out some very disturbing things that need to be responded to.
And asking questions.
Too many on the Right run, and repent, at the first sign of acusations such as yours despite the fact that they are right to be concerned and express those concerns.
I was once "drummed out of" the Democratic Party by a former friend who ordered me to apologize on my blog before he'd consider being my friend again. ;-D
When we fight back, it annoys the Left.
And, yes, the same can often be said in reverse. ;-D
Anyway, like I said to Chirs: I wouldn't link to CM if I didn't think it did SOME good.
I know that there is no single, central, leadership of CM, but the fact remains that to continue to say that it is a "Spontanious, un-organized, monthly happening" goes in the face of the evidence to the contrary.
I find fault with the willing association with Radical Left political causes, and anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-war, anti-Bush, etcetera causes as I don't see the connection with cycling advocacy, and think cycling advocacy is harmed tremendously by that when it occurs.
Like I asked Chris: If you know of linkable stories that put CM in a more positive light, and websites I should begin to explore then please feel free to let me know.
So far no response has been recieved to this letter.
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