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Joel Pomerantz → writing samples


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When Chinatown Was a World Apart (Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, 2006)
Topic: SF's underworld history
Historians like to quibble about names. Ross Alley is recognized as the first alley in San Francisco—that is, the first Alley. (All the previous alleys were called "Street.") There have been long stretches of time, however...
[see article]

San Francisco's Clean Little Secret (City Lights, 2004)
Topic: politics of SF drinking water
Surrounded by the salty ocean, San Franciscans take as a given the need for fresh water drawn from mountains on the far side of the state. Hetch Hetchy reservoir, located in Yosemite National Park on the Tuolumne River, is our main source. The oddest part of this arrangement is not the extravagance of our resource grab, but the redundancy. It is not clear that San Francisco needs this water as much as we claim to. Unbeknownst to most San Franciscans, our little seven square miles contain a remarkable geologic feature, a significant wellspring of quality water... [see articlebook cover & contents ]

A Critical Mass Cultural Glossary (AK Press , 2002)
Topic: international bicycling movement
Take the lane! In its first ten years (1992-2002) Critical Mass has grown into its own culture with rituals and sub-rituals, complex expectations and hidden assumptions. Conversations about Mass can be strewn with jargon. The event itself is packed with arguments and celebratory shouts, even when it's calm and friendly. The whooping and yelling aren't just provocations or spirit-builders—they're part of the dynamic that makes the ride work. But what does all that banter mean?... [see articlebook cover]

Stream of Thought (Glen Helen Ecology Institute, 2001)
Topic: nature reflections
I sit on a bridge, a small wooden plank bridge, my feet suspending my constricting city shoes over a tiny brook. The glen is full of sounds, each swallowing the others in rotating crescendos of burbles, chirps, caws and hums. There is an adolescent but solid tree leaning out from the bank, where its branching roots tiptoe into the mud above a pool... [see article tear sheet]

A Century of the Tube Times (SF Bicycle Coalition, 2004)
Topic: activism & communities
[For the Tube Times 100th issue, founding editor Joel Pomerantz waxes nostalgic about the early days of the tubular times—and the Bicycle Coalition that grew around it. –ed.] There was something that stood out from the pages of those first issues. The writer gave the idea that the reader was a person of action, that together we would address the deep injustice of our automotive society.... [see article tear sheet]

Why I Live in San Francisco
Topic: activism & communities
San Francisco is where people come to try ambitious world-changing ideas. No other place is like it. I came to join the ferment. In San Francisco, there are four potency enhancers for social justice efforts that multiply the effects of an activist's work... [see article ]

Pondo Fever
Topic: wandering South Africa
Each evening, Bernie and I would sit chatting on the veranda overlooking the Umtamvuna River with the sheer wall of the canyon's far side as backdrop. Sometimes we were joined by one neighbor or another, who came by for a ritual smoke, complaining of monkeys eating their cat food or pythons eating their cat or extolling the beauty of the valley untainted by electric light.... [see article]

Do the Wiggle (SF Bicycle Coalition, 1994)
Topic: bicycling & urban landscape history
More than anything else (save desire) transportation determines our lives.... Following the Wiggle bike route, a rider can get from Market Street to the western neighborhoods on streets with inclines so slight they barely seem like hills. The route follows an old valley bottom which at one time was a flowing creek bed.... [see article tear sheet]

The Original Tubular Times Explicit and Non-derivative Statement of Editorial Creed (SF Bicycle Coalition, 1993)
We are publishing this newsletter to provoke communication among bicycle advocates generally, and within our local communities of activists and zealots. We love collaboration between bicyclists and public transport and all nonmotorized forms of transportation. We think of ourselves primarily as environmental transportation activists.... [tear sheet]



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