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James McCommons On the Joys and Terrors of Passenger Rail In America.

Waiting on a Train; The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service, by James McCommons was selected as one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009, and is a finalist for Foreword’s Book of the Year award. McCommons spent a year and traveled 26,000 miles on Amtrak, our country’s struggling passenger rail provider,  while researching and writing his book. Recently he gave a talk about the future of passenger rail, the bright spots as well as the challenges ahead, at Western Illinois University. Amtrak was tumbled together as a compromise in 1971. Freight rail companies had previously been required to move people in addition to coal, oil, and other commodities–but there’s just no way to get as much money for a box of comfortably seated humans as for a packed shipping container full of corn or whiskey. As McCommons puts it, Amtrak was developed as a private company to take the burden of passenger service off the shoulders of the then-struggling freight companies–without actually nationalizing that service. Part of the idea was to design a failing company, and wean the public off passenger rail over time. It simply wasn’t valued anymore. Nowadays Amtrak’s problems abound, but in the future, as McCommons emphasized at his recent talk, the energy efficiency of rail, combined with increased populations and stricter environmental regulation will make improving passenger rail infrastructure more affordable than investing in highways and air travel. With new funding for high-speed rail promised by the Obama Administration, McCommons and other proponents of rail travel are hopeful that things will change for the better. Read the full article by Elaine Hopkins over at PeoriaStory.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
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