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Skip the Bus, and Take the Canoe —Cagle

October 2010
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OK, time for a bit of honesty. When it comes to environmental sustainability, I'm more likely to let out a yawn than reply, "Yay, go green!" I do my little part in deference to the environment, but the whole granola/tie-dye/mother earth movement leaves me a little cold. Must be the black spot on my soul.

On the other hand, if you can get a bunch of people to join in on a whacky idea that is fun and sustainable in theory, if not practice, then what's the harm? And one gem of an idea in particular, though it didn't quite impact anyone's carbon footprint, did get some folks in the great northwest to alter their way of thinking when it comes to their daily commute.

Called the Crazy Sustainable Commute, the one-day event on Aug. 27 challenged like-minded folks to consider breaking away from their normal car/bus/train or other fossil fuel-burning modes of transportation in favor of a greener, if not goofy, trip to work.

The idea was conceived by Vancouver, BC, resident Steve Unger and his neighbor, Scott Gray, an account executive with Metropolitan Fine Printers.

"Steve was commenting one day about how it would be great to change how people think about commuting, and he wanted to challenge convention and portage his canoe to work," Gray notes, adding that only a fraction of Unger's roughly 2.2 mile commute involves water. "Being the understanding type, I, along with his wife and kids, poked and prodded him into action."

Unger and Gray ran with the idea, creating a logo and Website, then shot a YouTube video that went viral. With the help and support of other professionals in the Vancouver community, Unger and Gray were able to enlist about 300 people who pledged to go crazy with their commute on the last Friday in August, with people weighing in from Seattle, Portland, OR, and Victoria, BC. Their modes of travel ranged from the basic to the absurd, all in the name of forsaking carbon producers.

George Kallas, president and founder of Metropolitan Printers, deserves an award for hoofing it—his walk to work was just more than nine miles, and he was proud to produce a pedometer that recorded 19,577 steps. Of course, since everyone's grandparents walked that far to school every day (one way!) when they were kids, perhaps the feat is not so impressive. But, it's a good way for Kallas to train for a marathon.

As for Gray, he rode his son's 65-lb., single-speed children's West Coast Chopper bicycle (shown above). Among the more oddball commutes: stilt walking, Pogo stick-ing, dog tow on rollerblades and cartwheeling. One home office employee embraced the spirit by doing a somersault to his/her desk.

"Working on the print side of the communications world, I am fascinated by the force of social media and how it merges with our print world," Gray observes. "I wanted to see where we could take this. The project really aligned with Metropolitan's environmental passion, and has been a big hit with our clients and partners. We like to make people think differently."

Another Crazy Sustainable Commute is slated for 2011. Check out the organization's Website at for more pictures and information. You've gotta love that logo, with the brains on two legs, and raring to go. Congrats on a fine idea!

ACH! DU OUTSOURCE: As you might have guessed, other countries tend to have issues with outsourcing jobs to their foreign counterparts. According to Deutsche Welle, roughly 250 employees of Germany's Federal Printing Works demonstrated in front of that country's central bank, Bundesbank, in mid-August because the institution planned to outsource the printing of German euro notes to foreign companies.

The union representing printers and banknote paper suppliers told Deutsche Welle that as many as 600 jobs hung in the balance. Bundesbank asked for quotes EU-wide—which the bank says it is required to do by German and European law—and received bids from printers in The Netherlands and France. PI

—Erik Cagle


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