Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Transit Equity and the Outdoors

More programs this week will look at transit and transportation equity. 

Thursday at 6:30, an online program will look at how and whether people can access parks, recreational areas, and green spaces. Transit to Trails for All is an initiative of the Sierra Club and other outdoor organizations, working to increase the availability of natural, health-giving spaces for everyone, even those who can't or don't drive. 

Joining the conversation will be 

  • Jesse Piedfort, the National Sierra Club's Deputy Director of the Clean Transportation for All campaign;
  • Gerry James, National Sierra Club's Deputy Director of the Outdoors for All campaign,
  • Kim Biedermann, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Committee/Fox Valley;
  • Cassie Steiner, Senior Campaign Coordinator, Wisconsin Chapter; and
  • Cathy Van Maren, volunteer with the Coulee Region Group.
Register for the online program at

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


[Updated] Did you know the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimated it cost more than $10,000 per year to own and operate a new car in 2022? The AAA's updated figures for 2023: $12,182 for a brand new car. Per year. NerdWallet even has a handy calculator so you can personalize the information. Older cars may be less expensive, but they are more subject to issues requiring expensive repairs.

This NASDAQ article looks at what a family's finances would be if they were car-free, from the amount saved by not paying for a car to  the amount earned by investing those savings. Over a lifetime, the difference could be tens of millions of dollars.

Interested? Join sustainabile living advocates Obbie King and Rozie Brooks in a multimedia workshop tracing their journey from being owned by a car to being car-free (and find out how your can get to car-freedom, too).

TRANSPORTATION LIBERATION is free and open to the public. The program starts at 7 p.m. at the Southside Neighborhood Center, 1300 6th Street South. Part of Transit Equity Days in La Crosse.


Did you know, against all odds, our area boasts a regional public transit system that can take you from La Crosse to Prairie du Chien or Viroqua or Tomah (and points in between) for $4 or less?

The Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit (SMRT) system runs buses several times a day to get workers to jobs, patients to clinics, students to school, youth and elders to families, and adventurers to far off places without the need of a car. 

Today, Tuesday, Jan. 30, in recognition of Transit Equity days, the SMRT buses will be FREE. That means you can hop on a mid-morning bus at one of several La Crosse stops and ride to Viroqua for lunch and some shopping and then return later in the day for free. (And, there's a public shared-ride taxi service in Viroqua if you need a ride when you're there.)

Learn more and get schedules at the website: and watch for La Crosse Area Transit Advocates' spring Ride SMRT 2 Viroqua ride later this year.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

GOOD Transit is a Civil Right

If you can't get to things, you cannot live a full life. If you cannot access training and education, work, essential services, shops, entertainment and recreation, social activities, and active citizenship, you are being left out. If government policies, priorities, and budgets promote and maintain inaccessibility, those policies, priorities, and budgets have to change.

For the past six years, the Labor Network for Sustainability has led a national effort to highlight the importance of accessible and sustainable public transportation as a civil right on February 4, the birthday of Rosa Parks. Learn more at their site.

In La Crosse, we have celebrated Transit Equity Days (TED) since 2020, and this year we will have programming from Monday, January 29 through Sunday, February 4. TED events will help us consider our transportation system--what's fair and equitable, what's sustainable, what's the best use of public space and money, and how we ensure everyone can access a full life with or without a car.

During TED, fares on La Crosse's public transit system will be free. On Tuesday, January 30, fares on the Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit (SMRT) system will be free. There will be displays at the La Crosse Public Library and the Transit Center. Special programs will include a workshop about living car-free, a webinar about getting better public transit access to public parks, and a free film screening hosted by the AARP. 

Special programming includes:

Wednesday, January 31 at 7 p.m. at the Southside Neighborhood Center: TRANSPORTATION LIBERATION - The joy and freedom of not owning a car. Sustainable living advocates Obbie King and Rozie Brooks describe the steps on their trail to Transportation Liberation. This multimedia show explains the why's, how's, and what to do now's of the "less driving" lifestyle. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. 

Thursday, February 1 at 6:30 p.m. online: Transit to Trails for All - Hosted by Sierra Club - Wisconsin Chapter and Sierra Club - Coulee Region Group this online event will feature examples of how activists and planners are trying to connect people to green spaces via transit, including stories from right here in Wisconsin and lessons learned from the national campaign. REGISTER HERE FOR ACCESS LINK:

Sunday, February 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the Rivoli: The Rebellious Life of
Mrs. Rosa Parks
- MUST PRE-REGISTER (free)  Public Transit provides basic mobility for many in our communities. It is also essential urban infrastructure – just like roads, bridges, tunnels and utilities – that is crucial to the economic, social and environmental well-being of all our regions. Everyone in the community has the right to mobility. As part of La Crosse's Transit Equity Week, AARP Wisconsin is pleased to host this screening in collaboration with La Crosse Area Transit Advocates. A panel discussion on transit equity will immediately follow the screening. The event is FREE and open to all, but registration is required.

This event is for car drivers and for non-drivers! Car drivers are less safe, spend more money, use disproportionally more public space and budgets, and pollute far more than those who walk, bike, and use public transit. One of the most impactful things a household can do to immediately and dramatically to reduce it's carbon emissions is switch from driving a private fossil-fueled vehicle to using active transportation.

It's easy to say, well, the bus doesn't really work for me, so I'll just keep driving. But, we need people to say, the bus doesn't really work for me so I will work to make it better. Not only is better bus service better for our fellow humans, our communities, our environment, and our climate, car-drivers can become non-drivers in the blink of an eye.

As it is, the Wisconsin DOT estimates up to 40 percent of City of La Crosse residents age 15 and older are non-drivers. Children and youth, those with health conditions or disabilities, people who can't afford cars, elders, and those who just don't want to drive should not have to miss an appointment, skip a social event, or quit a job because the bus doesn't go there or stops running too early. We can increase access and equity by pushing for a better public transit system. Learn more at

"An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport." -Enrique PeƱalosa


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

La Crosse Carbon Free Challenge


Sustainability Chats

Bright Action &
La Crosse Carbon Free

Thursday, February 8 at 1 p.m.


Join the Sustainability Institute to learn about La Crosse's Carbon Free Challenge! This event will help homeowners save money while helping to create a carbon-free future.

Registration closes Jan. 31 at noon.

Join the Carbon Free La Crosse Challenge! The climate change challenge we face today is having an impact on our air quality, water quality and quantity, temperature, and severe weather. Increasing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are creating a serious threat to our immediate future.  The choices we make today as individuals and as a community will determine the world that our children and future generations will inherit.

The City of La Crosse is committed to policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accelerate the clean energy transition, and create a climate resilient community. In January of 2023, the City Council adopted the La Crosse Climate Action Plan (link is external) which charts a path towards a 50% reduction in our community’s GHG emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. We are proud that our city's commitment to ambitious climate action makes us a part of the historic and powerful response by the world’s cities to address the climate crisis.   

We all need to be part of the solution. The good news - there are actions everyone can take that will make a difference! 

Help achieve La Crosse’s vision to be carbon free by 2050 by taking action to reduce your own emissions. This site, Carbon Free La Crosse, makes it easy to learn what actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Each action has helpful tips that explain how to act and relevant information, rebates, and programs specific to La Crosse. You can track the cumulative carbon impact of the actions you have taken. You can also register with groups and neighborhoods and challenge others to help La Crosse become carbon neutral.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Tonight - whither South Branch Library property?

What will happen to the South Branch Library now that it is being abandoned by the city? 

Apparently there's a public input session tonight at 6 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 1818 Redfield Street. The property will be classified as surplus soon and sold. What should go there? At least two council representatives will be at the meeting according to a FB post I happened upon by accident (even though I don't do FB) and an announcement from WIZM.

Whether or not you live in the neighborhood, you probably have opinions about the lack of affordable housing in our community, the loss of "third spaces," the climate crisis, and more. Weigh in.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The ice is melting.

From Citizens Climate Lobby:

A significant part of the Greenland ice sheet itself is thought by scientists to be close to a tipping point of irreversible melting.

Greenland losing 30 million metric tons of ice an hour, study reveals (from The Guardian)

The Greenland ice cap is losing an average of 30 million metric tons of ice an hour due to the climate crisis, a study has revealed, which is 20% more than was previously thought. A metric ton (2,204.6 pounds) is slightly larger than an American ton.

Some scientists are concerned that this additional source of freshwater pouring into the North Atlantic might mean a collapse of the ocean currents called the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is closer to being triggered, with severe consequences for humanity. READ MORE

Citizens Climate Lobby meeting

Wednesday, January 24th, 6:30pm

On Zoom

Email with any questions.

Meet & Greet Katrina Shankland

 Coffee with Katrina in La Crosse

with a Special Guest 

Monday, January 22
11:00 a.m. - noon
Belle Square Multipurpose Room
323 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601

Please RSVP here

It will be a great opportunity to chat about the race, why I'm running, my record, and what I hope to do for Western and Central Wisconsin in Congress. I'm looking forward to hearing from people, answering questions, and chatting about the stakes of this race and how we're going to win.

Friday, January 19, 2024

MLK Symposium

From UW-Madison:

This is an in-person event on Wednesday, January 31 that will also be streamed online.

Join in community for an evening with acclaimed writer, actress, and teacher Anna Deavere Smith as she reflects on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the lens of her work.

5 p.m.: Doors open (general admission; no tickets needed)

5:30–7 p.m.: MLK Symposium program

7–8:30 p.m.: Reception in Sunset Lounge (light refreshments)

The keynote will be followed by a moderated Q&A. 

The livestream will be available to watch during the live event only; it will not be available for on-demand viewing. Click here to go to the livestream link on the day of the event.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024



City of La Crosse to Reconsider Allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Public Meetings on January 17 and 18

The City of La Crosse Common Council referred legislation for 60 days to gather additional public input on a proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance.  This decision came after City Plan Commission and the Judiciary & Administration Committee held public hearings for Legislative File 23-1243 in December. This zoning change aims to address the growing demand for affordable housing options while promoting responsible land use planning within our community.

Virtual meeting

Wednesday, January 17th at 5:30 pm

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 862 1356 0258, Passcode: 691982, Phone Number: (507) 473-4847

In-person meeting

Thursday, January 18th at 5:30 pm

The Nature Place’s Marshview Room, 789 Myrick Park Dr., La Crosse, WI 54601

These public meetings are an additional step in ensuring that the voices of our community members are heard and considered in the Common Council’s decision-making process.  Attendees will get an overview of the ordinance, be able to ask questions, and make comments that will be compiled in a report to the Common Council for consideration in February.  For those unable to attend the meetings in person, residents may contact the Department of Planning, Development, and Assessment:


Other considerations:

Who can afford to build/offer an ADU? To offer an ADU for rent, you have to be a property owner. And, your property has to be large enough and in the right neighborhood. So, relatively well-off property owners will benefit by being able to earn rent from ADUs.

That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but to tout this as an affordable housing solution  maybe doesn't tell the whole story.

We do have a lack of affordable AND liveable housing. Poor insulation, leaky windows, inefficient appliances, and other issues are a problem with many area rentals. To be sure, new ADUs may be more energy efficient, but they are not required to be. So, in a city supposedly determined to reduced carbon emissions, does building more small, unconnected dwellings that may be inefficient really help? Building new things costs carbon after all.

Properties where ADUs are likely to be added are relatively large and expensive, out of reach for many in our community where the per capita income is less than $33,000 per year. Building a little house owned by the people in the big house may add rental units, but that does not necessarily increase the affordability of housing or access to home ownership.

Another solution to affordable housing, and one that would open up ownership of quality properties to a wider range of people might be to remove unrelated persons restrictions and change parking requirements. In other communities, co-housing or housing co-ops are making more quality housing available to a wider economic spectrum of people. Can several young professionals or a group of retired people share a large beautiful home? If there's transit nearby, does everyone have to have a parking place?

Remember, in the olden days, families lived in smaller spaces and large houses were often rooming houses. But when large former rooming and multi-family houses are converted to single family dwellings, housing is lost.

Several old buildings that used to and/or still do offer homes to many are on the edge of being uninhabitable. One place near UWL was originally built as a four-apartment house but it's been condemned and may be razed. The whole history of this beautiful property as well as its ability to offer dense housing in a desirable neighborhood and all the carbon that went into its construction and maintenance may be lost. And this is not the only one. So, another solution might be to make it financially painful for someone to let a useable home crumble (sometimes, so it can be demolished and replaced with an ugly, inefficient human warehouse).

If we are to allow ADUs, then that should be just the first step with equity and access prioritized in further solutions. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

For a new world


MONDAY, JANUARY 15 at the Viterbo Fine Arts Center, La Crosse

Celebrate and honor the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior with neighbors and friends, and honor our local leaders who embody his spirit and determination to "re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world."

*Note: Doors open at 6:30 PM.  Free and open to the public. This event also live-streamed via Facebook at

Guest Speaker, Rev. Alexander Gee. Rev. Gee is CEO of The Center for Black Excellence and Culture. Gee is a published author, adjunct faculty, community activist, life coach, international lecturer, and relief worker. Gee is considered a serial social entrepreneur, having started four successful small businesses and initiatives that currently employ nearly 40 staff.

In recognition of his work within the local community, Rev. Gee has received numerous honors, such as the 1994 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from the City of Madison. Rev. Gee studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fuller Seminary, and Bakke Graduate University. He is the author of two books and host for the award-winning podcast, Black Like Me.

Attendees of his presentation in celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will come away with a deeper appreciation of the life of Dr. King and how we can continue his legacy today. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024


Watch the International Court of Justice (ICJ) public hearings in the case of South Africa v. Israel - Oral argument of South Africa.