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Roberta L. Millstein
Davis, CA
I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Davis; my research is in the philosophy of science, the history & philosophy of biology, and environmental ethics. I serve on the Open Space & Habitat Commission for the City of Davis. The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way. Nothing posted here should be considered official or sanctioned by my employer or any other organization I’m affiliated with.
Recent Activity
This is a really important post, Larry Guenther, thank you for it. I agree that this is an opportunity to take stock and do things right. Too often I have seen staff driving the process, with their own agenda, rather than citizens or council, with bad communication all around. Figuring out how to change that, whether through a strong mayor system with term limits or some other means, is of crucial importance.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2019 on Can We Talk? at The Davisite
I understand where Karen is coming from. There is public and there is public. Just because something could be obtained by an official request does not make it as public as it would be if it were to be, for example, published on a website or on an elected official's Facebook page. To mention one obvious difference, you’d have to know that there was some reason to even request the correspondence in the first place, much less go to the effort to make the request. So I agree, there is a genuine threat when an article elected official says that they are going to make the correspondence that you sent to them public.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2019 on Frerichs, Fowl & Facebook at The Davisite
Great piece, Colin, and I agree 100%. I would even take it a step further. It's not just our human interdependence we need to recognize -- it's also our interdependence with non-human organisms as well as non-living entities like soil, air, and water. Only when we take all of those into account can we truly think about achieving sustainability. And for those who can tolerate academic writing (I barely can), as coincidence would have it I have been working on a project emphasizing the centrality of interdependence in Aldo Leopold's land ethic. For example, here: (officially published here: Happy Interdependence Day!!
Toggle Commented Jul 4, 2019 on Interdependence Day at The Davisite
On this day, let us not forget what the 4th of July is truly commemorating. When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2019 at The Davisite
Sharla, I would put the point a little differently. I would want the course to study the groups that are currently undergoing discrimination in the U.S. because that is the area of greatest need for our students. Of course, that is not to deny that other groups in other places and other times have undergone discrimination, nor is it to deny that there are other ethnic groups worthy of study. It is to say what I think our students most need, now. As for integrating the material into other courses, as I said in the comments above, I am all for that. But it's harder than you think. Instead of training one or a few teachers, you have to train all the teachers. Some teachers may feel they are not qualified or don't know that material. Others may object to the material or feel that it is pushing out other material they want to cover. Basically, it's like herding cats -- and I speak from experience from attempts to try to diversify philosophy curricula, which are still very much dominated by Western white male perspectives. Ultimately, though, in sympathy with what Maya Angelou actually said (rather than what Rifkin implies that she said), I hope to reach the day when more diverse material is covered as a matter of course, and there is no need to particularly emphasize the contributions of particular groups. That will happen when we've done a better job eliminating systematic racism in the U.S.
What systems are in place that reinforce racism? Bank lending, apartment renting and home buying, police treatment and incarceration, employment, and education come to mind. There are racial disparities in all of these areas that are historical and continue to be perpetuated in spite of any individual's good intentions. As for corporate personhood, yes, that would be a good topic too. Echoing Eric above, its not an either/or but a both.
Eric, good points. On the second point, I certainly didn't mean to imply that it was one or the other, but it's a lot easier to add an ethnic studies course than it is to incorporate the material throughout the curriculum, so the hope is that the one helps to pave the way for the other, as faculty, students, and citizens get used to hearing more about the achievements of people who aren't white men. And, arguably ethnic studies does something distinctive anyway, necessary as long as we continue to have a racist society with systems in place that reinforce that racism. So, I agree. Both.
In arguing against ethnic studies, he inadvertently demonstrates the need for it. By Roberta Millstein When I was in college, I saw little need for Women’s Studies courses. My thinking was that discussion of important contributions from women should be included throughout the curriculum. Some thirty-five years later, they still... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2019 at The Davisite
Robert, my reaction was similar to yours -- a lot of the questions seemed odd to me and I had a sense that some questions that should have been asked were missing, but Colin put his finger on exactly what those were. On the former, yes, why would we want to add bells and whistles to the train station? Shopping? Museums? Activities? Is there some reason that we just want people to go to the train station? Seems to me that it would just make the parking at the station worse and hurt the rest of downtown. Does someone think that if you make the station a destination, people will take the train more often? I have a hard time imagining that. I'd take the train more often if it ran more often, if it were on time more often, and if it were easier to get to where you wanted to go once you got to the end station. E.g., at the Santa Clara station, you're in the middle of nowhere. Now, Davis probably can't fix most of this stuff on its own, but maybe it could work with other municipalities to fix things.
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2019 on Davis Amtrak Survey? at The Davisite
Good point, Keith. As your comment implies, conditions have changed a lot in three years. I think the EIR will need to be modified.
The on-again off-again on-again business park proposal returns, with scanty detail By Roberta Millstein The proposed Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) is back, now reborn as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC). In Spring 2016, the developers of the proposed MRIC decided to put the project on hold, citing “higher than... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at The Davisite
Robert, I have to rush off, so I'm going to be a bit briefer than I'd like to be in response to all the issues you've raised. Re: 2 - Colin just noted a similarity. He didn't say it was identical or even comparable in all respects. So I am not sure what your complaint is. You seem to be taking him to be saying more than he is. Re 3 and 4: I don't have the legal expertise to say whether the zoning complies or not, but it's hard for me to believe that this issue won't come up. I took Colin only to be saying that it is an issue that is likely to be raised. I thought exactly the same thing when I read the Enterprise article -- that we'd be hearing about zoning and the height of the building. Re 5: Can you point to some of that vetting? This is the first I'd heard of the project. Of course, maybe there were neighborhood meetings, not publicized more generally? As for whether it would be a reach to say that people will be called out if they do challenge the project -- really, that seems like a stretch to you? You've called out Colin just for pointing out questions that will likely arise. Anything with housing is contentious. Anything with homeless is contentious. Anything with housing first is contentious. Anything with lots of stories is contentious. I find it hard to believe that this won't be hot all around. As for your final note, why does Colin have to take a position on the project? Maybe he's waiting to see how the discussion unfolds. I know that I am, having just heard about the project from the Enterprise article. Again, he's pointing to some issues that may arise. It seems like you keep wanting to make more of this than there is, and then criticize him for it.
I had fun participating in this event honoring Davis's wonderful trees. I nominated the Torrey Pine in the arboretum. I encourage Davisites to check out the Great Trees and to nominate others!
Toggle Commented Jun 8, 2019 on Great Tree Search Update at The Davisite
Thanks for the comments and links, Todd. I think they help support and flesh out my theme of making things better for both cyclists and drivers.
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Good point, Nancy, thanks. I hope that comes out in the discussion tonight.
My understanding is that the major question in front of the Council is whether to continue to pursue a municipally-owned broadband network. The Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF) says yes; staff says no. I am here to support the BATF recommendation. I was astonished to see Dan Carson's editorial in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2019 at The Davisite
I'm glad you liked the photos, Rick, and thanks for the helpful info. Good question about maintenance. I can't remember if we've discussed that specifically at any point, but I believe that the staff member who maintains our other open spaces will have primary responsibility, and I expect that the City will continue to welcome volunteer help when necessary. It seemed to me that the trail did not wash out so much as get covered with tree debris, and that's what the volunteers cleared. This year, of course, brought quite a bit of tree debris. I imagine that other, less rainy years will require much less maintenance.
I am not the best person to ask about the history of Putah Creek (but there is a lot out there if you Google) or how much agriculture currently relies on it (quite a bit, I think). My understanding is that efforts to divert the creek south because of the flooding began in the late 1800s. If you know where the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve is (also a great place to take a walk/hike), the area depicted in my post is literally right across the street. To get to the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve, go south on Mace Blvd -- it's about two miles from where Chiles intersects with Mace. The existing preserve is on the left side of Mace; the new property is on the right side. Unfortunately, the parking lot cannot currently be used, but you can park alongside the road, or, of course, bike there.
Assuming we had the money (a big "if") and were in a position to do a project like this (another big "if"), I'm not sure there would be much sentiment for it. Just to pick one aspect, I don't think most would be too happy with the Arboretum lakes being dry during some parts of the year.
On Saturday, the Open Space and Habitat Commission had an officially noticed "meeting" – really, a stroll through the woods – on City-owned land to the west of the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve. This land, approximately 10 acres in total, was purchased with Open Space funds in 2017 with... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at The Davisite
Donna, thanks for your comment. I agree with everything you say here and it is a good illustration of why making things better for cyclists does not have to make things worse for cars, although as you point out so well, what has been done recently at Mace and L aren't good for either cyclists or cars. I look at all of the concrete and the path I'd have to wend as a cyclist to go up Mace and I think, "I would not want to bike that at night." As you say, way too much concrete for to run into by accident.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, yes, a piece talking about how statewide bicycle infrastructure projects have typically made winners (bikers) and losers (drivers) would be good. Send it my way and I will post! I'm glad you've found the environment a friendlier place to offer one's thoughts. The invitation to post articles here is, of course, not just open to you but to all Davisites, and I hope that others take me up on it! Since we all have full-time jobs here and are just doing this on the side, we'd appreciate the help. Plus, we want to represent a diversity of voices from the Davis community.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, yes, Jeff and I were making different points, but I thought they were complementary. You say, " I understand that Jeff's comments failed to take into account the possibility of closing off a traffic lane (for bicyclists), as an example." But I can flip that on it's head and say, "Ron, you fail to take into account the possibility that you can have additional cyclists without closing a lane." And in that case, it's a win-win: fewer cars on the road, so less traffic. Don't assume the worst case scenario. :) It is true that making driving more miserable can motivate people to bike, and I do wrestle with that in my post. But I think there is a limit to that because you don't want to bring too many negative consequences, like harm to local businesses or cars sitting in traffic producing CO2. I think it's worth exploring other alternatives with no or fewer negative consequences. I'll just ask that you not rule them out as ineffective before we've even had the conversation, e.g., I think that UCD's GoClub really does work, and if we could figure out something like that for the City it could make a difference (or lots of small things could add up -- combine that with classes to help adults, not just students, navigate City roads, combine that with some streets better lit, for example). Let's give this a try. As for the overpass at Olive, maybe others can comment on that. I don't know enough about it.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, you keep insisting that helping bikers will mean hurting drivers. I take it that Jeff's point, which seems right to me, is that everyone out of a car and onto a bike or other public transport can't help but improve car traffic, everything else being equal. I realize that everything else isn't always equal, but the fact that more bikers means fewer cars on the road has to be factored into the equation.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, Well, I'm not sure what would make a difference. That's why I'd like to get people who study these sorts of things involved. Sometimes just getting a certain number of people to do something (like bike more) has a way of snowballing. Bike Davis has given out bike lights from time to time, and done other things to promote safe cycling (I wanted to acknowledge that, which I probably should have in my article). I just think we can do more.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite