Monday, July 30, 2007

Great week for Creative Sword Play

The week of July 23rd to July 27th was a fantastic week for the kids at the Creative Sword PLAY Samurai Camp. Between working at CoCreate (early in the week), the arrival of my Sisters family on Tuesday of the week, going out to the mountains with them, and the arrival of my parents on Friday, I have been rather busy. I did help out with camp from time to time durring all these activities and it seemed that everyone was having fun.

Check out the coloradoan article that came out about the Camp.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Readers Cove Harry Potter Party

Would like to thank The Readers Cove for a most excellent Harry Potter party on Friday night. The activities were quite fun particularly the hour long professional magic show. You gave away some great prizes. For those of you reading this who were not there. Door prizes included reproduction wands of Harry, Hermione, and Ron's from the movies, as well as a reproduction "time turner". There were also loads of other door prizes.

The professional magician was quite a treat, including birds appearing and disappearing, rope tricks, card tricks, but also swords. It was a great way to pass the time.

For those of you who were there, you can check out pictures on my flickr account.

If you are local to Fort Collins, stop by The Readers Cove, an excellent establishment.

Appreciating All Things

On Wednesday morning while riding to work, I was taken by all the beautiful bindweed flowers that were along the Power Line Trail in Fort Collins. As a gardener and home owner I have spent hours removing this noxious weed from garden beds and landscaping. It has the nasty habit of winding itself around and choking off other plants.

I have created much happiness in my life by adjusting my frame of reference to one of appreciation. Therefor as I was riding along, I paused to capture a picture, on my phone of the beauty of noxious weeds.

Monday, July 16, 2007

25 North Magazine Climate Project Article

I just got a copy of an arcticle about my Climate Project presentations that was in the 25 North Magazine. Check out the PDF copy here.

Overall it is not a great article. I should mension that Kyle who wrote it is an unpaid intern at the Coloradoan. He makes my presentation sound dull, which I would strongly disagree with. His biggest failure was not to print any contact information for those who might want to schedule presentations.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

System Big Play

An Open Source Hardware Design and Manufacturing Project

How Many LEGO System Blocks go to the Landfill?

  • The ones that are vacuumed up
  • The ones stepped on and broken
  • The ones chewed by the dog

LEGO System Blocks are too useful as a creative toy to throw away.

What if the world were made in out of a System of parts like the LEGO System?

That would be System Big Play.

Today, when it is time to reconfigure the built environment the result is demolition.

Items that could be reused are not. It is too difficult to disassemble them or they are too cheap in manufacturing to be reused.

The future can be different.

System Big Play: An Open Source Hardware Design and Manufacturing Project

The Vision

The Stake

The current life cycle of most materials used in the world is:

manufacture -> specialized purpose -> use -> disposal or recycling

The new model that this project proposes to create is:

manufacture -> generic purpose -> specialized assembly -> use -> disassembly -> generic purpose -> repurposed specialized assembly -> use -> disassembly -> generic purpose …

The System Big Play project exists to drive this paradigm change on how materials are used worldwide. By calling upon the wisdom and power of a worldwide community of people, the System Big Play Project will promote resource reusability. By providing free designs for generic purpose interlocking parts, it increases the opportunities for businesses to manufacture interlocking these generic interlocking parts. By restricting the use of these items to non-military applications it will promote a peaceful world.

Desired Outcomes

  1. A large community of design contributors
    1. An international and multilingual internet community with tools to support the development of part design
    2. Thousands of designs that are freely available via the Internet
  2. A large community of design manufactures
    1. Many smaller manufactures worldwide, creating generic parts
    2. Assembly manufactures who create valued end use products
  3. An agreed upon set of standards for interlocking generic parts
    1. A standards system with multiple levels
    2. A certification body
    3. Ongoing review and update of the standards and certification criteria
  4. The acceptance in the market place of products created using standardized generic parts
    1. Demonstration of the products in the market place
    2. Measureable increase in the use of generic parts in the market place
  5. The development of repurposing programs world wide
    1. Creation of businesses that disassemble used items into generic parts for repurposing
    2. Development of tools to assess the quality and condition of repurposed parts
    3. Creation of recycling programs and guidelines for parts deemed too damaged for further use
  6. A measurable reduction in the rate of consumption of natural resources for creation of material goods within the world

Desired Impacts

  1. Excite engineers about the possibilities of contributing to world resource reduction
  2. Elicit hope within people of impoverished economies about small manufacturing development
  3. Bring happiness to millions by providing quality of life improvements
  4. Reduce the apparent size of the world by encouraging international cooperation and multilingual communication.

The Theory

The Collaborative Community

These changes, among others, are ushering us toward a world where knowledge, power, and productive capability will be more dispersed than at any time in our history—a world where value creation will be fast, fluid, and persistently disruptive. A world where only the connected will survive. A power shift is underway, and a tough new business rule is emerging: Harness the new collaboration or perish. Those who fail to grasp this will find themselves ever more isolated—cut off from the networks that are sharing, adapting, and updating knowledge to create value.

Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics–How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

The System Big Play project is about creating a collaborative community that can create technologies and create innovative ideas. The project is about the people who will create and share the technology.

It is the intention of this project to be part of the major paradigm shift that the authors have outlined. This project is expected to be a “Big Play” against the established norms of product lifecycle and to help usher in the era that they have predicted.

The Right People

The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. They said, in essence, “Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

Jim Collins, Good to Great

The System Big Play project seeks to find those people who are passionate about the concept and believe in working on world changing activity. The organization will also seek to fill key positions with competent leaders.


The case for diversity is actually a hard nosed one – it can radically improve your collective wisdom.

James Surowiecki, The Collaborative Landscape

The community must have a high international content. This will improve the range of ideas, the number of uses found, and bring about world wide acceptance of the technology.

Peace Promoting

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America

In James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”, he discusses the danger of a crowd divided and how that will destroy information sharing. The purpose of this project is to create a world community of contributors to a new technology that will greatly help humans and the environment we live in. Individuals will not contribute to this goal if they feel their contributions may be used against them. Therefore the project will seek to protect the technologies created by its community from use in military applications.

Artistic Creativity and Play

We take this observation one step further by suggesting that knowledge work, which adds value in large part because of its capacity for innovation, can and often should be structured as artists structure their work. Managers should look to collaborative artists rather than to more traditional management models if they want to create economic value in this new century.

Rob Austin and Lee Devin, Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work

The project seeks to create a community environment where individuals can express their creative and artistic passions. Individuals are to be acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions. The community is expected to be a place of fun, play (make that big play) and innovation.

What next

Summer 2007

Finding the Right People - Focus on find the correct people for the board of directors of a 501c(3) nonprofit organization to manage the development of the community.

Building the place to play - the current plan is to build out a joomba content managment system as the base for the online community. If you are interested in helping with this project please contact Dave Graham at +1-(970) 484-4577.

More about System Big Play

System Big Play: A History

In the fall of 2005, my son, Will, joined the LEGO Robotics Club at the Lab School for Creative Learning where he was in the second grade. At the age of seven, he was too young to be on the competition team. Instead, he was part of a second group of students who were introduced to the basic concepts of robotics and programming.

As a kid I was a LEGO fan. I had a large collection of LEGO System bricks when I was a kid and had since gifted them to my son. I had known that LEGO and robotics had been developing for some time and working with Will and the Robotics Club allowed me to appreciate how far the technology had developed.

Much of the time during the club meetings, I found myself puzzling out new concept with the robotics kits. You must understand that I am a Mechanical Engineer by training, a Software Engineer by career, and I am a pattern thinker. I excel in pattern games like the LEGO System. One day I was at the Robotics club and I was thinking, “I could make a such-and-such robot that could help around the house.” Then there was the simple problem that the LEGO parts were just too small and weak to really get the job done. That is when I thought, “What if the LEGO were made of aluminum and scaled up by a factor of two or four.” Thus was born an idea, that at the time I called “LEGO Big Play.”

That fall I was starting into the Coaches Training Institute Leadership program. A 10 month leadership program I affectionately call “Enlightenment Boot Camp.” Our first assignment: Due a presentation in front of an audience and see how you show up as a leader.

My first presentation idea was falling apart. It was a project to modernize the web technology at the Lab School. The school is run by a committee and it is very difficult to get a committee to act in any timely manor. The result was I thought, for my project, I would pitch the idea of scaling up LEGO to a group of my techno friends.

I started to put together the presentation and it mutated as I worked on it. What started off as a robot building system concept changed into a redefine the product lifecycle presentation.

At that point something strange happened. This is often the case in these situations. My wife Margaret asked me to make her web site more like that of Carol Ross’ web site. Carol Ross runs Ross and Associates an executive coaching group. My wife also a life coach had met Carol through one of the many coaching trainings or other activities she was involved in. As I was looking over the Ross and Associates web site, I discovered that one of the associates was Robert Rasmussen.

As I read Rasmussen’s bio I was fascinated. He was an executive coach and currently involved in a program called LEGO Serious Play where he used LEGO System blocks as the medium through which he coached executive teams through various exercises. Between 1998 and 2003 he led the LEGO Group team that developed the LEGO Mindstorm Robotic program.

I thought “I need to talk with this guy.” So I emailed him, using my tenuous connection to Carol Ross and explained that I was in a leadership program needed to do a presentation and would like his feedback on what he thought of it. He agreed and we set a time.

After the presentation, he was intrigued. I learned quite a bit about what LEGO had tried in its labs. I also learned that the LEGO Group was consolidating to focus on the toy market. They would not be likely to entertain such ideas. We left that meeting with the decision to stay in touch and talk again.

I made the presentation to my techno friends. They thought it was pretty cool, but what now?

In January of 2006, Robert Rasmussen and I talked again. I was still pitching the large vision. He requested more specific on how it be brought to market. We talked a great deal on what were the market barriers. The number one barrier seemed to be: You need a large enough mix of parts before the whole system becomes useful. He said come back when you have a workable plan.

I actually did come up with two workable plans. The first was to approach the Military (particularly DARPA) in an effort to sell them on the reusability. I even had written a proposal with very specific time line and R&D goals. I just could not pursue the plan though because it was not in alignment with my values.

The second workable plan I had was in the area of tile mosaics. The plan there was a web site that would allow people to upload images, specify the size of the tile area and have a LEGO like tile kit of their image sent to them. It would have backing boards and snap on tiles. Although I thought this would be workable, it was more of a “toy” like application rather than the hard core real world I wanted to bring the technology into.

Over the next 18 months, I was searching for ideas. It was easy to find ways to apply the technology once it existed. I could do calculations that showed that offsetting onsite labor in construction with automated manufacturing at a factory (embodied in higher cost construction material) could be profitable. Add additional cost savings of much lower construction waste and use of the system could be a great advantage to the construction industry.

I played with ideas like reusable electrical components and what that could mean for the development of custom consumer electronics. Imagine going to a website like Dell Computer and saying I would like a 1200 W microwave, with clock, a kitchen fan, convection system, female voice, and FM stereo radio.

The problem continued to be, how to cross the canyon. How to get from the point of having no parts in the System to having a system of generic reusable parts with enough parts to start making some of these business models works.

In the spring of 2007, I was having a conversation with my good friend Dan Bihn. I was complaining that I was stuck with this idea. I really believed it could be a reality, I just could not find a good business proposition to get it started. He said “Make it an open source project.” I was stunned. Give my idea away? I envisioned this technology playing itself out as the next HP with me as the CEO, and he had just asked me to kiss that dream goodbye. The more we talked about the concept the more it made sense. It still took me a while to re-adjust to this new approach.

Finally, I decided to move forward with the open source concept. I started researching the net. Were there similar projects? Were there open source hardware licenses out there? What I found was that the ham radio people had attempted to standardize an open source hardware license. Other than that there was very little in the way of open source hardware to be found and none of it outside of electronics. The term “hardware” on the internet is synonymous with computer electronics. When you dig into mechanical engineering there is not much to speak of on the internet. The closest project to speak of is the Society for Sustainable Mobility. This open source ground vehicle is remarkable in its pioneering use of the internet.

I further was inspired that I was on the right track when in the summer of 2007 I picked up a copy of Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. They gave me words to describe what I was trying to achieve. My plan at the time of this writing is to create a pre-competitive collaborative community for the development of a system of highly generic easy to assemble reusable parts.

I have changed the name to “System Big Play” because I realized that the system would not likely in the end look like the LEGO System and to move it away from the LEGO trademarked name. I kept the Big Play because I want people to be creative and imaginative with the System. I also think it is a big play into the existing paradigm by which we make our material world. It is a big play into the global economic system.

The rest of the history has yet to be written. These days I am evangelizing. I am also drawing together the people and infrastructure to support the community. When that is complete the focus will be on a marketing campaign.

If you want to be part of the action, please contact me directly at or call me at (970) 484-4577.

Climate Change Challenges and Our Bright New Future

I am still activily speeking on Global Climate Change and how it impacts us in Colorado. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in scheduling a presentation. Here is the presentation write-up:

Dave Graham takes the audience on an exciting ride through the shocking reality of our looming climate crisis, and he ends with a powerful call to action. His audiences leave feeling empowered and part of the solution. Using statistics and basic science in language and modes that audiences easily grasp, Dave Graham discusses the human and earth relationship and how, as a species, we came to this change point. Ending with a section he calls “The Fun Next Step,” he illustrates with clarity and inspiration how individuals can make changes today that will enrich their lives and the lives within their communities. After a brief break for questions, he invites his audience to dream into a bright future and virtually takes them there. A dynamic and entertaining speaker who delivers a compelling presentation with beautiful graphics, Dave Graham receives strong feedback for this presentation.

About the Speeker:

Dave Graham has a long history of environmental concern. Much of his childhood was spent in the woods or beaches of Rhode Island and Maryland.

After graduating from Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in Space Sciences, Mr. Graham went to work in the Earth Sciences branch at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There, in the early 1990’s he assisted scientists in their studies of climate change, traveling to places such as Glacier National Park and the boreal forests of Canada.

In 1995, Mr. Graham came to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend in Colorado State University (CSU) where studied at the Solar Energy Applications Laboratory, graduating in 1998 with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering.

After CSU, he and his wife Margaret decided to stay in Fort Collins to raise their children. Since that point, his career has broadened his experience. He has developed tools for monitoring the environment. He has worked on modeling pest damage at the U.S. Forest Service. He has developed systems for the dispatching and control of distributed energy generation.

Throughout his experiences, Mr. Graham, has learned the power of the market place and the role of the business community in shaping our world. He has a way of casting dire problems into opportunities. This is reflected in his previous speaking campaign entitled “Peak Oil Economic Opportunity.”

In December of 2006, Dave Graham was selected to be one of 1,000 people to receive training by The Climate Project, founded by Al Gore. He has been pleased to have had the opportunity to inform and excite communities about both the problems of Global Climate Change and, more importantly, how much fun and business opportunities exist as we face these challenges.

Peak Oil Economic Opportunity

Peak Oil Economic Opportunity was a speaking campaign that I started about two years ago. I have since moved onto other speaking topics like Global Warming. I still believe in the concepts of the Peak Oil Economic Opportunity campaign and I am willing to share them with anyone or any business that is interested in hearing and exploring the potential opportunities. This is the blurb that I was using to describe the speech:

Based on the latest ASPO model Peak Oil is expected to occur around 2010. Current oil production is flat or slightly rising. Oil demand is continues to rise as developing nations, in particular China, are seeking more of this resource. A monumental shift is coming to the world economy. At the current $75/barrel price, the world oil market is about to $2 trillion a year. It is a market that is headed for shortages and eventual decline.

Now is the time for each and every company to look carefully at their processes and products. Those who do are likely to leverage the change in the economy to their advantage, getting ahead of competitors who are slow and reactionary to these new conditions.

Dave Graham speaks on the Peak Oil Economic Opportunity (POEO) to educate business groups about these impending changes. To work with individual companies to examine there markets and understand how they can best leverage this change. To help facilitate the development of the kinds of disruptive technologies and processes that will be needed in the post oil economy. And to assist businesses in finding the sustaining technologies they will need to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Dave is on a personal mission to lead the corporate change that will facilitate the next revolution of the global capitalist economy. Called the green revolution by some, Dave knows this revolution goes much further than fuel substitution, efficiency, or localization. It will change fundamental business practices, process, technologies and paradigms in all sectors of the economy. No business will be free of the impact. Dave seeks to be on the forefront by sharing with businesses why now is the best time to lay the foundations for them to become innovators in their markets. Dave is educating the business community about disruptive technologies and processes as well as business-concept innovation. And, why right now is the time to get curious about the how, what, why and where of your business. A wave is coming, some business will leverage it, use it to trump competitors and create new markets. Others will find themselves in reactionary mode, playing a catch-up game. It is a time to be agile.

Dave Graham is a leader, facilitator, and trainer who has a background in agile software development. Working in the world’s fastest changing industry, Dave has created a personal expertise on what it really means to have an agile company and respond rapidly to change. Dave who is a strong supporter of environment sustainability sees the market environment as reflecting the cycles found in nature. He challenges all to ask, “Is my business ready for the peak oil market cycle?”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dennis Buys a Boat

Congratulations to my friend Denis Dybdal who along with two of his friends purchased a 42 foot steel sailboat in Copenhagen last week. The boat has crossed the Atlantic four times already and Denis and his friends intend to continue that heritage by sailing to the Caribbean sometime next year. Additional pictures of the boat can be found on Denis’ new blog.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fort Colins Bike Library

This was Emailed to me and I found it rather interesting.  So I thought I would let others know through my blog.

Here's an excerpt from Rick Price's notice of a lunchtime meeting:

Café Bicyclette in Old Town – this is the beginning of the Fort Collins Bike Library, a project that brings together, FC Bikes (the City Bike Program), the DDA (Downtown Development Authority), RamWheels at CSU, the Fort Collins Bike Coop, and several other partners.

Beginning Friday (July 13) you can borrow a bike for friends, family, visitors for up to 24 hours from Café Bicyclette in the former information kiosk near the fountain in Oldtown. We’ll talk about the program and the fact that we need volunteers every weekend: 4 – 8 p.m. on Fridays and 11 –

6 p.m. Saturday and Sundays. Maybe your Scout Troop, service club, bike club, or neighborhood association would like to volunteer to fill these time slots? We’ll talk about it at the BLT.

'Cafe Bicyclette' is by the goose fountain.

Read More in this related article or join the Bike Fort Collins discussion.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Word of the Day

I was looking for some unusual word to use as the Word of the Day for the Noonshiners Toastmasters meeting.  As I was looking I found these interesting links.


BBC News: 20 of your unusual words – I thought the most useful was the German words 'vorgestern' (the day before yesterday) and 'ubermorgen' (the day after tomorrow).


Top 20 Internet Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know.


I thought Pwned might be fun.  Teaching the Toastmasters the lingo of the Net generation.  In the end I decided on  reduplication because it just sounds wrong. J


Live Earth Party Success

I wanted to the twenty-five some people who came to the LiveEarth concert party.  During the party I had two wireless laptops set up so people could take the LiveEarth Pledge.  If you have not done so yet, take the LiveEarth pledge go to We had so much food left over the next day we hosted a free lunch for our cohousing neighbors on the porch of my home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Light Rail in Fort Collins: First Step: Expand the Trolley


Expand eastern end of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley line to Downtown Transit Center, the new Discovery Science Center, and The Farm at Lee Martinez Park using the abandoned BNSF tracks between Mason and Sherwood streets.


Fort Collins continues to win recognition for the quality of life in our community. If our community wishes to continue to be an award winning community, additional quality of life investments must be made. Connecting the eastern end of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley line to cultural destinations such as The Farm at Lee Martinez Park and the new Discovery Science Center is one such investment.

Desired outcomes from the project include:

1) Improve the economy by increasing the cities choice as a tourist destination.

2) Provide increased recreational opportunities to community members by linking two major community parks (City Park and Lee Martinez Park).

3) Connect the Downtown Transit Center to City Park and Lee Martinez Park.

4) Provide greater educational opportunities for children by connecting up to The Farm at Lee Martinez Park, the new Discovery Science Center, the old trolley barn, leveraging the historic nature of the trolley, as well as its nature as alternative electric transportation.

5) Improve safety on the river at Lee Martinez Park by encouraging bathers to take the trolley to the City Park Pool.

Desired impacts:

1) Improved community pride in the Lee Martinez Park Neighborhood.

2) A fun enjoyable experience for visitors to Fort Collins.

3) Stir discussion about the future of light rail in Fort Collins.


This proposal was written and conceived by me (Dave Graham). It is not the product of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway (FCMR). This proposal will require the approval of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Board in order to move forward.

I am a member of the Lee Martinez Park Neighborhood. I am a rail futurist rather than a rail fan. As a rail futurist, I has little interest in recreating the past than I want to creating a new future. My interest in this project is to primarily promote the idea that light rail can be feasible transportation alternative.

It is my firm desire to leverage this project as a first step to obtaining true light rail service here in Fort Collins. Primarily by extending the FCMR track to the Downtown Transit Center it connects the system with Transfort. It is the my hope that the line can be dual purposed with the historic Britney trolley running on weekends for tourists and a modern handicap accessible light rail car could be run by Transfort on the weekdays.

I a member of The Climate Project and seek to teach people about the coming climate crisis. I have also spoken on the issue of peak oil and the end of cheap oil. This project represents my interest in going beyond talk, by taking action to promote a different future transportation model.

Creating a Destination on for the light rail track:

Currently the existing light rail track, referenced as the trolley track, originates from the trolley barn in City Park, travels most the length of West Mountain and ends just west of Howes street. It spurs into City Park where the trolley kiosk and loading area is. City Park has been established as the West end destination.

Currently the end at Howes street can be loosely called a destination of “Old Town”. Unfortunately, this loose definition does not make for a compelling travel experience.

The FCMR has a plan to continue the track up Howes street and connect it to the historic trolley barn. That plan is currently seeking grant money. This will make the end point a hoped for future transportation museum.

This proposal would create three additional destinations at the east end of the Trolley line. They would be:

And although these three locations will make riding the trolley from City Park more popular, it is more likely that these locations will become origins (particularly the Downtown Transit Center) and the system may become known as the Trolley to City Park.

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway:

This is a group of dedicated volunteers who keep existing trolley system in Fort Collins operational as a tourist attraction. The do a great job and have put countless hours in. This proposal does not intend to undermine any of their activities, nor discount the contribution that they have given to the community. Read about their activities on their web site.

The Rail Yard between Mason Court and Sherwood Street:

It is unclear if the original tracks in this yard were first constructed by the Colorado and Southern (C&S) or the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad (GSLPRR). The former operated the yard, the right away for the latter passed through the yard. It is clear that the ownership was held by C&S by the turn of the century. It was a four track yard with additional tracks serving a locomotive maintenance shed as well as coaling and water towers. The yard was passed from C&S to Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy, then to Burlington Northern, then to Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF).

During the 1970’s or 80’s the engine maintenance facility was removed. In 1996 that portion of the land was sold off to Wonderland Hill Development Corp. On that portion, the Riverrock Cohousing community, single family homes, and the Mason Street North project was constructed.

Two of the four track yard remained as it was connected to both the northbound and southbound BNSF main line. This created what is known as a Y track allowing trains to be turned around on the mainline. With today’s modern locomotives, the turning of trains is not as necessary as it was in the past, and in the fall of 2006 the yard was entirely disconnected from the mainline.

For the purpose of this proposal the four tracks will be labeled with number one being the furthest south. Currently only tracks 2 and 3 remain of the original four tracks. About 2/3 of the track 1 ties are still in place mostly buried some still containing tie plates. Track 2 is in better condition than track 3. It is the through track and appears to have been maintained by BNSF to a higher level. There are no remains of track 4.

Both tracks consist of primarily 85 lb rail with some 90 lb sections. Most of the rail is of 1905-1910 vintage. Much of the rail has been turned so that it shows ware on both upper edges of the rail. Tie plates date from unmarked small ones (assume 1910 vintage) to 1920’s to 1938 and 1941. There is quite a mix of tie plates. Rail joiners are primarily of 1941 vintage. The ties on both tracks are badly worn. The ties on track 3 are in bad condition with some of them having evidence of being reused more than once.

Proposed Rail Alignment:

Please refer to the map of the proposed rail alignment. This portion of the document will discuss the proposed rail alignment starting at The Farm at Lee Martinez Park and connecting to the existing Trolley line on Mountain Avenue.

Please note that all thoughts here are my own and not that of a profession rail alignment expert.

Mason Court to Sherwood Street:

The city must first purchase the abandoned BNSF rail yard between Mason Court and Sherwood Street with the existing tracks intact. More about how that might be financed in a later section. It would be wise to contact BNSF and indicate the intent to purchase with the tracks intact prior to BNSF pulling up the tracks for scrap. See below how the city might finance this.

Of the tracks on the property it is proposed that Track 2 be used as the new trolley track and that the rails from track 3 be pulled up and gowned to be reused as rail for the sections on Howes and Mapel Street.

The frog and arms of the existing switch between tracks 2 and 3 would also be removed to be reused on Howes to create the spur up to the old trolley shed at Howes and Cheery Street.

Removal of the rail, tie plates and spikes could be performed by community service works such as the Larimer County Workenders program or AmeriCorps. Additionally there may be volunteer labor available from the FCMR.

Mason Court to Mason and Maple Streets:

This section would use existing BNSF track. The Fort Collins City streets department will need to realign the painted lanes in order for the trolley to travel safely amongst the automotive traffic.

The Discovery Science Center Spur:

This is the north portion of the old BNSF Y track. There are three options for this track:

1) Remove the track and use the rails elsewhere. Note that some of this rail is of a heavier type.

2) Keep the spur and have it end at the discovery center.

3) Keep the spur, and lobby to have a new trolley line as part of the North College Ave Corridor improvement plan.

I like option (3) myself. Although outside the scope of this proposal, now would be the time to add it to the North College Urban Renewal Plan, before construction begins.

In option (3) it would be necessary to gain approval from the FRA and UP to place a second diamond on the UP track just north of the UP/BNSF diamond. Along with approval to string cable across the UP track. This may not be difficult because the UP spur sees no double stack traffic and the UP trains must already come to a full stop before crossing the BNSF track at the diamond.

In this option the trolley would then proceed north along North College Avenue in the western most lane. The pedestrian section on the west side of the College Avenue bridge would be repurposed to have the trolley track. A new light weight pedestrian area would be attached to the west side of the bridge connecting the existing patio extensions that are above each bridge support

The turn from Mason Street onto Maple Street:

I do not know the capabilities of the FCMR people, so I would recommend that construction of all turns as well as the reconstruction of the street around the turns be professionally contracted out to an experienced rail alignment contractor. I think that the FCMR people could oversee construction of the straight track.

Maple Street between Mason Street and Howes Street:

I think this section of track would be placed on the south most portion of the street. A standalone curb (with water drainage breaks) could then be placed between it and the auto traffic. There would still be room for a parallel parking lane.

This placement allows for the construction of a Downtown Transit Center trolley stop structure on the south west corner of the intersection of Mason and Maple street.

This placement also removes the bi-directional trolley movement from the automotive traffic.

The total separation from the auto traffic allow for the “street surface” around the tracks to be replaced with ballast (gravel). Installation and maintenance cost will be reduced if the tracks are not paved into the road surface.

The Intersection of Maple Street and Howes Street:

It is proposed that the track along Maple Street clip the south east corner of this intersection as it turns on to southbound Howes Street. It is hoped that the Oil Company that owns that lot will consider donating a very small corner of their lot to the FCMR for this purpose. They could then take the donation as a tax deduction.

Alignment on Howes Street between Maple and LaPort Street:

I propose that the alignment on Howes be along the eastern most portions of Howes Street. A standalone curb (with water drainage breaks) could then be placed between it and the auto traffic. The city would need to give up either the parking lane, or move it in and give up one lane of traffic.

This placement also removes the bi-directional trolley movement from the automotive traffic.

The total separation from the auto traffic allow for the “street surface” around the tracks to be replaced with ballast (gravel). Installation and maintenance cost will be reduced if the tracks are not paved into the road surface.

This alignment allows for placement of the switch to the trolley shed spur up Howes Street to be installed in a portion of the road surface that need not be paved making construction and maintenance much easier.

The alignment on Howes Street between LaPort Avenue and Mountain Avenue:

There are two options for this alignment:

a. Us the existing track

The primary reason for using the existing alignment is that it is potentially less expensive. The existing track is in the second lane (one over from the parking lane) form the west side of the street. It is covered with about one inch of asphalt.

The asphalt would need to be removed from the surface and the wheel flange area.

b. Install a new track along the eastern most part of the street.

This would be an extension of what was proposed for the previous block. I think that it may not be possible to salvage the existing track and that this would provide a lower maintenance alternative. I base this on recent evidence from work at Mountain Avenue and Linden Street. When rails were pulled up, they were severely rusted and I believe that the process of removing the over coat of asphalt will likely be to hard on them.

Project Funding:

My thoughts on project funding are these:

1) The FCMR are already looking for grant money for the Howes street part of the project. Support and encourage that activity.

2) Have the city buy the BNSF property, then subdivide it, taking alignment for track 2 for trolley, and track 1 (no longer existing to the south) for a pedestrian trail (may get some rails to trails money to bank it), while making a series of smaller lots along the north side of the property. Sell those lots to an infill developer like Denny Sovick.

3) Purchase the land with rail on it. Salvage the rail to reduce cost of the project.

4) If there still not enough rail, ask for donations. I can think of several industrial lots in Northern Colorado that still have rail on there lot and long ago were disconnected from the system. One such lot is just up on North College Ave.

5) More grants. If Transfort gets on board, including the purchase of a used but newer light rail car, then the whole project could go after some state or federal transportation money.


I think it is time for Fort Collins to take a stand on light rail as an issue. This simple proposal is a step in the right direction. Please post your comments here so all can see.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pioneer School Auction

I was over at the Pioneer School about two weeks back while Glory was going through all the stuff and trying to find some buyers that would buy in bulk. It is a sad looking place over there, the kids are gone and the stuff pilled up. She indicated that an auction might be likely if they had dificulty moving stuff.

Well I recieved this today and I am sharing it here. Lots of cool suff. Looking for a bus to take you to Estella, or some extra LEGO Robots Equipment? Check it out.

Liquidation Auction
PIONEER School, Fort Collins
Sunday, July 8, 11 AM
2745 Minnesota Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado
Directions: From I 25: Prospect exit west to Timberline south to Custer east to address. (Follow Signs).

Vehicles: 2001 Chevy Express G3500 LS Van and 1985 GMC Vandera 3500 Bus

Kitchen: Stainless steel industrial 4-tub sink—104” by 36” w/24” Dual drain boards, 6’ by 3’ Stainless steel prep table, Well’s Cook n’ Hold food warmers, Sani Serv frozen dessert machine model A5271 J-S, Coffee pots, Dishes, Glass, Microwaves, GE Mini Dorm Refrigerators w/freezers.

Office Equipment & Supplies: Office desks, Tools, Hole punches, Paper, Tape, Staples, Paper clips, Pens, Pencils, Tape dispensers, Cash boxes, Stacking trays and lot more. Everything needed to supply dozens of office desks! (Will be sold by the box full.)

Phone System: Sony iDCS 50si w/voicemail & 34 Desk phones and more.

Computers & Computer Components: Working Desk tops & Laptops (IBM, Compaq, HP, IBM Intellistations, Gateway, Linksys) All accessories, Routers, Network switches, Printers, Servers, Server carts, Key boards, Monitors, Mice and more.

Bookshelves: Large solid handmade wall unit 8’ by 10’ w/wood oak veneer, Many smaller stand alone bookshelves particle board w/veneer and other shelves and shelving.

Filing Cabinets: Several Large lateral fill locking cabinets, Standard front fill cabinets 2 & 4 drawer.

Desks: Wood desks, Formica & steel desks, Computer desks large & small.

Tables: Dozens of work tables various types & sizes, Round collapsible tables, Solid oak round tables, Several Cafeteria Tables— double-sided upright folding & single-sided bench style tables.

Janitorial Supplies: Complete Janitorial Closet Supplies. Brut cans large & small w/dome lids, Office trash cans, Hall trash bins, Recycle cans, Spartan Press & Fill Locking Dispenser, Rubbermaid wall mounts for long handles, Industrial Mop bucket, Wet Mops, Dust mops, Cleaners, Paper, Trash bags, etc.

Kiln: Skutt Electronic (818-240)

Climbing Wall: Entre Prises custom 26’x16’ climbing wall, complete w/I-beams & braces & mounts

Reception Desk Island: For Front Office, 3-piece C-shaped w/2 - 2’x 10’ pieces & 1 – 2’x 4’ piece, solid construction, neutral colors, complete with locking drawers, file drawers, 48 sq ft of counter space, computer space, trash & recycle cabinets, rounded corners.

Storage Cabinets: Many types & sizes, metal, some on wheels, w/doors, some locking,
Chairs: Hundreds of good-condition sturdy wood & vinyl or plastic & metal classroom & desk chairs.

Misc: Laminator machine by Educator, TV’s, Folding Martial Arts Mats Terminator Series 2” thick 10’x10’, Lego Robotics Equipment (complete), White Melamine classroom wall boards, Cork boards, Locking medical security cabinet for sick room (wall mount), Precision Vision school vision testing kits, Cryomedics MM 200 Colposcope, and Much, Much more. This auction is too good to miss!

Auctioneers’ Disclaimer: Announcements made day of sale take precedence over any printed material or other oral statements made. The sale is subject to postponement, cancellation, additions, or deletions. All information contained herein is believed to be correct, but is not guaranteed. All purchasers must independently investigate and confirm any information or assumption on which any bid is based. Terms: CASH and MASTER CARD & VISA. Sorry NO CHECKS

Pat Young II, Auctioneer 970-227-4151

Live Earth Concert Party

Map directions to Live Earth Concert Party

I have been circulating this around my friends and wanted everyone to know it is open to the public.

Live Earth House Party

There will be a gathering at the Riverrock Commons Cohousing Common House in Fort Collins, CO to watch the Live Earth Concert broadcast on projected big screen. It is being hosted by Dave Graham who is a member of Al Gore's TheClimateProject. Dave will be available to answer questions about global climate change and the expected effects in Colorado. Please consider bringing drinks or munchies to share.

RSVP by clicking here!

Time: Saturday, July 7 at 6:30 PM - 4 hours
Location: Riverrock Cohousing Common House
520 N. Sherwood St. #35
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Take College Ave to Old Town. Go West, 4 blocks, on Cherry
Street. Turn North on Sherwood Street. Travel to the end of
Sherwood St and park at Lee Martinez Park (We do not have
sufficient parking at Riverrock). Walk to the South East
into Riverrock Commons Cohousing community. The Common House
is unit #35.

Yo! Who are these people?

I know I need to have gone to bed. I was just checking one thing :) and then I got distracted.

But what I want to know is "Yo, Who are these people?"


It is late and I need to sleep. I just keep tweaking my blog template. I have impressed myself with my own artistry. Just not sure what to do with all the other loose ends on my website. I think they will have to wait. If you are viewing this through blogspot, you really should go to The presentation there is slightly better.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Time for a new web presence.

I just finished listening to Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams and it became apparent to me that if I am going to excel in my leadership and my goals to change the world, I will need a much stronger web presence.

So I have just spent the last several hours trying to get into my old Blog. Since Google bought Blogger and change the entire accounting system, and I have not used the account in years, I was not successful. In the end I just started a new account and a new blog.

It is my intention to use this blog to evangelize my ideas and support others who have cool ideas in an effort to change the world. So those of you who may have stumbled over this will be wondering who is this guy and how does he want to change the world?

Here is my statement of purpose:

"I was born at this time in history to make technology truely work for humanity and the health of our planet!"

I and like minded individuals see a world of 9 billion people coming. And, they can't all live the consumer lifestyle of the west. I believe as does Elwood: "We're on a mission from God."

I invite those who share this sentiment to contact me and get some dialog going.