Friday, July 10, 2009

Tipping Points

I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Ironically, the book has been out since 2002 and I've had a couple of people recommend it to me over the years, but in the last few weeks several people have said I should read it. I guess I hit a tipping point of friend recommendations and so I went and checked it out from the library.

The book itself is excellent reading, and covers a wide variety of subjects from fashion trends to crimewaves to cigarette addiction. For anyone interested in taking sustainable actions and helping them to become trends in the general populace, I think The Tipping Point has a lot to say as well. As you know, I've posted updates occasionally here on the number of cyclists that I see on my evening commute. Well, I seem to have reached some sort of tipping point there because the other night there were simply too many to count. Just as one was zooming by in one direction, another was passing or going by in another. I had to think "did I already count the lady in the red hat?" and when it gets to that point really, what's the point of counting? I lost it somewhere after 65, which I think means the number of cyclists in my commute has gone from "a few" to "a lot" to "too numerous to count individuals". In other words, it's a trend that has tipped.

It seems as if the initial spike in gas prices (you all remember when gas was over $4 a gallon, right?) set the trend in motion, and it was given a boost by the economic crisis. Once there is a critical mass of cyclists on the road, then people who might otherwise feel it's "too dangerous" to cycle begin to feel that it's a safe and reasonable thing to do. Or perhaps they see another parent toting their kids, or another businessman in a suit, or another person who is older than they are riding a bicycle and they realize that they can do it too. Whatever the numerous causes, at least in my town it has tipped and there are cyclists zipping here, there, and everywhere. I think the urban gardens are approaching that tipping point here as well. Last summer I had a few to choose from to take photos of for this blog, and now they're simply everywhere - in front of expensive homes and apartment blocks and duplexes, at least in my end of town. Now when the truly suburban lawns start getting torn up in subdivisions with CC&Rs, then I'll say for sure that urban gardening has truly tipped.

In the meanwhile, if you're already tired of your fluffy summer reads, let me be one of perhaps the many friends who will recommend that you read The Tipping Point.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

all of his books are good. I also just read The Outliers about what makes exceptional people stand out and be successful and I loved it.