Monday, August 3, 2009

A family of small mice needs some help (Graphic/design)

Today we want to tell you about a children's book on our subject, and beyond that to see if any of you out there might be interested in lending a hand so that we can create a handsome electronic version, and possibly in other languages.

- Alvin reports from Paris.

The Mouse Family (that's Alvin, the poor harassed father there - - >) needs a little professional help.

Behind the mice:
Back in 1992, Year IV of the New Mobility Agenda, we had the idea that we should be doing more with children, not only to teach them (what do we really have to teach?) but rather to engage them with a first small step. They are, after all, our future.

After talking this over with a couple of my colleagues (Wolfgang Zuckermann, who became our poet, and Roget Tweed, our artist) several things ensued, of which one that enjoyed a certain success at the time was the joint creation of the first children's book in a series, entitled "Family Mouse Behind the Wheel".

The mouse story in brief:
It is a story about a family of mice who live in a tranquil setting and who one day receive an invitation from their grandmother in a distant city. After intense family discussion they finally decide that it is time for them at last to buy a car. This sets off a chain reaction in which not only today but all of the other animals in the bars have the same good idea. Guess what happens as a result? Well for that are going to have to read them in mouse behind the wheel.

Family Mouse had a double life actually which is kind of interesting in our present context, both as a children's book and also as part of a small children's school program which we developed at the time in which subsequently a number of others have taken on an improved. Collaboration across ages, over distances and over time.

How can you get a copy?
Printed in 1992 and after two editions, FM is now out of print, but if you go to you can order your own copy, use, or a round $189.38, ex shipping. A steal!

Alternatively and perhaps more to your taste, a small bookstore in Avignon can sell you one of the remaining two hundred copies of the original hard back edition for € 8.40 or $11.00, plus postage. An email to should secure you a copy for less than $189,38.

The help wanted section:
We now would like to create a handsome electronic edition as a gift to our subscribers and worldwide distribution, and what we have to work with is a high quality PDF file. However it needs a bit of artistic touching up, and that perhaps is where you can lend a hand.

Get in touch via or Skype newmobility and let's talk about it.

Other language editions.
Enrico Bonfatti, editor of our great sister publication Nuova Mobilità in Italy, has some time ago prepared an Italian language introduction which is good to have, but why don't we get together to provide handsome translations in other languages? Again, if you wish to talk it over, you know how to get in touch.

What's the moral of this small story?
I would suggest there are two. First the one that appears on the last lines of the last page of the little book: "Here's what we learned from this affair. To trees be kind – of cars beware!"

The second has to do with the importance of continuity, something which has, sadly, not been a consistent strong suit of the sustainable transport process in most places. Many projects and programs have been launched over these past two decades with noble goals and here and there some very interesting achievements. But all too often the very institutions that encouraged, facilitated and supported them at one fixed contractual point slam the window and the program simply disappears. To be replaced most often by another one that is probably doomed to repeat the same cycle. This is surely not the way to a sustainable planet. We need to become better, more creative managers of our scarce resources.

So here we are with this little book, not all that far from two decades after the idea was first born and pen first put to paper -- and don't you agree that it's not a bad idea to be thinking how it might still be put to work for our great cause? It's not as if we have learned all that much over these years.

But think about this. If you read Family Mouse in 1992 and got it, well today you are an adult, a citizen, perhaps a professional and a parent. And there is still work to be done.

So off we go for another round with the mouse family, in many more places, probably in many more languages. Thousands of small lessons. And the hope that the children who read it today will do better than we are managing to do.

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