Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Daegu Article - Daegu on Two Wheels

The following article was printed in In Daegu, a new newspaper from the makers of Daegu Pockets.

The full text and Korean translation follow.
To download the pdf, click here.

Have you ever been sitting at a Daegu bus stop, watching the ticker and wondering why the bus you’re waiting for doesn’t seem to be getting any closer, when all of a sudden a packmof shiny spandex-clad cyclists races by? Hundreds of men, women, and children riding bikes of all different types and sizes, from giant unicycles to low-riding, stylized tricycles, from million-won designer models to that rusty one that has been lying on its side next to KNU’s North Gate for at least three months now. What are they all doing?

Welcome to the Daegu Bike Festival. Funded by Daegu City Hall and organized by the Daegu Council for Local Agenda 21 (맑고푸른대구21추진현의회), the DBF is an opportunity for cyclists of all shapes and sizes, ages, races, and levels of ability and dedication to enjoy themselves while at the same time demonstrating that Daegu is indeed a bikeable city. From humble beginnings in 2006, the DBF has grown into an event that regularly attracts hundreds of riders, and sometimes more – over one thousand people participated in last October’s event, the Daegu Bike Rally, a leisurely 25 kilometer course from Daegu World Cup Stadium to the main gate of Keimyung Univeristy. (Actually, all the way to the cafeteria. Followed by free lunch.) Other rides last year included a scenic ride along the Nakdong River in May and a loop from downtown to Dusan intersection and back to celebrate Daegu Car-Free day in September. Every ride begins with signing in and picking up your raffle ticket and ends with dozens of gifts, ranging from the small (helmets) to the big (bicycles) to the just plain strange (environmentally-friendly frying pans).

The DBF represents more than just a chance to win some free stuff, though. For the chronically lost, the process of finding the starting location, following the course, and making your way back home from the destination is an excellent way to learn the layout of the city, while the chronically bored may encounter restaurants and shops that might otherwise have gone unknown. If thoughts of giant carbon footprints weigh heavy on your conscience, DBF events may be a chance to get started doing some good. If you’re interested in bicycles, bike fashion, or bike-mounted gizmos, you’ll have plenty to feast your eyes on. For those looking to meet other bicycle enthusiasts to arrange rides with, there’s no better place to be. If you like to feel important, you can ride at the front of the pack, right next to the police escorts. And if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to parade around in public wearing spandex, aren’t alone.

The final DBF event of 2010, a 14-km ride along the banks of the Geumhogang River, took place in November. DBF will begin its 2011 campaign on March 26th (hopefully the cold will have passed by then) with a ride starting out in front of the West District Office (서구청). The exact time and course have yet to be decided; for up-to-date information, and to register for future events, have a look at

DBF events are always free of charge and always open to one and all. So far, few foreigners have heard about or participated regularly in the festivities. This year, let’s ride together in order to raise awareness, while at the same time helping to make a cleaner, healthier, more friendly Daegu.


If you're interested in finding out about eco-friendly restaurants, shops, and events in Daegu, please visit or find the group 녹색살이대구 / Daegu Green Living on Facebook. Feel free to stop by one of our monthly Eco-film nights, held downtown at Buy the Book.

대구 버스정류장에 앉아서 전기 간판을 바라보며 당신이 기다리는 버스가 왜 오지 않는지 궁금해 할 때, 갑자기 반짝이는 스판덱스를 입은 수백 명의 사이클리스트들이 순식간에 지나가는 것을 본 적이 있나요? 남녀노소 없이, 다양한 사람을이 다양한 자전거 – 커다란 외발 자전거에서 누워서 타는 세발 자전거까지, 백만원을 호가하는 명품 자전거에서 경대 북3개월 이상 망치되어 누워 있는 녹슨 저전거까지 – 를 타고 다닌다. 신기하지요? 그들은 무엇을 하고 있을까요?

대구 자전거 대행진 (DBF) 것을 환영합니다. 대구 시청의 재정 지원을 받아 맑고푸른대구21추진협의회가 진행하는 자전거대행진은, 체격과 나이, 인종과 실력, 참여 경혐과 상관없이 많은 사람들이 즐거운 시간을 보낼 수 있다. 동시에 대구가 저전거로 쉽게 다닐 있는 도시임을 입중할 수 있는 좋은 기회이다.

2006년에 시작된DBF의 처음은 미약했지만, 계속해서 많은 사람들이 참여하면서 이제는 수백 명의 사람들이 참여하는 행사가 되었다. 작년 10월의 대구 자전거 랠리 (대구 월드컵경기장에서 성서계대정문까지 25km코스를 편안히 따라간)에는 천명 이상이 참여했다. (사실, 계대 안 식당까지 갔지요. 밥을 공짜로 먹기도 했고.) 작년 행사에는 5월의 낙동강을 따라 간 코스와 9월 “대구 차가 없는 날”을 경축하기를 위한 시내에서 두산오거리 일주를 거치오는 코스가 있었다. 모든 행사는 접수하고 경품권을 받는 것으로 시작되며, 수십 개의 경품 – 작은 것 (헬멧)과 큰 것 (자전거), 이상한 것도 (친환경 후라이팬) – 을 선물하는 것으로 끝난다.

하지만DBF는경품을 얻는 기회만 있는 것은 아니다. 길치에게는, 출발지를 찾고 코스를 따르고 집에 다시 돌아 가는 길을 찾는 과정에서 우리의 대구광역시의 모습을 배울 수 있을 것이다. 또한, 만성적으로 심심한 사람들은 알 수 없었던 식당과 가게를 맞닥뜨릴지도 모른다. 자동차가 뿜어내는 오염에 대해서 많이 고민하는 사람들에게는, DBF는 좋은 일을 시작할 기회가 될 수도 있다. 만약에 자전거와 저전거 패션, 그리고 최신 자전거 악세서리에 관심이 있다면, 구경할 것들이 많을 것이다. 자전거를 좋아하는 친구를 찾는다면, 이보다 더 좋은 곳이 없을 것이다. 주목받고 싶다면 경찰 호위대 바로 옆에 타면 되고요. 마지막으로는, 스판덱스를 입고 잘난 척할 핑계를 찾는다면, 이곳으로 오세요. 당신이 혼자가 아니다.

2010년의 마지막 행사는 11월 금호강을 14km 따라 가는 코스이었다. 2011년의 캠페인은, 추위가 지난 다음에 3 26일 서구청 앞마당에서 시작될 예정이다. 그행사의 시간과 코스는 아직 정확하게 정해지지 않았다. 그래서 자세한 정보를 찾고 싶거나 앞으로 진행될 행사에 신청하려면, http://www.ecobike.org에 접속하면 된다.

DBF은 늘 무료로 진행되고 누구나 참여할 수 있다. 지금까지는 대구 자전거 대행진에 대해 잘 알고 정지적으로 참여하는 외국인이 매우 적었다. 올해는 저전거를 같이 타는 것을 통해서 사람들의 인식을 높이는 동시에 깨끗하고, 건강하고, 사랑스러운 대구를 만들도록 노력합시다.


다른 친환경 식당, 가게ㅘ 행사를 더 알고 싶다면 방문하거나 페이스북에서 녹색살이대구 / Daegu Green Living 이라는 그룹을 찾아 보는 것이 도움이 될 것이다. 매월 시내 Buy the Book에서 상영될 친환경 영화 관람에 누구든지 환영합니다.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some slightly good news for pigs, amidst lots of really terrible news.

I believe that we all have our "veg buttons." Soft spots that, when poked, make us cringe a little more than we expected, that activate our introspection, our guilt, our sense of right and wrong. If the right veg buttons get pushed, and often enough, and at the right times, one begins to feel differently about vegetarianism. One doesn't immediately begin to think it's absolutely right, or that it's the only way, but automatic reactions and unquestioned assumptions - "they're not human," "out of sight, out of mind," "I need it," "I have a right to it," open up, get exposed, become vulnerable. A little prodding feeling - maybe there's something to this? Those who try it aren't crazy. It becomes something to consider seriously, and even try.

For me, there were three such buttons. First came a plain piece of paper taped to the wall at my parents' church, saying that it takes tens of thousands of gallons of water to get a kilogram of industrially-raised beef. It didn't change my behavior at all, but it has stayed in my head for years and years. What's the point of taking short showers, and wishing that others would too, when my occasional trip to Outback uses up more water than a month's worth of hygiene habits?

Second was a truckbed full of pigs that I saw here in Korea. I wasn't even out in the countryside - actually, I was on my way to Costco. There were four or five pigs in the back of a decent-sized truck. They weren't squished in or anything. But one pig - and there's no pretty way to say this - had what I can only describe as a couple giant malignant ass polpys. (Ok, to be honest, I could also describe them as giant rectal warts.) I should probably describe them in detail for multiple impact, but I couldn't do it justice and the mere thought of trying makes me want to vomit. I didn't go veg for another year or more after seeing them, but from that day on, each time I sat down to grill some pork, the image floated up in my mind. Could this very bite be from that pig, or one just like it?

Third was something Michael Pollan said about poop. Before agriculture depended on chemical fertilizers, it depended on natural ones; feces were a resource. Animals evacuate, bacteria break down, plants absorb, animals eat, and evacuate again, and humans step in every now and then to skim a little surplus off the top of the process. Now, though, the bacteria don't break down poop, because it goes to giant lagoons where nothing can grow, not to fields where other lifeforms can make use of it. Thus, whatever nutrients are in the poo are unrecoverable, wasted; we have to turn to chemical fertilizers, and the oil that it takes to make them. The fertilizer runs into rivers and oceans and disrupts natural patterns; the oil burns off into the air and does the same. Things may have not been easy or perfect or ideal before before, but somehow, for some reason, we took a closed-loop solution and made two, if not three or more, problems out of it. Now we have a waste problem (what to do with all that shit?), and a fertility problem (how can we grow enough to feed all these animals). The answer is right in front of us. We spent millennia living with the answer. How can I keep eating meat when I know it contributes to this kind of ridiculousness?*

So, those were my veg buttons, or at least the big ones, the ones I remember, the ones I still think about. It seems that, recently, many Koreans have had their veg buttons pushed - not by churches or polyps or Pollan, but buy the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Reports of millions of pigs and hundreds of thousands of cows being killed, often buried alive; speed bumps that shoot up geysers of chemical baths, and highway tollgates that get you from both sides; quarantines and canceled trips; chemical-soaked carpets in train station; increased food prices. According to this article,, "Disgust over FMD gives boost to vegetarianism" from the Jungang Daily , interest in vegetarian (and even vegan!) eating practices is on the rise**. The vegetarian buffet at Seoul National University's music school is filling up, and visits to the Korean Vegetarian Union website have quadrupled. The outbreak has shaken some people from ignorance into awareness, and some from awareness into action. If there's one good thing that can come out of the various crises we face - whether they're related to the environment, to energy, or to livestock - it's this: they make us face up to what we're doing, or what we're allowing other to do instead. They force us to confront our actions, our systems, and ourselves, and the necessity of changing them all.

What a good time to be trying to find a role as a vegetarian/environmental activist in South Korea!***


*I know that the solution is not easy, and that there's no way now to just capture all the shit and take it Idaho.
** I owe the link to Mipa at Alien's Day Out
***At first I wanted to make a joke, starting that sentence off with "It's a bad time to be a pig, but..." Then I reconsidered. Too lewd?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eco-Film Night #6: Old Partner

Daegu Green Living Presents / 녹색살이대구 보여드립니다

Eco-film night / 친환경 영화 상영: Old Partner / 워낭소리

From Eco-film nights

When / Saturday, December 19th, 7:30-9:00PM
Where: Buy the Book, Mr. Pizza Building, 4th floor, Rodeo Steet

언제 3월 19일 토요일 오후 7:30-9:00
어디서: 대구 시내 로데오거리, Mr. Pizza 빌당 4층 “Buy the Book”

Nominated for the World Cinema Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and recipient of numerous Korean awards, Old Partner chronicles the relationship between an aging farmer and the loyal ox that has been his best friend and workmate for decades. Having long clung to tradition and resisted the development of modern farming methods, Farmer Choi must finally confront the death of his ox, and with it, his way of life. A heartwarming, immensely popular mediation on time and death, Old Partner shows the complex and beautiful ways in which humans, animals, and the land depend on one another.