California as a source of innovation

Primitive tribes used to sacrifice people to trees and whatnot, but now the California hotbed of creativity, where the sacrifice of oak trees to football began, has inspired imitation in Virginia.  Seen one tree, you’ve seen ’em all, but a national championship is a joy forever until the next bunch of yahoo boosters ponies up to buy one.

When the Hokies figure out what a great homecoming game bonfire those trees will make, and how many genuine Virginia Tech old growth gearshift knobs, plaques, and coasters they can be cut up and sold as (we wasted ours), the issue will be settled. No wide receiver ever chose a school because it was Tree Campus USA, but genuine Hokie toothpicks and skewers can ennoble generations of tailgating: there’s some real academic value.

If they are made into barrels for aging whiskey, come to think of it, or burned to fuel a distillery, surely those trees will have fulfilled their proudest destiny in college sports.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.