Beyond Bartering-tapping into human ingenuity

Volunteers earn these Time Dollars by doing things for others, such as making them jewelry or baking them pound cake.

Edgar Cahn was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack, when the inspiration came through. He created timebank usa, and a tool for honoring everyone’s contribution has been established. Check out audio file how teen offenders recidivism has been reduced to 10%!! That is incredible.

I’m telling ya America, Together we can make sustainable real! … READ MORE >>

We are the ones we’re looking for

The Great American Quest, ” life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has led us to the mountain top, the shopping mall. We sat there in rapture, beaming and gleaming in the sunlight streaming into the food court, all the abundance of our bags full of awesome stuff. We filled our homes up with the awesome stuff, and then we filled up our storage units.

And we find ourselves still waiting for the rapture. We set up ingenious manufacturing supply systems, global supply routes of mining, processing and sculpting our planet’s resources to fill the shelves of the malls, as if we lived in infinite abundance.

Somehow, I was blessed with eyes to see, and ears to listen, “the emperor has no clothes”, well at most he’s wearing a Speedo. I chose a path less followed, a path I once judged as kind of spineless, “a weed in the wind”, a wandering around, trying to find my own pursuit of happiness…. READ MORE >>

Social and economic safety nets

AARP’s July-August 2011 issue highlights a newly constructed attached units community within a program called Soldier On. With solar panels on the roof, and economic and social support systems, 39 veterans are experiencing their lives transformed.

This is a great example of  the kinds of qualities found in what I call a Sustainable Urban Village-social, economic, and ecological sustainability in action.  Enjoy.

once homeless, these veterans now own homes in their own Pittsfield, Mass. community

Formerly homeless with many years self medicating, they now have their own apartments, a share of the ownership, and a voice in how the place is run. The rents, from $580 tp $682 are partically subsidizied by HUD and the Dept of Veterans Affairs.

Each resident had to pay $2500 to buy a limited-equity ownership in the development. Local banks have offered to lend them the downpayment money interest free, if  necessary. If money is left over at the end of the year after all the bills are paid, each resident/owner gets his share of the rebate.  This year each got a $2100 rebate, after paying approximately $7000 in rent.

A substance abuse counselor, as well as job-training and medical services are available and often are delivered to their apartment, or the transitional shelter building next door.  A Local bank sponsors one-on-one money management sessions. Rides are available to go job interviews, and to a support service, as only 17%of the men have driver’s licences… READ MORE >>

Having compassion for our inner terrorist

Jan 1 2006….I’m talking to my sister about how her weekend was, she and her hubby and two daughters went down to Albq for the weekend, stayed in the Embassy Suites and had a good time…but last night, New Years Eve, “these young (white) kids were trashing the place. What’s the deal with kids these days,  screaming until 3 in the morning, throwing toilet paper rolls into the indoor planting, into the swimming pool, making a big mess for the staff, mostly Hispanic and Native American kids, to clean up the next day (this morning)…I felt so bad, what is with these kids….we never did those kind of things….”

In response I found myself sharing the conversation I’d had last night, at a New Years Eve party.  At this gathering, I struck up a conversation with a guy who’s a “teacher of teachers”, a guy who consults on the brain’s development and the corresponding age-appropriate ways to teach kids (K- Graduate work). At one point he was sharing about watching a 2 ½ year old boy and his dad, a Bali stone carver… “the boy was using tools the same size as his Dad, and had the dexterity of a 12 year old”.  I shared I’ve read about kids in Reggio Emilia, in Italy, and how the towns’ people consider kids as these gifted artists from the get go, and they’re art is incredibly beautiful and “sophisticated” at 5 to 7 years old… READ MORE >>

A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 6

Imagine. An elementary school and the surrounding neighborhoods joining  together to become  a sustainable community with the school at its heart -Part 6

Locally Created Services and Products – the Sustainable Economy Emerges

As homes and business were renovated into multiple-storied, zero emission buildings, more space was created for residences, services and commercial usages. A network of used clothing stores trades across town with other recycle stores. The clothing fashion center teaches sewing and clothing design and runs a brisk business featuring student consignments.bicycle repair shop

Bicycle sales and repair, a computer lab, a graphics design shop and café, a library and bookstore, a woodshop/metal shop and an eBay store have all opened with help from the Business Incubator Loan Fund. Entrepreneurs of all ages are encouraged with micro-loans, business skills training programs and affordable facilities, to create products and services that evolve into locally created jobs.

Mentors and apprentices share their love for teaching and learning. With the abundance of affordable housing, young adults can stay in their community and the long traditions of Santa Fe’s cultures are sustained…. READ MORE >>

A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 4

Imagine. An elementary school and the surrounding neighborhoods joining  together to become  a sustainable community with the school at its heart. Part 4

“If it Ain’t Fun, it Ain’t Sustainable”

snow fun

If it ain't fun, it ain't sustainable!

Students of all ages have learned that working together with the whole community, coming up with inspired ideas on how to live more affordably and lighter on the planet, is fun.  Out of a Community Design Day session, a recreational waterslide was created utilizing the rooftop of the 2-story addition.  In the winter, a used snow-making machine, donated by the Santa Fe ski basin, turns the waterslide into “the Luge,” a great playground for the entire community. The water park and snow playground are the source of many lesson plans; hands-on everyday science.

 

So what kind of fun would you add to your future neighborhood??…. READ MORE >>

Renovate Your House, Transform the Neighborhood

Washing machines sit idle most of the time

Looking at the challenge of how to build our futures resilient and sustainable, my sense is the insulation in the burbs across America is woefully shy. Heating systems are not so efficient, heating ducts leak, appliances are not so energy efficient, and windows are not so good, to say the least.  These aren’t really economic problems until we hit global peak oil production.  Then the pain of rising prices, utility bills, and commuting will become increasingly excruciating,  is my guess.

What service would you like to provide to the neighborhood? Originally, the “dress” on House #1 was meant to conceal a gambling casino.

The cost of renovating a suburban home to a highly efficient passive (zero or low emissions) house is cost preventative in many situations.  My sense is most suburbanites will only be able to make these upgrades if they can bundle the costs as they add a second, third, four stories to their homes. To make this scenario work, the first floor will become mostly commercial, home occupation, and the floors above will contain rentals, offices or residential, maybe  multigenerational families with multiple contributions to the mortgage. The densities in the neighborhood have to be high enough to make the commercial successful.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers for this “2-4 story smart density infill/renovation to passive home standards” will only work if these free standing suburban homes are joined to create row houses.  My guess is the cost challenge of upgrading from an R 13 or R19 wall to a R 40? is too great a hurdle. By creating row houses, I’m thinking the amount of exterior walls is greatly reduced. Good sound insulation is essential, but much less expensive than getting to R 40 (or whatever a passive/zero emissions house design requires).

To add to the complexity,… READ MORE >>

Turning Banks and Business on Their Heads

Social Business. Whereas a charity dollar has one life, a social business dollar returns again and again, spreading the benefit of the social good. The poorest of the poor are lifting themselves up through entrepreneurism backed by a knowing of the unrealized human capacity that lies in each of us, all 6+ billion!

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus has created dynamic, successful businesses serving large populations that banks have thought were lost causes.

Watch this video. It shattered some of my preconceived ideas of the poor, and gives great heart to my dreams of sustainable neighborhoods spreading across the planet.

As we learn to work together, community collaborations with win-win-win solutions will transform our lives. Our institutions will transform, our neighborhoods will transform. We will make choices that are “good for people, good for the planet, and good for the polar bears!”

Together, we can make sustainable real!.. READ MORE >>

Creative, Affordable Healthcare

What’s a sustainable lifestyle without affordable healthcare??? Just as we’re called upon to re-innovate our neighborhoods sustainable, so are we challenged to bring creativity to healthcare.

1st we create a healthy lifestyle! With a mixed use, mixed income community, we get a pedestrian centered way of life, where we walk to many of our daily tasks. The shorter commute and more affordable lifestyle makes for less stress. More exercise, less stress, means less need for healthcare over one’s lifespan. Just the act of living is preventative medicine!!!

Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his innovation in creating micro-credit programs for poor women and now he’s bringing innovation in healthcare to impoverished women as well.

His program, Grameen Healthcare is designed for low-cost, affordable health services for all of Bangladesh, especially the lowest income women and children, and sustain these services thru social business. Whereas the program is 90% self supportive,  Yunus believes it will become completely self supportive!

“We are excited to support the Grameen Nurse Institute, a breakthrough social business model that could transform the health care industry by positioning girls as not just the beneficiaries of services, but the agents of future change,” said Lisa MacCallum, Managing Director of the Nike Foundation. “In our work so far at the Nike Foundation, we have learned that if you start with a girl, everyone else benefits: boys, women, men also. That’s the power of the girl effect.”

READ MORE >>

Grading A-F; Schools as Centers of Community

How do I feel about the A-F grading of New Mexico Schools? Well, thank you for asking!

The challenges of our times are so extraordinary, they call for a different approach to life. Working collaboratively on real world problems, creating living sustainability, with a community wide range of stakeholders is the school of our times.

Grading Schools A-F

Schools as Centers of Community Sustainability

 

What if each school and its surrounding neighborhoods  set the intention of having the school become the center of the community? The school would then work with the surrounding neighbors in redeveloping into a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable community!
The grading, A-F, would be a indicator of how the school/neighborhood was doing in terms of sustainability;… READ MORE >>

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