A Whole System Approach is key to a Sustainable Urban Village

We can lower our consumption, create a more efficient, affordable lifestyle, and enhance our Quality of Life with a pedestrian centered lifestyle and a whole systems approach to neighborhood planning and redevelopment.

Beddington Zero Energy Development-Bed ZED!

In sharp contrast to sprawl, a whole systems approach “stacks” uses in close proximity to each other. In mixed use neighborhoods, convenient pedestrian access to multiple services and daily life, drastically reduces the necessity for car ownership, creates safer streets with “eyes on the street” security,  a healthier walkable lifestyle, at the same time frees up income for other uses, like buying local food.

By adding “mixed income” to the community, another level of quality of aliveness is added via greater diversity in ages and cultures.

Conveniently located lifelong learning, supports the entrepreneur in all of us, and creates a climate of possibilities, a community going for its dreams and aspirations.

Add Open Space to the mix, and now woods and urban forest, fields and ponds are bringing the richness of the seasons and nature to our door steps.

Nature has evolved mastery in stacking uses, creating vast mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships in healthy environments. There is no waste to throw away.  There is no “away”.

Designing a Sustainable Urban Village is the first step. Once all the future residents, parties and players are satisfied on paper, a demonstration showcase site can be created.  Having lunch and experiencing a walkable lifestyle becomes a powerful incentive in ushering  in the emerging sustainable economy; a future built in real, lasting value.

Image courtesy of Floornature

A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 5

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

Living machine

Biologies on the roots, detoxify water!

Science Rules! Tapping into the Power of Biologies; Community Composting and Recycling Water – Part 5

Throughout the neighborhood, attached greenhouses provide essential composting, soil studies and crop production opportunities. The solar recharged neighborhood electric cart collection service gives teens an opportunity to make money by driving household food scraps to the community composting bins.

“Living Machines,” water recycling tanks, demonstrate how bacteria and microorganisms purify water.

Living Machines, invented by Dr. John Todd, use plants and microbes to clean water instead of chemicals. They can handle household waste, and easily tackle industrial wastes, turning 600 to 750,000 gallons of waste per day into hyacinths and snails… Dr. Todd (a student of Bucky Fuller BTW), has been working with Living Machines for decades has found that there are certain plants or small animals that love certain kinds of waste. What he does is let the water run through a series of cisterns with different plants in each. What one plant likes to eat, it turns into other forms of waste, so in the next cistern he has the plant that considers that waste food. By the time the water comes out, it’s 5 times cleaner than traditional waste water treatment….

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3 Part 4  Part 5   
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Best Popcorn in the World and Other Benefits of Living in a Sustainable Neighborhood!

Imagine a room full of people, all gathered in a circle and sharing  their ideas on what makes a sustainable neighborhood. “I would like a swimming hole, like at my grandpa’s farm”, a 12 year boy shares. “It has a rope swing and turtles and the fishing is pretty good”. swimming hole

“I love prisoner of war escape movies and sci-fi movies. I’d like to curate a series of Saturday afternoon showings.  I just got a huge big screen TV, and my living room holds about 30 people!” Herb, a retiree, offers.

A young mother speaks next, “I’d like to contribute part of our front yard to community gardening. With the new baby, I would like to be growing more food, but we need help getting the soil ready. My husband agrees; he’d rather pull weeds. He’s tired of mowing the lawn.”

Around the circle the sharing continues.  ”Well”, Jack, a waste water engineer offers, ” I’d like to set up a water recycling facility… my idea is to go to the low point of the sewer system, and set up a series of living machines. Living Machines are greenhouses filled with translucent tanks full of water plants. The biologies on the roots of the water plants will purify the water, and we can then do a final UV treatment so the water is better than drinking quality. And that will fit into your ideas: One, the water would fill up the swimming hole and be a place of beauty and fun, and two,  the water from the pond could be fed to orchards and community gardens. Another benefit would be in case of a fire, the fire department could use the stored water for fighting the fire.”

My hand goes up.”Hey, I make the best popcorn in the world.  No brag, just fact! I’ll give lessons and man the popcorn machine on one Saturday matinee out of the month!” (See recipe below!)… READ MORE >>

Drought Happens: US and China

Drought is the Impending Bummer of the Southwest.  We pay attention to La Nina and El Nino, the ocean currents whose temperature determines how much rain and snow we get in Santa Fe.  I think it was the summer of 2003 when we had a serious drought, pinon trees died, and the city went into water rationing. You got a ticket if you watered on the wrong days, or in the middle of the day!  There are still dead, barren pinon trees standing across the landscape, reminding us that drought happens.

A few weeks ago I was buying a replacement part for a storm door from the manufacturer in South Dakota and got to talking to customer service about the weather.  She was saying they had a wet fall which saturated the ground, and then a lot of snow fell this winter.  If the snow should melt rapidly, 1/2 of the upper US will be having serious flooding this spring.

Drought in China

Drought in China has parched 16+ million acres of farmland, threatening the livelihood of 50 million farmers. 20 million people without drinking water.

I shared with her we’ve had a really dry winter and spring.  In southern New Mexico, there have already been fires, and the fire danger remains high.

Today I came across this news report that China is having a similar occurrence; really wet in the north and severe drought in the South.

In 2007, NASA released a report that 17 out of 18 computer models predicted permanent, catastropic drought in the Southwest US and the Mediterranean by 2050.

My take on all this, is we had better get good at recycling water!

I’ll be talking about water recycling in future posts, but for now, here is some of the article about China’s Drought… READ MORE >>

Turning Trash into Gold!

Red Wigglers Rock!  

They thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure; They are rarely found in soil, preferring conditions where others cannot survive. I am, of course, referring to the earthworm also called manure worms, or as their friends call em Eisenia foetida.  But whatever you call em, Red Wigglers rock!

Red WigglersOver the years I’ve had several “defining moments” with earthworms.  Early on, I found I wasn’t that enthusiastic about growing food, but I loved building compost piles. Maybe it was all the effort that double digging required, or the book by Ruth Stout about just building a compost pile on the driveway and things will grow. Somehow I got the message earthworms and compost piles are where it’s at…. READ MORE >>

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