Restorative Justice-another sustainable safety net

Restorative justice programme Pollsmoor Prison Cape Town

I’ve heard the term “Restorative Justice” before.  Probably in the context of the community meetings held in South Africa to heal the wounds of apartheid.

I also once read a story about a tribe in the South Pacific, as I remember the story,  whose members look inside of themselves to see what, inside of each of them, would do that same crime. I intuitively understood the remarkable wisdom the tribes had discovered. After reading this article in Yes Magazine, I’m struck by the difference in our punitive judicial incarceration system vs this restorative justice approach…. 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 >>

Homeless in a Sustainable Urban Village

“Giving something back”

Just that simple, core.  this video is awesome.  I’m  usually uncomfortable around homeless.  I love the idea of being my brother’s keeper, doing onto other’s how I would like to be treated. But I get squeamish none the less, when I think about how to help the homeless learn to fish. This month’s AARP Bulletin has this article and video.

Check out these creative financing and ownership mechanisms!

Sustainable Urban Villages would certainly use these kind of supportive concepts to make sustainable real!

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

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 >>

Elements of a Sustainable Lifestyle

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.

Here’s my ideas of the major elements that make up a sustainable lifestyle. Most are not of the thinking that created our existing suburban sprawl society. Changing from car-dominated thinking to pedestrian-centered thinking is required.

Communities that embrace these elements will be indeed different.

Just as a mainframe that used to fill a room evolved into a laptop, so will our way of life. The embedded resources are vastly reduced, while the quality and performance will be superior. Such are the values of living sustainability.

Here’s another way I like to say it;

“Mixed-Use, Mixed-Income Neighborhoods, with Life Long Learning and Open Space…Everywhere!”… READ MORE >>

Up on the Roof

♫  When this old world starts getting me down

Up on the Roof in Berkeley

And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now…  ♫

The Drifters sang it, Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote it, and every time I climb up on a roof (I’ve been a general contractor for 25 years), it’s always the best.  Share your pictures of roof top living!

As we design and build Sustainable Urban Villages, one of the great assets we can share is roof top living.  The additional costs can be significant, so sharing the space as a community is an obvious win-win. … READ MORE >>

The Great Senior Sell off + dropping graduation rates=bummer

Arthur C Nelson is coming to town!

He’s the go to guy that has been pretty accurately predicting how the housing markets are evolving.

This coming Friday, June 30th, he’ll be in Santa Fe and hopefully shedding light on the latest trends.

Here’s my take. As us Boomers get to 65, retirement, we tend to sell our homes and downsize and/or relocate. The problem is there’s a smaller pool of buyers who can afford to buy the homes… Hispanic and African-Americans populations, though growing, haven’t been graduating from colleges in the numbers required to acquire the salaries necessary to buy our homes.

The American Dream of home ownership converting into our retirement nest egg has taken a hit. … READ MORE >>

Funding strategy for Sustainable Urban Villages

Just after I sent out the Sustainable Urban Village in Santa Fe invitation, I got this email from a friend.

Hi Brian,

Great cause…what are you doing for financing?


Hello Peter,
the game plan of this first phase, of gathering input from the unmet market’s demand,… READ MORE >>

Interest Free Banking and better schools!

Watch this video!  along with an amazing shift in my thinking around banking, I love the moderator’s accent!

I was talking with a friend yesterday, a newly retired school teacher, and I asked her how she would improve schools. “Hire more teachers” she replied.

I agree. I’ve had several teachers tell me they don’t even have time to pee during the day. How can we bring creativity and innovation into the classroom, if teachers don’t have time to contemplate and investigate best practices??… READ MORE >>

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