Creating More Time-It takes a Sustainable Urban Village!

How can we have more time?? How are we going to live lighter on the Planet??!! Significantly lighter??  SHARE YOUR IDEAS! (comment below, or go to Share Your Vision!)

more time anyone?

Creating More Time-It Takes a Sustainable Village!

Here’s my take.  If we were to create a great neighborhood, a convenient, mixed use, inspiring, supportive atmosphere, we would be richer.  If we could find ways to downsize our financial needs, we’d free up time; More disposable income, more time.

To be able to walk,  ride your bike, or take public transportation to work, requires a mixed use community. Now your family can let go of a car or two, and life becomes more affordable.

A mixed use neighborhood, with neighbors out and about, creates safer streets, so our children can get about without chauffeuring, freeing up time and peace of mind.

A short commute, or joining a meal share plan frees up and creates more time.

What would you do with more Time? Work on the new career…..lifelong learning…professional development….time to contemplate?

Spending time lingering over a cup of tea, or a beer, with a friend, reading a book, spending more time with children, or working in the garden; maybe these make for a more abundant life for you.

To have an end of life strategy, an aging in place program where I can help the elders of my neighborhood, and in turn, when my time comes, be assured of helping hands nearby, these are qualities money can’t by, but time can.

The trend over the last 40-50 years has been to make the home the center of  life;  Our theater, our library, spa, restaurant, entertainment center,  a sanctuary, an isolated unit in suburbia; an increasingly bigger house connected to the world in a sprawl car dominated lifestyle.

My wife and I are a unit, a band of two, holding it together.  As we’re both self-employed, even our offices are in our home.

When I contrast that with the stories I hear of long established village life is Europe, it gets me to thinking.   How can I lower my expenses so I can have better choices?  How can I lower my eco footprint?  What would I be willing to share?

As I understand, in this European lifestyle, community life plays a bigger part of the home life.  The home is smaller, the living room in the nearby restaurant.  Many evenings are spent over a meal, enjoying the comradery of community.  Maybe it sounds kind of  gossipy and claustrophobic, and yet there is something alluring.

As we learn to live in balance with the planet, we’ll be learning to make choices that can give us more time and a higher quality of life!

My intention is for this website to become a living compliation of good ideas, what works, what makes sustainable real. SHARE YOUR IDEAS, STORIES!

 

Image courtesy of Virginia Tech

Impending Bummers-Is Your Favorite on the List?

We might as well have some fun while we deal with the Paradigm Shift. I’ve been kind of anxious as long as I can remember, biting my fingernails, a perfectionist, worried if I’m enough, if I’m doing it right.  Things usually turn out really well, and yet before that, I can find myself worrying, apprehensive about how the future event is going to turn out.  I call this low level anxiety my “fear of the Impending Bummer”. 

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy, Global Warming, Nuke Meltdowns and other Impending Bummers


Scientists and other observant citizens have been drawing our attention to accumulating social, economic, and ecological “unintended” consequences and I call these our Impending Bummers. In a world of sticks and carrots, the Impending Bummers are the sticks.
Beyond Suburbia is about making better choices; choices which have way more carrots and way fewer sticks;  A world without major bummers of our own making. I call it the emerging sustainable economy.
As we go forward, learning how to make these better choices, we need to keep our eyes open for Bummers. Join in, add yours to the list! Together we can make sustainable real!… READ MORE >>

Impending Bummers, Arabs, and Popcorn..OH MY!

The beauty of free speech!  I get these emails that blow my mind. So hate-filled. Outright fabrications and half truths taken out of context. I go to snopes.com and find out the truth. Today’s was about Islam considering everyone infidels, titled “What’s an Infidel?”  I included it at the end of this blog….

As you can see from snopes, http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/allah.asp , whoever created this email twisted the truth to use it to show why we should feel totally threatened by Islam…. What is the value in this??? What good comes from using hate filled fabrications and passing them off as truths???  Maybe they own an armament company and want to sell tanks!!??dead fish

Maybe people who forward these emails find the world threatening.  I too find the world threatening.  In my world view,  the evil doer is our lifestyle; the car dependant, over consumptive, polluting the air, water and soils, destroying the balance ecologically, based on an economy that often uses externalities as a way to “offshore” responsibilities, side effects, and collateral damage all in the name of progress and economic development.

We Americans makeup 4% of the world’s population and “consume” 25% of the earth’s resources.   So “we Americans” are not the problem; We’re only doing 1/4 of the “consumption”.  Much of the world’s population aspire to the Western lifestyle. When I say “Houston we have a problem.”, I am saying there is no longer a we vs them.  It is us.

The piece of this world view, as I understand it, that pisses me off the most,  is the idea of “them”; We are the good guys and they are the bad guys.

It reminds me of two kids arguing about who’s eating more than their share of the popcorn, while the theater is burning.

(what the heck, let me give the fear mongering a shot!)

Send this letter to your network. You will have good luck!

Otherwise, all manners of catastrophe will rain down!… READ MORE >>

Why own?… when you can Carshare!!

Oh my God!  We can share stuff, even cars!

Philly Carsare

Sustainable living with a carshare!

Can you imagine, you can rent out your car by the hour??!! yep, human ingenuity strikes again. You probably have heard of Zipcars, and other private car share programs.  Well, another variation on the concept,  peer to peer car sharing,  is coming on line.  RelayRides in Boston claims their participating car owners can earn up to $8000 a year by renting out their cars.  With different Smartphone interfaces, integrated web cam configurations,  and insurance packages tailored to the club program,  a variety of business models have sprung up around the planet. … READ MORE >>

SUSTAINABLE URBAN VILLAGE -turning SUVs into SUVS

Sustainable Urban Village is an odd phrase.

Sustainable Urban Village is a mash up of opposites. “Village” is pastoral, dreamy, idealistic, old fashioned, small and intimate. “Urban” conjures up pretty much the opposite-gritty, concrete and asphalt, contemporary, hip, huge and cold. Add “sustainable” to the mix, and it becomes ….an odd phrase. Where would one find such a creature? And what qualities will it embody?

As we contemplate where we’re going as a people and we feel the ground shifting under us as we transform from a car dominated sprawl lifestyle to a pedestrian friendly, ecologically sound, lowered consumptive way of life, I’m suggesting we pick and choose from the best options; incorporating best practices, and lessons learned of what works and what doesn’t, leaving those choices with harsh unintended consequences behind.

vida streetscape

Live, work, play, learn, shop, all within walking. Kids play, while you catchup with a friend!

“What works” for me, rolls into 5 principles; “Mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space……everywhere.” Another way to put it? Sustainable Urban Villages, and they are found…..everywhere.

It takes a certain number of residential to make commercial be successful.  These economies of scales hold true no mater where we live, in a rural setting, a grayfield, or in the suburbs. We will learn what works, what it takes to be sustainable. As we reinvent our economy, we will pick wisely, and base our investment in the future on the real, lasting values we hold collectively. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to live in balance with our earth.

Redeveloping ourselves sustainable is complicated and requires collaboration. We’re wired to innovate. As we rise to the greatest challenge humanity has ever known,  we will be amazing. Share your vision!

Together, we can bring forward the emerging sustainable economy, a lifestyle that is “Good for people, good for the planet, and good for the polar bears”.

Let’s make sustainable real!… READ MORE >>

Sustainable neighborhoods as popular as cell phones!

Over the years of studying what works, and looking at all the impending bummers coming from our sprawl, car dependent lifestyle, I continue to conclude that the cure, the silver bullet, is “Mixed use, mixed income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space……everywhere”.  Even though I’m so sure these sustainable neighborhoods are the antidote to the vast majority of what ails us, a quick response time is everything.

The rate of carbon building up in the atmosphere, and the forecast outcomes,  require the developed nations to get to sustainable lifestyles pronto.

Talk about jousting at windmills….. I’ve set the intention that sustainable neighborhoods become as popular as cell phones, and get implemented around the planet. I take heart  from Margaret Mead’s “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does”.

The times call for a paradigm shift, transforming our car-dominated economy to a knowledge-based economy; from fossil fueled, polluting, wasteful overconsumption to renewable, non toxic, more efficient, lowered consumptive living.

As we get good at clearly defining the benefits, the popularity will soar.  Mixed use, mixed income neighborhoods with lifelong learning and open space are the way we are gonna make sustainable real!… READ MORE >>

Hard Times, Impending Bummers, and Resilient Communities

As I was leaving Trader Joe’s parking lot today, I glanced at the homeless guy as he raised his cardboard sign.  I only caught the first word on his sign “hardtimes….”. For several blocks I mulled over going back and giving him some money.  I was also thinking of my friend, a metal worker, who was angry about a couple of recent bills for emergency doctor’s office visits; “Ten minutes, $250 and $325! And I have medical insurance!” he exclaimed several times, outraged. Turns out February is a slow month, and the go-go days of the construction industry seem long gone. He has a wife and two kids and pays $780 a month in health insurance ( up $45 as “he had a birthday” said the insurance company recently).Homeless

The recent unprecedented cold weather froze lots of pipes around town, and as a general contractor,  I got a month of good work putting a couple of condos back together.

All of these thoughts came together, precipitated by the homeless guy’s” hardtimes”, and reminded me of all the possible bummers we face;  Peak oil and rising gasoline demand worldwide, honey bee’s dying off en mass, fracking water contamination,… READ MORE >>

Resurrecting the Economy…Sustainable!

In my last blog “What to do about the Economy?”  I was saying “we need ‘sustainable mixed use, mixed income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space…..everywhere’ “. Let me explain that a bit.

In 2006, Arthur C Nelson has been warning that the over supply of large lot suburban homes will be 22 million by 2025.  Currently, $1.2 trillion dollars of commercial is underwater, with leases due to renew between now and 2013.  Much of this commercial, as I understand it, serves the outer reaches of suburbia, the very same neighborhoods where the majority of residential foreclosures have occurred.  So with all this oversupply, you might ask, how can I claim “We need sustainable mixed use, mixed income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space….everywhere?”

Well, simply put…”It’s the Boomers, and their children, the Millennials!”  Turns out in surveys, 1/3 of the Boomers (24 million or so) want a simpler, walkable lifestyle.  And 88% of the Millennials (27 million???) want a more vibrant alive urban kind of lifestyle.

If all these demographic surveys are accurate, all we have to do to Resurrect the Economy is build higher density, vibrant alive, mixed use, mixed income neighborhoods!… READ MORE >>

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