As the United States economy remains hooked up to life support, it is natural for those gathered around the bedside to see hope in each flicker of life. We humans are optimistic by nature, which is certainly an evolutionary trait that has served us well in darker ages. Even so, unfounded optimism can prove disastrous, especially when it keeps us from doing the difficult things that need to be done.
This past weekend, my hometown paper ran an article detailing how the economic signs are starting to point up. This is a theme I see reflected recently in the Old Economy circles, that if we just build enough capacity and subsidize enough undertakings, we can revive 2005 back into existence. The beyond-wishful thinking in the piece was highlighted by this passage:
[Brainerd City Administrator Dan] Vogt said Brainerd is well positioned for an economic turnaround with available industrial land and electrical system upgrades for attractive and lower cost energy. Brainerd now has more load capacity for business and industry, Vogt said.
This is akin to the owner of a dying mall — one that is old, falling apart and financed with enormous government subsidies that are about to expire — looking at the growing number of empty spaces and saying they are “well-positioned.” Some see the glass as half empty. Some as half full. And some are evidently drinking stuff a lot stronger than water…. READ MORE >>
Here’s another amazing TED presentation. “We have serious problems with boys, their culture isn’t working in schools”, Ali Carr-Chellman so states. Her opening summation of the 100 Girls Project statistics are remarkable.
As you may know, I am petitioning the Gods to send us the tools to assist us in re-inventing our world sustainable. Ali speaks on the how boys and their gaming world is forbidden in school.
Imagine this…you get a knock on the door, and the 4th grader who lives down the street, greets you and says he is surveying the neighborhood, and wants your help. ”It’ll take 15 minutes, and if you participate, it’ll raise money for our school!” You say yes, and what unfolds amazes you. You find yourself encouraged and imaging a better tomorrow, a mixed use, deeply affordable lifestyle, where “you can join the car share program and make money, up to $6000 a year!”
He opens his laptop to Google Earth, and up pops your neighborhood. ” Our family has been thinking about what to do with grandma, since grandad died last year, and she’s living alone in her big house. Here’s what my Dad suggested. We want to add a second story to our house, and move upstairs. My Grandma will move in with us and live in the old master suite downstairs. She loves to bake pies, so we want to open a pie shop! The living room and kitchen will become Doris’ Pie Shoppe!” He proceeds to show you a mock up, in Google Earth, with the help of Sketchup, of the remodeled home, “Doris’s Pie Shoppe” proclaims the hand painted sign across the old front door.
“OK, so what would you like to do with your home?” he asks you, ready to mock it up on his screen.
This is the curriculum I’m talking about; Hands on, relevant, involved in the winning the future. Making Sustainable Real!
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).
As a country, we’ve spent the last 60 years getting really good at mass producing suburban sprawl and now the economic, social, and ecological collateral damagehas gotten too big to ignore. So what do we do now??
Here’s how I see it…if you are willing to design a sustainable lifestyle, and move in, you are in the driver’s seat! The construction/development industry needs YOUR vision so the emerging sustainable economy can…..emerge!
You zero in on the floor plan that works for you, the amenities you’d like to have in your neighborhood, as well as the price you can afford. The planners, architects, city policy department, and investors will do their dangest to pool your ideas with other prospective neighbors and come up with scenarios that meet your needs.
I want to facilitate your efforts in any way I can and here’sanother attempt to give you a breakdown of areas that you might consider.
You get your own page , and can come back any time and make changes. (until Buddy Press is set up, enter your ideas in comment below!). If you want to think about some elements for awhile, don’t feel obligated to address all the elements. Other contributors will propose ideas you can spark off of.
Creating a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable is a complicated challenge. Together we can make sustainable real!!
Describe the floor plan of your future home.
Maybe you only want 500 sf (see floor plans for ideas), maybe you’d like to rent out a room to supplement your income.
Rob Althouse shares some of the dilemmas in evolving a green lifestyle. Remembering as a child walking to every thing, and waking up as an adult in a walking to nothing world. Putting an overly expensive solar system on a non solar home. Feeling like an inmate in an insane world. ahhh, the joys of the times….
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!)
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!
Our times call for rapid prototyping social, economical, and ecological strategies so the emerging sustainable economy can….emerge! Many of the jobs being created from evolving technologies, don’t even exist yet. We are inventing the future as we travel forward.
Half of the hottest futurist jobs don’t even exist yet, according to Daniel Burrus, author of Technotrends and CEO of Burrus Research Associates. “We’re in the early stages of shifting gears into the e-society,” he says. “Virtually every part of an enterprise will be e-enabled, which includes connectivity, content, commerce, communication, collaboration, and community.”…READ MORE >>