A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 3

Imagine. An elementary school and the surrounding neighborhoods joining  together to become  a sustainable community with the school at its heart. Part 3

Working Together to Get to a Zero Carbon Emissions Lifestylegone green

The “Gone Green” Neighborhood Renovation program continues to transform energy inefficient homes into zero emission homes.

The “Whole Home Audit” documents the existing water and energy consumption of each home as well as the homeowner’s financial status and comes up with a comprehensive plan that works for the owners as well as the surrounding neighbors. Two man teams of students conduct home surveys and get amazing hands on experience of the challenges residents face. Working with an architect mentor, the homeowners and  the student teams, they come up with three different options,  which eventually get turned into the “Gone Green Action Plan”.

Single-story homes often have been granted zoning variances to allow the neighborhood to go mixed use. Commercial and residential additions and resulting revenue streams are tailored to fit, ensuring a retirement plan that gives great comfort to each household. The local residents not only get to retire in familiar surroundings, but in many cases, their home’s equity is converted into their retirement funds and the neighborhood gets a mixed-use community. The resulting walkable pedestrian-friendly streets are alive and safe with neighbors out and about. Kids bicycle everywhere and families enjoy the affordability of viable one-car families. Mass transit, the train and car-share services are affordably available to all, and based on usage, are highly successful.

The “Gone Green” program has also evolved into a local bank… READ MORE >>

World Peace this Week, Sustainable Neighborhoods Next Week!

I just watched John Hunter’s TED presentation….So Dang Good!  He has his 4th graders solving World Peace in one week!  I wrote him to see if the game, played on a 3 dimensional 4′x4′ board game, could be adapted to sustainable neighorhoods.  Social, Economic and Ecological sustainability is so complicated, but hey, so is World Peace!

I dream of online and real world tools that give us the ability to redevelop our lifestyle properous, resilient, and sustainable.  Wouldn’t it incredible to give our kids that game/modeling tool!!!! The gap between school and the real world can be so great….how can we so such a disfavor?!! It’s a big job, the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced…we need our kids participation and innovation in making sustainable real!

Here’s John’s video.

Create Your Desired Future, Thriving and Sustainable!

Share Your Vision!

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 damage has 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’s another 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.
  • Describe the amenities you’d like to have in house or would be willing to share.
    • Maybe you’d be ok with sharing a washer/dryer with others, as long as it was really conveniently located, and water and energy efficient. Maybe having an affordable guest room would be just the thing.
  • Describe your neighborhood.
    • What shops and services do you need nearby?
  • How about water features?
    • A pond in the neighborhood? how about an outdoor shower?
  • What about food?
    • Need a garden? How about a place to do outdoor grilling? a personal compost pile, or a community composting service?
  • Describe your preferences around transportation.
    • Car share, bike, skateboard, bus, pogo stick, walking?
  • Fun!
    • Recreation, hobbies, sports, entertainment
  • Open space, nature, habitat.
    • Would you incorporate nature into your neighborhood? How?
  • How about career/jobs?
    • Lifelong learning, startup support, professional development?
  • What would work for your retirement scenario?
    • Working out of your home as a consultant?
  • What about health?
    • Healthcare plan,  preventative healthcare, aging in place strategies? Need some help with your relationship skills?
  • Giving and Receiving
    • Are there specific services would you like to give? services you would like to receive?
  • Quality of Life
    • Aesthetics, spiritual/religious considerations

 

Envisioning A More Abundant Lifestyle

Serving Ourselves, While Serving Others

A few years ago,  the Sustainable  Neighborhoods Focus Group came up with the idea of giving as a key to a more abundant lifestyle. Currently, infill and new development often give very little to neighborhoods, usually a loss of views and open space, more traffic, and a deadness associated with second homes and single use neighborhoods.

From our Focus Group, a vision emerged where the residents of existing neighborhoods get more; More abundance and aliveness, more safety with neighbors walking on the streets to more conveniently located services. Along with a healthier, more pedestrian friendly lifestyle comes innovative ways to share more amenities, creating a greater sense of community and providing a more affordable lifestyle, a lifestyle beyond suburbia, a lifestyle that lives lighter on the planet.

Roy Wroth's concept diagram

A Neighborhood that Serves Itself, while Serving Others!

The Focus Group identified conceptual “clusters” of homes or workspaces, designed around residents’ simple but fundamental essential common needs; (in other words, the “cluster” could be a scattered site)

  • Child-Oriented Houses
  • a Cohousing Group
  • an Elder Housing Group
  • a Live/work and Commercial Space Cluster
  • a Small Houses and Eco-Homes Compound
  • Artist Cooperative Workshops
  • Young People Living Over Garages….

 

Giving More Amenities, Getting More Life

These different clusters were assigned services to be provided, not only to meet the cluster’s own needs, but as economies of sale require, to meet the needs of the adjoining clusters and the existing, surrounding neighborhoods…. 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 >>

Quest for the Killer Modeling Tool continues

The Quest is on!  Ray at Infracycle recommended taking a look at CommunityViz.  Coincidently, recently I’ve attended a couple of their  CommunityViz’s “Community Matters”  webinars….

On capturing customers for successful commercial-

This article about Hershey Pennsylvania’s attempt to revitalize the town, from the ERSI site, has a good discussion on how to figure customer capture using the Huff gravity Model.

I found a video on how to most accurately collect data-  the Block Point method wins! on ERSI’s site, but lost the link. Having the critical numbers of residential to make the commercial successful is one of the essential  pieces to a walkable lifestyle.

Here’s another interesting piece I’m learning about …APIs  Application Programming Interface.  Different software programs create the tools to encourage others to adapt into them with their own needs, thus spreading the usage of the original software.  So this says to me, I’m looking for software that has APIs that integrate into GIS and Google Earth, or maybe I’m looking for Google Earth APIs???

Hey, whatever it takes to make sustainable real!

I’m thinking of creating another site where this conversation can build…. maybe a more wiki kind of online tool…I don’t have much traffic at this point, but the day will come!!… READ MORE >>

What to do about the economy? Go Sustainable!

The thing to do these days is get a more affordable lifestyle. Lower your gasoline bill, lower the monthly heating bill, lower the housing payment, lower healthcare costs….you name it…make it lower. The problem is gas prices are going up! and that makes everything more expensive.  It’s time to get creative. It’s time to go sustainable.

This is where we are as a planet, in the middle of reinventing ourselves… We need an affordable lifestyle…..one that is economically sustainable. Coincidently, there is a good chance our more affordable lifestyle is going to live lighter on the planet too.  So this reinvention, this retrofit, this more sustainable living is going to be good for the polar bears as well.

President Obama brought it to our attention in the State of the Union address… Americans have always invented themselves, and the time is here again…. READ MORE >>

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