A Think and Do Tank

From where I stand, Innovation is the name of the game.

How can we create an atmosphere conducive to innovation to better support the emerging sustainable economy in …emerging??

I’m envisioning an affordable, interdisciplinary Think and Do Tank, an innovation lab. As I contemplate this “Center for Innovation’, I can see there are several ways it could be configured to serve each region’s needs. This Think and Do Tank could well have an online presence that facilitates innovation.  Today, I’m going to focus on “real world” applications.

Some businesses, such as Google, pay their employees every week to spend 20% of their time on endeavors outside their “normal” jobs. These pursuits end up generating something like 80% of the innovative products Google develops.

The Think and Do Tank could be this kind of an asset for our community;… READ MORE >>

Senior Cohousing!

Enjoyable and affordable. “In a retirement community, things are done for you and to you. In a cohousing community things are done by you.”  Sharing caregivers….having fun.  How’s this compare to your envisioned retirement?

Mountain View Cohousing Community from David Burwen on Vimeo.

Sounds good to me! Charles Durrett’s Senior Cohousing is an amazing book. He reports on the wide creative options the Danes have created in their senior cohousing communities across Denmark. We can be having way more fun! And way better safety nets!

Share your experiences in senior cohousing…We’re clueless as to what the options are compared to retirement homes!! Together, we can make sustainable real! READ MORE >>

Free Up Disposable Income, Ditch the Car

Mixed use neighborhood. Sounds simple. Saves money. Artur C. Nelson presented the info. Robert Steuteville wrote about it.  The question remains…where do you want to live?

“The average American family spends 32 percent of its income on housing and 19 percent on transportation, leaving 49 percent for all other expenditures. Those who live in auto-dependent suburbs spend 25 percent of their income on transportation, leaving only 43 percent for all other expenses. Those who live in transit-rich neighborhoods spend only 9 percent on transportation, leaving far more money for discretionary expenses.”

Another beautiful thing about living in a walkable mixed use community, is the attached part.  Just by the virtue of being attached, your house has less exterior wall exposed, thus a savings in heating and cooling,  and less maintenance. Polar Sam gives it two big thumbs up!… READ MORE >>

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 >>

A Sustainable Way of Life Becomes the Curriculum! Part 1

Together, we can transform our way of life sustainable! By sharing our visions and ideas of our desired future, we can “build it on paper”.  That’s how real estate development works.  The proposal gets created, the numbers are crunched, the financing lines up, and building permits are issued.  It all starts with the vision!

Puzzle pieces coming together around a shared vision

Puzzle pieces coming together around a shared vision

The prospects for sustainable “mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods” has never been brighter. Suburban sprawl has run its course. Gasoline prices are facing a new era of worldwide Post Peak Oil production. Those of us who have a vision and want to move in are in the driving seat of the emerging sustainable economy; the construction industry is all ears!

Be bold, Dream Big, envision with all your heart. In that way, we will have a “big enough why” to be as creative and innovative as necessary to make sustainable neighborhoods real!

Here’s my vision of a sustainable, quality filled neighborhood that lives lightly on the planet.

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

The entire community is experiencing a wide range of benefits since neighborhood residents, the city, local service providers, nearby businesses, parents, students, teachers and the school’s administration decided to work together to create mutually beneficial facilities. Benefits include job creation, an increase in city revenues, a pedestrian friendly lifestyle, safe streets for children to play, a huge jump in test scores, a much lowered dropout rate, a big increase in workforce housing and a less consumptive, more affordable lifestyle that allows Santa Feans to live lighter on the planet…. READ MORE >>

Creative, Affordable Healthcare

What’s a sustainable lifestyle without affordable healthcare??? Just as we’re called upon to re-innovate our neighborhoods sustainable, so are we challenged to bring creativity to healthcare.

1st we create a healthy lifestyle! With a mixed use, mixed income community, we get a pedestrian centered way of life, where we walk to many of our daily tasks. The shorter commute and more affordable lifestyle makes for less stress. More exercise, less stress, means less need for healthcare over one’s lifespan. Just the act of living is preventative medicine!!!

Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his innovation in creating micro-credit programs for poor women and now he’s bringing innovation in healthcare to impoverished women as well.

His program, Grameen Healthcare is designed for low-cost, affordable health services for all of Bangladesh, especially the lowest income women and children, and sustain these services thru social business. Whereas the program is 90% self supportive,  Yunus believes it will become completely self supportive!

“We are excited to support the Grameen Nurse Institute, a breakthrough social business model that could transform the health care industry by positioning girls as not just the beneficiaries of services, but the agents of future change,” said Lisa MacCallum, Managing Director of the Nike Foundation. “In our work so far at the Nike Foundation, we have learned that if you start with a girl, everyone else benefits: boys, women, men also. That’s the power of the girl effect.”

READ MORE >>

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 >>

The #1 way to Support Local Food is…

The #1 way to Support Local Food is by… creating a deeply affordable lifestyle. Lowering the cost of living frees up customers’ pocket books so they can buy more local food and dine at restaurants serving locally produced food.

Santa Fe's Farmers Market

Local Farmers, Local Food...Santa Fe Saturday AM

A deeply affordable lifestyle is essential in other key ways as well. Farmers and their employees need affordable housing, water, land, processing facilities, season extending structures, fertilizers, etc.  Higher costs in any one of these networks of networks undermines our food security.

Here in Santa Fe we have one of the best Farmer’s Markets in the nation, apparently.  I think much of its popularity is because Santa Feans have more disposable income. And yet, in spite of all the success, Beneficial Farms CSA‘s Steve Warshawer estimates all the capacity of the Northern New Mexico regional farmers would feed only 2000 folks.  Santa Fe current population is around 70,000, with a surrounding regional total of approx 100,000.

For our regional capacity, our Food Shed, to grow significantly, I believe we will have to work  together to create deep affordability and free up more disposable income. I call it “Mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space”. The open space is for agriculture, natural habitat, and recreation.

This strategy is good for everyone; builds our regional resiliency and food security, lowers our eco-footprint, and raises our quality of life!

Share your ideas and experiences in the comments area! Back yard chickens, collecting urine for fertilizer, compost piles, converting front yards to food forests, deep mulching strategies, farm to school programs, aquaculture, etc… the list is long….Together we can make sustainable real!… READ MORE >>

Building a Sustainable Neighborhood with Online Planning Tools

If “it takes a village” to create a sustainable lifestyle, and 70% of the “villagers” don’t get systems, how can we reinvent our way of life socially, economically, and ecologically whole? As I understand it, 70% of Americans are “sensors”, a Myer- Briggs typology.  Sensors don’t get systems, so I’m told. Apparently they don’t get cause and effect.
connecting the dots

Wanted; Killer Modeling Tool to Connect the Dots for a Sustainable Future

A year or so ago, I was on the Dell site, and found their “continue personalizing”, building a computer step-by-step process.  It started with choosing your color, and then the website walked you through each choice for each component. The price and specs accumulated as you went.  I got really excited…”Hey this is how neighbors or future residents could design their neighborhoods sustainable!”
This is my dream.  In the not too distant future, you will be able to use an online tool and go through a similar process, and build your neighborhood socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable! 

Imagine all your neighbors going through the same process, and then getting together to compare notes.  If the modeling tool had 3 D capabilities, then things like shadowed areas and massing could be visualized. Once your community “sees” the agreed upon values, and the great options that appeal to the group’s needs, and all the mutual benefits to be had,  neighborhoods will reinvent themselves sustainable.

Even Sensors Can Do It!

By breaking complex systems into pieces, giving information as to the costs of each option, and then aggregating them all together at the end for a grand total, makes it so we know what we’re going to buy and how much it will cost!  What if the info supplied was the social, economic and ecological consequences? What if the complex system was the design of a sustainable lifestyle??!!

I believe we can out compete sprawl development, give the market a better choice.

I call it making sustainable real! 

“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”… 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 >>

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