Saturday, December 28, 2013

UNTOLD STORIES PART3--A MAN WITH A PLAN

TO SAVE THE HUMAN RACE.  And before you roll your eyes---let me introduce Joseph Smyth---architect and visionary whose work includes the Children's Hospital of Washington DC and the groundbreaking planned community of Glade Springs, Pennsylvania.  

I met him in Cottonwood, Az---chatted a bit ---immediately sensed that I had stumbled across a true visionary.  Of course I asked for an interview.  Soon I was sitting across the table from him --learning a bit about his favorite subject SUSTAINABILITY.

He has made presentations around the world on this subject---most notably at the Rio conference.
Old enough to be retired but going strong---he shows me this upcoming presentation to local high school students.
He was acquainted with and inspired by  Palo Solari, designer of Arcosanti--the futuristic city under construction between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

 Here's what I gathered  from  my interview of  Joseph Smyth::

1. Civilization began when humans clustered in agrian based communities/cities---communicating, cooperating, creating culture--enriching each other in a thousand ways.
2, Urban sprawl (auto centered living) by requiring vast, massively wasteful and destructive infrastructure--is incredibly expensive--enslaving us in long work lives to pay for it--- divides and isolates us--- swallows up our resources.
3. Creative Clustering can reduce the cost of city building / housing to a small fraction of its current cost and preserve our environment.  Building  pedestrian friendly cities--can make life more interesting and  liberate us from much drudgery.
4. Sustainability must be our prime goal or we will wreck ourselves and our world.  What humanity  needs is a design revolution.  We can have the good life---indefinitely---when we design and live sustainably.
HE WENT ON TO SAY: (I paraphrase ).
Sustainability  is about a true sense of ownership. (i.e. enough personal control to feel accountable and responsible for a thing)
Rent is the opposite of sustainability. (i.e. not enough investment to feel responsible for a thing)
He asked me a seminal question:  Who washes a rental car?
Honoring natural and man-made beauty is a principle of sustainability. (what we hold dear is what we will take care of )

Those traveling just north of  Springerville, Az---stop at AVERY'S and see his influence.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  How lucky I am to meet such interesting people.---people who care about the good of the world. The good life. The long lives we enjoy are the gift of visionaries, designers, inventors like my friend Joseph.  To whatever extent we are "tweaking" our own life and the things we own---we are also visionaries and inventors---participators in the process.     . 


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Imagine HAVING to own a motor vehicle to get around.

That's like HAVING to own your own electrical generation system, your own natural gas facility, your own waterworks, your own sewage disposal system...all well and fine for those who wish to live off the grid, but absolutely ridiculous for those who live in a town of even modest size.

In the same way that we have utility companies to supply electricity, natural gas, water, and remove our sewage, we ought to have good, reliable public transportation systems in all parts of the US.

Setting up a system in which hundreds of millions of people HAVE to own and maintain a car is, ultimately, economically and environmentally unfeasable.

I'm not talking about eliminating all motor vehicles, just rethinking things so that people don't have to own a car, any more than they have to own an 10 kilowatt generator.

B Man said...

> 2. Urban sprawl (auto centered living) is staggeringly wasteful-- incredibly expensive--enslaving us in long work lives to pay for it---destructive because it divides and isolates us--- swallows up our resources--by requiring vast infrastructure.
This would depend upon which resource one is counting. An empty city lot costing $50,000 is much more costly than buying an acre in a suburban neighborhood for $10,000. Taxes enslave us for 3 to 6 months out of the year. Many of us do not want close neighbors and might blow a gasket if we had to put up with an a-hole neighbor, which is also destructive. Said resources were paid for by the people that live there.
>
> 3. Creative Clustering can reduce the cost of housing to a small fraction of its current cost---preserve our environment, build pedestrian friendly cities-- make life more interesting and liberate us from much drudgery.
Only a small number of people want to live that way. Urban surroundings to me IS drudgery! But anyone who wants to live in one is free to do so.
>
> 4. Sustainability must be our prime goal or we will wreck ourselves. What the world needs is a design revolution. We can have the good life---indefinitely---when we design and live sustainably.
Then he should look up Geoff Lawton
http://www.geofflawton.com/sq/15449-geoff-lawton
and Joel Salatin.
http://www.polyfacefarms.com/speaking-protocol/joels-bio/

>
> HE WENT ON TO SAY: (I paraphrase ).
>
> Sustainability is about ownership. (i.e. enough personal investment to feel responsible for a thing)
>
> Rent is the opposite of sustainability. (i.e. not enough investment to feel responsible for a thing)
Then he should advocate the abolition of many of the zoning laws that unnecessarily raises the cost of home ownership. Then more poor people could buy houses.
>
> He asked me a seminal question: Who washes a rental car?
Under long term leases, nearly everybody! If a car leasing company charges extra for returning the car dirty, then many people would indeed return the car clean. I recently rented a skid loader. It was extremely muddy when I got done with it. The rental company would have charged me another $75 if I returned it muddy, so I spent about $12 dollars at a car wash. I had mud sprayed all over my rain suit and my face. Additionally, they would have charged me $6 per gallon for fuel had I not topped it off.
Bman

Anonymous said...

I think I would enjoy "density";however, most people who live in cities are renters....one can buy apartments but they are very expensive.
A couple of hundred thousand will get you an apartment in Copenhagen, millions are required to buy in on the upper east side of Manhattan.
Consider the truism: no one will take care of you as well as you take care of youself.
To date, it is easier and cheaper to live rurally. The next cheapest is probably RVing, and the next is urban.
That's is just my opinion of course.
Bushman