New Kindle Book: “Values and the Future (Revaluation of Values)”

Values and the Future (Revaluation of Values) is now available at the Kindle Store

Nietzsche said revaluation of values is the supreme task of the philosopher. Nietzsche called philosophers lawgivers. And yet the world continues to operate as though values were not something we are called to revise, develop, enunciate. The position of these recent reflections is allied with Nietzsche. The values suggested are vastly different from the usual, traditional pantheon.

pattern language

A Future Worth Investing In — 1

I can see it but I cannot draw it. I will link to anyone who can create graphic representations of communities of the future.

A future worth investing in will involve US in the creation of every element, from the contents and packaging of products, to the creation and distribution of jobs (and pay for them) in a community.

A future worth investing in will create economies of scale in new and redesigned settlements with populations between 5-10K. These can be neighborhoods in existing cities. They can be reordered elements of suburbia. They can be inventive new settlements in and beyond existing metropolitan areas.

A future worth investing in will decide at the outset to begin phasing out the private automobile as the default method of moving about. Ideally, new settlements and reclaimed ones will be limited to walkers and riders of bikes and other conveyances to be developed — creating new jobs and markets. Communities will be linked by light rail and other conveyances to be developed or adapted.

A future worth investing in will challenge 100 years of zoning that has served the interests of the automobile economy, elongating distances, vitiating density and separating essential elements of life and wreaking havoc with essential scales.

Here are a few of the businesses and services that should be within walking distance of the dwellings of a pattern language sort of human settlement:

preventive health nodes,


indoor and outdoor food kiosks and sitting areas,

educational nodes for all ages.

entertainment nodes,

fitness nodes.

And so forth.

Residences should afford privacy, be noise free, be secure against theft and invasions of privacy. In general, they should be connected with common spaces in the form of walk esplanades, small parks, playgrounds, indoor and outdoor cafes, etc. Plus, close by, the nodes above and others, scaled to market analysis. For example a health node to serve 500 persons. Etc.

A future worth investing in will streamline and advance prefabrication until a choice of pre-built spaces — that have quality and inventiveness — are readily available and integrated with systems for their modular placement and replacement in existing and new communities.


pattern language, politics

Why Single Family Homes Are Obsolete

Not in the sense that they are presently the standard — the home that stands alone, that may be big enough for more than a nuclear family or small enough for two only. The standard, sprawled, often ugly, car-dependent, beloved American Dream acquisition, foreclosed and key to the economy. Single family homes that are the default, the ideal, the cash cow, whatever.

But these standard, pervasive, single family homes are, like private automobiles, obsolete for the future.

They may be cash cows for developers and resurrected real-estate speculators and they may for a time be the only thing that will enable you to escape the city or otherwise get right with the world. But they must eventually become either antiques (like old colonial dwellings in New England and along the Acela Corridor) or be folded in to reasonable human settlements that come about as a result of smart planning, humane design and caring attention to the thought of persons like Christopher Alexander.

I am talking largely about the single family dwellings of suburbia and exurbia, the little and big boxes that all look just the same, the bedroom community houses that have as much potential to be part of a vibrant neighborhood as a snake has to be a common pet.

Here are some salient reasons why the single family home cannot be a model for the future.

1. The future requires economies of scale to create reasonable ecological models.

Consider that a truly solar and wind driven neighborhood would thrive with a matrix for its dwellings that could incorporate 1000, or 5000 or 10,000 persons. Panels, turbines, not to mention recycling apparatus would be eco-effective and cost-effective if the huge expense involved was distributed among a large enough base. This thought becomes vapor if we assume the current proliferation of single family homes is the model for the future.

2. Single family homes represent a medium of conspicuous consumption which is borderline-disgusting.

I have watched some of the TV journeys through dwellings with more rooms than one can count, homes whose taste is not worthy of association with the word taste. These homes are a regurgitation of servile design responding to the big dollar which is no more. They got in under the wire and deep down everyone knew they made no sense, save as reflections of prideful ownership.

I think it was the noxious W who pushed the phrase ownership society. In a pig’s eye.

3. Single family homes are no longer affordable in an economy that will be moving more and more to the utilization of diverse human talents and less and less to the creation of capitalism’s friends, the defective and continually costly cash cows, otherwise known as the private car and the single family home.

The value of the single family homes being foreclosed today is about half what people paid for them and the economy is grimly absorbing this living nightmare. Everyone knew it when the deals were struck. It was a tacit crime against reason.

4. The American Dream will no longer be to own a car and have a single family home. It will be to live a decent life with a decent income and participate in a diverse and exciting community where the things needed to live are close at hand.

This will require a totally new approach to design and execution, a revolution in zoning. It will begin with an entrepreneurial model of a car-free human settlement and move, as people cotton to it, into actuality from place to place.

5. Security is enhanced by the creation of human settlements in locations not subject to the vagaries of flood and wind. Or settlements subject to these vagaries, but built to actually withstand them.

The private one family home is not a viable model for the creation of such settlements. Security will be one of the payoffs for a mentality that moves in the direction of these new settlements.

6. The dominant reason for the obsolescence of single family homes is their inextricable linkage to the automobile. They are slaves to the ideals that emerged, half-formed, in the minds of Henry Ford and Frank Lloyd Wright, when they imagined that we the people were going to become stalwart pioneers in an endless landscape. Wright actually assumed that every suburbanite would have a little garden in the back yard.

The result of this misjudgment is that we have built metrosprawl and continue to do so and it is an offense to nature, to humanity and to the future. It must be literally razed or radically changed to create livable human settlements where people have all the privacy they need in an environment that does not leave them. like Lucy Jordan, in a white suburban bedroom in a white suburban town. We are in the alienation elimination business. A sustainable economy requires a new conception if what it means to live together in society.

Imagine a community where children have a place to mingle and play within a few hundred feet of a dwelling and in sight of other adults gathered at social meeting places in a pedestrian setting. Imagine a community where preventive health nodes are also to be found within a few hundred yards of any dwellings and where one can eat and drink in social settings that are integrated into the mix and reached by foot.

The building of car-free communities is within our grasp and is the very key to sustainable economies. The decision to continue building private cars and single family homes spread to kingdom come is exactly the wrong decision for a viable future.

More On New Human Settlements:

Please read Our Crisis Is Not Economic as a starting point.


pattern language, politics

Why Private Cars Are Obsolete

No they are not obsolete as the dominant mode of transportation in today’s world, with the American model of more roads and more cars being emulated everywhere else and the design of cities following the imperious needs of the automobile.

They are obsolete for the future, they are obsolete as one of the foundation stones of a future economy, they are obsolete as a viable choice for a society that is moving toward change you can believe in. Why so?

1. Foundation Stones of A Future Economy

Individually owned cars are too expensive for most people but this is not the main reason why they are not viable economically.

They are sold with the expectation that they will be a cash cow for the seller and related businesses. More and more cars is the mantra.

But all this does is make any effort to reduce congestion or move beyond oil or any other laudable objective completely impossible. A future economy needs to be based not on the sale of cars, but on the replacement of the entire infrastructure of automotive society by a new form and configuration where money is generated by the growth of new services based on a localized availability of all relevant aspects of urban life.

The current model, assuming the endless sale of cars, is sprawl and individually-owned dwellings, both increasingly unaffordable and nonsensical in terms of creating a community where people can interact as they wish, be private as they wish and have a range of choices and options without having to drive for miles to work or play.

Current emphasis on car sharing is simply an acknowledgement that the notion of growing an economy by continuing purchase of individually-owned vehicles is an invitation to entrapment in a global economy that is no longer viable.

In case you are scratching your head and wondering what planet I come from, check out this Google books reference to a 1990s conference on car free cities.

The foundation stones of a future economy are car-free, pedestrian communities that incorporate ecological economies of scale, recycling capacities of scale and all of the features, in localized nodes, that we now associate with urban life, but which are being changed to universal by the universal availability of the Web.

2. Change We Can Believe In

President Obama has all of the pieces of change we can believe in in statements he has made over the past several years. The only thing that he has not done so far is to acknowledge that moving beyond what he calls the tyranny of oil means moving beyond the economy of private cars. The economy of the future will be one where the thousands of dollars that we invested in car after car will be invested in quality of life items that are largely localized as communities become more integral. For example. there will be a massive jump in home care of all sorts or neighborhood care. The money we paid for cars will go to care givers, teachers, coaches and so forth.

Why has President Obama been silent on the vision of a post-automobile society based on the money-generating idea of building entirely new communities that integrate many of the ideas that he has for such things as birth through college education? And health reform? Does he really believe it is viable to have huge hospitals that require $600 payments just to perform blood work?

No, I am sure he would like to see preventive clinics in each community of a few thousand persons or so. This is only viable in a car free new settlement or in an existing settlement that has been freed of central auto traffic to the point of offering a pedestrian option to all.

None of the changes envisioned by President Obama can take place without a commitment to making new or renewed neighborhoods, settlements or towns that move a bit toward shared amenities including solar and wind and recycling. These things are not viable long term if they are confined to retrofitting what we have now.

The President should launch design contests, planning contests. The criteria: car-free. mixed residence, work, culture, educational, medical and so forth all within walking distance. Cars allowed only outside the perimeter of the space occupied by the dwellings and other structures.

More ideas on change we can believe in:

Please read Our Crisis Is Not Economic as a starting point.