pattern language, politics

COMMENT ON: The ‘Real Unemployment’ Needs Real Solutions

1. We will not have the jobs we need until we decide to become the society we can be.

2. China may be a problem but it is unrealistic to believe that we will solve our problem by trying to tell China how to behave.

3. The current infrastructure should be radically altered insofar as it is based on the idea that we will always have more cars and more and more single family dwellings dispersed over the land. This is a recipe for decline.

The US has an average population density of under 100 per square mile. This frustrates the creation of economically viable communities. Cities are five times more energy efficient than metrosprawl.

We need to reshape things to achieve adequate residential densities, walkable neighborhoods, and a rescaling of things so that people can work near where they live..

Jobs of the future will emerge naturally if we decide to reshape our automobile-dependent society, rewarding the creation of economically-viable neighborhoods with a population of up to 10,000 per square mile and the ability to walk to the places one needs for work, play and sustenance.

This will require a zoning revolution.

Detroit should be making the modular elements of new communities instead of more cars.

China, incidentally, has ecoblocks. We have nothing of the sort. Yet.

Read the article I’m commenting on at HuffingtonPost

pattern language, politics

Job Openings At Record Low: 50 Percent Fewer Than 2007

Read the article I’m commenting on at HuffingtonPost

UPDATE: I would normally receive a notification if Huff had published this comment. Didn’t get one.

The reason job openings are low is because the market is changing radically.

The jobs of the future have been largely beyond the radar of planners or are just coming into focus.

The jobs of the future will depend on the evolution of new concepts of settlement, zoning and service.

We are moving from an “institutional” society to a more community or neighborhood-oriented one. We are also moving to a more security-conscious one and one which will place a premium on safe and person-friendly environments. Scale is the key. Adequate density. Current metrosprawl densities are impossible economically.

It is the market itself that is making the continuation of an automotive, metrosprawl world less and less sustainable.

The change that is coming will happen as folk free up their mental and financial resources to rebuild our society physically, conceptually and with a more personal face.

pattern language, politics

Morning News — Tweets, Twitter

Will Apple’s iSlate Corner The Print Market — Hard To Believe It Will Be The Only Option

U.S. tightens international air security

The Art of #hcr Ping Pong

Why Cheney Is Full of It — Obama’s Terror Warriors NYTMag – I have posted many related… (rejoinder to HuffPo Comment)

In 2004 CEO pay ratio to average worker pay was 475 to 1. Nearest was Venezuela where it was 50 to 1. Japan 11 to 1. //sicko

U.S. Growth Prospects Deemed Bleak In New Decade By Economists:

pattern language, politics

COMMENT ON: U.S. Growth Prospects Deemed Bleak In New Decade By Economists

Prospects for growth are bleak because growth is not the problem. It’s the oil, automobile and detached-home philosophy.

That idea becomes inexorably bleaker whenever people talk as though that is what we want to revive.

It will not happen.

We have already won the economic war worldwide in a sadly ironic sense. All the world has bit on the obsolete American formula — the Henry Ford one — hook line and sinker. We are simply farther along on the evolutionary curve to obsolescence.

A single observation makes the point. The economic viability of a population dispersed as metrosprawl, living in detached homes and driving everywhere, oil-dependently, is one fifth that of a population living in an urban setting. This economic viability would increase to the extent that human settlements began to became denser pedestrian neighborhoods with a growing mix of essential institutions and commercial enterprises within walking distance. Linked by public conveyances.

Recalibrating and reconceptualizing the basics of community and pattern language are the keys to future economic viability. Growth will refer to human beings.

The new jobs that will result from recalibration will replace the jobs lost trying to push an economy that will not work now or ever again in the future.

Read the article this comment is on at HuffingtonPost

pattern language

Components of New Settlements Ten — Modules (Introduction)


It’s revolutionary to think of a world where people live in pedestrian communities that offer most of the things one needs within walking distance: commerce, entertainment, spiritual outlets, health and education and so forth and so on. To make this happen, we need settlements that have a population of 5-10,000 in areas of roughly a mile square. These can be built anywhere where there is space. The U.S. Has less than 100 persons per square mile overall. We have the room.

It is revolutionary to have a settlement in which most energy results from recycling and generation of energy from the sun and wind. Only if the scale is large enough to permit full-bore attention to these matters will alternative energy be more than a chimera. What energy we need will come from within the settlement and be supplemented as necessary by the nation’s power grid.

As revolutionary as these things are, the most revolutionary change may prove to be a modular approach to life itself. Surely we have beginnings of this. But we do not have a system in which what used to be the automobile industry is now the module industry and one does not live in a room that is part of a house or a building that was built as a stand-alone dwelling.

No, one lives in a matrix or skeleton or frame of supporting arteries  in spaces that incoroirate modules which are fitted together in a manner quite similar to lego pieces. The proliferation of modules requires only that the components have a default means of connection. Any module should be able to fit into any shell or skeleton or matrix. We do not want Betamax VCR wars!

I shall have more to say about modules. But the first thing to grasp is that they are like cars. They are made wherever they are made and carried to wherever the settlement is. Furthermore if one moves from California to Louisiana, one has the option of taking one’s module along. Or of having another one just like it.

pattern language

Components of New Settlements Nine — Heating and Ventilation (Crawlspace)


You will surmise from this series that I am not a technician, a builder, a designer, an architect or any of the other professionals who  might qualify me to speak with authority on these subjects. I am merely telling you what is in my head. I assume I am either pretty right or simply off the mark. All I know is that I have believed in car-free human settlements for five decades. And I can see what I am talking about though I cannot draw it.

In an early issue of Mother Earth News — in the 60s I think — I read a wonderful notion of how space could be both heated and ventilated. It consisted of nothing more than a crawlspace that would exist underneath the floor, with vents placed around the sides of the room and a heating element in the center of the room. Somehow this led t a cooling off when cool was needed and a sensible way of warming things up when warmth was required.

I offer this merely to suggest that a component of my proposed settlements would be crawlspace platforms. I have imagined spaces within the skeleton frame.  These are areas large enough to create residences and other things within.  The contents of spaces would include MODULES — the actual containers of rooms and other interior areas and SMALL COURTS or COVERED AREAS or OUTBUILDINGS. Beneath the contents of spaces I would propose that there be standardized CRAWLSPACES which would be the means of much of the heating and ventilation. They would be strong enough to support modules and with modules in place they would be calibrated in such a way that the floors of modules would have vents that could suck up cold or warm air depending on the need.

A caveat: Even if it could be shown that some version of a crawlspace would be less valuable than something else, I would argue that the heating and cooling elements of a space be part of a platform unit. Thus a space would have

a platform and


and be held together and supported by a skeleton

which would include within it the channels needed to provide energy

and enable the recycling of waste.