Principles of a “Permacultural” Urban Society
There is no denying that we are northerners up here. Historically, we lived in small towns characterized by close proximity to and well-balanced integration with great swaths of forest. Our psyche would have been some fusion of peasant and subdued barbarian, and our ambitions and capacity for destruction would be just as limited.
Thus, here is a distilled list of reliable practices, elements of infrastructure, and patterns for you to consider if you live in a town! While I am myself more of a country boy in heart, I appreciate the insights I got from living in the multiple cities I’ve dealt with. A necessary element of the current human regime, we need to work with the system as it is to build up a healthier and happier modality of human life. A brighter future is very possible, and townships must be the epicenters of change. In fact, there are a number of distinct advantages the townie has over the country dweller in achieving a sustainable life.
A “permacultural” urban society has its members as dynamic, integrated elements of the ecosystems that sustain their lives and enterprises. In such a society, food systems are local, closed loops, stable and resilient. The energy is takes to provide that food, transport goods, and heat spaces in the winter is minimized and generated renewably. Appropriate technology has its place and modern comforts are all around to the point they are naturally and organically desired. People are healthier, employed locally, and value is not being systematically exported out of the society’s capital. To the degree we seek this as a community, and wish to identify tools that will allow us to design our way to it, the following recommendations should prove helpful doorways for further exploration of solutions to the world.
Climatologically agriculture which feeds people is the greatest source of deforestation which threatens our very world. It is natural that a local solution to a global problem need first involve this just as it involves a bite a few times a day. Heat and transportation are likewise the apex problem trends we will consider.
In a more everlasting, flourishing global society, as has been clearly found to exist of times past and present…
-People understand and believe they have a stake and agency in their foodshed. They believe they are worth eating legitimate, real food and willing to take action to have it.
-Any suitable space is put into thoughtfully designed annual garden, forest garden, or reforestation/wetland/prairie/meadow etc habitat.
-Nobody is required to garden but anyone who wants to can as much as others can’t – and everybody gets to if they like it. Everyone holds everyone else to making an articulated and well reasoned choice though.
-People know who their farmers are for things they can’t/don’t produce, and work out customized and beneficial bartering/deals.
-Local food is not just some craze but actually something everyone eats for however many of the endless reasons why they understand.
-Food is preserved using low energy and simple methods, such as with drying rigs, fermentation crocks, root cellars, pantries, cold rooms, evaporative cooling systems…
-Rainwater is captured, stored, and used. Nutrient rich grey water is circulated back into soil, and composting is done with bio-waste products such as kitchen scraps…
-There are demonstrations of local wild food plants and people know where to go to learn how to forage responsibly if they need to. People understand indigenous and traditional diets of their own culture and others.
-Pesticides and herbicides are not in all the water and there is a wide availability of clean water to drink wherever one is.
-Integrated and natural toiletry scenarios lend people a heightened gut fauna, healthy body systems.
-Human waste or neglect has not ruined the watershed in any of the many ways it can- nor does it threaten the watershed as it currently does ubiquitous status.
-Geothermal and solar energy represent free inputs of clean warmth. Future houses are designed oriented to the soon with sun-angle calculated roofs to shade out the high summer sun with deciduous plantscapes blocking windows.
-Houses are placed in intelligently chosen places, utilizing windbreaks, coldsinks, etc.
-Attached greenhouses are utilized as priceless garden aid but also provide more heat to the house as a buffer zone between outside and in.
-Creatively developed areas between tightly packed houses which can then either hold escaping wall heat or shade out the summer sun.
-Efficient wood-burning stoves are used, dare I say rocket mass heaters too. Heating methods damaging health or environment are minimized.
-Thermal mass is a utilized concept ubiquitous and proven to store larger amounts of heat and cool.
-macro air-flows, cold winds, cold air drainages, etc, are considered in planning and construction.
-Mature tree crowns shade things like parking lots and prevent them from becoming swelteringly hot while the tree harvests the whole lot drainage to reliably provide useful crops.
-Soils do not blow away in wind from becoming fried by summer draught because of common water retention landscaping.
-Watershed does not get fried from mega-fires because of proper fire management regime, soils hold more moisture and stay cooler into the dry season = populace is well informed and sufficiently politically active to ensure proper management of surrounding forest lands from the hands of industry.
-It is possible to ride a bike and walk in town contexts to accomplish a large amount of small town tasks. It is also healthful and waste-less. This is a huge, decisive advantage townies have over rednecks
-Proximity to distribution centers offers opportunity as an interface with industry. Large flows of traffic in and out constantly is a serious pattern with lots of open potential energy.
-There is much space for arranging such things as carpool depots, bus pickups, and the like. Trains and other forms of transports existed in the past and will likely make a comeback as energy gets more expensive and we can’t be as flippant with it.
-There is a buffer zone of multi-faceted systems of transportation involving any appropriate technology to provide resilience in case one or several methods of transport go down. I.e. redundancy when doing commerce with country people.
I get value out of simply seeing these things on someone’s place. Value that can be generated an endless number of times at no expense is a currency. If their lives are made easier by intelligent design, then they are better off people for it and can contribute more positively to society less burdened by the unnecessary, negative biproducts of it. That is a great form of patterning. If they win, everyone wins.
The present things needed
-Fundamentally, a change in the mind is the first step. The time to let go of “conventional” grass lawns has passed long ago, and people are realizing it. I see gradual, small steps every year and more and more societal energy moving towards a more “permacultural” orientation. With this comes the need for education of sustainable methodology and appropriate technology and leaders willing to share their expertise in their fields.
-We need a handful of differently natured demonstration sites – areas of high traffic, interesting microclimatic sites, or high-budget clients
-Neighborhood network patterns identified and realized.
-energetically cheap and sensible housing exists for all people, but especially the young where their energies can be more positively used.
-everyone to do their part, be who they really are…
There are few towns with as much potential as Bonners to set an example in the world for how to live ecologically. We are ready. We can be leaders. There is already a lot of tourism in the area- think of economic possibilities and the insight we could have people leaving with bringing back to their homelands…