ERE City (US)

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
sky
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by sky »

tsch wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:04 pm
Have you changed your opinions about any particular locales as being ERE-friendly?
I have explored a bit and like many places that I visited. But the more I see and the more I realize how complex a location choice is, the more I feel I have already optimized my choice in my current location.

My desire to explore the world is still there, but it is diminishing. Perhaps with age?

theanimal
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by theanimal »

Really fascinating post on how to build a traditional town with pattern design and good community in mind from Wrath of Gnon (Twitter).

https://wrathofgnon.substack.com/p/how- ... n-in-texas

Green Pimble
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by Green Pimble »

theanimal wrote:
Tue Jul 20, 2021 12:43 pm
Really fascinating post on how to build a traditional town with pattern design and good community in mind from Wrath of Gnon (Twitter).

https://wrathofgnon.substack.com/p/how- ... n-in-texas
I really enjoy a lot of Wrathofgnon's posts, and he certainly has been pivotal in shaping my opinion about urbanism, as well as reversing my previously (I think) deluded techno-optimism. Very interesting!
Reading through that post the other I commented to my brother how sad it made me, because I suspect that people trying to make such a town would be stomped on by law suits from all sides insisting things be done the usual way to profit the usual people. I long to live in a walkable town though, so I hope more people try.

white belt
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by white belt »

theanimal wrote:
Tue Jul 20, 2021 12:43 pm
Really fascinating post on how to build a traditional town with pattern design and good community in mind from Wrath of Gnon (Twitter).

https://wrathofgnon.substack.com/p/how- ... n-in-texas
I was excited to read this article because the topic is one that interests me right now. I'll be honest that I was pretty disappointed and find the article largely preposterous. I'm not familiar with the author's background or other works, but to me it seems like he just cherry-picked some buzzwords from permaculture and "green" urbanism to throw into some kind of longform listicle. None of the ideas really seem to be from a systems thinking perspective, which is absolutely critical when constructing such a complex system.

For the purposes of discussion, I will go along with the author's scenario and assume there are no legal/governmental obstacles standing in the way of such a town. I will also assume that you can snap your fingers and have everyone follow your authoritarian community rules laid out by the 4 founders of the town (I believe part 2 of the article will talk about community but I haven't seen it yet).

Here are some of my major qualms with the article:

1. The author contradicts himself multiple times. He talks about keeping existing trees but then says that there should be plenty of spaces for food production (Holmgren writes about the important considerations regarding removing old non-edible trees that block sunlight from food production areas). He talks about how the town should be oval shape with houses abutting each other, but allowed to develop as high as they want in a 12x12 space. It's not hard to figure out that this would result in lots of shading of possibly productive agriculture land and solar arrays since the town is not being built to optimize southern sun exposure. He talks about using building materials of local origin but not allowing any modern vehicles or machinery, so I'm unsure where labor is going to come from to build the structures using pre-industrial technology (check out the thousands of man hours required to build other "natural" structures like Paul Wheaton or the earthship people do). He talks about having the entire city reliant on rainwater harvesting while having numerous outdoor fountains, all of which will lose a lot of valuable water to evaporation in the dry TX climate.

2. He romanticizes cities from previous eras without accounting for the fact that modern patterns of human life are quite different than earlier periods. The Transition Towns movement has had a lot of trouble because the vast majority of people are still reliant on consumerist lifestyles, which means building an alternative town is nearly impossible since their paychecks depend on the current society. In the middle ages, the population was something like 75-90% peasants because food production techniques were not nearly as efficient as modern industrial agriculture. It's like there is a disconnect between the ends that the author thinks are achievable (mostly the result of modern petrochemical-industrial complex), and the means by which to do it. If you want a town that mimics medieval structure, you're likely going to need 75-90% of the population working sun up to sundown on food production. A few Amish farm families on the periphery isn't going to cut it.

3. He doesn't account for 2nd and 3rd order effects. For example, there are numerous towns in the USA who ban vehicles and try to cater to tourists in a unique way. By nature, a town that depends on external flows of capital in the form of tourism is not self-sustaining. Any restrictions on town size and construction will ultimately result in property appreciation and the working class being priced out of living there. In other words, even if one could build such an immaculate city, it would quite quickly become a victim of it's own success.


Overall, I think there are much better resources available for those who are interested in such a subject. David Holmgren and Brad Lancaster are two people who have dedicated their lives to thinking about such topics and actually have done a lot of hands-on work in building sustainable households and communities, so their writings are much more useful if one wants to know how to go about building such a small town. I believe Low Tech Magazine also has some articles on how to lay out an entire town to maximize solar exposure for purposes of passive heat, indoor light, and food production (hint: an oval shape isn't going to cut it).*

* = https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2012/03 ... elope.html

white belt
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by white belt »

A 2019 journal article from Ted Trainer about a similar topic: https://journals.librarypublishing.ariz ... 2363/view/
Trainer wrote: In view of the global resource and ecological situation, per-capita resource consumption rates in the rich world probably need to be reduced by 90%. This can only be done if there is a "de-growth" transition to some kind of Simpler Way centered on mostly small, highly self-sufficient and self-governing communities in control of local economies within a culture that is not focused on material wealth. It is not surprising that the viability of such a vision is typically regarded as implausible. The aim of this study is to show that normal outer city suburbs could be restructured along the lines required to cut global impacts by the necessary amount, while improving the quality of life. Data on typical Australian consumption rates, food production yields, suburban geographies, etc. is used to estimate the achievable reductions. The theoretical conclusion that such reductions could be made aligns with a study of the Dancing Rabbit Eco-village in northeast Missouri. Heavy cuts in resource consumption cannot be made without extreme change in economic, political, settlement and cultural systems.
That snippet was from the Abstract but I encourage everyone to read the entire thing. Notice how that article focuses on the need for everyone to reduce consumption and ecological impact at the individual level as a prerequisite for a community to succeed. Building a small eco town won't work unless individuals have the skills and motivation to live a lower consumption lifestyle.

I do disagree with the author in that I believe his small scale food production estimates are a bit too optimistic. For example, he cites the Dervaes family homestead as a shining example of what is possible with bio-intensive farming on a household scale. However, that is a family that spent literal decades improving their land and required the full time labor of all 4 family members, so not exactly something that is replicable for a typical hobby gardener. And even the Dervaes family pointed out in an interview how their production has taken a hit from the irregular weather patterns due to climate change. It seems like the author believes the limiting factor in bio-intensive food production is land area, when in fact it is human skill and cognitive capacity to put towards such endeavors that proves to be the limiting factor.

sky
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by sky »

I recently uncovered an interesting opportunity. There is a US territory that has an agricultural homestead program on a remote Pacific island. There are many problems and uncertainties with this idea, not the least of which is an active volcano in the near proximity to the agricultural homestead area.

https://www.dpl.gov.mp/wp-content/uploa ... d-Regs.pdf

Originally this program was set up for native people of the islands, but they changed it so that any registered voter in the islands, resident for one year, may apply for a homestead. The amount of land allowed per person is only a half acre, and technically you are not permitted to live there, but if you do some research, there are a number of people on the island who are essentially camping or squatting on the island. The island is 200 miles from "civilization". I have heard that about 30 people live there. I am not sure if there is a regular boat to the island. It is probably expensive to live there. Generally, this territory has a high cost of living, probably similar to California. There are a lot of insects, in particular a large centipede that bites. The island used to be inhabited, but the people fled during volcanic activity. This would be pretty much you on a remote island living off your supplies and whatever you can forage. Perfect for your Castaway or Robinson Crusoe fantasy. For more info, search the name of the island on Youtube. I have not named the island or territory here to try not to attract the search bots. Build a garden, keep a few pigs, hang out on a remote island in the Pacific far far away from civilization.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pagan ... 1919?hl=en

I think it would be pretty fun to explore this possiblility, even if it probably won't work as intended. Whatever the outcome, it would probably be an awesome experience.

theanimal
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by theanimal »

Very cool! Seems like one could be fairly self sustaining with a mix of the fish found there, coconut, breadfruit, pigs and chickens. I saw in one of the videos they were drying deer meat? Not sure where that came from. I was surprised to see the 4 wheelers on the island.

sky
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: ERE City (US)

Post by sky »

They have deer, feral cattle, feral swine, large hermit crabs, lots of fish. I heard one guy say you can live on the island with no money, so 100% foraging, apparently. I also heard there is a lake with hot springs near the volcano.

I only know what I have learned from youtube videos and some minor researching on the internet, so someone needs to go there and get the real story.

sky
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Re: ERE City (US)

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