Blog 31 – Community – Could This be a Potential Future

Introduction

We have so many complex problems coming to the surface now and they will keep happening weekly to the extent it will be difficult to make any coherent decisions over a range of subjects.  However, they should be addressed using multiple systems, so that some reasonable order can be made as to what factors are affecting each other simultaneously.  These factors or occurrences vary in strength and location.  The control of the Covid-19 pandemic versus the need for opening up businesses is just one example.  Adding to that problem is the breaking down of the food supply chain.

New Normal?

The purpose of this blog is to show the value of the  Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) which will show how many of our present problems can be changed or eliminated through the structure of a small self-governing community structure.  However, many outside factors can be present which the PDP or another small community will not have any control over.  One of these is weather and catastrophic natural occurrences.

From a systems standpoint the best example to look at is the way nature seeks to maintain a balance throughout the plant and animal kingdom.  When man in his ultimate wisdom keeps interfering with this balance “bad things happen between man and nature.”  What is happening now is a good example.  The sun is reaching the low spot in its 11 year cycle now and is heading toward a solar minimum.  Sunspot counts were relatively high in 2014, and now they are sliding toward a low point expected in 2019-2020.  While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during a solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form from a 24 year cycle solar maximum.  Normally during a solar minimum the weather becomes colder, the storms more intense and there are more rain and droughts in various parts of the world.

Natural things happening in the first part of 2020 is noted below.  The main source is from The End of the American Dream and magazine articles.

  1. Options of War, especially in the Middle East.
  2. Earthquakes

    There were two very alarming quake strikes just off the California coast in May 2020.  The first measured at a 4.7 magnitude. It hit about 163 miles west of Eureka.  The second earthquake was stronger, measuring a 5.5 magnitude hitting in the same area about 160 miles west of Eureka.  The second quake was at the same depth as the first earthquake at about 6 miles down.  Overall, there have been 2,668 earthquakes in California and Nevada over the last 7 days. A major 6.2 earthquake just hit in the Mediterranean Sea. The map shows the earthquakes along the ring of fire.
  3. Volcanoes

    On May 20th it was reported that Mt. Popocatepeti near Mexico City was reported to have been shooting hot ash 20,000 feet into the air in May.  According to Volcano Discovery, 24 volcanoes are erupting in May and more are showing signs of unrest.
  4. Locust Plagues

    Locusts are wiping out crops on farms in large portions of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  In some areas the swarms were so large that they were blocking out the sun.  It has been estimated that the locusts may have destroyed at least $7 billion worth of crops.  Because of this food shortages may cause disruption in the summer and fall.
  5. Disrupted Weather Patterns, Climate Change, etc.

    Global weather patterns have gone absolutely nuts. We are seeing record setting droughts in some parts of the world, in other areas we are witnessing unprecedented flooding and global food production has been greatly disrupted by one unforeseen event after another.  The winter and spring flooding has wiped out crops in the US midwest.  On May 18 the Super Cyclone  Amphan became the strongest storm ever `recorded in the Bay of Bengal.

    According to Gizmodo Many of the droughts currently happening are thanks to El Niño—unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. But even when the weather patterns eventually change, they will not be able to reverse decades of abuse and neglect of local water systems. A new NASA study released last week revealed that even some areas flush with precipitation are still running low on water reserves underground. Five places that are currently coping with drought—which might give some insight into what California will have to grapple with in its water future.  These are Puerto Rico, Sao Paolo, India and North Korea.
  6. African Swine Fever

    In fact, approximately half the pigs in China and approximately one-fourth of all the pigs in the entire world have already been wiped out by this disease.  Needless to say, this is having a tremendous impact on the global food supply, because much of the world relies on pig meat as a primary source of protein.  Presently there is no cure or vaccine for it.
  7. Famines and Food Riots

    The head of the UN World Food Program, David Beasley, is publicly warning that we are heading into “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two”, and he is telling us that we could soon see approximately 300,000 people literally starve to death every single day…. “If we can’t reach these people with the life-saving assistance they need, our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period”, he upheld. “This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19” (EofAD)
  8. Economic Collapse

    Countries all over the world have locked down their economies in 2020 due to fear of COVID-19, and that has plunged the entire global economy into a deep depression.  Here in the United States, more than 36 million Americans have already lost their jobs.  The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says that the real rate of unemployment in the United States is now 30.7 percent, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is projecting that U.S. GDP will fall by 42.8 percent during the second quarter of this year.  The United States is actually bankrupt now and it keeps adding debt (over 25 trillion) on those who will be living in the future.  Just printing money is not the answer and a way beyond capitalism should be looked at as a proposition to consider.  This could be a society that could lead us away from where we are heading at this time.  The key to success would be to minimize greed and to reduce inequality.  As Charles Hugh Smith notes:  That there will have to be a new understanding of the nature of centralized power from what is happening now and that we will have to understand technology need a sustainable, decentralized economy that does more with less, I.e. a “DeGrowth” economy.
  9. The COVID-19 Virus

    This is the worst public health crisis in 100 years and it is difficult to tell how long it will last.  There are over 5 million confirmed case and more than 300,000 people have died.  The question remains if it will rebound due to opening of restrictions and the cooler weather in the fall.  It is causing economic havoc throughout the world and disrupting recovery systems.
  10. Lack of a Coordinated Policies or Leadership

    There is a question of leadership in the United States but the record stands.  However, this is in the past and other serious actions should be taken along with better leadership.  The ignoring of the environmental needs can lead to a crisis of major proportions.  It is a case now of which environmental problem will meet a tipping point first.  An example is our broken food chain and the continuation of non-sustainable practices used in growing and production of foods.  Our oceans and water supplies are also endangered.  This is a lack of leadership in all these areas of governance.
  11. Riots

    If there are no policies changes and the problems keep multiplying there will be riots by the people who have been ignored.  We see the beginning of this because of the killing of George Floyd.  Inequality will be growing until there is a breaking point and riots become the perceived to be the fastest way to get things changed. Continued capitalism or socialism as it is practiced in some countries now is not the answer.  Some of my past blogs on governance and several books that are on the market describe alternates.  (Charles Hugh Smith). The elimination of debt practices is a beginning.  Other possible problems are listed in my blog 9 – Systems Thinking.
  12. Debt

    My book Toward Self-Sufficiency discusses the problems with our present gorging of goods labeled as consumerism.  This in turn leads to waste and debt.  America’s debt is the largest sovereign debt in the world for a single country.   The U.S. debt is the total financial obligation owed to the public and intergovernmental departments. About two-thirds  is debt held by the public.  This includes buyers of Treasury bills, notes and bonds, including individuals, companies and foreign governments.  The Treasury owes this debt to its various departments who hold government account securities, such as Social Security, which is one of the biggest owners. These government account securities have been running surpluses for years and the federal government uses these surpluses to pay for other departments. These securities will come due as baby boomers retire over the next two decades. Since Social Security and trust funds are the largest owners, the answer as to who owns the U.S. debt is basically everyone’s retirement money.  The Social Security Fund keeps getting smaller.  There are five significant causes of the size of the national debt.

    Federal Budget Deficits, The national debt is an accumulation of federal budget deficits. Each new program and tax cut adds to the debt. These show up in budget deficits by president.  Most deficits occur to solve economic or pandemic crises or The national debt is an accumulation of federal budget deficits. Each new program and tax cut adds to the debt. These show up in budget deficits by president.

    Social Security Trust Fund, Every president borrows from the Social Security Trust Fund. The Fund took in more revenue than it needed through payroll taxes leveraged on baby boomers. Ideally, this money should have been invested to be available when the boomers retire. Instead, the Fund was “loaned” to the government to finance increased spending. This interest-free loan helped keep Treasury bond interest rates low, allowing more debt financing. But, it must be repaid by increased taxes when the boomers do retire but this is when the demographics are such that there are not enough people contributing to the fund.  All these factors become additional disruptions that can cause problems in societies trying to correct itself.

    Other Countries,  Foreign countries like China and Japan buy Treasurys to invest their export proceeds that are denominated in U.S dollars. They are happy to lend to America—their largest customer—so that it will keep buying their exports. Even though China warns the United States to lower its debt, it continues to buy Treasurys, though it has lowered its holdings of U.S. debt.   Think what would happen if China decided that they did not like what the United States was doing and did not buy more Treasuries or called in what they had.  The people today must understand that the decisions made today can cause multiple problems in the future.  This is the value of the PDP concept.

    Low Interest Rates,  The U.S. government has benefited from low interest rates. It couldn’t keep running budget deficits if interest rates skyrocketed as they did in Greece. Why have interest rates remained low? Purchasers of Treasury bills are confident that America has the economic power to pay them back. During recessions, foreign countries increase their holdings of Treasury bonds as a safe haven investment. (A deficit must be paid. If it isn’t, then it creates debt. Each year’s deficit adds to the debt. As the debt grows, it increases the deficit in two ways. First, the interest on the debt must be paid each year. This increases spending while not providing any benefits. Second, higher debt levels can make it more can make it more difficult to raise funds. Creditors become concerned about the borrower’s ability to repay the debt. When this happens, the creditors demand higher interest rates to provide a greater return on this higher risk.)

    The Debt Ceiling,  Congress raises the debt ceiling. It sets a limit on the debt but still increases it. Since 2001, Congress has modified the U.S. debt limit 14 times, with more sure to come.14 Yet, the debt limit has also been suspended. In 2019, President Donald Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 that increases discretionary spending limits for FY 2020 and FY 2021 and suspends the public debt limit through July 31, 2021.15 As a result, the debt limit will be whatever level the debt is on that day.

    How the Large U.S. Debt Affects the Economy

    In the short run, the economy and voters benefit from deficit spending because it drives economic growth and stability. The federal government pays for defense equipment, health care, and building construction and contracts with private firms who then hire new employees. These new employees then spend their government-subsidized wages on gasoline, groceries, new clothes, and more, and that boosts the economy.

    Over the long term, debt holders could demand larger interest payments. This is because the debt-to-GDP ratio increases and they’d want compensation for an increased risk that they won’t be repaid. Diminished demand for U.S. Treasurys would further increase interest rates and that would slow the economy. 

    Lower demand for Treasurys also puts downward pressure on the dollar. The dollar’s value is tied to the value of Treasury Securities. As the dollar declines, foreign holders get paid back in a currency that is worth less. That further decreases demand and many of these foreign holders of U.S. debt are more likely to invest in their own countries. At that point, the United States would have to pay exorbitant amounts in interest. The amount of federal spending today points to high-interest payments on the debt in the near future. Debt information found  in Balance, by Kimberly Amadeo, April 11, 2020.

These are just some of the conditions that could be put on this list of items that could affect the United States and the world.   Many others are in my book and other blogs on my website.  The information on debt was included because most people do not understand how its future consequences can be quite destructive. The proposed Pilot Demonstration Project should be designed so that most of the conditions noted does not cause it extreme damage, both physically and socially.  Because of this the community has to be capable of showing resilience.

Purpose

Another purpose for writing this book is to offer a feasible program that the United States or other countries can implement to move toward a post capitalist society. This would be a society where people feel wanted and have a purpose in life. It would be not glamorous but far more viable than what we are seeing now. The first thing that has to be done is to show people that our present living situation has to change because we are running out of renewable materials; the earth is providing them at rates where they cannot be replenished.        The main intent of the suggestions shown is to create a way to live in an actual built community. This community is called the pilot demonstration project (PDP) (once started, it will have a better name). It can provide services and data that will be a start to show what can be accomplished by following a natural way of development thinking. Innovation is key, and the setting will be made available to make it happen. It is perhaps a utopian dream, but look where most people are now. The project will be an active, continually changing community. We have to help people be aware of what is happening around them because of our consumerism binge and our government policies.

The other intent of the book is to find funding to make it happen on the ground.  The project has so many multiple uses that it could set an example for the world to review in order to determine what features to adopt.  The buildings can always be uses just for housing, so there would not be a loss of investment funds.  The proposed community concept for the pilot demonstration project should be built now so it can be used as an example of what this type of community would look like in the future. The purpose of the project is to offer innovative ideas that will demonstrate solutions that could be utilized and adapted for times of recession or abundance. Regardless, we will always need affordable housing.  Socially the key motivating concept is diversity.  Unless everyone can work together and enjoy what this does to enrich the physic our vision of happiness will always be a fleeting one.  Sharing also causes less waste.

Physical & Social Construct – Pilot Demonstration Project

Many communities are designed with little consideration of the societal needs of the community and its relationship with people living in close proximity.   I am noting what is being considered physically and socially because it is easier to understand the reasoning behind its design.  This is elaborated in greater detail in my book.  Following definitions are from Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

The term “sustainable communities” has various definitions, but in essence refers to communities planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. Sustainable communities tend to focus on environmental and economic sustainability, urban infrastructure, social equity, and municipal government. The term is sometimes used synonymously with “green cities,” “eco-communities,” “livable cities” and “sustainable cities.”

Different organizations have various understandings of sustainable communities; the term’s definition is contested and still under construction. For example, Burlington, Vermont‘s Principles of Sustainable Community Development [1] stress the importance of local control of natural resources and a thriving non-profit sector to a sustainable community. The Institute for Sustainable Communities outlines how political empowerment and social well-being are also part of the definition.[1] Additionally, referring to communities in Shanghai and Singapore, geographer Lily Kong has paired concepts of cultural sustainability and social sustainability alongside environmental sustainability as aspects of sustainable communities.[2] Meanwhile, the UK’s 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan often abbreviates its definition of sustainable communities as “places where people want to live and work, now and in the future”.[3] Addressing the scale of sustainable communities, political scientist Kent Portney points out that the term sustainable communities has been used to refer to a broad variety of places, ranging from neighborhoods to watersheds to cities to multi-state regions.[4]

Self-sufficiency is a type of sustainable living in which nothing is consumed other than what is produced by the self-sufficient individuals. Examples of attempts at self-sufficiency in North America include simple living, homesteading, off-the-grid, survivalism, DIY ethic and the back-to-the-land movement.

Practices that enable or aid self-sufficiency include autonomous building, permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy. The term is also applied to limited forms of self-sufficiency, for example growing one’s own food or becoming economically independent of state subsidies. The self-sufficiency of an electrical installation measures its degree of grid independence and is defined as the ratio between the amount of locally produced energy that is locally consumed, either directly or after storage, and the total consumption.[2]

The PDP as designed tries to be an example of being both sustainable and self-sufficient as much as possible.  However, it needs many other people that are involved to offer constructive ideas.   This is why it was not designed past this point.  The other reason was that some additional ideas would only apply when the project became site specific.  The site would entail both physical and social considerations.   It also would  be very difficult to build a totally self-sufficient  community in today’s world.  This is due to our miss use  of the environment and because of this, we are now dealing with the consequences.  From a social standpoint the top 40%  are not use to many hardships.  There may be an awakening coming soon.

Since the project is a demonstration project, it will have different requirements than a typical housing project. The purpose for the project, from a housing perspective, is to obtain enough construction and maintenance data that can be used in other later projects. Will solar panels pay for themselves and over what time frame? Is it better to use wood studs or metal ones? What will the best housing construction products in the future be, considering that some of what we have now will not be available later? For example, will metal materials or wood framing be too expensive or even available? What new technologies are available for power storage or sanitary sewers instead of septic systems and high-pressure lines? What exterior siding or other material is cost-effective now and still has low maintenance costs? What type of landscaping will be applicable for the future? The answer should be organic maintenance, reduced lawn areas, and native plants versus chemical treatments. Organic products and methods will be more sustainable and cost-effective because the soils use natural processes. What sustainable materials and practices are better to use now even if they cost more? These are just some of the questions to be answered. Proper planning now is necessary because of the importance of preparing for the future. The same type of questions will also be considered during the planning of the project for social and environmental potential problems. The schematic site plan is shown below.   Its shape was determined by what would function properly on a rectangular sheet of paper in order to show the different activities.   The pink street represents the infrastructure needed for the model homes.

One of the areas of consideration to be explored that could effect what outside influences of the PDP is taxes and utilities.  In crisis periods city and property taxes could rise exponentially and be a hardship to the new community and others that are affected.  Because of this the governance of the PDP will be a non profit.  The PDP will incorporate as a city, village or town.  The PDP will have its own sewage collection and treatment facility.  It will also have its own well (if possible) or lake as its own water source.  The telephone and cable will be contracted by the non-profit.  A building at the end of one of the parking areas, shown in red, will house the city hall, fire truck, and a truck for solid waste collection.  The firemen and police will be community volunteers.  The non profit government will have the power to collect all the taxes as needed for the PDP.  Every month there will be a “Town Hall” meeting for residents of the PDP to discuss what is or will be happening in the community.  Blog 21 will discuss the Governance in detail.  This blog outlines how The Progressive Utilization Theory is used for governing works in practice.

Following will be a list of design elements of the PDP.   After each one (or sentence if applicable) will be a symbol(s) to show why it was included.  In many cases some elements or an item can be sustainable, self-sustaining or just used for demonstration and research.  The symbols are:  Sustainable (S), Self-sufficient (SS), and Demonstration/Research (DR).  For individual residences the Triplex, with units A, B and C will be used.  Blog 22 should be read to see additional information about the Triplex units.  All these features shown below  will also be noted in the model home complex when it is constructed on the site.  The community then will have the power to be regenerative (the act of improving a place or system, especially by making it more active or successful) as well as self-sustaining.

Site Plan and Uses:

  1. Size – The site plan tries to be as compact and all-inclusive to give the  the PDP a chance to be as self-sufficient as possible.  In an emergency or crisis its size will be helpful in achieving a way of overcoming many adversities.  The psychological demands of living in large groups mean that, in primates, species-typical group size correlates rather closely with the species’ brain size. On the primate model, our oversized brain would predict a group size of around 150, the number now known as Dunbar’s Number.  Wikipedia defines this as: Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.[1][2] This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size.[3] By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.  The PDP will be designed to keep this number in consideration, so that all parts of it will not get too large for proper governance.  For example, there will be an executive director of the non-profit and sub-directors of mini communities within the PDP which are not over 150 households (including businesses) in size. S-SS-DR
  2. Special Designated Sites and Activities – The designated special activity sites may change uses and locations from site to site.  This is due to various needs, site parameters, site locations (urban/rural), and other reasons.  Detailed discussions of each of the uses shown on the site plan is noted in my book, Toward Self-Sufficiency, and some of my blogs.  The important area on the site that will be used for marketing is the model home area.  The homes and some business uses will be marketed from the model homes.  This will reduce costs since some of the infrastructure will will not have to be constructed in the beginning of the project.   The location of the model homes will be the first buildings that you will see when entering.  However, the medical building will be updated because of Covid-19.  It will be located adjacent to the model homes and will be constructed at the same time as the model homes.  A doctor or nurse will be on duty 24/7 in order to handle emergencies.  It would be preferable if they lived on site.  One of the triplex units will be used sole for people that have to be quarantined.  Hopefully with all the testing of residents this one triplex is all that would be needed.  Extra masks, testing supplies and protective gear will be kept in the in the medical building.  Telehealth will also be utilized for communication with local hospitals.  Part of one of the triplex buildings will be used to disperse government information and offer help contacting different government agencies.  They will also be keeping track of government programs.  S-SS-DR.
  3. Demonstration – Since the project is a demonstration project, it will have different requirements than a typical housing project. The purpose for the project, from a housing perspective, is to obtain enough construction and maintenance data that can be used in other later projects. Will solar panels pay for themselves and over what time frame? Is it better to use wood studs or metal ones? What will the best housing construction products in the future be, considering that some of what we have now will not be available later? For example, will metal materials or wood framing be too expensive or even available? What new technologies are available for power storage or sanitary sewers instead of septic systems and high-pressure lines? What exterior siding or other material is cost-effective now and still has low maintenance costs? What type of landscaping will be applicable for the future? The answer should be organic maintenance, reduced lawn areas, and native plants versus chemical treatments. Organic products and methods will be more sustainable and cost-effective because the soils use natural processes. What sustainable materials and practices are better to use now even if they cost more? These are just some of the questions to be answered. Proper planning now is necessary because of the importance of preparing for the future. The same type of questions will also be considered during the planning of the project for social and environmental potential problems.  SS-D/R
  4. Sharing, Collaboration, Social Programs – The project is designed around these types of social activities. There are facilities for the elderly, homeless, handicapped, veterans, and people suffering from anxiety and depression. Student housing facilities and medical facilities are also available. The community has car rental and car-sharing opportunities. Special purchasing arrangements can be made with local businesses in regard to discounts and delivery options. The community will have its own businesses, such as landscape and building maintenance, that hire people from the project. Flea market and farmer market facilities are also available. Various types of rental, lease, or home ownership can occur on one lot, and this opens up many more opportunities for the poor to afford housing and start their own businesses. The community will also have its own community money to be used within the project and surrounding area. A government center will be on-site to help people so they do not have to find transportation to go to a government office outside of the project.  Residents can save money by having the community non-profit obtain the best prices for insurance, TV and internet, telephone, wholesale stores (Sams Club/Costco), maintenance, etc.  There would also be a Farmers Market and Flea Market on site.  The markets would be open to the public also.  The community will also have baby sitting businesses on site (payable with community money). The community internet will show personal needs and for sale items by residents (furniture, food, rides, companionships, etc. S-SS
  5. Education, Training, and Businesses – The central area of every community will have training and educational facilities with emphasis on business management, construction trades, agriculture, and landscaping, with other trades available at a later date. The program will be based on a work/study format with very low tuition fees. Student housing will be available on-site for people coming there from other cities or towns. Progress will be evaluated on a person’s abilities and not on the number of courses that are completed. Apprentice work will also be available with nearby farmers and general contractors, and the agricultural programs will be based on understanding organic applications, permaculture, and agroecology. Information on these programs is included later in this book.  Special emphasis will be placed on the number of greenhouses needed to combat hunger caused by outside sources such as weather and a busted food chain. For example, the New York Post is claiming that NASA scientists fear that we could potentially be facing “a repeat of the Dalton Minimum”… which happened between 1790 and 1830 — leading to periods of brutal cold, crop loss, famine and powerful volcanic eruptions.  Temperatures plummeted by up to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over 20 years, devastating the world’s food production.  All businesses in the PDP will be cooperatives.  An example would be setting up a cooperative with farmers in the area for food production, training, building support facilities and multiple sharing of equipment.  Governance is noted earlier in blogs and in my book. S-SS-D/R

A triplex and a 1 story fourplex is shown and they are two options that would be available in the PDP.  Each unit in the fourplex is about 673 sq. Ft in area and it can also have 4 additional units on top.  The units on top could be rentals and the bottom units could be rentals, ownership or mixture of condos.  The area shown in green could be a second story greenhouse.  This could be owned by the community non-profit or by one of the owners/tenants of the sixplex.  Information about the various options of the triplex is noted in Blog 22 and my book.  The triple can easily be a duplex or single home or visa versa.  The floors in the homes are stained concrete with 4 foot scored grids so tile or carpet flooring is not needed.  Rugs are optional.  This reduces waste.  The landscape areas has several different options (Blog 17-Model Home Sales).  In certain areas in the site plan Unit A (T2 and T3) can be used for businesses that can be used to supply community needs.  Other units can have businesses by special permit.  There are many different house plans that are available.  The website is: www.towardselfsufficiency.com

Summary

A team of different professionals will be hired to complete the architectural and site plans.  They will also make suggestions to make all aspects of the PDP more sustainable and self-sufficient.  One idea is to have standard door, window, and bath sizes in all of the homes.  The movable kitchens will be just one or two sizes.  These can be easily updated over the years (or be reused.  Dwell Magazine has on the internet “Small Spaces – How to Live With Less” and some of the ideas could be incorporated into the house plans to make the smaller 490 sf units more usable.

Right now it is hard to realize what is going to happen with our political divisions along with Covid-19.  What is happening?  A few facts to ponder.

  1. The world’s eight richest men possess more wealth than the bottom half of humanity, and in the United States, where the three richest men have more wealth than the bottom 150 million people taken together.  The average black family in America has household wealth of $1,700, and that’s been falling steadily.[1]  Other statistics really show the problems of inequality.
  2. Exxon and other oil companies knew about global warming in 1988, but they continued to deny it until 2006 and then said it might be real.  In 2007, pollsters found that almost 90 percent of Americans had a scientific consensus on global warming.[2]  If they had admitted it in 1988, then something would have been done about tackling global warming sooner.  This is putting greed ahead of what is best for the country.
  3. Let’s put aside, for the moment, the thought of mass extinction.  Cataclysm on a geological scale is clearly possible, you can make an argument that the game is up.  But even if that is our eternal due, life will look and feel different.  Life as we know it won’t suddenly end, but it will be crimped; in many places it already is.  To use our metaphor, the size of the board on which we’re playing, the game is considerably smaller, and this may be the single most remarkable fact of our time on earth.  (McKibben)

[1]Bill  McKibben, Falter – Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? (New York, New York: Penguin, 2019) pp. 86, 87
[2] Ibid, pp. 76, 77


What has not been discussed here are all of the problems facing the environment, especially under the Trump Administration.  If things aren’t changed soon we will have some new sets of problems within our communities.  The environment is now a world issue to confront.  This is made evident in Michael Moores and Jeff Gibbs production of “Planet of the Humans” on YouTube (free).  In one case it shows how wind and solar energy equipment takes extensive energy to make.  Also the solar and wind units hav about a 20 to 25 year lifetime.  To make proper decisions a “cradle to grave” analysis should be made on technical equipment to see if it is feasible.    Many of the environmental problems are found in my book and it shows what needs to be accomplished as soon as possible.


Toward Self-Sufficiency
Title: Toward Self-Sufficiency: Using Unique Sustainable Community Planning Concepts
Author: George Hunt   (Published 2020)

 Kirkus Review

A revised edition of a debut sociology book delivers a strategy for designing sustainable living spaces in the coming decades.

In this work, Hunt argues in favor of a new sustainable form of living, working, and coexisting as the United States transitions to a post-capitalist economy. The author draws on his experience in landscape architecture and community design as well as a wide- ranging bibliography of contemporary texts. The core of his proposal is the “Pilot Demonstration Project,” a mixed-use development that combines efficient housing with work spaces, retail, and community services to meet residents’ needs with minimal use of fossil fuels and serves as a model for the widespread adoption of such sites. In the opening chapters (“the optimistic section of the book”), Hunt goes into great detail explaining the setup and theory behind the PDP (“It includes training for students and adults and a means of teaching people visiting the community how to recognize nature’s natural systems as a means of changing our lifestyle to be more sustainable”). He provides potential developers of such a community ample resources to present to zoning officials. The work’s second section takes a broader look at social theory, the problems of capitalism in its current form, and the many challenges that make the contemporary American lifestyle unsustainable. This part touches on many noteworthy ideas and valid concepts, but it is less focused and more often rambling than the discussion of the PDP. The text moves rapidly from topic to topic, with diversions into technological fearmongering (“If you use mobile technology, you do not have a private life”) and catastrophizing (“Our Failing Society”). Hunt’s arguments are strongest in the more effectively organized chapters of this section, like the ones enumerating the challenges and problems of modern agriculture. The book ultimately presents a case for establishing communities in a PDP format, but is at its best in the early chapters, where it explains the practical details of building and running one.

A thoughtful and singular approach to sustainable development driven by broader arguments about societal change. Note:  The 2018 book is not being published.  The 2020 book is a revision of the 2018 book with the same material as the 2018 book with additional material being added to it.

Pacific Book Review

Richard Rogers once wrote, “Architecture is a slow business, and city planning even slower.” Author George Hunt knows this all too well, bringing his years of experience as a city planner into his book, “Toward Self-Sufficiency: A Community for a Transition Period.”

In this book, the author uses his vast knowledge of city planning and tackles topics often overlooked in the field and in these projects. From social and economic hardships in the areas these projects take place in, to environmental concerns and government problems that fail to address important topics that affect our communities (i.e. gun control, global warming, GMO’s in food, etc). The author does a marvelous job of combining his incredible knowledge of the city planning field with the needs of the communities that these projects take place in, using the “pilot project” as an example of examining these community needs and going about integrating them into the project itself.

The author does a great job of outlining the various social needs of the communities involved in the city planning projects. He writes with a command over the subjects being discussed and with a passion that speaks to his desire to see city planning projects become more integrated into the community it’s being built for or a part of. This is the perfect book for anyone with an interest in city planning, design, architecture and community leaders/interested community members who want to learn how to interact with these projects and work together to make something that is sustainable and works well for the community as a whole rather than the individual. As someone who is interested in the social issues raised by the author, it was refreshing to see a former city planner and builder seek a method of addressing these issues so that future generations wouldn’t have to struggle the same way that our current and previous generations had.  This is a must read book for anyone interested in city planning, architecture and social and community building overall. The unique approach to city planning the author took that is meant to help strengthen and build up communities rather than tear them down for the sake of development was an inspired choice, and should encourage a lot of people in the profession to change their approach to these projects in the future. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of this amazing book today!

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