Blog 26 – Staff Estimate – PDP = Research for the Future

The purpose of Blog 26- and 26-2 or this paper report is to determine a preliminary cost estimate for planning of the PDP.  It will also include finding 3 options for the location of the project.  The planning function should include the following personnel: 

            Experts and Consultants:
            Principal Landscape Architect:  $ 150.00 per hour or (8 hr.) day $ 1,200.00
            Other Landscape Architects (average costs):  $  90.00 per hour or $ 720 per day
            Principal Architect:  $ 200.00 per hour or $ 1,600.00 per day
            Other Architects (average costs): $ 110.00 per hour or $ 880.00 per day
            Civil/Structural Engineers (average costs): $ 110.00 per hour
            Anthropologists/Sociologists:  $ 125.00 per hour or $ 1,000.00 per day
            C.E. Economists: $ 150.00 per hour or $ 1,200.00 hour
            Other Experts (Principals):  $ 125.00 per hour or $ 1,000.00 per day
            Non Profit Organizations:  To be Determined
            George Hunt:   $ 125.00 per hour or $ 1,000.00 per day

            Office Personnel:
           Assistants/Secretaries, etc. (average costs):  $ 30.00 per hour or $ 240.00 per day

For this proposal the work will be done with the personnel listed above.  If someone else is needed it will be under “Other Experts” or “Non-Profit Organizations.”  After the management team is selected they will have the option of revising the list.  At that time there will be a decision for the proposed location of the site.  Much of the planning for now (other than reviewing potential location sites) will have to be done virtually) due to the pandemic. 

With all the environmental problems (see Blog 9-Systems Thinking on my website) happening today, including more intense storms and wildfires, the type of planning and new concepts that we have used in the past will have to be changed.  One example is by Logan Architecture and ICON for using the process of 3D printing.

Article first appeared in Builder.

Not too long ago the building industry fantasized about a time when homes and buildings could be constructed on a shorter timeline, with less labor, with less resources, and at an affordable price. With several technological advancements in 3D-printed construction in the past couple of years, those far-fetched ideas may soon come to fruition.

Although the realization of 3D-printed homes may be in its early stages, construction technologies company ICON believes it could be a viable way to quickly build affordable housing. In March, the company delivered on that goal by completing a series of 400-square-foot, 3D-printed homes that will serve as new beginnings for six formerly homeless people. Located in Austin, Texas, the project is part of a continued partnership with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a local nonprofit known for its service to the area’s homeless community. The organization’s Community First! Village is a 51-acre master plan that provides affordable, permanent housing for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness.

Another creative group located in Austin, Texas is the non-profit, Maximum Potential Building System led by Pliny Fisk III and Gail Vittori.  Over the past 38 years, The Center has overseen and collaborated on award-winning public and private sector projects in Austin, throughout the U.S., and internationally.  In 2013, Ecotone Press released Creating a Maximum Potential Future, a biography of Fisk, as part of their Green Masters series of publications.  The Center continues to inspire ecologically balanced environments, steward natural resources, and elevate community resilience and economic vitality through such projects as the Island Nations Initiative (“Village in a Box”), the Ecology Action Circle Acres Ecobalance Masterplan, and LEED and sustainability consulting for Austin’s Block 21, Mueller Redevelopment, and Seaholm EcoDistrict.  Additional information is on the internet.

These are just two examples out of many and they show the need for comparing building systems and ideas.  The buildings will have to show how sustainable they are as well.  One of the most important design features must answer the question “How sustainable is each type of building construction system and how does it fit into the circular economy diagram?”  Some housing systems that answer those questions are discussed in the book “The New Carbon Architecture – Building to Cool the Climate,” by Bruce King, 2017, New Society Publishers.  It is a product of the non-profit Ecological Building Network.  They note:

For the first time in history, we can build pretty much anything out of carbon that we coaxed from the air. We can structure any architectural style with wood, we can insulate with straw and mushrooms, we can make concrete – better concrete – with clay, microbes, smoke, and a careful look in the rear view mirror and the microscope.  All of these emerging technologies – and more – arrive in tandem with the growing understanding that the so-called embodied carbon of building materials matters a great deal more than anyone thought in the fight to halt and reverse climate change.  The built environment can switch from being a problem to a solution – much nicer places to occupy that just happen to pull carbon out of the air.

The BuildWell Source (Ecological Building Network)  is an online, user-built library of low-carbon building. We built it so you could more easily find out about alternatives like straw bales, adobe, shipping containers, and many other types of free or inexpensive materials that have no commercial sponsor — no one to study and promote them. There is a huge and quickly growing body of engineering knowledge and practical experience with low-carbon building, but that knowledge is widely dispersed and hard to find.

The non-profit Ecological Building Network and the Maximum Potential Building Systems will be asked if they would like to participate in the PDP project if funding becomes available.  Other experts in sustainability and innovative processes/concepts will also be contacted for their participation. 

Much of the research, as suggested, will be done by the personnel selected in this initial process.  The estimated cost initially will be made by George Hunt and will be adjusted once the team can get together either virtually or in person.  All time schedules will be subject to what is occurring in the United States with the guidelines for Covid-19.  In Blog 25 there is listed a series of references for research (in red) and the work estimate will be made in Table: T1.  This is a series of estimate tables for listed research to be needed for specific studies.  It also includes personnel cost estimates for determining the work needed for the “Cradle to Cradle,” Sustainability Index and Circular Economy estimates.  This will establish the needed guidelines for the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) buildings.

The projected research is needed now because there is little research at the present time using functional sustainable building systems for low income housing projects.  Now we are entering a period of climate change and we need to be prepared for what is to come regarding the increasing intensity of storms, warmer climates, changes caused by Covid-19.  Further problems are the lack of facilities and opportunities for the lower economic groups of our society, etc.  There is a large market for the housing proposed in the PDP because of this lack of affordable housing in the marketplace. Any housing constructed in this proposal will easily be absorbed.  The proposed options and variables that are utilized using the guidelines for the Circular Economy Concept is needed to reduce climate change and determine what are the best housing systems to use. 

This is why the self-sufficient adaptations will show us what the best options are available for the future.  Otherwise we will be just guessing in the quest for solutions.  The more we keep relying on petroleum products the sooner they become more expensive and hasten their availability in future years.  In fact, the present economic philosophy of capitalism may have to change in order to reduce the rising inequalities in the present system.  The PDP recognizes this by including social changes such as community money, use of cooperatives, forms of community governance, sharing, education opportunities, etc.  Just housing being constructed alone will not solve  our present social dilemmas of inequality, racial and social justice and divisions between political beliefs.  We, as a society, have to recognize what beneficial changes needs to occur in order for us to heal and work together.  This Pilot Demonstration Project could be a start. The public has to recognize the value of the process of the circular economy and fully embrace sustainability practices.  However, the Cradle to Cradle analysis that is presented to compare sustainable housing to housing that is not sustainable is needed to show the value for each of the systems presented.  A house itself has many components to consider as shown in the following diagrams.  Each component has to be evaluated.  See diagrams and pictures.

Example:  On-site Home Printing – ICON Housing

The key breakthrough was development of the Vulcan 3-D printer, a gantry-style device that moves on rails to build the home, layer by layer.

“The key differentiator with what we are doing is that we are focused on whole-home site-printing,” Ballard explains. “Many other companies working in the space print in warehouses, or only print pieces of a home that are assembled elsewhere. We believe this surrenders many of the basic advantages of 3-D printing. We have several patents submitted in hardware, software, and materials, and several more in process.”

Ballard says the printer is lightweight and designed with minimal bells and whistles, making it rugged and dependable. The current model uses inexpensive basic concrete as a building material, but ICON is exploring the use of other materials in the future as well.

New Story’s Marshall says that concrete is more resilient and energy-efficient than building materials such as drywall and particle board, which are staples of home construction in the U.S. And by using 3-D printing to build a structure in layers, it’s possible to build with near-zero waste. The process also affords “tremendous design freedom – curves and slopes are no more challenging or expensive than straight, plumb lines.”

Increased Speed and Lower Cost

While it took about 48 hours to print the demonstration house in Austin, the printer was running much slower than its potential speed, Ballard says. Once the houses are in production, it’ll be possible to create one in a day and possibly as little as 12 hours, with as few as two or three workers. While the printed portion of the demonstration home cost $10,000, ICON and New Story have a goal of getting the production cost down to $4,000 for what Ballard says will be a “very basic, but solid and weatherproof, house.”

Other Housing

All components are considered when evaluating a buildings sustainability.  In the PDP most of the windows, bath fixtures, kitchen components, doors, and cabinets, are made by the same manufacturer or have the same dimensions.  This makes these items less expensive and easier to replace at a later date.  Since the kitchens and cabinets are easily removed they can be used in other or new units when necessary.  This reduces waste. A list of all components used in each housing  unit will be placed on the internet along with warranty and proposed maintenance information.  Each owner will have the chance of paying extra for an extended warranty.  For example, the owner of each unit will have the opportunity to select one of the following (1) single pane window or door-design_, double pane window or door-design-, triple pane window or door-design_.  Each of these would have their own warranty.  In order to compare the windows or doors there will be a cradle to cradle analysis shown for each window or door.  All windows will have a snap in design feature in order to make easy changes at a later date.  This approach will be made for all the components in each unit.  Thus the price for each unit will be due to what components are selected.  This includes even including what paints are selected or when self help is used.

The decision of what design components are selected will be made by the design and expert teams.  However, a “sustainability index” (SI) will be selected for each house (or units) that are constructed in the PDP.  Each component will have a SI and this is based on the amount of carbon that is sequestered by each item (or building material) used in each building.  Examples shown below: (Courtesy of Dwell)

If the component or material selected is local, then this adds to its sustainability value.  The area outside of the building which is on the lot is also a sustainable component. One issue is to reduce or eliminate the area that is taken up by lawn. This is not sustainable especially if chemicals are used on it in in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.  Use of a gas mower is also unsustainable.  The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. (EPA) The outside area can be used for gardens, walks, gravel, pebbles, ground cover, fountains, wild grass mixtures etc.  The picture below shows an area used for vegetable and fruit gardens, wild grasses and perennials. Also, they are much more sustainable when grown organically.

The time needed to estimate sustainability qualifications is hard to estimate and in this paper I will try to do it as an example until the expert team is assembled to work on the project.  Then it will be revised for the final submission.  One of the best formats used for sustainability analysis has been designed in the United Kingdom called Home Quality Mark ONE.   It’s extensive and the analysis for the PDP would be simplified in order to reduce expenses, but it still would be able to show viable comparisons.  The information shown below provides further details.

The Circular Economy:

Wikipedia defines the Circular Economy as follows:

A circular economy (often referred to simply as “circularity”) is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. The circular economy aims to keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer, thus improving the productivity of these resources. All “waste” should become “food” for another process: either a by-product or recovered resource for another industrial process or as regenerative resources for nature (e.g., compost). This regenerative approach is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which has a “take, make, dispose” model of production.

Proponents of the circular economy suggest that a sustainable world does not mean a drop in the quality of life for consumers and can be achieved without loss of revenue or extra costs for manufacturers. The argument is that circular business models can be as profitable as linear models, allowing consumers to continue enjoying similar products and services.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation provides the following definition of the Circular Economy:

Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

– Design out waste and pollution
– Keep products and materials in use
– Regenerate natural systems

The first definition is the standard definition and the MacArther definition incorporates a more inclusive definition by mentioning natural and social capital.  A description of the book “The Next Economics, Global Cases in Energy, Environment, and Climate Change,”by w.w. Clark II (Editor) offers the following for consideration:

The Next Economics focuses on how the field of economics must change and incorporate environment, energy, health and new technologies that are called externalities for stopping and reversing climate change. The field of economics needs to become a science. Economics in this book for the Green Industrial Revolution which goes beyond the third industrial revolution since it covers cases, examples and specific economic analyses that both scientific and global. The book concerns climate change and how the Economics for Externalities, needs to range from energy and national security to infrastructure and communities. Solutions and cases of the “Next Economics” are based in western philosophical economic paradigms and how that is changing due to the significance of current global economic and societal concerns. Finally practical applications for economics are explored using global environmental and energy issues. Areas that need a fresh look at and be integrated with economics, include the environment, social and political issues, energy, health climate change and their infrastructures, as they are major components of the macroeconomics for the future. Based on past economic models, these subjects have been lost or ill fitted into modern economic theory. The challenge is to explore and to look deeply into economics in order to provide it a new direction with the possibility for understanding, changing and saving the planet from climate change. This book presents to economists and policy-makers alike areas of environmental economics, energy policy, health and social issues which are needed to stop and reverse climate change.

The Circular Economy diagram by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is shown below and it is an outline that can be adapted to the New Economy:

The following comments concerning the Circular Economy were in the paper, “Circular Economy: The Strategies to Global Business Economics,” by Woodrow W. Clark II and Danilo Bonato were submitted to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (for European Commission): March 27th 2019, reviewed: July 16th 2019, Published: December 13th 2019.

In a circular economy, buildings would be modular, durable, and flexible. The benefits of digitizing the built environment would go beyond improving energy efficiency and enhance productivity overall. Embracing a circular built environment would reshape both asset utilization and material management in the sector. Inhabitants would enjoy better indoor and outdoor air quality.

The qualitative leap can only be made if we know how to acquire in-depth knowledge about the availability of secondary raw materials. It is also necessary that the actors of the system (raw materials industry, end users, institutions, companies and consumers) collaborate closely to achieve common reuse and recycling targets along the entire production and distribution chain. In this way consumers will know exactly what they are buying and the impacts and potential for re-use and recycling of the products they have chosen.

Moreover, collection systems are still too expensive and inefficient which does not help industrial companies to abandon the traditional production systems based on the linear (flat economic) transformation of materials into products and their disposal once they are consumed. Therefore, the Commission is considering the possibility of introducing further simplifications to promote increased efficiency of collection systems through the circular economy paradigm. Hence by integrating these systems with the upstream industries Moreover, collection systems are still too expensive and inefficient which does not help industrial companies to abandon the traditional production systems based on the linear (flat economic) transformation of materials into products and their disposal once they are consumed. Therefore, the Commission is considering the possibility of introducing further simplifications to promote increased efficiency of collection systems through the circular economy paradigm. Hence by integrating these systems with the upstream industries that make use of recycled components and raw materials from products entering, the end of their life stage can be profitably met as well as protecting the environment (Figure 6).

What I plan to show in this paper/blog is how the PDP can be a demonstration project for showing how the Circular Economy can work in low income community projects, This would be centered in (1) Housing Construction, (2) Agriculture and Landscaping, (3) Energy/Waste Reduction, and (4) Increasing social capital.  These components were selected because they were in the curriculum of the proposed Education Department for each PDP community.  The advantages offered in using the PDP as an example for showing how the Circular Economy process works is in its simplicity.  The PDP is also doing many other things and that will increase market visibility.  It is a constant visual process in action.

However, the process must first recognize several factors that affect its actions.  Some of these are capitalism, consumerism, politics and the pandemic.  Capitalism as it is practiced today in the United States makes it difficult to interest many companies to pursue the Circular Economy.  This is due to many factors with the main one being that it would cost too much to start and would reduce profits.  The best way to encourage a change is to develop an overall plan using cradle to cradle technology analysis and market acceptance studies.  Also just using parts of the Circular Economy (CE) could be a first step.  An example would be to find a use for the current waste products or find ways to make the product last longer.  If the capitalist system became more progressive then it would be more acceptive to CE.  Many companies that are using the CE found that they be able to make more money than before, but many companies listed below take exception to this opinion..  The World Economic Forum noted some of them as follows:

The World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, recognized the best of them at The Circulars. There were 450 applications from 45 countries. Here are 12 of the best:

Winnow

We’re used to smart meters measuring electricity and water. But now British start-up Winnow has developed smart meters that analyse our trash. They are used in commercial kitchens to measure what food gets thrown away, and then identify ways to reduce waste. Up to a fifth of food purchased can be wasted in some kitchens, and Winnow has managed to cut that in half in hundreds of kitchens across 40 countries, saving its customers over $25 million each year in the process. That is the equivalent of preventing one meal from going to waste every seven seconds. This innovation earned Winnow the Circular Economy Tech Disruptor Award.

DyeCoo

The textiles industry uses vast quantities of water and chemicals and produces huge amounts of toxic waste, which is a major problem in countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand. But Dutch company DyeCoo has developed a process of dyeing cloth that uses no water at all, and no chemicals other than the dyes themselves. It uses highly pressurised “supercritical” carbon dioxide, halfway between a liquid and a gas, that dissolves the dye and carries it deep into the fabric. The carbon dioxide then evaporates, and is in turn recycled and used again. 98% of the dye is absorbed by the cloth, giving vibrant colours. And because the cloth doesn’t need to dry, the process takes half the time, uses less energy, and even costs less. The company already has partnerships with major brands like Nike and IKEA.

Close the Loop

This Australian company has spent more than a decade recovering value from old printer cartridges and soft plastics. Their new innovation turns these materials into roads. The products are mixed in with asphalt and recycled glass to produce a higher-quality road surface that lasts up to 65% longer than traditional asphalt. In every kilometre of road laid, the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and the waste toner from 12,500 printer cartridges is used in the mix. So instead of ending up in landfill, all that waste is given a new life, getting us where we need to go.

Enerkem

Using trash to run your car may sound like something from Back to the Future, but Canadian firm Enerkem has turned it into reality. Their technology extracts the carbon from trash that can’t be recycled. It then takes five minutes to turn the carbon into a gas that can be used to make biofuels like methanol and ethanol, as well as chemicals which can be used in thousands of everyday products. The city of Edmonton, for example, now reuses 90% of its waste, saving more than 100,000 metric tons of landfill every year.

 Schneider Electric

French-based Schneider Electric, which specialises in energy management and automation, won the Award for the Circular Economy Multinational. Employing 142,000 people in more than 100 countries, it uses recycled content and recyclable materials in its products, prolongs product lifespan through leasing and pay-per-use, and has introduced take-back schemes into its supply chain. Circular activities now account for 12% of its revenues, and will save 100,000 metric tons of primary resources from 2018-2020.

Cambrian Innovation

This US firm’s EcoVolt technology treats wastewater contaminated by industrial processes, not just turning it into clean water, but even producing biogas that can be used to generate clean energy. Cambrian Innovation has nine plants across the US, which have treated an estimated 300 million litres of wastewater.

Lehigh Technologies

This Atlanta firm turns old tyres and other rubber waste into something called micronized rubber powder, which can then be used in a wide variety of applications from tyres to plastics, asphalt and construction material. Five hundred million new tyres have been made using its products, earning it the Award for Circular Economy SME.

HYLA Mobile

Smartphones and tablets have changed the way many of us live and work, but our appetite for the latest must-have gadget has created a mountain of discarded devices. HYLA Mobile works with many of the world’s leading manufacturers and service providers to repurpose and reuse either the devices themselves, or their components. It’s estimated that more than 50 million devices have been reused, making $4 billion for their owners and stopping 6,500 tons of e-waste ending up in landfill.

Have you read?

TriCiclos

People’s Choice Award winner TriCiclos began in Chile in 2009 with the stated aim of working towards a “world without waste”. Since then it has built and operated the largest network of recycling stations in South America, diverting 33,000 metric tons of recyclable material from landfill and saving over 140,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

Miniwiz

For the founder of Miniwiz, Arthur Huang, there is no such thing as trash. He is an evangelist for upcycling – turning old materials into something new. As he admits, this isn’t a new idea – until the 20th century reusing whatever was lying around was the norm. But he is taking this principle to new levels, with the scientists and engineers in his Miniwiz Trash Lab inventing over 1,000 new sustainable materials and applications. The Trashpresso machine is the ultimate expression of sustainable upcycling. It is a mobile upcycling plant that can be transported in two shipping containers to its customers. Once there, it turns 50kg of plastic bottles an hour into a low-cost building material, using no water, and only solar power.

AB InBev Proving that innovation in the circular economy isn’t confined to small tech start-ups, the world’s largest brewer wants 100% of its product to be in packaging that’s returnable or made from majority-recycled content by 2025. Already nearly half of its drinks are sold in returnable glass bottles, and AB InBev is working with suppliers and customers to increase that. It has also launched a protein drink made from spent grains from the brewing process (which previously were only resold as animal feed).

In 2018, IKEA unveiled a plan to become a circular business by 2030, eliminating waste with a commitment to use only renewable or salvageable materials across its entire range. Coca-Cola, which manufactures 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, has since confirmed Sweden as the first market in which all its bottles will be produced from 100 per cent recyclable materials.

This is the circular economy, where reuse and recycling prevail over raw materials and extractive ways of working.

P&G, adidas and countless other household names are also changing some of their production methods and processes in a move away from a linear economy to one less reliant on natural resources.

For some companies, though, circularity is the linchpin of their entire proposition. And as well as cementing their status as an environmentally friendly business, it’s an approach that

.

With the United Nations forecasting the world’s population to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the stress on Earth’s natural resources is only set to increase. Against this backdrop, the environmental benefits of the circular economy are clear: less waste goes into landfill and less water is used, resulting in lower greenhouse emissions.

As a new era of sustainability dawns, the business case is just as clear. A recent study from Nielsen found that 81 per cent of global customers feel strongly about companies’ need to implement programs that improve the environment.

“Once a business has established or switched to a circular process, it has the opportunity to leverage this point of difference to align with the values of the rapidly growing segment of society that are conscientious consumers,” explains Chris Norman at GOOD Agency, which advises brands on sustainable strategies.

Slashing production and consumption to boost business

A big business seeing the monetary benefits of doing just that is Schneider Electric. As well as using recycled content and recyclable materials in its products, the industrial engineering equipment manufacturer has been rolling out a growing range of services to help customers extend the life of ageing products. These include leasing and pay-per-use options and take-back schemes which ensure discarded apparatus doesn’t end up in landfills.

Circular economy solutions now account for 12 per cent of the group’s revenues. By 2021, the French-based business intends to avoid consumption of 120,000 tonnes of primary resources and cut CO2 emissions at the customers’ end by 120 million tonnes.

Firms that use natural resources to make disposable products is the equivalent of torching a car after every drive, then buying a new one

In Europe alone, applying circular economy principles could unlock £1.5 trillion of value for the economy, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

One industry ripe to capitalize on this is the renewable energy and waste management sector. Promising upstarts have already emerged in this space including Cambrian Innovation, which has developed technology that decontaminates dirty water and creates a clean biogas energy source.

Elsewhere, Finnish company Aquazone has developed its own method of upcycling wastewater into fertiliser. At the end of 2019, it was acquired by Operon Group Oy, which already boasts revenues of £11 million, showcasing the potential for profitability.

Reuse, repair and recycle

Unlike water, some materials are harder to reuse or repurpose. That’s where firms like Terracycle come in. The recycling organisation provides circular economy solutions for businesses, including it’s Zero-Waste packaging system, Loop, which enables fast-moving consumer goods giants such as PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestlé to sell products in high-quality refillable containers. Customers pay a deposit for each one, plus the cost of the product inside, then notify Loop when it needs refilling.

In September 2019, the upstart’s revenues rose to $11.2 million representing a 16 per cent year-on-year growth.

Looking beyond the everyday essentials consumers pick up off the supermarket shelf, another sector looking to drive significant behavioural change through the recycling and repurpose of material is textiles.

According to the fashion industry-led Circular Fibres Initiative, less than one percent of material used to produce clothing globally, is recycled into new clothing.

Such statistics have set the stage for green activists to lead a shift away from fast fashion towards sustainable wardrobes and make space for brands such as Teemill, which has found success in repurposing old, tired clothes and open sourcing its methods.

The business has developed a circular production process that turns old T-shirts into new ones. “Companies that take natural resources out of the ground and then make products designed to be thrown away have a business model which is the equivalent of torching a car after every drive, then buying a new one,” says co-founder Mart Drake-Knight.

The entrepreneur reveals his original ambition was to make clothes using natural materials and renewable energy, but when he tried to do so “everything got more expensive”. The economy, he argues, was “set up to punish brands for trying to do the right thing”.

Drake-Knight doesn’t reveal numbers, but says his business model is translating into financial success, saying the company has doubled in size every year since its 2018 relaunch.

Like fashion, food is an additional area where enterprises are finding success in the circular economy. Data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows that 31 per cent of food produced in the UK is lost or wasted, both throughout the value chain and as consumer waste.

Toast Ale is looking to tackle the issue in a novel way, turning one of the most frequently wasted foodstuffs, bread, into beer.  The business was on course to hit £1-million revenue in 2019, according to founder Tristram Stuart, who has credited the “good mark-up from grain to beer” for its gains.

What’s certain is companies embedding circularity within their business are finding ways to save the planet and turn a profit at the same time, something that’s not hard to raise a toast to.Special Report – Raconteur.  Other reports are available. The present state of consumer habits will change in some fashion.  Currently the internet is winning.  In an article titled How Will the Pandemic Change Consumer Behavior?, CMO Network, by Kian Bakhtiari, May 18,2020 noted: (young person’s view)

However, moments of crisis often pave the way for social solidarity. The pandemic has afforded western societies a chance to unite, collaborate and serve. Witnessing the power of collective action can change the way individuals relate to others, resulting in an increased sense of community. This cultural shift from “I” to “we” could have a permanent effect on consumer behavior. Research indicates people from individualist cultures prefer buying products and services associated with being successful and autonomous. But if society becomes more community-focused, then so will our shopping habits. In other words, buyer motivation will shift from personal gain towards products, services and experiences that can be shared and enjoyed with others. The very act of consumption will no longer be synonymous with social status, but rather social harmony. In short, consumers will become more receptive to brands that demonstrate prosocial behavior. And so, all future brand activity will need to benefit society, and not only the individual.       

Politics in America is in a mess and I just wanted to note that at present, the end of September 2020, the Circular Economy or the environment is not a pressing issue for the party in power.  Another issue that should be highlighted more is the stagnant economy since 1970 of the people in the lower percentile.  The stock market in turn represents the higher percentile and is not a true gauge of the economy for every person.

What effect the pandemic will have on the Circular Economy will be anyone’s guess.  I believe innovation will continue fairly rapidly, although when new ideas will be funded or put in place is another matter.  Much of what will happen will depend on the election and results of the flu season.  Following is a discussion of how the PDP can be a demonstration project for the CE.

Energy – Waste Reduction:

There are many advances in the energy field that we should be aware of, because it can change how we live, reduce fossil fuel use, have less pollution and costs for the energy sources that we use.  To help with the energy problems in the U.S. we need an energy plan. Our power grids are at their capacity in many places and the destruction or overloading of a major generator would cause blackouts and further havoc.

One example of a company making major breakthroughs is Honesty – China.  They have used their “thin film power” on tile and other types of roofs as well as on cars.  Their website states:

Thin-film solar technology enables cutting-edge features such as flexibility, light weight, superior low light performance, and diversified color and shapes. These unique qualities make it adaptable to a wide range of applications, including Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), residential power, agricultural applications, automobile power, electronics, consumer and specialty products, as well as commercial unmanned aerial vehicles.

The solar film creates sustainability and allows homeowners to save money without harming the environment.  Another website to review is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).  They are on the internet and involved in a Factor 10 project using the Circular Economy.

Some of their projects include several sectors, including energy.  They also have a 70 page report published called Vision 2050 and this is described below.

Under the Vision 2050 project of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 29 WBCSD member companies developed a vision of a world well on the way to sustainability by 2050, and a pathway leading to that world – a pathway that will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. It emerged that these changes are necessary, feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for companies that turn sustainability into strategy.

Some of the ideas presented by these various companies and non-profits can be used or become a stimulus for new ideas that can utilized in the PDP.   Some options and ideas relating to the Circular Economy will be presented below as they relate to the triplex prototype.

Figure 1: Roof Design
Options

This is the design for a duplex that was converted from a triplex.  To go back to a triplex, the center wall between units B and C (red) and the kitchen would be added.  The bedroom wall (turquoise) would be removed.  These walls would be designed so this could be easily done.  The electrical and plumbing would also be designed accordingly.  The mechanical and water heater are by the baths.  In most cases the center hallway between the buildings is enclosed.  This is not heated  or cooled unless the width is expanded to make a room.  The expansion would be in a section of lots with movable lot lines.  Most of the roofs would be covered with thin solar film to provide renewable power.  If a carport is built then this will also be covered with film.  The add-on in unit A is optional.  If the add-ons are not constructed originally then the foundations and/or concrete slab could be put in instead if wanted.  It could also be a greenhouse.

The interesting aspect of a self-sufficient PDP community is that tenants do not have to own a car.  Two cars and a small bus are provided by the community non-profit as rentals when needed.  This is a major energy saving.  The area designated for parking could be used for a variety of other purposes as long as the area could be transferred to parking at a later date.  Some of the triplexes will use small wind power machines for renewable power instead of solar.  Rainwater collection tanks and rain gardens are also an option for use.  Trees used in the landscape areas will have height limitations so they do not interfere with the solar.  The different materials used for exterior walls and the types of insulation used would provide other energy savings.  Climbing vegetables on string or wire trellises on south facing walls would reduce the buildup of heat in the summer.  This would be part of an energy saving landscape plan.  An interior energy saving lighting and fixture plan will also be used.  New ideas from existing energy and waste studies would further other solutions.  All these different options would add variety and diversity to the community so that any one home will not seem out of place.  Other options would be provided by the original design team.

In regards to waste reduction the designs of the buildings themselves reduces waste because the units can be enlarged or reduced in size without the need for rebuilding a new home.  The floors will be stained concrete and this can eliminate the needs for carpet, tile and other floor coverings.  However, rugs can be used when desired.  High school students will be hired to pick up trash and organize pieces for reuse on site or in their school (art?).  This will also allow them to understand what is happening and what teaching programs are available in the PDP.  Also any excess electricity that is generated will be returned to the grid or used for special batteries.  The kitchens, doors, windows, lights, bathroom fixtures, are interchangeable and this reduces waste. The fences will be made using metal square posts and Trex vinal wood products.  The design used will look good from both sides.  Most of the products selected for the homes will be of a higher quality that will last longer.  Daily trash will be separated for recycling purposes or waste disposal.  Ways to reuse plastic bottles, straws will be evaluated.  Tenants will attend classes concerning home environmental issues. 

In some cases when the site does not have city utilities available it will use its own sewage system and not septic systems.  This is due to the compactness (high density) of the buildings.  Sewage water will be reusable in the home irrigation systems when possible.  Also, when land is available and there is adequate rainfall the PDP will provide community water and not rely on other municipal water.  The community may use its own utilities anyway to show how it could be more self-sufficient.  The community non-profit would be the governing agency in this case and would bill the tenants.  Studies would have to be made to determine the different options.  This could be a way to build communities for the future.  Examples:

Barcelona-based Guallart Architects has won an international competition for its design of a mixed-use, self-sufficient community in China’s Xiong’an New Area. Presented as a model for sustainable urban growth, the project champions local energy production, food production, energy efficiency and material reuse. The tech-forward proposal also takes the needs of a post-COVID-19 era and growing work-from-home trend in account by designing for comfortable telework spaces in all residences.        

This picture is from INHabitat website. What if these shelves were on rollers that could be locked and used as walls? They could be used in the triplex where the wall has to come out and also in the wall that has to be added. It could be a swap. The wall sections could be in 4′ or 5′ long sections.

Agriculture and Landscaping:

The Smart Water magazine in a 3-2019 article, The circular economy for water and agriculture: a key role for sustainability.  It was written by Schneider Electric and stated the following:

We often behave as if the resources are unlimited on a planet when, clearly, they are not. Each year, the global economy uses more than 90 trillion tons of natural resources (of which only 8% are reused), the equivalent of 1.7 of what the Earth can produce annually. Although not valued in a balance sheet, these resources are worth trillions of dollars for the global economy. This linear catch-consume-throw-away model is not sustainable.

By 2050, the world population is expected to grow by 33%. Along with the increasing industrialization of developing countries and the increasing need for energy, the demand for water is also overflowing. In addition, climate change is expected to cause severe droughts, devastating floods and water shortages in several regions of the world.

The 2030 Water Resources Group predicts that by 2030 the global water deficit may reach 40%. A growing population combined with an increased demand for agriculture and industry will lead to scarcity, exacerbated by the adverse effects of climate change.

Circular economy: Sustainable and profitable  Given this situation, the circular economy is considered the most popular answer to face the challenge. Not only could it contribute to the fight against climate change, but it can also have significant economic benefits. A recent study by Deloitte also revealed that four sectors of the European Union (EU) – food, construction, automotive and electrical/electronic equipment – had the potential to reduce emissions by 66% using technically feasible circular economy methods. A circular economy can provide a reduction equivalent to 550 megatons of CO2, 33% of total EU emissions from product consumption.

Agriculture accounts for almost 70% of the world’s water consumption. In 2050, it is expected that it will be necessary to increase the demand for this resource by 55% in order to maintain the food needs of our growing world population. European agriculture spends 73,000 hm3 of water every year, of which it could reduce up to 70% avoiding losses in transport, applying precision irrigation techniques and reducing food waste, in a circular economy scenario.

What can the PDP do about this since it is just a small self-sustaining housing community?  On the whole not much.  But this is where the powers of teaching and use of demonstration vegetable and landscape gardens can be a viable asset in making people aware of what is happening and learn about possible solutions.  It could also be a teaching center for farmers.  The following picture shows a proposed education garden on the PDP.  It is the same size as a triplex lot.

The illustration on the lower right shows a Circular Economy  (CE) diagram for a typical farm.  The PDP will establish a cooperative relationship with some of the farms near them an try to make them use CE.  The budget will be analyzed to determine the value of using organic and CE practices compared to using conventional methods.

The EPA  noted that the average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. This is why the PDP will demonstrate using lawn alternatives and organic practices for landscaping.

The present agricultural crop production system in the U.S. is broken and unsustainable by relying on big Ag and hurting small farmers, excessive use of petroleum products causing pollution, very high use of water, destroying productivity of soils by monocropping of crops and animals, overuse of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, illogical shipping practices by not having more local farms and many other problems.  I discuss it more in my book and website.  The following ideas might help solve some of the above problems.

  • The growing of crops like corn for ethanol does not make sense because the land can be used for cattle, buffalo or prairie grasses to restore the land. Grass fed cattle is natural for their digestive system and produces prime meat.  Regenerative farming practices would be used where the cattle are routinely moved from pasture to pasture.  The mixture of grasses becomes cattle feed, sites for soil organisms and manure to restore the soil, and habitat for birds, small animals and pollinators.  This would reduce the need for feedlots as presently practiced
  • Many large and midsize farms should change to regenerative farming practices and diversify their crops. 
  • More cooperatives should be formed to reduce the large landholdings and/or ownerships.  At first the ownership of the land would stay the same as it was but under a different structure to give more people say in its operations.  This would especially apply to poultry operations, where Tyson Foods control over 90% of operations. 
  • Small farmers should be helped with funding to use some of the marketing ideas used by the Chinese to help farmers.  Also agricultural planning could be adapted so there is some logic to what crops are grown and where.  This plan should be approved by around 85% of the farmers involved.  Local farming practices, such as soil health, would be emphasized.  Also practices such as those practiced by Seven Son’s Farm in Virginia ● Strategies for acquiring and retaining customers.● How to ship perishable products.● How to create regional delivery zones.● How to choose box templates.● How to choose shipping carriers.● Covering costs and perfecting pricing.● An overview of the Seven Sons’ farms  fulfillment process—from order received to order shipped could be part of a training process to help with marketing.
  • Local farmers should eliminate middlemen or distributors.  This is why being local is important.  The PDP and its cooperatives could help with planning as necessary.  Testing for agricultural production could be assembled from various local universities and colleges and be part of the PDP curriculum. 
  • The PDP could help farmers find funding (perhaps NCRS) to help in restoring their soils.  This could at first just be using no till, crop rotation and using “Fast to Grow” which stimulates the microbiology in the soil.  Land could also be set aside for conservation. purposes.

The PDP could have an impact for having more people getting into farming.  The local regenerative farmer produces better quality food smaller acreage with less equipment needs.  There is more technology available now to offer new alternatives and this includes the use of organic chemicals and special equipment. 

In summary the website for FoodPrint summarizes the benefits for using regenerative techniques in agriculture and landscaping.  Not mentioned are non-toxic products (like MicroLife®) that are organic, which can be put on the soil to improve it and make it healthier.

The negative impact of industrial agriculture production (both industrial crop production and industrial animal production) on soil health are many. But an alternative exists. Sustainable agricultural techniques can help build healthy soil, avoiding the need for heavy synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use while protecting natural biodiversity in healthy soil. Here are just some of the major benefits that sustainable agricultural practices have on soil health:

  • Improved carbon sequestration — regenerative agricultural techniques, like cover cropping, can help build soil and sequester carbon. Healthy, carbon-rich soil plays an indispensable role in the fight against climate change. 38
  • Improved water retention — healthy soils with high organic matter retain more water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Each 1 percent increase in soil organic matter helps soil hold 20,000 gallons more water per acre.” 39
  • Less need for pesticides — healthy plants grown in biologically diverse soil with plenty of microbes are less susceptible (or attractive) to plant pests and better able to defend themselves from attack. 40
  • No need for synthetic fertilizer — using sustainable soil-improvement techniques can eliminate the need for synthetic, fossil-fuel-based fertilizers. For example, amending the soil with plant-based compost and animal manure, green manure and cover cropping, as well as employing crop rotation, can all contribute to building healthier soil

Housing Construction:

Every part used in construction of a home has its own cradle to cradle lifetime analysis.  Specific materials may be used that are more sustainable than others.  This is evident as depicted in the book, The New Carbon Architecture – Building to Cool the Climate, by Bruce King.  In turn the Circular Economy diagram or image will be somewhat different for each product or system.  Then the combination of sustainable products will make the finished product more sustainable.  Other factors have to be weighed in, such as the costs of each item and its durability to last longer.  

The process that I am recommending for the development of the PDP will occur in the following stages.  Again this is subject to change by the “Design Team,” the funder or both.

  1. Obtaining of initial funding to select the “Design Team” along with provisional funding for research and the “Model Homes.
  2. Determine location for the Model Homes and initial homes that will form the first PDP.  Three sites to be evaluated. 
  3. Start the market study for the PDP.  Determine builders and costs for the various home types.  (See list)
  4. Design of the model homes including a  full set of architectural plans and “Cradle to Cradle” studies of the model homes.
  5. Develop an analysis of the Sustainability Index (SI).  Prepare analysis of the Circular Economy concept.  Make any necessary changes in the analysis procedures.
  6. Start and finish construction of the model homes.  Evaluate finished market study.
  7. Start and finish architectural plans for the homes that the buyers selected. (see “Buying Process”). This could happen with step 5.
  8. Determine rental program.
  9. Start and finish Research programs.  (Starting at the finish of the model home construction)
  10. Establish social programs and governance procedures with people living in the community.  This will also include the establishment of small businesses.

This is a general outline of the processes involved in establishing a PDP.  Of course, this is subject to change by the Design Team. 

Optional Types of Housing Construction:

Main Structure:

  1. Conventional: Wood studs, batten insulation, wood roof trusses, wood boards, brick, stucco, Hardie board, stone, compressed wood panels, corrugated metal, fiberboard, glass, concrete, hempcrete, artificial stone panels, concrete block
  2. Conventional: Metal studs, batten insulation, metal roof trusses, wood boards, brick, stucco, Hardie board, stone, compressed wood panels, corrugated metal, fiberboard, glass, concrete, hempcrete, artificial stone panels, concrete block
  3. Timber Frame Construction:
  4. Steel Frame Construction:
  5. CA (Carbon Architecture) Straw Bale Construction and or Straw Panel Construction:
  6. (CA) Mass Timber and Straw Insulation:
  7. (CA) Hempcrete Construction:
  8. (CA) Compressed Earth Construction and or Compressed Earth Blocks
  9. (CA&Conve.) Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU):  Use of different materials to be selected
  10. (CA) 3-D Printing Materials for walls: 
  11. (CA) bioMason Construction: Using enzymes from natural materials as a binder
  12. (CA) Adobe or Stack Sack Construction using concrete, sand and gravel in cloth sacks, unite
  13. (CA&Conve.) Cast in Place or Pre Cast Concrete Construction:
  14. Combinations including Earth Covered Homes
  15. Others

The same exercise can be made for different types of roofs, foundations, interior walls, utilities, HVAC options, floors, windows, etc.   Included would be sustainability calculations.  In part it becomes a question of higher prices now (in some cases) or sustainability.  In some cases use of natural materials is less expensive.  However, in should be kept in mind that the cradle to cradle analysis of a natural material being used should also include the length of its availability.  If the supply of the natural material is soon exhausted locally then there may be be added transportation and material costs to obtain it.  This would also affect the sustainability index and the circular economy ratios.  Hopefully the cost to the environment would be a factor but this is rarely added into budgets.  If possible, it should be noted in all evaluations.

Buying Process:

The timing of the buying process of the housing units for this project has several options that are available.  This is due to determining which of the projects purposes are in place.  This is further complicated by bringing in the social needs of the PDP.  Buyers will be screened to see if they can help the community by (1) offering needed skill sets, (2) have no skills but are homeless  or have health problems, (3) have some skills but are homeless and have health problems, (4) speak a language other than English or limited English, (5) has a skill set and a willingness to teach others, (6) willingness to be in a sharing community,  (7) person(s) who do not believe in this type of community (limited options to stay), (8) family size, (9) willingness to work for the PDP non-profit or teach, and (10) Other options to be determined.  Normally this is not done but this PDP community is also an experiment in sociology.  These conditions of community development haven’t ever been studied in this context that I know of.  It is putting the forgotten people in some control of their destiny by giving them a chance to improve themselves by their own means.  It is not a way for them just make money, but a way to make one feel better about themselves by having a purpose in life.  You learn by making others improve themselves and this, in turn, for many becomes a pathway out of anxiety and depression.

Now the question becomes what types of building construction should be in the PDP and what types should be used in the model homes.  To answer these questions all the information should be finished in completing the “Cradle to Cradle,” SI Index, and the Circular Economy for each important component in a unit(s).  This should be made as simple as possible and not make the processes too complicated.  Each buyer also has to become partially educated in the processes involved.  Thus, if possible,  the funding for this research should be done prior to the building of the model homes.  The two conventional building systems, some natural carbon architecture homes and the 3-D systems should be the highest priority. Other building systems not noted should also be under consideration and evaluated.

Building just one home in a building system is very expensive and this should be noted in determining the sales price.  The home financing would be by the PDP non-profit so the sales prices or rental costs would be determined by them.  A cost deduction should be made for qualified homes if the carbon sequestered was sold as carbon credits.  The cost of land is another factor under consideration and the land itself has its own sustainable standards.  The information obtained in this study is complicated now, but it should help the earth and save money in the future.  For the better, it could change how we look at the economy so everyone can participate in it and not just the wealthy.  After the site is located, studies should begin to determine the sales price for the various units.  The information in the market study and interviews with people in the area should be part of this process.  The final buildings should reflect the culture(s) of the people if the proposed location is in an area where this factor is important.  The social considerations are unique and a vital part that separates the community from just being a housing project.  It has the diversity necessary to make the PDP last while it becomes the training ground for additional projects.   The research component will provide the information necessary to show people that we have to consider the environment and people in all our actIons.  Hopefully it is not too late.  Just study the time lapse pictures from space and see what Its happening to us through climate changes due to warming of the seas and air.

Increasing Social Capital:

Many of the problems facing us today is due to the lack of opportunities for minorities to better themselves while living in a largely wealthy white society. There is both economic and social segregation.  Now due to the widening polarization in the United States, there are people who think they are below average and those who think they are above average in the overall society.  Studies show that those who think they are below average do not think well of themselves, because they never seem to get ahead in what they want to achieve.  Those who think they are above average feel that they are succeeding in life because of their view of their perceived accomplishments.  The two groups may look down on each other and this causes many tensions between them.

The PDP through sharing and collaboration will try to relieve these tensions by showing people how they can obtain joy in helping each other better themselves spiritually through giving and protecting the needs of Mother Earth. There is even a Circular Economy diagram for ambition to follow.

The key to the success of the PDP proposal will be in the social patterns that will evolve in its evolution as a society on its own while the community grows in size.  Social activities in the community includes how people share, work together, become active participants in community activities, feel better about themselves and others, being able to ask for help, and have a positive purpose in life.  Adjustments to our present form of capitalism will have to be made.

Also, people should know about the social dilemmas that occur on the internet by the use of social medias such as facebook, twitter, Google, instagram, etc.  Information about this is found on “The Social Dilemma” on the internet and the movie of the same name on Netflix.  The movie and internet explain these and other problems that affect a society that is in disarray and divided politically.  The organizations, in conjunction with Social Dilemma, that made the movie are past executives and employees of the social media companies.  Some of the problems with social media is noted on the following clips that are found in the discussion and action guide that is found on the Social Dilemma website

The issue of Social Dilemma is mentioned here because it can be detrimental to many social structures throughout the world.  If corrected social media could achieve great things but as it stands now greed has taken over management while governments are lax on correcting the problems and establishing proper regulations.  Regulating the use of truth on Twitter would be quite an act indeed.

These comments from surveys shows what problems are existing and that they, in effect, could manifest into more problems in the future if left unchecked.  In fact many of the present social media executives will not let their children use social media.  The lack of local communities is one of the reasons that this is occurring.  This is why communities like the PDP are so important.  People should be made aware of what is happening when using social media apps in order to put the media thoughts in place and not be controlled by them.  

The Social Dilemma personnel (on their website) use social media and explain it by the ”Code of Ethics” that they use:

While we hope The Social Dilemma will inspire people to spark conversations “IRL”, we believe it is especially important to reach people where they need to hear it most – on social media.

In service of that goal, we plan to use social media to advance our impact campaign while adopting and modeling the principles of humane technology. Our focus will be on getting the film out to new audiences that might not otherwise seek it out, increasing the public’s understanding of the dilemma faced by our increased reliance on technologies that have become exploitative and extractive, and providing tools and resources to realign our relationship with these platforms. 

Rules of engagement

We will not:

  • set posting quotas to optimize for the algorithm.
  • further amplify sensational stories, employ opaque “curiosity gaps”, or use copy as clickbait.
  • collect any data that isn’t provided with your express consent or necessary for the basic management of our web properties (more in our privacy policy).
  • monetize our content through the use of interruptive or targeted ads, or any ads for that matter.

We will:

  • set our north star to sharing genuinely valuable content about the film and the issues – even if it means you don’t hear from us from time to time. 
  • do our best to clearly explain the purpose of each post we share.
  • work to include context within our posts that help you manage your own attention e.g., estimated read times, etc.
  • invite in dialogue and commenting on our posts, but will not stand for hate speech or other inflammatory attacks e.g., revealing personal information, using obscene language, etc.
  • be as responsive as possible while respecting and supporting the mental health of those on our team who are managing our social properties

This information will be used in the PDP and I hope that people adhere to its ethics while encouraging people to use proper use protocol when using social media communications.

In order to obtain funding for the development of the first “research” PDP the following cost estimates will be provided.  These estimates will be adjusted after the “Design Team” has been selected.  Most of the initial work of Design Team selection will be virtual and the proposed costs for doing this is in Estimate 1, Table 1.  The upper left corner of the table is red.  The cost of additional personnel research is in Table 1, Tables 2 thru 10 (green and orange tables).

Summary:

Adjustments can easily made in the attached estimates.  The estimated costs/expenses have been made for the Model Home construction package and is located in Blog 20 – Model Home Costs.  Further information is in Blog – 17 – Model Homes/Sales.  The next objective is to prepare a business plan and the diagrams below are examples of  proposed outlines

However this will have to be accomplished by the “Design Team” after they have been assembled.  Some of the proposed financing will be in the form of grants and will also include private funding and other sources.  It would be an important step for providing affordable housing that would be able to grow itself through people power.  The diagrams are from a book, Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneuit.  

Blog 25 – PDP = Research for the Future (Pilot Demonstration Project)

After Covid-19 – What will the Future Bring?

This is a question that is on everyone’s mind, but at the end of July, 2020 no one will be able to answer it fully because there are so many unanswered factors or variables involved at this time. It is a system analysts nightmare. I mention this because I am attempting in this blog to show how important the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) is in presenting a development framework for the future that is sustainable and as self sufficient as possible. In an era when government planning is deficient in controlling the Covid-19 virus and passing laws against environmental protection, there needs to be a plan that will help all the people rather than just those in the top 30% on the economic scale.

The PDP demonstration project will provide a means of showing how society can become self sufficient both socially ( using self government, community money and collaboration) and physically (different building construction methods and facilities, education programs, carbon reduction, low impact agriculture, etc.). Options will also be presented for new governmental concepts for capitalism by incorporating progressive ideas. Hopefully, the project can show ways of breaking the political logjam that is present using “cradle to cradle,” “circular economy,” and “doughnut economics,” procedures in decision making processes. Today we need to be able to make intelligent decisions based on scientific critiques rather than hearsay. Twitter comments of advice has a low accuracy quotient. Unfortunately this is not recognized by a large number of people.

Options for the Future

  1. 1. Covid-19 – United States – Worldwide – Control:

    Controlling Covid-19 at this times very difficult and it has to start with good leadership from all administrative branches in the Federal, State and local governments.  Then the people have to follow the science backed instructions.  In the U.S. this has not happened with one of the biggest faults being able to plan ahead to have adequate supplies and testing when needed.   Facebook and other companies have plenty of algorithms available to help.  A large city could design a program that would have hourly inputs from the necessary agencies so that needs are constantly assessed.  This then would be coordinated with other cities to provide a national consensus.  Hours in line needed to be tested and quick retrieval time would be one of the inputs.  This information would be mapped so people would know where to go at all times.  One or two lines would be designated for the elderly and people with symptoms.  Now everyone is waiting for a vaccine  and this is a determinate as to what will happen in the future.

    The same type analogy could be available worldwide.  For example, it would be nice to know what conditions were occurring with refugees to see what could be done to solve their problems to reduce the spread of diseases.  This will be complicated when flu season starts.  To reduce further spread of diseases there should be environmental controls in areas where bats are loosing their habitat.  Also the sale of certain wild game should be prohibited in food markets.  International guidelines, including oversights, could be written by the United Nations.
  2. 2. Non-Functioning Politics and Growing Inequities in the United States and Worldwide:

    The political stalemate in the United States and some other countries is a large factor creating indecision for the future of the world.  A recent poll showed that 64% of international leaders did not respect President Trump and an April 12, 2020 article in the Guardian noted “The Trump administration’s self-centered, haphazard, and tone-deaf response [to Covid-19] will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths,” wrote Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard.  An example of further potential problems is the rift between China and the U.S.

    One of the generally unnoticed problems with the Trump Administration is their rollback of environmental regulations.  Details relating to this can be found on the internet such as National Geographic’s article  “15 ways the Trump administration has changed environmental policies,” February 1, 2019.  A New York Times analysis shows that there have been at least 100 instances.  (See chart)

This will do irreparable harm to beneficial environmental progress. If the Trump administration is elected for another four years then no one can guess what the future will be like.  We already have some catastrophic storms, earthquakes in San Diego area, wildfires, reductions in carbon sequestration, etc.  Blog 9-Systems Thinking (on website-towardselfsufficiency.com) provides additional information about our present and future environmental problems.

The stalemate between political parties prevents or slows down legislation to the point that very little is being accomplished.  It also is dividing the country to the point there is little relief for providing social justice for the majority of people.  In reference to the Tax Bill  that passed in 2018, The Los Angeles Times on January 1, 2020 printed the following:

“President Trump’s radical Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect Jan. 1, 2018, has now been around long enough for a fair assessment. The verdict’s not good. The second anniversary is an apt time to review some of the law’s biggest failures — especially since the president is inviting more trouble by considering another tax-cut boondoggle as an election-year ploy.  Rushed through Congress by a Republican majority, the Trump-GOP tax cuts were promoted as a boon for the middle class. Yet in 2020, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the richest 1% of taxpayers will get an average tax cut of around $50,000, 75 times more than the average cut for the bottom 80%.  One big reason the law is so skewed toward the wealthy is that it gives corporations huge tax breaks. It’s primarily the wealthy who own corporations through their stock holdings.

Our governments non functionality coupled with social justice and inequality issues portends problems for the future.  Much of what happens in the election will also be a determinant. As we live in a post-pandemic world.

3.  Economy, Healthcare, Education, etc.

All these areas of activity will be affected and many different thoughts are circulating on the internet.  Our ways of living will definitely change and we should all strive to make it better for humanity.
The Pew survey depicts how our economy in 2018 has a falling middle income and a static economy for lower income persons.
The article explains some of the conditions prevailing at the time.  This shows that the economy was not that good for some people other than those in the upper income bracket.  The pandemic will probably make the economy worse for everybody although the wealthy have a buffer against feeling worse.  The Healthcare and Educational systems will probably be remodeled and organized for the better making use of the beneficial attributes of Artificial Intelligence and Systems Design.  While this is occurring there are strong climatic feedback loops that will have damaging affects on  reducing climate change.  Recently this was recognized when a “$ 1 Trillion Investor Group Demands Climate Change Action From Regulators.” (July 21, 2020, Investor Daily).  The group called on the Federal Reserve to consider steps outlined by by climate advocacy group Ceres, which coordinated the campaign.  For the Fed, these steps included exploring how climate risk can be addressed through monetary policy. 

Some of the main casualties are small businesses which are the mainstay of our economy by offering goods and services not offered by larger stores.  They add character and uniqueness.  The PDP will offer possible solutions to help bring them back.  Debt will also be tightened up due to uncertainty and lower pools of capital and this further places marginal operating companies at risk.

Books will be coming out such as “The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming” by Eric Holthaus, June 30, 2020.  Charles Hugh Smith suggests in a Patron’s paper that there will be three scenarios to consider:

            1. Devolution.  Everything stays more or less the same
2. Decay.  Services become unreliable, more homelessness, Universal Basic Income
3. Things fall Apart.  Social disorder becomes chronic, Government bankrupts, etc.

I discuss this topic because the it has become part of the present and certainly part of our future.   However, any development such as the proposed PDP, should align itself with the concepts of (1) Cradle to Cradle, (2) Circular Economy and (3) Doughnut Economics.  Cradle to Cradle is a major component of Circular Economics and Circular Economics is a major component of the Doughnut Economic proposal for society to live by.

Cradle to Cradle and the Circular Economy:

Cradle-to-cradle design (also referred to as 2CC2, C2C, cradle 2 cradle, or regenerative design) is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems that models human industry on nature’s processes, where materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. The term itself is a play on the popular corporate phrase “cradle to grave”, implying that the C2C model is sustainable and considerate of life and future generations—from the birth, or “cradle”, of one generation to the next generation, versus from birth to death, or “grave”, within the same generation.  Wikipedia

C2C suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining a safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and technical nutrients.[1] It is a holistic, economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free.[2] Building off the whole systems approach of John T. Lyle‘s regenerative design, the model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems. Wikipedia

C2C is a concept of total recycling through design. The product is conceived so that the cost of recycling is lower than the cost of buying new material. It is at start a focus of a company to increase competitivity by reducing the costs and transforming a product orientated approach into a service platform. C2C is a circular paradigm in its essence with a redesign of the product (which becomes a service) , a redesign of the production platform able to recycle, a redesign of the distribution and re-acquisition network and the development of value added services attached to a virtual product.  (A Floresta Nova)

Circular Economy is a concept of companies integration in the objective of reusing the waste of a company as a resource for another one. The issue with circular economy is that it belongs to the linear paradigm (vs the circular one) which intends to close a linear process with different specialized actors in charge of recycling. In this case companies will not redesign the product in order to leverage re-acquisition of the product and recycle everything  but create partnerships resulting mainly in finding a complementary revenue in the waste produced. We may even consider C2C and circular economy in opposition since in C2C the waste has a very high value that should stay in the boundaries of the company and not been used by competitor/partners. It may happen in the future that partners will be essentially integrated in the  C2C process of a company as providers of service or transformers of degraded residue the companies do not want to reuse (biomass, …). Of course circular economy represent a drive to reach C2C since recyclers will negotiate with producers to update product design in order to ease recycling. The integration of the recyclers as service providers will come from the objective of customer visualization and the necessity to exist in the market at every step of the service life cycle  (production, distribution, re-acquisition of matter, recycling) and up selling of premium services. Partners will specialize in the different activities of production, distribution, recycling , always ensuring that value added material will come back to the producers to close the loop, ensuring that the producer will be autonomous material wise.  (A Floresta Nova)

Either one or both concepts along with Doughnut Economics will be used in the research process for evaluating improvements in the construction of the PDP.  To my knowledge this has not been done for any affordable low income housing projects.  Hopefully, most of the housing in the PDP has been designed to last at least 50 years with minimum maintenance costs.  As the project is lived in information will be analyzed to determine what building processes and products are best to use from an economic standpoint as well as the best for our environment considerations.  Physical and social evaluations will be part of the analysis.  The process suggested later in this paper is just a beginning framework of ideas and will need evaluations from a group of experts who are specialized in different types studies/work.  This will also include people who may live in the community.  This is needed for social, self-sustaining and construction inputs.  Special computer programs will be designed to collect and analyze data.

I hope that this project will be instrumental for allowing people throughout the world to understand the needs of people in the lower income groups and thus understand what is needed and design laws accordingly.  The objective is not to design a giveaway program/community, but to see how working together  and using training programs can provide people enough opportunities that they themselves can make a decent living.  Doing things this way allows people to have a purpose in life which includes living along with and understanding nature and what it gives us.  Greed is not a part of the equation.  The schematic of the system design for the Circular Economy is on page 8.  Additional information is found in books and on the internet (The McKinsey Foundation and Ellen MacArthur Foundation).

The following is an article from “Rethinking our economy: How do we sell in a circular economy with doughnut economics?” In Smart Company by Sue Barrett, July 31, 2017

The circular economy aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. It preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields and minimizes systems risks — and it works at every scale.

Circular economy principles:

  1. Preserve and enhance natural capital;
  2. Optimize resources yields; and
  3. Foster system effectiveness.

Characteristics:

1. Design out waste with biological materials (non-toxic), so they can be simple composted; design out waste within technical materials (man-made compounds), designed to be used again with minimal energy and highest quality retention;

2. Build resilience through diversity (modularity, versatility, and adaptability);

3. Work towards energy from renewable sources;

4. Think in systems: elements are considered in relation to their environmental and social context; and

5. Think in cascades — extract additional value from products and materials by cascading them through other applications.

The future of sales in the circular economy

Can you now imagine all of the businesses  mentioned above operating in a circular economy and not having any waste?

The circular economy will change how we view ownership: return and renew will become a real concept. For example, things will be licensed then returned to the owner/manufacturer when we have finished with them and then they will be reused in some way.

For instance, there is The Circular Economy Club (CEC), which is the global network of circular economy designers, engineers, economists and strategists who are resetting the world standards.  

There are many companies already somewhere down the road on the circular supply chain:

• Tesla of course is leading the charge (pardon the pun);

• Dell is making some of the first inroads to a more “circular” supply chain. As part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, Dell also established two objectives tied to cutting down on e-waste: using 50 million pounds of recycled materials and recovering 2 billion pounds of e-waste by 2020.

The circular economy seeks to rebuild capital whether this is financial, manufacturing, human, social or natural.

Doughnut Economics

Now combine the circular economy (microeconomic model) with ‘doughnut economics’ (as the macroeconomic model). Doughnut economics has been developed by Kate Raworth, who has turned current economic thinking on its head. And it makes sense.   The book explaining this is “Doughnut Economics – 7 Ways to Think like a 21st. Century Economist” Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017, Kate Raworth. The following is from Smart Business by Sue Barnett.

Traditional economic theory promotes the ‘circular’ flow of goods and money but traditional economic thinking does not take into account the complex system of humanity, like unpaid work such as parenting and caring for family; social exchange (the collaborative commons); the essentials of life; and the nine planetary boundaries. With 60 plus years of traditional economic growth now floundering, we need to rethink how we can progress.  Raworth asks us to consider: what if economics didn’t start with money but with human wellbeing?

Rethinking our ideas of progress

Raworth asks us to consider the doughnut model of economics where progress looks like the balance between using our resources and protecting life as an interconnected support system.

She asks us to rethink how we shop, eat, travel, earn a living, vote, volunteer and bank, and what we would do if we used the doughnut economic model in our daily decision making processes.

She goes on to ask: what if every business decided to be a doughnut economic business and brand?

What if every business decision we made was made by balancing out resources and protecting life?  What if every government used the doughnut economic model around their negotiating tables?

Based on the current degradation of the world’s resources, using the doughnut economic model would be called sanity.  The doughnut economic model to a situation where we are all living on a spaceship and have to keep ourselves alive for years without access to any outside means. Because that is what our world is — one giant spaceship with limited resources powered by the sun. Human beings have demonstrated time and time again their ingenuity. We have amazing talent to deal with challenges and create new ideas, new services, and new systems to deal with adversity.

Doughnut Economics – Diagram – 1

There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we produce and consume.There is so much opportunity here if we go out on a limb and rethink how we do business, rethink progress, rethink economics, and rethink society.  It all starts with opportunity. Go out on a limb… Smart Business, Sue Barrett

Doughnut Economics Diagram -2

Kate notes the following-page 49:

The Doughnut provides us with a twenty-first-century compass, but what determines whether or not we can actually move into its safe and just place?  Five factors certainly play key roles: population, distribution, aspiration, technology and governance.

Diagrams 1 and 2 shows different variations of the doughnut.  Diagram 2  shows (in red) the social shortfalls in the inner circle and the overshooting of the environment outside of the regenerative and distributive living area noted in Diagram 1.  Biodiversity loss, climate change, nitrogen and phosphorus loading (agriculture) and land conversion are the major environmental problems facing the world now.   With each one having their own systems and feedback loops we have quite a challenge facing us now.  How fast we face them will determine our living conditions in the future. 

Kate lists 7 ways to think like a 21st. Century Economist:

First, change the goal. Quit chasing the GDP.
Second, see the big picture.  Embed our society within nature.
Third, nature human nature.  Finding new values.
Fourth, get save with the systems.  Put systems thinking at the heart of economics.
Fifth, design to distribute.  Exploring ways to redistribute wealth.
Sixth, create to regenerate.  Create a circular economy to restore humans in earth’s processes.
Seventh, Be agnostic about growth.

The Economy is Embedded Diagram

The diagram shown above is a depiction of our economy for the 21 st. century.  It is discussed in detail in the book which I won’t go into here other than to note that the main financial flows are the household, the market, the state and the commons.  Surrounding the economy are living matter and materials that are available for use using the laws of nature as much as possible.  Remember the earth and society are major parts of the economy.  Nature does not grow forever and we must not think that continual growth is a necessary part of an economy.  Also in the space between earth and society in the embedded economy diagram is the waste matter produced by the economy.  If most of it was regenerative we would be in a much better situation than we are now.  When waste becomes destructive, as debris and plastic in the oceans, then we have to double our efforts to rectify the problem.  In that case it will take a series of steps to eliminate most of the problems.

In the above diagram (from Kate’s YouTube presentations) the question asked in the 20th. Century should be changed to the question asked for the 21st. Century.  If we don’t do this soon then riots and protests, storms, etc. may play it out for us.  In the summary of her book she suggests several solutions for us to get on the right economic path.  I will mention some of them when discussing research by the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP).

Now there is so much money spent on the pandemic  that shows how we lack political leadership by both parties.  A case in point is the $ 1.4 Billion spent in the first round of relief payments that went to people that were deceased (Fox News).  The government said to send the checks back but had the wrong information on how to do it.  Have they corrected this mistake for the second round of payments?  Probably not. This could have been used for many worthwhile projects.

This next section of this paper will show how the PDP can be used for valuable research in order to set us on the right economic path. It will also provide affordable housing,  the reduction of inequality and a vision of social justice.

This title seems out of place now in the United States.  Relating to Covid-19 there is a definite lack of planning by those in charge.  This is in contrast to South Korea, China and several other countries who have generally been able to get the pandemic under control. In Europe the refugee influx and close proximity to other countries has raised their own set of pandemic problems.  Now is the time to think about the future in order that there is as good an outcome for our civilization as possible.  The outcome is to be thought of in terms of the environment, types of economies, including all countries, within a designated time frame.  Things look immovable at this time so we are in a wait and see situation. 

Let’s take a look at the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China.  Unless you  compare some of the demographics of each country it is difficult to understand what each country has to do for the future.  The United States (Number 1 in the world) in 2019 had a defense budget of $1.917 Billion and China (Number 2 in the world) had a budget of $ .732 Billion.  The U.S. spends 2.6 times as much as China for defense.  Since 1927 China has been at war 86% of the time and since 1776 the United States has been at war 93% of the time.  It’s expensive being number 1 at war.  China and the U.S. are about equal in land area and the U.S. has a population density of 86.16 persons per square mile, (total 2019 population – 330,020,103 million persons) while China (total 2019 population 3.624 billion persons) has a density of 396 persons per square mile.  China’s density is 4.6 higher than the U.S. density.

(Wikipedia) The 2019 fertility rates are about the same with China’s being 1.696 and the United State’s 1.765 women per 1,000 persons.  Both are below the number needed to replace itself.  That is good for the environment but not for old time economic theories.  China has 38 cities over 3 million in population while the United States has 2.  The August 3, 2020 pandemic map below shows the visual concentration of people that have and had Covid=19.

I am bringing this information up to show how and why the comparisons between the United States and China reflect the actions that countries take in emergency situations.        To add some background I would like to add some recent comments made by a speaker from China on a youTube Episode about the Circular Economy that was sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation..  She noted that China had enough grains in storage to feed everyone in China for one year.  They had an extensive computer program that was able to provide market data for large and small farmers so they would know what crops would be best to grow and where to send them when ready to harvest.  They had trucks come to pick them up when possible.  There were no middlemen to pay in this system so the farmer was able to make more money.  40% of the necessary cropland was within or around cities and they are making use of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.  Read in an article, The Conversation,   “Why China is emerging as a leader in sustainable and organic agriculture.” April 9, 2020

China’s total grain output has almost quadrupled since 1961, when the great famine ended. But its success has come at a heavy environmental cost: China uses four times more fertilizer per unit area than the global average and accounts for half the world’s total pesticide consumption. Overall, chemical use on Chinese farms is 2.5 times the global average per acre of land. The overuse of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides has led to soil contamination, algae blooms and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond the ecological consequences of the rapid rise in crop yields, Chinese consumers as well as farmers and farm workers have faced health problems. Over-application of fertilizers has led to chemical residues in food and nitrogen infiltration into groundwater. Now they are changing and have over 31 million hectares of organic agriculture and organic acreage is growing.

Both countries have to change considerably if the world can be a better place to live in.  The first issue is to reduce their tendencies of going to war and seeking power.  Both countries believe their systems (democracy and communism) are the best for the world, but both systems as they are practiced now, including their reliance on growth, are poor examples of what they profess.  China is known for its authoritarian rule, hacking of ideas, power grabs (Tibet, Africa, South China Sea, etc.), currency manipulation and other acts of control.  However, the United States has its own warlike tendencies, power grabs, exceptional lying by the leadership and little respect for the environment under the present administration.  20th. Century economics is the mainstay of most of the businesses in both countries.

After looking at the videos of the future of China on the Smithsonian channel (streaming) you begin to see what obstacles they have to overcome, especially relating to shear numbers of people they have to take care of.  One example is the pandemic.  Whether they could have mentioned something sooner would have changed things is up for debate.  This is the only explanation that the U.S. has to explain its slow start and they have made the most of it,  A July Pew survey showed that 73% of Americans believed this.  What if China handled the pandemic like the U.S.?  We would be in a Chaotic state, many times worse than we are now.  Each culture has its own advantages and disadvantages.  However, what I am trying to point out in this discussion is that China is attempting to change its energy policy to renewals, centralizing healthcare, recognizing what has to be done to help the environment,  reduce climate change and moving its economic policy toward circular economics.  Their tech industry is trying to keep pace by using thin film solar panels, electric bus fleets, improving supply chains, building world’s largest telescope, digital communications/robots, large wind farms, etc.  Pollution is still a major problem and if they start going to regenerative economics and reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers they can begin to reduce pollution.  To do this there has to be a sharing component added to what they do in life.  An example would be ride sharing. 

For the United States there has to be many changes starting with a reduction of defense expenditures.  The next step would be to adopt the circular economy, doughnut economics and figure out a way to reduce economic and social inequities.  Our present governmental stalemate does not offer much hope or leadership.  This is why I am proposing using my Pilot Demonstration Projection (PDP) as a means to show what can be done to change the ways we look forward toward the future.  It does not mean we will be wealthier money wise         but wealthier spirit wise by following the examples of PROUT showing us the way we can help each other through governance (Blog 21).  Greed is not a healthy way of life.  This will not come easy, especially if we take too long to recognize how we are  causing a host of environmental problems by going past the tipping point on some major environmental issues.  Our major concerns with the pandemic are obtaining healthy foods that are affordable and adequate shelter.

Our present building processes and food chains are not sustainable.  This is why in the time that we have available during the pandemic we need to look forward toward the future.  Not looking at doing things using expensive processes for the wealthier people, but doing inexpensive things for the bulk of humanity.  This will keep all of us and the children who follow us alive longer to enjoy what nature has left of its natural resources and biodiversity. 

Introduction – The Self-Sufficient Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP)

This is a pilot community program that is designed to demonstrate how a new concept in community development can be used to create sustainable communities for everyone. It will introduce ways to be self-sufficient, thus enabling a longer lifespan for its occupants.  This would be due not only in the use of products for alternative energy production but by establishing in communities a quality of life where the community works together using collaborative practices.  They also would be adopting sustainable policies with strides to become carbon negative and as self-sufficient as possible.

One approach is to designate the various facilities that would be used in the community and then analyze the number of workers that would be needed for each of these facilities.  Not all of the designated uses would be in all of the proposed communities.  The uses or facilities that would be used would be determined by the needs of the area and where it would be located.  The specific goals and objectives for each area would be a group decision.  The people living in each of the proposed sites would be part of helping establish these goals.  The next step past sustainability would be an attempt for communities to be as self-sufficient as possible and create most of their general needs.  In buying as a group or cooperative they would be able to obtain outside goods at favorable prices.  Communities in developing countries seem to work more cohesively than in developed countries and have lower consumer demands than in developed countries such as the United States.

The book “Toward Self-Sufficiency,” this blog and other blogs on the website describe in detail the Schematic Land Use Plan (of the PDP) shown above.   The uses will be described  later in the text.  The actual size and number of uses will be determined by need and actual site conditions.  The relationship between the housing, teaching facilities and types of businesses in the community determines what’s in the final plan.  The site plan has a color code for type of use.  Duplexes are purple, T1 Triplex’s are darker blue, T2 Triplex’s are darker green, T3 Triplex’s are light blue, other Multi-Unit housing are shades of brown.  Public Areas are olive and retail uses are darker yellow.  Maximum and minimum housing units are shown below:

Housing Type              Maximum Number of Housing Units  Minimum Number of Housing Units

T-1 Triplex       32 Buildings                          90                                                       26
T-2 Triplex       8 Buildings                          24                                                       16
T-3 Triplex       16 Buildings                          32        (16 units for Business).      16
Student Housing  4 Buildings                          15                                                       15      
Mixed Housing    8 Buildings                         40                                                       40
Duplexes.          16 Buildings                        30                                                       30     

                            84 Buildings                       229 units.                                        143 units

Note:  More businesses could be located in T-2, T-3 and Mixed Housing units if needed.                                                        
Some additional businesses noted in yellow lots
Units in Model Homes deducted from totals

Blog 17 on my website discusses how the model home buildings will be uses for all pre-sales and for demonstration of building types.  In a large city there could be several communities established and the sales for all of them made from the model homes in the first PDP.  All the housing PDP’s developed after the first one would have just one model home on site and would be digitally connected to the first PDP.  One of the mainstay’s of this housing concept is the small size of each PDP.  This is needed in order that everyone in a development can participate in its own PDP government activities (see Dunbar’s number = 150 for stable community size).

Our present method of housing finance is divided between the actions of the private and public sectors with neither one producing adequate answers to create a workable plan to furnish and finance affordable housing.  Some answers to the problem is found in the book, A New Model for Housing Finance – Public and Private Sectors Working Together to Build Affordability, by Murtaza Baxamusa, Routledge Focus, 2020. A review/description:  Amazon

A New Model for Housing Finance presents a thought-provoking solution to the housing crisis that follows the division of public and private money on housing costs and benefits. It brings a practical perspective on why housing is unaffordable, and what can be done about it using public and private capital. This book re-examines the foundation of housing finance in the United States with the aim to shift the paradigm from the public and private sectors working in silos, to working together.

Through brief yet rigorous chapters, the book assesses the policy failures of both public and private sectors by drawing attention to the continuing human impacts of this man-made crisis, finally calling for a new model of financing housing through public–private partnerships. The limited impact and false hope of planning interventions, as well as the widespread economic impacts of the global pandemic of 2020, demonstrate the urgent need for change in our approach to housing policy, and this book lays out a path forward. It will be of interest to anyone working in or studying housing, social justice, urban planning, urban studies, and public policy.

We should utilize what is suggested in the book.  As he said:

The housing crisis provides a political platform to undermine democracy, consolidate authoritarian power, stoke racial divisions, expel immigrants, draw the bridges on refugees, turn urbanites against suburbanites, environmentalists against housers, and neighbors against each other.  Alternatively, it can hopefully provide an opportunity for egalitarian reform that lifts everybody. (Page119)

What is presently available from the government is Opportunity Zone (OZ) legislation (Blog 14 – Finance Options) and this has to be corrected by using Community Land Trust legislation to go with it to prevent gentrification.  OZ legislation was created by the wealthy and is disguised to help people in poverty.  So goes life in America – nothing seems to change.  Many of the suggestions in the book should be utilized by the PDPs.  In fact people in communities should comment on and design their own legislation – if possible.  Doing this they can understand the manipulations of finance and how it helps or hinders each of the parties involved.  Education is a wonderful invention to calm or agitate the masses. 

During the site selection process for the first PDP  an area market study should be authorized by the PDP non-profit to determine the feasibility of the location process, potential of types of occupants to live in the community, community needs, methods and types of research, potential of cooperatives in area, site analysis, community needs from outside of PDP, etc. (Blog 15-Site Location, Blog 16-Site Analysis, Blog 19-Market Analysis, Blog-31-Community)

Once the desired uses has been selected then they are to be prioritized as to what uses would be most important initially and this would determine the development schedule.  Then the number of people needed for each of these improvements would be estimated and this  would establish the development framework.  Housing and schools would be one of the first priorities and the type of housing would be determined by the overall housing requirements noted in the employment projections.  Housing needs would be evaluated within three economic groups, high income, medium income and low income.  The family income range would vary from site to site and from country to country.  The housing and construction standards would also vary according to needs and government requirements.  Thus the sustainability of each component will have to be evaluated according to local market acceptance and needs. 

Construction building systems vary and a comprehensive analysis of available systems should be made prior to any new development.  Some building systems are less than $ 60.00 a square foot while others are over $ 110.00 a square foot.  All public facilities would have to be evaluated as to costs and the design approach that would be most successful.  For example, in some countries it would be more advantageous to use local people to manage trash collection and disposal rather than a large mechanical and transportation trucking system.  One of the keys to this would be to develop or use products that do not go into the waste system such as those utilized in the Circular Economy.  An example of this is to have the community furnish its own agricultural products and use waste to feed hogs and other animals..  Another system worth exploring is to review the burning of some waste to form bio-char.  This does not decompose and let off carbon dioxide and can also be used to enrich soils and reduce water needs and runoff.  It is also good for carbon sequestration.  In some developing countries it would be more important for the people to do some tasks that are done by mechanization.  That tradeoff is one of the considerations that would be made to increase sustainability.  Prior to any development a list of sustainable products and goals should be made and the ones determined to be the most feasible would be used.

Another consideration would be to estimate the number of people that would have permanent work within the proposed PDP.  This would determine the housing needs in terms of economic categories and type.  The concept of using duplexes and triplexes is shown later in this report, and is one means of having a community grow without it continually being in the building process when people try to find larger or smaller homes.

When this is done there should be a review of what the estimated total cost of the construction would be and what improvements would be required.  In some instances a retail use, for example, would need to have all equipment and furniture included in the initial funding as well as capital for salaries for the employees for a short period of time.  Rather than having a large grocery or combination store it may be more feasible for people to have different businesses from their homes scattered throughout the community.  Any funding should have a community bank that would include a micro-loan process, the establishment of community money and other needs that would be unique to the needs of the PDP.  They would also have available several types of mortgage loans, both private and governmental, that people could use. 

Tax abatement policies with the local government should be reviewed and initiated where it would be feasible to aid the PDP.  There may be also existing government programs that could be used in the community development process.  This would be especially important for providing money for social services. 

Another factor that should be included in the program is an estimate of the number of people that would be used in the construction and building of the community and whether it would   require outside contractors.  This would be determined by the need for large equipment such as those needed for road work and utilities.  Some of these people would be temporary labor as far as the community is concerned and some would plan to live in the community on a permanent basis if their skills were needed.  This analysis can be designed using the same format as the one to estimate permanent employment.  All the planning processes mentioned would be recorded and become part of the research process.

Income projections should also be made prior to the final planning of the project.  The income would be for (1) the funders of the project and (2) the community itself through  fees, community work such as landscape maintenance and planting, and providing community transportation services.  The cost of the public facilities should be paid for over a designated period of time through fees or assessments.  The availability of grants would also be included in projections.

Other data for data  projections  may be used to show a format using the type of information that would be needed prior for any development process.  This should be adjusted during the planning process and new programs designed to show the economic and environmental impact of using sustainable practices on the cost of construction and the use of labor.  One cost saving would be to use runoff water flowing into small ponds or lakes that could be used for recreation as well as a water source for irrigation.  This could reduce the pipe sizes or eliminate the use of pipes or concrete channels altogether.  The appropriate use of native plant materials within the proposed greenbelts would also reduce runoff and also be available for pollinators.  The use of organic methods for agriculture and landscaping can reduce pollution and strengthen the existing soils.

As noted before, a market study of some type should be made during or before the planning process in order to help determine the necessary uses for the community as well as to the best approach for working with the people in the area.  This would also include a survey of people to determine what labor skills would be available from local sources.  The study would also evaluate existing wage rates, labor laws, etc. 

Sustainable Practices:

There are many sustainable practices that can be used for community development and many of them are not costly or have a short payback period.  One of the leading programs in the United States is the LEED program developed by the Green Building Council.  In conjunction with their building objectives they have also designed a program for neighborhood development.  One of the main areas that can reduce construction costs is through planning practices that can reduce the street frontage ratio, clustering of units, duplex development, protection of native plants and topographic features, efficient use of water in irrigation and runoff, etc. The other area would be in reducing the need of the automobile for transportation.  The provision of all of the facilities that a community would need in itself a sustainable practice.  The PDP should be limited in size so that it doesn’t  damage the quality of life that was outlined its initial conception.  This would allow for a village development process rather than being a typical housing or suburban subdivision where services and the travel to work keep getting harder to maintain.    Many times some of the sustainable practices can be an income generator because of their uniqueness in the area where the project is located.  In ethnic areas all housing should be designed to keep the character of the culture and still be as sustainable as possible. 

Many cultural practices are a form of sustainability.  One example would be the practice of bartering using community money.  This recycles goods throughout the community as well as saving people money.  It is also a good means of people getting to know one another.  The community would provide busses for members as well as having cars available for use at any time with minimum paper work.   A family would register the necessary information at the administration building offices and use the car on a mileage basis.  The cars would not be new and the insurance would be paid for by the PDP cooperative or non-profit.  This would allow people to live in the community and not have to have a car unless they needed it for special needs.  If the community was near a body of water then it would purchase a small tract that community families could use for vacation purposes for a minimal amount of money.  In a way it could be a community time share or a separate admission fee.

Some of the companies providing sustainable services through Circular Economic practices or products would need venture capital to continue its development.  The community bank could have a capital venture fund available for products that would help the community become more sustainable.  They (the community cooperative) would then be partial owners and have a royalty in the product sales.  This would also allow for the product or service to be tested in a real life situation. If they are applicable, those practices that have worked in other countries over a period of years with a successful track record could be evaluated for inclusion in any of the projects.  Following is a list of uses that have been included with this program in order that a sustainable project can be developed that will last over a period of time with their economy being as self-contained as possible.  The theory will be that it would be better to start another  community, that may not have as many features than just adding to this one.  Some of the public facilities could be used for both communities.  In the housing section of this paper will be discussions of the sustainable building systems that could be included in the PDP.

Community Uses and Facilities:                                     

The selection of the uses and facilities for the project have been selected to provide the maximum potential for sustainable practices to be utilized throughout the PDP.  The location and continuity for all of these uses will be made during the planning process of the community.  This planning process will include a detailed site analysis, a copy of which is in the Addendum or in a separate report.  The planning team will include several professional specialists (architects, engineers, landscape architects, environmental planners, sociologists, etc.), government officials and people from the area where the project is to be located.  Input from all of these people will be used to draft the final plan.  The information obtained for this project will then be made into a final study that could be utilized for other developments.  The program can then be adjusted to include this information.  The employment requirements for each of the facilities can be gathered from existing uses in the area or from facilities that have proven to be the most efficient in terms of providing service and products. 

The major use categories selected are shown in the project analysis part of the report and they are as follows:

Physical Facilities:

  • Retail – Commercial, Banking and Office Uses
  • Agriculture Production 
  • Public Facilities, Police, Fire, Library  and Parks and Recreation
  • Medical Facilities
  • Housing
  • Associated Uses

Social and Cultural Opportunities:

  • Governance
  • Education and Training, Lowering Inequality for the poor
  • Sharing and Collaboration – Cooperatives
  • Nature and the Environment
  • Trends in Working from Home

Within this framework new types of uses or facilities can be added or deleted.  A market analysis will also be used to help in these decisions.  The description of the uses  is geared for use in the United States and other developed and developing countries.  The program will also be helpful in determining preliminary estimates on the types of housing to be used as well as numbers of housing for ownership or rental use.  The rental housing is important, because it can reach many families with low incomes who could not afford to own a home.  A study or review of existing communities in the area of development would help in providing information in regard to habits and priorities of the people, especially when considering the social factors.  One of the big problems in developing countries is the poor public transportation and the time it takes people to go to and from work.  This is a waste of time and money in regard to peoples worth and use of various types of non-sustainable energy.  Many people cannot afford a car due to the expense involved and this project shows how to do without one.

Wage rate profiles are an important consideration and may reflect on what incomes could be classified as high, medium or low.  Some high incomes in other countries would be classified as low incomes in the U.S.  This determines the type of construction that would be used to make any development affordable in any location.  The training component of any development is an important consideration.  Training can be a stepping stone to movement up through the economic structure to obtain better jobs.  Existing types of crime and its causes should be evaluated because the PDP’s social structure can provide facilities that would help prevent or reduce certain types of crime.  Especially important would be drug treatments and help for victims of the HIV and Corina-19 viruses. 

The purpose of the community (PDP) would be to have enough ways available where people could have a quality of life without the heavy bond of consumerism being present.  Having extensive wealth and high inequality caused by 20th. Century economics is not part of the project. The key to this is community involvement where people help each other and feel they belong.  It’s everyone having a purpose in life and know they have a chance of fulfilling it. 

The following  list of use facilities will try to note areas where this could be possible. 

Physical Facilities:

Retail – Commercial – Banking – Office  Uses                                                   

The types of buildings used for all the physical facilities will have to be determined during the estimating of costs for the project.  Decisions will be made according to the way the building process fits into the needs of the Circular Economy concept.  Also architectural designs and cost evaluation decisions will be made at that time.  This will be discussed in more detail in the housing section.  Research Activity -When comparing building systems or certain products a Cradle to Cradle analysis will be used on each one when applicable.  The figures will be evaluated every five years if there are available funds.  The PDP non-profit will oversee these evaluations.

Grocery Store:
Again this could be a store similar to the same types of stores located throughout the world.  On the Schematic Land Plan for the PDP the grocery  is in the corner lot marked “R.”  It could also be a series of food speciality  stores, bakeries, etc. located in the unit A in the triplex buildings (where allowed).  The community (PDP)  cooperative would help establish linkages with several wholesalers or product manufacturers to help people buy goods to be used for sale purposes.  This would also allow community members to buy goods without having to travel long distances.  These stores would be residential in character and located adjacent to greenbelts (When possible).  (For comments on the self-sufficiency, sustainability and research requirements of the use in question, they will be below the red line.)
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Waste produce from stores and homes will be given back to the farm cooperative for use as animal feed.  Minimal parking at the store to encourage walking or biking.  Afternoon delivery of food to homes will be available.  Every home will have internet availability and orders will be sent to the grocery store and/or a box store outside of the PDP.   This store will then make a delivery back to the homeowner in reusable cloth bags (every 3 days, $ 25.00 minimum, 1 day cut off time).  Paper and plastic waste to be recycled.  No single use plastic allowed. 

Grocery Store – Small -Gas Station:
Depending on the size of the PDP, there would be smaller specialty grocery stores scattered throughout the community as needed in order to make access to them easier.  This would allow people to use them by walking or bicycle instead of relying on the automobile.  The community busses would also be used for this purpose.

Home Food Processing Businesses:
Since agricultural products will be one of the main businesses in the community funding will be made available to develop home canning businesses using specialized recipes.  They can be used for sale within the community and in other stores located in the general area.
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This will reduce spoilage and all jars/cans will have the same community label.  There will be a separate charge for returnable jars/containers.  Each sale (just amount and product name) will be recorded on a master computer so the producers will have a record of sales.  This will be used to give growers an idea of when to grow crops so they can determine needs.  Produce and meat from the cooperative farms and food processing products can be sold to anyone.  The PDP becomes the branding name.  Research:  Determine best marketing program.

Community Bank:  Located on the site plan in lot “B.”
The community bank would be one of the most important facilities within the community.  The development funding would be distributed through the bank and would have loans available for business funding as well as micro loans for community members.  The micro loans would be similar to the loan process used by the Grameen Bank.  Mortgage funding would be handled by the community bank, although this would be available from other banks in the area.  The building of triplexes as part of the residential program would make it easier for financing, because the loans could be a type that could be converted to the other occupant and the home would then be rented to the original owner at a reduced fee.  The community bank could set up procedures that could be unique in the financial world.  In addition to conventional banking practices the bank would also have a separate accounting system for community (PDP)  money.  The money would be a voucher that the recipient of service or a product could take to the Community Bank and get credit for the service.  Special wage rates would be noted according to the skill of the person and the type of service being performed.  An electrician, for example, would obtain a higher wage rate than a common laborer.  Any service done within the community would be performed with no travel charge.  Businesses within the community would be able to accept community money up to a certain percentage of his business or other standard as approved by the community cooperative.  A grocer could accept community money for food and be able to use it to buy supplies that are furnished by other businesses or people in the community or cooperatives.  Businesses out side of the community could also participate.  See book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, by Thomas Grecco.
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Using community money along with bartering is a form of self sufficiency.  Needs can be met easier without going into debt.  The culture of mass consumerism is reduced. Research: Have people keep records of these bartering transactions as examples of the process of bartering.

Flea Market – Food Market – Bartering:
This would be an area where the above activities can take place on a monthly basis.  Individual garage sales would be limited with most of the goods for bartering shown at the flea market. 
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Waste is reduced.  Research:  Set up programs with families to find out how much they actually  save by using community money and bartering.  Also find out if living in this type of community causes less depression and anxiety.  This is done through interviews by sociologists.

Offices:
Offices would be available for people that live inside of the community.  Some of the offices would be  in their homes associated with firms working in or outside the PDP.   For the PDP community only a small number of offices will be constructed with the original funding.
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Research:  Details on number of offices that were started after living in the community

Community Consignment Store – Bartering:
This store would accept goods from PDP and outside members on a consignment basis.  If there was not room in the store for large items the store would have a picture taken of the item along with the asking price.  It would be located in an oversized unit A (separate structure) in a triplex building. This could also be a bartering center.  Coordinated with Flea Market.  Several families could be partial owners.

Restaurants (including a bar):
There would be one restaurant within the PDP and it would be located on a corner lot “R2.  There would be available  a van to collect all non-used
food that was edible and distribute it to people in need who are in and outside of the PDP.  The ownership of the restaurant would be someone living in the PDP.  It would be subject to medical requirements if Covid-19 was a problem.  The restaurant would be used for training and teaching purposes.
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Non edible food would be collected for livestock feed or for a community composting area.  Grease would be collected and used for recycling.  The architect will design sustainability into the building.  All training activities will be evaluated in order to make improvements.

Well Fabricator and Maintenance:
The well fabricator would provide expertise, machinery and equipment to drill for wells for the project as necessary.  If other water is available for use then the wells would be used for the lakes and agriculture as needed.

Bakery and/or Vegetable Market Sales:
The bakery would feature ethnic baked products that would be unique to the country.  The vegetable market sales would be for the sales of vegetables from the produce and products grown by the PDP.  It would also feature local canned goods and spices grown on site.  Any residence could have a garden in the rear or side yards as long as it was kept presentable.  Rules for keeping small livestock would have to be evaluated in the PDP but would be available on the farm cooperative. 

Auto Repair Shop:
The repair shop would be for the cars and busses that are owned and rented by the PDP cooperative.  Community members would also use it.  Part ownership would  be by the Vocational Technical School of a local County Community College and would be part of a training program for PDP and CCC members.  It would be located at one of the farming cooperatives.
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Research:  To determine how to allow different learning facilities to work together and serve all students.

Home Construction Plants:
The plants would be owned by the selected building housing systems manufacturers that would do most of the construction in the PDP.  Other builders with plants off-site could also be used as well as independent building contractors.  These plants would be necessary to build many of the affordable housing units.  One of the main purposes of the Pilot Community would be to show small number of different building systems in a model home complex.  The homes would also be monitored to see how sustainable they would be after a period of occupancy.
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Research:  To compile all costs associated with each of the housing systems which will range from simple to complex.  The cost of each system will determine the cost of each home.  A cost of building 200 homes will be evaluated for each building system.  Training and marketing filming would be completed for each type of building system.  Cradle to Cradle/Circular Economy studies will be completed for each system as needed. Separate environmental costs will be made for each housing system.

Food Processing – Home Industries:
The money allocated for this enterprise would be for equipment to help individual families process food by canning, dehydration or other means of preserving food.  The food would come from the community’s agricultural production.  Most or all of the work would be done in special areas in the home that would be built for that purpose.  Local people could furnish recipes that could be used to make products for sale and chefs could come in to help with providing new recipes.  Some projects would have a major food processing plant in addition to the home industries, but it would not be in the PDP but in the farm cooperative system.
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Research:  From this enterprise would be a review of how a new food chain analysis would be made rather than our present industrialized system.   See my book for additional information.

Community Auto Rental and Sales – Bus Transportation:
This enterprise would be owned by the PDP non-profit association to provide transportation vehicles for people living there.  People would be given community credit cards that could be used to rent vehicles from the auto lot on a vacant piece of property which will be later used for buildings.  The autos/trucks would not be new and the people would be charged by the mile or time used.  This would allow people to use a car without having to pay to own one or buy insurance.  The cooperative would shop for the necessary insurance to ensure the best price.   This would be a monthly billing.  The community would also have 2 or 3 small busses that would be used to transport people to nearby areas if there was a need.  This could be on a regular route and time schedule or used by groups.  Bike trails would also be built in all of the greenbelts/streets to allow easy bike transportation anywhere in the area.

Landscape Nursery and Sales:
The nursery could be a cooperative non-profit that would be in charge of doing all of the landscape planting and landscape maintenance in the community.  It would also be used as a training area for people to learn how to do landscaping and maintenance.  It would be the only landscape company that would be able to work in the community.  The prices for the work would be competitive and the company could also be a non-profit enterprise with 10% of sales going back to the community.  Maintenance, however, would be open to anyone or any firm in other communities, but for the pilot community it will be only performed by this firm.  There would also be a growing field and greenhouses to start plants in row pots and containers.  The land for this function could be purchased or leased from existing farm cooperative in the area where it could easily be reached by community workers.  Sales yard would also be available for visitors to take or buy plants.  There would not be any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides used.

Start-Up Costs – Impact Programs:
This would be funding for administrative expenses to get the project started.  The actual expenses could vary depending on specific needs for each project.  In many cases there may be a need for special health, work, refuse clean up or other work programs to help the community or other communities in the area.  Setting up relations with government regulators is imperative at this time. 

Agriculture  Production:                                       

Food Crops – Grains – Vegetables – Fruits:
During the planning process for the PDP a community food needs analysis and study will be made to determine the best products that could be grown in the area to allow for people to eat fresh produce and grains most of the year.  There may be a need for several greenhouses to allow for food production to occur year round.  New technologies will be reviewed for efficient food production as well as means of storing food so that it won’t go to waste.  A predetermined market for the food will be established and this will help reduce food spoilage.  By having the food used locally there should not be a food transportation problem other than determining how far away foods should come from.  The farming cooperative could also sell the (organic) foods to local stores or barter with them for processed goods that could not be made in the community itself.  This market could be established during the building process.  In this manner demand cycles could be studied to allow for the most efficient production.  Organic practices, but not necessarily all certified organic, will be used in all of the food production areas.  Techniques for biochar will be utilized to provide a carbon negative environment as well as providing excellent soil supplements.  A new production method for growing large amounts of algae will be reviewed for use in the growing system of cooperatives.  This can be used for feedstock, organic fertilizer supplements and renewable energy production.
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Self-sufficient and sustainable systems will be used for teaching.  Research: Alternative growing systems such as permaculture, agroecokogy and regenerative farming,  Studies of new local food chain possibilities and uses of algae.  See book, Toward Self-Sufficiency.

Community Garden:
There will be one community garden area available if the people in the community want to use it.  It will serve as an example for other communities outside of the PDP to have it in their communities.  The landscape areas around each of the buildings can be used for vegetables, fruit, mixed medical and edible herbs and perennials.  See Blogs7 and 18.

Agriculture Production Systems:
Information on this unique system of growing fruits, vegetables, etc. will be noted in the addendum.  The process can produce large amounts of food in a very small space.  It will be one of the main profit centers for the community.  Another system called M.O.R.E. will also be demonstrated as it is being used in Ghana, Africa with good success (ppp.Africa.com).   Otherwise aid and training may be given to existing farmers in the area to have them become sustainable and increase production organically. 

Residential and Commercial Hydroponics:
In Mexico an inexpensive hydroponic garden area con be constructed in the rear yard of a residence for $ 200 to $ 300.  After one year this will almost pay for itself.  The money allocated for this will be used as micro loans to community members for this function.  A demonstration of this process will also be shown in the community.  One of the greenhouses on site will be used for new vertical hydroponics for growing produce commercially.


Farm Cooperatives:
This would be one of the most important uses associated with the PDP.  Many small farmers are now in financial difficulties due to political favoritism for Big Ag, lack of coordinated market conditions, shut down of capital, disorganized food chain and destruction of foreign markets.  A influx of funding from the PDP to form farm cooperatives could help the farmers and the PDP.  Using organic supplements, regenerative techniques, developing local markets digitally and training schools on the farms could help everyone.  See Blog 7.
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Research:  Ways to develop local markets.

Livestock Production:
Some livestock will also be raised for the purpose of providing food, but mainly as a means to study how livestock can be raised locally to reduce water and energy use.  All products and waste associated with livestock will be utilized.  Located on farm cooperatives land.

Permaculture Demonstration Garden:
This would be a 1 acre demonstration garden to show the advantages of using the permaculture technology/practice for growing a complete range of foods within a small area.  Crops will be used that compliment each other and also reduce the needs for herbicides and pesticides.  Used on land on one of the farming cooperatives.  Use several methods of soil preparation.
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Research:  Compare costs with other food production systems.  Include environmental costs.

Public Facilities – Parks and Recreation:          

Public Facilities:

  • The size and funding for public facilities are just an estimate at this time and further study will be required to determine the facilities that would be necessary to provide these services to the PDP.  Following are two options for the governance of the community:-A community governance typical of incorporated areas in the United States consisting of people appointed or elected for the various posts.  The major utilities would be furnished through expansion of existing facilities near the project site and if some of them are too far away, then the community will furnish its own sources of those utilities.  The timing for this governance to start would be determined by rules established by the funding agency and the PDP governing non-profit.
  • A community governance under the umbrella of a PDP non-profit cooperative where everyone living in the community would be a member.  The cooperative in turn would appoint or elect the necessary personnel to administer the necessary daily duties.  Most of the utilities would be self contained within the community unless costs were prohibitive compared to using utilities from outside sources.  The telephone system could be wireless or through the internet.  The cooperative would then tax the community members for the services they provided.  These taxes would have to be comparable or less than what families would be paying in the general area.  Any profits from the cooperative would be used to reduce the taxes or be placed in a maintenance fund.  The relationship and control between the community cooperative and the funding agency would have to be determined.  The PDP cooperative would have an opportunity to own and operate some of the businesses within the community with the transaction similar to financing a private corporation. 

Utilities:
An evaluation will be made as to determine the most advantageous types of utilities to serve the PDP.  The degree of sustainability will be one of the key considerations.  The use of labor versus machines or technology will be another consideration.  For example, trash pickup could be labor intensive in low income countries where the goal would be to hire as many people as possible.  If a country has sub-standard electrical power then it would be wise for the community to furnish its own power and perhaps sell some back to the grid.  Another approach would be to have groups of houses (4 to 6) have common sewage treatment or regenerative electrical power.  This could make the group independent and not have to rely on a larger network of service.  Use renewables and excess waste as much as possible.  Do comparative studies.
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All utilities should be evaluated for their self-sufficiency and sustainability.  Research:  Several different types and brands should be used to determine which system would be the most efficient over a period of time.  Waste would also be an important determinant.

Community Building – Recreation Area:
This would be located in the PDP and is noted on the land use plan in lot “CB.” It would be available for training, meetings, group functions, etc. Normally, one of the first buildings constructed on site and be a center point for the project.  A swimming pool and other recreation facilities would be constructed adjacent to the building.  It would be available to all members of the PDP and to selected guests living outside the community when it is not being used by the community members or times when there are special joint occasions. 

Storm Water Facilities:
This is one area where sustainability becomes an important consideration.  By proper planning runoff can be reduced along with ponding areas created for multiple uses and rain gardens.  The open green space can be collection points for runoff also.  Parking areas would be constructed to allow for percolation and when possible landscaped drainage channels used instead of concrete channels.  The planning by clustering would also reduce runoff as well as street orientation.  Where possible runoff water will be kept on site and used for lakes/ponds.

Refuse and Garbage Collection:
Special property rules will be established to prevent the proliferation of blight within the community.  An optional use would be an enclosed site available to members where old cars, equipment and other “collectable” items could be stored for a limited amount of time to keep these items from being on properties.  This area would be landscaped and screened and located away from residential areas.  Methods of recycling would be utilized especially during the construction stage.  All non usable wood would be grounded up and used for soil amendments and earthworm production.  

All Grade School – Recreation Facilities:  (Optional)
If several PDPs were near each other there would be an all grade school constructed that would range from pre-school to 12th. grade.  They would be in clusters adjacent to each other and comprise the following 3 clusters (1) Pre-school to 6th. grade, (2) Seventh to ninth grade and (3) tenth to twelfth grade.  This grade arrangement could change according to local customs.  The school would be equipped with computers and other technology to make the physical plant an excellent school.  The school would place special emphasis on art and social justice studies.  It would meet all of the requirements established by the state (province) school authority.  Recreation facilities would be adjacent to each of the clusters.  There will be computers for every student and classes in the environment and sustainability in addition to required subjects.  The community will also function as a training area in sustainability and social networking.  This could also occur in the buildings shown for training purposes on the land use plan.  (TCA-TCC). Classes will be separated according to subjects studied and learning abilities.

Sewage Facilities – Electrical and Energy Supply – Water Supply Systems:
The sewage, energy supply and water systems will encourage the use of self-sufficiency by providing their own energy where possible and using self-contained sewage and water systems.  Different systems will be used and demonstrated to determine which system would be best for varying situations.  This would be one of the important functions of the pilot community.
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Research:  Evaluation of the different systems

Library:
The library will be located in lot “AS ” on the Land Use Plan.  It will be used as a study area with special books on training subjects that are taught in the PDP.  Special emphasis will be made with books about nature and the environment.

IT or Computer Studies Building:
This will be the computer and internet hub for the PDP.  Community platforms and social media will originate from here.  Special training programs on a variety of subjects will be offered for the residents free of charge.  There will be a computer and study area in every unit of the PDP connected to this system.  It is located on lot “IT” on the Land Use Plan.
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The facility will provide facilities for filming and writing reports of all research at the PDP.  It will be a funding generator and similar to Consumer Reports and other specialized publishers.It will also have open or commons publishing. Research:  It will also supply research information to The Ellen MacArthur and Kinsey Foundations.

Federal – State – Government Offices:These offices would be staffed to administer any government programs that people would be using in the PDP and would offer a liaison  between the community and government officials.  It would be located with the administrative offices.

Parks and Recreation:

Parks and Recreation:
One park area is located on lot “CP” on the Land Use Plan.  The residents will select what multi-uses will be placed there.  Some of the front landscape areas around the housing would be designed for native habitats for plants and wildlife (insects and soil organisms).  It would be another base for teaching sustainability as shown on this plan that could fit on a Triplex lot.  The rivers and lakes would be waterways that will be protected as open space but would not include any improvements.
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Teaching sustainability and landscaping

Medical  Facilities:                                                         

Medical Uses:
The  medical uses could include clinics, doctors offices, dental offices and rehab facilities.  The  PDP may have medical facilities that could be tied into large hospitals using tele-therapy.  Special provisions will be made for the practice of Eastern or native medicine practices.  Wellness Centers and Therapeutic (Healing) Gardens could also be part of the concept.

Housing:                                                                                

The main purpose of the PDP concept (or referred to as community) was to design housing that was affordable and reusable by adding ways to allow owners or renters to obtain more space without having to rebuild.  An example was the triplex (Blog 22).  By just removing 8 linear feet of partition and easily removing one or two kitchens (cabinet removal optional) the triplex building becomes a 980 square foot duplex or a 1,470 square foot single family home.  Other duplex plans are available that have the same enlargement potential and this is detailed later in this paper. 

One if the most important design features must answer the question “How sustainable is each type of building construction system and how does it fit into the circular economy diagram?”  Some housing systems that answer those questions are discussed in the book “The New Carbon Architecture – Building to Cool the Climate,” by Bruce King, 2017, New Society Publishers.  It is a product of the non-profit Ecological Building Network.  They note:

For the first time in history, we can build pretty much anything out of carbon that we coaxed from the air. We can structure any architectural style with wood, we can insulate with straw and mushrooms, we can make concrete – better concrete – with clay, microbes, smoke, and a careful look in the rear view mirror and the microscope.  All of these emerging technologies – and more – arrive in tandem with the growing understanding that the so-called embodied carbon of building materials matters a great deal more than anyone thought in the fight to halt and reverse climate change.  The built environment can switch from being a problem to a solution – much nicer places to occupy that just happen to pull carbon out of the air.

The BuildWell Source (Ecological Building Network)  is an online, user-built library of low-carbon building. We built it so you could more easily find out about alternatives like straw bales, adobe, shipping containers, and many other types of free or inexpensive materials that have no commercial sponsor — no one to study and promote them. There is a huge and quickly growing body of engineering knowledge and practical experience with low-carbon building, but that knowledge is widely dispersed and hard to find.

We will use as many building systems as possible in the first PDP realizing that building one or three houses does not reflect the true price of construction of any system.  However it would be possible to estimate cost for mass construction from just building one house with the analysis provided on the computer using algorithms and new platforms.  It will also be able to estimate the amount of carbon taken from the air.  Using present levels of carbon pricing we can measure its value.  Some conventional building systems may emit carbon instead and have excess material waste during its building process and at the end of its estimated lifetime.  Can these wastes be regenerated?  These costs should also be entered into its building system evaluation.  If people can see what costs are in the circular economy, they then can begin to understand its value for people in the future.

Speaking of the future, are we nearing or past the tipping point for some environmental and economic occurrences?  Remember our children and grandchildren may have to reap the consequences of our present spending parade.  Houses like I am proposing may be the norm sooner than later.  Nature has already shown us how it can cover our buildings with living plants in 50 years.  King’s book noted that the Romans made some of the most iconic concrete buildings ever, such as the Pantheon, using no Portland cement or rebar.  Have we forgotten something?

Self- Help Housing:

In 1964 the United Nations published a “Manual of Self Help Housing.”  It is 114 pages long with drawings and typewritten pages.  This would be one of the teaching guidelines used in the PDP.

However there are many different housing organizations and non-profits that are utilizing self-help housing.  One of these is the Peoples Self-Help Housing (PSHH).  Their mission statement is as follows:

With a mission to build affordable homes with site-based services that offer opportunities to change lives and strengthen communities, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing is the longest-serving nonprofit housing organization on California’s Central Coast.

We support low income families, farmworkers, seniors, and veterans and provide welcoming environments for those living with disabilities and for the formerly homeless. Along with building and managing beautiful and accessible neighborhoods, we offer a wide range of services to promote health, well-being, and career success.

At PSHH we build so much more than housing; we build resilient neighborhoods, places residents are proud to call home.

Our Home Ownership program assists households in the construction of new homes. Groups working together under PSHH supervision are taught the construction skills necessary. Each group contributes approximately 1,600 hours of “sweat-equity”, over a 12-13 month period.

This “sweat equity”, used in lieu of a cash down payment, and with the help of a low interest mortgage, helps low-income families become homeowners. The collective effort model coupled with a sense of pride builds community and has been an important part of our organization for nearly 50 years.

Although each County has different income qualifications, below is an example of the general eligibility requirements:

• Annual income at least $40,000.
• Good credit and rental history
• Maximum income limits:
        – 1 – 4 person household – $71,850
        – 5 or more person household – $94,850
 •  NOTE: These maximum income limits are for Monterey County, the lowest of the four counties we serve.
• Commitment to work 40+ hours a week to building your home
Borrower must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

The following site can be found on the internet.

This information on self-help Housing can be used to design optional programs to further help people obtain low income affordable housing.

Various Housing Designs for the PDP:

We should attempt to find experts, such as Pliny Fisk and Gail Vittori of Maximum Potential Building Systems, Austin, Texas, to be part of the next phase of planning  for assistance in the project.    Information about Pliny and Gail can be found on the internet.  The details for the funding will have to be worked out but that cannot be done until the people are hired to expand on the premises shown here and assist in its completion.

Single Family Housing:
Single family housing is the most popular form of housing in the developed countries and the general idea would be to replicate this throughout the world.  However, this is not possible due to the average wages in many countries.  In this context the program has been adapted to use duplex, triplex and other types of configurations to reduce housing costs.  The most effective way of doing this is through sustainable land planning in conjunction with different options using variable unit types and sizes.  The types of streets used and street widths as well as the selection of sustainable utilities are other factors.  A market study would determine the general direction that the housing configurations should take to meet the needs of the PDP. 

Duplex – Triplex Housing:
Studies have been prepared by George R. Hunt Associates detailing the use of modular construction that could be used for any use where affordable housing is needed.  Examples of how duplexes/triplexes can be used in any country to allow for owner/rental configurations is just one of the concepts. Being able to convert triplexes to single family homes is a very important option when a family wants a larger home and not have to leave the community to do so.  An example of this concept is shown here.

The single family unit was once a duplex and part of a wall and a kitchen was easily removed.  Kitchen cabinets could be removed or kept in place.  In most of the units all windows, doors and bathrooms are the same size to make replacements easier.  The cabinets and windows snap in place.  The pink area shows building expansion for business use option. There are over 40 different variations that can be designed for this use.  Single family homes from duplexes can have a range of 2 bedrooms to 6 bedrooms depending on the plan combinations selected.  The original renter and owner over a period of time could make more money living in the community than they were before and the renter then can move and be an owner in another unit.  The owner then has the option of expanding the duplex into a single family residence.  Expansion areas off of bedrooms could have a slab poured during the initial construction which could be used as a patio.  The roof would be designed for expansion at a later date.  This would allow for expansion within the community without continuous construction occurring all of the time.

Apartments
The apartments could adapt some of the same ideas as used in the duplexes.  The green bedrooms on the ends of buildings are examples of modular add on units. One example is shown top right.  Pink lines show wall removal options.

By just taking out some walls there could be over 12 combinations of units ranging from one to four bedroom units. At a later date the units could be combined to meet market demands. Blog 5 shows other designs for apartments and Blog 22 shows triplex options.  

Modular Housing:
Modular housing units are inexpensive pre fabricated housing units that can be installed rapidly and provide low cost housing.  Some of the ideas shown could be made in a modular factory.

Associated Uses:                                                            

Day Care Centers:
One or more day care centers will be provided throughout the community.  They will be licensed by the government to insure the highest safety measures.  This would be an opportunity for the elderly to participate in if they wanted to do so.

Churches:
Sites for churches in larger developments will be made available for sale as well as the actual buildings.

Art Workshops and Training:
These facilities will be made available if needed and there aren’t any problems with Covid-19.  It will stress occupational and graphic art applications.  They will also provide workshops in printmaking, photography, etc. and these would be open to the public for a fee. 

Technology and Environmental Display Center:
This center will be available to show how the community has been designed to emphasize sustainability and adherence to protecting the environment.  It would also be used to encourage people to engage in environmental practices within their own homes.  It and the IT Center will be the area where all the on site research will be coordinated. will also be  This could be located in the IT Center or in a separate building.

Additional Housing Units:
This would allow for additional housing units to be scheduled for construction within the community that is not provided by the original study and located in areas near the PDP to meet the mandates of the project developers and government.

Special consultants will be used to maintain the authenticity of the concept.  Part of this would be in the styles of architecture selected. This will be a very important decision process since there are so many options to consider.  The people that will be living in the PDP will be consulted during this part of the planning process.

Social:

Governance:

The governance of the PDP will be up for discussion by the members selected for the PDP non-profit board.  This will include discussions with the funding group, George Hunt and the advisors selected to be associated with the project.  People living in the area of the proposed site could also be selected.  The board then will be the main governing agency until the property is partially developed.  Blog 21 provides a detailed plan for governance considerance. 

Education and Training – Lowering Inequality for the Poor

Trends for the future, especially in the economic and economic sectors, will be hard to predict at this time in the middle of a pandemic.  Education becomes a major factoring for helping people combat many of the unforeseen problems that will come up.  This is not education in the normal way of thinking, but education in being able to adapt to constant changes.  The PDP will offer education in learning how to know how to provide food and understand the food chain.  It will expose people to the need to help the earth and what harm we are doing to it and ourselves.  The logic of the Circular Economy coupled with Doughnut Economics will expose the corrupt thinking of our present political and economic rhetoric.  When the stock market and the GDP is high doesn’t mean we have a good economy.  Since 1970 the lower percentile of people in the United States has been level and the economy for the middle percentile has been dropping.  If the Gross Progress Indicator (GPI) was used instead of the GDP it would show that we were not in a healthy economy before the pandemic.  Presently under the GDP guidelines the expenditures for the Covid-19 would be included in the GDP. Training in the PDP  would include trades in the housing construction field and learning how sharing and collaboration can make you happier and wealthier.  This will have personnel available to build additional communities.  The training in regenerative faming would introduce a new type of food chain marketing similar to what is happening in China.  The small farmers would become a unified cooperative for each individual market.  They would determine what plants to grow by meeting with restaurant owners, individuals and grocery stores before the local planting season.  If they can’t meet year round demand by growing in greenhouses they will work with farmers in other locations.  This is letting the farmer become the distributer.

Transportation details would have to be worked out with some existing distributors if necessary.  See Blog 7 for more info.

Big Ag will have to change by eliminating the use of chemical inputs such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides before all the pollinators are killed.  Soils under Big Ag are being depleted and not usable or productive.  The picture on the left shows two pepper plants that were pulled up in October that were in 4″ pots in May.  Some of the peppers were 6 foot high and had over 150 peppers on each plant.  The secret was in the organic additives that were added continually to clay soils for a year and a half.  This would be the knowledge taught in the training sessions.
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Research:  Research would continue in evaluating how to reduce food chains as well as understanding all the different types of agriculture practices.  Nationally we have to change from monoculture production and introduce more diversity of the crops that are being used. 

The diversity of the people that would be living in the PDP would reduce inequality through sharing and collaboration activities.  Polarization, hopefully, would be reduced by understanding.

Sharing and Collaboration – Cooperatives

Sharing will be the keynote of the PDP.  One example would be the introduction of community money and a new type of banking.  An excellent book to read  by Roar Bjonnes and Caroline Hargreaves is Growing a new Economy-Beyond Crisis Capitalism and Environmental Destruction.  It provides an economic path to follow that includes nature.

If individual companies cut down on research due to their inability to take out patents on some of their inventions, society could easily step in and provide the necessary incentives to universities and other institutions to participate in the process.  By employing collaborative creativity and shared solutions, those inventions would benefit humanity on a larger scale and increase the economic and social benefits far more than if the invention had been monopolized by a single individual or company. 

This represents one example of how collaboration could help the world by society working together.  Farmers working together in a cooperative is another example.  My book also provides additional information on cooperatives.

Nature and the Environment

This has been a common theme in my book and blogs.  Our future looks bleak if we keep using non-renewable natural resources.  This is easily seen in the Doughnut and Circular Economics concepts.  This will also be an important topic that will be used in the training programs. 

Trends in Working from Home

The entire concept of living in a self-sustaining community such as the PDP is to work in the community to provide necessary services.  The car is not needed, but available, and there is the opportunity to learn a trade or be able to us a computer and the internet.  However you can do all this in a social setting unless it is prohibited by the pandemic.  Most primary needs can be met within a community setting.  Its having the feeling of helping others while helping yourself.
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Research:  Develop new innovative ideas for work opportunities in a community setting.  Research pros and cons of PDP community living.  What would make it better?

Development Considerations:

Following are some additional ideas (in no particular order-like a idea thought process) that could be incorporated into a PDP Community  to make it more sustainable both in providing continuous employment and recognition of the importance of the environment and eco accountability.

The main purpose of this new “Collaborative Community” is to provide a community that will be as self sufficient as possible over a long period of time.  Some of the primary factors suggested are as follows:

  1. That persons and families be interviewed to determine their willingness to live in this type of community.  This would also determine what skill they have and what aspirations they have for additional skills or types of occupation to pursue.
  2. That the design of the community will include the determination (approximately) of the type of community, types of businesses and public facilities to be included and the types and number of jobs that will be required to serve the community through an estimated period of time.
  3. That the income from the community in fees, profits on sales, rent, etc. will be sufficient to pay back some of the money expended for the financing of the community development.  A feasibility study and market study will be required.
  4. That collaboration activities will be a part of the community structure as noted in the report “Collaborative Communities,” and my book/blogs. 
  5. That some of the families living in the community will have the option of working outside of the community for existing firms.  These firms may want to offer training programs also.
  6. That the community will have a combination of uses where it could be functional without the ownership of an automobile.  Busses and community rental vehicles would be available at low cost.
  7. That there would be available for self-help programs for the construction of the homes, landscaping, maintenance, etc.
  8. That many sustainable activities would be available as noted in the book “The Post Carbon Reader” and many other books.
  9. That the community center and recreation/training facilities would be the first building constructed after the model homes.  Training programs would be developed, especially for agricultural production/construction trades through instructions hired for that purpose or through coordination with local high schools, community colleges and universities.
  10.   That the homes and business facilities would be constructed to withstand hurricanes and be made out of native materials as much as possible.  Several types of construction will be available. 
  11.   That the buildings, including residential units will be designed for multiple functions, including mixed uses, by designing movable kitchens, utilities, etc. Also some of the walls could be made of material where they could be disassembled or relocated.
  12.   That the community have a maximum population ceiling so that it doesn’t grow past a certain point of governance and workability.
  13.   That there would be public facilities as in a typical town including parks, bike trails, utilities, alternative energy facilities, etc.  Special waste facilities would be provided that would be as sustainable as possible.
  14.   That most of the new businesses would be cooperatives.  The community would be financed through a community bank whose facilities would be there for loans and special community functions.
  15.   That there would be other education programs available for all family members in sustainable practices.  Collaboration activities would be available to reduce the purchase of individual items (lawn maintenance, etc.) and lower consumption of goods.
  16.   There would be available for group purchasing of insurance and other goods to reduce prices.
  17.   Internet businesses would be encouraged with special IT centers within the community.  Savings would also be available for cable and telephone.
  18.   The community association would be composed of PDP members through a community election process to be determined.  The association would also provide input on the types of services to be provided.
  19.   Community money and bartering would be available to reduce family costs.
  20.   The original planning would be designed to meet these goals, but would be subject to change by community members as long as the collaborative activities would be available. 
  21. There would be an ongoing study of options for renewable or other types of energy and utility designs in order that the community can be as economical as possible for its members.   Greenbelts will be used as much as possible for storm water disbursement rather than using underground pipes. 
  22.   The agricultural facilities will be designed to provide food for the community as well as  income outside of the community.  Proper health nutritional practices will be encouraged.  There will be health clinics in each community as necessary.
  23.   All the buildings for businesses will be designed so that they could be easily converted to other uses with minimum costs.  The bathroom will stay in place as shown on the plans.
  24.   Unique sewage systems would be designed including the use of plants and fish to purify the water.  All homes would have rainwater collection where feasible.  Septic systems could be used to irrigate lawn areas through different sewage field designs.  Special recycling of solid waste would be encouraged to be a sustainable practice
  25.   The communities would be designed to incorporate local customs, especially for those located in developing countries.
  26.   Lots could be designed where there are ownership, rental and leased homes on one lot.  Mortgage financing would be through the community bank with several financing options available.  Micro financing would also be available structured off the Grameen bank format.
  27.   Diversity will be encouraged in the production of plants for agriculture and native plants will be used for landscaping.  Trees will be located where they can provide energy efficiency.  Only lawns that require low water use will be allowed. 
  28.   Bicycles, walking and golf carts will provide alternatives for most of the internal movement within the community where this is acceptable.
  29.   Other features will also be incorporated into the community design as long as it is as sustainable as possible.  Short term uses could be allowed with the alternative for replacement at a later date due to better sustainability function and new technology. 
  30.   All types of energy use will be reviewed to see what would be the most effective for the community.  This could be non-food biomass production, geo-thermal, solar, wind or a combination. 
  31.   The design of the collaborative community will require people to buy less things to have a comfortable living.  Less consumption means less waste and less water and energy that would be required to manufacture objects and produce food.  Conservation of energy use will be a major community objective.
  32.   The community money system would allow people to utilize their talents on a part time or full time basis.  This would be important in using people for training, day care, agriculture, and the reuse of outgrown clothing and other objects.  Many businesses now can be home based due to the  internet.  Community goods could be marketed in this manner.                 
  33.  The housing provided will be  smaller and in higher densities to reduce costs and allow for more common open space for other activities.  Sustainable land planning can be a major factor in reducing waste and energy. 
  34.   The community can also be used to move people from disadvantaged areas where they can get credit for their housing regardless of the condition it is in.  The land that was purchased by the bank then can be improved or torn down.  Major inter city areas could then be redeveloped and be part of the community even though it is separate from the community site.  The people could be trained and use the advantages found in the collaborative community and then move back to their original lot if desired or the collaborative community could develop the inter city site.  
  35. The community bank could allow for several families to obtain loans for businesses.  One business would be to have families with various construction trade abilities to get together and build homes.   This could be expanded for other  business ideas.
    Research:  Any of the deign considerations could be used for research, especially in the social functions.  It would be interesting to consider if. Social justice and inequality issues becomes a prominent consideration.

Duplex/Triplex Housing Concept:

Introduction

The duplex housing unit concept is for the development of duplex housing in areas of need for people who would benefit from their special design attributes.  They are unique in that they can be used for many different purposes and design changes can be made to accommodate the addition of separate rental units to existing duplex or triplex units.  The units are just discussed and they can be seen in detail in my book and on the blogs on my website: towarselfsufficiency.com

The following plans represent just one of these features

  • Use of Add-On Rental Units
  • Use of the rooms for a living room and bedroom or two bedroom areas or an office
  • Separate bathroom facilities for the unit
  • Design of the units can be made smaller or larger very easily
  • Capability of using the space for expansion of the duplex unit for private use
  • Advantage to design double glass sliding doors with access to outdoor patios
  • Access into the adjacent duplex/triplex for kitchen and living room use
  • Many Ownership Alternatives
  • The floors are stained concrete with grooves so tiles and carpets are not needed
    One owner could own all of the units in a duplex and rent them all or live in one or two units (if combined) and rent the rest.  Several of the units in the same duplex could be used as a condominium under multiple ownership or they could be under one ownership and sold as timeshare use.  They could also be used as staff housing.  One owner could also stay in one of the units in the duplex and rent out the other units to help pay for the duplex.  Uses such as assisted living units, construction labor housing, student housing, retirement housing and other uses are also applicable.  A managers unit, for example could have one, two or three bedrooms any of which could be converted to other uses.  
  • Built in and Movable Furniture
    The kitchen appliances and cabinets are all movable and the kitchen use area can be changed if the two duplex units are made into a single family unit.  The closet areas can also be designed to have curtains or storage units on wheels that can be moved around.  Cabinets can be hooked into place and moved to meet changing needs.  Murphy beds and built in seating can also be used.
  • Individual Lot Design and Cluster design of Units:
    The units can be placed to take advantage of views and have ample parking provided as necessary.  The clustering of the units and the provision of green vegetative areas between the duplexes will add to the privacy.  They also could be used for leftover lots in the village or community areas.  The lots would have many choices for different landscape and outdoor activities.  The individual garden areas off most of the units would provide space for any number of different activities.  The different types of units and building elevations would add additional variety.
  • Duplex Made from Triplex
    The living room in the larger unit has been expanded out from the original triplex design.  The kitchen has been removed. Part of wall removed.
  • Original Triplex Design-Reverse
    There are many other land plans available and these are just a few examples of what could be done.
  • Individual Entries:
    All units regardless of their size have individual entries from the outside, so that ample privacy is provided even if they are using some of the facilities offered in adjacent units. 
  • Design Simplicity
    The bath and kitchen areas are similar in most of the duplexes and triplexes and the concept is applicable to modern construction methods of panelized housing construction.  Since there is minimum built ins the shell is adaptable to several old or new housing techniques. 
  • Variable Use of Building Materials and Types of Construction
    There are many different types of building materials available as well as types of construction.  One firm can install one concrete homes in a day or less.  The importance in selection of materials is to be cost effective, yet sustainable.  Model homes in a complex may feature more than one method of construction. 
  • Variety of Floor Plans
    Several floor plans are shown and many more are available to meet specific needs.   The size of each of the duplexes can easily be changed to adapt to any need by the market demands.  This can be done very easily.  There are over 40 different designs available and just a few are shown here.  Others can be made available by request if financing is available. 

Many additional ideas can be incorporated into the project to add sustainable capabilities.  This can happen using the Circular Economy process and passive energy options.  There will be many different building processes used in order to research comparisons.  Using the cradle to cradle process on each one would do this also.  There are also many different parts to each building type/process so each of these add up to the sustainable rating that has to be taken into consideration.  As I know  of research like this has this never has been done before.

Sustainable Housing:

Duplex/Triplex and multi unit housing solutions are an applicable design consideration that would be useful in solving today’s affordable housing dilemma, while still incorporating as many green building principals as possible.  By following the Circular Economy guidelines, and the use of the internet, the logistics for the research for this is now possible.  During the lull caused by the pandemic there is time to organize an expert team so they can make a presentation (Phase 1) for estimated costs including optional site locations. 

Presently the use of space in a typical subdivision has many areas that are wasted or non-usable.  For example, front yards can be designed for private use or reduced in size (setbacks, incorporating parking, etc.) and more greenbelts can be designed into the subdivisions that can be utilized by everyone in the area for recreational or protected open space.  Also, the incorporating of mixed uses within communities would make them more sustainable and encourage other means of transportation than the automobile.  Diversity within communities can be encouraged by varying different housing types to make them more affordable, densities, uses and sustainable building systems.  Land planning techniques can be varied within the same subdivision or village  to offer further diversity.  The diversity then can be useful by expanding the housing market to encourage a mix of housing in various economic categories.  By doing this many people living in the community can work in the community in the construction and service fields.  This paper will present many  design solutions that could be adaptable to accomplish these recommendations. 

The information in this section was obtained from the book “Green by Design” by Angela M. Dean.  The information from the book is used to introduce sustainable principals that will encourage developers to use Green Building practices in developing communities.  In depth information should be obtained from this publication as well as many other organizations.  Some of the organizations offering information are:

American Institute of Architects  (www.aia.org)
American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org)
Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (www.adpsr.org)
Crest (www.sol.crest.org)
International Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology Education and Resources for Healthy Building (www.bau-biologieusa.com)
Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org)
Solar Energy International (www.solarenergy.org)
U.S. Department of Energy (www.eere.energy.gov.)
U.S. Green Building Council (www.udsgbc.org.)
Forest Stewardship Council (www.fscus.org.)
Certified Forest Products Council (www.certifiedwood.org.)
Environmental Defense (www.environmentaldefense.org)

Other information can be obtained from searching the internet under appropriate categories pertaining to sustainability, green building, etc.

Sustainable Features:

There are  lists of sustainable features that are incorporated into the houses shown in “Green by Design” and they vary from one home to another depending on the site orientation, area location, natural available materials, building practices, etc.  Some of them are noted below:

Minimize  construction waste
Minimize site impact
Restoration with native-drought tolerant plants
Integrated design process
Building shell efficiency
Renewable energy use
Passive heating and cooling strategies
Use of salvaged and recycled materials
Low maintenance
Nontoxic finishes
Hard surface flooring and surfaces
Heat recovery ventilator
Site orientation (use of overhangs where applicable)
Efficient utilization of space, multiple uses of space
Minimized size of home
Salvaged building materials
Straw bale or rammed earth construction
Simplified living through the design process
Day lighting strategies
Energy-efficient building envelope
Radiant Heat
Use of composting type toilets or low volume flushing toilets
Permaculture design and organic gardening
Restoration of a degraded site
Compost waste
Gray water use for landscaping
Rainwater catchment
Natural ventilation
New urbanist community
Preserved existing vegetation
Flexible functional space
Energy saving appliances and light bulbs
EMF control
Breathable wall systems
Off-the-grid renewable energy systems
Site responsive design
Constant flow of fresh air with heat recovery
Native landscaping
Nontoxic pest control
Vernacular design response
Extended outdoor living
Detached multi-use garage
Composting practices
Co-housing community location
Design for adaptability of use

Sustainable features may be utilized depending on local conditions and methods of site planning used in the design process.  The main reason for noting these features is to show how many are available and worthy of consideration.  Most sustainable features may cost a little more during initial construction, but each one will have a payback formula that should be calculated during the design process.  Another consideration is the life cycle of most of the materials used that could enhance or degrade the environment.  

Site Design for Sustainability:

If possible, all land planning and individual site designs should evaluate the local climatic conditions during and after the design process.  Other considerations should include views, natural existing vegetation and waterways, terrain conditions, soils, geology, and political and social mores.  New site planning approaches may need to have local zoning regulations changed in order for it to be approved.  All of these valuations then will have to be equated with costs and cost-benefits over the long term.  Uses around each home may be adjusted to make the best use of available exposures.

It is important to capture natural energy flows from the wind and the sun.  A beginning analysis would be to review a table such as a wind and sun shade analysis showing monthly wind directions and yearly shade patterns.  Depending on the area location the buffering of winter winds by earth berms and windbreaks when there is space to do so.  It  is very important and can save homeowners considerable money.  Consequently the proper use of evergreen or deciduous trees and overhangs can reduce summer and winter energy costs.  Site planning can also be used to evaluate potential hazards, prevent undue erosion, preserve natural assets and be used to allow people to connect to the community by greenbelts, mixed use development, bike routes, convenience of public facilities, etc. 

Site planning can minimize energy needs and maximize passive energy strategies.  Waste management, gray water use, rainwater catchments that can be utilized.  These and other environmental practices  may even be considered as applicable throughout the community that would even serve several houses at one time.  Another example of adaptability would be for the same house design to change its overhangs and exterior yard activities according to the exposure to the sun.  This would be applicable because not all family rooms, for example,  would not be oriented in the same  direction throughout the community.  In today’s housing development activities there is no coordination between the developer and the actual housing builder in regard to sustainability and energy efficiency considerations in the site design for each house.  Thus, sustainability on a mass scale is not utilized due to the fracturing of responsibility between the developer and the builder.  This is especially true in the building of affordable housing.

The values could be very subjective or complex and many of them would vary according to the values established by the person or people analyzing the site map.  Its main value would be to have the site studied from many different aspects by different people.  For example, the administrator of a hospital would have different values than the building contractor or developer as to the cost of certain facilities.

There is also a question as to the value of ambience (surroundings or atmosphere of a place) from different areas on a site.  This should also be compared to other sites or competitive sites or other developments of the same type.  The solution is  being innovative, unique and attentive to the trends in the marketplace while maintaining proper costs for the project to  be successful. 

The cost of land is only one component to the value of a property.  Other factors include:

  • Appraisal value and comparison to other like projects (if possible) – Site visitation
  • Costs of off-site improvements required – Adequacy of utilities
  • Infrastructure contractor for the site development (Variables in price and reputation)
  • Allocation of share of costs if other properties border the access street
  • Association with other development in the area – uniqueness of the site
  • Market analysis to establish value of the property – inartistic values of the site – views
  • Cost of improvements due to site conditions – Approval time frames

Sustainable Site Design:

Now the topic of sustainable site design is becoming more important and many new developments are trying to use sustainable practices incorporated into their site designs.  This is comprehensive since it encompasses the ecological, social and economic issues of a project.  The general definition is that sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  This involves site and place-focused solutions and employs complex, integrated, and multifunctional systems that must be developed in collaboration with multiple disciplines.  (Landscape Architecture Graphic Standards) 

One of the factors leading toward this objective is to build a complete consulting team at the onset consisting of several disciplines.  The first step is to understand the bioregional and cultural systems as expressed in many Environmental Impact Statements.  The environmental considerations have already been noted and the cultural analysis could incorporate some of the following ideas:

  • An analysis of current land use patterns to determine how people use land around the site. 
  • An inventory of existing structures noting potential for reuse
  • Identification of historical or cultural features of the site and the surrounding region
  • Applicable data on the human population and economic setting in the region around the site
  • Interviews or meetings with project users, project staff, community groups, and other stakeholders in the project
  • Review social literature that is available and visits to local universities to see if students and/or professors would be able to act as survey takers and consultants
  • Work with cultural anthropologists/geographers to determine how to recognize cultural design features in the existing architecture and the reasons for existing building locations in urban and rural areas
  • Review special holidays and festivals
  • Establish a citizens committee to work with project development of the staff housing community
  • Set up training for stakeholders in the practices of sustainable design
  • Identify sustainable design information resources and manage information for future use

The list of consultants for sustainable design can be varied according to the size, location and type of project.  The first team or consulting group would be for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement.  In the preparation of the first phase of the master plan the following team members could be present to insure all disciplines can interact to produce the best design product.

  • Land Planner and associates
  • Ownership Team
  • Owners or representatives
  • Attorney
  • Construction contractor – Infrastructure
  • In country architect, engineers and others as necessary
  • Water management consultant
  • Architect
  • Landscape Architect
  • Engineers – Power – Electrical – Water Storage – etc.
  • Marketing Consultant

At a later date during the design process (or initially)  the following consultants may be needed:

  • Geographer or Cultural Anthropologist – Normally from in country
  • Biologist and Environmental Impact Statement Team – Building and Landscape Maintenance
  • Association of professionals from local or U.S. universities in appropriate disciplines

Sustainable Design – Leed Program:

The following criteria is patterned after LEED requirements for sustainable site design.  Headings are used, but other information is available that goes into additional detail.  The original LEED system is designed to guide high performance commercial and institutional projects.  It has also been applied to schools, multiunit residential buildings, manufacturing plants, laboratories and other building types. Registered projects can choose from a variety of sustainable strategies and earn points toward a certified project in the following six categories:

  • Sustainable Sites (up to 14 points)
  • Water Efficiency  (up to 5 points)
  • Energy and Atmosphere  ( up top 17 points)
  • Materials and Resources  (up to 13 points)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality  (up to 15 points)
  • Innovation and Design Process  (up to 5 points)

There are other categories that are applicable and the following refer mainly to site design other than (ND) Neighborhood Design.   Projects can be certified at a variety of levels based on the points they have earned, as follows:

  • Certified  (26 – 32 points)
  • Silver  (33 – 38 points)
  • Gold  (39 – 51 points)
  • Platinum  (52 – 69 points)

Principals and Strategies of Sustainable Design

  • Employ Process and Project Delivery Techniques to Facilitate Implementation of Sites
    – Include a broad range of stakeholders in the project planning and design process
    – Educate stakeholders about sustainable design
    – Establish consulting teams early and include the entire team in goal setting early
    – Identify sustainable design information resources and manage information for future use
    – Establish criteria for decision making early in the process
    – Include contractors in the design process, and educate the construction team about sustainable goals
    – Document sustainable design goals in the contract specifications
  • Design for Healthy Site and Regional Systems
    – Select and develop appropriate sites
    – SS credit 1:  Site selection
    – SS credit 2:  Development density & community connectivity
    – SS credit 3:  Brownfield redevelopment
    – Understand regional systems and analyze the impacts on the planned site development on these systems
    – Inventory and analyze natural and cultural features of the site
  • Minimize Site Disturbance
    – Protect existing features while surveying
    – Protect existing features during construction
    SS Prerequisite:  Construction activity pollution prevention
    – Minimize site development footprint and develop density
    SS credit 5.2:  Site development, maximize open space
    SS credit 4.4:  Alternative transportation, Parking capacity
    – Reduce negative impacts of roads and parking areas
    SS credit 5.1:  Site development, protect or restore habitat
  • Preserve and Restore Natural Site Features and Habitat
    – Preserve or restore wildlife habitat, reduce lighting pollution
    SS credit 8:  Light pollution reduction
  • Protect and Restore Soil Health and Fertility
    – Minimize soil compaction
    – Minimize grading and earthwork
    – Control erosion and sedimentation
    – Conserve or restore native soil fertility
  • Protect and Restore Appropriate Native or Adapted Vegetation
    – Inventory existing site vegetation and understand regional native plant communities
    – Protect existing native and adapted vegetation
    – Use plant material appropriate to the ecoregion
    SS vegetation credit 5.1:  Site development, protect or restore habitat
    – Use a diverse plant palette
    – Use structural soil to promote tree root growth under pavement
  • Conserve and Protect Water Resources
    – Conserve, harvest, and reuse fresh water
    – Specify low water use or drought-tolerant plants
    WE credits 1.1 and 1.2:  Water efficient landscaping
    – Use efficient irrigation systems
    WE credit 1.1:  Water efficient landscaping
    – Use rainwater collection systems and reuse gray water in the landscape
    – Encourage groundwater recharge through on-site infiltration strategies
    – Respect natural drainage patterns
    – Minimize impervious surfaces and make paving permeable
    – Slow runoff, and employ surface drainage strategies
    SS credit 6.1: Storm water design quality control
    – Protect, treat, and restore water quality
    – Reduce water pollution
    – Avoid building products and materials that contribute to water pollution
    – Minimize use of applied landscape chemicals
    – Treat wastewater on site
    WE credit 2:  Innovative water technologies
  • Minimize Resource Use and Reuse Materials
    – Minimize construction and demolition waste
    – Reuse existing structures
    – Use resource-efficient, durable, and low maintenance materials
    – Specify materials with reuse potential
    – Use salvaged and reused materials
    – Use recycled-content materials
    – Use renewable materials
    – Use certified materials
    MR credits 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3:  Building reuse
    MR credits 2.1 and 2.2:  Construction waste management
    MR credits 3.1 and 3.2:  Materials reuse
    MR credits 4.1 and 4.2:  Recycled content
    MR credit 6:  Rapidly renewable materials
    MR credit 7:  Certified wood
  • Minimize Energy Use
    – Design landscape features to conserve building energy
    – Design site plans for energy conservation, orient buildings to take advantage of solar and climatic conditions
    – Use low embodied energy materials
    – Use local materials
    MR credits 5.1 and 5.2:  Regional materials
    – Minimize use of operating energy or use renewable energy sources
    – Minimize use of power equipment for maintenance and construction
  • Minimize Impacts to Air and Atmospheric Quality
    – Reduce heat island effects
    – Minimize paving and increase shade
    – Build green roofs
    – Reduce air pollution
    – Avoid building products and materials that contribute to air pollution
    – Design to promote alternative transportation
    SS credits 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4: Alternative transportation
    – Reduce light pollution
    SS credit 8: Light pollution reduction
  • Protect and Foster Human Health
    – Use low and emitting materials and products
    – Avoid products that contain persistent biological toxins
    – Design for safe and secure environments
    – Design fort pedestrian and non motorized vehicles
    – Connect people with nature and natural materials
  • Manage and Maintain  Sustainable Landscapes
    – Consider maintenance during design
    – Establish management structures, and include maintenance personnel during the design process
    – Make a maintenance plan or manual
    – Monitor landscape system function during post installation
    – Employ appropriate maintenance techniques

Other Considerations – Site Analysis:

In the preparation of the site design from information obtained there are other aspects that should be evaluated to see if they would be pertaining to the site in question.  Some of these are:

  • Applying Visual Resource Assessment for Highway Planning
  • Historic Landscapes
  • Review and Establishment of Cultural Districts
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
  • Site Security Planning and Landscape Design Criteria
  • Review of the Traditional Neighborhood Design Concept
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Runoff Control Management
  • Water Supply Systems for Irrigation Water Conservation
  • Water Distribution – Road Alignment
  • Storm Water Quality Control
  • Stream Restoration
  • Wetland Preservation
  • Landscape and Landscape Nursery Management and Maintenance

The site analysis is included in this study to ensure that the project will be developed as sustainable as possible and that the planning of the project will be as through as possible.  The site analysis and environmental study will provide information that will make the project viable.
See Blog 16 for details on a complete site analysis.

Conclusion:

This is a brief (?) analysis of explaining the importance and uses of the Circular Economy and the Doughnut Economy.  It also provides a research vehicle that shows where and how it can be used – The Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP).  What is needed now is funding agencies to make it a “on the ground” project.  The research components alone would make it a valuable asset to our society and the environment.  There is such a shortage of affordable housing throughout the world, that such a solution as offered here should be welcomed.  It is adaptable for any location or climate.  The social considerations makes it more unique and the training/education facilities ensures that it will help people and make the project to be continually growing.  This is little to ask for everyone’s viable future.

George R. Hunt Associates
341 Birchwood Drive
Garland, Texas, 75043

Phone: 214-499-4599
email: landscape185@gmail.com
Website:  towardselfsufficiency.com

© 2020 by George Hunt

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!

Blog 30 – COVID-19 vs. Community

Introduction

This is a blog to show how a community like the Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) could adapt to life with the onset of a pandemic like Covid-19.  The secret to this is being small enough to combat the virus and having the right facilities in place in the beginning.  Even when a vaccine is available for Covid-19 there are other viruses or clusters of bacteria that could come on the scene at a later date.  However, they’re other players around in this game of life.  This was brought to mind yesterday when I watched “The Planet of the Humans,” a film produced (shown free on YouTube) by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore.  In the evening I watched a 2019 production of “Climate Change – The Facts.” on PBS.  This was a true double whammy.  In other words Covid-19 has many partners.  The “Planet of the Humans” was disillusioning because it showed that wind, solar and biomass energy systems were not sustainable.  In fact, biomass burning was causing extensive damage to our environment.

This map (above)  shows the number of biomass plants in the US (from “The Planet of the Humans”) and around each one they need a supply of trees or imported wood chips to feed the Biomass plants.  This in a few years could leave a barren landscape in many areas.  However, we could have more carbon dioxide and less nature.  Now biomass energy production is considered a renewable source of energy which is a misnomer due to the damage it causes.  As can be seen by the Global renewable chart (from movie) the biomass form of energy production is by farthest the largest.   Bill McKibben, the environmentalist, is shown backing them due to some conflicts of interest noted in the film.  Al Gore and others are shown having their own conflicts of interests and you begin to wonder who to trust.

Adding to this, the problems caused by climate change will present a chance of a food security pandemic happening in the near future.  This will stretch any countries resources and there will be problems throughout the world.   Putting this challenge in the hands of President Trump is a dismal thought.  The fact that our present system of food production and the food supply chain is presently an environmental disaster, he could lead us to a place where we shouldn’t go.  Some of these problems are discussed in my book “Toward Self-Sufficiency.”  Big Ag is not the answer our food problems.  This is one of the many reasons why not electing President Trump in November is of prime importance.  I am 88 years old and I am glad that I do not have the prospects that are facing the younger generations at this time.  We must remember that we are presently having  occurrences such as methane releases in Russia, rapid melting of glaciers, population explosions, wars refugee migrations,  consumption, capitalism, etc. that are happening outside the US, but will have impacts on the conditions on how we are living at different periods of time. 

Fish stock are the main source of protein for many countries in the world. As our oceans warm there could be mass deaths of fish. Their breeding grounds among the coral reefs and seaweed forests are being decimated now. Some biomass energy producers are even looking at using seaweed for energy production. The constant quest for money in order to have an economy may be our downfall. Planning, using a systems approach, is desperately needed in order to show people what can happen with different options in place. Perhaps this can be shown with better understanding by using different options affecting the Pilot Demonstration Project as an example.

In 1999 Eben Fodor published a classic planning book Better Not Bigger – Hot to Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Your Community (New Society Publishers).  True to its name it was only 174 pages long and that included credits.  Unfortunately I don’t think many people in governmental agencies read it.  It even had a section on understanding the Urban Growth Machine and the Koch Brothers read that part.

One section in the book included “The Common Growth Mythology.”  It was a list of 12 assumptions about growth such as ” Growth provides needed tax revenue, Growth is inevitable, We have to grow or die; Growth makes the economy strong and creates better paying jobs, We have to grow to provide for people in the community, etc.”  It concludes The better you make the community the more people will want to live there  until it is no better than  any other community other community.  A good example of this is resorts such as Cancun, Mexico. The value of growth is not what most people think it is. Good growth economics includes production.

Fodor suggests using the following 12 steps toward a Sustainable Community:

  1. Build a positive vision
  2. Improve citizen involvement
  3. Provide economic opportunity
  4. Use land wisely
  5. Provide better information
  6. Use indicators and benchmarks for progress
  7. Use full-cost accounting
  8. Think long range
  9. Encourage efficient resource use
  10. Make neighborhoods walkable
  11. Preserve unique and natural features
  12. Recognize physical limits to growth and consumption 

He shows that you must invest in real economic health, not spontaneous consumerism.  Arnold Toynbee stated: True growth is the ability of a society to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the nonmaterial side and thereby increase its culture, capacity for compassion, sense of community and strength of democracy.

The site plan shown on page 3 is the concept for the Pilot Demonstration Project.  The plan will be revised when a site is selected and will have all the same components as the one shown.  When discussing the PDP it is to be assumed that all the facilities as noted on the plan will be in place.  The purpose of this blog is to show the advantages that the community will have in fighting Covid-19 versus a larger urban area.  It will also show its advantages for food security.

Lockdown:

The smaller the community the easier it would be to lockdown the community.  This would mean that there would be just one entrance and exit at the same location.  The design of the PDP would allow this to happen.  All other entrances would be secured to prevent incoming and exiting cars and people.  This is typical of a gated community.  The community is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible with minimal need for automobiles,

The second action would be a plan for testing.  If possible all the people living in the PDP would be tested.  This would allow free movement by everyone.  If someone leaves for work or other needs they will return and observe the distance rules, use of masks, washing of hands, etc.  Everyone  (even children) will have an identity card.  It will have an identity number.  Information will be kept on the PDP computer which will be kept in the guardhouse and at the nurses station.  The following information will be shown on the card:

  1. Community Number of Head of Household, (family will have same number)
  2. Name (Other information such as address, family living with person including ages, rental or ownership, any medical problems and number of trips outside of the community will be kept on the PDP computer but not on the card)
  3. Information if anyone in the family has had the flu or Covid-19.
  4. Phone Number of Head of Household and the Nurse’s Office

Everyone going outside of the community will keep a separate contact log for each trip.  This will allow for tracking if needed.  The card will be used for identity at all times.  If a card is lost then new one’s will be issued and the old number voided.  All entryways will be opened when allowed by the state.

Medical Facilities and Medical Insurance:

There will be a community medical clinic on the property that is manned by a registered nurse or assistant nurse.  The nurse will live on the PDP in a house provided by the PDP and she will have it rent free plus salary.  It will will have the capability of using telemedicine technology when needed.  All protective practices will be followed but there should not be a problem because everyone in the community will have been tested for  Covid-19.  Flu shots will also be available.  The clinic will have all of the standard medical equipment and there will be a storage area on the property to house masks, PPE clothing and other equipment  for use  in case there is another outbreak of the Covid-19 or other virus.

It is hoped that by the time this PDP is constructed  that “Medicare for All” is in place.  If not then a minimal plan should be available for low income persons.  Everyone will have “Good Rx” cards for drugs.  Another option would be to find a single payer through the PDP.  Government agencies, charities or insurance agencies could be contacted to see if something could be worked out.  A unit could be set aside for fitness equipment to be used as part of a preventive health plan.  This could lower the medical plan costs.  This could be a worthwhile study. Some of the information in Gar Alperovitz’s book What Then Must We Do? – Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution (2013) pertains to health care.

  1. The health care system is dominated by insurance companies, hospital chains, big drug companies and to a much lesser extent, private fee-for-service doctors.  Every body gets a profit when somebody gets sick in this system.  In Medicare (or a single payer system) you can knock off about 20 percent what the various companies cost.
  2. On average the US spends  roughly nationwide  on administrative costs as Canada.  Medicare typically registers 80 to 90 percent lower administrative costs than “Medicare Advantage Plans.” 
  3. Obamacare included insurance companies and drug companies in the system in order to have it passed.  Now costs keep rising and it is a mess because it is much more expensive than many of the other nations in the world.
  4. Health care is 20% of the GDP and costs keep rising.

Thinking about Covid-19 remembers how efficiently South Korea handled Covid-19?  It had a single payer system and didn’t have Trump as President.

Anyway, the PDP should try to find a system that could provide everyone living in the community a food storage plan including growing crops in the community and on collaborating cooperative farms.  Since occupants are regularly tested for Covid-19 they are freer to move around the PDP than can the people outside of it.  People that live in the PDP and work outside it will not be able to leave during a pandemic (other than medical staff, police, etc.). Their movements inside the community will be limited and all precaution rules will be followed by everyone.

Food Security, Education and the Environment:

The problems of inequality, social justice, corruption, lying, waste, screwed up economic decisions and a host of other inequities has been addressed by several people, but nothing seems to change.  Millennials and others are seeing themselves in the crosshairs of stagnation with little course of having a voice for changing the situation.  It is worse when one of the environmental leaders, Bill McKibben seems to lose his ethics and follows the money.  What effect this will have on his organization 350 and us I don’t know.  No wonder he is pushing the use of solar systems.  Even the Sierra Club is a bit suspicious (shown in “The Planet of the Humans”).  The champion of the Progressives, Senator Bernie Sanders had to drop out of the presidential race.  An interesting article in the May 2020 issue of Harper’s magazine “How the Anti-Populists Stopped Bernie Sanders is worth reading by presenting a historical background to his race and a description of the term Populism 

I am just going to address a few of our problems that may undo our world civilization as we know it now.  The first one is food security.  Due to the many systems involved it is a complicated topic and thereby is noted in several books and articles.  The present methods of marketing foods uses too much energy and the mono-cropping use of land lacks diversity and destroys the soils on which crops are grown.  The constant use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides further depletes the soil by killing the microorganisms living in it.  The small farmers, especially the dairy farmers, are going bankrupt at faster rates each year.  Most of the farming land is now controlled by big Ag.  See the news how Smithfield’s pork plants because many people were catching Covid-19.  The PDP community encourages the localization of farming and teaches Agro-ecology and regenerative farming techniques.  Both of these systems are sustainable.  Food security will be seriously hit developing nations and it will be hard to find a system to prevent it.  Add to this changing farming conditions due to pollution, lack of water and climate change.

The rise in the cost of education is causing problems throughout the entire education systems.  Books that comment on the present situation are The Nearly free University & Emerging Economy, Fifth Wave and Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.  These will be discussed in future blogs. 

Presently our environmental protection efforts by the government have been removed so the damage wrought by the Trump Administration is bad now.   If he is reelected it may be too late to prevent major damage and this may cause major adverse conflicts among nations in the future.  Most people think in terms of one or two things being a major problem, but the way systems work many adverse things being in place at the same time could be catastrophic.  The movie “The Planet of the Humans” pointed out that wind, solar and biomass energy systems are not sustainable, so our long term crutch of using them to provide energy is not there.  They use too much energy to make, some of the materials may be too costly (shipping and availability) and the systems may not last over 20 years.  Complacently is not the feeling we are looking for.

Conclusion:

It is interesting that after three years of coming up with an idea about a society that you think should be in place, you read about the same general idea which was written sooner.   This is in the conclusion of the book “What Then Must We Do?”  Some comments from the book:

A nation that proclaims a creed based on centrally important values but continues to violate them in practice is setting itself up for challenges much more serious than the problems of “normal” politics.

If you don’t like corporate capitalism and you don’t like state socialism, what do you want?  And if you aren’t willing to answer that question, or even engage it, why should we listen to your concerns about the failings of the current system?

We are not “merely” talking about nurturing democratic community practice; we are talking about community practice as the basis of fundamental experiences of critical importance to the nation as a whole and of democracy in general.

At the same time, three recent national surveys have found that Americans under the age of 30 – the people who will build the next system – largely indifferent as to whether capitalism or socialism is better, and if anything slightly more favorable to the latter term.  (This was BT- Before Trump)

Read the book.  The community (PDP) that I have designed could show what might be a beginning process toward a solution utilizing “Progressive” thinking.  Wikipedia defines a progressive movement as follows: 

“In the modern era, a movement that identifies as progressive is “a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions”[3] In the 21st century, those who identify as progressive may do so for a variety of reasons: for example, to favor public policy that reduces or ameliorates the harmful effects of economic inequality as well as systemic discrimination, to advocate for environmentally conscious policies, as well as for social safety nets and rights of workers, to oppose the negative externalities inflicted on the environment and society by monopolies or corporate influence on the democratic process. The unifying theme is to call attention to the negative impacts of current institutions or ways of doing things, and to advocate for progress, that is, for positive change as defined by any of several standards, such expansion of democracy, increased social or economic equality, improved well being of a population, etc.”

Perhaps this should be in the question also (or take out socialism).  I hope Joe Biden becomes more progressive or we may have to answer the question “What Then Must We Do?” And the answer may not be what he expected.

-George Hunt
towardselfsufficiency.com

PDP Development Series – Blog 24 – Read Blogs in Specific Order (Optional)

Introduction

In order to fully understand the various components that are required to fully establish a working community such as the PDP (Pilot Demonstration Project), I have listed the blogs 1, 2, 3, 5,14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 in the order to best understand how to develop the project to make it successful.  The book (as shown above) should be read to provide added information for details and the structure of the PDP.  The website was added in order to keep the PDP abreast with new ideas and happenings in the world.  I am writing this while we are trying to evaluate what to do while in the midst of COVID 19.  Our future can go in many different unknown directions and hopefully some of the ideas suggested in the book and website can make a difference in our lives.  It not only provides a suggestion for community living, but a way to live in a simplified future environment.  To do this we have to understand the effects of capitalism and how it continually expands opportunities for the rich at the expense of the poor.  The plight of the homeless is one example when housing and rental costs are too high for many people who are working and still can’t afford adequate food and housing.  Many people have been looking for “Happiness” in the wrong way, so this process could be an answer.  Some of my present and future blogs will discuss many of the social conditions that will be prevalent now and in the future after COVID19.

The social framework for the PDP is sharing and cooperation where people depend and help each other.  An example of this is the type of governance called PROUT.  This is discussed in Blog 21.  Other blogs not shown on the list discuss social opinions and ways to change ways of thinking so we can adapt to what will confront us.

The main thing that is noted in Blog 14 is that there is a way available to fund the project now.  This is why the designated project in Blog 19 is in an Opportunity Zone.  Funding for projects in Opportunity Zones are available as noted in the 2017 Tax legislation.  This type of project normally leads to gentrification where the rich make money and drive out people that are living in affordable housing or have their own businesses.  However, the way to prevent this from occurring is to make the community a non profit and form a Community Land Trust.  Several exist in the U.S. with one of the main ones in Burlington, Vermont.  The CLT limits the rapid increase of prices of homes and rentals. (Usually rate of inflation)  They have many other rules and these (and Opportunity Zone rules) are mentioned in Blog 14.  The most important rule for Opportunity Zone funding is that it allows for reduction of capital gains funding for the funder. 

The model home concept allows for all sales to generate from review of the model homes.  The homes themselves show all the self-sufficient options that are available.  In some cases the homes will emphasize the styles prevalent in the area.  Local people will be contacted for review of the homes (plans) prior to the final plans being made.  The book will show many other options that are available.  Send an email to landscape185@gmail.com if there are questions.

Some of the chapter headings in the book that refer to the Pilot Demonstration Project are:

Preface
Pilot Demonstration Project
Introduction: Designing a Community and Provide Opportunities for the Future
Toward Self-Sufficiency: The Pilot Demonstration Project
Demonstration Pilot Community Development Description
Housing and Land Use – Option 1
Housing and Land Use – Option 2
Project Information and Direction
Education Potential, Procedures and Methods
Community and Personal Purposes – Why it is Important
Reducing Consumerism, Collaboration, Using Local Currencies and Specific Technologies
Economic Development Options
Governance-Cooperatives, Creative Commons and the Solidarity Economy (to page 92)
The Pilot Demonstration Project Self-Sufficiency – Away into the Future (new – 40 pages)
Total pages in book – 297. (Includes Kirkus Review, Pacific Review of Books,
Marquis Who’s Who- 2020)

-George Hunt

PDP Social Series – Blog 23 – Politics and Capitalism – Part 1

Introduction

When I am writing this the Democratic race is down to two persons.  Using labels this basically is a  Democratic Party Moderate versus an Independent Progressive.  Neither person is offering what most Democrats and Independents are looking for as a complete candidate.  One of the problems here is age.  One candidate may blow himself out before the primary convention and the other one has a hard time remembering what he, or others have said. There is not a woman running now, an ethnic representative or a young energetic person who has at least read a history book.  Looking in the other direction “The Tweeter in Chief” was described by David Stockman as “Indeed, the one apparent talent the man has displayed over a lifetime in the public eye has been the capacity to bitterly blame one and all for whatever goes wrong – and to do so with copious amounts of bile, bombast, bellicosity, and bullshit.”  He could have mentioned over 6,000 lies and his golf score.

Somehow things have to show some improvements somewhere or this period will be compared with the antics of Ancient Rome (in which we are the blue ribbon winner in the fastest race to decadence). In order to slow this race I will attempt to offer some ideas which will have no hope of passing but are worth, I think, mentioning. Most of them deal with politics and are self evident to other persons rather than to politicians. Reading “How to Get Elected Spending Public Money” or “Follow the Leader to Avoid Paying the Taxes you Owe” takes up all the time for one group while reading “How to Stop Progressives by using Old Assumptions” is challenging to the other group(s). What we need is a campaign by Jim Hightower with Willie Nelson as the singing VP who raises money to help people get health insurance and what we are doing now has so many options that nothing gets done.

Now I will start on my list of suggestions that might make our country realize that chasing money will only make us a world society without hope and an Earth that has been scorched by wars and abused by people.  We are in a sad state when war beats dialog as an answer to any dispute while corruption becomes its travel agent.  Probably nothing will be done politically after people have read this, but I hope it will make people think what options are available.

Suggestion 1: Alteration of our Political Structure

A. Place a Shorter Period of Time for Elections

This last primary season was (and is) ridiculous on the amount of money that was spent in the Democratic primary race. Quality it seems is not the primary determinant for the amount of money that is used by each candidate. The quality of the debates is one example. The CBS debate sounded at first that we were in a rooster farm. To me each person should comment on the same question for a period of three minutes without interruption and with an automatic cut off time. One question at first would be – What do you think of your opponent’s proposals? In the old days The League of Women’s voters interviewed each debater who was running for office a series of questions, which was in a flyer (paper) distributed to news agencies for review. For example if “Health Insurance for All” was the topic each debater should say if they were in favor of it, and if they were, they should state why, what it would do if approved, projected costs and expenses, where the money would come from and the sources of information. This should make it easier to for everyone involved.

Since this format would add some decorum for the people involved we should discuss funding options. Presently the TV networks are making lots of money by expanding the election cycle to 3 years. This is a long time to get the quality of people we are getting, so it could easily be shortened to 6 months. The first month would determine who was going to run for each office. I suggest that there would be three “Super Tuesdays” that would include all of the states. Each block of voters for the 3 voting periods would include about the same number of delegates to be elected. This would be in a two month period. A primary convention would then be held in the third month. After all of the balloons have been collected the final voting would be held in November. Each party has their own individual election rules and they would stay the same with the exception of using super delegates. They should not be used until the fourth ballot.

B.  Place a Ceiling on Amount of money for Elections

There would be a ceiling placed on spending on elections. The federal government will determine the amount of funding for (1) people running for president in the primary period and (2) the amount of money needed for presidential, senatorial and representative races during the election period. The federal government will pay a certain amount of money to each of the candidates for each of these offices. Other private (outside) funding will not be allowed during this election period. Ceilings will also be placed on the election funding for governors.

This will delete the need for elected officials to spend time collecting money for elections. There will be a ceiling placed on private money being used by persons running against people in their own party. Their elections will take place during the sixth or seventh month prior to the final election. This runoff election will use private funding that has a maximum amount allocated for this purpose. This will allow people to run for office with minimum private funding being required.

The Federal funds for this type of election process will be allocated by Congress prior to the sixth month (March) before the final vote in November. These election periods that are suggested would be up for debate and hopefully shortened. The Federal ceiling amount would include all election expenses. It could also limit the time expenses (a discount) for political advertising that is made by the media.

C. Change the Process of Designating Electoral Boundaries for Representatives

The process of gerrymandering in representative districts is decided by the state legislature and the party legislature in power. These should be located and changed. An example of the money left for Biden and Sanders after the Super Tuesday vote is shown below. This provides some information about the amount of funding used.

D. Reduce Spending in the Defense Department

This shows the power of the defense advocates in Congress and in the general population. The Defense Department should commission an outside study to find out what is really needed, what is outmoded and what is wasted. China is the next highest in expenditures at 181 billion. It seems that some of the defense budget could be used for domestic use. If we need that high a defense budget to keep people working then something is wrong with our society. Besides many of the workers could manufacture “green” domestic products and this will sustain us better than war. There is a good question out there of why we have to have such a large defense program. We have enough rotting airplanes in the dessert now. Defense spending is a compounding program to make the next best weapon only to find out your designated adversary will develop that same thing (system) or better. We have armed Saudi Arabia for its money only to find out they are doing some dubious activities with the weapons. China has the next highest expenditure for defense which is 26% of what the US spends. For 2020, North Korea is ranked 25 of 138 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx* rating of 0.3718 (0.0000 considered ‘perfect’). However North Korea has one of the largest numbers of defense manpower.

The Defense Department has tried to green itself but it still is the largest carbon dioxide omitted in the United States. In 2017 alone, the Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and Marines at $36 million.

However there is little chance that reuse of Defense money or reduction of subsidies for Big Oil will occur during the Trump Administration. An article in Forbes magazine, June 15, 2019 United States Spend Ten Times More on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education. A new International Monetary Fund (IOMF) study shows that USD$ 5.2 trillion was spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017. China spent 1.4 trillion, United States $ 649 billion and Russia $ 551 billion and were the largest subsidizers. It does not seem right that one industry needs that much money to operate effectively. On top of this they oppose carbon taxes. This also depletes our resources of oil. How about – But OPIC – Save Our Oil

IMF Study and Forbes

Our examination of our entire budget is needed because it does affect our political structure and new emphasis should placed on what is important for everyone.

E. Lobbying and its Effect on Legislation.

A system other than lobbying has to change in the US. It is obvious that what is happening in all areas of the government the common man is not included to any degree. As the old saying goes “Greasy hands and empty pockets is there for you.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  George Washington – First Inaugural Address

F. Elimination of the Multi-Party System

Presently we are seeing the worst of the party system. Major bills are stalled and many are not thought through because they present one line of thinking. Each party member does what they told do by high are ranking members of the party. In the Democratic Party the main party members think Bernie is too Progressive and would not beat Donald Trump, so they are backing Joe Biden.  Beating Trump is more important than forward thinking but needless to say 4 more years of Trump would be devastating.  Bernie, however, needs to clarify what his programs are and where the money comes from to pay for them. In debates there should be film clips or display boards allowed in order to compare programs.

Right now both parties are only voting for their own party’s agenda. Compromise is not a popular process. For example, I do not believe that giving people money is a good idea because it is not something that will help people in the long run. However, I do believe in giving people money in the form of education so that they can be adaptable to changing needs and economic conditions.  This would be in the form of work/study programs. If a single parent would need baby/child sitting money this would be provided also. The PDP follows this format of teaching/learning. A special program would have to be designed for this. Going to a Community College first would save money and designing a study program with a company that is in your field of study would be next.  This would take one or two years and would give student money to finish college. It would also let them know what subjects they would like to enroll in or if they would like to change fields.  This process would be a form of compromise.

Under the one party system everyone would belong to the independent party (I).  The Jackass has already been selected for the animal so it can’t be used for this party. Voting in Congress would be in “secret” ballot. This way every one could vote how they believe and not by obligation to a party.  If a bill did not pass there would be an open debate and votes taken on various compromises. Each debate should list the pros and cons of each bill.  With this system any bill could be introduced and probably not be blocked, which is what is happening now. There also would be limits on the time taken for the discussion of each bill. There would be also be evaluations of the use of the filibuster.  This process would give more power to the Executive branch.

Suggestion 2: Reduce Control of Congress by Corporations

It is evident that many bills in Congress are passed due to contributions made to members of Congress and to bills that favor corporations by having loopholes in the tax laws. We are basically forcing corporate finance departments, CEO’s, lawyers and accountants to read. One of the worst loopholes is subsidies that favor the rich. An example of this, for everyone to see, would be Trump’s tax returns.  Now this is turning out to be the longest audit in history. Another example is oil subsidies. Other major subsidies are those listed in the latest farm bill. However in 2000 Congress passed a law to limit public knowledge of farm subsidies. A 2016 study by the Environmental Working Group found $9.5 million (between 1995 and 2016) in subsidies were awarded to members of Congress and their families. Ag Mag, June 8, 2016.  Congress also did not pass a bill in 2014 which would have made crop insurance beneficiaries public. Talk about covering your tracks.

The best way to start solving some of these problems that favor the rich would be to have a flat tax (no taxes for persons/families under a certain ceiling) with very few loopholes for individuals. It would also cut out major loopholes for corporations.  This should allow more taxes to be collected.  Earnings from overseas should be changed so they can betted in the US. CBS noted: April 12, 2019

Big companies have long relied on strategies to reduce their tax bills. But the new tax law is making it even easier, with a new analysis finding that 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes on a total of $79 billion of profits earned in 2018.

The companies, which include tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix, should have paid a collective $16.4 billion in federal income taxes based on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s 21 percent corporate tax rate, according to the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Instead, these corporations received a net tax rebate of $4.3 billion. The analysis is based on the corporations’ annual financial reports, which were filed earlier this year to report their 2018 results.

Defenders of the corporate cuts under the tax law that took effect this year, which lowered the rate companies pay to 21 percent from from 35 percent, contend they will plump profits, drive investment and boost economic growth. Opponents say the drop in corporate income tax revenue will grow the deficit and make it harder to fund public programs.

In order to present one of the Democrat contender’s proposals I present the following:

Elizabeth Warren suggested a 2% tax on the wealthy who earned over $50 million a year to include “All household assets held anywhere in the world will be included in the net worth measurement, including residences, closely held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.”

How would the tax revenues be spent?

Warren is banking on a $2.75 trillion revenue projection from Zucman and Saez to fund a host of her priorities. In speeches, she has laid out those beneficiaries:

  • Universal child care for every child age 0 to 5.
  • Universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year old.
    Raise wages for all child care workers and preschool teachers “to the professional levels that they deserve.”
  • Free tuition and fees for all public technical schools, 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges.
  • $50 billion for historically black colleges and universities.
  • Forgive student loan debt for 95% of those with such debt. 
  • $100 billion over 10 years to combat the opioid crisis.
  • “Down payments” on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.(FactChex.Org June 2019)

This would be a tax account’s nightmare and probably not have a chance of passing. It is a politician’s proposal by hitting everything in sight that needed to be done. My comments would be:

  1. To have a simpler way of taxing the wealthy. Let them be involved. This would include just a 3% tax on earnings before taxes. There are 205 people in America who earn more than $50 million a year in wages alone. That’s according to newly released Social Security Administration data for 2017. Another way to say that: These people are not just in the top 1%, or top 0.1% — they’re in the top 0.000001%. The Social Security Administration data are based on federal income-tax returns, as reported by employers on W-2 forms. Even the $50 million club has its winners and losers. The data show that, on average, these 205 people earned $97.3 million. Put another way, these 205 people made a combined $19.95 billion. Every person who lives in Denver, in aggregate, earned $19.33 billion from wages in 2016, according to separately compiled Internal Revenue Service data.  From internet: The yearly tax would be about $ 600 million a year using this proposal.
  2. Rather than having it go to the government it would be governed by one or more non-profits (to be selected) for distribution to other non-profits for use throughout the United States. The wealthy could have the option of selecting the non-profits where they would like the money to go (if the non-profits are approved by the governing non-profit). If the donator wanted to participate further the governing body would have to approve it. This allows the giver to be part of the action rather than the money going to defense expenditures.
  3. There would be a series of town meetings in various areas of the country to obtain suggestions where the money should go and to give the suggestions of priorities. My personal feelings toward Senator’s budget are as follows:  That universal child care and Pre-K is very important because it helps to give children a head start in areas where it is needed most. (Not everywhere due to funding limits).  Wage scales for teachers to be improved. Seminars should be held first in order to develop innovative ideas and new businesses formed to manufacture training supplies.  About 10 areas used for startups would be funded first to see what would work.  Partial tuition for technical schools and 2 year college students is necessary. Paying off school debt for 4 year colleges will have to wait. Determine what some problems are with 4 year college programs. Presently 4 year colleges will have to change because they have to do more in reducing overhead (staff to student ratios) and double the use of empty seats for classes that are already in place.  Most rooms should be used fully each day. A research team(s) throughout the country should study what would be the best way to set up Medicare for All if at all possible.

Suggestion 3: Work TOGETHER

Congress, Supreme Court and the President should show that they can do something to help the country rather than polishing egos. I will have more of these emails as time goes on and hope to have them on a more positive note. I have never seen such a bunch of people on both sides that can disagree more and work less.

Congress Has No Clue What Americans Want

People in the U.S. House and Senate have wildly inaccurate perceptions of our opinions and preferences.

By Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes

Mr. Hertel-Fernandez is an assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Mr. Mildenberger and Ms. Stokes are assistant professors of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  • Oct. 31, 2018. (New York Times

People on Capitol Hill are often in the dark as to what policies Americans support.Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Whether the Democrats or the Republicans seize control of Congress after the midterms, you can be sure of one thing: They will have very little idea what laws the public actually wants them to act on.

The current Republican-controlled Congress is a good example. Its signature accomplishment is a tax-cut bill that hardly anyone likes or asked for and that is estimated to add about $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Only about 30 percent of Americans supported it — unlike the well over 70 percent of Americans who consistently support raising the minimum wage, background checks for gun sales and taking action on the climate crisis. Bills were actually proposed on these issues, but you would hardly know it; they were barely considered, and it goes without saying that none passed.

Congress doesn’t know what policies Americans support. We know that because we asked the most senior staff members in Congress — the people who help their bosses decide what bills to pursue and support — what they believed public opinion was in their district or state on a range of issues.

In a research paper, we compared their responses with our best guesses of what the public in their districts or states actually wanted using large-scale public opinion surveys and standard models. Across the board, we found that congressional aides are wildly inaccurate in their perceptions of their constituents’ opinions and preferences.

For instance, if we took a group of people who reflected the makeup of America and asked them whether they supported background checks for gun sales, nine out of 10 would say yes. But congressional aides guessed as few as one in 10 citizens in their district or state favored the policy. Shockingly, 92 percent of the staff members we surveyed underestimated support in their district or state for background checks, including all Republican aides and over 85 percent of Democratic aides.

The same is true for the four other issues we looked at: regulating carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, repealing the Affordable Care Act, raising the federal minimum wage and investing in infrastructure. On climate change, the average aide thought only a minority of his or her district wanted action, when in truth a majority supported regulating carbon.

Across the five issues, Democratic staff members tended to be more accurate than Republicans. Democrats guessed about 13 points closer to the truth on average than Republicans.

George Hunt

Toward Self Sufficiency

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