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

email:  landscape185@gmail.com

PDP Development Series – Blog 22 – Triplex Options

Introduction

The most important housing units in the proposed Pilot Demonstration Project (PDP) are Triplexes because they are the most adaptable, inexpensive and numerous. They are shown in detail in Blogs 7 and 18, but will be discussed in this blog to show their adaptability. The triplex consists in its original conception of three units of 480 square feet (sf) on a lot size of 70 to 85 feet in length and 65 to 70 feet in width. This allows for a minimum 6 foot side yard on each side of the lot. The variations in lengths are due to city or county requirements or allowances for building expansion. The lots can be made larger when the cost of land is low enough to make the larger lots feasible. This is usually when the PDP is located in rural areas. There could be rows of housing with different depths of lots in the PDP. This is noted on the site plan where row A has different depths of lots than row B. All the corner lots are larger than most of the other lots. Also, the numbers of each size of lots could be determined by a market study of the area market (which shows proposed need and affordability). Note that duplex and fourplex lots are larger than the triplex lots. This is done because those units are larger than the triplex units. On this site plan there are two other rows of lots available (C and D). This is done in order to show the variability offered in the design of the PDP. There is a commonality in all the lots of having a 10′ wide rear yard setback. Unit B is not to be changed in the interior, but it must have a 6′ fence in the front yard where it is allowed. This cost will be included in with the cost of the unit. Fences on units A and C will be determined at time of sale. This Triplex design is Option 1. Each change in design is a different option. The design for each site will be different and the schematic plan shown here is just for reference for possible location of lots and facilities.

The density for the 65’x70′ lot would be about 6.7 units per acre and for the 85’x70′ lot about 5.1 units per acre. All the other lot sizes would be in between these densities. In the triplex the mix of rental and ownership units would depend on the market studies and/or demand. The rental units could be owned by the PDP non profit or by an owner of one of the units that he purchased. The non profit would establish guidelines for the rental charges. The Triplex-Option as shown is on a 70’x65′ lot. Another design for the building would be to widen the corridor between the B/C unit and the A unit 5′ so it could require a 70′ wide lot. This way a stairwell could be put in to go to the attic where storage could be put in over the A and B/C units. The walkway could be used for a common laundry area.

Triplex – Option 1

A feature suggested for the site plan would be to select a depth for all lots in a line such as A, B, C, D. The longest depth possible would be preferred. Divide the length of lots by 65 and this would be the maximum number of lots allowed in this line. However, a process of floating lot lines would be used where the widths for a lot would be 65′, or up to 80′. This allows for the final platting to be the width of lots used. This would allow for the existing market or demand to be the determinant of what width to be used. It would also create variety of the streetscape or the inception of another type of housing such as a duplex, fourplex or single family. If a single family design for the triplex is used it could easily converted back to a duplex or triplex if necessary. This would be an option in terms of rough economic times, the need for unit A to be rented, divorce in the family, or space needed for a family member. Where affordable housing is hard to find in the area this would be a convenient option. Because the kitchens and cabinets are already it would be easy to reinstall them in time of need. Also the bathrooms configurations can be changed prior to purchase (ex. shower or tub).

Triplex – Option 1

The triplex on the right is option 1. Areas 1, 2 and 3 are where the kitchens are located. Area 4 is the location of a washer dryer that is boxed in and protected from the weather. With the laundry the central walkway is 10′ wide. To change the B/C units to single family the number 1 or number 2 kitchen would be removed (cabinets to remain or removed). The wall in yellow will be removed. This wall originally has a steel beam (or wood) because it is a load bearing wall. A wall could be put in unit C at the blue wall to have another bedroom. In this case the number 2 kitchen is used. This wall would be constructed so that it could be removed easily.

A carport could be constructed over the parking if allowed by the city/county. The walk and patio designs will be selected from many designs prepared by a landscape architect for the non profit.

Triplex – Option 2

The option 2 Triplex would have unit A enlarged from 24′ long to 30′ or 32′ long. On lot that is 70′ feet wide the width of unit A could be enlarged from 20′ wide to 28′ wide. Unit A would be 840 sq. ft in area. If it was 30′ long. There would be a door in front (see arrow) to reduce traffic along the walkway. The unit could be used for a community room, work space, unit for the homeless, business (beauty shop, barber shop, retail sales, artists studio, etc.) Most of the uses would be to benefit the community. This design could also show a separate space for children’s bedroom and play space. The children must be old enough to be by themselves. New walls could be built for another housing unit similar to unit A on the plan shown on unit A in Option A . There could be a kitchen put in where shown.

Triplex – Option 3

This plan represents a duplex converted from a triplex. The blue areas are areas that could be enlarged, while the red areas are kitchens. The plan is also reversed from the others. The front bedroom also could be opened up to be a den. The wall in the green area could be removed for this to happen. With a larger family the wall could bet back in.

Diagram A shows how two buildings could be located where the parking is together. This could be an alternative design than the normal individual placement. If there was a business in one of the units, then this is a preferred. The more the PDP becomes self-sufficient the lower the need for cars by individual persons. The non profit will be furnishing rental cars for the community members to reduce the need for individuals to own cars. Also there will be car sharing between people. Sharing and collaboration will reduce individual needs and expenses.

Triplex – Option 4

This plan shows how a bedroom can be added to unit C to make it a two bedroom unit. The red area shows an enlargement to unit A for business use. Another option is to make units B/C into a single family or use unit B as an office. The owner then can use unit C as an ownership, model home or rental unit. All 3 units would be under one owner. If all units were owned by the PDP non profit they are rental.

This is an example of using a triplex for three different functions that will help the community become more self sufficient. The triplex can also change uses with very few interior changes. For example the community bank area could be used by 3 or 4 homeless people who could obtain grants for rent, food and opportunity to go to school or work in the community.

The model home could be used by a tenant who would be a salesman between. 10 AM 5 PM. He would agree to have the unit showable between those hours. The community room could be a sales room for the entire PDP with show boards, videos, movies and brochures to pass out. This would be one of the models if the total model home concept is deleted. These units could be used in a separate development with the main model home area in a separate location. Its adaptability for many different uses allows it to be a valuable resource.

Other options would be in the type of architecture and materials selected. Different types of front elevations used can offer variety as shown on the right. Different interiors, furniture and other decorative accessories in the model homes can make the rooms appear larger. On the homes with flat roofs could feature a roof garden or a second story roof unit. If a second story was to be added in the future structural details could be provided initially in order to reduce future costs when then unit was added. Also the interior walkway could be widened for a future enclosed room. Some of the walls could be made in a collapsible building brought to the site for construction in bad weather. Other ides could be added to this list to provide more options.

Triplex – Option 5

Another option would be to omit building unit C initially and use the space for other purposes to help the community. The plan shown includes two research greenhouses and a research garden. For example, the picture shows 2 pepper plants that was planted in the spring in 4″ pots and in October the peppers were 6′ high and harvested over 200 peppers on each plant. In the plan two workers families could live there. Secret = Better soil.

Optional:  Innovative Workforce Village Facilities

Building Systems:

There will be a series of model homes constructed in the Workforce Village Development Project (WVDP) to demonstrate various building systems. At least one building of each building system will be constructed with each one of the buildings being furnished that are appropriate for low income families. Built in and removable kitchens and cabinets will be in the models as well as different methods of waste sewage systems, power sources (or combination of sources), passive solar systems, disposal of grey water, etc. The models will be monitored to determine energy efficiency and other factors. Also different methods of wiring and piping will be used. The low income homes will be designed so that they can be utilized anywhere in the world. Reuse and convertible uses will be emphasized. Ideas generated from the Innovation Study Center and the internet will be evaluated and used on additional models over a period of time, so there will be room for expansion in the WVDP.

Certain site planning and landscape design considerations will also be monitored in each of the homes in the WVDP to evaluate the importance of the various planning and design practices. The principals of sustainability will be utilized in order to evaluate their importance and cost effectiveness as much as possible. It is important to utilize green building practices as much as possible, but their costs in relationship to their sustainability value should be evaluated. Cost inputs for building the homes will be kept and then they can be adjusted as to what they would be in terms of building large number of homes. Each of the homes can become a laboratory for construction in the future. There will also be different elevations for the housing to fit various cultures and climate. Overhangs are important to control interior climate in certain areas of the world, while in hurricane zones they can be problems due to catching the wind and the roofs blowing off. Of the model homes at least one home will use construction guidelines for hurricanes. This will be used to evaluate the guidelines and to see how effective they are in preventing damage. There will also be designs inside the houses to show how they could look in different areas of the world to adapt to cultural and climate situations.

Other design evaluations may be considered during the planning stage for the WVDP and incorporated into the village. This could include ecologic economics, cost-benefit analysis (where feasible), etc. The following life cycle diagrams could be a basis for determining some elements of sustainability and provide ideas as to making communities as self-sufficient as possible. (from Wikipedia)

Balancing the carbon cycle is one of the most important sustainable practices that we can do for ourselves now and for future generations.

The efficient use of fresh water and prevention of pollution that affects the water is another factor to be considered. Efficient irrigation and recyclable waste practices should be part of the project.

Understanding the nitrogen cycle and incorporating practices to make the proper nitrogen and healthy soils available would be another important sustainable practice.

The understanding of how to make viable soils is one of the teaching topics in the PDP. The WDVP rules and ideas can be used in the PDP and is shown here as an option.

There are many building systems that are available for use and a few will be noted here for consideration. Each one and others will have to be evaluated to see which ones would be the most appropriate to display. Displays of systems not used could also be made available for viewing in the model homes to make the project as all inclusive as possible and also provide information on the latest practices. The materials used would be resistant to wind and would be evaluated for climate control, type of labor required, cost of manufacturing, on-site construction, cost of labor, availability of materials (local or imported) are just a few things to be examined. The cost of labor is important in order to determine what costs of construction would be. The number of jobs that would be created would determine another value, especially in low income areas. Some of the building systems are noted here: (not all systems will be used)

Conventional Stick Built Housing:

This would be housing that uses wood frame, brick, Hardie board or stucco exterior (or combination). Using this construction would establish a base line for other systems since it is used more than any other form of construction. Pros and cons of each type of building system will be shown for tenant evaluations.

Steel Frame Construction:

The walls are made using steel instead of wood. These homes are usually made in a factory situation and exported to a site for construction. Location would be an important cost factor. Sustainability would have to be determined. Each system noted will have its own advantages and disadvantages and each one should be evaluated against each other according to the priorities established during the planning process.

Pour Formed Concrete Walls:

Concrete block housing is one of the most popular building systems used in the world. They are easily available and for larger projects a plant can be set up near the site. Many other types of this type of construction is on the market now.

Use of Natural Materials:

Rammed earth construction, straw bales, bamboo, earth or concrete bags (Dicker Stack Sack), adobe, cordwood, cob and rock are examples of housing using natural materials. Other natural materials have been used in the world and some of these should be reviewed. Climate and weather become a major factor in choosing the use of natural materials.

Structural Insulated Panels: (SIPS)

This is a popular building system and may be applicable for use in higher priced homes. How it holds up for low income housing will have to be reviewed. Many different companies use this system. As noted earlier, sustainable comparisons with all systems should be examined also.

Factory Built Housing:

Factory built housing comprises of (1) manufactured homes, (2) modular homes, and (3) panelized homes or prefabricated homes. Some of these homes may be applicable, but they have a clouded history in hurricane zones. They should be reviewed to see if improvements in that area have been made. Factory built modular homes may be applicable because they usually use more substantial materials (even concrete) in their construction. Many of these homes can be shipped in containers and assembled on site.

Introduction:

The concept of the “Innovative Workforce Village” aligns itself with the Innovative Study Center that could be in the PDP(or nearby). Two core consultants will be hired to participate in the design to make the workforce village as sustainable as possible within the confines of the culture of the area selected. The two suggested consultants will be William McDonough + Partners and Pliny Fisk with the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin, Texas. Both have had considerable experience in designing sustainable building systems and communities. As more information is developed from the internet and other sources additional consultants will be employed using their own specialized skills in sustainability. Developing innovative concepts will be the key to the proposed project. The workforce village will give it added importance and uniqueness. Hopefully it would be a guide for future developments throughout the world.

Goals and Objectives:

Some of the goals and objectives for the Innovative Workshop Village Demonstration Project (WVDP) are as follows and additional ones can be established as the project is being conceived and designed. Its purposes is to showcase sustainable practices for all aspects of community development to determine if they are economically feasible, self-sufficient as possible and environmentally sustainable in the development of reusable applications. The conservation of and use of natural resources are a prime consideration. The proposed activities also allows it to be appealing for funding from government agencies, foundations and private industry. The site (see other emails) was also selected because it is also subject to wind damage from hurricanes. It will be a testing area to see how residential structures design selected for the WVDP will hold up in hurricanes. Preliminary set of goals and objectives are:

  1. To build a series of residential homes using with different types of building systems with emphasis on using natural materials and local labor as much as possible.  One system that may be applicable is to fill burlap sacks with a concrete mixture, stack them up as a wall, secure with reinforcing rods (includes a top support beam for the roof) and coat the wall with a concrete slurry. 
  2. The workshop village is to be totally self-sufficient in terms of energy use, waste recycling, sewage systems, etc.  For example the firm, Planet Green Solutions has developed a 120 kWhr machine that utilizes biomass (wood chips, kenaf, etc.) to power it.  Solar and other alternative systems would also be utilized.  Compost toilets, live plant and/or pressure sewage systems could also be used.  Any solutions that could be applicable for use in rural or dense housing in poverty conditions will be of prime consideration.  The main intent is to address the needs of families in lower income groups.  Research on the internet will provide information about other systems.
  3. The intent is to be an area where new technologies can flourish and the village be a testing ground for ideas that normally would note be able to be funded.  It is understood that one or two houses using the same type of building system would not be economically feasible, but projections could be made as to their costs in a mass produced setting.
  4. Studies would also be made to determine multi uses for the houses as well as facilities within the houses.  This could be movable walls, kitchens and cabinets that are compact, modular, and easily removable to another residence or location.  Closets and storage areas could be on wheels with special fastening devices.  Bathrooms and utilities could be on the exterior walls where they can be serviced and repaired easily.  An example of a multi use residence is the triplex shown below.  Just by moving a small section of wall a single family home can be made from two units.  The unit on the other side of the exterior walk could be just a shell (with bathroom) and used for renting out, a workshop or other activity.
  5. Interior finishes should be the type that would not allow mold in case of water damage.  Lights should be of the type that uses low amounts of power.  Special research should be available for economical types of stoves (bio char stoves, for example) or the establishment of designs for communal use of certain facilities. 
  6. Bartering, collaboration activities, community market facilities as well as internet access should be made available.  To help with these activities the use of community money will be utilized from a small community bank.  Different types of financing will be evaluated to see what ones would be most effective.  This could involve micro-financing between a group of families, such as in the Grameen Bank structure. 
  7. A medical clinic will be part of the village community with the sole intent of providing nutritional information and examination of persons living in the village and the surrounding area.  Treatment would incur elsewhere if required.  The clinic would have communication with medical facilities in the United States.  A collaborative care enterprise could be established to help people in need where just bed care is needed.
  8. The village would also have a community building that would be similar to the residential construction within the PDP.  The sustainable features for this building would be more expensive and be a guide for people to use and understand.  This building would also be a training and meeting center.  It would also have a display explaining the purpose of the  WVDP.  The internet center there would be connected to the innovation center in the PDP. 
  9. A small prototype vertical farming structure will be made available along with small hydroponic tables ( under $300) for the growing of vegetables. 
  10.  The landscape design will utilize planting that is native to the island and encourage passive solar design as well as the planting of native fruit trees.
  11.  One of the main purposes of the designs is to build residential structures which will  be minimally damaged by hurricanes.  Some of the houses may be elevated and the area below the slab utilized for water catchment or other uses.  Others may be designed where there may be substantial damage, but the frame for the structure remain intact.  Circular or hexagon shaped buildings may be other options.
  12.  The evaluation of site design, varying densities and other options will be reviewed and accessed by the people in the area.  Some of the model homes will be left open for continual evaluation of design and maintenance costs. 
  13.  The WVDP will be used as a staging area for the development of new ideas and innovations for community development practices f or sustainable development.
  14. Another one of the purposes would be to give worthwhile ideas in sustainable practices a venue where the ideas can be tested and utilized in a working situation.  If ideas are workable then it may be possible to get additional funding for start up companies to further their progress in fulling their goals.  It will also provide ideas to provide a setting where additional ideas can be generated to establish new products for development.  This would be in new ideas, products or facilities.
  15.  This project will also help the PDP become recognized as a new type of community that is different than any others.  It will become a means of marketing beyond what is usually done, by becoming a project with its own identity and to impel others to want to be involved.  Sustainability will become more than just a word, but an action to help the world become a better place in which to live. 
  16.  The village or PDP will continue to grow with new technologies and products.  As ideas and products develop it would be able to use these in being a showcase as a leader in innovation and creative thinking.  Not only will the innovation center create ideas it will have a workshop to put them into practice.

Solid Waste Reuse Systems:

The following information is from the World Bank. The main purpose here is to recognize the potential problem in the planning stage of a project and allow for solutions. Along with the on-site recycling of materials should be evaluated. In the case of electrical generation plants noted earlier the clearing of trees can be the bio mass feeding the equipment to conduct electricity. The Seven Step Program could be another source of information.

The overall goal of urban solid waste management is to collect, treat and dispose of solid wastes generated by all urban population groups in an environmentally and socially satisfactory manner using the most economical means available. Local governments are usually authorized to have responsibility for providing solid waste management services, and most local government laws give them exclusive ownership over waste once it has been placed outside a home or establishment for collection. As cities grow economically, business activity and consumption patterns drive up solid waste quantities. At the same time, increased traffic congestion adversely affects the productivity of the solid waste fleet. Productivity loss is exacerbated by longer hauls required of the fleet, as open lands for disposal are further and further away from urban centers. The challenge is to rationalize worker and vehicle performance, while expanding services to a growing urban population.

In developing countries, it is common for municipalities to spend 20-50 percent of their available recurrent budget on solid waste management. Yet, it is also common that 30-60 percent of all the urban solid waste in developing countries is uncollected and less than 50 percent of the population is served. In some cases, as much as 80 percent of the collection and transport equipment is out of service, in need of repair or maintenance. In most developing countries, open dumping with open burning is the norm.

Sustainability of waste management is key to providing an effective service that satisfies the needs of the end users. One pillar of sustainable solid waste management is strategic planning, and links to guidance are provided. Another pillar is cost analysis of solid waste options, and links to useful analytical tools are also provided. For financing, private sector involvement is a growing trend in solid waste management. Also, there are new funds for emissions reductions that support global needs (such as the Prototype Carbon Fund, the Global Environmental Facility, and several for which the World Bank is trustee), and sample calculations for how to achieve and thus market such emission reductions are also provided under the topic of economic instruments. For successful development of any solid waste project, community participation in collection, community consultation on cost recovery, and public participation in siting and design of facilities is inherently essential to sustainability. The needs of sustainable solid waste management project development are elaborated further on the following web pages:

Solid Waste Management Strategic PlanningInstitutional Capacity BuildingFinancial Capacity BuildingAnalysis of Technology ChoicesPrivate Sector InvolvementCommunity InitiativesEnvironmental Issues

Design Schematic:

The Innovative Workforce Village will be a market within itself because it is designed to offer various design solutions and different building systems options for the Caribbean. It will also be a showcase for incorporating as many sustainable practices that would work in that area. A schematic approach would be as follows:

Goals and Objectives – Innovative Study Centers

The following goals and objectives represent the first concepts for the Center and they will be expanded during the planning stages to meet additional criteria.

Innovative Study Centers – Summary Analysis

That there will be other houses (including multi units if applicable) constructed where there will be workshops held or houses rented to persons in order for them to have a space to develop ideas. Each house will be designed with different features to allow for this to provide for different types of businesses. Corporations and leaders in the field of teaching creative thinking will be consulted in the planning stages. All construction will be hurricane resistant in its design and can be used for prototypes. There will also be a (2) spiritual and wellness center for visitors and people and the Innovative Study Center. A special (3) restaurant will also be there that serves foods that reflect a healthy wellness diet.

There will also be IT linkage from the ISC to individual homes in the development.

  1. One of the main purposes would be to have a facility that would allow people to live in the project and still work by themselves in independent businesses or with other corporations or businesses.
    Some of the homes in the project could be mutually owned by several persons or businesses (fractured housing ownership) and this would allow business executives and managers to live here for short periods of time and have the opportunity to participate in creative thinking workshops.
    The workshops would be given by experts in the field of innovation and there would be many case studies presented to show how innovations have led to new technology and inventions. Videos would be taken for each workshop and used for examples if they were agreed to by the participants. Some workshops may have to be private due to sensitivity of the material involved.
  2. Apartments or other types of multi units would also be available on site for students who would want to pursue independent study in the field of innovation and creative thinking. Tuition and fees would be charged for the training and workshops. The management of the ISC may allow for free or reduced tuition for first option for any ideas that were developed which would be useful in developing a new business.
  3. The center would be involved with major (sustainable thinking) corporations to show the potential of providing workshops for their personnel as well as exposing the development as a place where families and personnel could retire.
    One of the main buildings in the ISC would be an (5) information library of books and data found on the internet. This information then can be used worldwide. Business or personnel living nearby would be able to obtain reduced fees for the workshops or training.
  4. Management of the center would try to obtain funding sources that would be available for funding development of new ideas. There would also be contacts with patent attorneys in the Bahamas and the United States for consultation to workshop members.
  5. Special workshops would be presented for the sole purpose of developing technology for persons living in poverty throughout the world. Small sustainable agricultural plots would be tested to determine the most feasible methods of agricultural production for subsistence farmers.
  6. Special volunteer programs will be available for visitors to work within the staff self- sufficient housing village as well as other persons and facilities on Andros Island. There is already an environmental study facility located not far from the resort site.
  7. One of the main objectives is to provide exposure of the project to as many people and businesses as possible and to show the scope of the complete facilities including the many special opportunities for working in the Bahamas.
  8. This center and others like it will also provide a service that is not offered any where else in this type of setting. It will be unique in itself. The building for the (6) head quarters for the Digital Economy will be located there also.
  9. The workshops could also include classes in art, music, photography in order to expand its potential and open it up to these fields which are very compatible to innovative thinking. One of the buildings would be equipped as a (7) multi-purpose craft workshop.
  10. Spiritual meditation, yoga, and other Eastern methods of spirituality and medicine could also be a part of the program. This would occur in conjunction with the spa and wellness facility.
  11. Included on this site would be an (8) Environmental Training Center so people could understand the methods of sustainability that will be used in the development of the resort.
  12. Other ideas are sure to be developed as this subject is explored, but it could be a venture that would help the world understand itself better.
  13. A separate building will be constructed that will be a (9) studio to allow people equipment and space to design and construct ideas that are generated during the workshops. There will also be instructions in drawing and sketching utilizing ways to express creative thinking approaches
Source Unknown

Example: Used to work with people to who have anxiety problems.

-George Hunt

PDP Development Series – Blog 21 – Governance

Introduction

The book Toward Self-Sufficiency (Revised Edition) discusses Governance in a broad sense and that has to be clarified due to additional information provided by funding being available through tax laws for developments in Opportunity Zones.  This is described in Blog 14 – Financing Options.  There will be overlaying authorities governing the PDP and they will be described separately in order to have better clarification as to their structure and timing.  I will describe this in steps according to what will occur on the ground or in a concept format.

However, there may be conditions where the order has to change due to different circumstances causing changes in plans.  What I am suggesting to do is unorthodox to what normally happens in housing projects so there may be delays in getting the project approved.  For example, the site I have selected may not be the best one to consider for development.  This will probably be the case.  It may be necessary to present this concept to a city for concept approval prior to actual site selection.  This would make the approval faster and would prevent buying property that would not work.  This could be circumvented by obtaining a 3 or 4 month moratorium with the seller of the property (may include option payment) in order to (1) obtain approvals from the city or county authorities, (2) perform a proper site analysis for the site selected or (3) making financing arrangements.

Step 1: Preparation of Concept Plan – Review Financing

The concept planning for the Pilot Demonstration Program (PDP) has basically been completed as shown in the book and blogs. The next step would be to present this concept to people or firms for them to consider financing the project using the approach of Opportunity Zone funding from capital gains as well as other government programs. This may take some time because most people or firms may not know it is available. Once some funding is obtained an architect should be hired to complete the architectural plans.

To make the housing as economical as possible it would be advantageous to make the windows, doors, kitchens, cabinets (3), showers, bathtubs, toilets, kitchen appliances etc. the same in each unit if possible. There will be options in wall materials; paint colors light fixtures, roofing materials, and other items as needed. This will allow some of the cabinets and kitchens to be reused if changing from a 480 sf triplex to a duplex or single family.

In the purchase of a housing unit(s) the owner of a unit(s) will have the option of picking of an add-on unit at a later date. This will allow for plumbing, lighting and even flooring to be designed and added to this present unit to make this happen. The cost of doing this now would be minimal and would save a lot of money when the add-on is added. The extra cost could be reduced initially if wood or Hardie board siding was used in the area to be removed in order to put the add-on on the house.

If this concept is used then George Hunt or Greg Hunt is to be used initially, for a small consulting fee, in order for the user to understand all of the nuances or planning involved in getting this type of  project started.  This is especially important when talking with public agencies.  An example of how this could be a problem is found in the excellent book, Golden Gate – Fighting for Housing in America, by Conor Dougherty.  This is about trying to get low income (affordable) housing in San Francisco.  The rent on some luxury duplexes there is over $ 8,000 per month.

The units should have several different exterior elevations depending where it is located.  The question then becomes if all the elevations have the same theme or a mix of different styles.  An example of how different elevations and roof designs for the triplex plans is shown on the right.  Part of this depends where the project is located and what is accepted in the area.  A good idea would be to invite people in the area  of the project and see what is most acceptable to them.  This also would be a good marketing tool.  Additional information is in the book, Toward Self-Sufficiency – Revised and earlier blogs located on my website.

Financing will be discussed in detail in a separate blog. Some of the options are listed below.

Community Land Trusts (CLT’s) need funding to pay for a variety of functions related to land acquisition, construction, and subsidies. Sources of project funding include:

  • Federal Programs: CDBG and HOME Funds- may require special designation of CLT as a Community Housing Development Organization by Local Participating Jurisdiction. HUD Funds for organizational planning and development are also available.
  • Federal Tax Credits: Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Preservation Tax Credits
  • Federal Home Loan Bank
  • Private Lending Institutions
  • State Housing Finance Agencies
  • Institute for Community Economics’ Revolving Loan Fund
  • Housing Trust Funds
  • Tax Increment Financing
  • Municipal Real Estate
  • Private Developer Exactions
  • Pension Funds
  • Private Foundations
  • Private Land Donations
  • Development Fees
  • Lease Fees
  • Add:  Opportunity Zones – Capital Gains Funding

Specially based tax Credits: New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) – Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC)

As noted in Blog 14 the main source of funds would be from the Opportunity Zone Funding. A simplified example is as follows:

But if you roll your capital gains into a special fund that invests in Opportunity Zones, you can defer the tax on those gains until the end of 2026. But the biggest benefit is that any additional gains you make from your Opportunity Zone investments will be tax-free forever, as long as you hold the investment for at least 10 years.

So let’s say you invested $100,000 in Apple several years ago, and you sell it today for $300,000. You’ll have capital gains of $200,000. If you invest that $200,000 in an Opportunity Zone fund, you won’t have to pay capital gains tax for the next several years… and anything extra you earn on that $200,000 will be tax free forever.

Your fund could invest in the next great startup that turns your $200,000 into $20 million. And you won’t pay a penny on that $20 million. Simon Black, Sovereign Man – 2-20-2020.

This is called place-based investment tax incentives and an abstract , “The Pro-Gentrification Origins of Place-Based Investment Tax Incentives and a Path Toward Community Oriented Reform,” by Michell D. Layser, (Working Draft) explains the history of Place-Based Incentives. However, very few of these incentives have been used to help the poor because the projects are used for gentrification and they help the rich get richer. Additional information can be found on the internet and Blog 14.

Community Land Trust

This was in the 2017 Tax Bill and it was designed for the rich in our society to make more money. Anything less would surprise people. Now the funding would be diverted to a Community Land Trust non-profit which will be one of the governing agencies for the PDP. One of the rules for the Community Land Trusts is that they have rules that the values of the housing will be limited so the houses only increase involve at a slower pace than normal market speculation. This applies to rentals also. A rental unit may be on the same lot as an ownership unit and this can go back and forth. This prevents gentrification from occurring and preserves the project for continual use for affordable housing.

CTs generally get their start from some sort of impetus initiated by one of the following four potential sponsors:

  • Individuals and institutions at the grassroots level (typically faith-based and community organizations).  Advantages of grassroots organizations include acceptance by the community being served, legitimacy in the eyes of lenders and funders, market insight, and a lack of baggage from other of organizations. Disadvantages include challenges in building staffing and financial capacity, credibility, competition with existing organizations, and difficulty in selecting beneficiaries.
  • Governmental officials at the local, regional, or state level (typically municipal government), Advantages include access to public community development funds, staff support, regulatory assistance, and a view f the entire housing non-profit local landscape to establish the appropriate niche for a CLT. Disadvantages include public distrust of government, political tainting, a top-down approach that may be perceived to be out of touch with community needs, and resistance to including community members in the CLT governance structure.
  • Other nonprofit organizations operating within the CLT’s service area (typically community development corporations, social service organizations or housing non-profits, which may convert, spin-off, adopt a CLT as a program, or establish an affiliate organization). Advantages can include foundational capacity form the existing nonprofit, increased productivity, credibility, compatibility within the nonprofit housing network, and diversification and renewal of an existing nonprofit.. Disadvantages can include political baggage attributed to the parent non-profit, difficulty in adjusting leadership and board structure to accommodate the need for a CLT to be accountable to leaseholders and the community, divided loyalties and lingering control.
  • Local businesses and banks (typically businesses concerned about the ability of lower-income employees to secure affordable housing).

Advantages can include early capacity and sponsorship, provision of starter homes for working families, and leveraging of private dollars for public funds. Disadvantages can include control and power concentrated at the business, failure to embrace the CLT model where it contrasts with traditional business models, and a tendency to target higher on the income scale (towards working families and above the structurally unemployed). (From internet)

The following information on the duties of the Community Land Trust was obtained from Wikipedia.

Nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation

A community land trust is an independent, nonprofit corporation that is legally chartered in the state in which it is located. Most CLTs are started from scratch, but some are grafted onto existing nonprofit corporations such as community development corporations. Most CLTs target their activities and resources toward charitable activities like providing housing for low-income people and redeveloping blighted neighborhoods, making them eligible to receive 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS.

Dual ownership

A nonprofit corporation, the CLT, acquires multiple parcels of land throughout a targeted geographic area with the intention of retaining ownership of the parcels forever. Any building already located on the land or later constructed on the land can be held by the CLT or sold off to an individual homeowner, a cooperative housing corporation, a nonprofit developer of rental housing, or some other nonprofit, governmental, or for-profit entity.

Leased land

Although CLTs intend never to resell their land, they can provide for the exclusive use of their land by the owners of any buildings located thereon. Exclusive use of parcels of land can be conveyed to individual homeowners or to the owners of other types of residential or commercial structures by long-term ground leases. The two-party contract between the landowner (the CLT) and a building’s owner protects the owner’s interests in security, privacy, legacy, and equity and enforces the CLT’s interests in preserving the appropriate use, the structural integrity and the continuing affordability of any buildings on its land.

Perpetual affordability

The CLT retains an option to repurchase any residential (or commercial) structures on its land if their owners ever choose to sell. The resale price is set by a formula contained in the ground lease that is designed to give present homeowners a fair return on their investment but giving future homebuyers fair access to housing at an affordable price. By design and by intent, the CLT is committed to preserving the affordability of housing (and other structures), one owner after another, one generation after another, in perpetuity.

Perpetual responsibility

The CLT does not disappear once a building is sold. As owner of the underlying land and as owner of an option to repurchase any buildings located on its land, the CLT has an abiding interest in what happens to the structures and to the people who occupy them. The ground lease requires owner-occupancy and responsible use of the premises. Should buildings become a hazard, the ground lease gives the CLT the right to step in and force repairs. Should property owners default on their mortgages, the ground lease gives the CLT the right to step in and cure the default, forestalling foreclosure. The CLT remains a party to the deal, safeguarding the structural integrity of the buildings and the residential security of the occupants.

Community base

The CLT operates within the physical boundaries of a targeted locality. It is guided by and accountable to the people who call the locale their home. Most commonly, any adult who resides on the CLT’s land and any adult who resides within the area deemed by the CLT to be its community can become a voting member of the CLT. The community may encompass a single neighborhood, multiple neighborhoods, or, in some cases, an entire town, city, or county.

Governance

Typically, CLTs are run by a board of directors whose members include three groups of stakeholders: residents or leaseholders, people who reside within its targeted community but do not live on its land, and lastly the broader public interest. This third group is frequently represented by government officials, funders, housing agencies, and social service providers. Organization bylaws may designate each of these groups a specific and equal number of seats, and they may be elected separately by their constituent groups. Control of the CLT’s board is diffused and balanced to ensure that all interests are heard but that no interest predominates.

Expansionist acquisition

CLTs are not focused on a single project located on a single parcel of land. They are committed to an active acquisition and development program aimed at expanding the CLT’s holdings of land and increasing the supply of affordable housing (and other types of buildings) under the CLT’s stewardship. A CLT’s holdings are seldom concentrated in one corner of a community but tend to be scattered throughout its service area, indistinguishable from other owner-occupied housing in the same neighborhood.

Flexible development

There is enormous variability in the types of projects that CLTs pursue and in the roles they play in developing them. Many CLTs do development with their own staff. Others delegate development to nonprofit or for-profit partners, confining their own efforts to assembling land and preserving the affordability of any structures located upon it. Some CLTs focus on a single type and tenure of housing, like detached, owner-occupied houses. Others take full advantage of the model’s unique flexibility. They develop housing of many types and tenures or they focus more broadly on comprehensive community development, undertaking a diverse array of residential and commercial projects. CLTs around the country have constructed (or acquired, rehabilitated, and resold) single-family homes, duplexes, condos, co-ops, SROs, multi-unit apartment buildings, and mobile home parks. CLTs have created facilities for neighborhood businesses, nonprofit organizations, and social service agencies. CLTs have provided sites for community gardens, vest-pocket parks, and affordable working land for entry-level agriculturalists. Permanently affordable access to land is the common ingredient, linking them all. The CLT is the social thread, connecting them all.

The actual duties for structuring of the Community Land Trust will be determined by the Board of the CLT. The makeup of the board is noted in Blog 14.

Community Non-Profit for Local Governance

A separate non profit 501(c)(3) will be formed for use by individuals living in the PDP, Board members or any cooperatives that are formed. This non profit will be used to obtain grants and other funding. This non profit will be used as an arm of the CLT non profit for establishing the governance of the PDP. Community meetings will be held once a month to discuss problems, community suggestions or other community concerns. Other duties would be to obtain funding for students, new businesses in the PDP and needs of any cooperatives that are formed. One person will be hired to obtain grants from government agencies, individuals, businesses and foundations. This non profit will be in charge of establishing the type of community money that will be used. They will also be responsible in organizing farmer’s markets and community flea markets.

Cooperatives

Information about cooperatives can be found on the internet and YouTube. On Slideshare (https://www.slideshare.net/jobitonio/concepts-and-types of cooperatives), Jo Bitonio, professor/program coordinator at Private and State Universities, listed different forms of cooperatives, such as Tubao Credit Cooperatives, Consumers Cooperatives, Producers Cooperatives, Marketing Cooperatives, Service Advocacy Cooperatives, Agrarian Reform Cooperatives, Cooperative Banks, Dairy Cooperatives, Education Cooperative, Electric Cooperative, Financial Service Cooperative, Fishermen Cooperative, Health Services Cooperatives, Insurance Cooperatives, Transport Cooperatives, Water Services Cooperatives, Workers Cooperatives, and other types as determined by an authority.

The PDP will engage with local farmers in the area in order to form an agricultural cooperative. The farmers will work with the students to give them on site experience in marketing and management. The extent and duties of the cooperative will have to be determined. Local farmers markets will be encouraged.


PROUT – Progressive Utilization Theory

In terms of the philosophy of governance PROUT – The Progressive Utilization Theory, is the best that I have found that should establish the standard of what the PDP should be about. In order to understand the theory of PROUT the information about it is found on the internet under the heading, The Home of PROUT, www.prout.org. Due to copyright rules I can only note a few of their comments here.

These are the Chapters of their study guide that can be read to fully understand their theory. The goals they profess are peaceful in nature and now in the era of labels many people would call them socialism or communism, but they aren’t. It challenges our warlike approach, over consumption, destruction of our environment to mention a few. “The experience of contemporary history has exposed the fallacies of cherished social, political and economic ideas, classical as well as revolutionary. The world is full of opportunities – material, mental and spiritual – and so to build a better and freer society is a practical possibility. Yet we are observing a process of social decadence, moral degeneration and the collapse of values which is corroding the springs of human action and corrupting the ideals of a civilized life. Failure and disappointment are bound to follow from attempts to solve the problems of our time with the ideas of previous centuries. These ideas emphasized material progress and scientific development. However, the mental makeup and moral standard of the civilized community have not matched the level of material progress. In other words, the development of civilization – refined cultural progress – has proven far slower than scientific development.”

“In actuality, the social cycle does not always move smoothly forward, but rather moves in a systaltic manner. There are periods of social movement followed by periods of relative pause. When society is in a state of ultimate stagnation, having little vitality or positive momentum, it is termed “systaltic pause.” It is in this state, due to great suffering on the part of the people, that new inspiration and ideas emerge, ideas which are antithetical to the stagnant existing framework. When such an “antithesis” develops sufficient strength, the existing social structure is fundamentally changed by the dynamism of the new ideas. This initial stage of change and dynamism is referred to as “manifestative motion.” When a new synthesis is achieved by the strength of the manifestative movement, the state of “manifestative motionlessness” occurs. This pause is the apex of social movement, its golden era or the period of its greatest vitality. The strength of this synthesis rests upon the strength of the ideas upon which it is founded. Eventually it begins to deteriorate, however, because the dominant class is able to systematically exploit the other classes, leading to oppression and stagnation. This results in its decline. After some time, its downward motion culminates in its “systaltic motionlessness.” In this period new ideas incubate and pressure is created by the oppressed for a new order. The systaltic motionlessness of the old order is also the same period as the “retardative motionlessness” of the new order. (From PROUT Chapters)

Thus, every age of the social cycle will begin with a formative dynamic phase, in which new vitality is infused into the social structure. Society attains a sustained peak subsequently followed by decline and staticity, usually accompanied by rampant exploitation.

Only by reading all the chapters can you fully appreciate its meaning for establishing a guide for us as to how we should conduct our lives.  We presently are entering the last stage of our present civilization unless we change many things that we are doing.  The following book also states what dilemma we are in regarding our future.

  • Immoderate Greatness – Why Civilizations Fail, William Ophius, 76 pages

Thus if preparations for collapse are made at all, they are likely be made too little, too late. Modern civilization is therefore bound for a worse fate than the Titanic. When it sinks, the lifeboats, if any, will be ill provisioned, and no one will come to the rescue. Humanity will undoubtedly survive. Civilization as we know it will not. Although it would be intellectually dishonest of me to suggest any other outcome-a tragic denouement followed by a lengthy time of troubles- I can vision an alternative to civilization as it is currently conceived and constituted. This alternative, which could not be imposed but would have to emerge slowly and organically, should allow humanity to thrive in reasonable numbers on a limited planet for millennia to come. But it would require a fundamental change in the ethos of civilization-to wit, the deliberate renunciation of greatness in favor of simplicity and frugality. For the pursuit of greatness is always a manifestation of hubris, and hubris is always punished by nemesis. Whether human beings are capable of such sagacity and self-restraint is a question only the future can answer . The laws of thermodynamics is controlling what will happen to us as well as exponential growth (a quantity grows exponentially when its increase is proportional to what is already there.). The First Law states that energy is always conserved. It can change form, but it can neither be created nor destroyed. The Second Law states that entropy tends to increase (where entropy is a measure of chaos, randomness, and disorder). This means that energy tends to decay into less and less useful forms. The idea that technology will allow us to do ever more with ever less is a delusion. The more humanity resorts to technology, the more it expedites entropy and generates other problems. One of these is excessive capacity. This leads to moral decay. Civilization then finds itself tied down by a series of vested interests- physical, social, economic, financial, political and psychological. William Playfair noted in general all nations are inclined to push to the extreme those means by which they have obtained wealth and power; [in consequence their ruin is thereby brought on with greater rapidity. Note: A must read before other books on the subject of sustainability. In a way it looks like the history of the United States.

Summary

The stages for obtaining funding funding is dependent on the Opportunity Zone funding or funding from other sources that could work like bridge funding. The following activities should occur with the first funding.

  1. Start marketing the project to obtain Opportunity Zone or Bridge funding. After funding is obtained form the Community Land Trust (CLT) and PDP non profits.
  2. The non profits determine scheduling of the following activities.
  3. Obtaining additional funding.
  4. Hire architect to complete architectural plans.
  5. Determine team members to visit site(s).
  6. Discuss outcome of site visits to determine if additional sites needs to be visited.
  7. Obtain estimate for the model homes that have been selected
  8. If the site is approved by the board and government agencies then a site plan for the site should be designed which includes the architect, landscape architects, civil engineer and CLT board members.
  9. Make trips to the site to obtain plan approvals.
  10. Review lists of possible funders and provide information to them to obtain funding.
  11. On approvals from government agencies start building the model homes, roads and necessary utilities.
  12. Develop marketing strategies and begin a pre-sales program.
  13. Start building the first homes after sales and rental costs have been decided.
  14. Determine what amenities to build at this time.
  15. Other steps as necessary including interviewing possible tenants.

This is just a partial list of activities and the order may have to be changed. During the entire process people near the site will be interviewed to obtain their opinions. One may be a central laundry facility for several units or have a laundry room in the house. Another example would be to have a building for child care.

It is understood that certain funders such as foundations, government agencies, businesses, individuals, etc. may want to be included in the decision making process that would involve their funding. This would be handled by the CLT non profit.

A special determination will have to be made involving county, school and city taxes because of the constant changing of ownerships and rentals.  The use of community money is another topic to be discussed.  This is noted in the book Toward Self Sufficiency- Revised.  Other blogs will be or already been made to answer these an other questions.

– George Hunt