Greening Los Angeles

Doubtless there will be many holes that can be pciked in this plan for Los Angeles.…/f/landing_pag…/files/The%20pLAn.pdf

Reading the finer print, there seems to be, on occasion, a conflation of energy and electricity consumption, with nuclear and HEP electricity assumed to be truly carbon-free and genuinely ‘clean’. It is not clear what vision and real acton there is for wildlife and wildlife habitat. Population dimensions seem to be sidelined too.

That said, it is streets ahead of the local development plan for my home city Newcastle and indeed most local authority and regional development plans across the UK. Councils and so-called local enterprise partnershjips are deadset on trying to drive into the future with their eyes glued to the rearview mirror. They may scatter around the adjective ‘sustainable’ but, basically, their thinking is stuck in the boom years of the 60s which they want to revive, with a few licks of green cosmetic paint added.


Greener wall and roofs in France

Quelle bonne surprise!

A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in either plants

Green oases in big cities

The feature here on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World on the City of London’s green spaces, including rooftop wildflower ‘meadows’ and food gardens is worth watching regarding the potential of urban environments and even small spaces therein:

Tender vegetables, bedding plants and bees are the focus of Monty’s gardening this week.

Back to the land?

This is an interesting documentary, directed by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander
The first five minutes or so are an effective portrayal of how today’s growing crisis is a twin track of ecological exhaustion on the ‘outside’ and social decay on the inside. Human culture and paths to personal fulfillment are being shredded by the same forces that are ripping apart the Earth’s life-support systems.
The bulk of the film is about a project in ‘simpler living’. It is a bit slow and perhaps there are too many ‘talking heads’ but it successfully that lifestyles that consume far less can be socially and personally richer.
My main reservation is its relevance to the many, many millions who live in crowded urban environments where there is no access to land. In most places a simple spreading of people across the whole country would simply create sprawl since there are now so many people and so little suitable land (assuming barriers relating to its ownership have somehow vanished).
The logistical challenge of moving so many people would itself be daunting. Indeed the only times it has been tried, things have often not wrked out well. Perhaps the most extreme example of mass resettlement from town to country was the Year Zero in Kampuchea, Most proposals and actual initiatives have of course avoided the terrible brutalities of the Khymer Rouge but even then there are real hurdles to overcome. Thus the wartime urban evacuations in World War 2 Britain were far from smooth. Remember that to make a sufficient difference in the time and on the scale necessary now, we would have to be making large-scales changes rapidly.
The small-scale ‘commune’ option is by itself offers little in the short-term to those large-scale crises where in an area thousands lose their jobs due to the closure of a major employer and its knock-on effects. Immediate measures are necessary to cushion the effects. To that extent, some central support from the much derided ‘state’ can help (eg steel crisis in South Wales).
It might be noted that the various of ‘alternativist’ communes, workers cooperatives and so forth in history have collapsed, sometimes due to the hostile external environment but also sometimes due to internal conflicts. The Israeli kibbutzim, for example, suffered badly from the ‘free rider’ problem, people who would not pull their weight eg [Other examples are discussed in ‘Resettling America’, edited by Gary Coates]
The way forward is a sustainable redevelopment of the existing urban area, not relocation to surviving countryside which, if done on a big scale in countries such as the UK, would destroy it.
But the core point of the film is the higher quality of life possible if we escape the trappings of consumerism and the treadmill of contemporary work patterns. For showing that, the film makers must be congratulated.

Recipes for vibrant cities

This is an interesting article on what makes cities tick and what is really appropriate for vibrant communities:…/cities-need-goldilocks-housing…

See also:…/more-why-old-buildings-matter-n…;…/older-smaller-better-why-new-id…

The trend for elite towers that reach ever skywards isn’t healthy for a sustainable community or for a balanced quality of life, says architect Lloyd Alter