Tag Archives: community

Urban Renewal redefined?

Detroit urban farm

Image: Detroit, Michigan is a city in transition. With the car industry gone it will soon host the world’s biggest urban farm. (HantzGroup)

Urban Renewal  normally means more buildings not less.  This story is about a form of renewal in urban areas that replaces brown bricks with green fields.

Given that many of our urban settlements have been developed on once arable land, is restoration of some of that land to food production the way of the future? Continue reading


FlyKly – future mobility

I’ve been interested in alternatives to cars for urban mobility for years. Several earlier posts have covered new and interesting ideas. The latest development to catch my eye is the FlyKly smart bike conversion. Rather than a new idea, FlyKly is an evolution and confluence innovation bringing together pedal assistance, smart-phone control and social media in one elegant retro-fit package.

...missing image?

FlyKly integrates everything in the hub – you control it with an App!

Check out the video:

The project is currently seeking crowd funding. Interested?

Click through to the FlyKly web site for more.

Related posts:

Parallel Universe, 20’s plenty, Parallel Universe reprised

Five Tips for Low-Impact Living

There is a lot to think about when trying to live a low-impact lifestyle particularly if as I do you live in an affluent western society.

Without doubt our western lifestyle has evolved into something of a monster rapaciously consuming resources and spewing out pollutants at an exponentially increasing rate.  We know this is unsustainable, but how can you or I make any real difference?  Easy. Change happens when something better comes along. That ‘something better’ doesn’t just appear by magic it is pioneered by innovators and early adopters until eventually the idea reaches a tipping point, then everyone is into it.

After 25 years of studying and practicing architecture I’ve distilled five principles that underpin low-impact (maybe even sustainable) living principles for built environments.

Continue reading

Base-load Solar Power?

The Question:

What steps are needed to make solar energy a cost-effective, base-load energy source?

(from North America)

My Answer:

Broad definitions of ‘solar’ and ‘baseload’ are necessary to best answer the question. Solar is not limited to photovoltaic panels and base-load (demand) is not necessarily a given, it can also be managed through increased systems efficiency. Continue reading

20s Plenty for Us

What a delight to stumble across the website of 20’s Plenty for Us!

My hypothetical Parallel Universe turns out to be in the UK…

In March 2010 when I first wrote about an imaginary futuristic world where the maximum speed of any powered road transport device is 30-km/h within urban areas the notion seemed plausible to me, but most readers politely suggested the idea would remain a dream.  It turns out that dreams can come true:  The 20’s Plenty for Us movement in the UK (20 mph = 32-km/h) appears to be gaining some real traction.

Already 5m residents live in towns which are adopting or have adopted this policy. Most importantly, through democratic debate those communities have decided that “20s Plenty Where People Live”. And it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive slower in residential streets and where people walk and cycle.

via 20s Plenty for Us.

Continue reading

Interviewed by Willi Paul @ PlanetShifter.com

In the short time I’ve been participating in the Linked In networking forum I’ve connected with some diverse and amazing people from all over the world.  These people have self-identified with certain interests in sustainability and ways toward a more positive resilient future.

A stand out contact is Mr Willi Paul from Northern California who launched his Planet Shifter initiative on Earth Day 2009.  Willi is proof positive that there are people out there doing marvellous things to help make our future look more optimistic.  I was honoured and delighted when he asked me to be interviewed and thereby join the extensive ranks of folks on similar journeys.

You can view the interview at:

The PlanetShifter.com Magazine & Networks Interview with John Cameron:

Consider this: ‘Is it wrong to assume that a huge step to finding solutions to global problems, and averting future crises, will be taken if we can think in the spirit of community and fraternity, not as individual entities? When we accept that this is a world of people all alike, of families all alike, of communities all alike – of countries facing the same challenges – of human beings ultimately seeking the same thing – then we will truly be in a position to foster well being, security and happiness’ The King of Bhutan (2008). The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is the home of the Gross National Happiness index.

Out of Darkness

James Howard Kunstler’s riff on the eighteenth [US] Congress of the New Urbanism [Atlanta GA] – “held in the shadow of a banking system in extreme crisis and an epic ecological catastrophe brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The three crises of capital, energy, and global ecology will now determine what we do, not the polls or the marketing analyses or the whims of “consumers.” The great achievement of the New Urbanists was not the projects they built during the final orgasm of the cheap energy orgy. It was the knowledge they retrieved from the dumpster of history…”

See the full piece at: Out of Darkness (warning: occasional coarse language)

I met James Howard Kunstler at the Digital Earth Summit in Auckland 2006 where he signed my copy of his book “The Long Emergency” giving me a wry inquisitive smile when I told him I was an architect.  I think it is fair to say that JHK is no fan of architects.  I commented that, like writers, all architects are not the same.
His boilerpate bio says he was born in New York City in 1948. He moved to the Long Island suburbs in 1954 and returned to the city in 1957 where he spent most of his childhood. He graduated from the State Univerity of New York, Brockport campus, worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. He has no formal training in architecture or the related design fields.
He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT, RPI, the University of Virginia and many other colleges, and he has appeared before many professional organizations such as the AIA , the APA., and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

How walkable is your neighbourhood?

How walkable is your neighbourhood? Find out at:  http://www.walkscore.com/
It is a US based site and lacks public transport (transit) data for Australia at the moment, but it does work for Australian addresses.

How It Works

Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address based on the distance from your house to nearby amenities. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.

What does my score mean?

Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100.

Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:

  • 90–100 = Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
  • 70–89 = Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.
  • 50–69 = Somewhat Walkable: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
  • 25–49 = Car-Dependent: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
  • 0–24 = Car-Dependent (Driving Only): Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

Buena Vista Social Club Saves the Planet – part 2

Or, ways toward sustainability

Part 2 [Part 1 here]

The music has survived:

The Cuban experience is to me a case study of what potentially lies ahead for the developed world. The entire basis of the Cubans’ economy was ripped out from under their collective feet by a single event that may have been predictable for more than a decade, had anyone cared to look into it. Cubans literally awoke one day to a diminished world.

The end of abundant oil will be the end of a way of life built up over little more than a century, yet so utterly energy-dependent are we now that it may take as long again to find the alternative. What will life be like in the transition?  Do we have the music? Continue reading

Buena Vista Social Club Saves the Planet – part 1

Or, ways toward sustainability

Part 1

In 1999 film maker Wim Wenders released a documentary in which he profiles the legendary Buena Vista Social Club musicians, recording their experiences as they perform in Cuba and abroad, eventually appearing at New York’s Carnegie Hall, thanks in part to the interest and influence of American musician Ry Cooder.  The film helped immortalise both the music and its now famous practitioners who had been living in near poverty, almost forgotten in their own country.  Wenders’ film is a window into another world through which we glimpse an inspiring richness of human spirit rising out of abject poverty to move the hearts and minds of people around the world. Continue reading