Tag Archives: positive development

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


Climate Change: It’s complicated or what!

Solar_Flare_and_Coronal_Mass_Ejection_2010-02-12_lrgCalm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth

First seen (by me) on the New Zealand Herald site.

Originally reported by Jean-Louis Santini (AFP)

Washington — The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late — with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century — prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

via AFP: Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth.

The question that exercises my mind now is what this means for the global warming debate. Continue reading

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

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

Alternatives to Alternative Energy?

Have we been barking up the wrong tree with alternative energy policy, research and development?  Ted Goranson, scientist, author, philosopher and architect seems to think so.  In his recent (April 2011) article on the subject he argues that there has been too much focus on funding shovel-ready projects, which really only aim to make sub-optimal schemes less troublesome.  We need a game changer he claims, such as the integrated circuit, radio or electricity were.  Such a paradigm shift requires a space-race scale investment in basic science. Continue reading

Population: What’s the big idea?

Hans Rosling TED 2010

What is a sustainable population for our planet?  The population question has always been the elephant in the room for me when it comes to the sustainability debate.  Sitting here before a computer in an affluent western economy, who am I to wail and moan about threats to my comfort from an increasing global demand for a lifestyle like mine?

Continue reading

On cars and neighbourhoods – parallel universe reprise

Last year in my post “parallel universe number one” I wrote about an imaginary world where the maximum speed of any powered road transport device is 30-km/h within urban areas.  As a consequence the urban experience there is surprisingly different to that of our universe.

The post was never intended to be a learned discourse, rather I use a narrative style to make the points.  A recent question on sustainable transport caused me to revisit it and I’m pleased to report that even after nearly a year the scenario still looks like a valid alternative to me!

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts, if you can spare the half hour or so to read the original post.

Keep an eye out for Peda Pods too:

100% people power

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.

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