The seer listened to his followers
The deeds and teachings they had spread
New crowds pressed in there was no privacy
Crowds followed them to a lone desert place
The seer turned to teach the listening crowd
He had his followers get food for them
Five loaves two fishes fed the multitude
And then twelve baskets left all filled with food
He sent his followers by boat across the lake
And then he went up on a hill to pray
The wind came up fright seized his followers
They called out petrified the seer came
The seer calmed the sea then hung his head
Saddened to see his follower’s hard hearts
They did not understand the twelve baskets
Or how the seer’s hand could still the waves
The seer’s power increased as new crowds came
It seemed they were made whole with just a touch
The world has changed since Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language appeared in 1977. There was a lovely site called downlode.org that explained the original patterns but it was zapped for what I regard as silly copyright reasons. All told, the only references to pattern language I see are rip-off declensions that do not relate to Alexander's subject which is the creation of human living arrangements, cities, settlements, regions - things widely ignored in contemporary thinking.
This is simply a preface to suggesting that the original Pattern Language is in limbo even though it has an official site that you must join in order to converse with whoever is representing this still pregnant thought trove.I fullyacknowledge the genius of the original work, but I lament the way it has transited into our cyber-world and seek to move beyond it, because world has changed since 1977.
It is now appropriate to suggest that we have urban amenities everywhere and to further suggest that such amenities - under the cyber sign - include global awareness that is unprecedented and which underlies democratic revolution. Along with creation of high-tech car-free communities that make life walkable again.
The evolution of Pattern Language is the separation of the automobile from the human mix, something that should have been done originally, and the awareness that urban amenities do not need to be confined to existing metropolises, that indeed they should be available everywhere.
We need a new generation of designers to create car free communities that have all aspects of the city in walking distance and enough densiity to enable a vital local economies.
Some see a sort of competition between residential areas and countryside when it comes to the "best land". The glorious reality of my cyber-communities is that they could be built on landfill and they would still work. All a cyber community needs is a square mile. Depending on the political state of affairs, it will either be built with serious security in mind or with a degree of openness to the surrounding countryside - or more likely the surrounding sprawl or sprawl residue.
The setting of a cyber community should defer to the availability of lovely land to surround it. It can occupy a declivity, a valley, anything that suggests a degree of protection, since we would wish a cyber-community to withstand most extreme weather without a whimper. That said, we do not build cyber communities next to water or in tornado alleys or anywhere else that extreme weather is predictable. And if and when we build them our suggestive existing model for such a community is a stadium-like structure which may even have a retractable roof or some equivalent both to protect one from deluge and to capture the precious falling drops and process them for human use.
The image above is not my idea of anything but the general size and heft of a cyber-community. It suggests a matrix which holds and supports the modular elements which enclose spaces within the community. It suggests the height, the walkability within its precincts, And one can readily infer that 5000-10,000 could live in such spaces and have plenty of room for other spaces and areas which would provide any community anywhere with all the institutions and amenities we associate with urbanity, with the city.
I think one reason Pattern Language (the book) is ignored is that it is predicated on the continued domination of the car. It assumes we will be driving forever. Thus when Alexander dismisses the suburb, he does not take the step of going back and admitting that Frank Lloyd Wright was wrong in assuming suburbanites would all have their own veggie gardens, responsibly turning the suburbs into a sort of nuclear family utopia, while at the same time drawing lovely interchanges and inadvertently, perhaps, suggesting the coming invasion of the cars. Alexander and Wright fell to the blandishments of the car. The sort of erroneous distortion of reality that surfaces in the noxious Ram ads now invading TV. The beauteous countryside has an able partner -- Ram! Think the worst.
If you believe, as I have for fifty years, that the car is not a necessity but a choice, and that it became a necessity only because that was the easy route for capitalism, and that the car and suburb (sprawl) are now revealed for what they are, then you will find it hard to accept Alexander's notions about country roads enclosing mile square areas and towns of up to 10,000 springing up de novo presently rural areas.
Had Alexander taken the bull by the horns and assumed the crying need for car-free communities, and anticipated the technology that would make the rebuilding of the world not only possible but a good idea, he might have taken a simple page from Doxiadis and accepted the natural tendency of people to gather at intersections.
Gathering at intersections is why my front yard (the intersection of Broadway, Sizth Avenue and 34th Street is at times the most crowded in NYC. And why we have metropolises. The cyber-community, the car free zoned for everything evolution of the human settlement, is the natural result of putting together the impossibility of sprawl and the inevitability of concentrations of population.
There are two approaches to the question of making things more livable for children. The first is to create more and more play areas where traffic is present. Via street closings, reduced speed limits and such. The largely untried approach is to simply rid habitation areas of automobiles. I think this latter approach will become more and more obvious as the cost of cars and of driving them rises. I assume that we are in for at least a decade of struggle around this issue.coupled with the matter pf maintaining home ownership within our sprawl environment.
Both of these commitments - the car and the house - eat up the vast bulk of income and feed the most venal part of the economic establishment - the construction, automobile and oil industries. We could reduce our expenses considerably - or channel our money to more productive rewards - by conceiving of mile square areas which would be car free. These built on democratic pattern language principles. Children would walk to school. Shopping could be done in kiosks connected to the world of goods and services. Delivery could be streamlined and improved to the point that society would essentially work door to door.
If we do not voluntarily initiate car-free models of social development, we will be forced to create them over the century as the costs of alternatives ascend. The result will be less appealing than if we think ahead and model them ASAP.
The same old same old is not a long term option. It will hold for a minimum of two generations. After that we will be lost in a world where the one percent lives in gated isolation It is urgent that Occupy folk and others begin to add car-free to their lexicon and ponder what sort of living this portends.
Most people scoff at my notion of the future. They suggest that the only thing that will halt the advance and omnipresence of the automobile is terminal gridlock.
Our advertisements suggest what is indeed true - there is tons of space out there where it can be just the car and you. This is the most seductive aspect of the car. This is why we can identify it with freedom.
Yet this century will see the eclipse of the car. Either voluntarily - doubtful because of human lassitude. Or inevitably - because we will have no way to support our habit even if a few drops of oil are available..
My ideal solution to this problem is to advocate that some hopping entrepreneur build a model of an alternative way of living that would actually appeal to most people.
A democratic prospect for the future would allow for the emergence of car-free communities and a true recovery of the great outdoors. To the extent that we literally vacate sprawl - a process already underway - we can begin to re-concentrate our population. People that sprawled over ten square mile can live in one square mile and walk to all the facilities and nodes that they used to have to drive to. Such a process of citification or villagizing (actually a combination of both) will enable the reclamation of presently toxic land and its gradual return to agricultural and park-like uses.
This pattern of development does not eliminate the prospect of individual dwellings of or roads (aka rights of way). It creates new options for both residence and transportation.
When we start lavishing the same fund of imagination on the macro world we live in as we lavish on creating apps and gadgets, we will move a few healthy steps away from the world of acquiescence to sprawl and oil toward a sustainable world where people recover a past that is slipping away.
Economy is living with the least amount of unnecessary expense. Cars, sprawl housing and oil represent an increasingly unbearable expense. Living car-free would enable creation of cyber-communities of up to 10,000 living within walking distance in neighborhoods zoned for all purposes. One would live and work and play in or near home. The more public space is made attractive and usable the oless need there is for all the rooms we msay nwe need in a home. The way is paved for mass-produced cyber-spaces which can become the modular elements of a cyber-community. Eventually this could replace the automobile business. Our present way of life is senseless and unaffordable. Safer options exist that are cheaper and more fufilling.
Nuke Regulators' Cozy Industry Ties - The Daily Beast: "Here's something to think about as Japan continues working to fix its stricken reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now criticized as being extremely close to the industry, routinely postponing requiring maintenance until crises develop, and even then usually delivering only a slap on the wrist. The agency puts up with violations, says critic David Lochbaum, because "Otherwise, nearly all the U.S. reactors would have to shut down.""
If the democratic revolution should prosper in the face of all the principalities and all the powers, then we shall have cause to believe many of the things that the President has said all along as he has sought to lead the world to a new stage of human awareness.
And there will be more acceptance of the revaluation of values that this presages.
The Believer - Interview with Luc Sante: "LS: Self-reinvention is an essential trope of the American project, closely linked to another such trope: going on the lam. Both are regularly featured in movies and novels and suchlike. Criminals and persons loitering with and without intent hold a crucial place in the culture. For obvious reasons, the culture cannot endorse this behavior, even as it is in thrall to it."
A nice interview that reminds one of things at the edge.