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Design Advice for Major Cities  RSS feed

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Location: Ohio, USA
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As Permies, we plan, design, try to account for nature, humans as part if nature, the future, etc. Many cities don't have that going for them. Yet, as we see, nature is something that can cost billions and destroy everything is humans build quickly, if we don't figure out how to get along with it. I am wondering if as Permies we can use our skills to help design or redesign cities aft minimal cost. We do that on farms and our own property, right? What if we take our skills, some maps of a city, and work out magic? Then, we submit it to the city? Could we, in this age influence the world quickly for more sustainability? Could we do it as groups, maybe even in this forum, to get the best advice to the city planners? What do ya all think?
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I think it's a great idea, but I think the hardest part of the plan won't be coming up with a plan- it will be convincing anyone to listen. Since its inception Permaculture has remained outside of the traditional structures of power and authority. Doing so was intentional, according to Bill, meant to avoid the kind of slowdown, red tape and cooption that would likely result from mixing with the Man. The downside to that though, I think, is that the chances of any city taking our advice without the support of every sort of certified 'expert' seems extremely low. Since we have no institutional authority as permaculturists, any plan would probably need endorsement/approval by city planners, civil engineers, structural engineers, lawyers, scientists etc etc.

I think a more effective and timely approach might be to try and work with one or more of the university programs coming together to do this same thing; University Washington has an 'Institute for Hazard Mitigation, Planning and Research', for example. Something like that might be a way to get Permaculture solutions into that broader conversation.

I still think it's a wonderful mental exercise though, and I bet if you were to select a city and start to collect all the necessary data (climate including max/min temps, elevation, annual rainfall, incidence of rainfall, first/last frost dates, wind, chance of specific natural disasters etc, history, economy, culture, current city layout, infrastructure, governmental structure, relevant state, county and city law, that kind of thing), some of the great minds on this site would throw in their hats.
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