Archive for the ‘Visions’ Category

Visions refer to ideas on how to create a sustainable future for cities around the world. Visions links in strongly with the overall Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) project, which designs visions to change our current direction towards a more sustainable future. If you are involved with an environmental visioning project you are welcome to post information about your work on SustainableCitiesNet.com. To do so visit the “How to use this site” page and follow the prompts.


Celebrate Local Food: Terra Madre Day 2013

Posted in Events, Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2013

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Now in its fifth year, Terra Madre DaySlow Food’s annual worldwide celebration of local food held on December 10 – will take place in communities across the globe. We invite everybody, whether you are a member or not, to join this international day of celebration. For one day, whoever and wherever you are, you can put local food in the spotlight through a myriad of different activities: From community picnics and food festivals, to film evenings, rallies and farmers’ markets, or even a simple dinner with friends.

The theme of Terra Madre Day 2013 is saving endangered foods. All around the world traditional foods are disappearing, including fruit and vegetable varieties, animal breeds and cheeses, as a result of an increasingly industrialized food system and fast modern life. Slow Food is working to list and protect these at-risk products on the Ark of Taste online catalog.

This Terra Madre Day we want to use December 10 to raise awareness of these products, along with the knowledge, techniques, cultures and landscapes behind their production, and let everyone know that they are at risk of disappearing.

You are free to celebrate Terra Madre Day in any way you want, but if you wish to embrace the theme, you can do this in a number of ways – either by celebrating an existing Ark product; or hunting down local endangered foods, adding them to the Ark of Taste and putting them at the centre of your celebrations. Once your have your product, you could ask a local chef to cook it, put it on the menu at local restaurants, present it to the community or hold an amateur cooking competition using it as an ingredient, or anything you wish.

If you are nominating a new product for the Ark, remember to nominate it using the online form. Actions speak louder than words!There is no better way to highlight the foods in your area that risk disappearing than dedicating a day to them along with all the other products being celebrated around world on the same day.

Together we’ll paint a picture of the incredible food biodiversity that surrounds us and by creating a symbolic map of these foods, we’ll send an even stronger message about its fragility. So get involved this December 10!

Find an event near you or create one of your own, as simple or complex, big or small as you wish. Get inspiration from past editions and download graphics on the Terra Madre Day website. And don’t forget to register your event – you will join the world map and be published alongside all the other initiatives happening at the same moment in a truly global celebration.

www.slowfood.com/terramadreday

Find the event on Facebook or follow #TMD2013 on Twitter


Never pay an Electricity Bill again? Sounds pretty good to me.

Posted in Models, Movements, Sustainable Cities, Visions by emma.gerard on August 21st, 2013

Source: Climate progress

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photo from: Habitat for Humanity of washington DC

From the article Why Habitat For Humanity’s Newest Homeowner Might Never Pay An Electricity Bill by JOANNA M. FOSTER

Lakiya’s new home is the first super energy-efficient passive house in D.C. It also just happens to be a Habitat for Humanity home.

The house doesn’t look like a futuristic spaceship, but it is different from the other small pre-fab houses along the street. It is a two home duplex with a big wooden porch in front and, of course, solar panels on the roof.

Lakiya’s house started out two years ago as an entry in the Department of Energy’s biannual Solar Decathlon. Dubbed “Empowerhouse” for the competition, it was an ambitious concept brought to life by engineering and architecture students from Stevens Institute of TechnologyParsons The New School for Design and Milano School for International Affairs, management and Urban Policy, many of whom had never even wielded a hammer before attempting this elaborate construction project. The team’s dream was to build a solar-powered house that could not only compete with the most cutting-edge technologies out there, but was actually affordable and something ordinary people would want to live in.

According to Josh Layrea, one of the Stevens engineers, the winning entry from a German team two years before cost over two million dollars. “It was an impressive piece of engineering,” Laryea concedes. “But made for exhibit, not habitation. The entire outside of the house was covered in solar panels.” Laryea and his teammates had a different goal. In a way, they were in a competition of their own, in which they were competing against themselves to see if they could create something that Habitat for Humanity could use not only as a home for a low-income family in the Deanwood area of D.C. but also as an affordable housing prototype for Habitat going forward. The Stevens-Parson-Milano house won the top prize for cost-effectiveness at the Solar Decathlon.

Lakiya’s house was built based on passive house design principles. The basic concept of passive house is to lower energy consumption by being super-insulated and practically airtight. Empowerhouse has 12-inch thick walls and triple-glazed windows and, as a result, uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than an ordinary house. Such low energy consumption enabled Empowerhouse to have one of the smallest solar panel arrays in the competition, which helps keep construction and maintenance costs down.

As anyone who worked on Empowerhouse hoped, Lakiya’s home is not the end of the dream. Habitat is gearing up to build six more passive houses in Ivy City, a short drive from Deanwood. They’ll look a bit different from Empowerhouse, more townhouses than duplex, but they’ll cost about the same and hopefully pass on the same savings.

“As much as we can afford, we would like to have the highest standard of energy efficiency available for our homeowners,” said Susanne Slater, President and CEO of D.C. Habitat for Humanity. “Our whole mission is to provide affordable housing to low income families, and if homeowners pay less in energy costs, that helps us reach that goal.”

“I really believe that with the mounting cost of electricity, passive houses with solar panels are going to take off,” said Slater. “And our homeowners are going to be out in front of the movement.”

>>> You can read the original article on Climate Progress


24 TED Talks That Will Help Save the Food System: FoodTank List

Posted in Models, Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on May 30th, 2013

tedxmanhattan_via foodtank
Photo via FoodTank

The magnificent crew over at FoodTank have put together a rather special list:

 

“TED is a non-profit devoted to “ideas worth spreading”, and you can find literally thousands of free -inspiring and awesome- talks from experts and innovators around the world. We’ve decided to highlight 24 TED talks specifically around food issues that we found compelling and worth sharing. Please check out and watch as many of these as you can. And, most importantly, share this with 24 friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who might be open to watching a few of these insightful talks – and learning more about the food system.”

  1. Roger Thurow: The Hungry Farmer – My Moment of Great Disruption
  2. Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong with What We Eat
  3. Anna Lappe: Marketing Food to Children
  4. Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + Hunger = 1 Global Food Issue
  5. Tristram Stuart: The Global Food Waste Scandal
  6. Brian Halweil: From New York to Africa: Why Food Is Saving the World
  7. Fred Kaufman: The Measure of All Things
  8. LaDonna Redman: Food + Justice = Democracy
  9. Jose Andres: Creativity in Cooking Can Solve Our Biggest Challenges
  10. Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish: Teach Every Child About Food
  11. Dan Barber: How I Fell in Love with a Fish
  12. Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities
  13. Ann Cooper: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
  14. Ron Finley: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central L.A.
  15. Tama Matsuoka Wong: How I Did Less and Ate Better, Thanks to Weeds
  16. Stephen Ritz: Green Bronx Machine: Growing Our Way Into a New Economy
  17. Angela Morelli: The Global Water Footprint of Humanity
  18. Birke Baehr: What’s Wrong With Our Food System
  19. Graham Hill: Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian
  20. Joel Salatin: Thinking About Soil
  21. Roger Doiron: A Subversive Plot
  22. Britta Riley: A Garden in My Apartment
  23. Arthur Potts Dawson: A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants
  24. Ken Cook: Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill
>> Go to the FoodTank website to follow up on any or all of these talks.
>> foodtank.org


Consumers in 2030: Crowd House Mortgages

Posted in Research, Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on March 12th, 2013

Source: Forum for the Future (UK)

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Image: Forum for the Future / Which?

From Crowd House Mortgages: how our financial world might be different in 2030 by Simon Howard:

“The financial world of 2030 as seen in the Consumers in 2030 report we produced with Which? magazine is radically different from that of today with the emphasis on shared endeavour and a disintermediation of large financial institutions. The Crowd House Mortgage idea couldn’t be more removed from the model of today. The capital lent is sourced from people who know the borrowers – possibly only in a virtual sense – and the lending decision is taken not by computer but by those lenders. “Computer can’t say no, co-worker can say yes.”

Could it happen? Quite possibly. The economic environment may not get better and banks may continue to be unpopular. That’s the “production” side of the current version under pressure. The demand side may be more subtle, coming down to what young people prefer out of the options outlined in the report: multi-generational living, expensive renting or buying with peers in a rolling re-run of student days. Put like that, seeing appreciable demand for co-own mortgages isn’t impossible is it?

The research makes it clear new ideas are needed and not just in housing. One we are looking at in the Forum is an alternative pension, the sustainable lifetime pension. The idea is simple: instead of investing in financial assets located quite possibly thousands of miles from your home, you invest locally in things that will secure a better quality of retirement: How can you help make old people feel more secure? Invest local pension contributions into the local economy so that people are employed closer to home and can feel more protective of the area where they work. How can you protect the elderly from rising energy prices? Allow them to direct pension savings into local renewable energy schemes whilst they are working in return for capped energy fees in retirement.

You can see the idea: local money into local assets with a return which isn’t entirely financial. That idea and the crowd source mortgage are some way away now. But both are valid ideas for focusing thinking debate as we look at an unclear future.”

Go to the Forum for the Future blog to read more by Simon Howard, read other posts in the ‘future artefacts’ series, or download the Consumers in 2030 report.


Detroit: From Ghost City to Future City

Posted in Models, Visions by Jessica Bird on February 1st, 2013

Source: FastCoExist

detroit future city
Image from The Detroit Future City Plan.

From “A Framework For Creating A Thriving Detroit Of The Future” by Ariel Schwartz.

A new plan outlines how the Motor City can go from grabbing headlines about decay to being a model for a new kind of American urban center. […] In 2010, the Detroit Works Project, a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and a number of foundations, launched with the goal of rethinking land use by understanding the demographics of the city (today, Detroit has miles upon miles of vacant land). “We understood from the beginning that land use had to be understood, but there were many pieces beyond land use that had to be part of the study,” explains Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and one of the driving forces behind Detroit Future City.

So in 2011, the Detroit Works Project was split into two: one piece worked on short-term planning, and the other focused on longer-term goals. After two years of research and discussion, the Detroit Future City report was released this month. The goal, according to press materials for the launch, is nothing short of a citywide reboot. […] The city framework–which is broken down into sections including economic growth, neighborhoods, land use, and city systems–comes from 30,000 conversations with city residents and more than 70,000 survey responses and comments. “When it was launched, we weren’t revealing a plan or framework because people have been seeing the work develop. It’s more of a celebration,” says Pitera.

We won’t try to sum up the mammoth report here, but Pitera stresses that the key point is that “Detroit is closer to its future than it imagines.” Much of the work that needs to happen is already beginning–now it just needs to be tied to a larger framework. One of the best known examples of Detroit’s burgeoning revival is the urban agriculture movement that has sprung up in response to all the abandoned land. […] The initiative’s creators imagine that these open spaces and environmental systems will sit alongside repurposed transportation corridors that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, all while collecting storm water runoff in swales located in the right-of-way. At the same time, new walkable retail districts and residential developments will keep things buzzing.

The authors aren’t done generating awareness for the project. Pitera tells us that a street team shows up at barber shops, grocery stores–wherever people are–to have conversations with people. Because while Detroit Future City calls for sweeping change on a systemic level, it needs individuals to get onboard too. “In our minds, civic engagement never ends. It’s the way a city should do business,” says Pitera. “People can come in, look at this, and see very realistic but aspirational plans and see themselves in it as well.”

Detroit Future City looks 50 years into the future: the first five years are focused on stabilization of the city, years five to 10 will grow and nurture the city, years 10 to 20 will sustain a larger population, increase in local jobs, and a new and improved infrastructure, and years 20 to 50 will ideally see Detroit regain its position as one of America’s great cities. Is it possible? Sure. Detroit has one big advantage over many U.S. cities: It has already hit rock bottom, and so it can build a resilient, sustainable city from the ground up instead of trying to modify its infrastructure piecemeal–a strategy that will ultimately hurt some of today’s thriving urban centers. […]

>>> You can read the full article here.
>>> You can Read the Detroit Future City Framework and learn more about the project on the Detroit Works Project website.


People’s Community Market: Investing in food, health, community.

Posted in Models, Visions by Jessica Bird on November 28th, 2012


Screenshot from the People’s Community Market YouTube clip.

From the article “Building A Grocery Store In A Food Desert, With Funding From The Community” by Ariel Shwartz.

In San Francisco, you can’t walk five blocks without bumping into a farmer’s market or boutique grocery. Take a quick trip over the Bay Bridge to Oakland, though, and you’ll be confronted with areas that lack any sort of access to fresh food. So-called food deserts are a common problem in communities throughout the U.S., but in the neighborhood of West Oakland, one local organization is banking on the community to alleviate the problem by funding a startup grocery store.

The vision for the for-profit People’s Community Market sprung out of a decade’s worth of community food activism from People’s Grocery, a nonprofit organization that in the past has launched projects like the Mobile Market, a fresh food truck that drove around the neighborhood, and the Grub Box, a local community-supported agriculture box for residents. Despite the success of these initiatives, they weren’t enough to fulfill the food needs of West Oakland, which sees 70% of grocery expenditures from residents each year (about $40 million) going to other cities. A lack of fresh food also contributes to the 48% of residents that are obese or overweight. “The feedback from the community was continuing to affirm that, while smaller projects were important, they weren’t adequate for servicing needs,” explains Brahm Ahmadi, the founder and CEO of People’s Community Market and the former executive director of People’s Grocery.

So Ahmadi and the board of People’s Grocery decided to build a full-fledged grocery store that’s tailored to the community. That means that the 15,000-square-foot store will be tinier than many grocery stores–transactions are generally smaller than in suburban areas because people have less money to spend (meaning they make smaller purchases more often) and they come via public transportation or on foot so they can’t carry loads of groceries. When it opens […] People’s Community Market will carry just 40% of the inventory of traditional grocery stores, with a focus on fresh food–produce, seafood, dairy–and quality prepared items. People’s Community Market will also become a community hub, providing a sit-down cafe space, education programs from local nonprofit health partners, and social activities–jazz nights every week, barbecues after Sunday church, sitdown dinners, and customer appreciation events. […]

The grocery store has secured two-thirds of its $3.6 million budget from the California FreshWorks Fund, a collaboration between the California Endowment and a number of partners that aims to bring fresh food to the state’s food deserts. But there’s a hitch: FreshWorks will only offer up the loan if the grocery can raise the rest of the money ($1.2 million) first. That last chunk of cash will come from the community via a direct public offering–a system where People’s Community Market sells shares of the company directly to California residents. Initially, the startup hoped to raise private capital, but found that a lot of investors weren’t attracted to the grocery business–the margins are tight and investments aren’t that lucrative. Crowdfunding was considered, but except in rare cases, companies rarely make over a million dollars on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. “We decided to shift directions to a community investment campaign,” says Ahmadi. He stresses that this is “not crowdfunding or donation. It is a real investment.” People’s Community Market has already raised $200,000 thanks to the large donor base from People’s Grocery. […] “Our thinking is that if we can make significant progress and show momentum, a number of angel [investors] in a wait-and-see position will come in and help close it out,” says Ahmadi. If People’s Community Market can raise the money it needs, the store could be operating by the end of next year. It’s not soon enough for West Oakland residents. Says Ahmadi: “They want the store open right away.”

>> Read the full article on Fast Co.Exist.
>> You can learn more about the People’s Community Market on their website, or see their YouTube clip.

 


Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037

Posted in Research, Visions by Jessica Bird on October 23rd, 2012


Image by D. Armellin

A local resilience-building project about climate extremes.

Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 is part of a larger research project Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes. This project is led by Che Biggs at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne. It aims to understand how communities and institutions can prepare and become more resilient to disruptive climate conditions. Anglesea was chosen as an ideal case-study site because it faces multiple climate hazards such as fire, drought and sea level rise but it also has a creative community and a strong local identity.

What is the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog about?

The images and articles you see on the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog are glimpses of possible futures. They depict strategies and ideas about how Anglesea could become more resilient to the more extreme possible impacts of climate change. The ideas represented have been developed from a workshop involving Anglesea community members. In the workshop people were asked to propose adaptation strategies in response to a series of challenging future scenarios that describe Anglesea in the year 2037. These scenarios were built from an assessment of climate model projections, historical records from along the Great Ocean Road and interviews with Anglesea residents. The small number of glimpses you see were combined and synthesised from more than 100 ideas developed in the workshop. Treat them as a window into a range of possible futures that might exist. We encourage you to comment on what is good or not good about the way they respond to challenges from climate change.

Why this project? When managing disaster risk, government and private sector organisations often rely heavily on ‘probability’ or ‘expert’ assessments of the likely type, extent and frequency of negative impacts. This can come unstuck when disasters occur outside what has been predicted and planned for. Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes is a response to this problem. It responds to the call for new methods to improve community resilience and help communities improve disaster planning. It seeks to explore how prepared our communities, our decision-makers and decision-making processes are for the challenges of ‘new’ climate conditions. It will consider what institutional changes are needed to meet those challenges whilst ensuring community ownership.

Climate change in Anglesea? Anglesea lies in an area of southern Australia that will be affected by climate change in many ways. Climate models project that the most likely direct impacts will include changes to rainfall (drier but with more intense rainfall events), changes in temperature (warmer with more heatwaves), increasing acidity of oceans and rising sea levels. In-turn, these impacts are expected to affect a whole range of factors including increases in coastal erosion and days of extreme fire danger to increased risk of heat-stroke and changes to when plants flower and birds migrate. Climate Change is the effect of heat from the sun being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by gases produced by human activity. While some of these gases (like carbon dioxide) are found naturally in the atmosphere, as we increase their concentration above natural levels, they trap more heat from the sun – a bit like an insulation blanket.

You can view the glimpses of a resilient Anglesea in 2037 and comment at www.anglesea2037.com. You can also like the Facebook page to be kept up to date with the project.


How Can We Age Well in our Communities?

Posted in Models, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 11th, 2012

 Source: Place Makers via Planetizen


Photo: Julie70 via flickr CC

From Ready for the Geezer Glut? Then think beyond “aging in place” by Ben Brown:

[…]
Here’s a taste of how medical professionals are looking at the age wave, courtesy of Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, on an American Medical Association site in 2010:

The statistics are staggering. By age 65, around two-thirds of all seniors have at least one chronic disease and see seven physicians. Twenty percent of those older than 65 have five or more chronic diseases, see 14 physicians — and average 40 doctor visits a year. Situations like these are a nightmare for patients and the physicians who treat them.

Is any community ready for that?

What got me to thinking about this lately were two things. One was a timely diagnosis of the problem, especially as it applies to place, by Linda Selin Davis on The Atlantic Cities October 3 blog. Pointing to “the tainted legacy of age-segregated housing that is a $51 billion industry,” she nailed the unintended consequence of the “retirement community” movement:

We suffer from a severe lack of foresight, a shortage of personal and community planning when it comes to where and how to age. We’ve separated our elders from their extended families without replacing what their relatives might once have provided: a decent quality of life, until the very end.

The other insight feels like a solution, at least in a very targeted way. It comes from organizers of a senior cohousing initiative in Abingdon, VA called ElderSpirit Community. I’ve stayed in touch with them over the last decade because they provide one of my go-to antidotes for cynicism. Starting with few resources and little experience in neighborhood design, finance and development, they’ve assembled and successfully managed the intricate components of intentional community. And they’ve done that while measuring success against wildly idealistic standards. ElderSpirit members committed to a community designed for both physical and financial accessibility, for exploring spiritual purpose in broadly ecumenical ways and for supporting one another’s mental and physical well-being in the final stages of their lives.

[…]

Counting on volunteers to respond to those kinds of needs on a random basis doesn’t work. Some folks aren’t inclined to ask for help, so they don’t get it when they need it most. Meanwhile, dedicated volunteers over-commit and burn out quickly. The ElderSpirit answer – and the beginning of a new model for mutual support in community – is a system that matches people, skills and needs.

The community’s Care Committee established sort of a jobs bank of volunteers willing to take responsibility for tasks they felt best equipped to handle – transportation, say, or meals prep. Then they created a sort of buddy system, member-designated care coordinators to tap into the community support network. Each member was asked to pick two care coordinators, people they were comfortable confiding in and trusted to represent them. So when a need arises, the care coordinator activates the network.

[…]

Remember what Linda Selin Davis wrote in her blog post about “a shortage of personal and community planning.” That’s an understatement. Most Boomers will age in neighborhoods that are unlikely to sustain the kind of care network system ElderSpirit developed. They presume connectivity by car and exile anyone without the ability or desire to drive. The isolation that complicates every challenge in old age is designed into the places most Americans call home.

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, has been hammering away on this point for some time. Between 1950 and 2000, says Nelson, the share of Americans living in suburban areas rose from 27 percent to 52 percent; the suburban population grew by 100 million, from 41 million to 141 million; and suburbia accounted for three quarters of the nation’s population change.

The big push among advocates for seniors has been to build new homes and customize old ones for successful “aging in place.” Almost all of the emphasis has been on universal design, on assuring accessibility in individual homes through design and remodeling choices that make it easier to get around in wheel chairs, reach stuff in cabinets and on countertops and assure safety in bathrooms. But aging in places that isolate seniors in their homes, regardless of how easy it is to climb out of the bath tub, is not going to get at the bigger problem.  Especially in an era in which the very demographic forces that have served us Boomers so well turn on us when we need help most. Says Nelson:

The American dream of owning one’s own home may result in millions of senior households living in auto-dependent suburban homes which have lost value compared to smaller homes in more central locations where many of their services will be located.

We all should be for strategies that allow for successful aging in place. But for the strategies to offer meaningful advantages to both seniors and their communities, they have to begin with making the right places.

>> Read the full article by Ben Brown on Place Makers.
>>For an Australian perspective, check out the report Tomorrow’s Suburbs by the Grattan Institute.


Food Economies without Fossil Fuels: Animation

Posted in Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 17th, 2012

Source: Sustainable Food Trust


Screen grab from the animation by Marija Jacimovic & Benoit Detalle

>> Driving food economies without fossil fuels

A short animation by Marija Jacimovic based upon Michael Pollan’s talk “Food Rules” given at the RSA. Not only are we going to have to learn to drive an industrial economy without fossil fuels, we’re going to have to learn to create a lot of food without using them. Here are some of Michael’s snippets of sense on the matter.

>>Watch the animation on the Sustainable Food Trust website.


Eco-Acupuncture: Urban Interventions in Florence

Posted in Events, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 14th, 2012


Photo by Chris Ryan, VEIL

Our VEIL colleagues are in Florence, Italy, this month for a collaborative travelling architecture studio!  On September 17, there will be a one-day seminar:

Let’s imagine Florence in 2035: it has become a global model for a low consumption, high prosperity and high quality life based on renewable resources – it is a city of ideas for the future.

Where does this journey start?

An international group of students and design professors will develop a vision for a sustainable Florence in 2035 and propose ideas for small scale interventions that can be done today that will move us closer to that future vision.

A collaborative project with New York University Florence, the University of Melbourne, the University of Delft, the University of Florence and the City of Florence.

Download the program flyer for details of the day and to RSVP.