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Community Oriented Ecological Design

jrivermartin

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Community Oriented Ecological Design (COED) is not yet in common usage as a descriptive phrase, but I suspect it may gain greater currency in the near future for various reasons. I'm not the first to use the phrase, but I may be using it differently than some others have, previously. My own personal take on COED is that is a generic label for myriad less generic orientations, theories and practices -- all of which (as I'm sure you gathered) seek to implement ecological design principles on the scale of a neighborhood, a village, a community, a town or city, even the suburbs. Thus, David Holmgren's "Retrofitting Suburbia" is as much an example of COED as the various examples of ecovillages and would-be ecocities around the world. (Please use your search engine for these terms if you are not familiar.)

Currently, ecological design, as a discipline, is somewhat marginalized--, at best. So much so that Wikipedia's article on the topic -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_design -- is less generic and more focused around a narrow conception which has it focused on "products," rather than whole systems, such as communities. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_design To my mind, ecological design can be applied to nearly everything which humans design -- be they institutional designs, product designs, industry designs, you name it! Land use (zoning) and building codes, of course, have their ecological implications, as does agriculture, transportation, etc....

In recent years, anthropogenic climate destabilization has moved from the margins toward the center not only of ecological design theory and practice, but also from the margins toward the center of world politics -- or the political discourse in every country on Earth. No longer marginalized, what is now being commonly referred to as "the climate emergency" is on everyone's lips, provided that "everyone" doesn't include Donald (Chinese Hoax) Trump and the many others who refuse to take climate science seriously. The so-called "mainstream" media is lagging behind on this, and so many people remain uninformed about the "climate emergency" discourse, along with folks like Extinction Rebellion, the Youth Climate Strikes, The Climate Mobilization, etc. Nevertheless, nearly (last count) 1,000 counties, cities and countries around the world have recently--officially--declared a Climate Emergency, and a great many of these have included "ecological emergency" in their official statements. Ecological emergency is the larger category, the umbrella term. It suggests that the climate emergency is a facet of the larger ecological emergency, in which human civilization (as we now know it) threatens innumerable local, regional and planetary ecosystems.

The now global ecological and climate emergency … sounds to many like an exaggeration, but this will not be for long. The mainstream media and its political machinery (owned and controlled by corporations and monied interests) have had little interest in the popularization of ecological knowledge and the climate crisis. Those who know what is now happening on Earth are doing everything they can, despite resistance from the popular media (corporate media) and popular politics (corporate politics) to get word out about our global emergency as best they can -- and we're breaking through into the "mainstream" -- albeit, a little late for preventing "dangerous climate change" and ecological catastrophe.

As most -- at least many! -- in cyburbia.org are aware, land use zoning and building codes, etc., long predate the current ecological and (related) social / economic crises. These land use planning schemes made perfect sense in the middle to late 20th century.

What many here in cyburbia.org don't yet know is that our land use and building codes are a bit antiquated in the 21st century -- even obsolete (in the sense of "no longer useful"). Dictionaries define obsolescence in terms of two variables -- "no longer in use" or "no longer useful". It is the second sense that our land use and building codes will require massive revision.

Discussing these topics is the purpose for this thread.
 

jrivermartin

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Okay, in the interest of getting a conversation started, I'd like to ask the planning professionals (and others!) who show up here whether they believe the wave of (this is a fact!) climate and ecological emergency declarations (along with the activities of the climate and ecological activist groups previously mentioned) are likely to disturb the habitual ways of thinking and acting which has defined the planning profession thus far, or recently (as in the last several decades).

I want your honest answers. Yet still, I'll share my own point of view on this topic. It is just my opinion, of course.

My own belief is that the 20th century planning conventions which the planning world utilize as their basis are all now obsolete, and they are obsolete largely because the automobile has become obsolete, in the sense that it is no longer useful. But my view does not end there! No! I also believe that how we get our food now is also obsolete. Industrial agriculture is too harmful to ecosystems, and too thirsty for fossil fuel inputs, to be anything other than obsolete. In simpler terms, land use in general -- as we now have and know it -- is obsolete. It is obsolete because 20th century design of most everything, from food to shelter to business and industry systems, were premised on cheap fossil fuels -- with "cheap" meaning inexpensive on two senses: (1) financial cost and (2) ecological cost. In the 21st century, the whole design premise of 20th century design -- including land use, building codes, agriculture, business, industry -- everything!--has shifted from "cheap" to "expensive" in these two measures.

If you are a professional planner, this fact is coming to you faster than you can imagine. It will shake up your world, if it hasn't already.

Your thoughts?
 
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