[permaculture] Solving the big environmental problems

Keith Johnson keithdj at mindspring.com
Sun Aug 21 12:58:01 EDT 2005


Richard,
Folks on the Permaculture listservs may be interested to hear from you. 
I'll pass this along.
Thanks,
Keith

-- 
Keith Johnson
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 1209
Black Mountain, NC 28711
(828)669-6336

also Patterns for Abundance Design & Consulting
Culture's Edge at Earthaven Ecovillage
http://www.permacultureactivist.net
http://www.earthaven.org
http://www.bioregionalcongress.org



ecocity at igc.org wrote:

>Dear writer friends and members of the press, a few of whom I don't know
>well,
>
>I will be from time to time sending a press release and commenting on the
>point where environmental problems and solutions intersect with urban
>problems and solutions.  If you'd like not to receive these, just let me
>know and off you go!
>
>Why, though, have environmental victories that seemed so great left us with
>a far worse situation than the planet has seen in 65 million years?  I'm
>reaching out trying to say it has something with building our cities, towns
>and even villages on the basis of cars and the far-scattered built
>community.  I'm feeling the press of time running out.  Maybe you can help.
>
>Good luck to us all!
>
>Richard Register
>
>
>P R E S S     R E L E A S E
>Contact Richard Register
>President, Ecocity Builders, Inc.
>1 510 444-4508
>ecocity at igc.org
>
>Cities for People, not Cars:
>Campaign Launched to Redirect the Environmental Movement.
>
>Why has the environmental movement seen so many victories since the first
>Earth Day yet the really big problems ­ global warming, species extinctions
>and rapidly approaching 'peak oil' are far worse now than ever before?
>
>Because, says educational non-profit Ecocity Builders, society has yet to
>seriously confront the largest things human beings create:the city.  The
>city is not being examined in its most basic design and functioning and no
>strategy to transform it in any meaningful sense has been suggested by the
>environmental movement.
>
>The following letter was sent today to the twelve large environmental
>organizations listed below who are campaigning to improve the policies of
>Exxon.
>
>The invitation to participate has been issued and now we will see if the
>challenge is accepted by these organizations.  The ideas and strategies
>exist for replacing the city based on the parameters of cars and very cheap
>energy ­ which is about to end forever­ with cities built around the
>measure of the human being and the health of nature.  The hour is late, but
>the necessity for turning around our disastrous trajectory as a civilization
>is absolute.
>
>The following letter has been sent to the organizational members of the
>Exxpose Exxon campaign:
>Alaska Coalition                    Alaska Oceans Program
>Alaska Wilderness League            Defenders of Wildlife
>Friends of the Earth US             Greenpeace
>MoveOn.org                          National Environmental Trust
>National Resources Defense Council  Sierra Club
>Union of Concerned Scientists       US Public Interest Research Group
>The letter follows.
>
>
>Dear Exxpose Exxon Campaign Leaders,
>
>    Regarding your Exxpose Exxon campaign, I have a strategy suggestion.
>Let the current campaign play out as it is going, then consider something
>very different.
>    On one hand you will find a criticism here, but may also notice that a
>change in strategy could make more difference than practically any other
>approach to solving the Earth¹s environmental problems at this crucial time.
>    The essence of it all is that we need to change the whole
>car/sprawl/paving/oil system to a pedestrian/compact & diverse
>city/rails/renewables system.  To make a small difference in oil company
>policy or promote a 'better' car prolongs and expands the larger system of
>which the smaller change is a part.  'Ecological' or 'whole systems'
>thinking is at the root of the strategy I¹m suggesting here.
>    Denis Hayes, organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and head of the Solar Energy
>Research Institute before Ronald Reagan eviscerated that government agency,
>gave the keynote address at an Earth Day 1990 conference I organized called
>the First International Ecocity Conference.
>In that address Denis asked how it was that with so many victories under the
>belt of the environmental movement, why, regarding the really big problems
>were we in far worse condition than before?
>At another Earth Day talk he gave in 2000 he echoed the same theme again,
>and now five years later yet, 35 years from Earth Day #1, global warming is
>approaching catastrophic proportions for many parts of the world, species
>diversity is collapsing ever more rapidly and the threats of 'peak oil' are
>moving toward us quickly.
>
>    WE HAVE TO ADMIT, DESPITE MANY SUCCESSES IN OUR OWN VIEW, IN THE LARGER
>PICTURE WE ARE LOSING THE BATTLE FOR THE EARTH EVER MORE QUICKLY.
>WHAT'S MISSING?
>
>    What I hope to encourage you to see is that what is missing is a clear
>understanding that cities are the largest creations of humanity and that if
>we do not address this largest of our works we will not solve the largest of
>all environmental problems.  Simple in concept, yet hard for people to
>grasp.  My best guess is that progress on that subject is difficult because
>people need to face some big questions personally in order to deal with that
>particular solution, from changing the neighborhood to thinking through our
>relationship with the automobile on a deep level.
>    For example, looking at the whole system, we can notice that the
>'better' car with high gas mileage encourages sprawl ­ and feeling good
>about continuing driving.  In fact we should be building cities for people,
>not cars.  It's a very big order, but not one that is by any means
>impossible.
>    My organization has been working for years, largely ignored by
>mainstream environmental groups and foundations while maintaining with a
>small membership, drawing together many tools that can actually reshape
>cities.  These include something called 'ecocity mapping', another called
>transfer of development rights (TDR), another called ecological
>demonstrations projects or 'urban fractals' and more.
>    The ecologically informed city for radically reduced energy use, much
>smaller physical footprint and much smaller ecological footprint can be
>built and you can help it happen.  The Exxpose Exxon campaign is doing all
>right to expose Exxon for its destructive activities, but we need to avoid
>the notion that oil companies can be OK and cars can be a real contribution
>to a green future.  They can't, even the 'better' ones.  We can instead move
>directly to building an alternative to the whole car/sprawl system.  It is
>time to stop giving the impression that Exxon could save us if it just tuned
>up its policies, or that the Prius will save us because it's cleaner, drives
>farther per dollar and cleans our conscience.  Such thinking falls far short
>of sufficient to the needs of our present crisis, which is a crisis for the
>deep future too.
>    So please do join us in thinking this one through.  You have enormous
>power to mobilize people and it is important that we have no "blowback" for
>helping perpetuate the car/sprawl/paving/cheap energy Empire.  You can
>literally build a better future.  We hope to hear from you soon.
>
>Sincerely,
>
>Richard Register
>President, Ecocity Builders
>P.O. Box 697
>Oakland, CA 94604
>ecocity at igc.org
>www.ecocitybuilders.org
>  
>



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