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View Diary: Village Green: The messy issue of design in smart urbanism (31 comments)

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  •  first of all, ditch the phrase "smart growth." (4+ / 0-)
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    claude, Captain Sham, AnnCetera, sweeper

    It's an oxymoron.

    ANY continued growth necessarily becomes exponential, and is unsustainable by definition.

    Do the math.  A penny's worth of gold invested a few thousand years ago at even a tiny rate of interest would by today have grown to more than the size of the Earth.  

    There is no such thing as an indefinitely sustainable growth rate, period.  Like it or not you have to live with it, just like the law of gravity.

    We hit the limits to growth in 1983 when humanity's ecological footprint hit 1.0, by which metric is meant that we were using up 100% of what the Earth could sustainably provide.  Today we are at 1.2, meaning that we are using up 120% of what the Earth can sustainably provide, which by definition means we are burning our planetary capital.  This will not continue because it cannot, and the only question is how we might go about reducing the amount of suffering and the number of miserable deaths that will result.  

    So let's stop hallucinating growth, deluding ourselves with growth, and titillating ourselves with endless fantasies of growth.  

    At this point in history there is no such thing as smart growth any more than there's such a thing as healthy tumors, much less happy tumors, much less tumors that sing along with you in the shower.

    Smart economics, yes.  That would mean steady-state economics.

    Smart cities, yes.

    Smart suburbs even, yeah sure just tear up the lawns and replace them with gardens and run electric minibuses around.  

    Smart architecture, sure, preferably minus the addiction to microprocessors that has come to define anything "smart" that people can actually touch with their hands, because all those microprocessors aren't sustainable either (did you see the Japanese urinals with built-in video games controlled by how you pee? no snark, look 'em up).  

    Better yet and best of all, let's have some smart humans.  Smart humans, strong humans, creative humans, and empathic humans.  That would be a change for the better.  

    •  I can't argue with your comment, (1+ / 0-)
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      but growth and development will continue to happen, no matter how unsustainable. Shouldn't the effort be made to try to manage it "smartly"?

      Sometimes I sits and I thinks; sometimes I just sits. - Archy

      by Captain Sham on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:03:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why is growth and development inevitable? (1+ / 0-)
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        Because banks want more mortgages?  Because developers want to make easy money?

        Developers aren't interested in smart growth anyway.  The want to slap up as many houses as possible for as cheaply as possible.  Take a look at Florida.  The new Governor is putting a moratorium on impact fees.  Developers don't even want to pay for the cost of development.

        Land use planners can talk all they want about what good development should have:

        # increasing personal safety and security with "eyes on the street," or worsening it with long, blank walls; # enhancing the shopping experience with easy access, color and movement, or making it less enjoyable with barriers and a drab, uninviting "front porch;" # contributing to a feeling of comfort, human interaction and well-being with green parks and usable, human-scaled open space, or ignoring those characteristics in favor of windswept, characterless plazas; # making travel and mobility a pleasant part of the landscape, or forcing pedestrians across multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic or acres of pavement, and making cars into the only means of access to office, business, and home.

        That's all very nice, but until developers are on the same page, these things won't happen.  They won't pay for it.

        •  It's inevitable because the demand is there (0+ / 0-)

          and will continue to be. I'm not assuming a position of defending growth, as both you and G2geek seem to believe. I'm just writing about what I observe.

          Sometimes I sits and I thinks; sometimes I just sits. - Archy

          by Captain Sham on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:46:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  so then, here's what happens: (0+ / 0-)

        We edge further and further into overshoot until ecosystems collapse on a global scale, leading to what scientists call an "evolutionary bottleneck."  That means a dieoff to the tune of billions of humans.  

        Is that what you want?  Or are you merely saying it's not worth fighting to stop it?  

        And how would you feel if the WW2 generation had taken that attitude toward the Nazis, who "merely" killed ten million or so in the camps, plus whatever war casualties were attributable to them?    Or is it somehow "OK" if the biggest genocide in history is committed for the sake of consumer baubles rather than national glory?

        Or does it have something to do with the inability of human minds to grasp large numbers, such as four or five billion?   Hint: that's 1/1000 of what the casino banksters just cost America over the past two years.  See, it's a really small number after all!

        •  "No" to both questions in your second paragraph. (0+ / 0-)

          Etcetera. I don't think you know my position on the issue as well as you think you do. My question to you, or to anybody else, is how, precisely, do we take growth and its accompanying development to zero, or less than zero? I'm not pro-growth or pro-development, but I don't believe it's worthwhile to take a position against better urban design because all growth is bad.

          How is my comment above so insulting to you that you bring the Holocaust into the conversation? Criminy!

          Sometimes I sits and I thinks; sometimes I just sits. - Archy

          by Captain Sham on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:39:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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