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Post Fossil-Fuel Neighborhood

Subscriber Post by Svetlana on October 18th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Just read an article in the latest National Geographic (“Cool It”) about climate change.

There was a glancing mention of those whose belief is that having to live without fossil fuel would catapult us “back in the stone age.” I don’t like the mental picture of that. As for solutions, some say “technology got us into this mess, it will get us back out.” The thing that these statements have in common is that they assume living without fossil fuel will be a bad thing. Is our future like an earthquake – something we can’t predict and feel like we have no control? Or, do we know enough now – maybe not everything – to work toward a vision? What is your vision? My vision of the neighborhood (Sunnyside) say 50 years after the transition from fossil fuel does not look that much different than it does now, except for a few things: no cars and all food grown locally – maybe a community garden every 10 blocks. I’m not going into any detail here – it’s a vision, but not science fiction. Visioning for life after fossil fuel is fun and full of interesting questions to think about and answer. We can pioneer the hell out of it; maybe use Transition Towns as a model or anything you like.

Someone before us envisioned the built environment we live in now. We are told we’re a creative city – this moment needs us to have a positive, exiting vision.

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8 Comments
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    9watts October 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Reminds me of something Donella Meadows wrote 25 years ago:

    “Preactivists use logic, science, and experimentation more than intuition, judgement, or common sense. They are fascinated more with technology than people, more with hardware than software. They are forward-looking, but in a strangely unempowered way. They see the future as uncontrollable. One can foresee it and prepare for it, but not direct it. One can make changes WITHIN the system, but not change the system.”

    Here’s the whole article. Worth reading.
    http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/inactive-bush-interactive-gorbachev/

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    Svetlana October 19, 2015 at 11:08 am

    9watts, I read the Donellameadows piece. Very interesting. Can you say something about how you see it relating to envisioning a post fossil fuel neighbourhood? Are you saying we can/should envision a post fossil fuel world? How would you proceed to envision a post fossil fuel neighbourhood?

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    Peter W October 19, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Check out http://streetmix.net/ for a tool to help envision what the streets might look like.

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      Svetlana October 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      I tried street mix.net, but the variables it gives to change are those that currently exist – cars, buses, lanes, etc so I was unable to achieve anything like my vision. All I could do was take all the cars away. I will need to draw it out on paper myself. For example, no way to put walkways for people where car lanes currently are. It was somewhat amusing though.

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    dan October 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    It will look like Venice, but with more trees. 🙂

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    Middle of the Road guy October 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    How would people make bikes?

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      9watts November 2, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      You do love to harp on this fact that bikes are (currently) produced with fossil fuels.

      First off, I don’t think we need anyone to *make* bikes. We already have several hundred million sitting with flat tires in garages and in use in the US today. Nothing keeping us from maintaining those for another couple of generations.

      But we could use parts, and a wider distribution of the knowledge of how to maintain and repair bikes. Right now bike parts are mostly made in China out of plastic and aluminum all of which gobble up quantities of fossil fuels. But this is only so because fossil fuels have been dirt cheap for about a century. We could instead use other materials, and make the necessary parts locally. Do you think the materials for wagons came from around the world in the 1840s?
      I make certain bike parts out of local hardwoods grown in my family’s forest and milled in our own sawmill (runs on electricity) an hour south of here (brought here by truck). We could do anything we wanted, pretty much. But your mopey attitude about how everything requires fossil fuels, dreamers! doesn’t inspire me particularly.

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