Visioning a "Sustainable Chicagoland"

Help develop a vision for a "Sustainable Chicagoland". What processes are needed? How can we help nourish them?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Coming up

March 26, 2008
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Healing the City

Centered on the thoughts of Irish architect and permaculture designer, Declan Kennedy, as expressed in his keynote presentation at last November's International Perma-City conference.

At North Park Village Nature Center 5801 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL, 60646. (312) 744-5472

This workshop is inspired by the first international PermaCity Conference, November 27-28, 2007, at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, Netherlands. They examined the potential of applying the permaculture principles of Mollison and Holmgren to urbanized society.

Central will be a slightly abbreviated version of Declan Kennedy's keynote presentation, titled Healing the City - Thoughts on Urban Permaculture Design. It can be downloaded in article here. A major portion extends David Holmgren's 2002 principles for use in urban settings. Contact Rael (see below) for a copy of the slides he created for the workshop (slightly updated).

We will explore several themes including:
1) What does healing a city mean today? For Chicago? And in the context of the proposed sustainability emergency?
(See ClimateCodeRed.net)
2) How can a permaculture approach help? What do permaculture principles suggest?
3) What information resources would be useful in synergising the healing process, and better stimulate neighborhood and community involvement?

Bring visions and suggestions to shape an emerging website for facilitating the healing process in Chicagoland.

Your guide will be Rael Bassan, coordinator of Chicagoland Urban Permaculture (CUP) and the first continental 2007 Urban Ecovillage Gathering.

Info: 773-756-5033, raelearth (no spam) yahoo.com
posted by Rael  # 3:09 PM

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Coming up next...

Peaking Problems:
And the Refocusing of Progress

Thursday, October 25th, 7-9 pm
A just released book, Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, addresses many of the changes needed to adjust to natures limits. It reviews the evidence for decreased availability of fossil fuels, grain, fresh water and many crucial minerals and metals. He foresees the consequent decline of population and conventional economic growth, and considers climate stability to have already peaked. Thomas J. Murphy, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry, former director of DePaul's environmental science program will review these concerns and the prospects for refocusing our culture on sustainable living.

At North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski, Chicago
posted by Rael  # 12:36 PM

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coming up in May...

Tuesday, May 8, 7-9 pm. Sustainability in Our Future?
Concerns for sustainability are motivating changes in many areas. Join us as we review and discuss two emerging developments:
1) The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a paradigm shift, as portrayed by Andres Edwards in this 2005 book, assembles a hopeful overview, which includes permaculture.
2) Sustainability science, increasingly considered a post-normal, mode 2 or integrative science, is involving an extending community.

Prepare to rethink the potential and significance of sustainability. Consider how these developments can be incorporated in the climate justice movement and other grassroots approaches such as permaculture. Will they help synergize the needed cultural tipping point? What else is likely to be needed?

At North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 North Pulaski, Chicago. (312) 744-5472
Turn left at the first T intersection.

Moderated by Rael Bassan, coordinator, Chicagoland Urban Permaculture (CUP)
posted by Rael  # 3:15 PM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Coming up in May.

Ecovillages and Cohousing
Wednesday, May 3, 7 - 9 pm
Learn about some of the opportunities (current and future) for living in a more sustainable mixed use or residential community in our city. More options would be available if there were greater demand for these developments. Explore ways of creating additional interest. Presenters are JoLynn Doerr a founding member of Prairie Onion Cohousing, and Manda M. Gillespie, Eastern U. S. Representative, Ecovillage Network of the Americas. North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski, Chicago. Turn left at the first T intersection.

Free. For more information 773-907-1465 or raelearth (at no spam) yahoo(dot)com
posted by Rael  # 12:55 PM

Friday, September 23, 2005

Coming up in November!

Taking the Natural Step
Saturday November 12, 2-4 pm
At North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski, Chicago. Free.
Turn left at the first T intersection.

Learn about the potential of locally applying the 2004 book The Natural Step for Communities, which is based on the experiences of creating over 150 sustainable communities in Sweden. Their processes and principles are being studied as a basis for developing eco-muncipalities in Wisconsin and other places in the United States.

The presenter, Gladys Bryer, is past chairman and current member of the Evanston Environment Board, and has been working to get The Natural Step approach incorporated into Evanston's planning process. She is substituting for Betsy Bouchard, the originally scheduled presenter, who can't return to Evanston yet due to severe illness in her family.

Supplementary Notes and Links
<<>> http://www.natural step.org The TNS strategy is to craft agreement on basic principles, and use that agreement as the basis for getting as many folks as you can to help realize them. "Find fundamental principles of indisputable relevance, and thereafter ask the advice of others on how to apply them. (TNSCom p5)

A Conversation with Karl-Henrik Robert, by Michael Toms [Slightly modified ...RB]
Health, life and economy rest on four fundamental principles, restrictions, or system conditions, followed by nature.
[Three THOU SHALT NOTs - tightly specified] …three restrictions which are non-negotiable and easy to reach consensus on: If we do not squander Earth's mineral resources; if we do not produce persistent unnatural compounds; and if we do not systematically expand our hard technosphere of society onto green land, nature will make it. It will eventually reconstitute itself. [& One THOU SHALT - open, minimally specified. What is just?] …we must meet human needs in a just and efficient manner.

Since we are now five billion People on earth, trying to become ten, it is as if humanity were running into a funnel, where the walls of the funnel are those four restrictions -- progressively squeezed by decreasing resources and increasing population/consumption.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=818 Karl-Henrik Robert interview. "My epiphany came one day when I was studying cells from cancer patients. …cells are the unifying unit of all living things. You can't argue with them or negotiate with them. You can't ask them to do anything they can't do. … In August 1988, when I wrote the first effort to frame a consensus, I believed that my colleagues would agree wholeheartedly with what I had written, it was so well thought through. Actually, it took 21 iterations to reach a consensus among this group of 50 ecologists, chemists, physicists, and medical doctors."

TIMELINE (Most from NSCom p30)
1972 - book Limits To Growth published. <> 1980 - Suomussalmi, Finland - 1st eco-municipality <> 1983 - Övertorneå becomes first eco-municipality in Sweden <> 1987 - Brundtland Report released (UN World Commission on Environment & Development) argued that the world was in urgent need of both environmental protection and economic development. <> 1989 - TNS Framework for Sustainability developed <> 1990 -1992 14 more Swedish "counties" picked up eco-municipality idea <> 1991 - city of Hanover, Germany, asked William McDonough to write out the general principles of sustainability for the 2000 World's Fair. These became the nine "Hanover Principles" <> 1992 - Eksjo's TNS report helped shape the UN Rio's Agenda 21 guide. <> 1993-98 - 55 more Swedish "counties" picked up eco-municipality idea. All now use the TNS Framework
<> 2000 - Sustainable Sweden Assn founded - driving force in sus/dev worldwide. Tours. http://www.sustainablesweden.org/

p35 1996 Manningham City NE of Melbourne, AU decided to introduce a TNS based ISO 14001 environmental management system. ...will be one of the first local government municipalities in the world to gain ISO 9000 (Quality) and ISO 14001 certification. TNS was responsible for education and communication and Green Innovations would implement the ISO system.

http://www.emagazine.com/view/?2842&src=\ September/October 2005, Vol. XVI, no. 5
Building Sustainable Cities: Scandinavia's "Eco-Municipalities" Show the Way ...Dane County [Madison] and Ashland, Wisconsin; Duluth, Minnesota; and Vandergrift and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all of which are planning to incorporate sustainability principles and practices into their regions. Other visitors, from Santa Monica, Minneapolis and Whistler, British Columbia, are already guided by sustainability.

http://fair.wiscpsa.org/news.html July 11, (2005) the City of Washburn, Wisconsin, voted to become the first eco-municipality in the U.S., opening the door for employees to receive training on how to reduce the city's ecological footprint.

><>< http://www.sustaindane.org/main/sustainable_sweden_summary.htm Madison WI. The Natural Step for Communities study circle is a nine session course designed to help participants understand the Natural Step framework and how it can be applied to sustainable development in their community. Evanston may offer it again in the future. It's been helpful in getting their sustainability initiatives moving. http://evanstonsfuture.org

There are also steps for Individuals
posted by Rael  # 3:16 PM

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Discussion resources -
For the video The End of Suburbia

-- Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream and similar ones.
Assembled for Chicagoland Urban Permaculture, by Rael Bassan, 773-907-1465. raelearth@yahoo.com

THE PROBLEMS AND SOME SOLUTIONS: According to David Goodstein, author of "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil", the world will start to run out of cheap, conventionally produced oil much sooner than most people expect, most likely within this decade. ...It may be possible, with considerable difficulty to substitute other fossil fuels for the missing oil, but if we do that we may do irreparable damage to Earth's climate. And even then we would start to run out of all fossil fuels, including coal, probably within this century. Oil peak is the most pivotal challenge facing modern civilization. It is time to come together and acknowledge our collective vulnerability and begin working to change the structure of our culture and civilization in ways we've never attempted before.

This is the view of most geologists as well as a growing number of analysts from other fields. See Dry Dipstick, a peak oil metadirectory, for breaking news and commentary as well as other resources.
...the world will have to get by with less oil, and the only way that that can happen in the short run is if there is world economic slowdown. An oil-driven recession... Paul Krugman NYT 6/14/04

On the other hand, Rocky Mountain Institute's recently released "Winning the Oil Endgame", envisions our country free of fossil oil by 2050. RMI's plan proposes that at an average cost of $12 per barrel (in 2000 dollars), the US can save half its oil usage by increasing efficiency, and substitute biofuels and saved natural gas for the rest - without changed taxation or other federal regulations. RMI claims all this can be achieved solely by businesses seeking profit, together with the Pentagon accelerating the process to fight better and save money. Is this realistic?

Similarly focused, with greater political support, is the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, environmental, business, urban, and faith communities for supporting good jobs and energy independence. Their New Apollo Project proposes to invest $300 billion of federal money over 10 years in renewables and energy efficiency. This investment will be repaid with a 22% return through the creation of 3,300,000 jobs, $1.4 trillion increasein GDP, with $284B in net energy cost savings.

And there is also global warming - perhaps an even greater threat.
For that reason, James Lovelock, co-formulator of the Gaia Hypothesis, considers massive expansion of nuclear power the only way to mitigate the effects of global warming in time to avoid catastrophe. The worst case is a global climate hostile to human existence. He feels cultural inertia will prevent adequate alternative responses.

However, David Room, of the Post Carbon Institute, considers that "…initiatives to stave off an energy meltdown will be led from the local level -- where most energy consumption actually occurs. Every city and community will have different portfolios of solutions tailored to their circumstances and culture."

Richard Heinberg, in his recent book Powerdown, outlines four major options for industrial societies during the next decades:
Last One Standing: the path of competition. Using force to control remaining resources; Current US strategy
Waiting for a Magic Elixir: wishful thinking, possibly false hopes and denial; Depending on future technological solutions.
Building Lifeboats: the path of community solidarity and preservation; Creating flexible data rich enclaves that can survive a depletion fed civilization collapse. This is the insurance strategy for all immediate eventualities, including climatic catastrophe.
Powerdown: the path of co-operation, conservation and sharing; Learning to live in non-physical growth, low energy societies.
Useful guidebooks for this path include: Jim Merkel's RADICAL simplicity and David Holmgren's Permaculture.

Potential future technological solutions include: Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae If all spark-ignition engines are gradually replaced with diesel, enough biodiesel to replace all petroleum fuels could be produced by growing algae in 15,000 square miles, or roughly 12.5 percent of the area of the Sonora desert.
And in the more miraculous realm, Rick Smalley imagines vast solar farms in the deserts. This energy would be transmitted across the nation by a new kind of conducting cable made of carbon nanotubes with the conductivity of copper and strength greater than steel, at one-sixth the weight. They could handle a million times more current than conventional cabling material.
Will these (and others) be available in time?

Some Recent Additions:

The proceedings of last November's "1st U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions" are now available. They include: Richard Heinberg on PowerDown, Pat Murphy on The Geopolitical Implications of Peak Oil, Charles Stevens on Agrarian Solutions to Peak Oil, Patricia Allison on Permaculture: A Philosophy of Sustainability, and David Blume's Alternative Fuels - Promise and Peril. He focuses on the potential of alcohol, and presents how utilization of multiple yields increase the corn growers profit from the existing $50/acre to $130/acre as dried distillers' grains (remaining after fermenting) serve as fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide minimizing external inputs. The pre-emergent herbicide effect results from feeding seed-eating fungi and bacteria in the soil.
Instead of flushing energy rich processed sewage into the rivers and oceans, feeding it to cattails and rushes can provide 11,000 gallons of alcohol per acre.

Two recent reports laud the potential of alcohol. http://www.bio.org/ind/background/
1) "25 by 25: Agriculture's Role in Ensuring U.S. Energy Independence" by the Ag Energy Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition, shows how America's farmers can contribute 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2025. August 2004
2) "Growing Energy: How Biofuels Can Help End America's Oil Dependence,
Cellulosic biofuels can add $5 billion annually to farm profits by 2025 if production commitments are made now.

1) For tapping into local initiatives follow the Greening Chicago Calendar http://bgb.org/calendar/
2) To help get the word out, attend the OilAwareness Meetup on the 2nd Wednesday at 7pm. http://oilawareness.meetup.com/44/
3) Sign on a list to get a better grasp of what some Chicagoans are doing about future problems and grassroots approaches to sustainability. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sustainable_living_chicago/
4) Help create mini-ecovillages in Chicago by talking and working with your neighbors, or moving closer to and working with more amenable folks.

posted by Rael  # 1:43 PM

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Our Next CUP Event will be
Wednesday, May 12, 7-9 pm
A guided discussion on grappling with sustainability.
At North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski, Chicago.
Titled The Shapes of Sustainability: Grappling with it's various forms.

Questions will include: What does sustainability look like? What are some of it's various visions, definitions and characterizations? Consider whether it's attainable; And if so, how can we speed it up?

What does sustainability look like? How do its aspects shape up?
Its appearances seem to fall into at least six flavors:
1) Is our sustainability in adequate shape? Globally? Locally?
2) As generally used, is it a well formed concept?
3) Can we get our hands on it? -- How likely is it to be adequately defined, measurable and achievable?
4) It's an entity arising in extended conceptual space -- encompassing Social, Economic and Ecological (SEE) dimensions, but so far it seems difficult to celebrate the interconnections and adjudicate between conflicting needs and values.
5) How important does it appear? -- Is it languishing, largely unattended in our conceptual closets or does it loom ominously, over our personal and community planning horizons?
Is it a campaign issue?
6) Is it a sufficient goal? -- Perhaps more needed "is a *restorative* culture, where we give more than we take -- to each other as well as to the Earth." -Tad Montgomery

<< A fundamental insight >>
Sustainability is fundamentally about maintaining valued things or dynamics that already exist. This contrasts with the concept of 'genuine progress' which is about the creation of improvements that go beyond anything that has ever existed.

One of many intriguing statments taken from
Sustainability: Woolly, feel-good & unachievable? Or a vital goal for practical action? By Philip Sutton, Director, Policy and Strategy
Green Innovations Inc. Melbourne, AU

Sutton classified hundreds of definitions into four basic definition types:
1. the differentiating essence - what the thing or action is
2. a preferred application
3. the key strategies for achieving the outcome in question
4. the key indicators or desired outcomes arising from the operation or existence of the concept in question. - the consequences of the thing or action being in existence

Most ...were of type 3 or 4 (ie. focussed on the strategies for pursuing sustainability or the outcomes of sustainability) and yet you can really only be clear about what sustainability is at the core if you start with a dictionary-style definition (type 1).

Sutton also proposes 'ecological take-off' as a condition where: ...concern for the environment is embedded in the mainstream culture (both civic and business)
posted by Rael  # 3:09 PM


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