How to Build a Village, 1st Edition

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9780473121884: How to Build a Village, 1st Edition
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This first edition has been superseded by the 2nd edition... please see amazon.com/dp/0958286876 
************************************************************************************** SUBURBS WERE INVENTED TO SELL CARS. Toward the end of World War II, American business and government leaders saw a second Great Depression looming if government spending ended and millions of soldiers returned home. They decided to turn the war-winning industries of oil, jeeps and tanks into the post-war civilian industries of oil, cars and bulldozers - to go from fighting a war to building the new American suburbs. To make the shift they legislated a radical change in how humans live - spreading out human activities so the mundane chores of daily life required a car.
The economic plan worked and for over half a century the US economy boomed. "What's good for General Motors is good for America". Without understanding why, other countries adopted the American way - even countries that did not make cars or pump oil. While the plan was good for America's post-war economy, suburbs proved to be an immeasurably bad use of resources - both natural and in how people live.
VILLAGES ARE DESIGNED FOR QUALITY OF LIFE
What happens if we design for quality of life rather than to sell cars? What would the zoning look like? How would it work? In this 256 page book with over 400 color photographs, this question is examined in detail. The answer is a "Village" defined as a 5,000 to 10,000 population, self-contained, high-density community built on 100-400 acres around multiple plazas with cafes, shops, workplaces and artist guilds and no cars within - all is within a 10-minute walk with a motorpool for the cars, outside the Village gates. Local governments can think of the Village as an environmentally, socially, culturally and economically sustainable, self-contained, billion-dollar, greenfield, mainstream investment that brings in over 2,000 new, quality jobs worth over $100 million a year. Future residents of the Village can think of it as a wonderful, thriving and fulfilling place to live.
Each part of a Village makes another part work. The keystone is its own local economy. With a local economy, the Village is micro-zoned - everything people need is within walking distance... homes, work, shops, cafés, schools and recreation. This removes need for cars, which lowers pollution and cost of living. No cars results in smaller roads, more human-scaled, lower-cost and better land-use. Elders need not move to retirement homes when they no longer drive. Children can play in the streets and plazas where working adults keep an eye on them. Small streets require fireproof buildings (no large fire trucks), thus the book proposes a design that is also rot-free and super-insulated. Plazas provide the perfect setting to Slow Food - enriching social interaction. Add the cultural enrichment of arts guildhalls and the Village becomes more interesting. Another social element include parallel market affordable housing, homes for service workers, teachers, youth, elders, artists - the glue that holds a community together.
This book is necessary to challenge a mindset. The ideas are simple, conservative, (meaning proven, time-tested, not risky) and should be obvious. However, experts spent 50 years inventing a complex, radical, and problem-ridden way for people to live now so embedded in mainstream thinking that it takes a book, with systematic details, to show a way out. Once the book resets that mindset, villageforum.com provides the forum to build the Villages. The book will be judged not on numbers of copies sold but Villages built.

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From the Publisher:

The idea of building a habitat to not only be a wonderful place to live, but also solve all sorts of social, economic and environmental challenges facing modern society took author, Claude Lewenz about 20 years, and considerable research, dialogue, focus groups and real-life testing to refine.

Then, shortly before the book was published, global warming and affordable housing became political hot topics. Good timing. However, if one looks at the proposals people and organisations are making to solve greenhouse gas emissions, for example, they focus on making cars more efficient, or mixing in biofuel to reduce the adverse effects of a car-based society. For long-distance transport this makes sense. But within local habitat we have better choices, ones which How to Build a Village puts forward.

What happens if instead we build human habitat where we don't need to drive? We don't reduce or offset CO₂ emissions, we stop emitting. We burn no fuel - zero emissions. Design to remove the need for cars as local transport.

In the 1990's the new urbanism movement began to advocate more human scaled habits. Among other things, it sought to domesticate the car. How to Build a Village, goes three steps further:

First, it identifies the essential requirement that we create a thriving local economy that sells local to global and buys local. This becomes possible thanks to advances in telecommunications, especially high-speed broadband. This makes it possible for its residents to walk to work.

Next, it places everything people need... work, shopping, schooling, cafés, recreation and a wide range of housing, all within a 10-minute walk surrounded by a greenbelt. Within the habitat, ban all cars. Not needed. Build a motorpool outside the village walls for longer distance transport. Banning cars within allows a completely different, human-scaled design. Old people need not move to retirement homes when they lose their driver license. Children play in the streets safely. People connect on plazas, no appointment needed; quality of life goes up. Streets are narrower, cost less to build and maintain. The development costs less to build, needs less land, yet is more charming.

Third, it builds to a critical mass, 5,000 to 10,000 persons, and it creates parallel housing markets to provide permanent, non-bureaucratic affordable housing for key sectors of the community... youth, elders, teachers, public servants, artists and so on.

The book offers hundreds of other design patterns that fit together in the Village concept. Yet, in providing them, the book does not dictate a master plan - no cookie cutter design. Instead, it provides a process in which the people who will live there, the professionals with expertise, the approving governmental authorities, and the attributes of the land work together to produce an authentic design reflecting the distinct character of the people and place. This assures each Village is distinctive, reflecting the authentic character of its people, and that it remain interesting and fulfilling for a lifetime.

From the Author:

**************************************************************************************
This first edition has been superseded by the 2nd edition... please see amazon.com/dp/0958286876 **************************************************************************************

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." [popular misquote of Victor Hugo]I think the universe must not only be intelligent but interested in human affairs. After spending many years in ressearch and then 16 months taking photographs and writing a book, in the final few months of writing this book, the world shifts its attention to the subject matter of the book. Amazing!
The pressure to get this book in print is growing daily. Over coffee in the village cafe, friends made it very clear the book needed to go to the printers now, and further they were ready to call a circle of their peers prepared to do whatever might be necessary to get it underway now. I recognised that as author this was not about me, but the book.
I was the midwife to some ideas bigger than me, ideas that will take on a life of their own as others pick them up and cause them to become manifest, to enter the public arena. Fine by me, I want to live in a Village, not spend my life talking about them.
A very long time ago, when I first began to promulgate the idea of using design and architecture to address some of the challenges facing society, I got soundly thrashed by those upon whom I tested the ideas. Like wine that requires aging to become fine, the ideas slowly evolved. When funds were needed to focus intense attention, such as running the think tank, funds came, usually from completely unrelated places. When I would get stuck on an idea, an email would come in requiring a response, and in writing it, the answer would emerge for the book.
In writing this book, I confess to be a collector of ideas. While I'm sure I would love to be credited with all the insights and inspirations I hope readers find herein, most have come from dialogue with others. The ideas are part of a collective consciousness where I take responsibility for the bad ideas, but attribute the good ideas to over forty years of asking questions. This book is also the product of interviews, focus groups and a two year think tank that I ran in the 1990s. I use the collective "we" in the book to reflect ideas that came from these groups and interviews.
The best advice I got in writing this book: "Don't worry about making it perfect, the readers of the first edition will give you plenty of advice. Get it done and get it published."

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