Draft Preface to Notes From The Suburban Frontier. Current writings intended to become a book.
What would a society look like that fit within its environmental and economic means and its mission statement was to bring out the best in its citizens?
What would an economic system look like that existed to support those ideals?
Where could this all happen?
There is an abundance of industrial strength reason to create such a society and economic system. No need to elaborate. Notes From The Suburban Frontier will go beyond good ideas by telling positive, true life stories of people working to make that society and economic system real. These stories will have practical application for readers of the book to do likewise.
Notes From The Suburban Frontier is a convergence of economics, care for the environment, suburban land use, permaculture and social uplift. Its ideal is to encourage and advocate an emerging new green culture and economy.
Who should be interested in this book? People who live in a neighborhood. Communities of faith, teachers of all kinds, city planners, land use designers; chambers of commerce, green entrepreneurs; advocates of local food, economics, green preparedness and human potential.
History is jammed with the drama of people leaving places that no longer serve their needs; often traveling great distances, at risk to themselves and family, into the unknown, in search of safety, security and well being.
An increasing number of people all over the country are finding their search for a better place to call home is not so exotic. Many of those people have become pioneers on the suburban frontier.
Half of all Americans live in suburbia. There are untold yards full of grass to turn into gardens. There are rooftops, fence lines, micro climates and open spaces ready for productive new use. There are automobile spaces to reclaim, solar systems to construct, civic organizations to work with, collaborations with friends and neighbors to be made and endless opportunities for taking care of more needs closer to home.
Making these changes brings enormous benefits. Notes From The Suburban Frontier will go into greater detail to explain - taking care of more food, energy and social needs closer to home reduces one's ecological foot print. Living within our economic means leads to more resilient and secure homes and communities. The green transformation of our homes, neighborhoods and communities can create an enormous number of jobs helping to give birth to a new green economy.
This transformation has been a devotion since 2000, when I bought a quarter acre suburban property in Eugene, Oregon. From the start, my intention was to re work the landscape and modest mid 50's house so they could take care of more of my needs on site – food, energy, water, creativity and income.
The adventure has been one of the highlights of my life - downsizing and staying closer to home in suburbia. Its creative, its positive and its sensible for many reasons.
All over the country, people are discovering and expanding the suburban frontier by building social cohesion - work parties, place making, skill building, permaculture education, green bike tours, volunteer projects, media attention and more.
In the past fifteen years in my neighborhood, literally, dozens of nearby friends and neighbors have been making similar changes with their homes and properties. As the frontier expands, the list of needs that can be taken care of closer to home expands at the same time. Home scale economics becomes neighborhood scale economics.
In "Notes," I will profile my own neighborhood from pioneer times to the present. River Road is similar to thousands of other neighborhoods all over the country. They all share similar land use stories - on the receiving end of transportation innovations, government policy shaped by money interests, deepening trends relating to resources, climate change, economics and changing demographics. A way of life designed for automobiles is not a good choice. Understanding the history of suburbia is helpful so we can repair it.
Allies, tools and assets are in the eye of the beholder. Slowing down the pace of life makes possible the chance to discover there is a startling number of organizations and groups in any city or town to work with for bringing about a more green culture and economy. Many allies and tools may not even be "green" but a slower velocity closer look can reveal surprising common cause.
Given the social, economic and environmental trends, we will experience a deepening sense of common cause among unlikely players within any community. Strangers will increasingly become partners.
Notes From The Suburban Frontier will take a look at true stories from the suburban frontier that will feature cities, ad hoc groups, faith communities, schools, businesses, professional organizations, neighborhood groups and more. Great stories from Eugene, Baltimore, Port Townsend, Kansas City, Petaluma, Oakland and more.
In modern times, there has never been greater access to the information, tools and assets for creating a society, culture and economy that can live within its environmental and economic means. At the same time, there has never been a time in human history with so many unproductive distractions. One of our greatest challenges as individuals, neighborhoods and communities is to choose what can serve our higher aspirations and to leave behind what does not.
Learning to live within our ecological and economic means, or failing to, will be the defining legacy of our time. Positive human potential is our greatest renewable resource. As we restore the natural world and we repair our homes, neighborhoods and communities, we repair ourselves. A full agenda for the suburban frontier.