Archive for October 2013

Utopian Drive and a Desire to Survive

Patchopolis’s goal is to explore how changes to the urban environment become more resource efficient while supporting the social and economic performance of our communities, striving to improve the current condition while developing resilient cities for the future. Recently reading Annalee Newitz’s latest book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember and Orson Scot Card’s Ender’s Game the similarities in tactics for preparation and proactivity in planning for threats were surprising. Applying the approaches of these books supports a community’s preparation through the application of historical lessons and survival methods, sustaining the drive to achieve a utopian ideal, and proactively searching for and applying technological improvements and preparing for unknown threats.

A historical understanding of survival by Earth species prepares a community for natural and human caused planet and atmospheric changes. In Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz begins by introducing readers to a brief history of Earth’s six mass-extinctions and the anthropological progression of humans. In strategy planning, it is a necessary first step to understand the historical precedent. For example, in Ender’s Game, it is necessary to understand previous battles and strategies to prepare his own battalions for battle and for developing new attack formations that keep the opposition off balance. In previous mass extinctions, species survive through high atmospheric carbon levels caused by numerous sources, including mega volcanoes and asteroids hitting earth. Through researching these events and understanding the changes that occurred there is a better ability to design for our own species’ survival, which can be used to inspire mass belief and desire to survive. The introduction in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember builds confidence that, even in a seventh mass extinction, there will be survival by those species with the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

It is not enough to react to threats as they occur, there must exist a drive to continuously improve; a proactive desire beyond existence for communities to reach the utopian ideal. Annalee Newitz appropriately introduces her entire book to the reader through a quote from Norman O. Brown stating, “Utopian Speculations … must come back into fashion… Today even the survival of humanity is a utopian hope” (Life Against Death, 1959). There must be a drive to always improve and develop a better means to achieve our goals. Similarly for Ender personally and later as he leads his battalion, it isn’t enough to be top ranked, continually he is driven to improve tactical skills and develop unique strategies to win by larger margins. A community must reach for its utopian ideal, never becoming content with the present condition, but introducing new programs and development strategy to remain in front, serving as a leader in innovation and experimentation.

Proactivity requires coming to terms with potential threats. While every possibility cannot be foreseen, preparation for those that can will create communities that are resilient and possess the ability to adjust and respond to the unforeseen when they occur. In the last decade much focus has been placed on the arguments over whether climate change is a result of human activity or naturally occurring. Through the review of previous mass extinctions, we understand climate change has occurred due to fauna changes, geologic changes, and asteroids, making the cause less important than our strategy to exist beyond the challenge. “Assigning blame is less important than figuring out how to prepare for the inevitable and survive it” (Annalee Newitz, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember). Cities must prepare, thinking ahead of threats including climate change, disease, mega volcanoes, typhoons, hurricanes, and tornadoes, space invaders as well as infighting within our own species. As an example, it was reported this week that a rather significant asteroid threat may exist in as few as twenty years (Ben Brumfield, CNN). The development of underground societies to hide from invaders, survive dramatic high carbon climate shifts, or increased nuclear levels will better prepare a community for future threats. Additionally, above ground structures that are more self-sufficient, not relying on distant resources (material, social, or otherwise) as well as the spread of our species to other planets so one extinction event can not wipe humans out are necessary. “…we need to adapt the metropolis to Earth’s current ecosystems so that we can maintain our food supplies and a habitable climate…. We need cities beyond the Blue Marble, oasis’ on other worlds where we can scatter to survive even cosmic disasters.” (Annalee Newitz, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember). Our communities, in the strive for the utopian ideals, should develop preparations for threats to support life through an extinction event.

Through planning and preparation communities can perform more efficiently and self-sufficiently now, better preparing them for future threats. Through developing underground conditions to avoid atmospheric changes, creating more self-efficient buildings, or through developing connections to other planets through space exploration and space elevators, we can develop systems for food, water, waste, and social stability that strive for the utopian ideal. This creates a stronger community through a shared mindset that improves current efficiency while also developing individual drive against adversity. Patchopolis strives to develop these stronger communities through improved design ideals and through its own testing of urban agriculture systems.

In the next couple weeks I look forward to sharing another farm update (I have strawberries forming and have added blueberry and raspberry bushes) as well as share the next stage of design development of my stripmall parking lot redevelopment.