Patchopolis is not a new city. Through introduction of new technology, programs and methods it strives to transform the existing condition, because accepting the existing condition through repeating the same mistakes is equivalent to giving up. In the smallest details this mindset can be observed in northern United States cities, where many aspects continue to be designed for summer months, becoming inadequate in less than ideal weather.

There is a common understanding over at least half the country that municipalities will annually deal with cold and snowy for a portion of the year, however design of new developments ignores this fact. During winter pedestrian paths change as sections of public stairs are chained off to prevent maintenance from having to salt and the owner from being liable for accidents. Besides these stairs how many winter mornings are open sidewalks and stairs treacherous due to icy conditions but people arrive before surfaces have been treated? This is one example of a problem that is continually repeated. There will always be unforeseen issues, but this is a problem that seems to be accepted through systematic disregard for searching for a solution. In Patchopolis existing issues are identified and new tests are conducted to find better solutions.

During WWII Allied forces were sustaining heavy losses to German submarines. Geoffrey Pyke, a British civilian, developed a plan to build gigantic aircraft carriers out of ice (99% Invisible, Project Habbakuk: Britain’s Secret Ice “Bergship” Aircraft Carrier Project). Mixing wood pulp into the ice (later called Pykrete) would slow the melting rate and allow the structure to withstand explosions. While this seems like a crazy idea, the benefits we enough that a ship started to be assembled and tested in Canada. It was never completed due to a number of circumstance including improved plane technology and a change in the direction of the war, but the takeaway is the attempt at something new and out of the ordinary. When faced with a problem, acceptance shouldn’t be the default.

Rather than repeatedly making the same mistakes in our cities, Patchopolis celebrates the testing and implementation of new solutions. Entire cities cannot be torn down to start over and they don’t need to be. Many things work. Where there are issues, be they physical like the chaining off of stairs in winter, public health, or socioeconomic issues, the creation of test solutions allows testing at a manageable scale. Where they work, implement them where it makes sense. Those that do not, learn from those results and try something else. Patchopolis does not believe in accepting mediocrity, it strives for a better solution.

The Permanance of Settlement in Cities

Patchopolis re-imagines the city to adapt to citizen movement due to work, travel, as refugees from war and famine, and soon due to climate change. Each move removes the individual from the safe habitat of their home. To ease the process of moving places housing must be re-imagined to convert from place based to mobile to fit the owner’s needs.

There are many influences that force people to temporarily or permanently move their safe space and one of the largest unknowns is the threat of rising sea levels, which will continue to threaten seaside communities throughout the world (Threatened By Rising Seas, Alaska Village Decides To Relocate, NPR). In the United States sea level rising at a steady pace is poised to create millions of internally displaced people. At a more sporadic pace, larger storms will quickly create scenarios where populations will need to move rapidly. This changing paradigm creates an opportunity to reimagine how the individual relates to the city.

In Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, Marco Polo describes fifty-five different cities, which are described not as physical places, but as separate thought experiments where each is assigned a tag (Urban Oases: Getting Lost in ‘Invisible Cities’, NPR). The tags are memory, desire, signs, thin, trading, eyes, names, dead, sky, continuous, and hidden which are descriptions of a pattern ordering the city. With the driver of citizen mobility the most similarity to the new ordering for cities in Marco Polo’s city of Eutropia. “On the day when Eutropia’s inhabitants feel the grip of weariness and no one can bear any longer his job, his relatives, his house and his life, debts, the people he must greet or who greet him, then the whole citizenry decides to move to the next city, which in there waiting for them, empty and good as new…” (Eutropia, Italo Calvino, pg 64). While Eutropia’s driver for moving differs from the forces we face forcing movement, the goal is the same; create cities where when pressures require allow for easy transition to a better situation.

Having a fresh new city is in some ways the current condition. A citizen moves to a new place with a new home and in the old place their former home remains to wait for a new citizen. Rather than have homes or hotels that sit abandoned, the residence (a citizen’s sanctuary) should move with them to the new city where the infrastructure is in place waiting for their arrival. In this vision the future society becomes portable. When a traveler enters Patchopolis they find a city that changes like the seasons…

Next Level Communication

The philosophy of Patchopolis is to encourage social interaction. Many social applications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Periscope, etc.) support the Globalization of society, enabling sharing of information and experiences with a world wide audience and allowing individuals to remain in contact with old connections in an increasingly migratory world. However, these applications cannot replace the value of intimate connections, and the serendipitous discoveries, which can only occur in-person. Serendipity cannot be planned or simulated, we stumble into valuable, pleasant connections through the events, places, and interactions with others. Through living in the moment we create these lucky connections. For establishing local connections there are applications like Tinder that encourage local interaction, but they are based on a thin facade. These applications all began from the same method which was to create a tool and let the user tell you its value and purpose. Patchopolis requires the next level of application development that builds applications with a purpose in mind, to enable and encourage local serendipity.

People judge books by their cover. To some degree it is unavoidable and Tinder and other local interaction applications expose that evaluation (Fast Company, I Found Out My Secret Internal Tinder Rating And Now I Wish I Hadn’t). The jumping off point with the application is based on very limited user created information and a visual interpretation. This does not strengthen community and social exchange, it creates a culture that is afraid to fail. Just like the application, created with the least features to attract the most users who will then instruct the developer in how it will be used, the user gives the least information necessary to maximize contacts rather than valuable personality information. This is harmful because individuals become afraid to expose any actual depth and prevents the building of skill of how to present and introduce oneself to someone new. For an application to encourage local interaction it needs to go further than skin deep, it must reveal the qualities of the individual.

The next iteration of social applications needs to be developed as a tool to correct this fear and enable users to better make serendipitous interaction. Up until now developers created tools, threw them at society and said you figure it out, tell us how you will put it to use. This was the developers learning period. It is time for evolution, to start creating tools with an identified purpose.

Patchopolis needs applications that bring the local community together and create opportunities for serendipitous interaction. Based off the concept of silent disco (Silent Events) we need applications that take the user out of their own head and encourage living in the moment. What if the application you were using to listen to a podcast allowed shared listening over a short distance? This would enable users to mutually choose to get out of your headphones and connect with someone over shared content interest. Applications become tools in Patchopolis to engage the members of a community with one another.

Leave the Bazaar: A Chartered Path to Development

This period of socio-cultural evolution is defined by independent developments, consisting of wave after wave of advancements in production (robotics, 3D printers, gene replacement), product development (tablets, smartphones, wearables), and social connectivity (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snap Chat, Tinder). While these advancements have allowed us to reach new heights in productivity and connectivity, there has been no control linking them together or creating a path to drive society to a better path. Instead each development is presented as the greatest wonder of the world, thrown at society to do with it as they will, and to be challenged the next day by something else. What is the end game? Who has a map and knows where we are going? Patchopolis recognizes the necessity to lead society from a roaming free-for-all to a chartered path of collaborative vision, using advancements to orchestrate something greater.

During this period of rapid innovation, there is consistently a new product, material, or method of execution released. I receive the Abundance Insider from Peter Diamandis each week, celebrating innovation and highlighting technological growth at an exponential rate. Corporations are getting on board, changing their structure through creating whole new departments for innovation. These departments, like Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group this past summer, R&D new methods to reach and serve their customer base. It is a tidal wave of innovation, it is the Future of Stuff.

The title – The Future of Stuff – highlights the inefficiency of independent development as a technological evolutionary path. The manufacturer is thrown a new material and the consumer a new gadget or app, but there are no instructions for how it fits together. Warren Ellis criticizes this through the setting of a circus, a wave of “garish, unsustainable, carnival acts” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). I’ve noticed this inefficiency in reviewing social media platforms to promote professional brand. The capabilities of Flinja – a method for hiring students – doesn’t have a method to connect or convert to LinkedIn. A student creates a track record of great service and performance on one website and then is left to start over when entering their post-education professional world. Warren Ellis tells this tale, stating “We’re at the end of twenty years of Future Everything, and maybe a hundred and twenty years of futurism as its own industry, and here we stand in the dark, in the rubble of busted ideas and broken promises and ten thousand conference lanyards. No future left.” Who manages our innovations and where is the road map of how this fits together?

I review the current condition not as a circus, but as a bazaar. In a circus there is one bearded lady, one strongman, one set of conjoined twins. We are not that organized. There is a ‘stand’ selling social media over here and twenty feet away there is another stand selling nearly the same functions, packaged differently. What we need is “…people talking about the future of space travel talk to the people talking about the future of music, and so few of them seem to talk to the people involved in political futures except as lobbyists” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). There is no collaboration among social media much less across other fields to create one better system. The stands in our bazaar operate independently, with no contact between the future of social media, food, architecture, and transportation.

Patchopolis expects oversight, a power connecting previously unconnected fields, to co-develop. “Time and again I’ve seen people gather fantastic information about social technologies and utilities and urban patterning that could be put to any number of uses in combination with other research fields, and they’re just sold to a corporate or a government authority and not only is the work never seen again, but the people who invented wonderful ways to do it don’t know what happened to it” (Warren Ellis, Cunning Plans: Talks By Warren Ellis). Oversight prevents waste in reinventing the wheel three, and four times and makes a smooth delivery to the public that explains how to put development to efficient use. In Patchopolis a path is chartered to reduce overlap, recognize shared goals and abilities, and allow innovation to reach a higher level.

Using Specialization to Analyze and Apply Data

Unimaginable amounts of data are collected about just about everything (ex. Patchoplis has had 175 views since the last post); however, in many cases there are not established controls to filter, analyze, and apply results in a meaningful and reliable manner. As an avid fantasy baseball player I’m accustomed to poring through data to justify any decision I want to make. ESPN’s Matthew Berry annually makes this point in his book Fantasy Life (Berry, 2014). Simply having data and knowing how to manipulate it is useful for theoretical conversations and charting a path, but in execution you must also have have a certain touch – a specialization – to know how to correctly apply the data.

In baseball Alfredo Simon, starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, is a prime example of a specialist using highly developed sense of touch to master his craft. Prior to a start, a data manager certainly shares with him a method to attack each a hitter; however, on the mound he isn’t using that data to make pitch selections. He pitches by feel, judging when to pitch to his own personal strength or against his opponent’s weakness (Tiger’s Broadcast, 4/25/2015). Being a specialist in his trade, he knows something the data can not; he knows when he is at his best and when he is slightly off. While on the mound he assesses when present conditions and his performance that day will allow him to break off his best slider and when he is throwing a lesser version. He is a specialist at what he does and uses that unfair advantage to win his battles on the mound.

Everyone develops an unfair advantage, a specialty they can have that others do not (Peter Thiel, Zero to One). Data and a data driven machine will never possess the ability to apply this specialization because it can not adjust on the fly by feel and experience. Watson, IBM’s world famous computer, recently created the cookbook Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson (IBM and Institute of Culinary Education, 2015). As Mark Wilson discovered, the recipe’s produced by Watson lack a palette pleasing touch (Wilson, Fast Company, April 20, 2015). While the dishes the recipes contributed to were not completely inedible and had a logic, they created a dish that was not enjoyable. Watson understood how to take the parts of the recipe and explain how to prepare and assemble into a dish, but not the flair that would convert them to an enjoyable meal.

Continuing to use food as an example, how many of us can truly say we have that touch? Most have no real training in cooking and less background in nutrition. While 3D printers, refined computer algorithms, and local high quality ingredients can improve our creation of a dish, we do not posses the specialization to make an outstanding and nutritional meal, much less do it with a pleasing daily variety. Add in the factor of where we consume these less than satisfying meals. At the end of a rough day a less than satisfying meal alone in your kitchen is not the best method to replenish and prepare for a fresh tomorrow. Instead look to professionals to prepare meals; those with training in food preparation and nutrition and meet the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours of rule of enough practice to have honed their craft and are now specialists (Gladwell, Outliers, 2008).

Patchopolis envisions a modernized model of community meals outlined in Thomas More’s Utopia.
“…for though any that will may eat at home, yet none does it willingly, since it is both ridiculous and foolish for any to give themselves the trouble to make ready an ill dinner at home when there is a much more plentiful one made ready for him so near hand” (53). Patchopolis envisions a format where individuals order through an app that feeds information to a chef — a specialist in culinary and nutritional arts – who, based on data from the app, knows your personal dietary allergies, general food preferences, and daily consumption in combination with their refined touch to prepare a meal designed for the individual.

Patchopolis envisions a society where specialists use their unfair advantage and data provided to strengthen and contribute to the betterment of the community. Rather than expecting each individual to adequately perform the same tasks, the individual is accountable to appropriately utilize data in combination with their practiced skill and truly shine in service. The community relies on each individual to utilize their unfair advantage as the individual’s right of membership.

Home as an Extension of the Individual

Mobility is a necessary part of life. Whether it is switching neighborhoods or cities for education, a new job, or simply traveling for a week of training or meetings the process is disruptive, expensive and time-consuming. Search through home – your sanctuary – and consider what items you cannot go without and what is not necessary. No matter how temporary the transition it shakes up life and the feeling of comfort and safety. Home must adapt with the individual. Based on the concepts of The Adaptable House in Denmark, designed to expand as a family gets larger or contract after a breakup or divorce without major construction and structural changes, housing needs to fit the individual’s life-style (Peters, Fast Company). The concept and design of housing needs to be thought of as an assembly of parts. Create a collection of cubes, the most intimate of which – where one relaxes after a long day and sleeps – is a mobile extension of the individual, going on the trip or a life transition with them. At the end of the day the individual still has a place called home, with all the personal belongings – their personal identity – with them. Patchopolisenvisions a future where home is more than a state of mind, it is an extension of you.

An all too familiar scene, I again am moving cities, packing everything. This time it is more disruptive, my farm (what little survived my last week long work trip) will not survive this and needs to be cut down and disassembled. Once in my new apartment it is weeks before I am unpacked and who knows when I will feel like finding new furniture. That feeling of a sanctuary is ripped away and for a few weeks this isn’t my comfortable get away at the end of a work day. It is a foreign land where I reside.

Housing as an extension of the individual can be based around the development of superstructures. The individual’s piece packs up, is removed, and travels to the new site to be placed in another superstructure. This saves space in cities, not needing to provide full hotel rooms for a traveler. Instead the core exists and provides a structure to slide in individual cubes, each with amenities specific to the individual’s own tastes and needs. Universities would similarly not provide whole dormitories, and families wouldn’t have to find a new house. The city would become a collection of cores to which you and your cube attach. Fitting with the vision and goals of Patchopolis, communities transition as individuals reorganize and moving becomes an easy, comfortable process rather than a time and financial burden to the individual.

Core and cube

Core and cube

Cubes individualized  with what owner finds comforting

Cubes individualized with what owner finds comforting

An individual's sanctuary

An individual’s sanctuary

Want Superpowers? Click Here!

The development of wearable technology is all the rage. Google glasses and mobile companies racing watches to market to pair with smart phones is just the tip of the iceberg. This last week Fast Company focused on wearable technology and while most of the articles combined to give an overview of the current market, the one that captured my attention was “4 Wearables That Give You Superpowers” (Mark Wilson, Fast Company). It’s a hopeful look towards the future, introducing concept designs that could significantly change how tasks are performed and cities are experienced. The article reminds me of the opening to Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, where a newspaper listing offers self-improvement to those aspiring to benefit the world. Patchopolis is passionate about how technology can empower citizens to, in turn, improve the places they love.

The concept design wearables featured in Wilson’s article all improve the capabilities of the user. Much like the swimwear used to break world records in the 2008 Olympics (David Cardinal), these visions of wearable technology will improve the performance of the wearer to allow them to perform beyond natural limits. The Kineseowear is like an extra muscle worn to signal the body. Depending on form and placement it could signal directions in advance or tighten around the stomach at meal times to reduce a wearer’s appetite. The Ouijiband improves hand coordination allowing a user to draw perfect forms or a doctor to make finer incisions. Beyond this article I also found the concept design for Project Underskin, an implanted digital tattoo that “can unlock your front door, trade data with a handshake, or even tell you if you have low blood sugar”  (Wilson, Fast Company). These concept designs transform the user, improving performance beyond natural ability levels.

While wearable technology may initially seem like an unnecessary thrill for those with disposable income, it creates the opportunity to support the individual in improving their community. Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael opens with an advertisement that reads, “TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world” (1992). It isn’t enough to want to learn from the teacher, but the pupil is expected to take the knowledge and in turn improve the world. They are being trained for a mission and committing to a path of service. The same potential exists with wearable technology; a user’s ability will be greatly improved, but they must, in turn, use this ability in service. These technologies cannot be developed to just make life easier, but enable change agent’s in bettering society. Only those passionate about where they live and with the desire to serve need apply for the newest in wearable technology.

Is This Your Future Kitchen?

Patchopolis is a laboratory for testing new concepts of urban living and to envision societal transformation as it responds to local and global changing conditions. A couple months ago the New Yorker published an article about Soylent, a liquid meal replacement providing essential nutrients without users spending time producing meals, and minimizing food bills (Widdicombe, May 12, 2014). The article is a fascinating review of the creator, the development of Soylent, and the company’s mission; however, it eventually falls into the typical trap of questioning public acceptance of replacing the typical diet. As discussed in a previous post (The Dangers of Premeditated Solutions Limiting the Search for Perfection) this type of thinking limits the potential for transformation. Home food production, through urban farming, 3D printing, and meal replacement drinks, should not be approached as an either-or with traditional food and cooking options. Instead, consider how this reflects a global marketplace, changes the concept of a kitchen, and contributes to the transformations of society.

The Soylent website is a fascinating example of the global marketplace. While providing the background and make-up of Soylent and trying to influence the visitor to order, it also includes a link to the DIY Soylent Community. At the time of the New Yorker article’s publishing the Soylent product was not yet ready for public release (though it was accepting pre-orders); however’ it was already committed to being open source – inviting users to order their own materials and produce and share their own recipes. Proprietary fears that typical food companies have with sharing the recipe and production method were already out the window and Soylent was supporting the community they intended to serve in tinkering with their own versions and flavors of meal replacement drinks. This is a substantial shift in the thinking, marketing, and evolution of products.

Over the last few months I have tried a DIY version of Soylent. I have no intent on reporting benefits on my own health. Honestly, I’m no picture of health in the first place, so there would be no fair comparison. I also have spent almost every other week traveling this summer, so I have been on-again-off-again going for days on a DIY Soylent diet followed by a week traveling, having irregular meals, mostly in restaurants. I instead tested a version of Soylent to see how easy it was, how it tasted, and its fit as part of a modern diet. This has resulted in my kitchen further evolving, combining its already small size and indoor farm with a new collection of nutrient powders to be mixed and chilled for the next day’s meals.

Urban farm and all the powers for my first DIY Soylent mix.  Hope to add a 3D printer and aquaponics in the not too distant future.

Urban farm and all the powders for my DIY Soylent mix. Hope to add a 3D printer and aquaponics in the not too distant future.

Still learning and revising production modules and methods in my farm, due to being gone for weeks at a time this summer with no one around to water, fertilize and care for system, there has been a lot of die-off. For DIY Solent mixing, the kitchen now includes a scale and thirteen canisters of nutrient powders which blend together and chill to make a chocolate flavored mix. Also I’ve began experimenting with ways to add flavor and the effect on my Soylent mix, experimenting with fresh banana (Yum!) or coffee in place of water. In the near future the intent is to add a 3D printer and experiment with innovative foods. I personally don’t envision any one of these systems as the end all solution, but assume that I will continue to mix and match, using them to create what each individually contributes. Let’s not assume that only one system is an option and limit our diet, but engage the freedom new technology provides to improve health and happiness.

Society is changing on many fronts. Technology continues to advance at a nearly unbelievable pace. Remember what life was like five-to-ten years ago? I used to travel successfully without a smart phone to navigate and stay in constant social contact! Multiple groups are now preparing missions to establish societies on the Moon and Mars (How We’ll Cook Breakfast on Mars, Jessica Leber , August 8, 2014). Global threats including war, disease, and climate change threaten the concept of ‘home’ and are displacing whole communities. As these elements combine it is not hard to conceive that in the near future we will be living in very different social, economical, and environmental environment. Evolutions in food, and other systems, will contribute to allow for adaption.

The Good, The Bad, The 10,000 lb Gorilla in the Room: The 2014 Sustainability Message

During the last week of March I attended the annual Milwaukee Sustainability Summit. I do not annually attend sustainability conferences because the cost is too great for a message that year-to-year is too similar. In between conferences I get my news and statistics through trade journals and the social media (Twitter, blogs, etc.) people and groups I follow. While convenient, this can isolate the message I see, limiting myself to a selected set of sources and causing me to miss new trends and discussions. So, since it had been three years since my last sustainability or green building conference, I felt it was time for a refresh. It is 2014; what new technology is available, who are the latest start-ups and what is their business plan, and what is the overarching sustainability message? Here is what I found:

The Good: Whatever you do, do something!

The sessions and presenters provided a good variety of topics, not allowing attendees to squirrel away and only be there for ‘your’ topic. It’s beneficial to be exposed to what is happening in other fields and the arrangement of presenters, exhibition booths, and breakout sessions required you to get updates on a variety of topics. For me this meant I got my water update, and — while it isn’t a field of study I practice, study, or am particularly engaged by — I know the latest enough to collaborate with those groups on a community project. There also was a clear overall message shared through most sessions: be active on any level you can, find some way to get engaged and make a difference. This is essential for any good conference and this one met that standard.

At any good conference there are sessions that leave you feeling empowered! Ones where you leave and want to tell everyone all about your experience and discussions. For me this came from a breakout session hosted by Sustain Dane and American Family Insurance, presenting a great case study on American Family Insurance’s progress towards zero-waste. The PowerPoint wasn’t a list of statistics but instead led us through the talk, and they made time not just to have a standard Question and Answer session but engage with the audience. We had a ‘Dream Event’ (for those Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing it was similar to miniature kaizen event) in which everyone took five minutes to focus on and picture a zero-waste life, then took five minutes to map out with sticky notes what they saw, and then in groups discuss the images. I found the group I was in very engaging and our conversation to be particularly enlightening.

The Bad: Who got the message?

It was clear from the start attendance was below expectations. For the Welcome and Opening Plenary, the main conference hall was less than a quarter full. In part this could be due to a lack of a particularly ‘big name’ presenter in this session; however, I still was starting my day questioning if I had made a huge mistake in attending this conference. In the following sessions attendance did gradually improve, but it was clear they expected a lot more than the approximately 3,200 attendees over two days they attracted. Blame the economy? Blame the conference cost? Blame the order of presenters? In the end, it was noticeably underwhelming.

The Gorilla: It’s time for some straight talk

I opened this entry citing that it had been a few years since I attended a sustainability or green conference and this was an opportunity to get engaged with the 2014 message. I’m sorry to say the 2014 message is startlingly similar to the 2010. The message back then was a need to reduce CO2, that there are limits which if hit will start to enact climate change, and we will hit a point where it is irreversible. The data through 2013 shows minor (when there is any) improvement, events already happening that may in part be caused by climate change, and still a sustainability message about averting limits by 2020, 2030, and 2050.

I’m not alarmist. I played that role in college and it doesn’t do any good; you get sucked into theoretical Tragedy of the Commons discussions. During my alarmist stage everyone wanted to ask ‘When?’ like there is a clock and when it hits zero a door around the earth closes and all humans die due to climate change (nuclear annihilation maybe, but that is a completely separate discussion we can have). In reality, with climate change we go out as we came in – with a whisper not a bang.

I was disappointed that the 2014 message does not call for a pivot towards climate adaption as a strategy. Let’s be honest – we are not going to avoid or minimize climate change, the graphs are not showing progress to suggest this is feasible (Justin Gillis, New York Times). I applaud the efforts shared at the conference of Will Allen and Growing Power, who through the work they are doing understand the climate is changing and we must adapt through trying new strategies, and there were others whose message clearly understood we are entering a time of adaption. However, it is time that as a whole we switch the public message and strategy. It is time to start developing solutions and strategies for what the world is becoming.

Overall, between the low attendance and a lack of message that calls for the creation of adoption strategy, the conference was disappointing. I expect events like this to send individuals and groups back into the world more united, with a feeling of empowerment and unity, yet the lack of understanding of the times we are in was underwhelming and I did not leave feeling empowered or unified. In retrospect my decision to attend and get the 2014 message update was not worthwhile, and I doubt I will attend another conference until I start to see the larger message evolve. When the sustainability message pivots toward a local focus of adaptive strategy implementation, rather than broad planet-sized statistics, I may need another update or, by that time, to participate and share what the organizations I am an active member in are doing.

The Dangers of Premeditated Solutions: Limiting the Search for Perfection

Patchopolis examines community connections to find physical and social ties that strengthen relationships through improving economic and natural resource efficiencies. When applying new concepts and methods to an existing system one of the easiest mistakes is to presume to know too much too early, limiting the vision of an urban patch to result in something recognizable. In striving for utopian ideals it is necessary to start at the beginning, aim high, and let the solution develop naturally, allowing for the creation of the most efficient, resilient, and enjoyable urban community advancements.

While it is necessary to have some preparatory consideration for what connections are possible within communities, the process needs to begin open to growth and experimentation in any direction. Reading Nidhi Subbaraman’s article on 3D printing of food my first response was, “How uninspired to try to use a 3D printer to make a pie” (Subbaraman, NBC News). Early in the process it is necessary to test what new tools and technologies are capable of, so making something familiar makes sense. However, why debate popular acceptance of food that is 3D printed by comparing it to traditional means? The potentials and benefits of 3D printing food and lab grown meats for that matter isn’t to simply recreate Thanksgiving dinner, but to allow the creation of appealing and nutrient rich foods that allow human adaption to other environments or living conditions (consider the previous post on the adaption of society to space life, underground survival, or urban centers where traditional items cannot be raised in sufficient numbers). In those situations food will not need, or potentially want, to be in the form we traditionally recognize, considering gravitational, utensil, and dining setting differences. The debate on acceptance of new technologies should be had when considering the results of its use on its own volition. In waiting to debate a tool, technology or community change, first push the development to its limits to see the full array of what it offers, rather than giving up through by limiting the review to a comparison to existing means and results.

Through not starting from what is known but starting from a blank slate, the potential to reach new heights is made possible. During graduate school I completed a project studying LEED for Neighborhood Development as a guideline for developing a new community. In reviewing the project, one member of the design jury asked if I had any concept of what a truly sustainable building would look like. The point of his questioning was not to take and apply green or sustainable attributes to what is already recognized as a building and neighborhood, but to take the opportunity to begin at square one and design with these attributes as a starting point, allowing the shape and character of a community and its buildings to evolve from these concepts. The more limits put on a new patch, the less unforeseen outcomes can be achieved, possibly losing the full advancement potential. In developing new plans and connections to improve the resiliency of urban areas it’s necessary to avoid being presumptuous and starting the development from a recognizable ‘safe’ place. In doing so the connections that will be possible are presumed to be known, limiting new tools’ potential impact and what the final result will look like.


With my new computer now fully functional, I have again picked up the digital model of a patch for the stripmall parking lot. I hope to get some screen shots up for comment soon :). Thanks for reading and I wish a happy, healthy and productive new year for everyone in 2014!