Tuesday 23 January 2018


Urban design ecology refers to the intricate pattern of relations between our urban living and the environment. This can be established by measuring the management of a household. The change to come in our regional, city and community design is to demonstrate a way to be thrifty and efficient in our land-use distributions with a measured result of energy consumption and green gas emissions. In so doing clarity of understanding is revealed. This is the only substantive way to establish a better measure of balance to resulting consequences with Nature.

This also means that we must respect our natural world with new understanding. We have mined it, hosed it down, hacked at it and farmed it quite ruthlessly. We have to focus on the health of the planet in order to create a new sustainability. Therefore it is imperative to discover and innovate better ways to live in harmony with nature’s cycles and capacities.

Maybe it is now that we have to balance our corporate profit rather than personal individual gain toward more of societal well-being. Growth economics and technology evolution must slide a little more toward solutions that connect with those who respect the Earth and wish to live more in harmony with Nature.

This Great San Joaquin Valley is filled with hard working citizens who must now face the economics of food in a very different way. A “bite of food” travels an average of 1500 miles to reach American lips. Consider that “a gallon of gasoline weighs about seven pounds and burned releases five pounds of carbon into the atmosphere”. Is this the ideal way to plan our future urban environments?

A better urban design solution is one which does not ignore corporate farming efficiencies but desires to resolve the current offering of good agricultural land only for suburban expansion. “Smart Growth” should allow for a proportionate measure of community supported small farms and urban gardens providing farmers markets adjacent to and within new urban settlements. Here fresh, healthy and environmentally sustaining food can be economically produced and exchanged thus reducing distance and energy consumption factors. The farmers market as a nucleus reduces fossil fuel use and should slow global warming.

Economies rooted in such potentially self-sufficient communities make good sense not only for neighborliness and sense of responsibility to one another but a clear understanding of energy savings and production of organic food from local farmers and soil and water resources.

Energy is the overarching challenge and also has to do with and is directly related to the proportional acreages given to both the growth of family and food supply. Time and distance is reduced as well as the means for offering alternative means of transportation. The energy measures for transporting the weight of fresh food to the end user – the household members, can be far more economically achieved.

The next most important consideration is the proportion of land given to serve a community that produces energy. We can now produce energy adjacent to and within our settlements. No longer do we need coal mined in Wyoming, transported to Georgia, converted to electricity, transmitted for our use on the grid of transmission lines across the USA to supply Bakersfield with electrical power. New electrical energy generation systems can if adopted in our urban planning criteria. This opportunity will transform our valley economy into one that genuinely values a better quality of life.

Serious consideration of time, distance and energy measures as criteria in urban planning must form the core basis of physical urban design for all settlements along the borders of the foothills on either side of this Great San Joaquin Valley floor.

Many other factors critical in concert with food and energy production are mobility. A new technology transformation must be woven above a less costly infrastructure in order to adequately service our communities. This attitude change toward a new urban design paradigm is that “small is beautiful” and is less energy consumptive than our status quo methods of building communities.

A new urban design responsibility must accommodate both necessary infrastructure services for community spatial structures and evaluated against energy requirements and emission measures. This must include appropriate scaling of structures for all Human and Natural places for – home, work, worship and recreation, farming and energy generation.

This is the concept of a different urban ecology but must be faced with inventiveness and willfulness in order to build a more sustainable place in which to live happily together.

Graham Kaye-Eddie

Master Urban Designer.            1/1/08              745 words

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