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Expanding the Roots of the Green Scene

By George Schmok

In the contiguous United States there are 3.2 billion acres of usable land. There are 33.1 million acres reserved for the national parks, 169 million acres of national forests, while 346.6 million acres are desert. That leaves 2,651,300,000 acres that could be used for residential, commerce and agriculture.

If every person in America (310,569,315) had one acre of land to live on, we would still have 2,340,730,685 acres left for other uses.

In this Green issue you will find many new approaches to the age-old green movement.

I say "age-old" because preserving resources and making best-use decisions have been a part of human culture since the beginning of time.

From Jolly Old England to the Oklahoma Sooners and the Wild Wild West, most of the growth of the United States was due to the desire to move the family from the city to open landscapes, private land ownership and independent living. It has only been a few generations in which the mentality of the population was to move away from the family land and migrate back to the communal city.

Centralized population growth is a result of centralized amenities such as water, electricity, telephone, trash and sewage. Density also allows agriculture and business to centralize distribution. Think New York City . . . Think Hong Kong, Bejing, Tokyo . . . Vancouver, B.C. is developing a similar skyline.

Some of these cities can be fun to live in. Unfortunately, many modern cities rely on imported resources and are, by definition, unsustainable. Disrupt the flow of any vital resource and potential disaster looms. At some point, population and resources always clash. To assume and plan against the inevitable is also unsustainable.

Today, commerce and agriculture has the dominant footprint, while the residential footprint per acre, per person is being condensed to preserve resources. Transportation is geared for multiple-seated vehicles, but dominated by solo travel. In the search for goods and services, people spend most of their time driving from one parking lot to another and relatively little time in the actual venue itself.

At my office, we are amongst several commercial buildings that all have parking lots equal to three times the footprint of the building. Commercial and residential zoning, permitting and thus development are all geared for wide roads, imported utilities, dispersed commerce and centralized residential.

Now, advances in technology are opening doors that rival Star Trek in forward thinking applications, allowing people and civilization to revise their definition of best practices for residential, commercial and agricultural development.

With the modernization of communication, power, transportation, engineering and agriculture, the need to congregate in dense population units is evaporating and people are finding ways, and being presented with opportunities to migrate back into a sustainable suburbia with all of the amenities of downtown living (except maybe a few fine dining experiences).

Transportation can be modular, power can be individualized, communication can be wireless, waste can be privatized, and agriculture and water can be both individually and commercially managed. People can consider leaving their tenements and 10-foot setbacks, for larger, energy and resource producing lots that their families can enjoy.

Golf cart communities with large residential lots are springing up across the country, as localized commerce allows localized transportation and localized transportation can be both energy efficient and fun.

I own a golf cart and rather than start up the V-6 to go a few hundred yards up the hill, we visit our neighbors in our customized PTV (Personalized Transportation Vehicle). If I didn't have to compete with SUVs and could get about 10 additional mph, I would probably take the golf cart to work as well. Bike lanes are a great idea, so why not PTV lanes for the Segways, golf carts, smart cars, etc.

You see, today it is possible to contemplate putting a minimum size to a residential lot that forces sustainable density. At the same, commerce can be centralized, serving the needs and employing the local citizens and transportation planning can encourage smaller PTVs.

So, rather than developing cities where the search for goods, services and employment takes you on ever increasingly distant travels, you can minimize the need for outside resources, minimize the need to consume fossil fuels, and minimize the number of locations you need to search through to find the things that meet your needs. At the same time we can maximize our private dwelling space, maximize our capture and development of renewable resources, maximize the use and enjoyment of our own private property . . . And maximize the need for landscape architects . . .

Just food for thought . . .

God Bless.

George Schmok, Publisher

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August 23, 2019, 1:42 pm PDT

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