As an update to an earlier post, my theoretical website focused on connecting people to local resources has entered the realm of the concrete. I'm gathering info and working on the structure. Jeremy and a fellow Summerlander are getting the ball rolling on a blog that we hope will evolve into a community jam session if you will. We're not sure how that's going to look either but I'll certainly post the link here when it's up and running. It feels good to be working on something rather than just ruminating endlessly.

Here is the Summerland Citizen's site.

pattern language

I've finally got my hands on "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. I'm floored. It's written in an unusual format that is easy to pick up anywhere and skip around a lot. Very useful with small children around. For a taste see this website. It's a huge work encompassing everything from the way a house should flow to the way a city should flow and all aspects of play and work in between. There are distinct connections between the way things work on a micro (personal) level and how it can most often can be repeated on a larger scale. As with so much of my reading it's a great inspiration and at the same time makes me impatient and frustrated with the way things are generally done. Simple, intuitive things like orienting the prime rooms of a house to the south can have such a huge impact on mental and social spaces.

More to follow as I delve deeper into the book.

green building formula

Before I begin - apologies for the even longer gap than usual between posts. Been hit with several cursed rounds of sickness in the Hiebert household...

The US Green Building Coucil (who knew?) has come up with a formula for assessing the relative impact a house or building project has on the environment. This blog post is a short summary of a discussion the author heard on the topic a few days ago. I love the anecdote about people putting more thought into the design of their doghouse than the one they live in. I suppose you are forced to take real factors like sun exposure into account if the doghouse won't have electricity...


the natural step

Isn't it odd how two seemingly separate ideas get fused by making one extra connection between them? I've been following civic politics lately as Summerland makes it's way through an official community plan. Ecological changes are obviously on my mind. In a moment of supposed serendipity I visited Robert Paterson's consulting site and followed his link to The Natural Step. The organization has developed an entire framework for communities to move towards sustainability and sums up their challenge like this:

The Challenge
Many of the social and environmental problems associated with the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption of modern society are manifested on the community level. Communities are where we live and work, and therefore where the impacts of our collective decisions about matters that affect our land, air and water become most obvious.

It's not a broad brush anti-development agenda and I really appreciate that because growth does happen. Canmore and Whistler are already on board and those are both resort towns that are growing. I checked the local library for one of the primers on The Natural Step program and was pleased to find that two of three district copies were already in the Summerland branch - there is hope!

I was both delighted and infinitely depressed to find out how far ahead communities are in Sweden. Can you imagine government inspired experiments in "green" and affordable housing? Subsidized alternative energy plants? A focus on making the towns pedestrian and bicycle oriented? I'm still more authority oriented than I would like to be, so to see a federal level government taking this seriously secretly affirms for me that I'm not some random deluded voice in the wilderness (even though I already know I'm not...).

So I wonder what it takes to run for council? ha.


active blogging

I've seeing a lot of discussion about the purpose and merit of blogs lately and have wondered about my own. It's ended up as an idea repository rather than anything interactive. That's okay as a record and means to reflect but isn't productive or particularly interesting. I have made it a goal to start something that is more interactive or at least disseminates information. Not sure exactly what it is or how it looks yet but it's one of the few 43 things I've decided on so far (I just started on my list yesterday so give me some time).

The last two paragraphs of Peter Levine's post on the press and social programs comments on the perceived divergence between the quantity of bloggers with strong leftish viewpoints on issues and the lack of people taking actual steps to do something active about it. Perhaps the ones that are really active aren't using their spare time to sit at a computer and blog?


Jeremy found this link goldmine for me. It is Greendigit's bloglines account that lets other people benefit from their background work.


vital communities

I love this post from the blog Respectful of Otters and what it says about community spaces. One person's eyesore (derelict house) becomes another's collective gathering place (front steps). It addresses what I see as the gap between intellectual urban planning and ground level community evolution. Her summary:
"Urban improvement plans which don't address differences of race, class, and culture are, essentially, suburban enrichment dressed up in urban language.

The idea ties in nicely for me with Jane Jacobs' vision of creating healthy cities by fostering the things and places that are already there.

Both Jane Jacobs' perspective and the post remind me of my ongoing internal conversation about the benefits of living right in the heart of a city or the peace of being closer to the trees and quiet that I need to stay sane. I think if I found or was able to help initiate my ideal vision of an urban community I would love it as much as I enjoy the quiet I have right now. It might look like the City Farmer's effort (along with the city of Vancouver) to return some asphalt into a "country lane".