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Strong Towns : addressing the Long Emergency ... and more

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Strong Towns meets the Long Emergency

 

"America is full of fat, lazy car-driving boobs" - says JHK... but ST is changing that !

 

starting with - the Kunstler Interview

Here's an excellent interview - I listened twice (so far)

strongt.jpg

Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns, interviews author James Howard Kunstler

Show 117: James Howard Kunstler / THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2012 : link

Jim Kunster, author of the recently released book Too Much Magic: Wishful thinking, technology and the fate of the nation,

joins Chuck Marohn on the podcast to discuss his new book, the state of the economy, politics, energy and a host of other fascinating topics.
=== ===

MP3 : http://www.strongtowns.org/storage/podcasts/2012/110812_Kunstler.mp3

They discuss a wide range of issues, and if you have missed JHK's weekly KunstlerCast,
this will be a nice catch-up after a long break

Some of the Topics discussed are:

+ Towns have a death-wish

+ Peak Oil is still coming, and the notion that America will be energy independent,
is a fantasy. At the very best shale oil will provide 1.5mn Bpd, of the US's 19mn Bpd energy requirement

+ The banking system is now running on accounting fraud; and capital is drying up

+ We are not doing the things we need to do, like; re-localising, changing trading arrangements

+ When we wake up to reality, there will be a huge loss of credibility in govt, destroying institutions - like the old USSR

+ We are not going to build express rail, we need to rebuild passenger rail, but we many not have enough capital.
The commercial aviation system is going to fail. It may survive only for the wealthy, and roads will go into disrepair

+ The Dems have invested too much of their energy in the valorization of gay life (here, here !).
Advocating Gay marriage is an exercise in making people feel good.

+ People are seeking "solutions" where they will not need to change their lifestyles - but "life is tragic and history does not care if we make bad choices."

+ Cities and suburbs will both get into big trouble, and the action will shift to small towns. Having a "meaningful relationship with agriculture" will be very important. JHK has move to a small old factory town with 3 acres around it. And he is now making a garden on 1 1/2 acres there, with fruit trees as well.

 

===

> LINK: http://tinyurl.com/GEI-Towns

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628x471.jpg

 

JHK at home:

http://www.timesunio...ump-3776572.php

 

Now, Kunstler is a gentleman farmer who is quietly practicing what he preaches in his writing, from the post-apocalyptic novels "World Made By Hand" and "The Witch of Hebron" to the peak-oil cautionary tale "The Long Emergency."

. . .

Kunstler has built raised beds where he cultivates a dozen types of herbs, table greens and vegetables in a 5,000-square foot organic garden rich with compost and weed-free. He's also planted several varieties of berries and two dozen apple, pear and cherry trees. He's coaxed from this "stony and bony" soil a bumper crop, including a kohlrabi as big as his head.

The outsized fence is an insurance policy to protect a substantial investment of time, sweat and seed.

"When I moved in, a herd of deer was dining on the front porch," he said. "I was damned if I was gonna let 'em ruin my garden."

 

Read more: http://www.timesunio...p#ixzz2By1rQUCF

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Another Great interview - with two of my other favorites

 

 

Towards the end, you can learn what a Clue-by-Four is

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(from JM Greer's Blog):

 

The Post-American Future / http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.hk/

 

One of the things I’ve learned repeatedly over six and a half years of writing Archdruid Report posts is that it’s a waste of time to try to predict which posts will appeal to my readers and which ones won’t. Last month’s narrative is a case in point. My original plan was to devote one post to a very brief scenario of American imperial collapse. By the time I got the thing written, even after a great deal of trimming, it was the size of five regular posts; I decided to run it anyway over five weeks, since it did a good job of illustrating the themes I’ve been developing since February of this year, but I figured that it would be just another ordinary month for the blog.

 

Somehow that didn’t happen. Last month, The Archdruid Report had the second highest page view count of any month in its history; the first episode in the narrative is this blog’s most-viewed page ever, and the others are climbing rapidly to comparable positions. It’s interesting to reflect on the reasons why that happened, but I suspect that the most significant of those reasons is also the simplest: the narrative that I sketched out presented the decline and fall of the United States not as the end of the world, nor as an excuse for yet another wearily unthrilling Tom Clancyesque thriller, but as an ordinary historical event.

. . .

 

The USA's Third Wold future

 

The one thing that isn’t an option at this point, I would argue, is a continuation of American global dominance for more than a short time to come. Like the British empire a century ago, the American empire is visibly cracking at the seams as the costs of maintaining a global imperial presence soar and the profits of the imperial wealth pump slump. Funds the nation can no longer afford to spend are being poured into military technologies that presuppose a way of war that’s rapidly approaching its pull date, while rising powers less burdened by the legacies of the past circle around, waiting for the first signs of weakness. Which of those rising powers will turn out to be the next generation of global hegemons is a good question; China certainly seems like the most likely candidate just now, but then Germany looked like the most likely candidate for Britain’s replacement in 1912, and we know what happened thereafter.

 

What does a post-American future look like? To begin with, here in America, it’s a future in which the vast majority of us will be much less wealthy than we are today. The American standard of living has been propped up since 1945 by the systemic imbalances that gave a quarter of the world’s energy resources and a third of its raw materials and industrial product to the five per cent of humanity that lives in the United States. Everything we consider normal in American life today is a function of that flow of imperial tribute, and as that goes away, most of what we consider normal in American life is going to change. The economic troubles that have been ongoing since 2008 are the foreshocks of that seismic shift, which will see most American incomes drop to Third World levels.

== == ==

 

LINKS / How It Could Happen :

 

Over the course of this year, my posts here on The Archdruid Report have tried to outline the trajectory of America’s global empire and explore the reasons why that trajectory will likely come to a sudden stop in the near future. To bring the issue down out of the realm of abstraction and put them in the context of history as lived, I’ve returned to the toolkit of narrative fiction, and this and the next four posts will sketch out a scenario of American imperial defeat and collapse.

 

Part One: Hubris

Part Two: Nemesis

Part Three: To The Brink

Part Four: Crossing the Line

Part Five: Dissolution

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AN ANSWER to The Long Emergency and The World Made By Hand ?

In response to and interview with JHK on Strong Towns...

MP3 / http://www.strongtowns.org/storage/podcasts/2012/110812_Kunstler.mp3

...Tracy Davis wrote:
== QUOTE ===
Great podcast, very entertaining. Yet in the middle of loving it, I have to say. . .
"There you go again."
It's not constructive, or strategically sound, to assume that someone asking for solutions is only seeking an excuse to try to sustain the unsustainable. Sure, sometimes it might be that. Maybe a lot of times. So address that in your response; but then, try to answer as though it *is* a sincere question. At least don't blow it off.
Let's say my doctor told me, "I have bad news--you have a terminal illness, and I can't say how slowly or how rapidly it might progress." Is it unexpected or illogical for me to follow up by asking, "Is there anything I can do that will increase my chances that it'll be the slow version--so I can have more time with my family? Are there things I can try that could help me retain as much health and function as possible?" That's not denial or looking for a magic bullet. It's a very human desire to want to take some action, to feel that it's in one's power to do something that could modify the eventual outcome in some way.
If the doctor's response to my question is, "No; it pretty much sucks to be you," you can see why that might be unsatisfying.
If I'm in the room with you and JHK, listening to your conversation, and halfway or three-quarters of the way through I say, "Stop! Stop!! You're right! You've convinced me. So NOW what?
== UNQUOTE ===
/more: http://www.strongtow...r.html#comments

Now here comes a sort of response, in a new book of fiction:



, Robert Llewellyn

Cities crumbling, zombies attacking, tsunamis engulfing, brutal regimes or killer machines crushing the human race to dust. Dystopia has now become so pervasive it’s almost engulfed the entire science fiction genre.
I felt driven to search for an alternative to the tiresome predictions of everything getting much worse; I wanted to imagine a world where everything has got much better.
A world where we eventually get it right, where we don’t oppress each other, where we don’t burn anything to make anything else, we don’t rip the planet to shreds to maintain our way of life and we don’t need to rely on endless growth to achieve contentment.
News From Gardenia will be a science fiction novel; a man called Gavin Meckler who was born in 1979 arrives 200 years into the future where he discovers a world that is recognisable and yet utterly different. It’s a place where it’s possible to travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of minutes without burning fuel, but it’s also a place where everyone is a gardener because that’s how they can be sure to eat.
It is at once extraordinary and mundane. It is not finished, it is, as in any period of history, a world which is constantly changing, but the changes are sustainable, gentle and by default put people first.
As Gavin learns about this new world and the society he eventually becomes a part of, he also begins to learn about himself.
Everything in News from Gardenia could happen, there is no technology in Gardenia that hasn’t already seen the light of day. In the current turmoil it could be argued that such optimism could only be suggested by a fool, indeed, such benign developments may not be very likely, but we may need to be reminded that they are entirely possible.
/see: http://unbound.co.uk...s-from-gardenia

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Unbound Live - Robert Llewellyn reads an excerpt of News from Gardenia

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XfpP4tWlNI

In this part of our interview, Robert Llewellyn reads, for the first time, an extract from his new sci-fi book News From Gardenia then talks to host Paul Tyler about the background to the book and the writing process.

Electric aircraft:

lowenergyairplane-450x300.jpg

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features-20121121.jpg

Beating our consumption habit

No period in history compares to the Great Acceleration after World War II, a rapid increase in human activity driven by population expansion, globalisation, technological and communications improvement, improved farming methods and medical advances. The Great Acceleration can be seen in the rise in everything from carbon dioxide release, to water use, to number of cars, to ozone depletion, to deforestation, to GDP, to consumption. Read More

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JHK would approve:

 

Young Americans Are Driving Dramatically Less – Will It Continue?

 

Young%20Americans%20Driving%20Less.jpg

 

Americans under 40 are driving dramatically less, according to data from the National Household Travel Survey. The question is: Is car culture in America waning generationally or is this a temporary phenomenon linked to the recession?

 

The recession hit younger workers particularly hard. Driving by unemployed Americans between the ages of 18-40 plummeted by 19-24% per person in 2009, compared with 2001. Employed drivers age 18-40 drove between 15-19% less per person in 2009 compared with 2001.

 

Polls show that younger Americans are more willing to cut back on driving for environmental reasons. Occupy Wall Street and young environmental activists have been a vocal element of movements to block energy infrastructure such as the Keystone XL pipeline. And, young people are apparently less apt to be patrons of NASCAR, which commentators speculate is related to a decline in interests in automobile culture in general.

Thus, if younger Americans are simply going to drive less forever, it would be a very significant paradigm shift for American oil consumption. Americans under 40 accounted for more than one-third of miles driven in the U.S. in 2009.

===

/more: http://theenergycoll...ill-it-continue

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Another excellent interview

 

Chuck Marohn interviewed by CNU's President :

 

MP3 :

 

This week Chuck Marohn was a guest of CNU president John Norquist on the organization's Fireside Chat program.

This is the audio from that conversation.

How to stop sucking the vitality from towns, and grow them organically

 

"Orderly but dumb, versus dis-orderly but smart" development

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Saving Towns: Baseball analogies, and Using the Math

 

I loved this talk:

 

MP3 :

 

Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns, was on base with his arguments,

and hit it out of the ballpark.

 

145985018.jpg

 

A town can "get on base" by looking at the actual numbers and seeing what parts of the community actually generated a high in productive "return on space occupied":

 

johns-pizzeria-05.jpg

 

The answers may surprise some. And the productive squarefootage in a city is not going to be the Walmarts, or the Luxury enclave in American cities.

 

Perhaps the failure to "run the numbers" and aim to improve them is why so many cities are headed towards bankruptcy. (!)

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Another good interview by Chuck - this one with a Cleveland-based Cycling website

 

MP3 : http://www.wjcu.org/vault/p/files/audio/shows/outspokencyclist/wjcu-the_outspoken_cyclist_2013-08-31.mp3

 

Some points

===

+ Cities are now confronting 60 years of bad investment decisions

 

+ In the long run, they "lose money on every transaction", even though the short term return looks positive

 

+ Suburban boobs (JHK's phrase) are not carrying their weight:

"A 100 foot frontage lot, may have $50,000 of infrastructure in front of it,

and that should cost $1,000 a year, just for that infrastructure, but taxes are nothing like that."

 

+ A Walmart store may harm the community it is built in, because of all the infrastructure costs that the city

has to incur to keep it running

 

+ Cities need to look at the actual returns on investment in the long run

 

===

/source: http://www.strongtowns.org/strong-towns-podcast/2013/9/5/show-150-the-outspoken-cyclist.html

and :

outsp-Cyclist: http://www.wjcu.org/2013/08/31/the-outspoken-cyclist-08312013

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We Need Streets (and Roads), not Stroads

 

mothers-day-6490543638970368-hp.jpg

 

 

Strong Towns podcast:

 

Show 168: Marohn on Transportation

THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2014

Andrew Burleson interviews our own Chuck Marohn in studio on transportation and how we transition from a system that emphasizes building new to one that maintains key systems over time.

 

MP3 : st#168 : http://s3.media.squarespace.com/production/297651/3055836/podcasts/2014/032814_Burleson_Marohn_Part2.mp3?AWSAccessKeyId=0ENGV10E9K9QDNSJ5C82&Signature=amW4Zb5tveqgaliG5co%2BR2GG8Zs%3D&Expires=1396144205

 

"We built a place (in Brainerd) around the needs of cars"

"If we build a place around people, that could accommodate cars, we could double wealth in a few years"

 

They talk about :
+ the "transitory value" of locations, and
+ the cycle of: growth, stagnation, and decline... and maybe regeneration
In a city with a good mass transit system, the areas around transit stations, tend to be more enduring, because of their strategic location (near the stations)

 

 

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paris_metro_sign.jpg

 

Dec.22+Paris+Metro+Couture_002.jpg

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Hong Kong named ‘best city in the world for commuters’

Public transportation gets top marks in survey but cycling and air quality still a problem

PUBLISHED : 02 April, 2014 / UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2014
  • mtrbusytime_0.jpg?itok=Hf3eMNuv
A study praises Hong Kong's MTR saying it has turned the city's high population density "into an opportunity rather than a threat". Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Hong Kong is the best place in the world for people to travel around, but falls behind in cycling paths and air quality, a study has found.

The study, involving 84 major cities across the globe, found the city had developed “the most advanced urban mobility system in the world”, with public transport being the main mode of commuting and the number of registered vehicles per head of population is one of the lowest.

Hong Kong, which also topped the list in the last survey in 2011, scored 58.2 out of 100 this year, followed by Stockholm with 54.7, Amsterdam third and Copenhagen fourth. Singapore is in sixth place, after Vienna.

 

London ranked ninth in the study, with Tokyo 19th and Beijing 28th, followed by Guangzhou.

 

The Urban Mobility Index report, compiled by international consultancy company Arthur D Little, found Hong Kong’s railway system “impressive”, and the high use of Octopus cards also played an important part in securing the top spot. “MTR has turned Hong Kong’s high population density into an opportunity rather than a threat,” it said.

 

Watch: Hong Kong's MTR during peak hours

 

It described the city as “a striking example of a city entering into a virtuous system”, but it noted that its mobility had been shaped by “one dominant operator” – the railway.

“Further improvement of the mobility system will require more co-operation with other stakeholders in the ecosystem and the introduction of innovative mobility services”.

Further improvement of the mobility system will require more co-operation with other stakeholders in the ecosystem and the introduction of innovative mobility services

Although the city fares well in most indicators of the study, its score in cycle path density was the lowest in the top 11 cities. Hong Kong only has 187 kilometres of cycling paths for every 1000 square kilometres of land, compared to 4,041 in Stockholm, 3,502 in Amsterdam and 280 in Singapore.

 

The city also did not do well in the air quality indicators.

==

> more: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1463043/hong-kong-best-city-world-commuters

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WOW - What a revelation...

Something obvious like the Many BENEFITS OF WALKING may seem to be a revelation in a country like America,

where almost everyone is addicted to driving.

 

Kevin Klinkenberg: Why I Walk

 

3cdcb7cb14e180158c1b31a1b483626a.jpgCharles Marohn on Aug 07, 2014 0 Comments

 

This week Chuck talks with Kevin Klinkenberg about his upcoming book, Why I Walk: Taking a Step in the Right Direction.

MP3 : http://shoutengine.com/StrongTownsPodcast/StrongTownsPodcast-0185-kevin-klinkenberg-why-i-walk-3242.mp3

 

> http://shoutengine.com/StrongTownsPodcast/kevin-klinkenberg-why-i-walk-3242

 

man-loves-car-my-strange-addiction.jpg

 

I live in Hong Kong, and I am amazed when when I go back to US and hear some Americans bad-mouthing those who do not own cars
As someone who chooses not to have a car, I have heard things, like :
"What? Cannot you not afford a car! What's wrong with you?!"
I see a patch of red when I hear that, so now let me return the favor for a few sentences directed at car owners:
/ Name-calling mode: ON /
America is full of fat, lazy car-driving boobs.
Many Americans have stopped thinking, and just go on thinking the same old bad living patterns can go on forever. They mostly fail to realize the obvious benefits of walking - and, better yet, of living in a walkable neighborhood, where they can live without needing a car, as most of the world does. The damage that car-addicted Americans are causing to the environment, and to their own economy is huge. They are literally burning up their wealth when they buy gasoline, and are also shouldering the other high costs of car ownership. The average American uses three times as much oil as the average European, and maybe 8X as much as the average Chinese. With this ongoing wealth drain, they are every day, planting the seeds of a collapse in the dollar, which is now likely within the next 3-5 years. And a dollar collapse may bring a 30 to 50% downshift in the American standard of living. When it happens, the rest of the world will not care. They are likely to say; "It is about time America woke up, and changed permanently their wasteful habits. They can do that by building walkable neighborhoods, and an transport infrastructure around them, which permits allows people to live happily without cars. They should have started years earlier."
/ Name-calling Mode OFF/
This was a good interview with Kevin Klinkenberg, who made some excellent points.
But for those of us who live in walkable communities outside the US, many of his comments may have seemed pretty obvious. Neverthehless, I liked to hear it. A part of me thought: At last ! - the arguments in favor of walkable places has been put in such a positive way, that those who really need to hear it, might even listen to some clear thinking, learn something, and change the way they live, to something more sustainable... and even healthier !

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With all due respect, if what makes your (holier than thou) 'walkable community' cozy and walkable is a couple of nuclear power stations providing electricity and the diesel powering of unnaturally irrigated fields of Guandong trucking your fruit and veggies to downtown cafes and grocers every morning, then I don't think your definition of "a walkable 'community' ", is what these guys are on about. Surely cities like HK are going to bear the brunt of over population and see something indescribably unsustainable unfold within the next 3-5 years.

Just sayin'.

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Am I not allowed a strong opinion - even on my own website?

 

The idea of that strong comment is to try to shake people from their complacency, for them to get a sense for how the wasteful America

drivers appear to the rest of the world. I reckon that America can and MUST move away from its addiction to cars, the sooner the better

Let's see what sort of reactions it gets on ST.org, if any... since a portion of my post was picked up there.

 

There's already a post from a Russian guy, saying THIS is not the answer:

48.jpg

"It is sad to see know a car becomes a cool thing and all new infrastructure is transit oriented. Only complete looses cannot afford a car and everyone must have one. And it leads to something even worse then suburbia - cheap high rise appartments. There no enough resources to build american suburbia, so my country is sprawling with this kind of development."

> source: http://shoutengine.com/StrongTownsPodcast/kevin-klinkenberg-why-i-walk-3242

 

The energy consumption per capita is usually much less in a big city like HK, NYC, or Tokyo (with good public transport), than in a less dense place.

 

And, of course, under certain scenarios (a solar flare which wipes out electric transmission), the "big city' is going to be a very bad place to live.

I have actually spoken with the CLP senior executive about the possible vulnerability of Dawa Bay nuclear plants to earthquakes and

tsunami, and I am convinced that HK has thought this through more carefully than TEPCO had. We all live with certain risks everyday.

 

If you think people living away from big cities use less energy, you are probably wrong.

The big waste in a spread out area is mostly in transport. Even people who "live off grid", probably wind up burning huge amounts

of energy getting too and from their cabin in the woods, or whatever it is. If they stay put, and grow their own food (as it old days),

they may use less energy. But how many do that?

 

Another problem is : the world does not have enough land, for people to all living off grid somewhere. We need cities, because the alternative is

a mass die-off, which some folks think the elites are now trying to engineer.

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I am not denying you a strong opinion. However I think some perspective would be useful. That or it is head in the sand kind of thinking.

 

''If you think people living away from big cities use less energy, you are probably wrong. I think not.

The big waste in a spread out area is mostly in transport. That depends. Even people who "live off grid", probably wind up burning huge amounts

of energy getting too and from their cabin in the woods, or whatever it is. If they stay put, and grow their own food (as it old days),

they may use less energy. But how many do that? A growing number, who really get it, I suppose.

 

Another problem is : the world does not have enough land, for people to all living off grid somewhere. True . We need cities, because the alternative is

a mass die-off, which some folks think the elites are now trying to engineer.'' Well this is certainly where a die off would occur first, if it is going to happen. See Kunstler or Greer for details. Don't you feel people are being shepherded into the cities? Meanwhile the countryside is a landgrab for the wealthy/multinationals.'

 

I think there is a lot to recommend for cities-in an outmoded way of living- which runs on the ways of the past 50 years. Small towns/rural communities is where its at.

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" Don't you feel people are being shepherded into the cities?"

 

Not at all.

People move to cities and walkable communities to improve their quality of life

What they once spent on Cars, can instead support a decent living standard, and allow for savings,

while having more time to spend with their families

 

If you don't "get it" yet, I suggest you start listening to some Strong Towns podcasts:

http://shoutengine.com/StrongTownsPodcast/

 

 

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" Don't you feel people are being shepherded into the cities?"

 

Not at all.

People move to cities and walkable communities to improve their quality of life

What they once spent on Cars, can instead support a decent living standard, and allow for savings,

while having more time to spend with their families

 

If you don't "get it" yet, I suggest you start listening to some Strong Towns podcasts:

http://shoutengine.com/StrongTownsPodcast/

 

 

Debatable. Most people move into the cities because they have no other choice. Perhaps you have not got to that page yet...But take a good look around. Majority of those people are there because they need work. And they have to pay through the nose to accommodate their livelihoods...until they can no longer afford it-like London. Then they move out.

 

I think you are seeing cities with rose colored spectacles. You can afford to. IMHO,that way of life is long over. Walkable -and sustainable- communities, I'll go with. I wouldn't say a mega city is a walkable 'community'. But I do see many problems with that outmoded way of life.

 

FYI I did move to a 'walkable community' without surrendering my car..or my 'log cabin' in the boonies. Sure I uset the car less. What gives?

 

Are you really recommending Tokyo or HK as a walkable community BTW???

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"Are you really recommending Tokyo or HK as a walkable community BTW???"

 

Sure.

You don't need to waste a penny on a car, or gasoline to live in either city. Which is the main point of "walkable"

 

I do recommend you listen to some Podcasts on ST.

They are well done, and serve the purpose for me that KunstlerCast podcast used to.

A mostly positive message to start my Sunday morning.

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''"life is tragic and history does not care if we make bad choices."

+ Cities and suburbs will both get into big trouble, and the action will shift to small towns. Having a "meaningful relationship with agriculture" will be very important. JHK has move to a small old factory town with 3 acres around it. And he is now making a garden on 1 1/2 acres there, with fruit trees as well.''

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''"life is tragic and history does not care if we make bad choices."

 

+ Cities and suburbs will both get into big trouble, and the action will shift to small towns. Having a "meaningful relationship with agriculture" will be very important. JHK has move to a small old factory town with 3 acres around it. And he is now making a garden on 1 1/2 acres there, with fruit trees as well.''

 

That's HIS choice. And sometimes it makes good sense to me.

But it is not the only possibility.

A solar flare, or EMP may hit the US and knock out its power, hitting the whole country.

The same influence, may or may not hit other countries.

It is impossible to plan for every eventuality.

 

As Dr RAM says: the safest place to live is... wherever you are now,

since you may know most about the risks and opportunities there.

 

I am not wanting to be complacent, but just to point out that no one (really) knows the future

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