Thursday, December 05, 2002

Method notes

Now I have a problem. I saw a TV program a few years back about a POD system in Chicago. Porena's system is almost identical. So now I am having doubts about the method. It feels like I am projecting.

I think you need to be very succinct in your questioning. And very intense in your description. There is a risk you fill in the blanks yourself without being open to seeing new things.

End of method notes
Tapescript Journey 3 part 2
I try a new tactic. I enter the information booth for the local transport system, and ask the clerk if I can see the world through her eyes.

Porena POD.
Porena has a local system of POD trams.

Small cars, computer controlled running on conventional tracks. The trams only stop where people want to get on or off.

You program your destination at the station, and a POD going in that direction stops. You confirm your destination as you board and off the tram goes.

They find their own way through the rail network.

One advantage is that the system fits demand always. No timetable.

The A train and the C train connect with the POD system.

The PODS are driven by solar cells on the roof and by collectors at the stations.

The whole system is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible and blend into the landscape.

The D train is an intercity train running in tunnels to separate the technosphere from the biosphere

End of tapescript Journey three part 2
Verification Notes: Radiality

I started trying to play around with the idea of radiality, and I needed to look up a load of formulae to do with circles.

Didn't get very far.
Verification Notes: Growing food everywhere

Recent articles on ecological experiments in Sweden have shown you can sucesssfully grow blackcurrents etc on a grass roof, and in a greenhouse cum conservatory they regularly grow 75kg of grapes a year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Tapescript Journey 3 part 1

So my request this time is to understand how the transportation system works in the sustainable society. I am particuarly facinated by the idea of the technosphere isolation from the biosphere. And how the transportation system helps live up to the promise of "everything is close to everything else".

I guess I have started to call the society or place PORENA, I have no idea of its significance, but it was on a billboard in my last journey.

Let me start. I'm again outside my nice bulbous cream coulored enameled lift. Either side of the lift are two - they look like - feet. The feet of a sphinx. Ugly things, really no idea what their function is.

This time, the lift moves sideways. It stops and I jump out into a busy thoroughfare. Daylight is coming through a high window and I think we are underground. The A train is to the right.

Following the signs I arrive at a station with a marble floor.

I go down some steps to a platform.

What looks like a typical underground train comes into the station. No! It's more like a tram and an old one at that. It gets its power from overhead lines.

Two carriages. They remind me of the trams in Brussels.

The seats aren't too comfortable either.

"Can I buy a ticket?" I ask a fellow passenger.

"No, It's free!"

"Ah good!"
We are off again into the tunnel.

I get talking to the man sitting beside me.

The tram runs from one side of the city to the other.
It stops every 1-2 kilometres.
And interchanges with the other line.

"How fast does it go?"

" 30 km/h."

I then try a more technical approach-
"What about the technosphere, is it sealed from the biosphere?"

"Not really."

"What about the central park area? "
"That part is sealed. That's a special no-go area. "

"But what about the pollution from this tram?"

" There is not a lot -it is run on electricity."

I asked if he knew where I could get a full description of the system and he points me to an information booth as we arrive at the end station.

End of tapescript Journey 3 part 1.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Sustainable technology etc. encountered during journey 2
Radiality= the city planning concepts used to fulfil the ambition of everything being in walking distance from everything
Trains going in circles=see above and everything within walking distance.
Encapsulation= separating technology – the technosphere – from the biosphere.
Old technology= I am not sure about this one, but they seemed like they were keen to keep old stuff, the rationale I leave you and my next visit to ponder over.
The organism= (maybe I met this earlier) the Porena name given to the “animal” side of the human. I guess as opposed to the “spirit, heart, intellect “(I am guessing wildly).
Not working= work (quote) stresses the organism too much
End of encounters journey 2

Tapescript Journey 2 part 2
I wander off further down the corridor. A blue and white sign is directing me to the TRAINS. There’s the C train and there might be another, an A train I’m not sure.
“Where does the C train go?”
“In a circle.”
I walk down the stairs and stand on the platform. First, I am struck by the look of the train. It looks kind of old and rickety. Secondly, I see an interesting principle: The separation of the biosphere from technology. They treat the biosphere as one living organism, and as far as possible keep machines away from it.
Radiality…why does that come up? I guess if you have a city-planning concept built on circles it makes sense for a train to go in circles.
I have taken in a lot of impressions, and frankly I’m feeling tired so I retrace my steps back to the lift.
I pass an ancient looking weighing machine with “I Speak Your Weight” on it.
This time I buy one of the artichokes from the Kiosk before stepping back into the lift.
End of tapescript Journey 2

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Tapescript Journey 2 part 2
Wiser now, I get back to the lift I saw before with its beige enamel exterior. The big wheel is still there and the button with "OK" on it. The door closes. The lift goes up. It opens at the place I was before – a foyer, to the right an airport in front of me a kiosk and stairs leading down to the park area.

They have some kind of special activity going on with placards everywhere. One placard says PORENA. They have hung up flags, too. I turn left and walk along the corridor.

They have put up bits of trees to decorate the corridor walls. It's very nice. The decoration has a natural styling to it, bringing me close to a feeling of being in nature. The sun is shining through the corridor which forms a bridge that passes over some kind of road or walkway. I know what I expect. It's still gravel.

I suddenly get a flash of the gravel path once having been a road with many cars passing along it. Of course! I asked to go to a place that had solved the problem. So there is a historical development I could investigate if I wanted.

I walk along a bit and see that the main part of the building is one story up. I also get impression that there are many openings like the one I just passed over.

This is to not break the continuity of the natural surroundngs, and so that people can walk everywhere without having to make detours around long buildings.

I come across a collection of offices.
The first one is the office of leaves, whatever that means. It contains workbenches and what looks like grey steel filing cabinets.
"We are cataloguing them", says the girl.
"Something to do with structure?"
"That's right", she says. "It is for what we call biomimicry - finding examples of engineering design from nature to mimic in our own engineering. It is useful for engineering comparisons, calculations, explanations, mechanics etc."

I walk on. I now see the building I am in is sort of on stilts to allow access between one side and the other - it's easy for people to walk everywhere. Precisely what my first visit told me.

Although I am surprised, because it's just too simple. It's such a simple way to reduce ecological footprint.

I am now entering an office which deals with another cornerstone of the ecologically sustainable country – planning.

I see from diagrams on the wall that the park I visited last time is actually the centre of the city. The park is surrounded by buildings placed radially.

The building I am in is used for work.

I inspect the plans closer. The city looks a bit like a mandala. The outside rings are residential.

Residencies are located on the periphery to bring them close to nature.

There is a computer program behind all this. Everything is carefully calculated to place everything in walking distance of everything else.

But there's more. The whole calculation is based on the understanding of stress. If you know what stresses people it is easy to work out optimal proximities.

A guy offers me a green drink
" Have a drink -it's green vitamins made from the water plant Spirogena. Go on, chloroform's good for you."

Leaves again! These guys have another feeling for nature than I do. Anyway the Spirogena drink is minty, quite good. Reminds me of mint tea.

"So, what do you do here?" I ask.

"Town planning and architecture and radiality. Ten kilometres. Everything is 10km from the centre."

"And the plan allows food to grow everywhere. We take every opportunity to grow food."

"It seems to me," I muse "that the further you go out the harder it is to get around as the further you have to walk."

The guy looks at me and tries to convince me that I still haven't got it and have forgotten the water.

I'm not much of a town planner myself, I was hoping for something like an invention. He informs me that the science of radiality is highly developed, with mathematical formulea underlying the practice. And books are available.
My last question: "Do you work with radiality then?"

"Good gracious no. Work is much too stressful. It stresses the organism too much. No-one works in Porena."
End of tapescript Journey 2 part 2

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Tapescript Journey 2 part 1

I'm sitting on a wooden bench in the waiting area again. Behind me is some kind of succulent plant. Round the corner I see the lift I went up before. I see more lifts. I go over to a grey one, seems rather unassuming.

There is a red light above a button with the "call" on it and some buttons under it. It arrives and opens. This one is different from the first, it is fitted with mirrors.

There's a guy in here I say "Hi" to him.
He says; "Do you want to do this?".
"Yes. Is it dangerous?"
"How dangerous?"
"There's a war on."

I ask the guy for help, I tell him how important it is to find sustainable solutions. While I am saying this I realise two things

1) I an in the wrong lift
2) If you are looking for environmental- friendliness the last place you want to look is in a warzone.

I learn something every time.

End of Tapescript Journey 2 part 1
Reflections Visit One.

My intuition tells me I have seen this "sustainable place" from one angle and there are many more angles. Maybe there are other ways to get to this land and reveal other aspects.
Qustions for next time: how do they handle "we walk everywhere?"

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Method notes #1

The method seems to work. I find it interesting that I "see" things as well as pick up impressions. The method also acts as a teacher.... Like it told me to relax and have fun and enjoy my visits as well as telling me to frame my questions, which reminds me I must do that for my next visit.
Verification notes: walking everywhere.

Not a bad idea that. If we walked to work instead of sitting in cars or on public transport we'd be a whole lot healthier. And walking is a good fat burner. I saw a calculation that you could burn ten kilos in one year by walking three half hours a week.

People in medieval times would walk long distances every day to fields or local markets.

But how do you plan towns and cities around walking?
Verification notes: Rape-seed oil fuel

I did one of those tests on your personal eco-profile. I was doing great, not using the car to travel to work, living in a relatively small flat etc. Then, they asked me how much I traveled by plane. My profile shot up way above average.

So it is true, that in terms of Carbon Dioxide emissions, for your personal eco- impact you should reduce air travel. Or use fuel from renewable sources.

Then late last week a motoring journal on TV showed a group of people who took used cooking oil, put in an additive, and off they went in a diesel Volvo.

So organic fuel sounds feasible. But it still does not solve the problem of reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Journey 1 part 3
I wander off from the greenhouse with the feeling that somewhere close by is a cafe. I'm troubled by the lack of electronics here. I mean, if they have big planes they must have technology.
I recognise that tree, it's a Hazel tree. Hazel nut trees! So it's not just a park, it's a park, water treatment plant, a place to grow food and aesthetically pleasing and no bicycles, people just walk here. It is the simplicity that surprises me.
And here's the cafe and a sundial. And a big pillar where people post messages - and they do like to post messages it seems to be part of the culture here. There's one for me - I read it.

It's OK - enjoy yourself - it's fun.

Someone knows my hang-ups and what I need to hear, yes on this visit I need to relax and enjoy myself. I am stressed because my job has no future, I'm trying to find an alternative living, and even doing this creativity exercise I'm unrelaxed. I'm too good at being uptight, I know.

So, I'm starting to get into the local culture. And it's a a wandering around in Wellington boots type of culture. Asphalting is forbidden. The whole area forms part of natural water cycle.

That's why bikes aren't allowed. A special kind of cleanliness is mandatory in this area. It's completely clean and unpolluted. Gravel is the the key to natural water treatment and there's also the efficient use of land. Wait a minute how do they run the cafe with machines where not a drop of oil is allowed? I see the answer ...only vegetable based oils an natural rubbers.

I must say it's been a pleasant place to visit. I could get into this kind of calmness.

It's funny, but although I haven't seen anything to spark off the thoughts, I sense two things. One, this culture has a focus on seeds and growing things. Two, they view the animal side of the human being in a special way. They call it "the organism".

Don't ask me how I came up with this!

I go back to the door. I put my shoes on, stand on the grill and again they get the sucking treatment. This is to remove environmental poisons. I go up the steps and cast a thought to the kiosk - what do they sell there? I get the feeling they are encouraging people to grow food. There's a sign saying'Today Tomatoes'. They are selling some kind of tray thing that they are grown in.

The lady seems to know a lot about my project and says
"Draw your conclusions and raise your questions before coming back."
" Yes I will do that", I reply.
Feeling tired, and feeling I can't take in anymore. I thank for my visit, get into the bulbous enamelled lift , push "GO" and down I come. I come out into a busy thoroughfare. Let's call it a day.
end of tapescript Journey 1 part 3

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Journey 1 part 2

Journey 1 part 2

I seem to be approaching a greenhouse. I take a look inside - they're growing tomatoes. A man is in the greenhouse, he appears to be working here. That's clever – there's even another activity in the area. Where you grow is where you walk is where you treat water and recycle sewage. And, they are taking every opportunity to grow food. That's a nice expression and a nice principle.
I am eager to explore this method...
I could try to ask the man a few questions.
"Excuse me what's going on here?"
"It's just a greenhouse."
"Do you work here?" "Yes I do."
"How do you distribute the food?"
"People come and pick it when they want to".
"What about payment?" I ask, used to everything costing - I feel I've said something really stupid and that he knows something I have no idea about because he just laughs and smiles. Interesting. There seem to be many secrets here.
"What about the covers I saw outside the lift?"
"we don't use them on tomatoes."
How do you get around the city?"
"We walk, that's the way to do it."

End of tapecript Journey 1 part 2
Sustainable technology encountered during Journey 1 part 1
Separation of internal environments in buildings from the outside ... I have no idea why they do this. Why do they want this area so clean? At the same same it is an area where water is treated, so maybe it is a requirement if an area is used for both recreation and water treatment.
Rape seed oil based jet fuel ... I'm no chemist so I won't pursue that, but it sounds plausible.
Biogas production from sewage treatment ... already being done, so I won't pursue that.
The covers used for growing ... that sort of covering is already available but it is not bio-degradeable as far as I know... on list for further investigation.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Hey I did it. I put the tape recorder on, closed my eyes and I there I was in some kind of lobby. And then I arrived. I've finished editing this first part of the tapescript check it out:

Journey 1 Part 1.
I see myself in some kind of waiting area, and I'm sitting on a wooden bench.

I realise I need to take that lift. I hasten over to it, there on the right. Inside it seems old, no feeling of modernity about it at all. Yet that seems deliberate somehow. There aren't may straight lines here. Instead it is bulbous, in cream coloured enamel. On the left there is a large steel wheel about half a metre in diameter, like something you might find on a sailing yacht. Oh, the door is already closed.

There is a green button with GO on it. I press it. The lift rushes upwards and I feel the G forces and the excitement of exploration of a new country.

The lift doors open automatically and I step out into something that at first glance reminds me of an airport. A shiny clean marble floor leads into a large corridor on the right and another curving away to the left.

In front of me are stairs leading down to what looks to be an exit. Just on the right of the hall there is a kiosk, and directly in front of me a flower bed of what look to be artichokes, which are covered by a thin brown sheet.
I bend down to examine them. I know nothing about artichokes - are they artichokes?

I look up at the lady serving in the kiosk.
"We take every opportunity to grow food wherever we can", she says.

"There is a library you know" she says and I sense she knows my mission here.

I thank here and go off down the corridor on the right. It does look like an airport. I see shiny tails of what looks like aeroplanes in the distance. And I feel I'm on the edge of a discovery. I walk past a cafe serving chips and leaves of salad. Past a notice saying something about insects control and stuff like that. I can just see the tail of the aeroplane. Big and chunky. I smell rape seed oil. Vegetable based fuel burnt in giant jet engines. Is it really possible? Anyway...
I don't like airports - how did I get here? I would like to look around locally and see how they live.
I retrace my steps and turn past the kiosk and down the steps. At the bottom I see I have to put on Wellington boots. I see a sign reminding me of cleanliness, and a rucksack to keep my indoor shoes in. As I start to open the door I notice the special airlock and that it is hermetically sealed.

So I open the hydraulic to get out, and notice the foot scraper which sucks the soles of my boots and I'm outside.

The first thing I notice is no asphalt. Only gravel to walk on. The explanation hits me, natural flow of water through the ground, gravel paths allow that. Asphalt is banned here!. It seems everyone here walks around in Wellingtons it's the done thing, and natural permeation of water through the soil is a major aim.

It's a nice place, like a park. I continue along the gravel path, there's lots of water here lakes and ponds, it's all nicely done with flowers, plants.
I turn left to look at what seems to be a large round cylindrical building partly hidden by bushes. Reading the sign on the back I see It's a biogas generator. Am I in the middle of a sewage works? I am! The whole area is a sewage plant! One of the by-products is these brown covers I saw outside the lift. I don't know how they work but I guess they fertilise the soil.And keep weeds off and moisture in. That's what I call recycling.
And ingenious, a multi-function use for everything. Recreation, biogas, sewage treatment, fertiliser production. Cool. I'm on to something here.

end of tapescript Journey 1 part one.
Before I try this out I will go over the techniques in case any of you want to try this out. You work out what you want to know, and ask politely to travel to a land with this knowledge. You put the tape recorder on, close your eyes and describe everything you see. And keep describing, keep the flow coming.

For me-- let me describe the problem as I see it. We citizens of Earth have not achieved a sustainable way of life. For us "haves" we exert a large "footprint", requiring a lot of natural resources for our way of life. And the consumption of these natural resources leads to pollution. For the "have nots" whilst their footprint is smaller they are moving toward a "have" way of life: living in cities, increasing resource usage. And the outlook is bleak. The Earth just cannot support everyone living the way the so-called developed world does.

So my quest: a land where people live in a sustainable way, with the standard of living, akin to say, of Europe. Show me the technology that I may learn, document and pass on to others.

That's all for now I'm going to set the tape recorder up. I feel quite excited.

Friday, September 27, 2002


So I've decided to do it. I heard about it at a management conference on creativity. All you do is formulate a problem, turn on the tape recorder, and start describing what you see. You ' visit ' a place that has solved that particular problem
I'm going to find out about sustainable technology, I've always wanted to be an inventor and sustainable technology is useful and urgent. I might even be able to make some money at it.
And I'm going to post the transcripts here. I've already done a few.
Journey 1 start
Visit One part 2
Visit part three
Visit one part 4
journey 2 Scroll to bottom of page
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