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?"

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