Sunday, October 26, 2003

Tapescript Journey 6 Part Two

Tapescript Journey 6 Part Two

My guide leads me through the woods, and I look up towards the treetops. The trees are high and mature, they must have been standing here a long time.

We come to a landing stage. We get into a canoe and paddle along what appears to be a canal.

To my left are wetlands that seem to stretch quite a way. As far as I can tell the wetlands are part of natural regulation of water levels and water purification. To the right, I see the perimeter of PORENA, with houses behind a screen of high reeds. Each house has a landing stage close by.

We turn into my guide’s house.

Screened by tall reeds, it looks idyllic.

“This is my favourite form of transport,” I say. “But what if it rains?”
“If it rains we wear rain clothes,” he replies.
That makes sense - ask a stupid question in this place and you get a straight sensible answer.

I see solar collectors on the roof, a nice balcony and a feeling of close to nature. It’s a very pleasant place.

Although they are close, you don’t see the neighbours because of the reeds and shrubs around the landing stage. We walk over the wooden patio, and I see he has food growing on the deck in large pots. We go in through glass doors. Inside it is comfortable, rather conventionally furnished. I especially like the breakfast bar overlooking the patio - to have breakfast and look out onto the canal and the wetlands seems a great way to start the day.

I suddenly start to think about shops and things, ”What about supplies?”
“Supplies come on a barge. And they come often.”
We walk out to the front of the house as a barge arrives. Soaps, toiletries etc, are available in small packs. I mused about that. Small packs mean you transport a lot of packaging per contents. On the other hand if you always have small quantities in concentrated form you transport less water.
My guide nods out towards the barge as it ties up at the jetty.End of Tapescript Journey 6 Part Two.
“I’m proud of the barge. Take whatever you want you need no money. We stopped money. Actually it was lot easier to stop money thank you might think. Just make everything free. And money is not needed, we just let it go.”

I think what might happen if one part of society stopped using money while others carried on using it… maybe the system could be abused. But I get no sensible answer.

“What about the rest of the world around you.”
“What about it?”

“There must be a pressure on you.”

“ You don’t need it, really.”

“And Jobs?”

“Well if you stop money you stop jobs as you stop ownership. Tricky, as ownership and money aren’t the same thing.

We had a credit system, and used it to redistribute resources. Everyone got a minimum credit. Those who got rid of their cars when changeover came had no problem.”

I ask: “Can you show me the rest of your apartment?”
My guest shows me through to the other side, which is rather different. This is the side that faces inwards towards the centre of PORENA. There is a wide-open space and then other dwellings. The space between the buildings looks familiar to me. These are the communal growing areas I saw in my previous journey. They make up some kind of circle inside this outer circle.

I see the houses curving round and I say aloud. “Of course this is radiality again.”
“Radiality?” My visitor says – “you know about that? I work as a radiality expert.
Well, it is about time we got together.”
“I need to know about radiality,” I say “I’m all ears.”

“There are several basic concepts of radiality. The first is the allusion to walled cities. Walls were built for defence, but they also work for temperature control. Cooler in summer by creating shade, and warmth in winter by keeping cold winds out and storing heat. We put solar collectors on the outside of our ‘wall’.

The city is made as a giant ring. The outside of the ring is residential and the inside for activities and inside is the park and water purification and biogas production area.”

I comment “It seems like a very simple design”.
“It is, but constructing it wasn’t.

We created the ring bit by bit, by removing roads and demolishing the existing buildings and replacing them with the radial design. We did it to reduce distances. You know, the idea of putting everything close to everything else.

“But how does that work in practice?” I ask. “I mean you need a transport system to make that work?”

“Not in this case, the buildings in the common activity part revolve. So you never have to travel anywhere. Stand still and it will come to you!”
“Hah!” I say, “now you are kidding me - revolving half a whole damn city you have to be joking!
You’re not joking. I see - but you’re right it’s ingenious. Wait, and where you want to go turns up.
But then the people in the building are moving. I never noticed it - why not?”
“Maybe you were not in that part.”
“Come to think of it I noticed all the corridors curved. The whole thing being built as a ring explains that. Wait a minute. If I get on that thing how do I get home as it turns away from where I live?”

My guest replies a straightforwardly to this as all the earlier questions:
“You either wait and your home will turn up or you take the train.”

“Don’t you get sick if it turns?”
“It doesn't run that fast - you hardly notice it.”

Struggling to take it all in I request more explanation. “I must say I’m having a hard time understanding this revolving thing, I hope you don’t mind me badgering you about it?

You can’t revolve a whole thing that fast. You can’t.”
“It revolves at 5 km/h”

Like when I was there. I didn’t notice.

“Oh not all of it moves, part of it moves.”

My guest draws diagrams and I ask and ask. If I were to summarise I guess it would go like this:
The area of common activity is a ring around the central area, of 10 km in internal diameter.

Inside the ring, raised on stilts, is a rather wide set of railway tracks upon which the rotating buildings rest. The roof is covered with solar cells that provide the main source of power to batteries and electric motors.

The speed is 5 km/h and it takes one day for the circle to revolve. The circle contains a long corridor. If you walk at 5 km in the direction of movement you travel relative to the ground at 10 km/h

In my first journeys I encountered trains so I ask how these fit in.

“You have seen different stages in the development of PORENA. And we always keep part of our development as a living textbook. As well, keeping old things going is often more environmentally sound than creating new ones as the energy investment is lower. We may find something better than the revolving ring, but we will try hard to preserve at least parts of it now that we have built it.”

End of Tapescript Journey 6 Part Two

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Verification Notes: Walking everywhere

According to an article in NEWSWEEK, October 6th 2003, recent research reveals suburbanites are walking less, and gaining weight. In fact the less dense housing is, the more likely people are to be overweight. Town planning is given as one of the causes as there is no “meaningful” places to walk to , like neighbourhood shops.
“We are building obesogenic environments,” says Dr Billie Giles-Corti of the School of Public Health at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Some good news… Prince Charles is building an experimental town in Poundbury, designed to get people out of their cars.

Sound like the technique of RADIALITY, touched upon in an earlier visit would be useful. Unfortunately I did not go into the techniques very much. Something for a later trip.

End of Verification Notes Walking everywhere

Journey 6 part one

I need to change tactics. My search for technological solutions to ecologically sustainability turned up a surprise. In Porena, as I now call it, sustainability is based on culture, not technology. Technological inventions like the automobile, the radio, TV etc have all spread rapidly in our society. But in Porena it is ideas that have spread at that rate. How? That’s what I would like to explore here today.
Something tells me, to enjoy myself. I remember the message left for me in the central park on my first visit - enjoy yourself!
The Journey:
I’m looking at a tiled floor. I look up; I am in a waiting area. Some distance away I see glass doors and a London-type double-decker bus. As I approach I see PORENA on the front as its destination. Up on the top deck, a few people are already sitting waiting for departure. The street outside is wet from the drizzly rain that hits my face as a light spray as I go over to the bus. The road looks like a bottomless black river reflecting the streetlights through the darkness.

The bus leaves, turns a corner out onto a concreted dual carriageway.

“Fares please” I hear the conductor turn up. “I’m going to PORENA” I say, wondering how I will manage this as I have no money. No problem - the conductor just shakes his head slightly and moves off without saying anything. There is obviously no fare to PORENA. Why does that make sense?

Daylight comes, and the bus passes through gates opened in a high fence that is topped by barbed wire. The thought strikes me for the first time that a place like this may need to be separated from places which run on other principles.

The bus is now going along a dusty lane, through green countryside. Trees flank the lane and I see green fields either side of the road. In the distance I see what I presume I have come for, a city. The buildings reflect white in the sunlight which contrasts with the green hills behind.

We arrive at some kind of terminal building. I get out of the bus into the warm sunshine and go straight into a glassed hall similar to the one I left. I find the lift - my cream-coloured lift which has always there. Already now it looks like people are moving around one floor up. Again I get the impression the building is circular, and on stilts. I take the lift to the walkway above. I come up on the long corridor that seems to sweep around. Like the airport, I never really explored what was to the right so this time I walk past the cafeteria. They serve chips and mayonnaise, and the gift shop on the left. On the right I see the tail of a large aeroplane. Continuing, in the shop there are some books on display. I recognize the name of the author but can’t quite take in the significance of what I am reading.
A special stand for this author’s books contains titles like “Porena Classic” and “Porena Tales”. Special editions. I don’t want to look.

Ok this is a visit I can steer it. Not wanting to look into these books, and feely an eerie feeling for being closer to something than I would like, I carry on. The urge to drink coffee hits me. Coffee! - a good idea always enjoyable. Organically grown. I sit down and join someone at the table. I feel the need to talk to someone, just talk.

“Hi, I thought I would meet you here”
A guy in a checked shirt looks straight at me.

“I figured you would be needing some help by now.”
“Tell me about how you live your life,” I find myself saying.
Well today is like most days, I got up this morning, I live on the outskirts. There’s a lot of nice canoeing out there.
“Did you take the train?” I ask.
“ No.”
“ Did you come here to work?”
“ No. I was planning to meet you.”

“That’s great - you can help me out then? What do you suggest?” I reply.

Well, he said: “What do you want to know?”
My reply: “to know how you got rid of the cars.”

I know this is the big one. It’s not really the cars in themselves; it’s the need for individual transport that creates automobile traffic that creates environmental hazards.

“OK, let’s go and take a look.” He replies with a smile.
We go down to the ground again and under the building

I said, “This used to be a motorway, didn’t it?” I could see that when I first came. Is that true?”

“Yes it is, actually to show you this was part of my plan. Think of this as a study trip. Now, the roads were removed as part of making everything close to everything else. We gradually adapted the city along radiality principles.

I follow a circular path and then come out into a natural environment, trees, - a small wood.

“But how did you manage that?” I asked in amazement.
“Surely it is difficult to get consensus from everyone to do such a radical thing - I mean some of the buildings were probably in good shape?”
“Everyone was in agreement.” He explained there was no need for a lot of argument and debate about it.
I fumble to understand
“I can’t understand that. Everyone was in agreement. No I don’t believe what is going on here.”
He replies; “I know it’s difficult to follow, let me show you around.”

End of Journey 6 part 1
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