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

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