A Plea for the Peace

Africa’s Rift Valley   “For miles” by ditzy`girl is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Peace River is one of Western Canada’s Great River Valleys. Unfortunately it’s position on globe earth far from Africa’s Rift Valley leaves it out of the loop of history becoming home to one of the world’s civilizations. The Peace River’s less than benign climate has not been conducive to serious year round settlement, although with global warming this may change. We will just have to let nature take its course.

However the Peace like all the world’s River Valley holds the elements for sustainable human settlement, access to continuous running fresh water with an obtainable source of protein in its fish and visiting wild fowl ducks & geese. In addition, the flooding annually of the valley uplands with receding silt & soil deposits provide rich & fertile plains for growing annual pasture gazing grasses and woodland forest trees for fuel and construction.

While not specific to the Peace, the description of North America’s continental evaluation of its climate modifying physical features as described by writers Jones and Cushman in the Peterson Nature Series The Prairie. I have copied the part of it that expresses North American evolution much better than this presenter ever could:
rior to the Northern Rocky Mountain uplift the entire central North American climate had been dominated by warm moist air masses that swept east from the Pacific from the Gulf of Mexico. The rising mountains created a barrier that blocked the Pacific storms squeezing out most of their moisture before it reached the plains. This rain shadow helped to create the more arid conditions that favour growth of grasses over trees.

Fossils of camels, rhinoceroses, horses and other grass eating herbivores unearthed on the plains suggest an erratic progression. Recent analysis of plant micro-fossils indicates that the extensive grasslands covered parts of the great plains even earlier perhaps beginning in the late Eocene Epoch, 35 million years ago.

These early grasslands were dominated by “cool season” grasses, species that thrive under relatively mild growing conditions. The quintessential Tallgrasses, including warm season bluestems and switchgrasses did not begin to appear until about 10 million years ago. Even then, forests continued to cover much of the Great Plains with grasslands spreading during drier climactic periods, and contracting during wetter periods.”

The warming and drying trend continued for several millennia reaching its maximum intensity between 8,000 and 5,000 years ago. During the height of this hot & dry period the prairie pushed eastward replacing forests in parts of present day Indiana Nebraska, Ohio and perhaps Pennsylvania [and also North into the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. The sands of Western Nebraska[Probably North into B.C. & Alberta also]. All but a few isolated groves of conifers disappeared from the Western Plains. Bos Bison a smaller more agile species than the great plains, prairie dogs and ground squirrels proliferated, and Pronghorn populations climbed into the tens of millions.

About 5,000 years ago the Climatic Pendulum began to swing back toward slightly cooler & wetter conditions. By the time the first white explorers stepped out into the grasslands the forests had begun to creep westward filling the pockets of prairie on the Great lakes region & the upper Mississippi River Valley [and Northward to the Peace River Valley]

Nevertheless, all of these early travelers marveled at the expanse of grass that seemed to extend forever beyond the last islands of forest. Nineteenth-century author Washington Irving characterized the landscape as being “inexpressively lonely” and like “a desert world.” Writer Francis Parkman referred to it as “a barren, trackless waste.” In contrast, nineteenth-century artist George Catlin extolled a land of “soul-melting scenery… where I Heaven sheds its purest light and lends its richest tints.”

Whatever their opinions, writers & artists realized that the Canadian Prairie Landscape as opposed to the settled Landscapes of Britian, Europe and Eastern North America – it, the Canadian Prairie remained an evolving landscape. The BC Peace River, Grasslands with those of Alberta that blend into the Alberta is: hidden lakes and wooded rolling prairie lands extend East to meld into a background of the Caribou Mountains, Buffalo Head Hills & Birch Mountains complex. East of the hills & mountains lies the Athabasca River, the tar sands, the tar sands extraction rendering works & the open pit mines-holes around the Fort McMurray Settlement.

The Peace in the North winds & snakes around the south end of these Caribou Mountains and flows into Wood Buffalo, now the home of Canada’s Bos Bison and the endangered Whooping Crane Grus americana. It is the second largest of Canadian National Parks.

It continues to the east where it becomes a series of lakes at east and of Lesser Slave River flowing North to Great Slave Lake. It one of the Canadian Arctic’s Great Lakes that remain from the melting of glaciers that once covered Canada’s part of the North American continent.

The first attempt at human settlement of the BC Peace River open grasslands, Alberta wooded rolling land, hidden lake & small lakes, prairie occurred just after the end of WW1 in 1918-19, was by the Canadian Federal Government. The Peace and Alberta lands were called the Dominion Soldier Settlement Lands and were also subdivided into 10 and 20 acre plots to be sold to returning veterans and their families at very low prices with long periods & payment at very low interest rates to Veterans and their families. There was a minimum of infrastructure, veterans could earn enough working on roads, gravel roads, settlements sites, school sites and the like. It was not only other Valleys in Southern BC that were opened for soldier’s settlements. Whereas not only in other valleys Keremeos in the adjoining east side of the Okanagan Valley and the adjoining Similkameen Valley. The Fraser Valley’s Lower Mainland the program continued in 1945 for veterans of WW2 in Richmond, the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, and Vernon in North Okanagan.

The Dominion Soldier Settlement scheme on the Peace River lands was never very successful in attracting settlers; it’s harsh Northern winters and remoteness, probably the main dissuading features. The Alberta Woodland lake land did prove attractive to settlement to veterans & other non veterans previously in settlements such as Beaverlodge where the Dominion Government established a crop and plant experimental station. See Vic Chanasyk, page 1 of Miscellanea. See link below.

Other successful prairie land settlements in Alberta produce Grand Prairie, Spirit River & other smaller settlements on the Alberta side, with Dawson Creek and Pouce Coupe on the BC side.

In this Landscape Architect’s opinion, British Columbian Peace River valley grasslands are ready and waiting for the settlement. Not for veterans who are fighters of wars but their children and grandchildren remanent of their families who are victims of wars.

In preparing Site C, that part of the Peace lands for the damming and flooding, BC Hydro, a provincial company, has built accommodations for it’s fort’s employees & prepared the ground for dam construction to flood Site C. By fortunate coincidence is made ready to take the first wave of 1000 or so refugee immigrants.

Let’s make a small beginning and start to settle, house & feed the world’s current great human disaster. Those thousands of children and families who have lost everything, their homes, family members, and perhaps worst of all, their country. These people have lost their place in the world along with their hope.

My proposition is: Canada through the United Nations for Our Country to redeem its place in the world, a place where hope can return and regain for the war ravaged immigrant, a place back in the world in Western Canada’s Peace River Valley.

The process could begin almost immediately. BC Hydro, Peace land owner, a BC Provincial body, could cede the land & preliminarily preparation land work and existing worker housing to the Canadian government, who then would give it to the UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who would ‘Run the Show’, or most of it. From selecting the immigrants to transporting them to the Peace, building additional housing and infrastructure. It would become, the one Canadian Grand Gesture for humanity. Take up where we left off with newly funded mandate, for the Blue Berets in Peace Keeping.

APleaforthePeace

Full 36 page pdf

Arcologies and Linear Cities

Arcology-Linear City pdf

 

Overhead view of Paolo Soleri’s Lean Linear Arterial Arcology set in winter for a seasonal touch. From /www.organism.earth

 

Arcologies and Linear Cities

By Jill Whitelaw

 

R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of Geodesic Domes said:

Let architects sing of Aesthetics that bring Rich clients in hordes to their knees;  Just give me a Home, in a great Circle Dome, where stresses and strains are at ease.”

You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. The significance of you will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume you are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all you experience to highest advantage to others. Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

 

An Arcology is an elegant design, City 2.0,, City in the Image of Man, City of the Future. Arcology is Paolo Soleri’s portmanteau for Architecture and Ecology. In the allegory presented by Jeff Stein, in his Ted Talks Arcology: Sustainable Hyperstructures he said they found that an elephant is 10,000 bigger than a mouse but that the elephant only needed 1000 times the energy as it was one elegant design.  He says:
This is the basis of arcology, the core of the idea we have for reformulating our cities, elegantly designed hyper-organisms, miniaturized and complex. This is not a reform project, its not about getting more miles per gallons from the automobiles that are separating us in the first place. But reformulating , how we relate in cities to the rest of the living planet, and by doing so in a profoundly dense way , how we can keep it all thriving and alive. We are really at a moment in our culture, the end of one thing, the beginning of another: the end of cheap fossil fuels, the end of a large and wealthy middle class in this country, the end of a stable climate, globally, the end of an idea that we are live humans building on a dead planet. And really the end of architecture and built form that was conceived based on all of the above. With the Cosanti Foundation, we are interested in imagining how buildings, how cities perform, and how as a result of a research and knowledge-based living laboratory, Arcosanti in Arizona, they might adapt and help us to adapt to new cultural and ecological and technological realities, In this moment, the new generation is going to be asked to redesign everything – buildings landscapes, processes, cities and we think this must be undertaken in a what we call a frugal or a lean way. Here’s what I mean, We’ve begun a project 42 years ago now Arcosanti in central Arizona, that is an urban laboratory, about 100 people are living and working there today, but the intent is ultimately to demonstrate Arcology at this place, building a town of 5000 people on just 15 acres of a 4000 acres land preserve. We began with a form, that performs with sun and seasons and sociability, the Apse, a quarter of a sphere, facing south, and shades itself from high summer sun, and gathers light and heat in the winter from the low winter sun.” – Jeff Stein Ted Talk

 

What is becoming of our beautiful earth? By design science we can orchestrate linear cities and allow what already is to remain and focus our efforts on building land bridges to other cities nearby and on route to far away. Elegant design is graceful and works for people and the planet.

Landscape architects measure the contour and plan and plant the trees. Edible landscapes add to this.

We need a conversation to be happening about the development of Canada. It is happening in Senate and Parliament, and in city governments, but going along with the same old stuff. How much is being invested in new energy projects? The NEB should apparently be called the Oil and Gas Board, and a new collaboration formed.

In the up and coming sector, Arcosanti has a new Director and Architect, Jeff Stein since Paolo passed away a few years ago.  Richard Register continues to build Eco-Cities and Eco-city ideas. Jean Jerde follows in Paolo Soleri’s wake building Arcologies (architecture and ecology) worldwide at an amazing rate, while in his Ted talk Gordon Gill takes us on a tour of buildings that produce enough energy to power thousands of nearby houses, the Net zero and then some. Again win win win for us all.

There are ways to solve the energy crisis in BC, in Canada, in the World; many, in fact are going to be what it takes, and there are already so many great examples. Almost all of our energy systems are outdated. A need for clean energy, with the exception of large hydro dams which usurp and flood farmland, often mistaken as clean energy, that much concrete emitting co2, the falls of dams are know, many being removed for good reason in the us; and with Solar we need to keep in mind the lifecycle of the panels – where they are coming from and where they will end up, and look for renewable biodegradable, to things like graphene and plasma, water and wind and less on mining and chemicals.

Fuel cells needed too much battery and mining. They will likely evolve, but the market here hasn’t seen any yet. Geothermal should be ready to go – it is the collaboration with Indigenous communities that we have missed the mark with and it will for sure be needed when planning arcologies.

This is a chat about new energy, new and old ways to harvest energy, which are local renewable and easy to access? These ones are best, with a plan toward what is going to be sustainable, what is going to help the earth and her creatures find balance.which all people on earth need to have right now, and until your country/region is carbon neutral, clean and green we have work to do, and peaceful talks are better than war.  People have rights and a voice.

Canada claims to care for its people. Let’s show that we all do. The indigenous populations have been suffering greatly and a show of human decency (while boosting economy) could be found in large projects such as this. Permanent Culture or Permaculture, ie Bucky Fuller – see quotes above – and other aspects of humanity ask us to look beyond our own needs and look to the needs of others – to the natural ways of doing things.

Two variations on a theme of energy and where to invest in better ways for people: An experimental Arcology, a portmanteau of Architecture and Ecology; with more Arcologies planned if it is believed to be economically feasible ; and/or BC/Coast Salish to BC eastern interior Linear City section of Vancouver to East/Montreal arterial.

The concepts of Arcology are miniaturization, complexification, simplification and duration.  Part of the idea is to focus building and the economy on these houses and arcological cities across Canada/These Northern Landscapes where most people are living on the 49th parallel. Maybe in some years we could move the line up to the 60th parallel, or 70th 80th, or the 65th even and make another train and more housing, with a priority of not moving currently occupied residences and homesteads as much (with a cost of equal reimbursement and agreement if we do need to move a house, dignity, respect for your life and as a native with ancestral hunter gatherer lines.

 

Pedestrian walkways all along with housing – condos, rentals, artist studios lofts, linear marketplace, industrial areas. All passive solar, with utilities on the North side, along with storage and parking lots. Solar on the rooftop if that would be the best solution.

One Billion dollars in building permits were granted by the city of Vancouver in 2017 or thereabouts. Vancouver/Coast Salish’s houses are part of our heritage and history and many now could be preserved, removing only ones that need it. Renovation incentives and subsidies for low income are a start and point to where we are at and how we can find the way forward. By building a linear Arcology across Canada, with crops of solar on rooftops, wind and geothermal in a proximal we can not only build abundance but show respect for families that still rent or own houses in dense urban areas. Demolishing a house and sending the wood to landfill adds to the carbon problem greatly.

In BC we have a new government, the NDP and the Greens could represent a humanitarian and ecological partnership, call it a minority government but it could be We who care, not so much greedy capitalism, but healthy ethical capitalism perhaps. We are in danger of losing the good governments we have helped to form, and according to Elizabeth May in her Stanley Park TED talk our voting system needs to change. PM Trudeau is ramming the pipeline through where people don’t want it to go.  How can he help to create a win/win/win?

These Northern Lands need a shift, and what better than a bridge, that is, more rail across this land. If it could offer transportation  and housing, and economics, it would be a win win win.

Trains provide fluid movement across a distance. A linear city would provide housing, transportation and opportunities for energy harvesting, manufacturing. The huge bonus would mean people being able to travel easily in a day and ship things at a much lower carbon rate than flying across the country.

A row of Gen-set [large] style solar panels along the back of the roof line would provide a good deal of energy, supplying power to these buildings. Extensive farms could be built in the interior greenhouse spaces, or in the surrounding farmlands, which could now be more and more left untouched along with existing perfectly good housing which is now being knocked down for profit; we would all have enough electrical energy, as well as more to sell back to the grid; Government/public and private ownership of windfarms as well as condos and affordable housing for everyone to own.

This mega project could be a great bridge between healthy economics and ecological responsibility.

If Canada chose to build a linear city with 3 underground transportation lines, subway, train and TGV, it would be a big focus on decreasing carbon and using a common method of transportation  across the country, providing housing and a building focus on passive solar, & solar along the top. Like a park with street trees, a pedestrian walkway would span most of our country, bridging East and West, creating Canada-wide cohesion. There is already talk about a Montreal Toronto train, and it could also just go to Ottawa so as to be accessible for councillors, the Senate and all people who wish or need to attend Parliament.

It would be nice for the passenger train to have a view. Thankfully, we already have that, and can continue to value the CP rail line across Canada and use that. Maybe this line only has two underground rail lines. Less infrastructure is good, as it means less cost but more can be much more efficient. A Skytrain across Canada?  We can value what we have, and create something A New that in Vancouver Coast Salish’s case it means we could go right up hastings treetops with a subway, as it is needed there anyway, and connect it with the rest of BC and Canada continuing to Toronto or beyond. The organic bakery driver at Choices mentioned an idea that has been floating around: of making another Vancouver and linking them using something like Elon Musk’s hypertube. Kamloops they suggested, as I was criticising us all for living in the estuary i was calling it, the watershed, I think I meant, all of this land in the delta, around the Salish Sea and up to Lillooet.

 

What are the countries that are leading the way doing?

What is happening in your neighbourhood? We need to develop city 2.0.

A focus on a BC/Saskatchewan To Quebec Linear City concept, with Multi-Use Buildings, shops and services, a lengthened City in the Image of Man if you will. Ongoing residential building especially near towns, filling in between as needed.  Away from the watershed, new Arcological towns on south facing slopes, using elegant design to fulfil the needs of the people.

New Paradigms are needed in our energy systems. Around the world we see much change, which can be harder to spot here at home. Germany and Europe are leading the way, and we need to follow.

 

More thoughts from Bucky Fuller:

A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.”

Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. IF we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success.”

***“. The alternative is a design science revolution… Design science produces so much performance per unit of resource invested as to take care of all human needs.” (Buckminster Fuller)