Sustainable Civilization

From the Grass Roots Up

Introduction - 2 - 3

I. Your Homestead And Essential Life Support - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

II. Physical Sustainability Factors and Limitations - 2

III. Neighborhoods and the Web of Life - 2

IV. Sustainability Principles or Guidelines - 2

V. Ecovillage, Sustainable Civilization Minimum planning for continued organized society.

VI. Sustainability Programs, Politics, and Technology - 2 - 3

VII. The City As Ecology - 2

VIII. Sustainability Laws.

IX. Global Civilization.

X. Future.


A. Appropriate Technology - 2 - 3

B. Mess Micro Environment Subsistence System

C. Factoids - 2

D. Medicine Bag - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

E. Estate Planning - Providing for Future Generations - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

F. Bibliography

G. Biography

H. Sustainable Tucson - Tucson, Arizona Ecocity analysis

I. South Tucson – Ecovillage analysis

J. Oak Flower – Neighborhood analysis

K. Our Family Urban Homestead Plan

L. Our Plant Selections

Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots Up

Chapter III - Neighborhoods and the Web of Life

What is the minimum gathering of multigenerational family homes such that if in physical isolation could maintain ongoing generations, provide basic safety and increased food security?

We have fragmented families in neighborhoods where no one is related or even knows anyone within walking distance. Much of this can be attributed to quick & cheap transportation, making work commutes and a friend across town as "easy" to reach as a neighbor. Responsibility must also be attributed to expanding government programs, making a plea to a bureaucracy that does not judge your shortcomings, more likely than a plea to family for friends, who will.

Multiple living locations, communication and commute costs, and no readily available family support has been great for the businesses and government agencies who fill the gap, all loved by the tax man. Absent an energy miracle this is ending. We need to re-think what really matters to us, where and how we live to provide a solid foundation for our civilization.

Introduction Edit

An individual or family, with an earth sheltered home, a large enough water collection area, and a "biointensive" garden, (best case 1,000 ft. sq. per person) could potentially live quietly in isolation for the lifetime of the youngest member of the family. But the technology could easily outlast the residents.

A single-family isolation approach is a "dead end" for the family, and if replicated, potentially for civilization. If effect, you’re hoping that your children will be able to leave the isolation, and amidst the ruins find others who have also been waiting in isolation. You’re hoping that someone else preserves civilizations while you hide. What type of survivors and civilization do you think you’re likely to find?

If located in relative isolation, such as a survival gathering, there is some minimum starting and stability population size for a community with ongoing successive generations, without the need for "immigration", or exchange of husbands/wives from outside.

Physical priority I Edit

Population stability

Whether a multi-family isolated neighborhood, or the global population, the total number of humans MUST NOT grow beyond the reliable renewable resources. In general, when averaged, it means no one should parent a child beyond their own replacement and the replacement of their mate. (Thinking of immigration, provided of course that both mates were already accounted for in the relevant population.)

Given nutritional food and reasonable sanitation, improved living conditions and health care, prolific child production is not necessary to ensure that a sufficient next generation survives. In simple fact, any number in the next generation which exceeds the present generation is the SOURCE of our problems. We must use our intelligence to overcome our biological tendencies.

Birth rate. No couple should have more than their personal replacement children. (Every birth or other new-arrival that exceeds replacement levels, assuming that steady-state policies are thereafter followed, means an eventual permanent standing increase of the population of from 4 to 6 people.

Childbirth Age. The average age at which a family has children, divided into the average lifespan provides the average number of standing generations. An increase in the age at which conception occurs reduces the overall standing population and demand on resources, while a decrease in the age of conception increases the standing population and resource demand.

Lifespan. The average lifespan divided by the average age at which children are conceived provides the average number of standing generations. To maintain a stable number of standing generations, a long term increase in lifespan must also in the long-term be balanced by an increase in the average age at which conception occurs, or an appropriate one-time adjustment in the birth rate to reduce the number of new mating couples.

To maintain a large enough gene pool, genetically the “better” choice is children born to older parents. As we passed the end of the 1800’s, improved nutrition and sanitation can be credited with an increase in the average lifespan, yet we not only did neither adjustment, we made increases in the other factors also.

In reference to the above population stability factors, I'll use "standard" families, with extended households (i.e. one set of grandparents resides in the family home), two children per couple, childbearing at age 20, lifespan of 80. The average extended family home could have 4 to 6 generations living there. (8 to 12 people)

Immigrants. An isolated "Neighborhood", being sustained at the minimum reliable level of renewable resources, should make the concept of immigration restriction clear.

Assuming average lifespan of 80, children born to parents in their 20's, there are more or less five generations alive at any given time. Assume each new person (immigrant or child beyond parental replacement) after arrival then follows a parental replacement only child bearing guideline, the population can be expected to settle out at a permanent increase of 5 people for each new potential breeder.

If you don't have extra water and food, how can you afford to increase your population? Can the scope of your facilities be expanded without violating your principles? Has there been an untimely death in your group?

Is someone willing to "forgo" a child (their biological replacement) and "adopt" the outsider as someone to be sustained on their family resources? Note, if a resident of a population restricted community brings in and marries someone from the “outside”, provided the couple only has one child, the negative effect on community resources will abate when the first of the husband/wife dies.

We can readily calculate the upper limit for a population, based on available resources, and per person resource use. But if you intend to plan for optimum living conditions, and the GREATEST available resources per person, you need to find the LOWER population limit for each level of community.

Population lower limit Edit

I have been unable to locate a definitive study, however, provided the genetic makeup of the starting population has no inherent problems, consider in an isolated population starting with "unrelated" couples, who each have one boy and one girl. Current law in many U. S. states is that first cousins may not marry. Just working it out "on paper":

A deliberately selected group, all of essentially the same age, all unrelated. For this exercise, assume each couple has one boy & one girl.

WARNING: A narrow genetic base implies a risk of inbreeding. In a population of few childbearing individuals the risk of inbreeding is high. The genetic history of parents is particularly important in a small population, isolated community.

One couple, all children are siblings, dead end.

Two couples, the generation 2 four children can marry, but the third generation are first cousins, dead end.

Three couples, the generation 2 six children can marry, but most in the third generation are first cousins, dead end.

Four couples, the generation 2 eight children can marry, and the following generations being 1/2 first cousins CAN avoid first cousin marriages, but each has only one person available as a spouse. In addition, there is a cycle where both brother and sister of one family must marry the sister and brother of another family. While this does not technically violate the first cousin rule, it is a repeated pattern of genetic concentration.

Five couples, the following generations can marry and avoid first cousin marriages, and avoid the four couple forced cycle of brother & sister family "A" marrying sister & brother of family "B". But in avoiding the brother / sister cycle, it appears each person alternates between only one mate potential and a choice of two.

Six couples, the following generations generally each have a choice of three mates that avoids first cousin marriages. This is probably the smallest practical genetic gathering to wait out a long-term dangerous situation.

At this point, I ask your indulgence as I comment on support for monogamous human mating. The six couples just commented on are of course twelve people (six males & six females), who have twelve children as their replacements. I use an extreme example to demonstrate the "defect" of multiple mating partners. Envision eleven females, and one male, who parent the same twelve children. All of the children are half brothers or sisters, and given present genetic knowledge, should not mate and produce children.

Six extended families does not however provide a wide safety margin (i.e. for sicknesses or accidents) or the ability to maintain and pass on specialized knowledge and skills, or maintain and develop much technology.

If we assume the initial Homestead association group begins with members of random age, the likelihood of practical mate matches in a gathering of just six families is reduced. Tossing around some random numbers. Children born to couples at some point between are 18 and 36. We could easily find an 18-year or more age gap between potential mates. Increasing the number of families by a factor of 3 (to 18 families) in theory reduces the likely mate average age gap to 6 years. (See discussion later of 20 homestead "units" for Homestead associations.)

Warning to overly sensitive people - genetics Edit

Children constitute unique genetic compositions, resulting from mixing parental genetic material. The result is genetic variation of the offspring, which in turn may enhance, or diminish capabilities.

The genetic quality of offspring will affect a group, and humanity for years ahead, or forever. Since the cost of rearing a healthy child is essentially the same regardless of genetic history, overall for humanity the investment will pay better when applied to good quality genetic stock. The cost of caring for a chronically ill or physically defective child may easily exceed the capabilities of a typical family, in particular in a post-oil low energy era, when it is not possible to force “public assistance”.

In the past when most of mankind lived generation after generation in villages, you had access to the detailed family history of potential mates. In our highly mobile society this family memory has been removed as a source of information, and many protest its reasonable replacement with readily available scientific genetic information. In the coming decades absent an energy and resource miracle, we are quite likely to see a very large drop in the total number of living humans. Humanity needs those who survive to be the “fittest” for the applicable circumstances.

The collection of homesteads is the lowest level, probably the BEST level, to consider what in human terms, “survival of the fittest” means for long-term civilization. It is perhaps NOT what you would first think. Early tools, stones and knives required physical strength, and hand to hand combat ability was essential to survival. The bow, a more refined tool, allowed for lesser strength but a distinct skill to provide distant neutralization of a much larger adversary or animal. Our continued progression has made mind and precision more important than strength, in a feedback loop. The drive to overpopulate was early on another survival trait, as many died as children, or before they had their own children. Like other early "cave" aspects, given the now global coverage of humanity, the drive to expand population is obsolete.

The "gene" for prolific procreation is now a threat to the entire race. The “gene” to initiate force, to impose your will on others, is obsolete. The “gene” to waste, pollute, overproduce, overrun nature, etc., is obsolete. In the “wild”, these arguably obsolete genes would quickly and easily out-produce (in the form of children) and out-number those who have gone beyond the mindlessness and greed of our primitive animalistic origins. The “mutation” toward long-term thinking keeps occurring, but in the past was readily overrun.

The “up” side is that at least for the present, resources such as the internet provide a means for the isolated occurrences of those who are awake to reach out to each other, organize, and come together.

A significant question is how those who are awake to sustainable population requirements react and interact with those who think they have the god-given right to drop as many children as they want, force others to not only pay the costs of childbirth and raising THEIR children, but that others need to get out of the way so THEIR children can further procreate.

Physical priority II Edit

Optimize living conditions

On a modest 1/4 acre lot if the family home and structures are underground or earth covered (see PAHS), the entire surface of the homestead could be available for food production, say around 10,000 ft. sq. At the best biointensive yield, the lot itself could feed the family.

How about a 10,000 sq. foot multi-floor building, a business on the first floor, living quarters above with a greenhouse/garden on the roof?

As touched on in Chapter I, the ability of a ¼ acre multigenerational homestead to provide for the family has two significant factors, sufficient sunshine for crops, and sufficient water for crops.

A simple greenhouse can provide a lot of leeway regarding solar exposure time. If there is not enough natural rainfall, water can however become a significant limiting factor.

With 12” of rainfall (presented for reference purposes, adjust all estimates for your local information.) a multigeneration homestead of 8 to 10 people would need to collect water from an area of 52,000 to 65,000 sq.ft. The homestead is 10,000 sq. ft, leaving 42,000 to 55,000 sq. ft. If your water collection area is to be integrated to your homestead, if you’re in isolation and have no other water source, you need 1 ¼ acres+.

Looking only at the food production area for a moment, consider now a 100% safety food production factor. But instead of making it integral to the family homestead, make it part of a mutual investment area with the homesteads all surrounding a large field.

The first point where the number of homesteads surrounds an adequate core plot is 20. In a deliberately planned neighborhood association units of 20 families (160 people) seems reasonable. This number meets or exceeds the minimum genetic in both deliberate and random, as described above.

Arranged in a square it is around 600 ft. per side, consisting of 100 ft. per side homesteads, surrounding a core 400 ft. per side "safe" area. (3.66 acre). This area fits in a typical city layout of 8 blocks per mile.

Do not look forward to a rational shift from maximum density housing of humans, to rational balance of housing, food production, etc. “Compromises between the demands of urban / industrial growth and agriculture will always result in the conversion of agricultural land to urban and industrial uses. The reverse conversion never happens.”

If the overall 20 homestead area is in isolation from other resources and needed to be surrounded by water collection, at the upper (safer) estimated area the neighborhood needs a water collection band around it 304 feet think, or the neighborhood needs to measure 1,208 feet on a side.

Central field challenges Edit

{Tradgedy of the commons)

The central field presents the blessing, and curse, or what might be a commons area.

To present the “curse” aspect, let’s say for a moment that every separate homestead collects every drop of rain that falls on the homestead. In the central field though, the rain reaches the ground. If the families agree to one central wells, and NOT put down private wells, or private wells but with no pumping beyond each homestead pumping 1/20th of the agreed total estimate of aquifer recharge, consider:

What does the group do if family “Gulpy” pumps more than their 1/20th share? This hot summer month, family “Gulpy” pumps twice their share of groundwater. YOU needed extra water also, but did NOT cheat. How does the group handle it? (The water is gone, and cannot be put back.)

Each family can “shun” the Gulpies, until they feel the indiscretion has been atoned. If YOU do so, and everyone else loves the Gulpies, YOU may be the one shunned. Is there a good solution? None the author has uncovered. In the opinion of the author, in general, ANY commonly held asset is a disaster waiting to happen. There needs to be clear guidelines, and penalties, agreed to in advance, penalties able to be imposed by any aggrieved party without outside repercussions.

Who can show affirmatively this functions?

A general concept you must incorporate is, IF people can cheat to their personal advantage, they will. Whether it is direct theft, or theft via others acting on their behalf, expect the need to deal with those taking more than their actions and assets have earned.

From the individual perspective, if you have any dependence at all on any commonly held aspect, you are just ASKING for a problem.

Affirmative central field options Edit

Tree food crops. Even using a single dwarf variety, trees tend to produce yield greater than that which can be used by one family, and many trees require a pollinator mate. A potential use of this central protected field would be as an orchard.

Merely as an example, on a grid of 15 foot spacing, there is potential for 625 trees. If evenly planted in the crop spread of Apple, Apricot, Almond, Cherry, Fig, Pear, Peach, Persimmon, Plum, Pomegranate, Quince, and Walnut, there could be 52 of each type, for a potential annual yield of:

Crop Ttl.Yield Per Person

Apple 208 Bushel 1.30 Bushel Apricot 104 Bushel .65 Bushel Almond 2080 Pound 13.00 Pound Cherry 3900 Quart 24.37 Quart Fig 1300 Pound 8.00 Pound Pear 26 Bushel .16 Bushel Peach 208 Bushel 1.30 Bushel Persimmon 104 Bushel .65 Bushel Plum 104 Bushel .65 Bushel Pomegranite 104 Bushel .65 Bushel Quince 52 Bushel .32 Bushel Walnut 2600 Pound 16.25 Pound

The above and below scenes are of a roughly circular grass courtyard in one area of an outlet shopping center.

The area shown is somewhat smaller than the area encompassed by the 20 homes would be, but it provides a flavor for what the area could be.

Tree energy crops. At the best yield of 2 cord per acre per year it's around 150,000,000 BTU per the field per year. (930 some cubic feet of wood – with better uses we hope than burning)

Tilapia fish farming provides liquid fertilizer, high in ammonia. While caution is required as to the plants which first receive tank outflow, the project provides high quality protein. Columbia reports four tilapia per week per person provides a key protein diet aspect. If each 8’ diameter tank grows 600 fish over a growing period of six months then to provide one week of protein for the upper estimate of 200 people per neighborhood requires tanks 9’3” in diameter. A steady supply requires 26 tanks in operation, a add walking space around each (for a tank footprint diameter of 12’) and you need a space about 60 foot on a side, easily fitting into a corner of the central field and providing valuable fertilizer to other central crops.

The fish reportedly have minimal swimming requirements for individuals health, with recommendations that the tank diameter not be below 8’, with a minimum depth of 4’. Floating plants serve as a “nursery” for eggs and baby fish. Common floating plants include: duckweed (Lemma minor), water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes), and water lettuce (Pistia Stratiotes). Duckweed is a popular plant for use in living machines. It has been shown to remove (by bioaccumulation) as much as 99% of nutrients and dissolved solids in wastewater. Duckweed grows at an extremely rapid pace and can double its mass in less than 2 days. In field conditions, duckweed has produced as much as 13 to 83 tons/ha/year.83 Since it grows at such a rapid pace, duckweed requires frequent pruning and harvesting.

Power Generation. Set up in photovoltaic panels of a square yard, with a two foot walkway around each, it readily holds 6,400 collector units. At 10% efficiency panels, it generates 640 KW per hour of full sun, or 32 KW per homestead per hour, averaging something like 5760 KWH per homestead per month. How does that compare to your electric bill now? The p/v power option has two significant challenges, initial purchase cost, and maintenance. (Unlike trees, that can be self-replicating.) If the field were limited to non-water use aspects such as power, it could also serve as rainfall collection, and could provide 15% of the neighborhood water needs. This would reduce the water collection band to a thickness of 269 feet, and an overall area for an isolated neighborhood of 1,139 feet on a side.

Beef. To grow animals for meat and other uses, look into “Mini cows”. New breeds of pint-size heifers and bulls are making it easier for small areas such as the neighborhood central field to be used to raise cattle for milk & meat. Breeders claim that while each animal may be smaller, more meat can be produced overall from each acre. The miniature cattle (42 inches at the hip) are between 500 and 700 pounds, said to provide enough meat to last a family of four to six months. Their footprint concentration is about two per acre, so the central field could support eight of these animals.

Obviously, the entire field does not have to be dedicated to a single purpose. The mix could include some of the above, animal grazing space, and facilities common to cooperative housing facilities, a commons building, perhaps a pool.

A goal should be developing a facility where the residents enjoy spending such time off as they have, reinforcing neighborhood bonds.

Homestead solar exposure Edit

If your family homestead is in isolation, the height of your trees, towers, buildings, etc., is not a real concern. Once you elect to build and live in close to other solar dependent families, you must take into account everyone's effective solar window.

Envision a flat field, with just ground cover type crops, and all human structures underground. Everyone would essentially have 100% of the prospective solar window within their property borders.

Something similar is achieved if everyone agrees to not build or grow anything higher than a selected limit, say for example 20 feet. For a mental exercise, envision a 20' high wall around each property border. Some areas inside your domain may not receive direct sun at various times of the year, but this can be compensated by making the inside of the fence reflective, or in a more extreme choice placing a reflective grid over selected areas, or the entire property.

Asset basaed community development {ABCD} - know your neighbor Edit

If you have not been life-long friends and neighbors, there is probably much you DON’T know about each other. There will be those reluctant to say anything about themselves. Why? Your academic record, job record, court matters, etc., are all public records.

Somewhere there are probably people who remember your first steps, your first words, and when you became potty-trained. Somewhere short of this, there is vital information that your neighbors should know about you. What you chose to put in your “bio” can say more about you then the words themselves.

"Hiring" your new neighbor Edit

Skills & experience

The smaller that a community is, the greater the importance that each member be trained and experienced in a variety of complimentary emergency and functional areas, and that everyone be readily capable of interacting with each other as necessary.

Universal Qualifications.

(1) Common language (2) CPR First Aid. (3) Self Defense / Weapons Skill (4) A grasp of basic sustainability concepts.

Specialists to consider. In selection of specific individuals (if you can select) you not only want someone compatible with your group and our philosophy, but someone who can teach their "specialty" to others well enough that others can assist the specialist, or take over as the specialist if need be.

It’s obvious you are not going to have a dedicated specialist for everything. But people may be quite knowledgeable in something vital that is their hobby. Are your "specialists" open to learning other skills so they can continue to be fully integrated functioning members of the village absent an immediate need for their personal unique training? (i.e. If no one has a tooth problem, what does your dentist do?)

Modern technologies Edit

(i.e.: existing skills, educated skills

Doctor Midwife Dentist Chiropractor Nurse Naturopath Arborist Horticulturist Farming Veterinarian Mechanic Electrician Electronics Plumbing HVAC engineering Carpentry

Older technologies Edit

(i.e.: possibly existing as "hobby skills")

Gardening Wood Carving Clay working Hunting Fishing Tree cutting Vegetable canning Baking Machine repair Sewing Quilting Pottery Glass blowing Weather predicting skill

Lost or Little Used Technologies (i.e.: probably rarely practiced skills)

Blacksmithing Horse shoeing Sheep Sheering Gunsmithing Hand yarn and fabric making Cotton ginning Slaughtering / hog dressing Hide tanning Meat preserving Home building: Log, Rammed Earth, Straw Bale, Heavy Timber Framing, etc Barn raising Hand tool carpentry Furniture making Hand plowing Hand wheat preparation (drying, winnowing, grinding, etc) Windmill design / building Water mill design / building Wagon / horse buggy building Boat Building Stone Mason Shoe Making Medicinal plant identification and use Butter churning Milking Cheese making

Future technologies Edit

Genetic engineering Chemical engineering Nanotechnology Physics Electronics Gravity Magnetics Warp fields?


Virtual infrastructure

An example might be a virtual library, where whether a paper or computer file, all of the members would simply need to provide a list of the books in their possession, that they are willing to loan out to other group members.

Think along the same lines for tools or other durable materials.

Chapter III - Neighborhoods and the Web of Life - 2

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