On this day last year, I launched Green Heart Town and have been sharing ideas related to the idea of renewal in our homes, neighborhoods, and downtowns. Since this time last year, I have not only learned a lot of new things, I have also experienced a sea change in my world.
There is not a leaf that has fallen without promise. The promise of renewed life and the coming spring. Underlying this is an order that connects all things. Sometimes, architects have a sensitivity toward nature, but it is something that we could all explore further.
Sustainable communities, like the blood and flesh of our own bodies, are made from living parts. Just as the human body regenerates its own cells regularly, it also experiences entropy. In a similar way, we should not forget...
Appreciating conservation-based development is to understand that we exist within something larger. Like a log being split, most development has torn us from our relationship with the land. Our natural environment not only provides the context for life, it is our largest and most important resource.
For long-time, we lived close to the land and developed a regionally-specific architecture that was built in sympathy to the surroundings. We created commercial centers called towns and cities, and others chose to live on large plots to farm. As Americans became 2 car households, got central air-conditioning, the color TV, and personal computers we have become uncoupled, or split, away from real living on this planet.
Want a simple equation to make the places you love stronger? Do you want to better understand your place in the world and leave it better for the next generation? Maybe you are interested in a more sustainable built environment, including green architecture, sustainable planning and historic preservation. If so, then I began this blog for you.
I tend to think of our natural environment as both a gift and a resource. It gives us everything we need. Unfortunately, modern culture appears to be causing more negative impacts than positive. Do you see this too? What if we could work to lighten our environmental footprints while also strengthening our communities? This may be possible with a simple shift in thinking.
Over the past two posts we have taken a new angle on design charrettes (fast-paced design workshops). First, we looked at the split paradigm between public and private realms, and how this sets a course for gathering project stakeholders. Then, we looked at gathering a team and took a deep-dive into the home, neighborhood, and downtown realms - even looking at the funky "in-between zones" where ideas can become really interesting. Now, let's wrap this rodeo and outline how to facilitate your own design charrette.
After a short hiatus for a summer break, we are back. We recently began a discussion on design charrettes and now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Design charrettes are a rapid, solution-seeking workshop that is typically facilitated, but I believe that any family household or community-minded group can come together as a team and work through the same steps to improve their home, neighborhood, or downtown. Even though the underlying process is similar for charrettes in each one of these realms, as the shift from private to public realms advances, complexity and number of participants involved will vary.
Have you began shifting your point of view? Last week we adopted a big picture view of community sustainability, and considered how each one of us can affect the realms with which we are connected. I like to imagine each one of us as a needle and thread, creating a quilt with others in the community.
Our home, neighborhood, and downtown are the three realms in which we are already fundamentally invested. Unlocking any distracting or preconceived notions about these places, while making sustainable progress, can be accomplished with the aid of an interactive design workshop called a charrette.
Do you want to live in a Green Heart Town, where there is a sense of health, community, and legacy? This kind of town can only be a product of community-wide sustainable development, which takes thoughtful planning and action. At the center of the effort, I see each one of our lives as a common thread skillfully used to create better places for everyone to live, work and play.
The transformation begins by loving our family and community well, caring for our neighbors, and becoming more future-minded. The wonderful paradox is that being future-minded also makes our lives better today, too!
The Main Street America™ revitalization strategy applied at the grass-roots level has allowed thousands of communities across America to recast their historic downtown districts as the heart of town life. The movement was launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980. Since then, over 2,000 communities have followed the Main Street Approach, bringing renewed energy and activity to America’s downtowns and commercial districts, securing $65.6 billion in new investment, creating more than 556,000 net new jobs, and rehabilitating 260,000 buildings.