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Monday, December 22, 2014

Communities and Governments are Switching to Localized Alternative Energy Systems

Introduction in Norwegian:

Noe av hva jeg setter mest pris på med natursamfunnsbevegelsen er prinsippet om å være selvforsynt med energi. Sentraliserte gjennomstrømsløsninger, som sentralisert energiproduksjon, vann- og avløp etc., er totalt imot alle permakulturens kjerneprinsipper.
When the needs of a system cannot be met from within itself, we pay the price in energy and pollution. - Bill Mollison
Å være tilknyttet sentrale energiløsninger for en permakulturist kan derfor best sammenlignes med et Jehovas vitne som er tvunget til å ta imot blod, et overgrep mot ens innerste verdier.

Årsaken til at myndighetene og korporasjonene ønsker å fore oss med all denne energien så vi nesten sprekker, er for å drive økonomisk vekst.
Energisløsingen i verden er skremmende. En befolkning kan være fornøyd med mye mindre energi enn hva vi tror vi trenger i dag. Se inn i fortida, hvor lite energi de hadde til rådighet! Legg til våre medisinske og vitenskapelige framskritt til en tradisjonell samfunnsmodell, for et godt liv. Resultatet kommer ikke engang i nærheten av forestillingen om sinnssyk forbrukerisme, oppmuntret av media! Media forer oss med en vrangforestilling; at vi er tvunget til å konsumere enorme mengder energi. Hvorfor? For å leke barnslige leker med å kopiere rike og energiuavhengige land? En klok regjering vil fremme et praktisk utdanningsprogram for å redusere energiforbruket, som en sentral faktor i programmet for bærekraft og uavhengighet. Det rette ordet her er å søke ”uavhengighet” fra globale industrier som kontrollerer energien, og å fokusere på mulige lokale løsninger. - Nikos A. Salingaros
Et annet poeng som taler mot det sentraliserte energinettverket er at det i løpet av nær framtid vil være umulig å vedlikeholde, slik at det kollapser og gjør oss alle mer sårbare for fremtida. Vårt nåværende elnett har ingen framtid!

Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions (se særlig i kommentarfeltet, hvor Tverberg flere ganger gjør det klart at det sentraliserte elnettet er dødsdømt.)

Kraftgater er lik blødende rifter i kulturlandskapet. Heldigvis er de dødsdømt.

Overview of recent initiatives by the Encounters newsletter:

(the original has all the links; ENCOUNTERS is an e-newsletter publication of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ Faith Economy Ecology Program)
Creating and strengthening local energy systems that are locally controlled is a key priority for communities preparing for a post-peak oil reality and all around the world we see this happening. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) recently released a report detailing the advantages of local ownership of energy production versus communities using out-of-state (or country) corporations. ILSR also documents a variety of community and state initiatives in local energy systems and other areas where communities are localizing their economies.
Interfaith Power & Light is a “religious response to global warming” that helps congregations of faith to reduce their energy usage and convert to renewable energy systems. Since the year 2000 they have assisted thousands of faith communities to understand their role as stewards of God’s Creation. Their website has an excellent compilation of resources on ecology from a faith-based perspective including sample sermons, prayers and other worship resources, study guides for groups, and religious statements on climate change.

The organization Go 100% has identified “eight countries, 46 cities, 52 regions, eight utilities, 21 non-profit/educational/public institutions, totaling more than 48.1 million people (and counting…) who have shifted or are committed to shifting within the next few decades to 100 percent renewable energy in at least one sector (e.g. electricity, transportation, heating/cooling).” Their website provides a wealth of concrete examples of communities uniting to remove fossil fuels from their economies, as well as detailed studies of how different communities could become 100 percent renewable.

The International Renewable Energy Agency also provides some inspiring case studies of cities “where local governments have successfully adopted measures to promote renewable energy and sustainability.”

A collection of civil society organizations in Ireland recently released their Community Energy Policy Position Paper, defining community energy as “a broad term that describes citizen and local ownership and participation in renewable energy generation, distribution and energy efficiency.” The paper describes the different barriers that such initiatives face and how government could facilitate the implementation of more community energy projects. As communities in other countries face similar barriers, the paper is helpful beyond the borders of Ireland. Erik Jan van Oosten provides a less technical explanation of the paper looking at the societal, technological and financial aspects of what needs to be done.

The British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association has a good four-part investigation of how the Canadian province could become a 100 percent renewable energy region, considering electricity, building heating and transportation.

Sweden has become a world leader in garbage recycling, currently recycling 99 percent of its garbage. It is so efficient that it has actually run out of garbage and now imports hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage from other countries to be used as a source of energy. But the program is not without its problems. Close to 50 percent of Sweden’s trash is burnt in incinerators that have a number of negative environmental effects including the release of dioxins that are especially toxic pollutants. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) argues that a true zero waste program would not use incinerators, but other options such as extending producer responsibility for their products after their useful life, using clean production techniques to avoid pollution, moving toward circular production systems that create no waste, and comprehensive composting of organic materials. GAIA points to other cities and regions that are implementing true zero waste programs without the use of incinerators.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tenk langsiktig og lokalt! – intervju med Nikos Salingaros

Publisert hos Kulturverk 17. april 2013.

Etter at Nikos A. Salingaros ble venn med Christopher Alexander endret dette hans karriere, hvor han i dag er regnet som en av verdens fremste arkitekturteoretikere. Salingaros har en sterkere interesse for sammenhengene mellom energibruk og arkitektur enn Alexander, da han tidligere arbeidet med energispørsmål og var involvert i forskning på fusjonsenergi.

Salingaros mener at moderne by- og samfunnsstruktur er kompleks kun på de høyere nivåene, og ignorerer småskalakompleksitet. Dette er en konsekvens av modernistisk liberalisme, fordi et topptungt styringssystem ikke har mulighet til å skape og opprettholde nødvendig kompleksitet på alle nivåer, samt at de heller ikke ønsker dette for å oppnå kontroll.

Salingaros hevder at modernistisk ideologi går på tvers av alle biologiske systemer, og fordi moderne samfunnssystemer prioriterer storskalakompleksitet er de dømt til å kollapse. Dette gjelder ikke kun for byene, men også for energisystemene, jordbruket, demokratiet etc. Derfor kan vi kun oppnå bærekraft og motstandsdyktighet ved å bryte fundamentalt med modernistisk ideologi og tankegods, noe jeg har forsøkt å gjøre kort rede for i artikkelen "Resilience after Modernism".

Det følgende intervjuet med Salingaros ble utført på fransk av Mumtaz Soogund hos Defimedia, Mauritius, 8. mars 2013. Min oversettelse er basert på en engelsk utgave av intervjuet. Mauritius står ved en korsvei i energipolitikken. Vil de følge resten av verden mot undergangen, eller vil de velge å framstå som et lysende eksempel til etterfølgelse?


MS: Et kullkraftverk ser ut til å bli en massiv investering i det lange løp, og folk snakker mer og mer om fornybare energiressurser. Er de pålitelige og ville de bli like effektive på Mauritius?

NS: Selvsagt er det meget enkelt å bygge et kullkraftverk i dag, fordi teknologien er gjennomprøvd, men vi må tenke langsiktig. Hvor kommer kullet fra? Inkluderer likninga kostnadene med å transportere basismaterialene? Er kullforekomstene og de lave prisene garanterte for årtiene som kommer? Nei. Fordi med en gang beslutningen er tatt er nasjonen lenket til denne energikilden og dens distribusjonsteknologi, og det ville bli altfor dyrt å endre dette i ettertid; og her snakker jeg om kommende generasjoner. Fornybar energi er ikke like utviklet enda, men i det minste binder den ikke landet opp til en løsning som er utdatert og trolig ustabil. Den store fordelen med alternative energikilder er deres skala; teknologien tillater en distribusjon fra flere ”sentrale kraftstasjoner”, små nok til at man ikke kaller en sådan kraftstasjon ”sentral”. Et land kan i dag ta beslutningen om å hoppe over gammel teknologi, slik som kull, for å ankomme direkte til framtidige metoder for å utnytte fornybar energi.

MS: Burde energisektoren omtales separat fra betegnelsen bærekraftig utvikling?

NS: Overhodet ikke! Energi er nært forbundet med bærekraftig utvikling (eller ikke). Uten energi er det ingen mulighet for utvikling, men hvis vi betaler for mye for energien sitter vi i saksa uansett og utviklingen lider, vi blir offer for begrensninger og ustabilitet. Et land må ha en meget klar ide om bærekraftig utvikling, bundet opp mot en plan for produksjon og forbruk av energi. Disse to sammen. Bruker man ”ren” energi til ikke-bærekraftig utvikling har man intet å vinne.

Are Small-Scale Renewable Energy Grids Already Starting to Replace Mega-Utility Corporations?

A situation overview by Encounters, the e-newsletter of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ Faith Economy Ecology Program.
Increasing efficiencies in energy storage and transmission combined with falling prices for renewable energy technologies are creating a profound transformation of energy systems around the world. Massive utility companies using fossil fuels are facing increasing competition from small-scale renewable energy producers ranging from farmers to community energy cooperatives. In more industrialized economies, especially the United States, this transformation is important to move away from dependence on fossil fuels and due to the increasing fragility of current energy systems; meanwhile, in less industrialized economies, this transformation is allowing countries to skip over dirty, concentrated systems and move directly to sustainable, distributed energy systems.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Det tyranniske stats/markeds-duopolet besegler sin makt over den norske landsbygda

Pål Steigan skriver:

– Vi er på vei tilbake til leilendingssystemet
Fjerne investorer kan heretter få tilskudd av staten til å drive gårdsbruk, besluttet regjeringen 19.12.2014, skriver ABCnyheter.
Regjeringen endret i dag forskriften om produksjonstilskudd til landbruket, slik at også gårdsbruk eid av selskaper uten tilknytning til bonden, kan få statlige tilskudd, advarer Norges Bondelag.
I den nye forskriften fra Sylvi Listhaugs (Frp) Landbruks- og matdepartement, er restriksjonene mot å yte tilskudd til andre enn bondeeide gårdsbruk, fjernet.
– Dette er dramatisk. Vi er på vei mot leilendingssystemet igjen, sier generalsekretær Per Skorge i Norges Bondelag til ABC Nyheter.
– Investeringsselskaper eller et slakteriselskap kan nå legge under seg betydelig antall driftsselskaper i landbruket, plassert på ulike gårder. Dermed kan de legge under seg store volumer, og få tilskudd fra staten, sier han.
– Det åpner for en vertikal integrasjon vi ikke har sett tidligere. Vi ser slikt i andre land, og det er naivt å tro at det ikke skal skje her i Norge, mener generalsekretæren.
Vertikal integrasjon innebærer at en og samme eier sitter på verdikjeden fra produksjon av råvarer (bonden), til foredling (slakterier, Bama) og salg (dagligvarekjeder).
Regjeringas nyliberale politikk vil føre til dramatiske endringer i norsk landbruk og i norsk bosetting.

Denne flotte totengården er snart fritt vilt for griske korporasjoner. Monsteret sikler av attrå etter å sette tennene i slike lekkerbiskner, det er som om jeg kan kjenne stanken av uhyret.

Min kommentar:
Det tyranniske stats/markeds-duopolet besegler igjen sin makt, dette griske rovdyret som var ment å være allmenninghetens tjenere, men som har vendt seg mot sin herre og river allmenningheten i fillebiter: http://www.kulturverk.com/2014/10/19/david-bollier-og-kampen-for-allmenningene/

Dette er et langt steg i feil retning, i stedenfor skulle vi gått motsatt veg og latt allmenningheten styrke sitt grep om landrettighetene: http://bollier.org/quilligans-%E2%80%9Cfailed-metaphysics-behind-private-property%E2%80%9D
Quilligan traces the consequences of the mind/body dichotomy and how it in turn has led to a corresponding separation of humans from nature itself. Under liberal political theory, humankind is meant to assert its mastery over inert, objectified nature; it has no need or obligation to enter into a subject-to-subject relationship with it, as most traditional and indigenous cultures do. That’s why the very idea of “nature’s rights” is nonsensical to western, modern societies — and why Bolivia, for example, regards modern development schemes and market exploitation as an egregious, irreverent crime against the cosmos. 
The epistemological foundation pioneered by Locke and others has enabled modern societies to develop science and technology, and a market economy that is capable of unprecedented material output. But it is also responsible for human societies that are quite alienated from nature as a sovereign force in its own right. That issue lies at the heart of so many of our environmental problems. We presume that we are separate from nature, and that nature itself is a passive object with no agency of its own. 
Another, usually overlooked result of this metaphysic, notes Quilligan, is that “nearly all autonomous rights to the commons are unconstitutional since state legitimacy is given almost exclusively to private and public property. Hence, common property has little foundation in civil law. Claims for the commons are largely dismissed as pre-modern ideas, superstitions, or excuses for anarchy and piracy. Both natural and social commons are viewed merely as a passive field waiting to be acted upon – a res nullius in legal terms – something to be claimed, contractualized and developed as private property.” – David Bollier
Hvordan går det i Tolfa, Steigan? Tolfa er jo en landallmenning til etterfølgelse for hele Europa! Styrker allmenningheten sitt grep der, eller er det tyranniske stats/markeds-duopolet ivrige etter å rive også denne allmenningen i fillebiter?

Det må være trist for deg å sitte i Tolfa og se hvordan dette monsteret herjer i Norge, lik en gal ulv full av rabies og alskens djevelskap.
Relatert:
Meningen med staten og markedet er at de skal tjene og understøtte allmenningheten. Dessverre er det stadig færre i dagens Norge som forstår dette, og underkaster seg det rådende stats/markeds-duopolets tyranny. Les mer i mitt essay: Modeller for et post-kapitalistisk scenario?

Establishing the Main Center of the Neighborhood

By Christopher Alexander. Original text here.

Published at P2P-Foundation on 19th December 2014.
Assume now that a rough area for your neighborhood has been established, and its boundary is clear. The area may be part of an existing city, in need of new life or refurbishing. It might equally well be a green field site near a town, or on the edge of an existing town or village.
RULE 1.
Let us ask ourselves which particular place in the area dedicated to the neighborhood most inspires us by its life or potential for life, and also has the greatest capacity for becoming the spiritual and emotional heart of the new neighborhood?
In order to do this, we need to walk around many times, with others and alone, asking ourselves which place has the natural magnetism to pull us to go there, which makes us want to stay there, which has the power (potentially) to give us life merely from being there.
On a green field site, where a neighborhood does not yet exist, this feeling will most likely be generated by a view, by the form of the land which has a natural protected area, a declivity, or by a high spot which looks out. Great trees, are also capable of giving us such a place, naturally occurring water, the edge of a forest, the bottom of a cliff. It is impossible to predict with any general principles, what feature of a particular piece of land will have this character. Each piece of land is different, and will tell you, in its own way, what unique feature, on that land, is best suited to become the spiritual center of a future neighborhood built there.
On a site that is part of an existing neighborhood, or part of an existing town, the procedure is not very different, though it may turn out to be more complicated. ….
RULE 2.
Let us now ask ourselves how the place we have chosen as the most natural center, may be enhanced and made profound.
What we are asking here, is what kind of actions will support the essence of the place, make it convenient and natural for people to come to it, protect it from surrounding influences, so that it can have its own peacefulness and life.
RULE 3.
Let us now ask ourselves how this place, which has been activated (in principle) by our response to Rule 2, may also be made beautiful and tranquil, as a work of architecture.
The way to achieve this is to spend time, gazing on the land, at the place where the building is to be, or at the space itself, as a place and as a beautiful entity in itself. Ask yourself — standing there, and closing your eyes — how high it is, what line will enhance the place, where you would most expect to find the front edge of the building, if it is a peaceful and gentle place.
It will not be out of place, either, to ask childish things, of your inner eye. What color is it? When you close your eyes, what color do you see? What kind of windows does it have? When you close your eyes, what shape are the windows, what figure gives them inspiration, and makes the place worth being in?
CONCLUSION
As you see, these three rules are not rules in quite the usual sense. The rule does not tell us, magisterially, Do this! Do that!
Instead it is a rule, but the rule says to you, Ask yourself this, and this and this — and it works this way, because the rule knows that if you follow it, the vision of your own heart will answer the question correctly, and know what to do. And it knows, too, that when several of you do the same, together — that is, do what this rule tells you, in the way of asking yourselves these questions — then, for the most part, you will find yourselves in agreement with your fellows.
And that is where a lasting sense of unity and harmony within the neighborhood can come from: the results are not arbitrary, but found in the deepest place in your heart. It will last.
SUMMARY OF TASKS FOR THIS UNFOLDING:
  • Define the area of this main neighborhood center on the ground and mark its corners with stakes.
  • Transfer the positions of these corner stakes by direct GPS survey, via computer, to the topographic map you have.
  • Try to decide what shaped space, how enclosed and how open, and what buildings around the space, will make it a beautiful spot.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Nature of Order: Unfolding a Sustainable World

Published at P2P-Foundation on 17th December 2014.

Stuart Cowan is the co-author of Ecological Design and participates in the rich culture of sustainability emerging in Portland, Oregon.

His review of The Nature of Order, was first published in Resurgence, 2004.

THE UNIVERSE IS abundantly filled with living structure at every level of scale. Energy, matter, and information cascade from vast sheets of galaxies through to our own solar system, to the earth, to the oak glistening in the glade, to its microbial symbionts, on to their proteins, and ultimately to the Planck scale at which spacetime becomes discrete.


When we are most alive, we experience the universe in its wholeness. We experience our connection to a thirteen-billion year old unfolding story that links every living cell, every particle, every star. Why then are we surrounded with buildings, landscapes, and artefacts that engender fragmentation?

Christopher Alexander, an architect, builder and mathematician, has spent forty years attempting to discern the living structure inherent in the universe and harvest this structure for use in practical processes that repair damaged places and create harmonious new ones. In his extraordinary four-volume summation of a fruitful life’s work, The Nature of Order, Alexander proposes both a new science and a new approach to buildings and places unified by a profound notion of wholeness as the governing field.

Wholeness is understood as a richly nonlinear field of interactions among salient entities – or centres – with surprising, yet empirically verifiable properties. Centres support larger centres, and in turn are recursively formed from smaller centres. As we know from experience, subtle changes may greatly affect the field of wholeness. The field has a number of postulated mathematical properties, but currently resists even approximate calculation.

Fortunately, we can access the field of wholeness through personal observation. We need merely ask, “To what degree each of two things we are trying to judge is, or is not, a picture of the self – and by this I mean your and my wholesome self, perhaps even our eternal self”. This mirror of the self test asks us to awaken to our deepest feelings in the presence of a farmhouse, a chair, a painting, and to see whether we are made more or less alive. Remarkably, extensive experiments have demonstrated that subjects cross-culturally will reach extremely high levels of agreement after honest engagement with the task of evaluating wholeness.

Based on intensive examination of thousand of examples, Alexander posits fifteen fundamental properties that generate life and wholeness from a system of centres. These properties include levels of scale, strong centres, boundaries, alternating repetition, positive space, good shape, local symmetries, deep interlock and ambiguity, contrast, gradients, roughness, echoes, the void, simplicity, inner calm and not-separateness. This list, while provisional, hints at something of profound importance; a comprehensive taxonomy of transformations that generate orderly, larger and larger wholes with living structure.

These fifteen properties are so powerful precisely because they generate structure-preserving transformations (1). They extend the existing structure of wholeness, enhancing existing centres through well-defined processes. Alexander proposes that this set of structure-preserving transformations, together with an understanding of the overall field of wholeness, provides the foundation for a new kind of science based on wholeness rather than fragmentation.
Christopher Alexander, an architect, builder and mathematician, has spent forty years attempting to discern the living structure inherent in the universe and harvest this structure for use in practical processes that repair damaged places and create harmonious new ones. In his extraordinary four-volume summation of a fruitful life’s work, The Nature of Order, Alexander proposes both a new science and a new approach to buildings and places unified by a profound notion of wholeness as the governing field.
This science would of course be consistent with existing physics, chemistry and biology, yet proceed from a completely different epistemological base. It would be able to treat complex, self-organising processes as core rather than peripheral phenomena. Such a science would restore meaning, context and story both to the human and the more-than-human realms. Most significantly, “We shall have a vision of the world in which the world itself – all of it – animals, plants, mountains, rivers, buildings, roads, terraces, rooms and windows – is a part of a single system and a single way of understanding”.

The Nature of Order holds out the magnificent prospect that there are processes that ordinary people can use, in small groups or vast collaborations, to create living structure, whether at the scale of a single hand-painted tile, a city or a continent. These processes use precisely the same kinds of transformations spontaneously employed by breaking waves, developing frog embryos, spiral galaxies or nonlinear chemical reactions. In vernacular form, these processes have been harnessed and turned into shared practices by traditional cultures for millennia.

Living structure, while ubiquitous in the universe, represents a minute portion of the space of available configurations for a house, garden or public plaza. Processes for generating living structure are essential if we are to heal our wounded cities, towns and countryside. Such processes can be learned fairly readily. Proficiency is built up through disciplined application. At every step, each process ultimately relies on the mirror of the self test. Is this step creating more or less life? How is it supporting the whole? How is it being supported by existing centers?

Remarkably, these questions can be constructively discussed. Time and again, I have seen groups of students, architects, or citizens undertake the fundamental differentiating process of creating wholeness. Individuals are able to effectively communicate the structure of wholeness, as they perceive it, and demonstrate to the others why a given step has certain positive or negative effects. The group is then able to verify the observation and respond with additional tests. Gradually, haltingly, greater and greater differentiation and intensification of centers in support of an ever deepening structure of wholeness emerges. The end result is likely to have a fundamental life and coherence that is largely absent from design processes cut off from the wellspring of wholeness and the mirror of self.

There are many ways to enhance the process of creating living structure. One approach is to understand the patterns that help to generate wholeness within a given recurring context. For example, the pattern ‘Light on Two Sides of Every Room’ provides a generic rule for placing windows in such a way that they strengthen the existing centres in the room. Patterns, together with a grammar derived from their intrinsic spatial and conceptual relationships, can be combined into a kind of pattern language and systematically applied. Hundreds of patterns, ranging in scale from construction details to regions, have been documented by Christopher Alexander and his colleagues, most notably in A Pattern Language (Oxford, 1977).

A sequence of patterns carefully chosen to unfold wholeness can greatly accelerate the process of creating living structure and increase its chances of success. For instance, a traditional Japanese tea house may be generated through a well-defined sequence of twenty-four steps beginning with the placement of the tea house in a secluded garden, and ending with the construction of a small pillar in an alcove off the tea room (tokonoma). Efforts are underway to study these sequences in a wide variety of practical situations and make good sequences broadly available.

The Nature of Order begins with the structure of wholeness in the universe and derives adaptive processes that systematically generate living structure in the world around us. Ultimately, I believe it provides a new foundation for sustainability; one grounded in our deepest aspirations to act in ways conducive to all life, testable at every level of scale, and enabled by a powerful set of replicable processes and patterns that are already partially understood.

In order to test this notion, my research team at Ecotrust developed a pattern language for bioregional sustainability for the coastal temperate rainforest ecosystem hugging the west coast of North America, from northern California to Alaska. We generated a website documenting fifty-seven patterns ranging from “Civic Society” to “Sense of Place”. The site uses an open source model that allows site visitors, from all over the world, to test the patterns, adapt them for their own use, and suggest improvements.

Whilst still in an experimental stage, this bioregional pattern language confirms that processes working at the smallest scales – helping to give life to a garden, a storefront or a stretch of river – can be systematically linked to processes at larger scales, including those that ensure the connectivity and functionality of ecosystems at a continental scale and those that maintain compatibility with the cycling of nutrients and materials at a planetary scale. As Alexander states, “At every scale, every act of formation is both local and global, both creative/complete and accretive/incomplete.”

Sustainability emerges from a million individual acts of creative engagement; living processes that preserve the structure of wholeness, healing and repairing damaged sites along the way. These living processes, while self-organising, effectively co-ordinate across different levels of scale, ensuring that small acts sum to meet the preconditions of health for the biosphere. At the same time, these processes systematically translate large-scale sustainability conditions, like those provided by The Natural Step framework, into the joyful detail of millions of living centres. Living processes incrementally restore both the human spirit and its necessary correlate, the wholeness of the world and its diverse beings.

The Nature of Order provides the most powerful set of processes to date for unfolding a sustainable world. These processes affect the scale of activity, the flow of money, the sharing of understanding, and the way decisions are made. They demand of us a commitment to wholeness in ourselves and in each of our interactions with the world.


(1) WHOLENESS-EXTENDING-TRANSFORMATIONS: Discussion of these transformations can be found throughout The Nature of Order, where they are most often referred to by their older name, "structure-preserving transformations." This name has been given up because it does not correctly suggest the emergence of new structure from wholeness, and seems only to refer to structure that is already there in its entirety. The references in The Nature of Order use the term "structure-preserving" almost exclusively, and the references given below will most often show that term being used for consiatence with the book, even though w-e- transformation is now thought to be more accurate. (See here.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It Will Probably be Deflation All the Way Now Until the System is Broken

Yes, the banksters will starve. And so will we. There is no happy ending to this. It will probably be deflation all the way now until the system is broken. Maybe the central banks can manage to turn it around to hyperinflation (why not try helicopter drops?), which will still produce the same result in the end, but I doubt it.

Notice that the powers that be don't even have a plan for degrowing the economy while preserving the most useful aspects of industrial civilization. They must have (correctly) concluded that it would be impossible, so they single-mindedly pursue growth at any cost until the whole system fails. - Eivind Berge
Eat well this Christmas. It might be your last Christmas on full stomach!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FC Journal is online: And I'm invited to write for them!

I just got this encouraging message from my new friend John Jacobi:
Hey Øyvind, I just wanted to let you know that the FC Journal is online. We have published four articles, and some more are going to be published in the coming weeks. You can check it out at http://thejournal.link. Feel free to submit any pieces of writing you think should be published (review the guidelines at http://thejournal.link/submit first).
I hope you are doing well!
--- John F. Jacobi
In addition I see they offer help to edit material from foreigners. This is very kind.

To see this new Anti-Technology website is really encouraging, as technology soon has destroyed every single piece of our once beautiful and silent Earth.

Visit this brand new website now:

- FC Journal

The anti-technologist John Jacobi

Please read Jacobi's essay "The Technology Problem".
The biologist Jared Diamond published in 2005 the book Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive. He summarizes how native populations and cultures that have ‘advanced’ in technology, have, without exception, expanded above carrying boundaries, destroying their own foundation for life. And then they collapsed. There are no historical examples of native populations who cared about anything else than short sighted gain. Human cultures have in the past only been restricted by technological limitations in using up resources, not by their nobility. There is a clear boundary between those cultures who remained at a hunter/gatherer level, in which some still exist, and cultures which developed technology or grew their populations to change the ecosystems they depended upon. All the latter-mentioned cultures are gone, except for the one we live in today. The world’s earlier cultures, like ours today, are a history of how people used all available means to fight for, exploit and deplete the ecosystems they lived in. Regardless of culture, people of all eras struggled and fought for food, place, benefits and values that are connected to the two powers of selection: To get what’s needed to secure nurturing for children and family (natural selection), and to become an attractive partner (sexual selection). — The Biological Human Being, by Terje Bongard and Eivin Røskaft, page 239

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Transition Technology: Three horse hitch winter logging in Swedish Lapland


This video gives an example of how we can transit to simpler technology as industrial civilization and energy production decline in the years ahead, combining new and old in an excellent way.

This graph shows the decline in energy production for the next 20 years, making it obvious we have to work in less energy consuming ways in the near future. Source: Tverberg

Tidløse broer

At noe er tidløst vil si at det er umoderne, med dette mener jeg anti-modernistisk. Ingenting som er skapt i en moderne ånd er tidløst, fordi modernismen fornekter universet, som er evolvert ut fra de 15 transformasjonene for helhet.

The Fifteen Geometric Properties of Wholeness

De følgende broene er skapt ut av naturen, de leder oss ikke kun over til den andre siden, men til evigheten. En absolutt nytelse, inkarnert visdom fra en tapt tid. Vil vi igjen noensinne krysse visdommens bro?

- 20+ Mystical Bridges That Will Take You To Another World

Låtefossen bro, en verdig norsk representant. Foto: Max Rive.

Vi ser i Låtefossen bro følgende transformasjoner:

- STRONG-CENTER (Broa er det sterkeste senteret i landskapet, samtidig som den styrker alle andre sentra i et stort enhetlig senter, eller "the I".)

- THICK-BOUNDARY (Både rekkverket og ikke minst buene over buegangene lager tykke omramminger.)

- LEVELS-OF-SCALE (Først og fremst i steinene mellom buene.)

- ALTERNATING-REPETITION (Buene, rommet mellom buene og vannet mellom dem veksler i en jevn rytme.)

- LOCAL-SYMMETRIES (Hver bue er bygd opp av to lokale symmetrier.)

- POSITIVE-SPACE (Rommet mellom buegangene er konvekst.)

- ROUGHNESS (En naturlig konsekvens av at man har benyttet naturstein.)

- DEEP-INTERLOCK AND AMBIGUITY (Broelementene har slått rot i elvebunnen, gråsteinene likesom stiger opp av elva.)

- ECHOES (De omkringliggende åsene reflekteres i brobuene.)

- INNER-CALM (Her er intet ego, intet ønske om å skape noe unikt, det eneste som gjelder er respekten for og samhørigheten med omgivelsene.)

- NOT-SEPARATENESS (Broa er en like naturlig del av naturen på stedet som elva, åsene og skyene er det, de er ett.)

Hvordan kunne en fattig snekker fra utkanten Galilea ende opp som en allegori for fremskrittsreligionen?

That’s the thing that drove the ferocious rejection of philosophy by the underclass of the age, the slaves and urban poor who made up the vast majority of the population throughout the Roman empire, and who received little if any benefit from the intellectual achievements of their society. To them, the subtleties of Neoplatonist thought were irrelevant to the increasingly difficult realities of life on the lower end of the social pyramid in a brutally hierarchical and increasingly dysfunctional world. That’s an important reason why so many of them turned for solace to a new religious movement from the eastern fringes of the empire, a despised sect that claimed that God had been born on earth as a mere carpenter’s son and communicated through his life and death a way of salvation that privileged the poor and downtrodden above the rich and well-educated. - John Michael Greer
Fremskrittsreligionen er tvers igjennom en allegori på kristendommen, som opprinnelig var troen og håpet for romerrikets utstøtte og fattige underklasse. Hvordan kunne dette skje?

Vi går nå inn i juletida, som ikke lenger er annet enn tomme gravsteinstradisjoner over en tapt kultur. Fremskrittsreligionen med sin kjøpefest og individualistiske atomisme er alt samtidskulturen består av. Den har intet av skjønnhet eller mening.

Underlig er det at vår fremskrittstro er et vrengebilde av kristendommen, en tro som opprinnelig var de utstøttes og de fattiges tro. Hvordan kunne dette skje? John Michael Greer har gitt mange av svarene i sin siste bok, som lanseres på nyåret.


Når jeg en gang får tid til å lese denne, og hvis jeg noensinne igjen får mulighet til å samle tankene, håper jeg å skrive essayet "Fra kristendom til fremskrittstro" for Kulturverk.

I mellomtiden er mange av mine tanker om temaet å finne i denne diskusjonstråden hos Kulturverk.

Alvebrød er ikke hverdagskost

Da er det en større utfordring at verken journalist eller de som intervjues synes kjent med bakteppet for Ringenes Herre. Få verker er mer gjennomsyret av kristen tro, symbolikk og typologier.  

Selv om de ikke er analogier, respresenterer Frodo, Aragorn og Gandalf ulike aspekter av Kristus. Gollum trekker tankene i retning av Judas. Galadriel har en posisjon som minner om Maria.

Og alvebrød - Lembas - som Frodo og Sam får med seg på veien mot Mordor er på én gang stridsrasjon og åndelig føde. Den styrker kroppen og sjelen. Den er gitt dem av Galadriel som representerer det opphøyde, det hellige, den som formidler det åndelige lys i mørket.

Det er ikke slik at en norsk prest nærmest etter innfallsmetoden har latt seg inspirere av Tolkiens alvebrød til å popularisere nattverden. Det var Tolkien som lot seg inspirere av nattverden til å skrive om alvebrød.

Skal vi først snakke om synkretisme, er det Tolkien som er ansvarlig. Det var han som flyttet nattverdsbrødet inn i hverdagen. Eller i det minste inn i den fantasyfortellingen som har vært mest tilstede i hverdagen hos flest - uten dermed å være hverdagslig.

At det også er en bok som egner seg mer enn de fleste i kirkerommet, er ingen tilfeldighet.

Selv om den ikke inneholder mange klønete formuleringer. Les mer...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Poetic Pattern Language

By Christopher Alexander. Original text here.

WHAT DOES WRITING POETRY GET YOU? Some people are reluctant to try writing poetry. If you feel that way, please be reassured that there is a good reason for such an attempt. We are looking for word “pictures” that have feelings in them – that describe reality in ways beyond analytical and technical ways of thinking. Writing poetry gives you permission to talk about things freely, in this feeling way, when otherwise it may not be so accessible.
Use the following sequence as a model for making your own first rudimentary pattern language for the neighborhood — just to get started. Although the following may seem “far out”, it is intended to encourage you to allow free reign to your imagination at this earliest stage.
This example originally written for Samarkand city center, Uzbekistan, 1994
1. It is a sequence of public squares, gardens, and buildings, which will form the new center of the city of Samarkand, uniting historic and traditional buildings and quarters.
2. There is a new dimension here, a center of spiri­tual life. It is not a commercial center, not a cultural center, not a religious center in the old idea. It is not a convention center. Somehow, this new center of the city of Samarkand, unites old and new, weaves to­gether the thread of the silk road, the tomb of Timur the Great, with the modern world, and a vision of the world in which comfortable human concern, and a spiritual awareness of the importance of life, is vis­ible, felt, and active.
3. It is an inspiring place to go. A place of pilgrimage, which will receive visitors from the five continents, in increasing thousands.
4. A network of beautiful paths, formed by columns, colonnades, brick walls, buildings, gardens. This network of paths, which passes across the whole area, is formed by the building masses which arise out of it, and by formal gardens.
5. Do the paths open into courtyards, ponds, gardens, hidden places? Are they formed only by mysterious buildings, rising in color, tile, and marble? Are there figures, statues, animals, Gods, people, statues stand­ing at the places where the paths cross?
6. Are the animals themselves covered with mysteri­ous animals?
7. Is there any reference to voyages?
8. The main thing one is aware of is a network of green and beautiful jewel-like streets. Each has lush trees, seats, platforms, streams.
9. These green streets, made by their trees, benches, sitting platforms, and edges, form a lacework of places to walk. They are like parks, long and nar­row, you can explore for many hours, walking around these streets.
10. Each one of the streets arrives on some new trea­sure. Each building is like a treasure, arrived at by the green streets.
11. Samarkand, historically, and in the time of Ulugh Beg, was a crossroads of the world. In the Tang dynasty period, every conceivable exotic sub­stance, or idea, or artifact, or art on earth, came through Samarkand. No matter where it went, or where it came from, it went through Samarkand.
12. Somehow, then, one may imagine these green heavenly paths, as a network—almost a mythical bazaar in which reference to these many exotic sub­stances exists.
13. The blue tile work of the Timurids, the hand-painted blue tiles, with small black, yellow, and white detail, on mud brick—these tiles, and the yel­low bricks are in evidence on walls, domes, court­yards throughout the center. It is a thread which connects.
14. The whole network of paths is almost like a forbidden city. A place which is walled, punctured at very occasional places which allow one to enter, a special area that contains its own magic.

SUMMARY OF TASKS FOR THIS UNFOLDING:

  • Write a poem like the one for Samarkand, for your own new, imagined neighborhood. Allow yourself free reign, free imagination, and make it poetically whole. Capture the spirit of the very best, and most serious that this new neighborhood could be.
  • If possible, pin up the poem you have written, on the wall where people can see it, and listen to what they say.
  • Put a copy in your workbook!

THE NEIGHBORHOOD YOU IMAGINE BUILDING: HERE’S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO START IMAGINING IT

By Christopher Alexander. Original text here.
One of the best ways to see clearly, or to find out what your vision is, is to close your eyes, and imagine that you have just arrived in the place. What do you see? What is most wonderful about the place you see?

WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES?

It is also very possible to do the closed-eyes process with your friends. Just sit around, all close your eyes together, and talk about what you see.
Write down what you see, in your workbook. It is sometimes elusive, and if you don’t write it down the memory can fade.

WHO ARE YOUR PARTNERS?

What we mean by “partners” are any of the people who are likely to do this project together. They may be lay people, neighbors, professionals, city people, and anyone who has an important part to play, to get the project done. It will take a while to identify these people as a group. Allowing it to form gradually will help the process.
Sometimes you just do not know the people who are likely to live and work in a new neighborhood, because it is too early, or too hard, to identify them. Even in this case, it is helpful — almost necessary — to involve people who are living and working nearby, and treat them as a source of information, and inspiration, so that what you are doing becomes as real as possible, even in the temporary absence of some of your future occupants.

DO YOU ALREADY HAVE YOUR LAND, OR IS IT NOT YET CHOSEN?

Two different scenarios:
(a) A piece of land is already identified. People have a piece of land and have an idea of what they want to do there. Walk the land together. Spend time on the land where you imagine this project can be done. Visit the place fairly often. Involve your partners in continuing conversation about the place and its value. Make sure that you gradually achieve cohesion as a group by being on the land together, and continuing to talk.
(b) A piece of land is not yet identified. People have an idea of what they want to do but haven’t yet found a piece of land where they feel it’s appropriate to do what they have in mind. Even then you can begin thinking about the ingredients of the community, and what will be unique to this place.

WHAT MIX OF INGREDIENTS WILL DEFINE THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

Given the piece of land, what are some of the ingredients you are thinking about putting there?
Is it a conventional group of houses?
Can it contain businesses and workplaces?
How much park and green space would you like to see?
How much in the way of gardens?
Would you like something communal — church, town hall, association? This last is very important — but it needs an inventive attitude and time to think of a communal building that will really work.
The overall mix of things should be inventive, and particular to you. How they fit together may not be immediately obvious and may be hard to talk about, but it is important to do so. How will it work economically? How will it work socially? Given your choices of the above ingredients, you also need to answer the key question How much of each is going to be happening there?
Later these ingredients, may be refined to become patterns, and then steps of the generative code.

A MORE VISIONARY MIX OF INGREDIENTS

The list in the last paragraph may seem a bit bureaucratic or unexciting. That’s because it isn’t yet your list, it is ours. Do you and your friends see a more vivid picture, one with very particular emotional colors, activities, buildings, and businesses? If this vividness is real — then give that reality voice. Your neighborhood will be a more lively place, in the long run people are likely to love it more. And there is probably more chance of it helping to make the world a better place.
If you have an idea for this that you would like to sketch, or if you want to make sketches of some of the elements of your vision, that’s a very good idea. Keep your sketches in your workbook and share them with others.

SUMMARY OF TASKS FOR THIS UNFOLDING:

  • Write down a description of the vision you have gained.
  • Share it with your colleagues, and edit it until it is more or less shared among all of you.
  • It should be written in as much detail as you feel you know, and kept in your workbook.
  • It’s to be hoped that this vision is largely shared, but if there are points of disagreement or opinion, not settled yet, then write those down as well.

WHOLENESS: THE FOUNDATION OF A LIVING NEIGHBORHOOD


By Christopher Alexander. Original text here.

Published at P2P-Foundation on 13th December 2014.
  • EVERY ACT IS TAKEN IN THE CONTEXT OF SOME WHOLENESS
  • The wholeness exists to begin with as a structure in the land and in the surrounding built environment
  • The act which is taken must try to extend and enhance that wholeness
  • There is then a new wholeness in that place
  • The next act must then do its best to extend that second wholeness
  • This is true for a neighborhood
  • It is true for an extension to an existing neighborhood
  • And it is true for every individual building, window, door, and garden, within that neighborhood
  • For life to occur, EVERYTHING is governed by the wholeness from which it came
At any given moment, in any part of the world, there is a deep wholeness that exists there. This is the structure of the whole: the largest and deepest physical configuration that is present there. It can be felt and seen.
The most fundamental way to treat the land – whether it is an open field, an existing village, or a street in town – is to respect what is there, protect it, continue it, and make it better. Heal it. Make it more whole. The great towns and villages have always been built this way, and it is this process which gave them beauty. The deep seeds of structure run through the place in its geometry, its colors, its smells and its sounds. It takes skill to preserve and extend these. It requires loving attention to what is there.
It means that the new should always grow out of respect for what is there now, and what was there before.
The most fundamental rule, to be followed always, is that we must do our best to leave this structure intact. This does not mean we must do nothing there. It means that we should honor and respect the structure that exists, and try to preserve this deep physical configuration in whatever new things we do. The new should always grow out of respect for what is there now, and what was there before. We must act out of the knowledge that if we violate the deep structure, we will not only violate the place. We will, at a profound level, also damage our own feelings and our own sensibilities.
It is this wholeness – the basic structure of the place – that matters most. In the monastery of Thyangboche, on the lower slopes of Everest, (shown above) the angles are chosen to reflect the angles of the mountains; the overhanging roofs enter into the wholeness which is there; the blood red walls, for some reason that is not entirely clear, support the wholeness; the walls are made of rocks which come from that place. The white stripe on the building wall reflects the snow; the snow lying on the shallow roofs stays there, and makes a blanket just as the snow does on the mountain’s hanging slopes. That monastery became part of Everest, and it continues the wholeness and the structure of the mountains which surround it.
Equally, in a village, a corner store with two tables on the sidewalk, the whole of which forms the corner, also, in turn, forms a larger center in the neighborhood. Both small and large details about the place make it so. This is an example of what must be preserved, protected, and extended. You cannot extend it simply by making it larger – only by honoring it and respecting what is there. This means making sure that the larger structure that ripples out from the two tables on the sidewalk is extended and strengthened by whatever other things are built in the nearby areas.
The unfoldings on this website guide you in the process of envisioning, diagnosing, planning and building on your physical site, always with the purpose of extending wholeness — the basis of a living neighborhood.

These practices are essential to creating a living neighborhood:

  • As far as possible, try to become aware, intuitively, of the deep structure on your site.
  • Act in sympathy for your own instinct about the deep structure that you can sense is there.
  • Do not play with words when it comes to judging this. Be true to the feelings you carry inside of you, and do your best to protect the earth.
  • Try your best to make a new thing which, as far as possible, reflects, respects, and honors what is there already.