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Excerpts from David Korten’s “Living Buildings, Living Economies, and a Living Future” from Yes! online, May 18, 2011:

“Integrating multi-purpose buildings into a larger multi-building neighborhood or district system adds opportunities to develop public green spaces, community gardens, edible landscaping, and small-scale poultry and livestock production, as well as natural wetlands and living machine water purification to continuously recycle nutrients, water, and energy.

Integrative projects also create opportunities to balance the utility loads of businesses, which generally have greater energy needs during the day, and residences, which have greater needs during nonbusiness hours. Bringing residences, employment, shopping, and recreation together in close proximity minimizes transportation requirements and facilitates the sharing of autos, bicycles, appliances, and tools, and community connections to mass transit, bike trails, and other transportation alternatives.

The living economies movement seeks to displace this failed economic system with a planetary system of resilient, self-reliant local economies comprised of human-scale, locally-owned enterprises that use local resources to meet local needs in cooperative alignment with the structure and dynamics of local ecosystems.”

Quick thoughts on Korten’s essay as it relates to our County:

The question we are facing locally is what parameters to establish allowing these kinds of systems to flourish (if anything like this is our goal).  It would seem that many objectives need to be balanced against each other for the benefit of the larger community.   For example, density in some areas versus growth limits in others; height on some sites if solar access is maintained for vegetated cover and open space on others; compact development with a flexible integration of uses to allow greater net permeable area within and around development.

More abstractly, we need to think about the general framework before applying untenable parameters on the specific; performance measures versus inflexible standards that are typically derived from acceptable lowest common denominators.  Less process for projects that hit performance measures.  More process as a trade-off for bending the rules to fit a site, community, or program better.  Yes? No?