Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Home of the Future at Esalen!


"Hi Bob? My name is Prudence. My team picked your property for our design project!"

"Oh?" says I. Design project? I quickly make an assumption that someone in the permaculture world has smiled with favor upon me. I decide to play along. "That's great!"

"Yeah, yours beat out a hospital and an urban farm. We really wanted something using cohousing. I've got the assignment to come out and do an initial site check and take some pictures. When can we meet?" asks Prudence.

I know these design projects for urban permaculture are fast, intense episodes for students of the urban permaculture design course. So I picked a day that was sooner rather than later. She came out, we toured, I gave her a psuedo property-lines and buildings plan to take with her, and the list of functions that residents here want. The "work" for creating a design is in gathering all the inputs; figuring the zones and sectors, looking at what people want, what the municipal and legal constraints are, and so on. The fun is in figuring out how to weave everything together to yield the maximum output that is regenerative and even restorative.

Here's the list of things our community has decided we'd like to see:

Private Sacred space (hang out w/ sweetie, meditate, etc.) (two, three locations)
raised beds for veggies
fruit trees
hot tub
large outdoor gathering area for rituals, classes, parties, etc.
outdoor performance area
Eating area/tables
bbq & outdoor cooking area
space for children to play that's not too hard (grass? other green/soft?)
play structures
semi-protected bike storage
workshop area
herb garden
Often sunny place to sit (maybe with the swing)
garbage & recycling can area
place (or places) for community notices
large tool & supply storage (shed(s))
compost & supplies
chicken coop
chicken supplies
chicken run
wood storage
water feature/pond
solve drainage at east side of common house, north side of Hank's (Linton and Jehanne's), all around 835 ("Willow house")
gray water (black water?)
Winding paths
living roof or living decks
semi-public access areas, semi-private and fully private areas
enhanced connection to the neighborhood
solar panels
permeable driveways
plug-in community electric car
changes in gradient: some high places, some low places
food forest (understories for plum, fig trees)


A daunting list? No! Once all the relationships between these things are charted out, it becomes really clear how to arrange things. For example, cars might be parked under a raised garden watered with some of that rain that is pooling around the foundations. Or "guild" planting around the fruit trees combines well with raised bed gardening as well as keeping the chickens out of the vegetables as well as creating private spaces for sitting in the sun. It's called "stacking functions." Finding the ways to integrate many parts is fun, cool, and it's the part of the puzzle that alarmist activists don't really understand. Anyone who has decided, for example, that overpopulation is the key issue driving the world to the brink, is making an assumption that how we feed and clothe and shelter ourselves is the way we must do so.

I can hardly wait to see what sort of nifty design the Esalen permies come up with. The presentation is this Saturday!

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