Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Designing the Space Under the Willow

"Zones and Sectors" are Permaculture postulates used by a designer to decide where to put what. For instance, you'd need a really good reason to put your tomatoes on the shady, north side of a building. Similarly, you probably wouldn't set the main entry of your house towards whatever direction your winter storms come from. You'd get cold blasts of rain coming into the house whenever you opened the door.

Urban permaculture expands the idea of Zones (from Zone One, the places you are in the most to Zone Five, the places that are left alone and from which you find inspiration) to include "Zone Zero," or the care of your self. It also allows Sectors (those things you can't control, such as the fact the sun rises in the east and sets in the west) to be re-defined as wind tunnels between buildings, areas of greater or lesser crime, freeways and aqueducts, and in the case of my backyard, the cold trap created by the willow tree. I've got an area some 30x20 feet which is simply too shady to grow anything. Cut down the tree? No!

So we're breaking up the concrete paths and buried slabs from past owners' outbuildings and using this "urbanite" to create a fire pit, gathering space, and stage in that spot. It'll be a cool place to sit when the temps get high and it'll be a great spot to roast up indigenous vegetables. We also hope it will become a gathering spot for responding to neighborhood emergencies. It's part of our disaster preparedness strategy. We've transformed an apparent negative (we can't grow anything there!) into a nice Zone Two gathering space.

I am so sorry I didn't get a picture of the five strong men working on moving this chunk of retaining wall from under the willow over to the urbanite bench we're building. We did use levers and rollers, but the effort of it was nowhere near as elegant as Timmer's Stonehenge table I got to help assemble out in Citrus Heights.

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