Ecological Design, Tenth Anniversary Edition
Sim Van der Ryn
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bring the problem to the attention of the community. Sustainability begins in modest acts of responsibility. In Berkeley, California, a group called Urban Ecology has begun to make the city streets speak of the land hidden beneath their surface. The Urban Ecologists have stenciled “creek critters”—frogs, salamanders, salmon, and other creek species—on streets above culverted creeks and painted the unambiguous warning “NO DUMPING— DRAINS TO BAY!” next to storm drains around the city. One can no
before reaching the Rio Grande. It also uses local resources—vegetation (mesquite tiles) and minerals (caliche, lime, pozzolan, iron trusses)—and locally produced wastes (straw bales). Max’s Pot is “mining for the knowledge to capitalize on local resources . . . and local farmers, metalworkers, and builders to sustain the small Blueprint Farm community and, by extension, dozens of such settlements on the periphery of existing cities.”21 By responding in an information-rich, energy-poor, and
American Architecture (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989), 247. 6. Gary Paul Nabhan, Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1989), 71. 7. Ibid., 72. 8. Vandana Shiva, Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology (London: Zed Books, 1993), 14. 9. Cajete, Look to the Mountain, 79. 10. We are indebted to Katy Langstaff for her provocative notion of a “pattern for sustainability.” 11. Thomas Berry, The
Unfortunately, most design is hostile to ecotones. In reaction to the rapid, haphazard growth of cities in the industrial era, city-planning practice as it developed in the early twentieth century zoned development into separate single-use land areas for housing, industry, commerce, and recreation. Government action discouraged and often ruthlessly eliminated the older, more organic concept of mixed uses in close proximity. Architects focused on creating new prototypes for single-use buildings.
Everyone is a Designer 175 At the community scale, ecological design is an experiment in democracy. Daniel Kemmis, mayor of Missoula, Montana, writes of an issue that divided his town a few years ago. Missoula, located in a broad mountain valley, is often subject to inversion layers during the winter. These layers were trapping the smoke from thousands of wood stoves, producing unacceptable levels of particulates. In this case, a renewable local resource—wood—was causing damage to the shared