Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It's not new at al; planet earth is in an urgent need of something new that have the solution on global climate change, starving, unhealthy people, soil loss, water shortage, biodiversity loss and high human population increase rate. Sustainability is a word that is used more and more in every level in the society around the planet and the concept from the small organisation Ecocity Builders is certainly one of the broadest, including everyone on the planet to take action. The founder Richard Register has now 40 years of experience and means that the change is going to slow. He mean that the organisation have the answer on what the human need now; we have to rebuild cities to be more dense in the same time be rebuild to a better place to live in. This paper investigate how to spread information from a small organisation to a broad target group, and what strategies the organisation use to go from information spreading to real life action meaning actually rebuild the cities to ecocities.
Introduction (draft and first part)
Rutherford (2004) gives us the number that eighty percent of the American population are now living in metropolitan regions. Worldwide we have a number of half the world’s population living in cities. And more will come. If we take a closer look at the largest cities "mega cities" some of them like Mexico City have grown from 2.9 million to 22.1 million from 1950 to 2004, Jakarta from 1.5 to 16.0, Istanbul 1.1 to 11.1 meaning growing 10 times in around 50 years, some even more extreme is Seoul-Injon that have grown from 1.0 to 21.9 and Dhaka 40 times from 0.4 to 15.9 (Planet of slums, but there is a homepage...). Mumbai is estimated to grown to 33 million to 2025 (2.9 million in 1950 and 19.1 million people in 2004) and to be the largest city in the world, even if it’s not sure its biologically or ecologically sustainable (Planet of slums, but there is a investigation). When people are moving there so fast the cities is not prepared for it and slums will be the result. One of five people in the cities in the world are living in the slums. There is a need to do something for the cities.

Rutherford, R.H., 2004. Regreening the Metropolis: Pathway to more ecological cities. New York Academy of Sciences, 1023, p.49-61

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pathway from the village of Hjo center to pure nature, Sweden

Went to Hjo today and visited a close friends mother. She told me that the city council have made a new path under the most trafficked road from Jönköping so we took a walk in the neighborhood and here are some pictures.

The path takes you from the town the whole way to Mullsjön, a popular lake. All the way there, you would be close to the creek Hjoån, whish is quite big. As you can see in the pictures there are some old houses left from the past, in the picture an old mill that is now used for temporary uses, like art gallery, lecture hall for Öring (Salmo trutta) excursions and more. You can also find signs on the path that explain what you can see there. The excursion of Öring is held in the night and you can see them spawn. For a price of 100 Skr (12 dollar) you will first have a small lecture, then the group walk to watch them and after that it is time for fika (coffee and talking).

Before, it was mostly people in the neighborhood who used the path to take a walk with their dog, also my friends mother. Now, with the rebuilding and lenghten under the road instead of trying to go over it, the path lead somewhere. Such a thing removed the barrier of the big road and gave the people the ability to walk or bike in the nature to the nature. I like to call this an Ecocity thought, even if Hjo is a small village with a lot of cars, this is a big initiative and should be use in different areas.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some concluding remarks right now

Thesis work #5

Richard Register said in several times that things going to slow with the concept. He have worked with this around 40 years. My own interpretation was that Ecocity Builders have a lot of different project running right now, more than before and much larger and broader. I think they have a good chance to give their message to other, like neighborhood, city council, interested people.

Unique to Ecocity Builders is the broader view. Richard Register say that mostly every other concept of a sustainable city miss the important part with the denser living, and open up in other areas. The car problem is neither that so important in other concepts as in the Ecocity concept, they usually looking for other fuel or "smaller cars", "but that is the problem, we have to build cities without cars" says Richard.

The organiation can be seen as an information source. Richard Register have his mind full and sometimes I felt it very difficult to go from that and talk about something else (i.e, their communication strategies). Kirstin Miller have the contact to other people and are use to explain things over and over again how to do things. They both work very hard to make things happen.

I think that Ecocity Builders will continue to be an information source basely. Their action will be to interact other people with pictures and examples of things that work.

So far and what I have to work from;

Some notes for thesis work #4

* Litterature review before I left + review through old courses
* Three books from the organisation; Ecocity Berkeley; Building Cities for a Healthy Future, Village Wisdom/Future cities, Ecocities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature
* Mail contact with both Richard Register and Kirstin Miller
* "Hang around", lunches with clients, Richard Register, Kirstin Miller or both
* Brochures and information papers from the organisation
* Notes from five meetings with project planning
* Sightseeing in Berkeley with Richard Register, went up in the Gaia Building and discussed the Strawberry creek
* Sightseeing to Codornices creek
* Workingday at the Urban Farm project
* Three fulldays at Foundation Center in San Francisco, as a representant from Ecocity Builders I could check their database and take two courses and see one lecture from another company (LFA, Learning For Action)
* Taking root- a film about Wangari Maathai, at the cafe; Coffee for the people. Including a presentation and a discussion with interested people and some organisations in San Francisco
* Walkings thought the cities and took pictures
* Blog at http// to work though thoughts and make it "avaliable" for other in the sence that I have to think of how to present it. As a draft to the report.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Unique thoughts

Notes to thesis #3

Ecocity Builders explores and invents basic concepts in ecological city design. Some ideas are their own, original creations and some are ones invented and pioneered by others that are not getting adequate attention which Ecocity Builders champion vigorously. All are under emphasized or neglected tools that could help enormously with today’s economic, social equity, ecological and even climate and sea rise problems. Further, they help create a context – the ecocity civilization – which could further humankind’s compassionate, creative evolution.

Strategies by others

Transfer of development rights (TDR) (a legal and real estate development tool)

Raising cities for floods, tsunamis (used by ancients, neglected in New Orleans)

Virtues of well-ordered complexity, not simplicity (de Chardin, Soleri and others; indicates three-dimensional layout is healthy, two-dimensional not)

The anatomy-analogy (complex organisms compared to efficient, healthy cities)

General anti-car perspectives (criticism muted, a near-taboo, but some others agree with Ecocity Builders that it is important to confront this problem)

Connecting social justice issues to city design, affordability of transport

Strategies by their own

Origin of name “ecocities” (1979)

Keyhole plazas or view plazas (plazas with a corner or side open to view nature)

Ecocity mapping (a zoning overlay mapping system to direct future urban development and recovery of natural and agricultural land)

Ecocity fractals, or integral projects (a fraction of the whole with all essential parts present and well organized)

• “Anatomy analogy,” though not new to us, the term is

The formula/slogan “access by proximity” (the result of well-ordered, three- dimensional complexity in cities)

The slogan “roll back sprawl” and strategy elements to accommodate regeneration of agriculture, natural areas and features like small waterways, make room for bike and pedestrian paths, recycling yards, parks and sports areas

Various integrations of ecocity architecture features in clusters of buildings such as live roofs, bridges between buildings, tall solar greenhouses, mid block passageways – halls, alleys and gallerias – at street level articulated together

Mainstream good directions

Not unique or even unusual, there are many mainstream contributions to ecocity development becoming more popular recently. Though they are far from enough to get over the threshold into ecocities, these constitute a strong foundation we can build upon. They include:

New Urbanist mixed use “Transit Oriented Development”

Smart Growth initiatives similar to New Urbanists but at higher density and in more genuinely urban form

Green building features, energy conserving design, good salvage and recycling

General promotion of renewable energy alternatives

Organic, meat-minimizing agriculture and diet, urban food growing and farmers markets

Public and bicycle transportation in general

Nature regeneration strategies and actions such as creek restoration

General design integration

More training and socially equitable opportunities for minorities and lower income people in green jobs

Monday, May 04, 2009

First trip to San Fran

it was really intense .. but it felt like 6 months if you think about it.

San Francisco Bay Area is like a city of its own, with three downtowns; Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco and millions of sites

I stayed and had my nights;
in a co-op for 13 people in one week in suburb, Ashby, Berkeley
in a van one night, at the top of Broadway on the hill where the tunnel is, San Francisco
in a van one night, Buena Vista Park, San Francisco
in a van one night in suburb, Ashby, Berkeley
in another house with 4 people two nights in suburb, Ashby, Berkeley
in the suburb in Rockridge, Oakland for a night in a girls' co-op, 4 people
in the Haight, San Francisco, in an awesome guy 's apartment, the rest of the time

And what about this? Why write this? That is why I think it is very important for my view of the area in relation to the great country USA. You as a foreigner has so much thinking about this country. If you look at a "real American" you are in the wrong location in San Francisco. Here are all vegans, old hippies, old electronic music lovers, open- minded people, a lot of climbing people, gay people and the homeless. Everyone wants to be in the San Fancisco area. I also want to be there. The reason here and nowhere else where I was is comparable with "what do we want to do tonight" instead of "what can we do tonight".

I do not like cities where you can get lost in the grandeur. In San Francisco and Berkeley and Oakland, you always have a feeling of closeness. Although a distance.

So clear is the car is number one transport medium. But not really optimized to run here. It is the simple straight roads, lots of suburbs and a highway that is both large and stressful, but the best way for another to transport is with the subway BART and some buses. If the others do not, the others will take you there.
And why am I discusing this?

Of course the same as my purpuse to be here; Ecocity dimensions

Friday, May 01, 2009

A small intro to Ecocities

Thesis work #2

Rutherford (2004) giving us the number that eighty percent of the American population now living in metropolitan regions. "Thats just America", you might think, but the fact is that half of the worlds population living in the cities.

Acually there are a lot of consepts that trying to greening or making the cities more ecological sustainable for example ecovillage, garden city and green building's and roofs, but all of this theories ONLY GOES TO PARTS of the city. The teory about ecocities presented from Register (2006) takes al other teories under its wings. Richard Register, the founder of the organization Ecocity Builder says in the conference 1990 "Cities and town is the largest things human built and the way we are building then destroying the planet. Why not instead build cities in balance with nature?" The main point of ecocities is the narrow living, meaning that you build higher houses and and therefore using a smaller area to the city or for human beings homes and surroundings, thinking in 3-dimensional, meaning that you are not limited to walls and roads- there are space in behind and the closeness to al that you need; the stores, the health centre, the nature. You don't have to take your family away from the city to do anything.
”Transportation is what you do when you're not where you want to be”
says Register. There are also gym, cinemas, and rooms for meeting in most of the buildings. Building an ecocity will also give other perspective about our self and the surrounding;
”While it probably won't rid the world of greed, ethnocentrism, and violence, building a nonviolent city that respect other life forms and celebrates human creativity and diversity is consistent with solving those problems”
(Register, 2006). But accordning to Myllylä and Kuvaja (2005) urban areas in South often fail when it comes to the basic idea of socal structures, which are often taken for granted in the discuss about sustainable cities. They mean that to build a ecocity you have to consider; locally defined development agendas, local resources and challenges, also take equity and social justice in resource allocation as much as use the word sustainability as a motivation and transparent administration, efficency and flexibility in service provision and co-operation between authorities.

Myllylä, S. & Kuvaja, K., 2005. Societal premises for sustanable development in a large southern cities. Global Environmental Change, 15, p. 224-237

Register, R., 2006. Ecocities-rebuilding cities in balance with nature. New society publishers, Canada. Availaby at:

Rutherford, R.H., 2004. Regreening the Metropolis: Pathway to more ecological cities. New York Academy of Sciences, 1023, p.49-61