Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Theme; Bridge the city!

A brige connects two residental houses in the area of Vauban, Freiburg, Germany.

A old path between two old houses in Breisach, Germany

One of Richard Register's main point, differ the idea of ecocities with all other sustainable city plans; that an ecocity is about the connections in the city; pathways, roads in different levels, squares at the roof top, or in the middle of the house makes a city in several layers, not just streets and buildings.

Richard Register's sketch of the bridges between houses and squares at the roof top, with trees follow the building all way up.

 Katarinahissen and Gondolen, Stockholm.

From a modern church to another building, New Brisach, France.

Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Pedestrian street under the train bridge, Paris.

Cultural center in Alby, Stockholm.

Buildings of today are not connected because they have different owners, a friend told me. "And, he continued, I don't know if I want my neighbor in my apartment!" now he pointed at the apartment at 12th floor in the other building; a man walked around, turned the lights on and off, opened and closed the windows, sat down, did it all over again, for hours.

How will the safety and security operating in a city with more layers and more connections?

Previous themes;
Green roofs and green cities
Make'n a good feeling in the city?
Green walls
Animals in the city
Urban agriculture
Streets in greenery
Greening the streets

Monday, November 29, 2010

The importance of people

Share some of the writings from different interesting courses in University over the years. Here's a summary from the course Governance of natural resource management, Dep. of  Urban and rural development, SLU dec 2008.


"We protect our forest better than government can. We have to. Government employers don't really have any interest in forests. It is a job for them. For us it is life

Agrawal tells us the story in the book Environmentality (2005), of how people change their minds about environmental issues in Kumaon. He call it "making the subjects", which is when people get involved in the decision making they become more aware. The investigation in Kumaon indicate a significance of awareness connected to the presence of a forest council. Villages which had not a forest council were less willing to protect their forests. Important institutions like this is similar to what Ostrom discuss in the Ostrom's theory on the common property and her eight principles.

But with this said, local management of natural resources does not guarantee sustainable development! Other circumstances such as lack of favourable policy environments, social capital and competence can interrupt such initiatives (Sandström, 2008). Agrawal adds to this that the creation of governmentalized localities and the opening of territorial and administrative spaces in which new regulatory communities can function are important for the decentralization of environmental regulation to the locality (often called community-based conservation). 

Today's modern nature conservation approach often;
  • give state officials (the experts) the prerogative to define what is valuable to conserve
  • establish and support institutions for nature conservatism
  • exclude other
  • focus on preserving biological values and down playing on other values; cultural, economical and spiritual

Instead, theories about community based governance means that the local people have;
  • Better knowledge of local conditions
  • Greater ability to enforce rules, monitor behaviour and verify actions
  • Better flexibility and adaptability to change rules according to changes in ecosystems
  • Higher sense of responsibility over the natural resource that surrounds the community

Socio-historical approach to natural resource management and
 Adaptive-governance of social-ecological systems

Agrawal shows in his book a continuously historical example and is so a good example to discuss in the Socio-historical approach to natural resource management, which tends to argue for the need of theoretical perspectives, in which the emergence of natural resource management arrangement is explained by historical narratives, networks and context (Sandström, 2008). 

From another point of view at the Kumaon case I can see that the theory Adaptive-governance of social-ecological systems (Folke, 2005) is in a way Agrawal's thoughts because this theory have its ground in the thought that we should improved understanding of the dynamic of the whole system, not detailed knowledge. A strategy for dealing with rapid change, reorganisation in that change and strategies for dealing with uncertainly and surprises is keywords in the adaptability governance. The governance should also be self-organizing meaning increases in complexity without being guided. This is somehow happening with the sanction rules in the Kumaon example, when the knowledge about who the monitoring person is, is a barrier initself for breaking the rules for others.

The Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems also give high trust to communites; society or community have a memory of knowledge about how to handle crises and change, and this knowledge is essential for that community, and have to be protected before it disperse in the next generation.  

Past crises is future policies.

In the Kumaon example and in Ostroms theory there are special rules for different areas, because of their history and special care, all places cannot be treated and governed in the same way. In a Socio-historical approach this is what happening when the rights and regulations emerged over time (Johnson, 2004). In the Adaptive governance approach, the scientist or expert is one of several actors and the system is based on multi-stakeholder. Co-management and flexibility is important. Also important is to have a leadership in the process that can build trust, make sense, manage conflicts, link actors, initiate partnership among actor groups, mobilise broad support for change, compile and generate knowledge.

The Adaptive governance theory is relatively new and is probably very good to have when dealing with effects of climate change in the future. In the other hand, you may have a ground like that in Common property theory or Agrawal's three points (see above) before applaying it. The adaptation for a society can also be found in Ostrom's second principle: rules should be based on local conditions. As a villager you can participate to change the rules (third principle), and the nestedness in different levels (principle eight) is near to the Adaptive management approach. Kumaon have some  in common to the Adaptive management approach, but Common property theory is even easier to compare to the case.

Agrawal talks about the phenomena as environmentality (inspired from the famous philosopher Foucault's later work on governmentality which refers to how to see on and think about environmental politics) in which he include (p 229 in Agrawal, 2005) parts of Foucaults thoughts about power;
  • formation of new expert knowledge's
  • the nature of power- efforts to regulate social practice
  • the type of institutions and regulatory practices that exist in a mutually productive relationship with social and ecological practices and can be seen as the historical expressions of contingent political relationship
  • the behaviors that regulations seek to change, which go hand in hand with the processes of self-formation and struggles between expert or authority based regulation and situated practices

Other cases of interest

The Kumaon case is very similar to the case in Kalix, North Sweden (Kustringen with help from Gaia Foundation); the citizens felt that they protect more, create employment, could do it cheaper, build competences, are together, rebuild ”by-laws” and are a resource for other. Agrawal is mention at least some of them, as more protection and that local community management is cheaper. In the case of Kalix, there was a lack of communication with higher incentives like the state and county administrative board but in the case of Kumaon is seems to have been different. In the Kalix example they created a one-to-one relationship between each forest council and state officials, they create unequalities between state and locality. Instead in Kumaon the villages get the rights to management the rules by themselves.

Only when villagers saw the forest as theirs and the condition of forest as depended on their actions would they begin to follow protectionist strategies (Agrawal, p 123).
Agrawal started some interesting thoughts about the communication in natural resource management. It is in the nature of various form of knowledge that is always potentially under dispute. Regulation always demands new knowledge (p 226). Beliefs and knowledge are developed through practice,
”environmental practice.. is the key link between the regulatory rule.. and the imagination that characterize particular subjects”
says Agrawal (p 167). We can never forget that it is people we deal with in the end- not institutions. Talking the role of the other is important even from the county administrative board to accually see the local residents. Community as a group of people with similar interest have something that connects them, and if we want to be the good communicator we have to find this connection. How the shaping of institutions, politics and subjectives plays a role in ecological practice needs a greater elaboration and analys. 


Agrawal, A. (2005). Environmentality. Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects. Durham and London. Duke University Press.

Folke, C. Hahn, T. Olsson, P. and Norberg, J. (2005). Adaptive Governance of Socio- Ecological Systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 30, Pp 441-473.

Johnson, C. (2004). Uncommon Ground: The ‘Poverty of History’ in Common Property Discourse. Development and Change 35(3) pp. 407-433. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford.

Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action pp. 90-102. Cambridge University Press, Cambrige

Sandström, Emil (2008) Reinventing the commons. Doctoral diss. Dept. of Urban and Rural Development, SLU. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae vol. 2008:48.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Göteborg growing in height

Is it so, as we need to come to a level in "development", were it is important how it looks like were we live, even in the city center? Is it so, that smart compact and beautiful places for a city is just possible when the middle- class people reached an income level where they stay in the city but then they want it very fancy.

Interesting things happens on top of some of the buildings in the area of Linné in Göteborg, Sweden. Luxury penthouse apartments is built both at Linnégatan and Nordostpassagen. See the Topfloor Linné project here.

Different time periods shaped the city and the style of houses depending on who lived in them. Poor, middle class, upper class?

The city life, fashion and lifestyle is important for todays young adults, but so also the interior. New, large, stylish apartment attracts all kind of people in Göteborg today. Suburban sprawl with similar houses and gardens is also happening in the edges of the city.. but its not the fashion.  Instead we see more of high-rise buildings and with that a more compact city.

So last question is; when do we reach the level in development, where we invest not only in our own homes, but out of our homes, so that would be a very beautiful place to be, too?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ecohouse in Tübingen

A house with a smaller house connected. The smaller house has a green roof with mosses and other tolerant plats, both for dehydration and rainwater, the house is almost invisible in the green. A space for activity as for a pool, a huge relax room, tennis or bowling? Or a small room for school? A restaurant.. Or just a 100 m2 apartment.

The larger building is more visible, but surrounded by trees and huge windows. A path leds you down to the lower house and the garden.

Stairs. Big windows. Balcones. Additional passageways between the outside and inside.

View to the garden. Business in the lower floors?

Greenhouse in the lowest floor or a place to relax. Paths to walk in the garden.

Wood and stones. Several entrences witnesses for several apartments/ business. House in bad shape, but the arcitechure is beautiful.

The house has view over the river from the upper floors and to the garden and green branches from the lower.

The building is built in the slope which made the entrence in the middle of the house while the lower floors has the connection to the ground and to the garden.

The first thing we saw, was not much.. just the perfect site (it is the house fartherst in picture). The house was found in the city of Tübingen, Germany. This house, is next to the house under soil, the best example of an ecohouse I've seen. If this house whould have been a larger building in same style, it would have been an ecocity of its own. See why here.

-"I will be a hummingbird"

the Vision of Wangari Maathai

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Site turns ride-sharing into a social game

From a discussion about the existens of cars, took some of the dialogue to share.

What is the problem?
Congestion, pollution, wasted time in traffic jams or wasted time at the bus / tram.

Why is it so?
People (today) needs to travel between point A and B

How can we improve the situation?
Move A closer B
Move B closer to A
Faster and more convenient public transport
Better use of space in cars commuting- carpools?
New options for local transportation -podcars?
Bicycling (exercise into the bargain, but a pain in the winter)

When will we do this?
NOW. But what?

Read an interesting note with the title Site turns ride-sharing into a social game or go directly to the site http://www.ridekicks.com/ for future ideas how to use cars when we need to move.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Green- infrastructure

The Economist wrote an article 11 nov how sewage water overflow regularly in big cities like New York, and how the city can solve the problem, not by invest into pipes but to plant trees,

New York recently unveiled a grand plan to clean up its waterways. Instead of spending billions on new tanks and pipes (ie, “grey infrastructure”), which take years to build and never quite address the problem, the city intends to invest in “green infrastructure”, such as roofs covered with vegetation, porous pavements and kerbside gardens.
David Beckman at the National Resources Defence Council is optimistic. “Usually we’re plaintiffs,” he says, “but here we’re collaborators, working with the city.” Finally cities are finding ways to handle storm-water that needn’t involve holding one’s nose.
Read the full article, Trees grow in Brooklyn- A natural form of relief for overworked city sewers

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The world may be smaller than you think

Steve made a calculation of how much land we would have if we divide planet by 6.8 billion people. The result is 0.2 hectare of arable land, and you can live at 0.65 hectar. See Steve's calculation here at his blog A very beautiful place.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Doing Science Together

I have read scholarship in rural development, feminist theory and science studies that underscores problems with the view that only science has the right answers. Over time I have come to understand that scientists can answer some questions, people with other kind of knowledge answer other equally important questions, and that some questions are best answered in collaboration- what is called here interdependent science.
- Part of the introduktion in the book Participatory Research in Conservation and Rural Livelihoods: Doing Science Together, Louise Fortmann; 2008

The ultimate roller coaster ride

A breif history of fossil fuels, with talks from Richard Heinberg.

Doing fast drawing in the meantime someone talk have been used in the story of stuff and the secret powers of time. Maybe it's time to do something else, what du you think?

A deeper analysis of the crises we face, and possible solutions we can work on right now can be found at http://www.postcarbonreader.com/

Monday, November 08, 2010

Urban Planet Atlas

Another way of showing important information can be seen at http://www.urbanplanetatlas.org/. The atlas  is a joint project of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Albaeco, Mistra Urban Futures, SWEDESD and GAME department at Gotland University.

Sponsors: Formas and Sida
Partner: UNESCO
Flash development: Electric Gaunitz
Producer: Danil Lundbäck
Graphic design: Electric Gaunitz Erik Rosin Studio

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Environmentalist killed

  Write this date [5 September 2010] on your calendar: in Italy,
  organized crime has murdered an environmentalist politician for the first time (line from e-blogs).

The italian environmentalist and politican Angelo Vassallo was a mayor in the little italian town Pollica. He worked with micro loans, renewable energy, littering and said no to illegal building contruction.

The Telegraph writes:

Mr Vassallo, a father of two, was regarded as a 'green' mayor for his efforts in helping preserve a national park and for fighting against illegal building close to beaches and other local beauty spots. Shopkeepers in his hometown kept their shutters and doors closed as a protest at his death on Tuesday.

Vassallo was found in his car, shoot to death by nine bullets. The style of the murder and knowledge of his work against illegal constructing, leads the suspections to the mafia, which leads me to the question if an environmentalist is so much different than any other politican that wants to make it better for the citizens.

I mean, he was not shoot to death by nine bullets just because he wanted renewable energy, a beautiful city with parks and no litter- no he was shoot to death because he wanted a change. A change for poor people, the inclusion of all.

I have to quote Richard Register when building an ecocity, or just a city with improvements then, will also give other perspective about our selves 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, Ecocites-rebuilding cities in balance with nature).

The story of Vassollo make me think of Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá and runned the green party in the Colombian President election 2010 (got 22% of the votes). Mockus' work and later mayor Peñalosas' work, on the development of Bogotá, is described in the documentary CITIES ON SPEED - Bogotá Change from oktober 2009. It is promoted as being "the story of two charismatic mayors, Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa who, with unorthodox methods, in less than 10 years turned one of the world's most dangerous, violent and corrupt capitals into a peaceful model city populated by caring citizens. With Mockus and Peñalosa and key members of their staff as first hand witnesses, the film uncovers the ideas, philosophies and strategies that underlie the changes in Bogotá and which are now being exported to cities worldwide."

Environment, human health and security issues is about the same thing; people. Removing favelas, demolish streets for cars, or higher the taxes of emissions, are not everytime what people wants. A dialouge with them or a "survey" with a focus group is common needed to give something back, doing something good from the bad.

Because 'they' are not angry or dissapointed because of cleaner surrounding or that other people gets a better life, but because it changes peoples lives. Even the mafia boss.

Good environment requires good communication.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Measure Your Eco-Footprint

Make your own test at conservation.org, and while you are doing it, answers is also examples of what you can do. I got 58, what do you get? The Eco-Footprint test here; Measure Your Eco-Footprint

And make the carbon calculation  to see how much you should donate for your carbon emissions! I got 6.6 Tons of CO2 and have to pay $79. You?

$5 trillion a year

$5,000,000,000,000; The cost each year of vanishing rain forest

The way we are doing things is not sustainable," Mrs Spelman added. "Biodiversity is where climate change was 20 years ago – people are still trying to understand what it means and its significance. Things that we thought nature provides for free, actually if you lose them, cost money.

Article from the independent, 3rd of october