Towards a perma-circular humanity: An illustrated lecture

This is kind of a continuation, by other means, of the musings I offered in my earlier post on “native wisdom” and “Native Modernity.” At the beginning of March, 2017, I gave a half-hour lecture, complete with PowerPoint slides, to a group of about twenty Master’s students from the University of Lausanne, where I work here in Switzerland. The context was an interfaculty course on “Global Warming and Societal Change” (conducted jointly with the University of Lancaster) in which a colleague and I were to teach one session on homo economicus and the overcoming of “petro-anthropology.” You may wonder what those words have to do with perma-circularity. Read on and I trust you’ll get some useful pointers. Continue reading

GUEST POST: Re-visioning Los Angeles and envisioning perma-circular settlements through the ecovillage paradigm, by Paul Glover

A while ago I announced that, as part of my “Ecovillage L.A. 2066” project, I would review the 2012 edition of Paul Glover’s book Los Angeles: A History of the Future, initially published in 1982. Instead, I now have the pleasure and the privilege of publishing this guest post by Paul himself, in which he details his vision for Los Angeles on the basis of the ecovillage paradigm, and offers an example taken from an initiative with which he is involved in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In doing so, he significantly enhances our understanding of the basics of perma-circularity – even though he doesn’t use the term himself. Paul Glover is a famous community organizer, probably best known for being the creator, in 1991, of “Ithaca HOURS” in New York, one of the United States’ oldest functioning community currency. He is also the founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project as well as a dozen other organizations and initiatives. His website can be visited at http://paulglover.org/. I’m convinced this text will soon be recognized as foundational by many of us who are seriously engaging with perma-circularity and its implications for city and settlement design. Continue reading

GUEST POST: Towards perma-circular currencies? Why a regenerative economy calls for new forms of money, by Matthew Slater

The British community currency designer Matthew Slater, co-founder of Community Forge and co-author of the Money & Society MOOC, has sent me a text on why we should make our money system perma-circular and how we might go about doing it. Because he sent it to me right before my father’s death, and because in January and February I was overburdened with administrative university work, it took me a while to edit it and upload it. Here it is now, and I’m excited and honored to be hosting Matthew’s thoughts – rooted in many years of practice in the area of community currency design (currently focused on upgrading and open sourcing the largest of the community exchange networks, CES) – on my blog. Continue reading

Fractality — Isotropy — Perma-circularity: Richard Register, Paola Viganò, and the new foundations of settlement design

As the US presidential election campaign drags on and becomes more and more alarming with regard to the planet’s true needs, I’ve been seeking intellectual and existential solace in my family and also in further forays into the “Ecovillage L.A. 2066” project I outlined in one of my earlier posts.

In this context, I’ve recently been reading stuff by Richard Register, the father of the “ecocity” concept and founder of EcoCity Builders. I love it. Continue reading

GUEST POST: Quasi-circular growth and the uncertain future of recycling, by François Grosse

The French engineer François Grosse, currently the CEO of the urbanism consultancy ForCity, whose quantitative analysis of recycling underlies the contents of my most visited and quoted post up to now, is doing me the honor and the pleasure of contributing this blog’s first guest post. He delineates the rationale for what he calls “quasi-circular growth,” based on his understanding of why (a) recycling might well be useless in the long run in a growing economy but why (b) a de-growth — or negative growth — economy isn’t the answer. Ultimately, he calls for a deeper cultural overhaul of our entrenched habits if we are going to usher in a perma-circular society. Continue reading

From the metropolis to the “metrochorio,” from the megalopolis to the “choriopolis” as a network of “kiklikochorios”

My collaborative-utopian-imaginative-radical open-action-research project Ecovillage L.A. 2066 has been out there now for a few days. It’s getting off to a somewhat slow start, but that’s probably normal. Perma-circularity is in itself a new notion to wrap one’s head around, and applying it to an urban “hyper-organism” such as Los Angeles might seem like a tall order even for those who are prepared to go perma-circular at full throttle.

So while, hopefully, the word gets around and gradually spreads, today I want to send out a somewhat geeky post. Some geekiness is called for, because we need a whole new vocabulary for the challenges facing us. Continue reading

Los Angeles, a perma-circular metropolis in fifty years? Launching “Ecovillage L.A. 2066”

It’s kind of a dream idea. A bit crazy, in fact — the stuff utopian ideas and innovations are made of. You might call it a thought experiment. On a massive scale.

I want to call it “Ecovillage L.A. 2066.”

The question: What if, 50 years from now, Los Angeles were organized and inhabited as an ecovillage, or – more to the point – a federation of ecovillages? A metropolitan ecovillage of 20 million people, envisioned as a perma-circular region: What would it look and feel like? What would have to change, and why would those changes – momentous as they would have to be – offer exciting new cultural and social horizons? Continue reading

Glimpses of perma-circular America

Hello folks, I’m sorry it’s been so long since the last post. The summer came and went, and now school has started again, the daily rhythm has kicked in anew, and I’m realizing that more than two months have elapsed since I last posted anything. That’s actually strange because I have such a lot to report on!

Earlier this summer, my partner Agnieszka and I were in the western USA for most of July. We had our base camp in Los Angeles — one of the US’s least sustainable cities, or so it seems. It’s such a culture shock when you’re coming over from Europe, even for people  who, like us, have lived or grown up in the States. The expression “car culture” really comes into its own there. Most Americans, not so much by deliberate choice as by systemic necessity made gradually into a cultural value, use their automobiles in much the same way the average Swiss citizen uses their shoes. Continue reading

The three levels of the perma-circularity project

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not — I repeat: not — saying that repairing, re-using, re-manufacturing, and recycling are useless in and of themselves. If I were saying that, I would be going against my own deepest convictions as I see them embodied in the everyday practices of some of the people I admire most: the ecovillage dwellers who joyfully move towards a sufficiency mindset and remain within it, the permaculture geniuses who create tomorrow’s food, mobility and lodging utopias and implement them today, the “zero-waste” downshifters who devote their energy and creativity to living without treading heavily on the soil and the water, the voluntary simplicity advocates who patiently seek better, cleaner ways of consuming — and, yes, the industrial and agronomic engineers who spend all their efforts dealing with waste reduction and devising cleaner production solutions. Continue reading