Sunday, September 25, 2011

see what emerges

Rundown neighborhoods as marginal systems

Another example of the importance of marginal systems concerns the sources of both cultural and enterprise innovation and their relationship to urban renewal. Jane Jacobs pointed out that one of the values of rundown urban neighborhoods was that they provided cheap rents in old warehouses, shops and houses, where small start-up businesses could establish themselves. She provided evidence that the elimination of these areas by urban renewal programs in the 1950s and 1960s was killing the economic life, as well as the artistic and cultural life, of American cities. There is tension between the "tidy up" mentality that wants to recyle and make full use of everything, and the mindset that values leaving things be to see what emerges. The balance is a fine one, whether we are working in the garden or planning a city.

-- David Holmgren, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

alternative economies

Anyone who listens to an early morning farm program on the radio will be aware how seldom a university expert will propose a remedy that is not for sale. What they have accomplished is the virtual substitution of credit for brains.

-- Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land

from an essay describing how the small family farm might add much to the fabric of society, but adds little to the Gross National Product