Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 12-12-07

This green builder doesn’t build house boats.  No, the typical home in these parts simply doesn’t float. Not a big deal, unless predictions abound, then come to pass, that the waters may rise.

Oooops!  Predictions do abound with just such a forecast.  All this talk about the perfect storm, brought to you by global warming and peak oil.  Water is expected to rise by such-and-such an amount by so-and-so a date.

Yes, we can argue ‘til we’re blue in the face to define the amount of ‘such-and-such’ and the date of ‘so-and-so’. These are critically important pieces of information, but this green builder doesn’t have expertise in defining ‘such’ and ‘so’. I’ll leave this to the scientists.

So what can we do right here, right now, to design and build our way towards addressing this perfect storm?  If these predictions do come true, are you working on your ark?  (And surely you know I’m speaking of an ark in a figurative, not a literal, manner!  I’m referring to a vehicle – a strategy or path – that will help take you to the other side of what will be.)

Well, then, let’s imagine a perfect ark.

I say ‘perfect’ because I seek an ark that addresses many a concern, synergistically: global warming; peak oil; over-consumption; over-population; dwindling resources.  Much like the expression perfect storm, which describes the powerful synergy of many a negative weather system, I want an ark which achieves the uplifting synergy of many a positive solution!

So let’s imagine an ark – a path – you and I might create that is both positive and hopeful; a path that works in the short term and the long term; that can be built in stages, one section at a time; that works on numerous challenges created by our bloated footprints.

The pieces of such an ark should decrease one’s ecological footprint, piece by piece, row by row.  Housing needs to be energy efficient, relying more and more upon less and less petroleum.  It needs to be small.  It needs to be close to an urban center.  It needs to support mass transit.

Interesting: almost the same can be said about our food. Our food needs to be energy efficient, relying more and more upon less and less petroleum.  It needs to be as vegetable-based as possible.  It needs to be sourced close by.

The same can be said about transportation and other aspects of our lives that make up our personal and combined footprint:  every little bit erases some of our footprint;  gives us more time; stretches our resources.  And it also builds the ark – the vehicle – we may need for the Category 6 and above perfect storm if, and when, things really go to hell:  a lifestyle that provides the basics of shelter and food.

“The good news,” says Sally Erickson, “is that, probably, a very different kind of life will be a life which has meaning and purpose and is grounded in the reality of soil and water and other living, breathing, feeling creatures. In some ways it will be a harder life that you’ll have to choose. But it will be better.

“The waters are rising”, she says. “We’re going to have to let go of the shore. It’s time to build an ark. It’s time. Don’t wait. Build it now.”

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