RE: urban sprawl/anthroecotecture etc.
From: Kyle Kuns (
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 17:36:58 -0600
At 11:36 AM 11/6/95 -0600, Rob Sandelin (Exchange) wrote:
>>If so, this goes against any
>>kind of solution to urban sprawl (or conception of the consequences of 
>>sprawl) that I'm aware of.  So, if you think that having people more spread
>>out helps reduce urban sprawl; I'd like to know more about the logic 
>>your thoughts.
>My point was and is, urban sprawl continues unabated and will continue to do 
>so for as long as it is profitable, which is in my opinion, is a long time. 
> The fact that urban sprawl reduces food production capacity has not yet, 
>and in my opinion, will not effect its growth and spread one iota. If 
>America paves over its entire farm land capacity, it will simply import more 
>food from somewhere else, or grow it in some other way.

This assumes that importing food will be an option in the future or that
their is some other way to produce the quantities of food needed to support
the human population.  However recent research by The United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA), The USDA Foreign Agriculture Service
(FAS), The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), The
World Resources Institute (WRI), The World Watch Institute, The World Bank,
and MANY others indicate that neither one of your proposed solutions will be
an option.  Depending on whose research one wants to believe between 40 and
80 years from now there will be nothing to import from the rest of the
world.  Almost the entire world will be in need.  Although the US will be
OK, we won't be running much (if any) of a surplus.  The 40-80 range is in
large part due to different interpretations on the speed that new
technologies will be developed and implemented.  The 80 year range factors
in the development and implementation of technologies that nobody is working
on even in the theoretical realm.

I've also tried to be more precise and indicate the negative impacts of
urban sprawl come in more categories that just food production--e.g. air
pollution and climate change.

>Without being defensive, I think Sharingwood and other cohousing is EXACTLY 
>what we should be doing more of, not less of.

I never suggested that there should be less cohousing development.  In fact,
I'd like to see more.  I was simply trying to help those who REALLY want to
do something about one issue--urban sprawl--to REALLY DO SOMETHING.

>I have dedicated large
>amounts of my volunteer time to creating models of land development which 
>offer real concrete evidence of alternatives to the inevitable urban sprawl. 
>I beleive, based on the evidence of the last ten years of land use and 
>growth, that urban sprawl is absolutely unstoppable and that the  key in my 
>viewpoint, is to create an alternative land use model so shiney and 
>attractive, that lots of people want it.  If this happens, then we will have 
>the primary force in America, the consumer, behind creating neighborhoods 
>that use land in a better way.

So far you haven't said anything about any development you've been involved
in that actually addresses the issue of urban sprawl.  I applaud your
efforts, but, you aren't really proposing a land use model that can in any
way be considered to reduce urban sprawl.  The only thing I've been able to
construe from your discussion--e.g. your position regarding agriculture--is
that you don't think urban sprawl is that big of a problem (if it is at
all).  This makes me wonder what exactly your conception of urban sprawl is
and what you're trying to solve--only in regards to urban sprawl--with your
alternative models.  The term "urban sprawl" has a specific meaning among
ecologists, planners, architects etc..  All conceptualizations I'm aware of
are focused on the fact that things are far too spread out.  You're trying
to spread things out more!

Because of the effects of urban heat island, the most persuasive projects
both increase overall site density and increase open (and hopefully planted)
spaces.  However, the fundamental criteria is an increase in overall site
density.  At Sharingwood you are closer to a third than you are to a half of
the site density that a typical developer would produce.  This places
Sharingwood somewhere between suburban and rural.  To fight urban sprawl one
needs to be at least be between suburban and urban.    
>I put a lot of personal energy, time and money into creating REAL solutions 
>(cohousing and eco-villages) and I tend to be impatient with those who do 
>intellectual theoritization.  Sorry, its a failure of mine and I won't waste 
>anymore of anyone times with my ramblings, I'm too busy trying to create 
>real solutions and don't have time for make beleive.

Are you producing REAL solutions to urban sprawl or are you producing REAL
EXACERBATIONS of the problems associated with urban sprawl.  Some
intellectual theoretization is needed to understand what one is actually
doing in the so-called real world.  The ability to genuinely theoretisize
comes from years of sacrifice and study--and a great deal of money for those
who do this through the University system.  Also, those who theorize may
also be involved in producing real world solutions.

My point has been that a little verticality would make cohousing also (that
is in addition to all the other wonderful things co-housing is doing)
contribute to the reduction of urban sprawl.  One could keep the same open
space and just add a few extra stories to the buildings.  There is nothing
"pie in the sky" about this.  Many people (at least here in Los Angeles) own
condominiums that are located well above the ground floor.  This would also
radically change in a positive direction the economics of developing a
co-housing community.  Sure, it's not for eveyone--what is?  Co-housing
itself doesn't appear to be.  I thought some people who were strong enough
in their convictions to get out of mainstream housing AND who were genuinely
interested in reducing urban sprawl and living more lightly on the land
would be interested to know what ACTUALLY reducing urban sprawl would entail.

I would like to emphasize that I'm not prescribing that co-housing address
the issue of urban sprawl.  I'm not trying to critisize the co-housing
movement or Rob Sandelin.  I just wanted to point out that if a co-housing
group decided to build up (as opposed to out) then they could achieve both a
more rural existence and a REAL CONTRIBUTION toward mitigating the effects
of urban sprawl.

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