|Commuting is not sustainable||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: William Thornton (William_ThorntonBayNetworks.COM)|
|Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 11:02:36 -0600|
Perhaps the word "sustainable" has a lot of Earth-first connotations for some people, but that is not what I mean by the word. I don't believe that atavistic and romantic impulses are a very good basis for community. I am not so ambitious that I believe I can start my own bank or entirely divorce myself from the current society. I just feel certain that we need to move toward sustainability and that our housing patterns, especially as they relate to employment and the consequent commuting, are a big part of the problem. I think that reducing commuting should be the number one priority for cohousers and everyone else, because of the toll commuting takes on the environment, our psyches, and our relationships. It seems to me that commuting is the primary source of many of the problems that cohousing is trying to address. Picture an ordinary housing development where everyone walks to work and and compare that picture to a cohousing project where everyone drives 60 miles to their jobs every day. I think you have to agree that the first picture is not only more sustainable, but achieves the goals of cohousing better than the latter. There are three ways that come to mind to reduce commuting: 1. Locate cohousing near employment 2. Incorporate telecommuting centers and technology into cohousing 3. Develop local businesses Number 1 is difficult because of the high market price of developable land near labor markets. Number 2 might not be practical unless some corporate sponsorship could be obtained. However, in regard to Number 3, I see no reason why motivated people could not develop cooperative small-scale businesses, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by new technologies for remote education, entertainment, and mail order. Obviously, no one should quit their day jobs, but cohousing businesses could start small and involve more members as they succeeded. My own first step toward sustainable cohousing is to explore with interested parties, cooperative businesses that can eventually be relocated to a rural location and which could form the basis for some kind of cohousing project. I believe that it might be easier in the long run to develop our own economic basis and move it to a development-friendly region than it would be to wrestle with urban zoning boards and spend the rest of our lives paying interest on the exhorbitant cost of the land. Of course, the risks are high because everything depends on the viability of the business. But our current commuter life style is hardly free from risks.
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