Research Versus Personal Viewpoints
From: Harry Pasternak (
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 95 10:00 CDT
There appears to be an ongoing process whereby I post researched criteria for
developing neighborhoods that promote "social networking" and then someone
posts a note saying that from their own personal
experiences/viewpoint/beliefs that the criteria I've posted are wrong and
then they want to know where the research that I am reporting on is coming
At the same time, these folks never state what their criteria are for
developing neighborhoods that promote "social networking"---nor do they 
offer any research to back their viewpoint "that I am wrong"; instead, they
try to put me down with some kind of childish comment about "Harry's rules"
(or some other dreck). 
In almost every case I tell them that Jan Gehl and others have spent 30 years
and more researching this whole field and to contact Gehl for the scoop. But
I never get the impression that any of these folk ever contact Gehl. 

Currently, there is an "discussion" of strawbale wall construction. Several
folks posted notes that indicated that strawbale construction saved
construction money, was environmentally better than "conventional
construction", easy to do,  well proven etc. etc. 
I posted a note suggesting people do some research (beginning by reading an
article in Fine Homebuilding Magazine) before they jump on the
bandwagon---some folks posted notes saying that there was nothing wrong with
strawbale wall construction and if I really wanted to get the right info I
should contact the Strawbale Builders Assoc.
 Unlike others here in this conference who keep objecting to the info I've
posted; but, never contact Gehl (as far as I know)--- I did telephone the
Assoc. and  got the info and posted it in this conference. So---I don't
understand why all the nay-sayers haven't contacted Gehl as yet?

However, I have learnt some pretty interesting stuff so far:

* That it is impossible to scientifically study the design of neighborhoods
and the houses within, to see if "social networking" is promoted or denied by
the design---I suppose that's news to thousands and thousands of
psychologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, sociologists and a host
of other scientists who are continually scientifically studying all sorts of
human interaction---and have been doing so for a hundred years or more.

* That the "built environment" has no impact at all on the level of "social
networking" that occurs between people in an neighborhood---again that the
environment has no impact on how we humans interact and behave (yikes!).
That instead, if you build a "country club" (often called communal
facilities) near a bunch of houses and promote the country club's activities
to people living in this bunch of houses---that this process will "create
If that is the case, I don't understand why these folks don't simply move in
to a wealthy neighborhood (deliberately designed to keep people away and to
isolate the rich) and join the country club.

* That effective neighborhoods that promote "social networking" just began
the day someone coined and/or copyrighted!?, the word cohousing. That only
certain people know how to do "it".
Is this what it is all about? That cohousing is becoming a Growth Industry
and  a "cash cow" for the chosen few?
Harry Pasternak
Unpaid Volunteer For "Do It Yourselfers" Who Need Proven Information On
Designing and Building Affordable, Frugally Operationally,  Supportive
Neighborhoods With An Abundance of Social Networking Opportunities, who works
Thousand Islands Institute
The Independent Centre For Housing Research & Education
(Harry_Pasternak [at]

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