Esther Dyson on Charter Cities

Charlotte van den Hout –

The Long Now Foundation:

In a recent article on Slate, Long Now Board member Esther Dyson takes up the concept of Charter Cities – Paul Romer’s model for the creation of prospering, sustainable zones of urban life, about which he spoke at a 02009 SALT lecture. Dyson suggests that Romer’s business-model approach to the construction and functioning of urban centers could work not only for new cities, but for old ones as well.

Cities already behave a bit like corporations, she writes. With greater flexibility and open borders, cities can compete for “customers” in a way that countries cannot, and are more directly involved in the daily lives of citizens. Dyson argues that a little more market-style competition can compel existing metropolises to improve their infrastructure and resources as a way to attract potential citizens. This investment will pay off in the form of flourishing residents, who in turn will bring in additional resources and allow the city to prosper. On a larger scale, a prospering city will then compel its neighboring towns to improve their own functioning as well, to become better competitors on the market of citizens and resources.

In the end, it’s all about the long view: it’s about encouraging civilization to prosper as a whole. Cities are an appropriate unit of civilization to work with, Dyson writes, because they have shown more long-term stability than countries or empires:

“Most cities have grown, through evolution, from unpremeditated beginnings. Moreover, they rarely die. Cities (and their imperfections) persist in a way that large political entities, even those of which they are a part, do not. Compare, say, Athens, Jerusalem, Vienna, Beijing, Moscow, or Istanbul, to the Roman Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, Imperial Russia, the Third Reich, or the Soviet Union. And, as we are seeing worldwide nowadays, national governments are difficult to overturn and also difficult to (re)build. Democracy does not always lead to liberty or good outcomes. So, perhaps cities are the right place and have the right scale for massive social change.”

Wastewater treatment…evolved

Living Machines –

The idea of using wetland ecologies to clean polluted water was first conceived by Dr. Käthe Seidel, a biologist at the Max Plank Institute, in the early 1950s. Though she was often opposed by colleagues (who sometimes disparaged her as “Bulrush Kate”), Dr. Seidel conducted experiments throughout the 1950s and 60s which showed that plants and microorganisms could clean water much more effectively than had previously been thought.

The idea was taken up by many ecological designers in the 1970s and 80s. One of these was Dr. John Todd, who designed what he called living machines which sought to marry technology with natural processes to create an environmentally responsible way to treat wastewater on site.

Early model Living Machine®, Findhorn Foundation, Moray, UK

The vegetation in Todd’s systems required greenhouses, and were planted on top of “activated sludge” containers. To produce usable water, they required a settling tank called a Secondary Clarifier, which separates a large amount of messy, smelly sludge from the water. The sludge produced by these systems must be disposed of frequently.

Todd’s versions of the Living Machine® were an innovative effort, but they didn’t get consistent treatment, and could not be made to be simple and cost effective. In 1999, Tom Worrell, an investor and partner of Dr. Todd’s, acquired the Living Machine concept, the company, and all of its intellectual property from Dr. Todd. He then put his engineers to work making the technology practical, reliable, and cost efficient.

One of Worrell’s first ground rules was “No Clarifiers.” He wanted a system that would not depend on activated sludge to do the core of the work. The result was the first Living Machines® that used a wetlands model to treat the water without generating troublesome biowaste that needs disposal.

Wetlands Living Machine® at El Monte Sagrado Resort, Taos, NM

The Next Generation Living Machines® developed by Worrell Water Technologies use beneficial microorganisms (incorporated via engineered biofilms), wetlands plantings, and sophisticated control systems to reliably and efficiently produce water treated to the highest standards. They are stable, healthy, living ecosystems which require less energy to operate, and less work to maintain, than competing treatment systems. They also have a much smaller footprint, and operate in a way that produces no excess waste to be carried away.

Next Generation Living Machines® can be designed for indoor or outdoor applications across a wide variety of climates. For a description of how they work, see our How it Works page.

To read about The Living Machine® in action, go to our Portfolio page.

For more technical information, see our Resources page.

United Nations held a High Level Meeting for ‘Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’

Encouraged by the government of Bhutan, the United Nations held a ‘High Level Meeting for Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’, attended by 650 world leaders.  The meeting marks the launch of a global movement to shift our focus away from measuring and promoting economic growth as a goal in its own right, and toward the goal of measuring—and increasing—human happiness and quality of life. Continue reading “United Nations held a High Level Meeting for ‘Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’”

Underwater Worlds

Various underwater structures and ruins found around the globe may have been used by extraterrestrials; such as the temple ruins found under Lake Titicaca in Peru; the geometric structures of Yonaguni off the coast of Japan, and ancient Indian texts that allegedly describe other sunken cities yet to be discovered.

Tiahuanaco – Land Of The Star Gods

Tiahuanacu (also called Tiwanaku) is a mystery because of its age (estimated to be 17,000 years) and the peculiar stone technology. Today there is little doubt that Tiahuanaco was a major sacred ceremonial centre and focal point of a culture that spread across much of the region. The ancient people built a stone pyramid known as the Akapana. Land of the star Gods.

The Sustainability Sweet Spot

Alison Singer – Worldwatch Institute –

What does a truly sustainable country look like?  How do you measure true sustainability in a country? One way has been to compare how well a country achieves human needs, and at what ecological cost. Continue reading “The Sustainability Sweet Spot”

Ancient Hawaiian Civilizations Reveal Ways to Manage Fisheries for Sustainability

Science Daily –

Ancient Hawaiian Fisheries a Model of Sustainability
Ancient Hawaiian Fisheries a Model of Sustainability

“Ancient Hawaiian society effectively practiced what we now call Ecosystem-Based (Fisheries) Management, which is something that modern society often struggles to achieve,” … “Incorporating some of these ancient techniques into today’s policy may be the key to sustaining our fisheries.”

Ancient Fisheries Management

From Plato to late 20th century – A more or less concise, Historical Evolution of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

by: Teresa Escrig PhD. –

Dr. Escrig – a pioneer in service robotics – has written a fascinating and engaging history of man’s ongoing quest to develop artificial intelligence and robots.

Lets first consider the historical evolution that shows man’s desire to build a machine like ourselves. From philosophers and alchemists of the Middle Ages to 21st century scientists, the fascinating idea of creating a machine like the human being has endured.

The origins of Artificial Intelligence are attributed to the philosophers of antiquity. Plato (428 BC) wanted to know the characteristics of piety to determine if action could be regarded as pious. This could be the first algorithm. Aristotle conceived an informal system of syllogistic reasoning by which one could draw conclusions from premises, which became the precursor of reasoning.

Philosophers delineated the most important ideas related to artificial intelligence, but also needed a formalization of mathematics in three areas: computer science, logic and probability. Continue reading “From Plato to late 20th century – A more or less concise, Historical Evolution of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.”

A Platonic Love Story

by:  Elizabeth Diane

There are only five. There can be no more in three-dimensional reality that fit the parameters of all equality inside of the sphere. They become the very basic patterns of all form. When you begin grouping them together, or slicing off their corners, new, more complex forms emerge. The platonic solids are the 3D Mother/Father principle of all form, and the sphere is the womb that contains them all. First let me introduce you to them. They are: Tetrahedron, Hexahedron (a.k.a the Cube), Octahedron, Dodecahedron and Icosahedron.

marble mosaic in Saint Mark's basilica in Venice

Here is where the love story begins. Dodecahedron and Icosahedron are complimentary lovers, and so are Octahedron and Cube. No need to feel sorry for Tetrahedron, as it is its own mate. Magic happens when they come together. Between each of the partners, when one fits itself inside of the other, all the vertices of the inner one touch the exact center of all the faces of the other. As an example, when Cube nests inside of Octahedron, each of Cube’s eight vertices touches the very center of each of the eight triad-shaped faces of Octahedron. Then, when Octahedron nests inside of Cube, the same thing happens with the six vertices of Octahedron touching the six square faces of the Cube. The same type of mating happens between Dodecahedron and Icosahedron, and Tetrahedron with its same type. When one solid begins to grow inside of the other, its points emerge from the faces of its mate and they birth new structures from the emerging constellations. Their children are called Polyhedra.

Each of the five Platonic Solids has an attribute of one of the Five Elements. Tetrahedron is Fire and is the alchemical element for the Phoenix to rise or the gold to be purified. Cube is Earth and mates with Octahedron, which is Air, like Mother Earth and Father Sky coming together. Dodecahedron is the unseen “Ethers” (astral light, or the no thing that connects everything) and Icosahedron is Water, known to have “memory” and transmit information as the Ethers do. The Quintessential Solids live forever in an eternal paradise where they provide the playground of the tangible queen/kingdom in which we play.

*For simple proof of why there are only five Platonic Solids, see this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_solid

Elizabeth Diane is the owner of Lucid 9 Design, Inc., a residential building design firm in Olympia, Washington USA, and SacredGeometryPortal.com.  An accomplished pianist, with a passion for Sacred Geometry and quantum physics, her fascination with patterns and vibration, led her to incorporate the harmonic proportions of sacred geometry into her building designs.  She can be reached at lisa@Lucid9Design.com