Saturday, December 29, 2007

Traveling Abroad ( and Within Our Own System)

Scrambling through the last minute details will only allow for an experience twice what I had originally imagined.

Ah, yes. I will be following the path previously traveled by Caleb Dean himself, and to Copenhagen ( or Kobenhavn), I go! Through the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the spring semester of my junior year will be spent overseas in the lovely Denmark. While the wind circulates unremittingly through the turbine blades, the next five months are bound to contribute to the generation of my own sustainable energy. Experiencing a culture already in tune with, and invested in, the future, not only reinforces the mental models I have been creating, but will provide a foundation upon which the chance to evaluate and spectate on the application of sustainability and social responsibility in practice is limitless.

Their ideas and actions are progressive, and their homes, well just plain cozy sums up the community-oriented candlelight. The social economy is strong and so too are the daily expenses. For a country that has taken a true stand towards sustainability, I guess this may be expected. Offshore farms of wind turbines do not exactly come off as cheap technological structures. So the price of sustainability...

When solar panels, organic food, fair trade goods, hemp clothing, spiritual retreats and yoga classes and hybrid vehicles come into the picture, not everyone, whether they are interested or not, can even afford to become part of the movement. I know from personal experience that shopping at Whole Foods instead of Big Y puts an enormous dent in my wallet. Yet I continue to dish out for the higher costs to mark my contribution in the green revolution.

Again, the actual economic price of sustainability...How does this effect the who, what, when, where, and why? Are we leaving people behind who wish to join? Does mainstream marketing and product/service availability strengthen or weaken the underlying values? How can we make sustainability sustainable for all people and all places, all things and at all times, for all of our reasons and ideas?

More to come on this complex yet truly eye-opening and powerfully important topic.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Conversaton: Walter Cudnohufsky

One concept that stood out during my conversation with Walter Cudnohufsky is, to paraphrase;
The greatest exercise in human capacity is to see the possibility for development and leave it alone.

Walter Cudnohufsky is a landscape architect and planner located in Ashfield, Massachusetts. He is an accomplished artist and writer, and in 1972 founded the Conway School of Landscape Design.

I asked him what led to establishing a master's program in landscape design and his response was "madness." He took all the negative aspects of his degrees from the University of Michigan, Harvard Design School and his time teaching at the University of Massachusetts, removed them and started a program of his own.

"The mission of the Conway School of Landscape Design is to explore, develop, practice, and teach design of the land that is ecologically and socially sustainable."

Although he refrains from over-using the term "sustainable", Walter continues to be a leader in the realm of socially and ecologically responsible land use and design, and in my eyes, defines the concept of revolutionary thought.

More information on Walter Cudnohufsky the designer can be found here and the artist, here.

Information on the Conway School can be found here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Check It: Vernacular Green Roof

Example of a vernacular green roof in Vallø, Denmark south of Copenhagen.

More on green roofs to come...