In order to have a big dream come true, it is first necessary to dream big. I dream of a world in which all people born into it are guaranteed the birthrights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, health, shelter from the elements, fresh air, and clean water. The first three are beyond the scope of this article but conditions can be initiated in the near term to provide for the universal availability of the latter four.
One way to implement these conditions is to develop a cost effective method for people to congregate in small communities that are self sufficient with respect to food, energy, and work. Buckminster Fuller, in his design and promotion of Old Man River City (OMRC), anticipated the need for communal living of this type. Nutritious food is a primary ingredient leading to good health. Dickson Despommier, PhD, maintains that vertical farms can provide such food. The objective, then, is to provide for the volume production of a standard community patterned after a reduced size OMRC that has a micro vertical farm integrated into its design. A standard 30 to 40 home housing development, self-sufficient with respect to food and energy and containing work and office spaces for the homeowners, can be volume produced for urban, suburban, or country settings such that homes contained therein will be affordable even to those living at poverty levels.
This development will be set up as a Community Investment Corporation (CIC) owned by the homeowners. In an ideal form, standard operating procedures in CICs organized on an international basis will permit easy homeowner transfer between CICs so as to permit individual homeowners to find a CIC suitable to their life style. An integral part of this standard community will include a greenhouse on the sun-facing side that uses terraced grow beds in a configuration starting at ground level and rising to a rooftop setting, growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, house plants, fruit, fish, and livestock (chickens, pigs, rabbits, goats, etc.) to provide all the basic food requirements.
So as to obvert the necessity of owning an automobile, a hybrid van will make periodic trips from the community to shopping malls, an airport, a bus terminal, a train station, and entertainment venues. Residents can thus work, live, and play in a setting of energy and food independence that has a white carbon dioxide footprint. One possible standard design will be in the shape of a truncated, terraced tetrahedron with space and weight reservations on the top for an observatory. A greenhouse farm will be on the sun facing side with business spaces and condos on the other two sides. All homes will open outward to an exterior privacy patio and inward to a community center.
A realistic 20 year goal would be to set up 10,000 of these developments on an international basis. Coordinating the output of privately owned telescopes in the community observatories through a petaflop (1 quadrillion calculations per second) computer will create an asteroid detection ability that will far exceed NASA capabilities in this arena to effectively place the asteroid detection function, and thus advance notice of a possible repeat dinosaur extinction event, in private hands. A R&D/marketing organization will not only teach the greenhouse design necessary for the efficient operation of the micro vertical farm in the housing development but also perform R&D into energy features such as insulation, below grade heat sources and sinks, wind generators, solar, and biomass designed to lead to energy self sufficiency. Experiments in carbon dioxide levels, light type and intensity, organic nutrients delivered via a hydroponic and/or aeroponic process, temperature, and greenhouse moisture content will have a design objective to achieve maximum plant growth. Aquaponics and livestock interactions will be addressed under which air, water, and wastes are recycled with a goal to maintain a fresh air and clean water atmosphere in the community. In addition to R&D, this organization could teach and offer for sale to small farmers the greenhouse models provided by other companies.
One possibility for placement of these greenhouses is on land trusts in a manner suggested in A New Lease on Farmland: Assuring a Future for Farming in the Northeast by Susan Witt and Jay Rossier, available for review on the web site of The E. F. Schumacher Society. This is a "better mouse trap" so all we need to do now is wait for the world to "beat a path to our door."
On the other hand, every MBA program in every College and University in the world maintains that, no matter how good the product, it is necessary to take a proactive approach to selling it. Therefore, an international marketing campaign will employ a cruise ship embarking on a world tour to showcase a standard model of the housing development and R&D organization. This ship, named The Maine AEGIS™, where AEGIS is an acronym for Amalgamated Entertainment, Games & International Shopping, will be patterned after Fuller's floating Triton City except it will be designed for travel on the high seas and outfitted with greenhouses, penthouse and luxury staterooms, standard staterooms, crew quarters, a shopping section with retail outlets from world class companies, an entertainment section with state-of-the-art facilities, and a section featuring traditional carnival games and rides. A tour, with stops in ports around the world, will employ a combination rock concert and carnival atmosphere to attract people to the exhibits and will use the lion's share of profits to subsidize the construction of R&D organizations and housing developments in the host country that will shield their poor and homeless from the effects of poverty. Land based replicas of the cruise ship will establish a permanent base to subsidize the construction of R&D organizations and housing developments that will be devoted to providing health, housing, clean air, and fresh water to the poor and homeless in the outlying areas in a life style traditionally inaccessible to them.
A book in preparation, entitled The Maine Path to Sustainable Living, will expand in depth and detail upon the construction of not only the cruise ship but also prototypes built in Maine for a land based replica of the cruise ship, the R&D organization, and the housing development.