01/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

An Obama Village Fantasy

Just an initial effort to think about human settlements as they might develop during coming years.

An Obama Village would have a population of plus or minus 5000. Smaller settlements would be closer to larger ones.

They would be ecologically self sufficient, that is to say with recycling onsite and with almost no need to remove refuse.

Adequate water through the collection and processing of precipitation. Adequate solar- and wind-generated power, with the turbines and collectors needed to create self-sufficiency. Waste would be used to generate power and fertilize any local agriculture.

The construction itself would involve an emphasis on natural heating and cooling through the creation of crawlspace ventilation as a standard for all spaces.

Villages would involve the government-supported purchase of property currently not occupied, or occupied by obsolete dwellings and buildings, Owners would profit and perhaps have preference in terms of residence in new communities.

A village would contain small retail outlets with an emphasis on their variety and the need for choice, small clinics devoted to preventative medical procedures, small educational outposts where students of primary school age could do remote work using publicly available computers. These nodes would double at times as places where people of all ages could have access, essentially replacing what we think of as local libraries.

The proliferation of services and businesses would include everything from cafes and eateries to specialized services like locksmiths, hardware, etc.

Villages would be pedestrian. Walking would be the preferred means of getting anywhere. There would be no steps, rises would all be gentle grades leading to as many as four levels. One could walk many miles within these villages without encountering a car. Seating, both movable and stationary, would be prolific.

There would all-purpose remote "office" areas somewhat on the model of the "libraries" already mentioned, so that people working "at home" would not need to actually be at home but have a distinct place to go to log into their work life.

Villages would be built with security in mind and also with safety elements. Jane Jacobs-style stoop (front porch) creating natural people surveillance, secure residences with built-in safety and fire protections, an emphasis on volunteer policing, use of protections such as dome structures to control the effects of heat, cold and precipitation.

Just a few thoughts in the awareness that if we are to actually move from an economy where people are not particularly interested in buying more of the same, we will have to create something different.

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