Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

HOW American Culture Got Sick and How to Fix It

How Did It Get This Bad?

American lifestyle is an increasing disaster. Notice our pervasive anxiety, fear for our economic and ecological future, worry over epidemics of autism and obesity, and other problems that might come to mind.

The suburbs, with cars and commuting, does not make a healthy life style. Children would be happier if they could walk to school and play outside. Youth suffer increasing mental illness, whatever that is [Dr. Mark Olfson CU, Lindsey Tanner, AP]. Adults could enjoy their company and contribute a bit of parenting when necessary. These simple aspects suggest a Sustainable Community (SC) alternative. [SUSTAINABILITY - references to letsprehend.com, a Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design.]

This strange life style, call it Modern Abstract Culture (MAC) is supported by an elaborate and increasing WEB Of CODES (WOCs), so constricting and pervasive that only our continuing crisis offers opportunities to unravel them and reconstruct Organic Social Life (OSL). Worse yet, MAC has been emulated through out the wealthy world (BigMAC) [Chapter 7: ECONOMICS].

For example, the ZONING CODE R1, restricting large areas single family residences, makes community development very difficult. Obviously people would be healthier and happier if they could walk to shops, cafes, schools, health centers, and even to manufacturing facilities - whatever is appropriate. Better yet, they would meet each other to share the gossip and issues of the day.

These zoning codes and the resulting community design grew from local and national lobbying by business interests. The REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS, REDs, are not necessarily evil by nature, but are just conforming to the rules, with minor contributions to continuing the system in which they have advanced. [ICE] By its nature, business goes for the money, and the more expensive the more profit. Citizens are free to choose from what is there. But these skilled developers can easily apply their brilliance and competence toward sustainable communities, if only the crisis makes the shift possible.

Similarly, the BUILDING CODES are lobbied by their respective business interests and those that support them. They claim safety and other imperatives, but as Bucky Fuller pointed out half century ago, if we built our cars like we built our houses, they would cost as much. Homes cost over ten times what they should with modern technology. Properly designed homes are not only cheap, but need much less external utility support.

If the popular mood shifts toward virtuous ecology, gardens would increasingly replace lawns. Growing food may require more intelligence than lawns or golf, but it offers fresh food and virtue.

EDUCATION codes have degraded one step further with the `no child left behind' program. It increased stress, meaningless home work, competitive and shameful feelings, and mindless acceptance of meaningless tasks. Crisis and good judgement can move education toward productive and creative collaborations. [Chapter 9: EDUCATION]

The current economic crisis is caused by financial turmoil, increasing unemployment, loss of foreign investments, and deteriorating ecological support. The PROGRESSIVE approach is to gradually modify our communities and infrastructure socially and personally healthier. It so happens that with proper planning, as the quality of life gradually improves, the economy will appear to contract. [PROGRESSIVE STAGNATION]

But if the crisis is severe enough, the underpinning of business lobbied laws and codes may be undermined. Already, gray water may be used in San Francisco, passive solar homes are returning to favor. Community design might need to wait for further deepening crisis, but the sooner we think about it, the better.

In contrast, the CONSERVATIVE approach continues our main trend. The banks must leave the homes empty, squatters will be arrested, theft and other crimes will increase as the disorder spreads. More jobs will be created in law enforcement, criminal justice and prison construction. Unites States already contains a quarter of the world's prisoners. The loss of the overseas investments that provide most of our wealth might be delayed by hiring more covert operatives and high tech weapons and pervasive surveillance. The credit bubble that has covered these economic declines might be reinvigorated, but not for long.

The time has come to develop our discourse toward human centered planning and implementation. We owe it to ourselves, humanity and our supporting ecosystem.

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