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SG-W:/ Sustainable Washtenaw



 To  group
 
      The following paper was sent to AA News as an "Other Voices". Since it is unlikely that they will print it, I am putting it on line.  
      Note the reference to support of present land conservation groups. Sustainable Washtenaw could possibly be a vehicle for getting additional money for land if the group were infiltrated by vocal environmentalists. I urge you to consider supporting an experimental Ecomindium as a long term means of saving land. If people are to survive on limited resources then geometry which decreases all travel is essential. This means planned complexes and larger buildings. Biomass will be the cheapest and most useful energy source of the future. We must have the morality to plant it. The only philosophy that applies here is that of the Golden Rule.
 
                                         Sustainable Washtenaw
 
    The recent conferences on Sustainable Washtenaw were so ineffective that they seem to me to be bogus in nature. There were as many people there who wanted to destroy Sustainability as there were people who had any belief in the morality of creating a sustainable society. It is my belief that our present society is unsustainable and will fail within 50 years due to lack of oil if major changes in lifestyle are not made. Global Warming may trigger Global Cooling and that would kill billions.
    I would like to make the following suggestions to this group:
 
     1 The group is too large to make progress. Try to separate out the people who have a serious desire to protect their grandchildren from those who do not. Make subcommittees. Try to define major objectives of Sustainability. Get people to write position papers on various topics. Allow people to make presentations.
     2 Make farm and nature land conservation into a top priority. Find funding sources for all of the local land conservancy groups. Try to get both the county and city to increase funding for land purchases. Try to get both the city and county to buy and operate farms which grow food and are also parks.   
     3 Try to form county ordinances and mailings which encourage people to plant more trees, plant more perennial fruits, use less lawn fertilizer, and mow less. Ban 1 acre non farm lots. Allow construction only in quarter acre lot villages. Encourage communal sewage systems which make energy and fertilizer. Support mandatory cogeneration for new construction. Discourage new house building in any way possible. Put farming above Urban sprawl in any way possible.
     4 Help to develop the concept of the "Ecomindium" which is a condominium completely designed to save energy and reduce the cost of living. This is the only way to create a sustainable society. Require that all new buildings have an energy consumption per inhabitant number computed. Try all means to reduce this number.
     5 Define the missions of existing bureaucracies such as the drain commission, city parks, county parks, and school system to include the concept of Sustainability. Enlarge their mission to include mass tree planting, execute nature projects, plant perennial food plants, and protect land.
     6 Start massive tree planting programs. Form a "Civilian Conservation Corps" and a  system of using prison labor to get the labor to do this. Get all bureaucracies including schools involved.
     7 Make it mandatory that new shopping centers be multi storied buildings which incorporate energy saving measures and are built in areas of dense population. Devise a plan for shopping centers which reduces driving.
     8 Traffic is dense now due to spread out living styles, lack of car pools, and frequent shopping trips. Look at various methods of reducing traffic through car pools, neighborhood organizations, etc. Publicize the danger to children caused by too much driving.
     9 Try to form a lobby to influence state government. Lobbying should be performed to increase energy taxes, reduce highway construction, promote state financed tree planting, reduce lawn mowing, reduce lawn fertilization, and reduce construction. If all car fees, licenses, and part of the insurance were paid by gasoline taxes then drivers would have an incentive to drive fewer miles but taxes would not be increased. Any local tax on electricity would cause new companies and new jobs to be formed in alternate energy. Cogeneration is almost cost effective now. Recognize the huge potential for job creation of higher energy taxes.
     10 Form an organization which would specifically write proposals to the Federal government to get support for sustainability research projects. Such projects could include cogeneration, Ecomindiums for the elderly, Ecomindiums for the poor, mass tree planting programs, and multi purpose sewage plants. Work with the Universities on this. Lobby the Federal government to put more money into alternate energy and tree planting jobs for the poor.
     11 Work with the University to create a new course called "Sustainability Engineering". Watered down versions of this should be created for non engineering students. Work with public schools to incorporate courses in Horticulture and sustainability into the curriculum. In the future much of our energy must come from crops. Every one will have to garden in order to survive. Biomass energy production must be totally integrated into nature, food production, and lumber production.
      12 Try to reduce the size of the useless bureaucracy in local government so that more money can be spent on Sustainability. Require that every project have multiple goals. Stop government agencies such as parks from squandering money on buildings, parking lots, excessive park improvements, and excessive nature trails.
      13 Encourage the formation of city and county organizations on energy and sustainability. Link these organizations with similar organizations in Lansing, Detroit, and all other cities. Encourage the city to get its engineering department involved in Sustainability projects.
      14 Promote the local construction in a building of a cogeneration power plant which burns a mixture of wood and waste paper. This will contribute to local recycling and biomass usage. Use this power plant as a research vehicle to explore cogeneration, thermal efficiency improvement, and pollution reduction. Realize that the inherent pollution per kwhr from such a plant is probably far less than that of coal. Also realize that the present practice of burning wood in stoves and fireplaces is far more polluting and far less efficient than burning waste wood in properly designed facilities.
      15 Build a small prison in Ann Arbor as a means of providing labor for total recycling, planting trees, and research on low energy buildings. Make the prison into a work shop on Sustainability.
 
      If we do not incorporate Sustainability into all of our plans and occupations then there is no hope for the babies of today.
                                                               Kermit Schlansker PE    971 5283