Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great Sightline post on planning for aging

Universal Design BathroomImage by Transguyjay via Flickr

Boom Towns

These issues came to life for me several years ago, when my father, a California school teacher, started looking for his future retirement home in Oregon's Willamette Valley. His criteria for the move, "I want to get away from the crowded [city] and find a place that is less hectic…somewhere I can grow things." At the time, I was co-teaching a class on housing and environments for older adults at Portland State University's Institute on Aging. Every ounce of my professional training told me that his moving away from important services could become an issue for both of us. I also knew my father well: he had never grown anything in his life. So I suggested, as gently as I could, that he might want to reconsider moving away from services he'd need.

He didn't buy it.

My father simply couldn't fathom the changes that age would bring to his abilities or his faculties. Even though he has never wanted to burden anyone, it was tough for him to envision the kind of decline that would lead to needing help with driving, shopping — or growing things. . . .

My father, like many others, had trouble facing the realities that accompany normal aging, not to mention the changes that might accompany a serious illness. Yet he was fully capable of making wise decisions when it pertained to someone else. . . .

Unfortunately, not everyone has learned those lessons—and the vital window of opportunity for planning for a rapidly aging population is closing. To help prepare, here are three things we can all start thinking about.

First, accept that you are aging. . . . Second, developers, planners, and homebuyers can break away from the "Peter Pan" style of development, which assumes we'll never grow old. . . . . "Visitable/visit-able" housing design can and should be incorporated into as much new and redeveloped housing as possible. . . . Finally, we can foster innovation in housing design and development. Concepts such as co-housing and the Green House model merit further exploration; these opportunities need to be expanded to be available to those with limited and fixed incomes. . . .

UPDATE: Must be the change of seasons making several bloggers write about this issue. Sharon Astyk has a great post on aging during the Era of Limits.

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Note how well hens integrate into small-lot intensive farming

Backyard chicken coop with green roofTwo of the terrifying urban hens, caught on film. Image via Wikipedia

Nice story about a family pulling huge yields off a 60' x 100' lot. Given the present and worsening crisis over food security and availability, it's nice to see that the simple, obvious things work -- like some hens and stingless bees to help the gardener:
Underneath the arbor, a wooden box sways in the wind, acting as nest for the family's Mason bees.

The bees are good for the garden, Kim said. They pollinate the plants and are safe for the kids.

"They don't sting because there is no honey to protect," Kim said.

Dan built a hive for them out of a wooden block, drilled with holes that recess about four inches.

"(The female) fills it up with eggs, goes away and dies, and her little batch is born," Kim said.

Her other garden helpers are the 15 hens and three roosters who share the backyard.

"They are a major component of my gardening," Kim said. "We have one we call the gardener. As soon as you start digging in the soil, she will come to eat all the bugs."

The birds' insect-munching expertise comes in handy when Kim prepares a bed for replanting.

"I let them go and do whatever they want to do," she said. "When they're done, they move off and I plant my stuff and block them off."

She lets the fowl run loose in the yard every few days. They help to fertilize the grass and, in return, the hens lay roughly a dozen eggs a day. The yolks are a bright yellow and orange happy eggs from happy chickens, she added, with a smile and she sells the excess for $2 a dozen.

(Note that the roosters are unnecessary for egg production, so there's no need for them in urban/suburban settings.)

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Don't mind all the unnecessary deaths!

To help you avoid dealing with reality, just keep repeating the GOP and Blue Dog Democrat's mantra: "We have the finest health care system in the world. Insurance companies care about us. We have the finest health . . . " And for God's sake, don't look at the facts.

More Word

Soup LinesImage by OakleyOriginals via Flickr

Welcome to the world of exponential growth fueled by fossil fuels:
How serious is the world's situation? Bad enough, says a leading Australian scientist, that the world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have in the thousands of years since civilization began, and will have a tough time keeping up.

There have been dark predictions --mostly wrong -- of worldwide food shortages before.

But this one comes from Megan Clark, the head of Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO. Clark is hardly a wild-eyed extremist; she is a former mining executive.

In a speech in Canberra last week, Clark said growing population will cause exponentially-rising demand, and a warming climate will make the challenge more difficult.

"It is hard for me to comprehend that in the next 50 years we will need to produce as much food as has been consumed over our entire human history," she said.

"That means in the working life of my children, more grain than ever produced since the Egyptians, more fish than eaten to date, more milk than from all the cows that have ever been milked on every frosty morning humankind has ever known." …

If you don't immediately understand what she's talking about, the all-time great introduction to this is here -- about an hour.
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In the process of creating :Image:Oil Prices 1...Funny, if economagical thinking had any relevance in the real world, there would have been oceans of oil available at $150/barrel. Image via Wikipedia

From an ASPO interview with Jeremy Leggett:

Leggett: I think it’s entirely appropriate for the entire economics community, with the notable exception of the very few economists who saw the financial crash coming, to go back to the drawing board. I mean they got that whole thing catastrophically, systemically wrong. And I was shocked but pleased to see on British television news the other night the head of the economics faculty at the University of Chicago saying, when asked, what are the implications of the financial crash? He said, we have to go right back to the drawing board, I’m paraphrasing, but he was as strong in his wording as this. “We got everything wrong at a systemic level. We should be full of humility and by golly we’re going to do it. Our whole discipline has been has been on flawed assumptions.” And that’s what they have to break.

We hear this from the economists now about peak oil: that the price mechanism works, that simply when oil prices go up, they’ll go out and they’ll find more oil; it’s there under the ground isn’t it? Economics will find the oil. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And we know this. But they have to take some of the humility that is absolutely required of them as a result of the financial crisis and bring it to a re-examination of what they’re saying about peak oil.

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