1637. GardenWorld

Most people would like to live in a blend of
nature and civilization. Why do we not use
our resources and technology– our wealth
to go there?

GardenWorld is a turn away from the rationality of production with its irrational conclusion that more stuff means more happiness. Clearly “happiness” is a deeper problem to which “more” is a pathetic and destructive answer. This book is based on the core idea that we have lost a public vision of the future and our education has stunted individual imagination for the better life. Democracy and technology no longer seem to mobilize hope, but fear. And yet a direction already exists in the minds of most people, and they would vote for it, if were offered by the political leaders. And it will not be, at least in the early phases. Politicians vote for what is. The hope is that people will do some inventing and creating themselves. With the Internet creating the possibility of discussing everything, including why, and how to live, the hope is not impotent.

GardenWorld is that vision, a world where advanced technology and natural growth are blended through design (including architecture, city planning, landscape planning, food, recreation and institutions, and more) in a robust economy of local and regional experimentation in restoration, development and local business initiatives, all under the guidance of GardenWorld as an intent, blending aesthetics and pragmatics. In GardenWorld health and education are seen as enablers of participation, and tough environmental regulation drives technical innovation. Doing a better job on local development and retrofitting for energy conservation, and growing green for energy and food independence creates potentially a very large number of local jobs that are much harder to export. Democracy would expand and complexify locally, moving from mere voting to conversational networks across generations and class lines.

GardenWorld is more of an intent to experiment than a plan to follow. The idea is simply, from the window box or roof top in the inner city, through the malls and the suburbs, to the fringe wilderness, we should be looking for ways to enhance the aesthetics and the usefulness through landscape design, from the micro to the macro: gardens, food, parks, paths, climate amelioration through tree planting in hot cities.

GardenWorld is not just the sum of these practical activities but an intent to realize a vision. It is how we can put together a goal, with the positive potential of technology, capital, human lives and politics. By vision I mean something like what the Impressionist painters, Monet, Renoir, Bonnard and all their friends, did for the emerging bourgeoisie middle class life – enhance every space with color and life, mixing nature and human relationships in a new harmony and meaningful discord. From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to Central Park, the British estate gardens, Architectural Digest, and the impact of simply putting flowers in our living room – bring human relationships into a better balance with plants, as food and beauty, as a core design principle, throughout our entire environment.

GardenWorld is not a plan for what you should do. It is an invitation to creatively participate as you help invent, from the very local, to neighborhood, regional, national and global as we explore how to replace the techno-mechanical image of the potentialities of the use –and misuse – of our wealth with a goal of a more humane, democratic, organic and natural environment. If this isn’t the world you want, what do you want? As Socrates asked, “What is a fit life for a human being?”

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