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Regenerative Communities: How big should they be?

Bill Mollison's Permaculture Design Manual I was reading some more of Chapter 14 in the Permaculture Design Manual and found some useful insight on village size. I’ve been asked many times and have thought about ideal sizes for intentional communities for some time. Some prefer small and others’, myself included think a larger group is more compelling. The Dunbar Number is often pulled into this conversation as Robin Dunbar theorized that there is an upper limit to the number of people we can maintain stable social relationships with. It is not an exact number but an approximate one – roughly 150.

Bill Mollison reasons it this way:

  • At about 100 income-producing people, a significant financial institution can be village-based
  • At about 500 all people can know each other if social affairs are organized from time to time
  • At 2000 people theft and competitiveness is more common and sects are set up in opposition

He goes on to add:

Perhaps we should start small at about 30 or so adults, build to 200-300 people, and proceed slowly and by choice to 500, then “calve” into new neighbourhoods or new villages

He supports this reasoning with the Mondragon Cooperative example from Spain which:

at first grew large (3,000 – 5,000), but later reduced to 300-500 to preserve the identity of every individual

This reasoning seems sound to me. Obviously, village-scale needs to be matched to the local environment’s ability to supply food, energy, water and other resources as well work for the citizens of the community.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you know of any communities that have followed this development path?

I LOVE Biomimicry

Wow, I just finished watching Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action on ted.com. Thanks Timo! It was totally inspiring.

We as a species have to start asking ourselves the question “how would nature solve _________?” before we start to create anything. All the answers to live in harmony with the biosphere are there – we just have to develop the capacity to observe deeply.

Elect Gregor Robertson for Mayor of Vancouver 2008

Gregor Robertson for Mayor of Vancouver 2008Gregor Robertson has decided to run for Mayor of Vancouver in the 08 civic election. This would be the best thing that could happen to Vancouver. I want to see Vancouver become one of the most sustainable, livable and vibrant cities on the planet. I believe we can develop a local economy that values well being and a society that takes care to make sure all its citizens are given full opportunity to create a better future for themselves. We need a government that is committed to transparency and community engagement. Gregor is all of this and much more. Check out his websites: Gregor for Mayor, Gregor – MLA Vancouver Fairview and join his Facebook Group.

Sharif Abdullah on Quantum Shift TV

Sharif AbdullahSharif came and spoke in my social justice class in January. He articulated a vision of a world that works for all with the profound clarity of someone who has weathered many wars and come out wiser and committed to a higher path based on inclusivity and understanding.

You can see him on Quantum Shift here:

  1. Catalyzing a Common Society with Sharif Abdullah (part 1)
  2. Catalyzing a Common Society with Sharif Abdullah (part 2)
  3. Catalyzing a Common Society with Sharif Abdullah (part 3)
  4. Catalyzing a Common Society with Sharif Abdullah (part 4)

Help Establish a South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Reserve

South Okanagan Similkameen National Park ReserveCurrently, Canadians are being presented with one of the most exceptional conservation opportunities in our history. The BC and federal governments have agreed to undertake a Feasibility Study for a potential national park to protect the desert, grasslands, and Ponderosa pine ecosystems of the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in southern British Columbia. The local residents and the millions of Canadians who’ve visited the area know it is perhaps the most beautiful region of the country. Whether the national park becomes a reality – or a lost opportunity – depends on YOUR input and the input of all Canadians.

Sign the petition here.

Inspiring Videos from Pop!Tech

Pop!TechFeeling a little down on the state of the environment, pissed off about social justice or global poverty?

Spend a little time watching videos from the recent Pop!Tech conference.

The Story of Stuff

I have been feeling increasingly conflicted about contributing a significant portion my life’s energy to building the status quo. Our consumerist society is destroying the planet on which everything else is based and I’m helping it by making it easier for people to buy anything and everything online. I used to think ecommerce was a rather benign industry as we are not causing direct harm with the products and services that we produce. I was able to defend the belief by limiting my world view and denying the reality that our business model depends on growth and consumption. Elastic Path is thriving because we are riding the endlessly upward trend of economic growth. Can this growth continue unchecked? How long can it go before we start running into the limits of what nature can provide?

Read More »

Navigate The Falling Dollar – Catherine Austin Fitts

I’m part way through a lecture called Navigate the Falling Dollar and I had to stop to post the link to it. It’s an incredibly well articulated lecture by Catherine Austin Fitts, an investment banker who seems to have a substantial grasp about what is happening economically right now.

Green Power for Residents of BC

Wind TurbineBC Hydro has a Green Power program available to businesses within British Columbia. From their website:

“Power Smart Green Power Certificates (GPCs) are a simple, practical way for your organization to ensure that your electricity use is environmentally friendly.

BC Hydro has purchased Green Power, at a premium, to supply the GPC program. The more GPCs that are purchased by B.C. organizations, the more Green Power BC Hydro can continue to buy, to add to the grid, which will protect the environment for all British Columbians.”

This is awesome that BC Hydro offers this option to business but I would to see it opened up to residents so we all have a choice where our power comes from.

Louise Graham is the contact person at BC Hydro for this program and her response to my request was:

Thank you for enquiring about BC Hydro Green Power Certificates (GPCs). At present, GPCs are only available to business customers. A residential offer is under review. I can add your name on the contact list to advise you of new developments.

Can all residents of BC who would like to see Green Power offered to residents send Louise an email: louise[DOT]graham[AT]bchydro[DOT]com and ask when BC Hydro will be offering Green Power to residents.


[tags]Green Power, BC Hydro, Global Warming[/tags]

Almost Carbon Neutral Holiday

I just finished a week long vacation with my dad. I wanted to keep the footprint of my holiday as small as possible without limiting myself to sitting at home with the heat and lights off, reading by candle light under a pile of blankets. My dad made the three day journey from Ontario with VIA Rail to join me for some almost carbon neutral fun.


  1. The train trip was less carbon intensive that air travel. (approx 0.6 tonnes vs 0.8 tonnes)
  2. We only made four car trips, including the taxi to and from the train station.
  3. We made numerous trips to Home Depot with Bob trailers to fetch odds and ends (including concrete blocks & a shop trolley!) for the house and garden.
  4. We made it up to Grouse Mountain to go skiing and boarding using public transit alone (see pics below).
  5. We built the cedar fence I had been hoping to create for the last year from locally harvested wood.
  6. We assembled the fence using the Stil electric chainsaw (no smelly 2 stroke engine) Lisa got me for Christmas.
  7. Electric Stil Chainsaw

  8. I found 7 of the 10 concrete blocks I needed for the fence in the blackberry bushes accross the street. Free and recycled!
  9. I learned how to get around the lower mainland via transit much more efficiently.
  10. Lisa tested and purchased a new three wheel recumbant for our almost carbon neutral honeymoon bike tour of BC.
  11. We turned all compost into the garden, planted peas, lettuce and spinach.
  12. Playin in the compost

  13. I offset 2 tonnes of CO2 with offsetters.ca for $40 CDN


  1. We made four car trips, I had hoped for zero.
  2. It’s really difficult to not make any garbage when you take a holiday to fix everything around the house and garden.

Photo journey to Grouse Mountain using Public Transit

Total trip time each was about 2 hours each way. Take the #50, to sea bus, to #136 to Grouse Mountain gondala.
Chris with our gear trolley
Chris with the gear at 2nd & Fir
Chris on 50 bus to Waterfront Station
Chris bus 1
Chris & I on the Seabus
Chris & Justin on the Seabus
Chris on the Gondola Skyride up to Grouse
Chris Gondola
Broken Wheelchair Lift on the Bus on the way Home.
Broken Bus

[tags]Carbon Neutral Vacation[/tags]