Moonbeam Jerry and the Politics of Housing

I'm forwarding two of these over from the GEODESIC list. The author brings
up some excellent questions, and while I don't necessarily agree with
continuing to keep people penned in like cattle, I like the general thrust
of this article. I'm going to see if we can get him to continue discussion
over here on domesteading. 

Feel free to pick this one up and run with it...


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>Date:         Sat, 6 Jun 1998 01:41:58 GMT
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>From: "First Speaker Schol-R-LEA;2" <s at S dot NET>
>Organization: Last Eristic Church of Finagle
>Subject:      Moonbeam Jerry and the Politics of Housing
>Recently, in the UC Berkeley school bookstore, I came across the book
>_BuckyWorks_ by J. Baldwin. I didn't have any cash, and so couldn't
>buy it, but when I stopped later in the day at the public library I
>checked it out. I was up until 2am reading it; I had never realised
>the extent of Fuller's vision before. I was HOOKED.
>The next day, Jerry Brown won the mayoral race for Oakland,
>California, the city directly south of Berkeley. I don't believe this
>was a coincidence.
>For those readers who are outside of the US, or unfamiliar with 'Moon
>Beam' Jerry's rep, Brown is one of the more colorful figures in US
>politics. He was the governor of California in the 1976 (I think), and
>has run repeatedly for the US presidency (a joke that went around in
>1992 : Q. What is the most frightening thing about the presidential
>candidates? A. Jerry Brown is the one making the most sense.). He is
>also perhaps the most progressive (in the sense of willing to
>experiment) of all the major American politicians today. The city he
>is now mayor of, Oakland, has a long history of urban poverty, and was
>in the 1960s so bad that several radical left groups - most notably
>the Black Panther Party - were founded by residents infuriated by the
>conditions in which they lived. While it is in some ways better than
>it was at that time, the city has suffered a long recession recently.
>Brown has sworn to 'turn Oakland around', and apparently means it (its
>assumed that he intends to run for President again, and wants to build
>a reputationa as a miracle worker).
>It has occurred to me that Brown will, almost certainly, offer a
>low-rent housing 'urban renewal' project. Not only is it in keeping
>with his political agenda, such projects are almost obligatory in
>Oakland. While these projects have uniformly failed, they usually do
>offer a certain amount of temporary improvement in living conditions.
>One of the reasons they fail is because, once the buildings are
>completed, there is usually insufficent funds for maintanence,
>especially given the misuse that the poor and disenfranchised often
>make of 'welfare' housing.
>I smell an opportunity here, not so much in economic terms so much as
>in terms of propagandizing the idea of synergetic housing. You see,
>while I don't think that advanced 'livingry' can necessarily save such
>a project, it may help - for a number of reasons, all of which were
>part of Fuller's original goal AIUI.
>First, the buildings themselves cost a fraction of what it would cost
>to build ordinary housing (and take up substantially less space
>compared to single-unit housing); you could build upwards of 10 times
>as many units. Second, since the units are all prefabricated, repair
>consists of replacing a damaged module with a new unit - which is
>cheaper in both labor and material costs. Third, suitable arrangements
>of geodesic domes can provide a more pleasant living environment than
>the bleak corridors of the welfare apartments. Lastly, they can be
>made extremely durable, to survive not only the earthquakes of nothern
>CA but also the mistreatment of the 'inmates' (which term reflects the
>State's attitude toward low-income-renters better than 'resident'
>does, sadly). The list of advantages can be continued, but that's
>beside the point right now.
>So far, however, attempts to get geodome based projects off the ground
>have failed, laregly out of a lack of interest on the parts of the
>Powers That Be. Brown, however, has shown an outright fondness for
>'outrageous' ideas, and may very well be amenable to a proposal
>involving geodesic dome housing.
>I'd like to know a few things :
>1) is there a PAC or equivalent endorsing synergetic housing to the
>PBE? I know, and share, Fuller's distaste for politics, but he did try
>political solutions from time to time - when he thought they would
>advance his projects, which was rare.
>2) What is the currwent state of materials-science regarding domes?
>This sort of project would need extremely durable dome parts - ones
>that could resist hammers, knives, spray paint, bullets, etc. (I'm not
>joking, sadly, it really would have to). Which designs are currently
>in use? Plastics? Aluminium? Composites? Other?
>3) What kind of building arrangement would be suited for this kinf od
>'dome park'? The needs of a multibuilding complex are very different
>from those of a single, isolated dome.
>4) how reliable are the Living Machines type kitchens, bedding, and
>waste-recycling equipment? Would they withstand the kind of punishment
>that is common in housing projects? How easily are they maintained
>and/or replaced? Should the waste recycling be completely unit
>enclosed (as in Fuller's original) or should we 'substation' the
>facilities for groups of, say, six buildings?
>5) What are the current unit costs for the equipment in question? How
>low can they be expected to go once full mass production begins?
>6) What proposals can anyone offer for the *social* environment? The
>physical enviroment is only the first step in any serious project like
>this one. Should we dedicate certain domes to specific purposes
>(gardnes, hydroponics, etc), and how many? Can we have shops, schools,
>etc. inside of a single complex?
>What do you think, sirs?
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