Saturday, March 24, 2012

Permadesign, vs. Wal-Mart and Capitalism, and energy of transportation.

Some terms for this writing.

Permadesign -- the design, or planning efforts, of a permaculture effort to raise food and preserve habitat in harmony with nature. At least, that is my current understanding of permaculture.

Capitalism -- Government oriented toward sustaining the social and economic practices of creating industries to make products from resources, and to sell those products. Capitalism, and industrialism, make use of relatively inexpensive resources to create more valuable products and resources, principally to concentrate wealth from customers into the hands of those accumulating and exercising money -- capital.

Wal-Mart -- One of several chains of stores in a capitalist economy, focused on fair quality goods at moderate prices.

Like many stores and other retailers, including shopping malls, shopping districts, strip malls, and "downtown" business districts, Wal-Mart intends to draw customers from a significant distance, usually in excess of comfortable walking distance of up to 1 1/2 miles. Some stores and malls expect a shopping reach of 40 to 100 miles.

A Saks Fifth Avenue or other "high end" store relies on customers that shop once or twice a month -- or a few times each year. A hardware store might expect customers to visit weekly "in season", plus a few times a year for other needs.

But the shopping mall, the strip mall, even Grand Avenue shops, as a group, expect to draw customers from a distance, and to draw them regularly for varying needs.

Each customer travels to the store or group of store. When travel is not by foot, then commercial energy is expended. That is an indirect energy loading of the commercial enterprise on their community.

For that matter, consolidated schools, central county and local and state offices do the same, they impose the expense of time, energy, and resources on their community to make the retailing, drivers license and various taxing activities cheaper for the vendor. Consolidating schools trades energy of parents and community to gather children to a central location for advanced career paths for administrative staff.

I would find credible a community's interest in energy issues, when building codes favor walking access to shopping and employment for residences. The interest should shift from employers that draw employees and/or customers from long distances, to walking distance access.

Leavergirl at Leaving Babylon writes about how designs for permaculture make an assumption that they have a clean slate, a godlike right to dictate what some local piece of nature will be like, instead of growing what nature has established into a new, permaculture kind of sustained growth and usefulness. has a more pointed element, "Native Landscaping" -- using plants that don't need watering, once established. Not only is water considered to be the next limiting factor to continuing life as America has come to know it, but water inevitably means energy use. Thus, native landscaping, or xeriscaping as sustainable landscaping is known, is a proven energy saver.

Which actually brings me to Wal-Mart. And Lowes. And Jay's Ranch Supplies (Ponca City, OK).

These are all retail outlets, depending on customers to buy what they sell. And none of them take efforts to identify the varieties and uses of plants that are well suited, without special care, to years-long growth in a sustainable fashion.

Yet Wal-Mart, Lowes, and the city of Ponca City each claim to be energy conserving, and be interested in sustainable approaches to business and life.

Huh. Not much Transition to reduced energy dependency here.

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