25Mar 2014

In 2013 we assisted the Town of Lancaster with the creation of a “form-based code” for their downtown area, and at the 2014 Town Meeting they adopted these regulations which will now guide development and redevelopment along Main Street.

What is a form-based code? A form-based code addresses the relationship between buildings and the public realm (streets, sidewalks, etc.), and the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another. The regulations and standards in Lancaster’s form-based code are presented using words and clearly drawn diagrams, and really call for a pattern of design and development that is similar to what exists in the downtown today.

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This was identified as a goal in the Town’s master plan, but the pre-existing zoning was written in a way that would encourage auto-oriented uses and commercial sprawl. Not the multi-storied mixed use buildings the community is currently composed of and would like to retain.

This new regulatory language also allows for flexibility on parking and other issues in the core of the downtown and promotes more resilient landscape design and stormwater management in the lower density sub-districts. Bicycle and Pedestrian activity is encouraged, and the creation of new living and working units has been incentivized.

The resilience of our communities includes the health and vibrancy of our downtowns and villages. Lets hope more communities take the time to create regulations like this that will guide land use change toward their vision!

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25Mar 2014

In 2013 we assisted the Town of Lancaster with the creation of a “form-based code” for their downtown area, and at the 2014 Town Meeting they adopted these regulations which will now guide development and redevelopment along Main Street.

What is a form-based code? A form-based code addresses the relationship between buildings and the public realm (streets, sidewalks, etc.), and the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another. The regulations and standards in Lancaster’s form-based code are presented using words and clearly drawn diagrams, and really call for a pattern of design and development that is similar to what exists in the downtown today. Continue reading

02Apr 2014

Indoor composting toilet, bio-shelter thermal battery, and low-maintenance gardens

During a quick visit to his home in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Steve Whitman tells me about his neat indoor composting toilet, and gives me a quick tour of his bio-shelter, where he explains the thermal battery design used for storing heat. He also talks about replacing his front lawn with a low-maintenance garden.

08Apr 2014

Permaculture Design Course in Tanzania
May 26 – June 6, 2014

Robert Cook, The Permaculture Research Institute

Following the success of our three PDCs in 2012 and 2013, foodwatershelter is pleased to offer you the chance to join USA-based instructor Steve Whitman and a team of local teachers in Arusha, Tanzania from May 26th to June 6th, 2014, for two weeks of intensive learning and an incredible networking opportunity. Continue reading

17Apr 2014

As the waTactical Urbanism Montreal open streets planning permaculturerm weather begins and summer approaches there are some amazing opportunities for communities to take back their streets! This image is from Montreal in the summer of 2013 and shows the potential to convert existing parking spots to parks, patios, and other uses that capitalize on existing underutilized spaces. Plus they are portable and can be shared! This strategy is one of many that fall under an exciting approach called tactical urbanism. Tactical urbanism examples have been nicely highlighted in Tactical Urbanism 2. The examples highlighted allow for limited use of streets and plazas for building community connections, interesting techniques for trialing larger changes, and tools for supporting the local economy. Some of the other techniques for communities to consider include open streets, popup town hall, intersection repair, and micro-mixing of businesses. Get creative, take bold chances as a community, and work together to make a more resilient future possible!

06May 2014

inhabitWe are really excited to be part of such an exciting film project that will transform how many people view their role in the world. The pending documentary reflects the hard work of two brilliant film makers Costa Boutsikaris and Emmett Brennan, and they have framed the journey with some profound questions. What if our impact and footprints on the planet were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet?

This is the reason so many of us are committed  to using Permaculture on our sites and in our lives. Permaculture provides a dynamic design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. Last August Costa and Emmett visited us in Plymouth, NH to see how Permaculture is expressed on our property and in our lives and to see the amazing range of projects in our community. Now the film is coming together and we can all have a role in supporting its creation and launch! A Kickstarter campaign has been launched for this project and has gotten really exciting. More details are available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1122699426/inhabit-a-permaculture-perspective

Littleton

This is especially exciting to share after participating in another inspiring New Hampshire project last weekend. For three days a team of 14 designers collaborated on a four acre urban site along the Ammonoosuc River in Littleton, NH. The results of this effort include a redevelopment vision driven by ecological repair and community building. This includes a renewed purpose for the historic tannery building and adjacent structures, significant habitat repair, site remediation, a renewed transportation corridor for all modes of travel, recreation space and access to the river, new business opportunities, community gardens, and a significant amount of new vegetation all stitched together with stormwater management swales. This all happened with the support of the property owners and the Town’s River Commission and local business owners.  This is just one more story unfolding that shows the power of community and the ability of Permaculture to be used to create a new path forward.

09Jun 2014

Staff members from the local community at Africa Amini Maasai Lodge.

In 2011 I began working with Food Water Shelter on the creation of a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) to be hosted in Arusha Tanzania. Our third successful PDC offering in English just finished on Friday June 6th. The success of these offerings has been due to strong partnerships with ECHO, PRI Kenya, and other partners in the region. Now we are seeing the emergence of a strong Permaculture community in East Africa that includes demonstration sites and talented teachers. This years course was especially significant to me because I was teaching with Franko Green. In 2012 Franko was a student in our first course offering and since that time he has masterfully created several demonstration sites while building his skills to become a powerful teacher as well.

Teaching Forest garden design and implementation.

Franko teaching forest garden design and implementation.

As the Permaculture movement in this region continues to grow I look forward to supporting the many people doing this important work. We are a network of professionals connected worldwide and it is inspiring to see the creation of regional solutions that address the needs of humans and their surrounding ecosystems.

 

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