semantic trickery and can-do paralysis






                TABLE OF CONTENTS_____


I               A WORD

II              THE MEDIA, or the rhetoric starts here


                urban renewal and three more r's


                1. herman e. daly's full world

                2. thomas princen's sufficiency

                3. nef's (un)happy planet index


                1. the experimental station

                2. mont radar

                3. internet resources and software









                                    Samuel Beckett[1]


folly -

folly for to -

for to -

what is the word -

folly from this -

all this -

folly from all this -

given -

folly given all this -

seeing -

folly seeing all this -

this -

what is the word -

this this -

this this here -

all this this here -

folly given all this -

seeing -

folly seeing all this this here -

for to -

what is the word -

see -

glimpse -

seem to glimpse -

need to seem to glimpse -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse -

what -

what is the word -

and where -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse what where -

where -

what is the word -

there -

over there -

away over there -

afar -

afar away over there -

afaint -

afaint afar away over there what -

what -

what is the word -

seeing all this -

all this this -

all this this here -

folly for to see what -

glimpse -

seem to glimpse -

need to seem to glimpse -

afaint afar away over there what -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what -what -

what is the word -

what is the word




I        A WORD



-verb (used with object)


1.         to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.

2.         to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).

3.         to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.

4.         to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.

5.         to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.

6.         to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life.

7.         to provide for (an institution or the like) by furnishing means or funds.

8.         to support (a cause or the like) by aid or approval.

9.         to uphold as valid, just, or correct, as a claim or the person making it: The judge sustained the lawyer's objection.

10.      to confirm or corroborate, as a statement: Further investigation sustained my suspicions.



I say "sustainable" and I feel a resistance. Does it feel too much like a freshly set a-buzzing business escape hatch? It goes down the hatch, but does one ever stop a word from vibrating? Or does the president sleep more soundly now that he's held a beaker of ethanol in his hands? Sustainable: the word usually sits next to development at the meetings. The meeting of needs, those of this generation and maybe another seven. Most business plans include projections for three or five years. How many three or five years of business as usual are there left for a population of 6.5 billion and growing? And who's going to pay for the psychoanalysis necessary to explain why Las Vegas should be a ghost town, instead of Detroit... We are no longer speaking about automobiles here, but drinking water.


This research began as a feasibility study for renovating an existing structure into a space for cooperative living, farming, cultural production, etc. An important facet of the rehabilitation is enlisting the aid of friends (architects, engineers and other artists) to contribute to the overall development of the space, and in addition, work to adapt systems for water collection and energy production/storage. Although the ultimate goal of the project is still to create an environment for cooperative living, the present research has taken a detour towards a more semantic inquiry. Currently, I am interested in making an analytical survey of the language employed in discussing sustainable development and motivating social action. This language can be used for smoothing around confrontations but can also become the bridge between talking about action and taking action.






Environmental issues are beginning to have more regular coverage in the American mass media, but the stories being presented seem distanced and lackadaisical in comparison with the urgent, action-now voice coming from less-accessed scientific and academic publications. Visit the website of The New York Times Online and one can read stories about socialites selling eco-friendly cleaning products, masses of fish in the Great Lakes dying of an unknown disease, fair-trade coffee, hybrid cars, and see an advertisement for a sweepstakes in which one can win "The Ultimate Green Home Makeover" from a soy milk company[2].


The benefits of this sort of press are questionable. Commodifying the planet, its natural resources, and inhabitants, has been the continuous action of business since the industrial revolution. Persuading the public to purchase more ethically or ecologically produced clothing, food or appliances seems like a feel-good diversion from the more complex issues spawned from manufacturing practices and consuming lifestyles that are contributing, although some would STILL say arguably, to global warming, loss of bio-diversity and neurological and physical illnesses. If viewed with through the rosiest of glass, this new popularization of eco-friendly products may persuade companies that "green"=green.


"What does America need to regain its global stature?" asks the headline of Thomas L. Friedman's recent article "The Power of Green" featured on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Magazine. The headline replies like it knows what it's talking about: "Environmental leadership." It seems like a proposition befit of the most competitive marketing campaign: SUSTAINABILITY = RENEWED GLOBAL SOVERIENTY. Who knew such a thing as empire was still so entrenched in the popular imagination? The desire for proliferation, control and a way to ease mortality pains is always reinventing itself in the political sphere. The following paragraphs are the opening to Friedman's article.


One day Iraq, our post-9/11 trauma and the divisiveness of the Bush years will all be behind us and America will need, and want, to get its groove back. We will need to find a way to reknit America at home, reconnect America abroad and restore America to its natural place in the global order as the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration. I have an idea how. It's called "green."


In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term "green" was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents, by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as "liberal," "tree-hugging," "sissy," "girlie-man," "unpatriotic," "vaguely French."


Well, I want to rename "green." I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism. [3]


His tone, terminology, and elbow rubbing with discrimination read like the stereotype of the authority figure vamping cool. IS this really the way one must convey information in America in order to draw any attention to the point trying to be made? Although I am less than charmed by his stylistic manipulations, the way in which Friedman fits in bits of reality between his nauseating incorporations of pop-culture catch phrases may allow him to hold the attention of his audience just long enough to sneak in one or two radically pertinent notions. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down? I already want to vomit.


Ego stroking advertising that promises good karma with each purchase and well-respected popular news forums are reinforcing the continuation of consumer habits that's liken to handling an entire nation with kid gloves; but it is precisely this delicacy (or avoidance) that is strangling it. At best, one could say they that these gradual introductions to consumer accountability may ease the receptiveness to more direct forms of communication.



One could investigate all forms of communication in terms of marketing. In order to express one's internal conscious desires (perhaps already skewed by the shifting murk of unconscious ones), it is necessary to employ gesticulations that are legible within the terms of particular social structures. 


We do not know just what forms early stories took. One possibility is that they were often spontaneous accounts of a personal act of bravery or feat of skill that a man wanted to impress upon his fellow tribesman. -The Oral Tradition in The Arts: Man's Creative Imagination [4]


A social behavior cannot result from a moral rule; it expresses the structure of a society, a play of material forces that animates it. -Georges Bataille[5]



From the earliest tribes of hunters to contemporary journalists, the common force that animates communications is the drive to exert one's position in the social structure. It is as if to proclaim, my thoughts exist, therefore I exist, because when I attempt to express myself a reaction may prove that there is some materiality to my ideas. The words employed in such fields as policy-making must work to forge principles that eventually precipitate an unconscious critical thinking process. Organizational policies are ghosts or after-images. [6] So how does one speak in the present? In a time still situated in the middle of Benjamin's phantasmagoria (the etymology of phantasmagoria can be traced to the Greek 'phantasma' ghost and 'agoreuein' to speak in public [7] ), in a society perpetually spinning out on Marx's dancing table? How can we relate Marx's human labor to Bataille's play of material forces?

Detroit, Michigan, 1967.


Objective form, made an object, given its form through description, a physicality as much as words make palpable or communicate. Compare language to money and the nature of circulation, or communication:


Namely, it is circulation which is out of hand, not like nature but like money, which is sheer circulation, the sheer circulation or play of the signifier, and which is, as you know, the root of error, madness, stupidity, and all other evil. -Friedrich Schlegel[8]


The linen, the coat, the paper on which money is printed, the computer's hard drive or the modulations of electrical or optical currents necessary to transmit information are all material bases for the disembodied sign systems they sustain. -J. Hillis Miller[9]




The city is studied for how the past looks back at us for recognition in the duration and depredation of objects, persons, and memories in time. It invites us to treat experience as stretching across time rather than simply extending in space. It accumulates metonymic objects and artifacts as a kind of involuntary memory. To elicit this memory is to arrive at a moment of recognition of how the present was-or-was-not immanent in what-has-been as its future. In this sense, the city is rune and ruin; aura and trace. It is never complete, but always already debris. As an emblem in the allegory of modernity, the city stands for the failure of Enlightenment to realize Utopia, just as the postmodern phase, predicament, attitude, state of mind, is the willingness to live in the phantasmal after having consigned the project of Utopia back to mythology. -Rajeev S. Patke[10]


The local government gets federal funding, who's chewing the fat of big business and sometimes it manages to spit out an idea in between bites for something like a utopian social project called URBAN RENEWEL. From the 1940's- 1970's this work is stripped down into three steps:

1. RAZE: Tear down and apart the existing communities

2. BUILD NEW: Highways and housing projects that look like the FUTURE

3. (RE)ORDER: Community to conform to business. 

WHAT failed, WHAT can work NOW?

Adapt an ideology

1. REUSE: Renovate existing buildings that are structurally sound.

2. RECYCLE: Materials from buildings that must be demolished.

3. REDUCE: New building that perpetuates urban sprawl and requires extending the existing grid.





In order to divest sustainability and green of their potential to be associated with or dismissed as something leftist, radical, or cult-like, economic researchers are working to redefine how the global economy is being discussed. By using what could be termed a colloquial economics language mixed with innovative comparisons of data, the following critical thinkers are pointing out a new perspective, respectfully rooted in science and brimming with heavy social implications.


1. Herman E. Daly's FULL World




Herman E. Daly is a professor at The School of Public Policy at University of Maryland. Daly formerly worked as the senior economist in the environment department of the World Bank (from 1988-1994), and is considered one of the founders of environmental economics. In his essay from 2005, Economics in a Full World, Daly begins his criticism of current business and consumption practices with switching the modifier of the word world from "empty" into it's opposite, "full." This dialectical swap-out is one of Daly's favorite semiotic tricks (empty vs. full world, natural vs. man-made capitol, producing bads vs. goods, utility vs. disutility, unlimited resources (solar energy) vs. limited resources (fixed stock of minerals and fossil fuels), but it does seem to make discussing the complex inter-relatedness of the economy and the environment more comprehensible to a broader audience. He describes economy as "a subsystem of the finite biosphere"[12] that it exists within. Considering we are more or less trapped in our current biosphere, finite seems like a very precise word to activate perspective. We can talk all we want about how space is infinite, or maybe even that space doesn't exist, but if we want to continue having this conversation, we have to first address the very practical problem of a global economy dependant on growth. According to Daly, a growth-based economy was not a problem at the beginning of the industrial revolution, when people more or less inhabited an "empty" world with seemingly limitless natural resources and space for unlimited man-made objects. Due to the fact that we now live in a "full" world, not only in terms of populations, but also their material objects, which we must consider, have life spans as well, ranging from utility to disutility.


When the economy's expansion encroaches too much on its surrounding ecosystem, we will begin to sacrifice natural capital (such as fish, minerals and fossil fuels) that is worth much more than the man-mad capital (such as roads, factories and appliances) added by the growth. We will then have what I call uneconomic growth, producing "bads" faster than goods--- making us poorer, not richer. (Daly, p. 100)



Daly expands on his idea of uneconomical growth by saying that it occurs when production is increased "at an expense of resources and well-being that is worth more than the items made." One can wave around sheets of statistical data related to resource consumption and material production, but "well-being" seems to be push the comfort threshold of those tied to traditional economic variables. It is exactly this immaterial factor of well being whose consideration could ultimately work to sway the public opinion of shifting away from a growth based economy to a sustainable one. The ISEW, or index of sustainable economic welfare, was developed in 1989 by Clifford W. Cobb and John B. Cobb, Jr. Unlike the GDP, which is a measure of overall economic activity [the annual market value of final goods and services purchased in a nation, plus all exports net of imports; expressed as:

GDP = consumption + investment + (government spending) + (exports - imports)], the ISEW takes into account the following data:


Column A: Year

Column B: Consumer Expenditure

Column C: Income Inequality

Column D: Adjusted Consumer Expenditure

Column E(+): Services from Domestic Labor

Column F(+): Services from Consumer Durables

Column G(+): Services from Streets and Highways

Column H(+): Public Expenditure on Health and Education

Column I(-): Consumer Durables: difference between expenditure and value of services

Column J(-): Defensive Private Expenditures on Health and Education

Column K(-): Costs of Commuting

Column L(-): Costs of Personal Pollution Control

Column M(-): Costs of Automobile Accidents

Column N(-): Costs of Water Pollution

Column O(-): Costs of Air Pollution

Column P(-): Costs of Noise Pollution

Column Q(-): Loss of Natural Habitats

Column R(-): Loss of Farmlands

Column S(-): Depletion of Non-Renewable Resources

Column T(-): Costs of Climate Change

Column U(-): Costs of Ozone Depletion

Column V(+): Net Capital Growth

Column W(+): Net Change in International Position

Column X: Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare

Column Y: Per capita Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare

Column Z: Gross Domestic Product

Column AA: Per capita Gross Domestic Product[13]


The way that Daly proposes to enact an economic change that aims to up the ISEW, rather than the GDP, is by reorienting the current throughput (growth) economy to one that is sustainable (development).


[The] GDP is problematic because [it] conflates qualitative improvement (development) with quantitative increase (growth). The sustainable economy must at some point stop growing, but it need not stop developing. There is no reason to limit the qualitative improvement in design of products, which can increase GDP without increasing the amount of resources used. The main idea behind sustainability is to shift the path of progress from growth, which is not sustainable, toward development, which presumably is. (Daly, p. 103)


Daly's main motivations for pursuing this type of sustainable economy are to stop the current trend of "borrow[ing] from the supply of future generations,"[14] and avoid "an ecological catastrophe that would sharply lower living standards."[15] He suggests three precepts to aid this transition:

1. Limit the use of all resources to rates that ultimately

result in levels of waste that can be absorbed by the ecosystem.

2. Exploit renewable resources at rates that do not exceed the ability of the ecosystem to regenerate the resources.

3. Deplete nonrenewable resources at rates that, as far as possible, do not exceed the rate of development of renewable resources. (Daly, p. 102)



2. Thomas Princen's SUFFIENCY




Thomas Princen is an Associate Professor of International Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at The University of Michigan. Although he enlists several of Daly's key concepts for his critique, Princen is much more focused on just how the terminology around sustainability has impeded any real economical changes. In his 2003 essay, Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, Princen advocates that scientists go beyond analysis and offer hard prescriptions to decision makers. He sees that the for all the discussions and agreements about how we must globally work to stop environmental decline, relatively nothing is being done to facilitate an economy that lives "within regenerative capacities." [17]


[The]] prevailing principles of social organization- cooperation, efficiency, equity, sovereignty- are not up to the task. They may have worked in times of resource abundance, in an ecologically "empty world," a world where human impact is minor, where there is always another frontier, but they do not work now. They do not guide decision makers- not elite global managers, not farmers and ashers, not corporate leaders, not consumers- in reversing the biophysical trends and getting on a sustainable path.  (Thomas Princen, p. 34)


Princen points the finger at analysts, specifically those involved in policy making, who "try to maintain the purity of their science by eschewing the politics," and consequently defer any potential for taking action to people in diplomatic or bureaucratic positions "who understand little of that science."[18] He faults them for the continuation of environmental improvement (short-term, marginal improvements based on current resource use practices that produce little to no social or political change, and that at best, slow the rate of environmental degradation), over the implementation of sustainability (long-term, transformational change for ecological integrity based on biophysical processes that will dictate alternative social organizations). Like Daly, who sees the problem of the political co-opting of "the buzzword "sustainability" for its soothing rhetorical effect without meaning anything by it,"[19] Princen calls for "an effective vocabulary for the policy maker and activist that allow, indeed encourage, an escape from the well-worn prescriptions that result in marginal change at best."[20] He condemns the terms "cooperation" and "efficiency" for prolonging environmental improvement and impeding attempts to reverse biophysical trends in degradation through their displacement of problems. People can agree that something most be done, but the way in which diplomatic organizations cooperate ("negotiating, reaching agreement, implementing, monitoring, resolving disputes, building confidence"[21]) only works to deter "the drastic overhaul"[22] that he feels needs to be performed on the economy's operation. Organizations may work at increasing the efficiency of a system, but they are still avoiding the over-arching structural problem of a growth-oriented economy. It may sound like something is being done, but behind these illusionary projects are actual biophysical conditions that should be calling the shots.


As intuitive and popular as cooperation and efficiency are, both suffer from "normative" neutrality." One can cooperate to protect a forest just as well as one can cooperate to clear-cut it. One can find efficiencies in harvesting so as to save trees just as well as one can find efficiencies to get every last bit of fiber off an acre of forestland. When incentives line up on the side of return on investment and growth, cooperation and efficiency lean toward clear cutting and extraction, toward ever more economic activity, toward spurring material and energy throughput in the economy. -Princen, p. 40


He proposes to replace efficiency and cooperation with sufficiency, a class of principles designed to be a means of self-management in terms of over-consumption. Princen says sufficiency,

... compels decision makers to ask when too much resource use or too little regeneration risks important values such as ecological integrity and social cohesion, when material gains now preclude material gains in the future, when consumer gratification or investor reward threatens economic security, when benefits internalized depend on costs externalized. -Princen, p. 44



Restraint- The behavioral tendency to use less than what is physically or technically or legally or financially possible; a self-management and structuring resource use with built-in limits.

Precautionary- Corrective action is warranted in the face of critical environmental threats even if the science is not conclusive.

Polluter Pays- Those actors primarily responsible for degradation pay for clean up and amelioration.

Zero- Compromise solutions are unacceptable when such compromises serve only to postpone a real solution; goes beyond the precautionary to work as a preemptive halt to environmental insult's incompatible with the ecosystem functioning.

Reverse Onus- Reverses the license to produce any substance and leave it up to others to demonstrate its harm, putting the burden of proof on those who would intervene into critical life support systems. Allows experiments in tightly controlled labs, after which the would-be inventor must demonstrate that any harm is extremely unlikely before being permitted to release the substance into the atmosphere or water systems.[23]


3. New Economics Foundation's (UN)HAPPY PLANET INDEX




Founded in 1986 by the leaders of The Other Economic Summit (TOES), the New Economics Foundation has created a wealth (as in well-being of the planet and it's inhabitants) index in much the same spirit as the ISEW mentioned previously,[25] and as a sort of critique of the United Nations' HDI (Human Development Index). Their index, the HPI, which was published in 2006, survey's 178 countries globally that are presented in the following groups: Western World, Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Asia, Former Communist Countries, Central and South America, and Caribbean and West Pacific. Each country receives a number on a scale of 1-100 that is representative of the surveyed country's life expectancy, ecological footprint, and life satisfaction, and the results for each category are color coded according to the shades of a traffic light (dark red to green=bad to exceptional performance). The comparisons that can be made with just these three variables are very intriguing. The United States and Germany have very similar life satisfaction and expectancy scores, but Germany's ecological footprint is about half that of The United States. On the other hand, Russia and Japan have the same ecological footprint, but the Japanese live about 17 years longer and rated 50 percent higher for life satisfaction than the Russians. Statistical data can be used to prove a point, so use it.



It seems that the researchers are all more or less under the same impression: by the time those with real political and economic power see the light, the solar power of the sun may be the only light left to see. Putting into action policies that have a truly transformational effect on how the economy is run, as opposed to the current "trickle-down" version of sustainability, is a process that might never get the chance to be graciously implemented. In the meantime, let's not forget that we're all still individuals and can work towards lessening our own ecological footprints and contribute to more fulfilling means of engaging with society and the environment around us. Returning to the initial motivations behind this research, I would like to present two functioning examples of cooperative living environments that have little to do with the stereotypes of communal spaces. Here there is no particular emphasis on spirituality or having multiple sex partners. Come and go as you please, but participate if you're going to stick around.


1. The Experimental Station, Chicago, USA




In 1986, Dan Peterman began working for the Resource Center at 61st Street in Chicago in exchange for studio space there. The Resource Center had already been reused for a number of purposes before becoming the first and largest non-profit recycling center in the city in the late 1960's. Headed by Ken Dunn, the facility also housed small-scale alternative ventures like a book and clothing exchange, a bakery, gardens and a bike shop. Before Peterman began driving a materials pick-up truck that would bring things back to the building for sorting, he said that all the physical remains of these past uses left the space "embedded with a rich social history."


It was a window into a period of time that had faded away most everywhere except in Christiania, outside of Copenhagen, and that really attracted me to it. The activities associated with the Building definitely were rooted in Sixties counterculture, and the environmental aspect was part of it, but there were other dimensions as well. Many of the people who organized those activities were still around and available when I got here, and became my friends and colleagues. So being here allowed me to unpack a period of time that was really interesting to me, and to explore social structures along with environmental and artistic strategies. -Dan Peterman[27]


In 1995, Peterman was able to acquire ownership of the building and set out to not only offer studio spaces to other artists, but to a variety of other small enterprises, in order to open up a new space for interaction between the neighborhood, the building, and it's cohabitants. An auto mechanic who had been operating out of the Resource Center since the 1970's was now working in the same space as a critical journal, a woodworking shop, and a bicycle shop that trained neighborhood kids to repair donated bicycles in exchange for bike parts of their own. Dan Wang describes the Building during this time period as,


.... a junk-hippie kind of place with... [a] ramshackle structure, the three rusty VW microbuses parked along the curb, and the overflowing community gardens adjacent to the Building... [I]nstead of fresh country air, you got the mixed scents of the city. Instead of folk dancing, you had neighborhood kids free-styling as they walked by... [V]arious small-scale enterprises gathered under one roof, each of which in its own way updated, critiqued, and advanced the validity of projects rooted in earlier counterculture activity. And doing it there, in the shadows of the University and on the edge of the impoverished Woodlawn neighborhood, as if to say that no progressive cultural project would succeed without everyone, no matter their race or class, getting a chance to take part.[28]


Five years later Peterman faced a tenuous battle with the city of Chicago in which the Chicago Public Schools tried take his property by eminent domain. When the time-consuming and costly negotiations ended, Peterman was able to retain ownership of 80% of the original property, but the next year brought an even worse disaster. In the spring of 2001, a fire destroyed most of the interior structure of the Building. Peterman organized an emergency campaign to save the remains from the wrecking ball, because if the original walls of the structure came down or were deemed unfit for rehabilitation, a new residential structure could not be built on the site.[29] After enduring more difficulties with the city, Peterman finally received his building permits and was able to begin construction on The Experimental Station (taking its name from a Frank Lloyd Wright reference) in 2003. The new building will house many of the pre-fire projects, and the minimal architectural plans leave open the possibility for "rooftop gardens with greenhouses, eco-design, [and] self-sustaining energy projects."[30]


I think [the name the Experimental Station] suggests a very clear, anchored, Midwestern identity, but also doesn't exactly spell out what we're doing. It gives an easy and usable explanation, and it sounds productive, like a concept that's been developed. But in the end, hopefully, it's kind of hard to peg down beyond an incubator model. Of course, the question is incubating what? And at that point we're striving to keep things as open as possible... Rather than the enormous gulf that currently exists between foundations and projects they fund, why not operate within a stable community of some kind, and have the ability to disburse funds much more directly and much more efficiently.

-Dan Peterman[31]



2. Mont Radar, Québec, CANADA


There is a growing global network of communities that refer to themselves as ecovillages, and although they differ in size and geographical location, they all share one goal: to live as close to sustainable as possible. One such village is Mont Radar, located in Québec on the site of a former cold-war military base that once housed the strongest radar of its time. Similar to Dan Peterman's reclamation project, although in a rural as opposed to urban setting, the first owner of Mont Radar, Jean-Marc Deneau, adapted the existing structures as the basis for his community beginning in 1996. Since that time Deneau has developed the property to be used for large-scale festivals, ecotourism, and housing temporary and permanent residents.


When I began this project I contacted a wide range of alternative living communities and social centers, from American coops to German ecovillages, in order to collect information from them concerning several basic questions. From over thirty letters, I had two responses. The anarchist coop in Detroit wrote back a few times, but never came through with any definitive answers to my preformatted questions. The following interview is between Leslie C., a permanent resident at Mont Radar, and myself.


JL: What are the organizations specific social, political or artistic



LC: First, the project to not present any political opinions, but everyone is free to have its own belief as long as it doesn't disturb the community. The social interests are to create and experience the social project, the community based on ecological values and to make it the most sustainable as possible. There is an important place for arts in the project. We focus on creation and we often organize events and gatherings that respect the ecological values of the ecovillage.


JL: How and when was the organization founded and by whom?


LC: Jean-Marc Deneau is the first founder of Mont-Radar's project. He bought the mountain in 1996 when it was abandoned and in ruin. For the last 10 years, he worked hard to get rid of the motor, 4X4 and all the people who had only money interests in the project. Two years ago, he associate we Philippe Laramée, the editor of AUBE, an ecological magazine, and together they started the ecovillage project.


JL: How was the space initially purchased or acquired for use?


LC: When Mr. Deneau bought the mountain he was having a vision of the place as an ecological outdoor center /summer camp. He bought the mountain with the desire to have this space open for people to connect with nature by spending time outside, practice non-motorized sports like mountain biking, snowshoeing, skiing...


JL: How are funds raised to maintain the space?


LC: The economic viability is actually maintained principally with the sell of piece of land to the residents and with ecotourism. We have a hostel with private rooms and a dormitory that we rent for the night, week or month. Also, we frequently organize events, one each month, and rent the theater or the bunker for groups that have their own events at the mountain. In the future, we will also develop a local economy in the ecovillage principally with education, ecotourism, residents' developing their own small business or creating cooperative, non-profit organism, etc.


JL: Who participates in the maintenance of the space?


LC: All the residents shall participate in common work around ten hours a week. Sometimes we plan special tasks in-group and with collaborators of the projects and some visitors.


JL: How is the organization governed?


LC: The actual legal status of the mountain is a company administrated like a non-profit organization by an administration council composed of three persons.


JL: What were the most significant problems encountered in developing the organization? And maintaining it now?


LC: In both case, economic, to pay the maintenance expenses, and human resources, to deal and get along with everyone's personality.


JL: Has the organization changed from the time of its inception until now?


LC: Yes, until Mr. Deneau was able to get new partner in the project it was very different because his old partners were having a vision of the place not in respect with the nature. Two years ago, Mr. Deneau associated with his new partner Philippe LaramŽe and together they construct their vision of the ecovillage based on ecological principles and values.



3. Internet Resources and Software:


The following is a list of publicly available software programs and internet sites that pragmatically address the goal of sustainability.

Website featuring directories of resources in the following categories: Agriculture & Food Systems, Fisheries, Forestry & Wood Products, Manufacturing & Industry, Small Business, Technology, Economics & Finance, and Urban/Rural Economic Ties.

"The goal of community sustainability is to establish local economies that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible. Achieving this goal requires participation from all sectors of the community, both to determine community needs and to identify and implement innovative and appropriate solutions. This section presents information from a variety of sources on approaches and techniques used successfully in different communities to develop key aspects of their local economies on a sustainable basis."


Global Ecovillage Network

Website[32] featuring directories of global ecovillages.

"The Global Ecovillage Network is a global confederation of people and communities that meet and share their ideas, exchange technologies, develop cultural and educational exchanges, directories and newsletters, and are dedicated to restoring the land and living "sustainable plus" lives by putting more back into the environment than we take out. Network members include large networks like Sarvodaya (11,000 sustainable villages in Sri Lanka); EcoYoff and Colufifa (350 villages in Senegal); the Ladakh project on the Tibetian plateau; ecotowns like Auroville in South India, the Federation of Damanhur in Italy and Nimbin in Australia; small rural ecovillages like Gaia Asociaci—n in Argentina and Huehuecoyotl, Mexico; urban rejuvenation projects like Los Angeles EcoVillage and Christiania in Copenhagen; permaculture design sites such as Crystal Waters, Australia, Cochabamba, Bolivia and Barus, Brazil; and educational centers such as Findhorn in Scotland, Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, Earthlands in Massachusetts, and many more. GEN's main aim is to support and encourage the evolution of sustainable settlements across the world."


The Environmental Impact Estimator

Software available for purchase to project a construction's project environmental impact.[33]

"Architects, engineers and researchers can get life cycle assessment (LCA) answers about conceptual designs of new buildings or renovations to existing buildings from the Athena Institute's Environmental Impact Estimator. The Estimator lets you assess the environmental implications of industrial, institutional, office, and both multi-unit and single family residential designs. Where relevant, it also distinguishes between owner-occupied and rental facilities. The Estimator puts the environment on an equal footing with other more traditional design criteria at the conceptual design stage of a building project. The Estimator incorporates the Institute's internationally recognized life cycle inventory databases, covering more than 90 structural and envelope materials. It simulates over 1,000 different assembly combinations and is capable of modeling 95% of the building stock in North America. The Estimator takes into account the environmental effects of: material manufacturing, including resource extraction and recycled content; related transportation; on-site construction; regional variation in energy use, transportation and other factors; building type and assumed lifespan; maintenance, repair and replacement effects; demolition and disposal; operating energy emissions and pre-combustion effects."



Software available for free to analyze different power generation technologies.[34]

"HOMER is a computer model that simplifies the task of evaluating design options for both off-grid and grid-connected power systems for remote, stand-alone, and distributed generation (DG) applications. HOMER's optimization and sensitivity analysis algorithms allow you to evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of a large number of technology options and to account for variation in technology costs and energy resource availability. HOMER models both conventional and renewable energy technologies. Power sources: solar photovoltaic (PV), wind turbine, run-of-river hydro power, electric utility grid, microturbine, fuel cell, and generator: diesel, gasoline, biogas, alternative and custom fuels, cofired. Storage: battery bank or hydrogen. Loads: daily profiles with seasonal variation, deferrable (water pumping, refrigeration), thermal (space heating, crop drying), efficiency measures."


The Monte Carlo Method

Statistical principle named after the casino in Monaco in which a calculation is repeated many times. Each time a random value is chosen for each flow, for example an emission or raw material input. The resulting range of all calculation results form a distribution from which uncertainty information can be derived with basic statistical methods.



President's Council on Sustainable Development

The following goals were established in 1993 to advise former President Clinton on sustainable development.[35]

Goal 1: Health And The Environment

Ensure that every person enjoys the benefits of  clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment at home, at work, and at play.

Goal 2: Economic Prosperity

Sustain a healthy U.S. economy that grows sufficiently to create meaningful jobs, reduce poverty, and provide the opportunity for a high quality of life for all in an increasingly competitive world.

Goal 3: Equity

Ensure that all Americans are afforded justice and have the opportunity to achieve economic, environmental, and social well-being.

Goal 4: Conservation Of Nature

Use, conserve, protect, and restore natural resources -- land, air, water, and biodiversity -- in ways that help ensure long-term social, economic, and environmental benefits for ourselves and future generations.

Goal 5: Stewardship

Create a widely held ethic of stewardship that strongly encourages individuals, institutions, and corporations to take full responsibility for the economic, environmental, and social consequences of their actions.

Goal 6: Sustainable Communities

Encourage people to work together to create  healthy communities where natural and historic resources are preserved, jobs are available, sprawl is contained, neighborhoods are secure, education is lifelong, transportation and health care are  accessible, and all citizens have opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.

Goal 7: Civic Engagement

Create full opportunity for citizens, businesses, and communities to participate in and influence the natural resource, environmental, and economic decisions that affect them.

Goal 8: Population

Move toward stabilization of U.S. population.

Goal 9: International Responsibility

Take a leadership role in the development and implementation of global sustainable development policies, standards of conduct, and trade and foreign policies that further the achievement of sustainability.

Goal 10: Education

Ensure that all Americans have equal access to education and lifelong learning opportunities that will prepare them for meaningful work, a high quality of life, and an understanding of the concepts involved in sustainable development.



Software available for purchase to perform lifecycle analysis.[36]

"SimaPro provides you with a professional tool to collect, analyze and monitor the environmental performance of products and services. You can easily model and analyze complex life cycles in a systematic and transparent way, following the ISO 14040 series recommendations."












Proudhon said both, and both times, he was right. In an ideal world, things like property and natural resources, and the wealth made by man's labor, would belong to the community, not to individuals or nations. Words are like ghosts: they might have belonged to the world of materiality once, when your brain thought they were holding the reins of expression, but as soon as they are uttered aloud, they disperse and evaporate into whatever form on-listeners eardrums stretch them as. The words of policy makers register as an appeasing plea while the corporations give accountability the silent treatment. The activists sound off with the garbled screams of a child on the floor in the throws of an emotional temper-tantrum, or at least that's what the well-suited businessman heard. So maybe the best way out is to buy in now. Get together whatever funding possible and buy a piece of property. Somewhere still thick with trees or somewhere thick with concrete and brick. The trick is, to keep this space open for the open-minded and get the ball rolling down the path we decide for ourselves.












1. Aaronson, Susan A. 2006. Fair trade? How Oxfam presented a systemic approach to poverty, development, human rights, and trade. Human Rights Quarterly vol. 28, no. 4: 998-1030.


2. Archibold, Randal C. and Kirk Johnson. 2007. No longer waiting for rain, an arid west takes action. New York Times, April 4, Science section.


3. Barry, Gerald, J. Bronowski, James Fisher, and Julian Huxley, eds. 1965. The Double Day Pictorial Library of the Arts: Man's Creative Imagination. London: Aldus Books Limited. 


4. Beilin, Ruth. 1999. Cultivating the global garden. The South Atlantic Quarterly vol. 98, no. 4: 761-779.


5. Bohm, Steffen G. 2001. Fetishism in consulting, or, the dancing techno-knowledge commodity. Presented at the Critical Management Studies Conference, July, in Manchester, England. 


6. Borde, Valérie. 2007. Mon Écovillage au Canada: Sainte-Marguerite de l'utopie. Courrier International, no. 848: 60-61.


7. Brokunsha, David. 1989. "Local management systems and sustainability." In Food and Farm: Current Debates and Policies, Monographs in Economic Anthropology, No. 7, ed. Christine Gladwin and Kathleen Truman, 179-198. Landham, Maryland: University Press of America.


8. Buell, Frederick. 1998. Nationalist postnationalism: globalist discourse in contemporary American culture. American Quarterly vol. 50, no. 3: 548-591.


9. Daly, Herman E. 2005. Economics in a full world. Scientific America Digital, September: 99-107.


10. Dernbach, John C. 2003. Achieving sustainable development: the centrality and multiple facets of integrated decisionmaking. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies vol. 10, no. 1: 247-285.


11. Esposito, Lauren. 2002. Integrative conservation. SAIS Review vol. 22, no. 2: 53-75.


12. Friedman, Thomas L. 2007. The power of green. New York Times, April 15, Sunday Magazine.


13. Frishberg, Manny. 2002. Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink. WIRED (January 17), news/2002/01/49803?currentPage=all (accessed March 7, 2007).


14. Godelier, Maurice. 1991. Transitions et subordinations au capitalisme. Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.


15. Harshbarger, Camilla and Diane Russel. 2003. Groundwork for community based conservation: strategies for social research. Oxford, England: AltaMira Press.


16. Hettinger, Ned. 2002. The problem of finding a positive role for humans in the natural world. Ethics & the Environment vol. 7, no. 1: 109-123.


17. Lane, R. E. 1991. The market experience. New York: Cambridge University Press.


18. Lees, Susan H. 1997. "The rise and fall of "peasantry" as a culturally constructed national elite in Israel." In Knowing Your Place: Rural Identity and Cultural Hierarchy, ed. Barbara Ching and Gerald W. Creed, 219-235. New York: Routeledge.


19. Lyson, Thomas A. 2001. Scale of agricultural production, civic engagement, and community welfare. Social Forces, vol. 80, no.1: 311-327.


20. Kalven, Jamie. 2000. Reclamation project. The University of Chicago Magazine, vol. 92, no. 7: 10-16.


21. Kriegman, Orion. 2006. Dawn of the cosmopolitan: the hope of a global citizens movement. Boston: Tellus Institute.


22. Marks, N., A. Simms, S. Thompson, and S. Abdallah. 2006. The (un)happy planet index. London: New Economics Foundation.


23. Meek, Allen. 1996. Guides to the electropolis: toward a spectral critique of the media. Postmodern Culture, Vol. 7, no. 1.


24. Miller, Daniel. 2001. The dialectics of shopping. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


25. Miller, J. Hillis. 2002. Promises, promises: speech act theory, literary theory, and politico-economic theory in Marx and de Man. New Literary History, no. 33: 1Đ20.


26. Patke, Rajeev S. 2000. Benjamin's Arcades Project and the postcolonial city. Diacritics, vol. 30, no. 4:3-13


27. Pugno, Maurizio. 2005. Capabilities, The Self and Well-Being: A Research in Psycho-Economics. Presented at the Universita delgi Studi, Departimento di Economia, Trento, Italy.  


28. Princen, Thomas. 2003. Principles for sustainability: from cooperation and efficiency to sufficiency. Global Environmental Politics vol. 3, no. 1: 33-50.


29. Racine, Luc. 1979. Théroies de l'echange et circulation des produits sociaux. Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal.


30. Shershow, Scott Cutler. 2005. The work & the gift. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


31. Spring, Anita. 2000. Women farmers and commercial ventures: increasing food security in developing countries. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.


32. Stoll, Steven. 2006. The smallholder's dilemma. Technology and Culture vol. 47, no. 4: 808-813.


33. Wang, Dan S. 2004. Downtime at the Experimental Station. Chicago: Temporary Services.



[1] Published in: Grand Street, Vol. 9, No. 2, Winter 1990, p.17-18, N.Y.

[2] (accessed April 22, 2007).

[3] Thomas L. Friedman, The power of green. New York Times, April 15, 2007 (emphasis mine).

[4] See The Oral Tradition, p. 226 in The Double Day Pictorial Library of the Arts: Man's Creative Imagination.

[5] Georges Bataille in The Accursed Share Volume 1, p. 105.

[6] "One of the most compelling sites in which the methodologies of psychoanalysis and marxian cultural theory intersect in contemporary critical writing is in the figure of the ghost. The political significance recently ascribed to this figure suggests a paradigmatic shift in cultural studies taking place where the poststructuralist death of the subject encounters both the collapse of Soviet communism and the "revolution" in global telecommunications. The historical situation in which Western critical theory finds itself at this moment has called for a renewed engagement with psychoanalysis, attentive to questions of mourning and collective memory. As particular examples of this project I will cite Jacques Derrida's Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International (1994), Margaret Cohen's use of the term "Gothic Marxism," and Ned Lukacher's notion of a "phantom politics," all of which work in the intertexts of psychoanalysis and politics, history and literature, but none of which are focused explicitly on what Derrida has called the "spectral effects" produced by electronic media." Allen Meek in Guides to the Electropolis: Toward a Spectral Critique of the Media.

[7] Steffen G. Bohm. 2001. Fetishism in consulting, or, the dancing techno-knowledge commodity.

[8] On Incomprehensibility. Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings, J. Schulte-Sasse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[9] In Promises, promises: speech act theory, literary theory, and politico-economic theory in Marx and de Man, p.20.

[10] Rajeev S. Patke in Benjamin's Arcades Project and the postcolonial city.

[11] Herman E. Daly, Economics in a Full World, p. 102.

[12] H. E. D., Economics in a Full World, p. 100 (emphasis mine).

[13] The UK-ISEW, Column by column. (accessed May 5, 2007)

[14] H. E. D., Economics in a Full World, p. 104

[15] H. E. D., Economics in a Full World, p. 100

[16] Thomas Princen, Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 35.

[17] Thomas Princen, Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 33.

[18]T. P., Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 34.

[19] H. E. D., Economics in a Full World, p. 103.

[20] T. P., Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 35 (emphasis mine).

[21] T. P., Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 33.

[22] T. P., Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 35.

[23] T. P., Principles for Sustainability: From Cooperation and Efficiency to Sufficiency, p. 46-48.

[24] N. Marks, A. Simms, S. Thompson, and S. Abdallah. 2006. The (un)Happy planet index. London: New Economics Foundation. p. 6.

[25] Although the HPI notably does not take GDP into account.

[26] Excerpt from interview by Dan S. Wang, 2004. Downtime at the Experimental Station. Chicago: Temporary Services.

[27] Excerpt from interview by Dan S. Wang, 2004.

[28] Excerpt from interview by Dan S. Wang, 2004.

[29] See Dan S. Wang, Downtime at the Experimental Station, p. 5 for further legal explanation.

[30] See Dan S. Wang, Downtime at the Experimental Station, p. 17 for further construction details.

[31] Excerpt from interview by Dan S. Wang, 2004.

[32] (accessed February 3, 2007).

[33] (accessed March 10, 2007).

[34] (accessed March 10, 2007).

[35] (accessed April 20, 2007).

[36] (accessed March 10, 2007).

[37] Pierre Joseph Proudhon, (accessed April 20, 2007).