The time has arrived for passionate, successful promoters of sustainability to establish a laboratory community as a prototype for truly integrated living. This would involve up to 1,000 people or more on a significant plot of land bordering a plentiful water source in a temperate climate. It would include an agricultural facility capable of fulfilling the vast majority of the community’s needs. Residential units, retail establishments, shops producing goods or offering services, restaurants, a school, a library, a performance and cinematic theater, art and performance studios, medical and dental offices, civic institutions, and every feature of a traditional town must appear in this community in a form that would promote and sustain an example for sustainable, prosperous living.
Designers of this community would determine the basic logistics. Engineers would decide whether it would be feasible to keep the community off the electrical grid entirely–or supply surplus energy to the grid. Solar panels–possibly including roof tiles and a panel farm–could feed on-site storage batteries for a functional trial demonstrating that an actual living town can function on sustainable energy alone. A small-scale industrial component to this community could also prove feasibility in this regard, providing a model for scaling up sustainable industrial production elsewhere.
All equipment–cars, trucks, community transport, tractors and agricultural machinery, industrial equipment, lights, heat, air conditioning, and powered residential amenities–would operate on renewable power. Refuse would be minimized in every aspect of life; organic waste materials would be composted; recycling would be practiced stringently.
All community institutions would emphasize the connectedness of all individuals and promote healthy social relationships as well as constructive, vigorous civic engagement on the part of all residents. A building would be dedicated to worship by various religious groups. Those who do not practice a religion–or who do not believe in God–would also be encouraged to use the building as their internal personal practices should determine.
The demographic makeup of the community should reflect diversity and inclusion in every respect. It should include families, single people, persons of various religions and ethnicities, working individuals, homemakers, senior citizens, the handicapped, heterosexual and cisgendered people, LGBT, and people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education.
The community school would implement a curriculum promoting not only content-area instruction and workplace readiness, but also the pursuit of meaningful avocations. It would also emphasize equally all components of the true Curriculum Paradigm: instruction, the nature of the learner, the nature of learning, and social forces. Media studies (print, broadcast, film, music, and online media–including digital and electronic social media) would take equal place alongside reading, writing, mathematics, science and engineering, history and cultures, economics, and civics. Instruction and activities would continually reinforce the interrelation and interdependence of these various subjects of study. Civics instruction would include a heavy component of school and community service. It would also promote and continuously reinforce tolerance, respect, kindness, diversity, and the common denominator of our humanity.
Moreover, every aspect of this proposed community would contribute to the instruction of students in the school. The farm, the shops, the physical and electrical infrastructure, the civic institutions, the community finances, the small-scale industry, even the school building itself will become components of the curriculum, and every member of the community will contribute in some manner to the education of the school’s students.
Overall, this venture would combine technology, engineering, social development, civic participation, and collective vision in order to demonstrate that we have entered an era in which a community can experience dimensions of prosperity and well-being that most people in our society cannot even conceive of. Human communities on all scales, adopting the proper framework for life and living, can truly be far more than the sums of their parts. This project can illustrate that to the world.