Сommunitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life (Morningside Book Series)



Percival Goodman, Paul Goodman, "Сommunitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life (Morningside Book Series)"
Publisher: Columbia University Press | ISBN 0231072996 | File type: PDF | 1989 | 292 pages | 17.6 mb

Communitas ends with a quote from Michelet: "Initiation, education, and government these are three synonymous words." This essay is a thought-experiment in considering how things would change (in our minds, our culture, and yes, in the way we lay out our towns and cities) were we to emphasize the result any action has upon the community we have, and the type of person that emerges when placed in that community.

Overall the genius of the work emerges subtly, the immediate impression is of passionate advocates striving not to scare away potential converts, but without watering down their message. Primarily this is accomplished through dry humour and understated positions. It isn't all spelled out, and I suspect the prose easily could be twisted to say things opposite of their meaning, if the reader is so inclined. (I'm not, but I sense that could happen.) There are gems to be found.
Concentration of industry is, contrary to conventional wisdom, not more efficient than decentralized production. First, because (the authors claim) it takes more resource to maintain and heat / air condition a huge warehouse than multiple smaller warehouses. And similar reasons. Second, "it is almost always cheaper to transport material than men." (83) Obvious now that it is stated, but that's where sprawl and traffic originate, transporting labor rather than the materials of labor.
After reviewing recent trends in planning, such as the green belt (isolating residences from production) and utopian efforts of Owens, etc (and critiquing them), the authors direct their gaze toward alternative values and ideals.
Three paradigms or "models for thinking about the possible relations of production and way of life". (218)Scheme I: Efficient consumption as hallmark of a city, illustrated by a plan to completely renovate Manhattan with the commercial core running up the spine (i.e. directly through Central Park), and residences and garden / leisure space on the coasts. Allows most people to walk or bike to work, as they'd live parallel to their job in the center. Avoid large commutes either to work or for vacation / leisure; people live near their job.
Scheme II: Blend of farm and factory, effectively the ideals of a "mixed use" building code writ large into a community. Much redundancy but a community is nearly self-sufficient, goods are not shipped halfway 'round the world.

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