Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It's in the books. The ReNew, ReVision, ReDesign Detroit Permaculture Design Course and Design Charrette is done, and was our most successful thus far. We handed out eleven Design Course certificates, rewarding our group of 12 participants for creating a design firm, then using that as a vehicle to develop a viable design - all in twelve days.

Aurora's principles reached out to the community, interviewing a number of people from around Detroit. A BIG thanks goes out to those who stepped into Aurora's design space. It would have been difficult to create a design relevant to Detroiters without your participation.

Larry Santoyo did a masterful job leading the PDC and the Design Project, with much support from Penny, Kimberly and Keith. He challenged the group to achieve what to me seemed impossible: Design a company *and* a project design. I expect a mock firm run like a mock firm and that looked and acted like a mock firm. Instead, they divided the house into Group areas, created an office space and set up a corporate structure. Then they created a vision of Detroit a hundred years from now and set it in a narrative walking you through it as if you were on a visit to discover how Detroit had done it. How, a hundred years from now, it could become a lamp unto the world.

You won't find anything earth-shattering in the design. What you will find is a sense of place borne of connections, natural patterns, people. Rivers rediscovered, businesses connected as if designed that way, because they were. Classrooms imagined as being in all places, pathways imagined as evolving from connections rather than being created to create connections that are not there, ending up disused or used only by those with time or money to pretend at being connected. Connections.

I had virtually nothing to do with the success of the course or design charrette, but beg the indulgence of those who did in saying this course, this charrette, and Aurora's design - these are my seedballs. These are the future fruit of efforts begun more than three years ago. Whether any element of the design is realized or not, it was created, and is offered, openly. It represents a possibility of true, unadulterated, community-based design. If every neighborhood in Detroit used a similar approach, the corporations and $150,000/yr. experts would simply not be necessary. Useful? Perhaps. But not necessary. We don't need to keep creating plans for planning. We can simply do it.

Seedball One is the hope you will look at what was achieved in so little time by a group of non-experts, almost all from this area and greater Michigan, and be inspired to simplify, disengage from corporate interests, politics and foundations, and take control of the design process. Not because they are bad or evil, but simply, merely, passionately... because you can. They are all guests in your Design Charrette. Or can be. Perhaps must be? It is not up to them, it is up to you.

Imagine, if you will, every neighborhood breaking out for its own charrette, coming back together to align elements, breaking out, coming together... until there is a future borne of your hopes, your dreams, your imaginations and your blood, sweat and tears. Not just of today, but in a way that honors the wisdom and knowledge of life here going back many decades, if not hundreds of years: the great gifts the people of Detroit have to offer to each other and those places beyond the city limits.

Seedball Two is the deeply held belief that Aurora will, in some form, seed change. Whether collectively, or individually, by design or default, they will be a part of a better future - should humanity be wise enough to seek It. To see simple abundance in what others see as broken, denuded or dead is a powerful thing.

We face insurmountable opportunity. The problem *is* the solution, and the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.

You may judge differently, but a circle has closed, and I judge it a good circle.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Killian, this is not only great prose, but describes what was clearly a watershed event. You should not confine this post to a blog but broadcast it as widely as possible so people can see what is possible when a small group of people get together to re-envision their local environment. I really think it is a call to arms that people can embrace.