Re-Designing Human Habitats
When Zoologists create habitats for exotic wild animals they take great care to study the habits and instincts of the animal to ensure that they are creating an environment in which the animal will be most likely to thrive and have healthy offspring. Why would we take any less care in creating the habitat for ourselves and our children? Think of a bee hive. There is a certain number of bees that make up a hive. When there is the right number of bees, everyone has what they need. They each know their jobs and do their jobs for the good of the hive. Would bees be happier and experience greater well-being if you separated them each in their own hive that you built for them and supplied all the honey they need?
Beyond Green: Building from the Inside Out
Asking questions about our current community designs and social structure will help to define a better human habitat with better outcomes.
- Does the single family dwelling promote enough social connections?
- Do humans, like other animals, need daily interaction with a certain number of family and friends for optimum well-being?
- Could building and toiling for the good of the tribe be the very thing that brings a sense of belonging and a sense of well-being to humans?
- Is it possible that, like bees, part of our instinct is to build our own habitat?
- What if paying for a place to live makes you feel like an unwelcome stranger, preventing a sense of belonging?
- What if a competitive social structure prevents any possibility of experiencing a sense of belonging?
- What if single family dwellings result in disconnected families who never feel like they belong to the whole?
- Is it true that corruption ends when belonging begins?
- What if our social structure prevents the sense of belonging?
- What if disconnected people commit more crimes than those who feel they belong?
- What if the environment of competition in the local marketplace leads to unethical business in the global marketplace?
- What if unethical business practices in the global marketplace leads to wars and strife?
- What if world peace is impossible with the current economic system and social structure?
- Could arcologies lay the foundation for world peace, a restored planet and abundance for all?
Everyone intuitively knows that providing separate little hives would never lead to greater well-being for bees. They might have an easier life because they wouldn’t have to build their own hive or gather their own nectar or turn the nectar into honey, but they also wouldn’t have a greater sense of well-being because they are separated from the hive and have no meaning or purpose to their lives. Can we also intuitively recognize that humans are tribal beings whose well-being is equally rooted in the connection they have with their tribe?
Suburbs built in close proximity to shopping and schools, cities tightly packed where people have access to everything they need, and rural living where neighbors are perhaps miles away, seem to provide a wide variety of lifestyles, but they are all three the same in relation to capitalism. If urban, suburban or rural living situations provided all the choices we need, then shouldn't we all be doing better than ever? Yet the latest polls and surveys tell us that 47% of the US population is "struggling," depression is on the rise, and people often report a sense of "loneliness in a crowd." In fact “loneliness” has become an epidemic according to an article in the Harvard Business Review.
“Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher.” (Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy (@vivek_murthy) served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, from 2014 to 2017.)
Corporations and governments design communities to generate the greatest possible revenue with the least possible investment. “Social Well-Being” for those who live there is not the stated goal of their business plan, contrary to their billboards and marketing campaigns. When corporations and governments design and build roads and infrastructure, homes and neighborhoods, shopping and industrial parks, the members of the community are non-decision-making "tenants," "home buyers," "the consumer," and "the workforce." Does the sense of “Social Well-Being” come from being part of the obedient machine that does whatever it is told to keep the wheels of the economy turning? Not so far. Not according to the surveys. I personally want the privilege of having creative input into the designing and building phases of the place where I live and devote my time and energy. I believe it is part of the human instinct to build their own dwelling places and design their own communities cooperatively. Expecting us to move into a house that someone else built in a community that someone else designed is equivalent to putting each bee in their own pre-made hive and expecting them to be productive.
Can we change the future from this...
... to this?
We can become a part of nature rather than separate from it.
Liuzhou Forest City in China
is a model for
sustainable green architecture.