The intent of the Place Petal is to clearly articulate in a Community where it is acceptable
for people to build and how to protect and restore a place once it has been developed,
and to encourage the creation of Communities that are once again based on the pedestrian
rather than the automobile. In turn, these Communities should be supported by local and
regional agriculture, since no truly sustainable Community can rely on globally sourced food
The continued spread of sprawl development threatens the few wild places that remain.
The decentralized nature of our Communities impedes our capacity to feed ourselves in
a responsible way and also increases transportation impacts and pollution. As flat, prime
land for construction diminishes, more and more development tends to occur in sensitive
areas that are easily harmed or destroyed. Invasive species threaten ecosystems, which
are already weakened by the constant pressure of existing human developments.
Automobiles, often used as single occupancy vehicles, have become integral to our
Communities when we should depend on “people power”—walking and bicycling—as the
primary mode of travel, and supplement it with shared transit.
IDEAL CONDITIONS + CURRENT LIMITATIONS
The Living Community Challenge envisions a moratorium on the seemingly never-ending
growth outward, and a focus instead on compact, connected communities filled with
individual Living Buildings and populated with mindful citizens. It is designed to conserve
the natural resources that support human health and the farmlands that feed us. As
previously disturbed areas are restored, the trend is reversed and nature’s functions are
invited back into a healthy interface with the built environment.
Human behavior and attitudes are the most significant barriers to transforming our
developed surroundings. There is a frontier mentality that seems to encourage people
to keep pursuing the next open territory and to value the untouched site more than the
secondhand site. Humanity is territorial by nature, and we tend to view our impacts through
a narrow lens. It is not unusual for us to encourage unhealthy solutions, so long as they are
“not in my backyard” and allow us the social stature to “keep up with the Joneses.” We must
erase the taboos associated with certain forms of transit that have the potential to connect
Living Communities to one another and the notion of reclaiming abandoned industrial and
commercial facilities, and we must once again give our regard to the many others that
cohabit the earth with us.