Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fitting ROO's In


How the ROO fits into Hillside Construction

By John Taylor; 2010 May 20, Azamat 03, 167 BE

The ROO and Hillside Construction

The ROO or Room of One's Own is a living, working and playing unit for individuals that fits into niches within household compounds. Let us first take a close look at the design of a ROO living module, and then at how ROO's would fit into the wider locality.

As we have seen, the ROO truly is a room of one's own, a permanent personal space where individuals organize their life from cradle to grave. It is a compact, standard living unit that in essentials varies as little as possible from one person to the next, be they rich or poor. Like some recreational vehicles, a ROO can stretch out, accordion-like while at rest or fold up for travel. It is divided into several sub-sections, each of which is highly standardized. The variations most in evidence in the ROO are to be found in the trade section, which is determined by one's particular trade or profession. Even these variants tend to be standard within one' own area of expertise. That is, a carpenter may adapt his workshop but within limits established by his or her trades union.

The ROO is designed to be containerized. On the move, it fits into standard receptacles in the freight tubes of tube transit links. When it reaches its destination it goes into a special receptacle built into the household in a larger hillside structure. As mentioned, its particular location in the building is determined democratically within the larger entity of the household -- a small household consists of one family, a larger one may join several families or unrelated persons in a single group.

The ROO living unit is the size of an air or sea freight container. It can be held together or split into at least four sections. The first section we just mentioned; it is a small office or workshop supporting one's trade. It can be located at home or at the workplace. The second section is a combined bedroom and living or reception area. This living ROO sub-unit acts as full accommodation for the poor, disabled or students. For the wealthy it acts as a mobile cabin, RV or hotel room used for vacations and travel. The third sub-unit is used for recreational or educational purposes, and varies with a person's avocation, interests, clubs or research activities.

A fourth utility section of the ROO is a set of standard facilities, including a shower, toilet and washing facilities. These are improved and updated according to a strict maintenance schedule, assuring that the basic needs of each world citizen are being met. This section of the ROO varies less than any other. The very wealthy may not require it, even when travelling, and may dispense with it. But the fact that at least one ROO utility sub-unit is manufactured for everybody increases production runs and thus lowers costs and improves the minimum standard for all.

One of the best features of the ROO is what it does not have. It contains no food storage or cooking facilities. These functions are offloaded to the household or neighbourhood levels, for reasons that we will discuss at length in future essays.

Hillside Construction Projects

We have already described the public facade of the hillside development in earlier chapters. This is a walk or laneway lined with pillars called a stoa, or porch, which acts as an interface between the private and public spheres. Stoa run down the shaded side of the street, while on the exposed, sunward side, the block row of a hillside building is dedicated to agriculture and solar panels. Inside, a hillside building holds many shifting households and ROO living units.

Throughout the rest of People Without Borders I will call this system of building that holds and services ROO's and households "hillside development." Its invisible political moves and operations I will call consultative housing. As we shall see, hillside development projects are the arena for several new levels of government. These long city blocks are always built in a high-density, urban-style format -- even in the countryside they remain high density, accommodating many people on little land, and concentrate along roads, which are already written off by nature.

The Mobile Household

As mentioned, ROO modules within households are fully mobile, and the household compounds in which ROO's are housed can move about too. Physically, each household is a compound, accommodating several ROO modules of residents within its bosom. A household negotiates its niche within its neighbourhood according to the collective attainments of its members, as well as a range of other criteria.

Just as a modern stock exchange would slam to a halt as soon as its computers shut down, movement within and between these meta-apartment buildings requires a highly sophisticated system of interactions, calculations and mediations. These take place not only automatically using formulas, computers and networks but also through negotiation and democratic decision-making. Thus the particular internal map of a hillside development changes constantly, as the product of elaborate feedback and control mechanisms and applying many formulas and decisions among many groups and individuals.

Block and Neighbourhood Government

The block is the planning body that mediates the shifts and motions of households along a hillside construction street. Several blocks make up a neighbourhood government. Each block contains in a central location an operations planning room similar to the "war room" used by central command in the Second World War, or perhaps Buckminster Fuller's Geoscope, a live data feed displaying the data and factors going into the planning of his "world game." In this room, visitors and residents can view the current state of the block, picture various aspects of it in past, present and future, perform "what if?" simulations, as well as perform basic citizenship functions like payment of taxes, deliberation and voting. Once all inputs have been fully digested, a block government moves the household compounds and their ROO's to their current optimal location. This room holds the heart and brain of consultative housing.

Overseen by the impartial judge of a block government, households have a fair chance to progress and prosper, relative to their neighbours and peers. While many moves are automated, it is in the interest of good leadership for a well run block government to see to it that the changes and advance of a household come as the result of its own virtues, merit and initiative. A good block government, or any leadership at all, knows how to reward deft leadership and encourage the human touch among its members. This I should expand upon a little.

The Role of Competition in Good Governance

We live in a world where most governments oppress their citizens and a surprising percentage of bosses shamelessly bully their inferiors. Such cruel tyranny can proliferate if and only if leaders are impervious, when they do not depend upon followers and underlings for labour or taxes, or rely upon their approval in the form of votes. Higher authorities must be heavily dependent upon those under them for advancement and prestige, if not survival.

At every level, from the global right down to that of the family, we should therefore engineer the situation so that bosses and leaders need their underlings for funding and that they measure their competence by full use of the talent at their command. Every institution must wholly depend in both the short and long term upon the labour, loyalty, support, expertise and zeal of those entrusted to them.

Part of this good government is when a leader or manager encourages healthy, moderate competition. They need to be impartial mediators strong enough to level the playing field and enforce rules, while at the same time encouraging all parties below them to play the game, whatever it is, to the best of their ability. A good follower should be eager to compete but not so rabidly single minded as to undermine the greater good.

Let us look at how these principles of leadership apply on the local level with hillside housing and with its components, the ROO, households and blocks.

Local Competition

Within a household, individuals will seek to better themselves. It is expected that each resident will work and learn a trade or profession. Good governance is ultimately unattainable without this, for work fulfills not only our material needs but also important spiritual and intellectual needs. So all must serve the body politic as a whole in some capacity, if only by votes and taxes.

Human nature is such that we tend to compete with our peers, and seek distinction in our chosen field of endeavour, be it agriculture, manual trades, shop keeping, the learned professions, teaching, or whatever. The family is exempt from such pressures and should be reserved as an island of peace, love and benevolence. As the only human institution that reproduces itself, the overarching concern of marriage is growth and fostering the good of children.

The household, however, is not exempt from "market forces."

The household is a larger institution than the family, often made up of several nuclear families or sometimes a single extended family, a small business, a family business or a minority cultural group. This institution engages in friendly competition with other households.

As participation in the work force becomes universal, households will naturally start to vie with one another to host residents who prove themselves moderate, wise and pious, who are good citizens, skilled tradespersons, homemakers or active leaders. Households will prize all their members and seek to accommodate their ROO modules in good surroundings. However, it will be in their interest to actively recruit new residents, as professional sports teams do star players or elite colleges seek out brilliant students. The kind of citizen that a household needs will be determined by their circumstances, location and the special activities they are involved in. A household residing in a trade or commercial area of the block will seek different trades than a household on the agricultural side, or one near a school or hospital, or in a recreational area.

On the same model, block governments will compete among themselves to attract the most able and compatible households, as dictated by their particular values and goals. Like an efficient, successful company doing business in a free and fair market, if a block shows itself unified, active and vibrant it will progress and receive grants and incentives. As it grows it is endowed with more space and a privileged position relative to other blocks in the neighbourhood under which it serves.

On a broader level, the neighbourhood government will compete with other neighbourhoods -- ones next to them or comparable neighbourhood anywhere in the world -- to recruit active, well-run block governments. An entire neighbourhood is too large to be transported physically to another quarter of the city in the way its own subsidiaries are, but borders and jurisdiction can be moved around. Funding can shift. Statues, works of art, recreation facilities and tourist attractions can be used as incentives.

Again, it is in all of our interest that every level of government be empowered with appropriate sanctions and rewards so as to encourage competence and good management in those under its sway. At every level, be it household, block or neighbourhood government, an exemplary institution must be seen as a valuable commodity that those on senior levels want to foster and attract into their purview. This is not to say that all local leaders would have exactly the same criteria of attractiveness. These criteria will vary greatly according to the needs to preserve the best of the past, to present conditions and future plans.

Next time we will discuss ROO's, households, neighbourhoods and hillside developments in terms of political theory, specifically how their constitutions would mediate their goals and ideals, and how they will strike a balance between conservation and change, and between equality and freedom.


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