Friday, April 30, 2010

Individual Human Life Projects

We are each a unique human life project. Phases of design, inspired by an architect’s design and building process, have remarkable parallels to phases of human life development from concept design during pregnancy to routine maintenance during senior adult years. Each life phase brings a new level of awareness.

The collection of life diagrams leads to appreciating all life’s phases. A life diagram is a graphic snapshot of the most significant days and events in a person’s life, showing the impact over time and emotions experienced. Children, adults, and families are encouraged to make their own life diagram and revisit it every few years. Life diagram’s are helpful to gain incite into sustainable patterns.

Life Diagrams at:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Life Commitment

Sustainability of humanity is directly connected to the level of commitment within social relationships. Three levels of commitment are defined by the Human Life Project: compatibility, performance, and life commitment. The compatibility and performance commitment models place certain stipulations on the longevity of the relationship, ending after a period of time. Life commitment is permanent and as a result sustains multiple generations.

The human heart of sustainability beats strongest in the life commitment model as exemplified in marriage and parenthood. Strengthening social relationships at home also reinforces the level of commitment between friends, neighbors, coworkers, as well as the care for the natural and urban surroundings. Learning from past relationship experiences can help guide the next generation towards a life commitment mentality.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Family Gateway

The Human Life Project ® introduces the family as the human gateway to our communities. The family gateway provides an identity for each person born, a support structure, and protection for each member. The importance of building a strong family gateway is reinforced by the National League of Cities: “Strong cities are built on a foundation of strong families and empowered neighborhoods that support every child.” Stability of human relationships informs the health of our families and communities.

A closer study of nations around the world reveals troubling population trends; top cities ranked for environmental stewardship are experiencing a decline in the youth population. The proportion of youth to senior adults is a key indicator to determine human sustainability within our social patterns. Families and communities that implore a healthy perspective towards raising children will ensure the continuation of human life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The MORE Factor

A prevalent view today equates more people with a greater demand on the earth’s resources. However, demographic trends indicate that families are smaller, yet space allocation for housing continues to climb. Larger homes continue to be built for fewer people and more possessions. The State of the World 2004 report by World Watch Institute shows that the United States, Canada, and Western Europe consume 60 percent of all the world resources, yet only represent 12 percent of the world population. The discussion to allocate provisions is not really about human population growth, but instead, human consumption habits.

Another path does exist to support more people on the earth’s limited resources. The Human Life Project defines The MORE Factor as Mobilizing Ownership in Resource Effectiveness. New technologies and green building practices are emerging that conserve on water, energy, and land. Communities that plan for future growth will experience the freedom to meet, even exceed, the challenges of providing for humanity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wonders of the World

The Grand Canyon, one of seven Natural Wonders of the World, might appear as a pristine landscape unaffected by technical advances. However, downstream is the Hoover Dam proclaimed as a Man-Made Wonder of the World. Built in five years, the Hoover Dam made the largest reservoir in the United States, storing water and generating hydroelectric power for millions of people. The two Wonders of the World present an intriguing discussion regarding efforts to preserve and sustain life.

The Rocky Mountain Institute states that “unsustainable resource use is one of the most pressing problems of our age.” The idea of human dominance over nature is being replaced with the notion of stewardship for the earth. Building large dams represents the 20th century solution for water management, with the Hoover Dam as the touchstone for this paradigm. Smaller decentralized projects are leading the way for conserving natural resources and meeting human allocated water needs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Watershed

The watershed is essential to understanding the interconnectivity between land, water, and people. John Wesley Powell, the pre-eminent explorer and geologist in the Early American West, left behind a wealth of information on watersheds. Powell’s writings are used as an example to illustrate the human challenges and advantages of working with the natural pattern to sustain our families and communities.

One of the greatest barriers to achieving human sustainability is the preconception that people can gain complete control over surroundings by over-riding the natural system. Working with the natural pattern offers a path to realize authentic progress by multiplying the earth’s limited resources.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase is an exceptional metaphor found in nature to demonstrate the importance of linkages. Spanning over miles of dynamic topographic change and millions of years, the Grand Staircase reveals contiguous rock layers in three major National Parks: Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. Visitors typically experience each National Park separately without considering the underlying connection. A similar occurrence happens when discussing human life’s essential aspects.

The journey into understanding sustainable patterns would not be complete without the fundamental social steps which make possible the link of nature to the urban environment.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Proposal: Overview

To help describe some of the Human Life Project® concepts, excerpts from the book proposal will be included in this and subsequent postings.

Literary Agents and Publishers: The Human Life Project® is in the process of sending the book proposal to potential publishers. If this material interests you, let us know.

Human Life Project®: Sustainable Patterns in Our Families and Communities

Communities around the world are actively striving to be sustainable by embracing earth-friendly living practices; however, environmental stewardship alone will not save our communities. The world’s top ranked sustainable and green cities are experiencing an alarming decline in essential segments of the population that uphold the entire community. The Human Life Project® provides a more complete picture of sustainability by linking the natural and urban environment with social relationships. By returning to the roots of human sustainability, communities are designed with the foresight to support each resident from the youngest to the oldest.

Many organizations offer valuable resources encouraging the establishment of green cities or strong families, yet few combine both successfully. Jennifer Ranville’s book, Human Life Project: Sustainable Patterns in Our Families and Communities fills this critical gap by adding the social dimension to the sustainability discussion. Jennifer Ranville is an architect in the green building industry and graduate of the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Architecture, emphasis in environmental design. The Human Life Project® is the result of four years compiling research on the central role of the family in sustaining our communities.

Current books on the market advocate sustainable communities only through conservation of nature, green building, and urban planning strategies. Therefore, the role of the family is limited to reducing household consumption habits by merely embracing green living practices. Connecting the two spheres both challenges and reaffirms commonly held views by the green living audience.

The Human Life Project® begins with the watershed to illustrate the interconnectivity between all forms of life. The knowledge of the natural pattern of land and water working together is then applied to our communities. Jennifer Ranville’s book shows the potential for cities to welcome more people and simultaneously improve the natural surroundings. When considering essential elements to sustain our communities, nature and the family form an interlocking support structure.

The family is a pivotal component today in determining which nations and cities will endure over time. A healthy balance of children to senior adults and a strong family support network are crucial to our human sustainability. Ultimately, the quality of relationships informs the social pattern language for our families and communities. Cities with strong social patterns are positioned well to direct resources that enhance the living experience for all residents.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Soft Path/Cross Disciplinary Solutions/Locally Grown Food

Don, thank you for the link to Agriburbia ( in your comments on the last blog posting. This is an interesting company that helps communities and individuals implement locally grown food, thereby increasing the standard of living and making the community more sustainable.

Agriburbia also illustrates several Human Life Project® concepts.

1. Promote "soft path" solutions ( in which smaller, local systems (farming in this example, but could apply to water use, energy production, etc.) are used in place of larger systems. A larger system such as the Hover Dam infrastructure for storing water can have a more negative impact on the ecological system, for example, compared to a series of strategically placed smaller projects.

2. Creative cross disciplinary solutions are essential to solving complex problems such as food supply. While harder to conceptualize and get approval to implement, these solutions can have a greater positive impact on the community as a whole. (For those with engineering backgrounds, think of system engineering vs. component engineering.)

3. Many great solutions are emerging to make better use of limited resources. The Human Life Project® defines The MORE Factor as Mobilizing Ownership in Resource Effectiveness. New technologies and ideas like Agriburbia offer tangible solutions for communities to conserve on water, energy, and land. Communities that plan for future growth will experience the freedom to meet, even exceed, the challenges of providing for humanity.

Don's Original Posting: