The village of the city block

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Upon reading the headline I am sure some folks will think that I probably have lost it as most will associate the village with the countryside and rural idyll. 

However, a properly designed city – or redesigned one – can create the village, even in an apartment block.

In fact, this is exactly what must be done and each of those village have to be self-governing and self-reliant, being interdependent but also independent, running their own affairs. 

In some places such villages have already been created even in apartment buildings where the lower floors are businesses and the upper ones are dwellings, with the balconies and green spaces gardens – in some instances even the roofs – for the growing of food for the residents of this “village”.

Some of the old housing estates in Britain, in their design, would make for great little villages where the central courtyard just asks to be made into a community garden where food for all could be grown by all. 

Every town and city has grown out of the village or villages and, in order for us to get back to a proper society and way of living, the village has to return into the towns and cities, street by street and block by block. Every block can be a self-governing and self-sustaining village within the greater unity. 

Growing the food needed, at least to the great extent is also possible in such environments despite the fact that many may think it not so. Paris, until just after World War One was almost self-sufficient in food due to the market gardens (and farms) within the city and just outside the city walls. And, if we go without too much meat or without meat altogether then all our food can be grown, almost, locally. 

Villages of this nature also do away with the need for commuting as it is a case of walking down the stairs to the workshops or stores (or office) where one works (or just to the next village). Though the latter would be rather the exception than the norm.

The industry in those villages will no longer be of the kind that we have grown used to that produce for a global market using large machines and needing lots of energy but the market will, predominately, be the village or the neighboring ones within the city or town and not some foreign country. 

Utopian this may sound but doing it we must in order for sanity to be brought back into this world and into our lives and for a new and better society than what we have been dragged into by the “elite”. 

Schools, kindergartens and everything else will be within the same block and everyone will, once again, look out for each other, and this will come about simply more or less automatically as that is our nature. Human beings are not, necessarily, competitive but like to work together and cooperate with one another. Well, most of them most of the time, and when the right environment is given it will be more often than not. A village environment, be this in the countryside or elsewhere, with 150 souls or thereabouts, being the maximum number, this interaction comes more or less automatically. 

The downfall of the Hippie communes, who tried something similar by way of co-housing in some location, whether an old village or in a building, was that often they got too big or more often than not there was a “leader” who took upon himself the wrong kind of authority. However, learning from such mistakes is possible and there are, on the other hand, also tried and tested methods that can be adopted and adapted. 

We cannot, however, wait for the power-that-be, as they currently are, to come along and do those things for us and create this new society. They are incapable of doing so and neither is it in their interest to do so. So, it is up to us to create the kind of society or societies that we want so that they are ready when they are needed to replace the old structures and therefore we must begin with the creation of the new about yesterday.

© 2015