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Douglas Farr (FAIA, F-CNU, LEED-AP) is an architect, urbanist, author, and passionate advocate for sustainable design thinking. Doug is the founding principal and president of Farr Associates, a Chicago-based firm that plans and designs lovable, aspirational buildings and places. Doug co-chaired the development of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) and has served on the boards of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Bioregional, EcoDistricts, and Elevate Energy. A native Detroiter, he is an architecture graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University. Doug wrote Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature (November 2007, Wiley) and Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future (April 2018, Wiley).In 2017, Planetizen readers named him one of “the 100 most influential urbanists of all time.”

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About James Howard Kunstler

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James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

4 Responses to “KunstlerCast 304 — Yakking with Architect and urbanist Douglas Farr”

  1. thenuttyneutron June 22, 2018 at 11:26 pm #

    Interesting discussion. Doug studied architecture for a noble cause. I am also concerned about our green house emissions and applied my studies to nuclear engineering.

    I am not 100% sold that a warming climate will be as bad as what is put out. I tend to think that it will create big winners and big losers. These gases were once in the atmosphere many years ago prior to them being locked away in the ground by ancient life and geology.

    What concerns me more is that we are running this experiment with our atmosphere and we don’t fully understand the consequences. Remember CFC gasses being outlawed in the early 1990s? We lack the political drive to formulate a fix.

    I watch a lot of propaganda and virtue signaling from the petroleum companies showing a bunch of promises about algae powering the planet. What makes me laugh is that they can grow the algae but they have never explained how to scale it up for industrial scale use. You could in theory use the Fischer-Tropsch process to make synthetic oil distallates. What they are not telling us is what the source of power is going to be to make this “magic” happen. The Germans used coal to power this process of converting coal into oil. If that is the oil company’s plans, it is already a bad idea. The only energy source remotely capable of scaling up while not emitting more CO2 is fission power.

    If we are going to use fission power, why not push for advanced fuel cell designs that use cheap and common materials to convert H2 into water vapor and energy? There are plenty of promising technologies in the lab that may lead to advances that make this possible. They need to get past the hurdles of storage and then to the part where you convert the H2 gas into electricity without using rare earth metals.

    The last and easiest hurdle to a fuel cell based energy system would be the actual production of H2 gas from a CO2 free source.

    I hate the way the cities are laid out. I wish there were better mass transit options in the form of high speed rail networks. I also like the sprawl of the suburbs, My dream setup would be to have dense cities with easy access out to the surrounding areas by high speed rail. You could setup a small homestead of a few acres for personal use. With the right planning, you could enrich the soils without ever having to use fertilizers simply by using mycorrhizal fungus, plants, and ruminants. Rotate the fields on a regular basis and you could grow resource intensive crops. I would simply be happy making an apiary with acres of grass land filled with native wild flowers and fruit trees.

    In addition to curbing the use of fossil fuels, we also must stop the over use of nitrogen rich industrial fertilizer. This stuff is washing into the lakes and rivers and causing a lot of problems with algae blooms. These blooms kill fish, and make toxins that are difficult to treat when making drinking water. I am especially sensitive to this because I used to live 200 yards from Lake Erie near Port Clinton, OH. Many of my neighbors used Truegreen (such a bullshit name) and synthetic fertilizers. Me on the other hand would on occasion spread a slow release material made from the waste products of poultry processing. The shit smelled aweful but it was a slow release nitrogen material that does not have the run off concerns. It would also add lots of calcium and phosphorous to the clay soil in my yard. I mostly enriched my grass by encouraging white clover to grow with the grass.

    I also encouraged Dandy Lions to grow by not treating them and showing my kids how much fun it was to blow the white puffs into the wind. The Dandy Lions were great at breaking up the clay soils. I eventually got to the point that each square foot of grass had tons of earth worms tunneling all over the yard.

    I will also note that my methods worked. My grass would remain green even when drought conditions setup. The Oak trees that I grew from an acorn have already grown over 3 feet this year and I have only had the yard for 8 years!

    I have recently moved to the DFW area for a job. I am looking at repeating my results with my lawn again. I am also looking at building my own house using the Monolithic Dome technology (when I say build, I mean that I build it all myself). I went to a workshop in Italy Texas last year to learn how to build it. I am now looking at ways to incorporate a Windcatcher and Qanat to a dome house like they ancient Persians did. Has Doug ever heard of this being done in the USA? I plan to make the house face the south and the front will have a large overhang to shield the house from the sun in the summer yet allow the sun to shine in during the winter months.

  2. Dubs June 26, 2018 at 10:19 am #

    I’m surprised there weren’t more comments on this podcast. Farr, and his ‘urban landscapers’ are not going to ‘muddle on’, they say, despite every evidence to the contrary.

    I’ve always gotten a kick out of the city slickers who fancy themselves building permacultures on 7 or 8-story rooftops (sic), putting around on their bicycles to their ‘farmer’s market’ and yoga spots, while constantly chattering about this latest diet or that magical, granola politician – local or national – who’ll put the rest of the carbon plebes in their place. On the whole, this is the professional paper pushing, managerial set. They produce very little except hot air and invariably have string of silly letters after their names.

    Meanwhile there are thousands of small towns and small, rural plots which are eminently sustainable – if one cuts out the modern, worthless frills. South of the 5-inch snow line and in the Eastern part of the country, one can truly create permacultures which produce year ’round – with rotating livestock – and comparably dirt cheap – with little to no comparably carbon emission.

    • Dubs June 26, 2018 at 10:20 am #

      Mea culpa. Read are going to ‘muddle on’….

    • Walter B June 28, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

      I am having a lot of trouble playing this audio, it keeps cutting out. Perhaps they do not want us to hear it, because Doug comes right out and states that we should start making a difference by talking with one another right in our own neighborhoods, right in our own small Townships, and that is dangerous for those in power, I assure you. There is far more money to be exchanged between the sellouts in constructing and yearly repaving of interstate highways and byways than there is in small, walkable communities, even though the latter is far better and even more fun. I will continue to try to make it through this podcast.