A large swimming pond, dug east to west on contour. Originally it will be made using the David Pagan Butler style. This means building the pond so that the deep part of the swimming zone is about equal to the regeneration zone. It will function mainly as a zone 5 habitat for wildlife and us humans. It will not have fish in it and it will use the passive airlift pump that David so elegantly developed.
I would want to develop it so that it is a long, snakelike pond, on contour. On one side of the long pond I would like to have a kind of shelf, which would function as the regeneration zone described by David. Probably facing south so that we can shade the regeneration zone if we need to. It would be wider than the ones he shows in his system, so that we could have some chinampas going into the shallow area of the pond. The deep areas of these could function as shelter zones for small fish, feeding larger fish in the deeper pool. The chinampas would function as food growing areas. Perhaps with the perforated pipes located underneath the chinampas so that they attract the water through the sucking action of the airlift pump.
Then after some time getting to know our system, we can switch up to adding fish and building a hydroponics / aquaponics system.
It will have a greenhouse build right next to it it, or even on top of it, that will help heat and thus circulate the water. Inside the greenhouse we can use tropical plants to filter the water.
At some point in the future our budding family wants to have some ducks.
And because we want to let the ducks express their duckness as much as possible, we want to make them a duckpond. Right now I am in the design phase of our property so any changes are quick and easy. We live in Greece, which is a Mediterranean climate like lots of places in Australia. I joined this group for that very reason (and because I dislike the permaculture ‘guru’ Matthew Stephens who runs the biggest permaculture group on facebook).
Anyways. I was thinking how I don’t really want to keep topping up their pond in the summer, which would get unsustainable very fast. Our summers can reach into the 40 degrees Celsius sometimes and if you put a dinner plate of water out it is gone within half an hour… Also we already have a lot of mozzies, and we don’t want to be breeding a load more.
So… Why not give them a big pond to play around in during the wet season (October through to April/May), drain it in spring, and plant it out with crops like pumpkins, sweet potato, potato and other hungry crops?
Then I thought, if I am going to put in a pond with a liner anyway, why not make the bottom of the pond into a wicking bed? I could put in some drainage pipe and gravel with shade-cloth on top, then cover that with the regular soil. I would drain the pond in spring, right when the plants go into the ground. They would get watered through the drainage pipes below the soil they are planted in, massively reducing evaporation. The duck poop from the previous winter would fertilize this area and feed the hungry plants.
I could have a ‘summer bathtub’ for the ducks to play around in, which would need to be emptied every now and then. I would have it placed higher than the drainage pipes and into these pipes is where the mucky water would go, feeding the plants that are growing on top. Perhaps I can even have a small airpump running in air through bubblers in the pipes, to prevent the roots from going anaerobic.
By the time the rain comes back in autumn, my crops should be done growing and the pond would be ready for another winter of duck frolicking.
Blackwater – Toilet water – Preferably treated using a gravitiy-fedÂ vermicomposting system
Greywater – Everything from the house, this includes washing machine, indoor shower, outdoor shower, sink and dishwasher.
Bluewater – Thoroughly clean rainwater, main use is to be piped into the home for use in shower, sink and washing machine. Drinking water can be made using a Berkey water filter.
Filter the greywater then send itÂ to the duckpond (lowest pond).Â Pump from the duckpond to the veggie garden and into the swale or specific trees. Greywater filter can also take in brownwater.
I was honored to be asked to to participate in mapping out this living space for you and your partner. The space has a lot of potential, is sited beautifully and what you have already done is really amazing aesthetically. In the design process I have mainly focused myself on adding diversity and resilience to the broad strokes that you already implemented. Diversity in the sense of plant life but also in interaction with the elements. Resilience in the sense of dependencies outside your home, whether that means energy needs in the sense of water or hot water, or resilience in food and fertility. I have also tried to add a layer of mental resilience, to enhance your drive to make it a place to relax and regenerate.
Introduction to Permaculture
â€œPermaculture is a holistic design science that is reflective of natural patterns and promotes mutually beneficial relationships. Rooted in ethics, the concepts and themes in Permaculture help us rediscover how to be a positive contribution to the earth, ourselves and humanity.â€
The three Core Ethics:
Earth Care – Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply.
People Care – Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence.
Future Care â€“ By returning surplus andsetting limits to population and consumption, we can set resources aside for the earth and others beings. Both alive now and in the future.
Permaculture Principles and Directives
Work with Nature: we can assist rather than impede the natural elements, forces, processes, agencies and evolutions (Use gravity, use native species, use the sun, wind, etc.)
The problem contains the solution: Everything depends on perspective. It is only how we see things that make them advantageous or not.
Make the least change for the greatest possible effect: Make work a source and not a sink of your energy.
The yield of the system is theoretically unlimited: The only limit on the number of uses of a Resource possible within a system is in the limit of the information and the imagination of the designer.
Everything is connected: Everything gardens and has an effect on its environment;
The sector analysis tells us about the different external energies that enter the site.
Major Sector Considerations:
– South (Winter): This sun sector has the most potential for entering the house. Because of the low amount of sun received during the winter months optimizing sun exposure is a priority. The roof is angled South so solar panels of different sorts can be an option.
– South (Summer): Due to the soutfacing aspect of your house and the mass of the terrace a warm microclimate is created. The roof is angled South so solar panels of different sorts can be an option.
Southeast: This is the main wind direction in the Netherlands, but with the homes and the small forest to the South it is of no concern.
Northwest: The prevailing wind direction for winter brings cold air and snow. The front of your home is sheltered by the pine tree. Some attention could go towards adding heavy curtains to the windows.
Water Access â€¢ Southeast: Primary water access will be from rainwater and tap water. Infiltrated groundwater is an option but not needed for the functioning of the design.
Primary/Secondary Access â€¢ Main access to the garden will happen through the house as this garden is mainly a living space. There is access to the garden from the outside in the Southwest corner of the garden.
Visual and Sound â€¢
No major visual or auditory elements to take into account.
Part 1: Water
Water is the source of all life. For that reason I will start off this design brief with the water systems that I incorporated. I will continue into fertility (compost), plants and trees and finish up with energy systems.
Concerning the water there is a visual aspect, a rainwater management aspect and a greywater filtration aspect.
Part 1a: The visual aspect.
On the side of your balcony there is a downspout. It gets fed by the roof and the balcony. I feel it would be niceÂ to divert your downspout. I have several reasons for that. The first one is aesthetics. Other reasons involve infiltration and the mold problem on the grapevine.
It is possible to make rainwater a visible aspect of your garden. It can be made to trip-trap around in a very playful way and Iâ€™d like to start that rerouting from the roof and lead it through different cycles until it goes away from your garden.
The water comes from the roof and enters a catchment basin.
From this basin we feed a small bird bath on theÂ balcony using a pump, the overflow of the birdbath goes back into the catchment basin. Bird baths can have different shapes and forms and do a lot for the birds in your area. The balcony is a place the cats cannot come, it is also up from the ground and away from frost, lastly it receives some heat from your bedroom. All these components make sure that it forms a little micro ecosystem. A bird bath can be a really beautiful way to observe and interact with the local birds. The catchment basin is also a way to keep leaves and other debris from entering the rest of the system.Â Â The pump ensures clean water and a ripple effect which should cause a beautiful reflection of sunlight inside the bedroom and will help attract the birds. I have placed it next to the bedroom window and included the following video to give a sense of what is possible. Of course it would be possible to have the bird bath further away or closer by depending on your preference.
The basin overflows into the drain that already exists on the balcony. It continues into another function underneath the balcony. Underneath the balcony we bring the downspout out to about two-thirds of the balcony, turning the corner towards your garden and out past the sitting area.
Then several rainchains are attached to the downspout. Rainchains guide the water down in the same way that a regular downspout does, but it can become a very peaceful and interactive part of the garden design. I also included a little video to show what the rainchain looks like. One added benefit of this downspout is that it removes the downspout near grapevine, which eliminates one possible cause for the high humidity and thus the phytophtera.
So the rain comes down the rainchain and tumbles into a small pond. It is very possible to have a tiny pool like this without any mosquitoâ€™s. Two small goldfish will take care of that concern. This pond would be planted with some beautiful and edible water plants. I have included a list in the ‘list and resources’ section. The pond overflows onto the roof-tile stream. This adds another visual aspect to the garden and transports the water like a little stream across the garden. This could also be done using some pond liner and river stones.
From there we can choose to let it sink into the soil using an infiltration basket, or make it go to the sewer like is happening now. An infiltration basket is something that the Dutch government is starting to ask citizens to use so that rainwater doesnâ€™t all end up in the sewer system.
Part 1b: Greywater
A scale drawing of the two tanks and their component parts.Part of your list of elements was the greywater system. I have designed a relatively simple one that should supply you with ample water for use in the garden. You can choose to let the overflow enter the garden or go to the sewer like it used to. The system takes the water from the sink and the dishwasher like we discussed and first deposits it in a settlement tank. From there the water is taken by gravity to the storage tank. I chose to use 220 liter blue food grade barrels because they are easy to find and have a removable top. But you can use whatever style or size you like.
In the bottom of the tank I would install an electric sump pump that can be turned on by plugging a cord. It would be used to water the garden and the gardenhose can be stored near the barrel. Another option, and more low-tech, would be to use a hand pump and fill a watering can.
Part 1c: The Water distribution system
In the picture above I have portrayed how I imagine the grey water feeding your garden. The grey tube isÂ regular plastic pipe, used for inside the home or downspouts. The blue pipe is drainage pipe, in this case used to distribute the grey water. The big square is a rainwater and greywater infiltration basket. This basket is about 500 liters and is dug into the ground. During big rain events the basket fills up and makes sure that the rainwater systems of the city are not filling above capacity, afterwards the water seeps slowly into the surrounding soil. If the basket does indeed fill up it has an overflow to the rainwater sewer of the city. I imagine that you would plant some water loving plants like Red Currant or Gooseberry above the drainage pipe, a list of possible candidates can be found in the plants and resources section.
As you can see in the picture on the right theÂ overflow from the grey water system can be directed to flow through the garden or directly into the sewer. The idea here is that during the winter it is likely that you will have too much rain in your garden anyway, the greywater will be cleaned before leaving the area and the drainage pipe can make sure the garden doesn’t form wet areas.
Part 2: Compost
Another element that we discussed, and that would be interesting for you and your cats is the compost bin. I have some experience with compost in the Netherlands and the best way to compost fresh manures like cat poop is to use a hot compost. But to do that you need quite some outdoor space and it takes focused attention for about 2 weeks. So in looking for different solutions I have decided on the Worm Farm instead. A worm farm is a kind of compost solution that works year round, without turning and without too much maintenance. The idea is that certain kinds of worms can eat half their bodyweight in compost each day. So lets say you start out with 1 kilogram of compost worms, you should be able to feed your worms half a kilo of foodscraps or cat poo per day. In 90 days they would have doubled their numbers, allowing you to feed up to one kilogram per day. I donâ€™t know how much food scraps and cat poo you produce per day, but a small system should do for your house hold. The worms produce a kind of liquid fertilizer that I have seen people sell in the Netherlands, it is very high quality fertilizer. Besides that the worms produce a solid fertilizer of the highest quality called â€˜worm castingsâ€™, this is as close to true humus as you can get. This amazing compost you can dig out once every season or so and feed to your favorite plants. There are different ways of setting this up, the model I would choose is that of a recycled fridge laid on its back. The insulation will keep the worms warm in winter and cool in summer. It also upcycles an otherwise difficult to recycle object. Here you can find a great video explaining the process.
Part 3: Plants and trees
You had told me you would like several different plants. An olive tree, a wisteria vine, a small lemon tree, some potted herbs and some fruit bushes. Also something to replace the grapevine as it suffers a lot from phytophtera. I researched a lot of different fruitbaring plants to try and see if I could replace the grapvine with something that didnâ€™t suffer from this mold disease. To be honest, there are not many vine-like plants that don’t suffer from phytophtera….
Eventually I realized it might be best to give this central place in your garden to the Olive tree! It is a perfect candidate because it adds a beloved evergreen element to your garden, and one that serves cultural, functional as well as dietary functions. You showed a desire to have an olive tree and in any other place than on the wall you run the risk of it growing too tall and shading out your garden. An evergreen tree will also take away natural light coming into your home during the winter.
The Olive will really get to come into its own here as the ancient and beloved tree that it is. On a southfacing wall it is very likely to give good olives and it is the most resistant to phytophtera of all the options I came upon.
Lastlly, it can easily be sculpted and trained to form along your balcony and above the door.
This is a process called â€˜espalierâ€™ and it is an easy and worthwhile training technique. The olive lets itself be trained very easily and produces strong, vital branches with lots of fruit. It would be possible to harvest the olives using a small ladder and from the balcony, eventually making them into table olives using a salt water recipe. The best olive for eating is calledÂ Ascolano and it is also one of the most cold hardy varieties, this olive is what is historically used in Martinis.
The placement also fits perfectly with the bird bath. Songbirds need bushes and shrubs to hide in and the evergreen branches of the olive tree fits this niche like a glove. Its proximity to the birdbath will provide them a sense of safety and you with the opportunity to further observe them in their natural behavior.
On the balcony itself I suggest to plant a Wisteria plant in a pot.Â
The reason for planting it in a pot is simple: Wisteria is well known for its aggressive root system and planting it in the garden can be asking for trouble. Especially as the best place to plant it would be along the fence you share with your neighbor on the west. It could be that your neighbor ends up having shoots of the Wisteria come up in their garden, which is a social consequence I want to prevent. On the balcony, and in a good sized pot, the Wisteria will provide you with a wealth of beautiful drooping flowers and lovely foliage to contrast the olive growing from the opposite direction.
Then as a last request you mentioned the Lemon tree. I looked at many different varieties and came up with two options. There is a frost resistant lemon tree that does well in the Netherlands, even in full soil. But it loses its leaves in winter and the taste is not comparable to the actual lemon. I would therefore advise to plant a dwarf Lemon in a big pot. In the summer this dwarf variety would live outside and brighten up your garden with its foliage and flowers. In winter it would live inside your living room, close to the window and busy itself with ripening off its fruit. I have found reports of people doing this successfully in the United Kingdom, so the Netherlands should not pose a problem. The winter hardy lemon might be good if you just want the Lemon tree as a visual feature. The â€˜trueâ€™ lemon is better if you are after the fruit and the evergreen foliage.
Then you asked for some herbs in pots. I know that you have already gathered a lot of herbs. The only thing I added was to place them inside olive oil cans like you requested, and placed them close to the back door for easy picking and some added heat. It would require that you bury the two barrels of the grey-water system almost completely and build a wooden box around it. On this box I also imagined a hand pump, so you can easily fill your watering can.
Because of your preferences on the topic I did not include any area to grow vegetables. But in the back of the bed that has the drainage pipe I would recommend planting a few berry bushes like Gooseberry and different Currants. Next to the little pond I also placed a Jasmine bush, as you mentioned loving the smell of Jasmine so much! I have included a list below in the resources section.
Part 4: Energy
We spoke during our interview about the different options of lowering your bills and conserving energy. You have already improved upon the house immensely with the insulation and the addition of the wood stove.
I have looked into some technologies that might aid you further in your search for a more self-reliant, greener lifestyle.
The first that I will describe is the solar hot water system. You already know it from Greece, but there are different styles available and the most efficient ones are generally not used in Greece. The evacuated tube system for instance offers a high return on investment. Compared to solar electricity panels this system can earn back its investment in as little as 6 â€“ 8 years, quicker when the price of natural gas rises again. After that 6 â€“ 8 years your hot water will be for free. From day one you can expect a decrease of up to 60% on your gas bill. An added benefit is that the estimated price on your house will go up, when you decide to sell it. One last benefit is that it is possible to get a subsidy for the purchase of this system. The requirement is that the subsidy papers are sent within 6 months of installing of the system.
Here are two websites that can provide further information on this technology.
As a second technology I would like to suggest Infrared Heating Panels.
The idea here is that it takes a lot of energy to heat up a room using conventional central heating, especially rooms that are not used very often. An IR Panel basically acts like the warm rays of the sun. Even though the air temperature might be cold, you warm up when sitting in the sun. The sun also heats up stones and other solid objects, which store the heat and release it at a later time. This form of radiant heat is much more efficient because the energy is applied directly to your body, rather than trying to heat up the air, which in turn heats up your body. In your case I could imagine installing one in the bathroom as an experiment and see how it makes you feel. This place would be ideal because it would for instance heat up the cold floor as well as your body and do so within a short amount of time.
Here is a short video which explains the concept more indepth:
Solar electricity panels.
We talked shortly about solar electricity panels and I realize you have no direct interest in buying any at this point. But I did a little bit of research anyway, on my own time. Just so that I can say I included it and because I am curious myself. I made some assumptions and used the average usage of electricity for a Dutch household of two people, which is almost 3000 Kilo-watt Hours per year, or 250 kWh per month. I assumed a generous 40m2 of roof area, which would include your shed and excluded the solar hot water panels.
Electricity consumption per month: 250 kWh Roof area available: 40 m2 Solar generation per kW per day: 3 kWh Percentage of your monthly consumption that can be met with solar:Â 115.2%
Part 5: Conclusion
With this I would like to conclude my design, of course I hope that I included everything that you had hoped for in a way that works for you. If there are any changes you would like to see, please let me know and I will change them for you.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with you and may you experience joy and health from interacting with your garden!
Flash floods don’t exist as isolation, they exist in a context.
They all start with one drop. We ignore this context at our own risk. This is a story of how flash floods form, how they relate to our culture and how we can reduce their risk by integrating water into our lives again.
Today I went out for a walk to clear my head. Working on a design all day had turned my eyes to squares and I needed a break, something to see other than pixels. As I stepped outside I decided to follow my curiosity.
Just one apartment block down from where we stay when we are in Athens is a curious little alley.
My partner had told me on several accounts that there was a little stream around here somewhere and I chose to look for it today. I looked over the edge of the street and there it was, next to an old oil barrel and some kind of old table there was a hole in the concrete. And down in that hole, maybe 3 meters down from the street level a stream flowed, its water flickering in the dappled sunlight.
My curiousity was locked in. I would follow the stream today. I observed the layout of the streets, and imagined how these streets must have formed in the past. If this was a stream that was here before all the concrete, the architecture must reflect it at least somewhat.
There were several drainsÂ on the sides of the road that appeared to have been installed because of runoff water, their placement and size is a pattern that I recognize from all over Greece.
I made the assumption that the stream flowed in between the homes but was covered over by a road at some point. The road led right down the hill in between two raised areas so that made sense.
I imagined being a little rivulet of water.Â What would be my easiest path? Rolling down the hill like a raindrop led me to a dip in the road. The bottom of a valley. The road came down, was horizontal for a while and then went up again. Immediately I saw the tracks of water damage in the brush over there on the sidewalk, and silt deposits that were so high that they crawled from the asphalt onto the sidewalk.
I had found the main valley. On either side of this area there were two distinctive features, a parking lot and a dumpsite.
The parking lot lay uphill in the valley and the dumpsite downhill. Another pattern that I have noticed in many places around the world. Walking onto the parking lot drew me towards where the water should come from, being uphill made this a somewhat drier area which probably also contributed to the fact this was now a parking lot. The tracks of water led back up the parking lot, and there I found it. A big gully with a square concrete drain. Tracing that through the landscape with my eyes I was met by a big fancy office building and the dumpsite I spoke about earlier.
The gully that might once have been a life giving stream was squeezed in between an office block and a dump site. I decided to track it downstream some more, wondering how this is all connected.
Walking through the dump was relatively uneventful. Some stray cats ran away from me as I climbed over different layers of dumped soil, stones and concrete. The different stages of natural recovery (succession) showing me their age. Some areas were covered in trees whilst others didn’t even hold grass yet. At the end of the dumpsite I was met by a freshly scraped area. A bulldozer or digger of some sort had obviously come through here recently and scraped the area down to the ochre soil. I made a mental note and followed what was left of the gully downstream. The gully had largely disappeared underground and I assumed that it was concreted over similarly to the roadcrossing.
Then came the finale. I followed the scraped area down and came to what seemed like a parking lot or old foundation to a building. Some kind of tingly feeling raised its silent voice in the back of my brain. I noticed it but couldn’t place this intuition, so I filed it away as a curiosity. The slab was much lower than the surrounding area and had a kind of inclined wall of stone. I estimated the wall to be older than the regular age of the concrete boom of Athens, which stems from the 1950’s until now.
In the back of the parking lot I saw an arch and opened a fence to make some room for me to get through and check all of this out. Everywhere there were signs of flooding. Little debris piles mixed up with mud and grass where rebar stuck out of the concrete or a fence impeded the water, flowlines where the water would have run, neat deposits of sand on one side, silt on the other.
I came to the arch and found out it was a tunnel of some sort. A small trickle of water made its way down the stepped tunnel. Its sound made my heart jump with joy. The floor of the tunnel was made out of heavy marble slabs, beautifully polished and the arch out of some other kind of stone. Granite maybe? Or perhaps unpolished marble? But why would the floor be polished and not the arch? It was built absolutely beautifully the way ancient buildings are made, with stones cut in just the right angles so gravity becomes the glue that holds it all together. A lot of labor and craftsmanship must have gone into constructing this. The tunnel went under one of Athens’ biggest roads, Kifisias.
I wondered to myself what this beautiful arch was doing here when this parking lot was so obviously ruined and undeveloped.
Then it hit me. This was the parking lot that had flooded some months back! This parking lot had been filled with cars and about 5 meters of water in a flash flood. I had been following the path of that first water drop hitting the concrete, that drop was forced to go into the covered stream and it had brought me to a place where a major flood event had happened. This was the little tingling in the back of my brain that I first felt when I walked out into the slab!
The water had shown me this, and my ability to mimic its path had led me to this place. I had tracked water! 😀
Then a further realization: That gully used to be a river. Before all the concrete covered over the soil, rainwater would infiltrate into the soil and slowly weep out of it to feed a small river. That’s what the beautifully constructed arch was for. It was made to stand not only the test of time, but the test of water through time.
No one had bothered to smooth the marble at all! The water had done so over long decades of rubbing up against it, combining the energy provided by gravity with the sediment it carried.
Then I looked around. The area was huge, and very sturdily constructed. I assume, but cannot prove, that underneath the concrete lies a small park or agricultural area. The river would have been a perfect water source and the tightening of the river to pass through the tunnel would have heightened its banks, allowing for year round water access.
The walls had been constructed to push back the steepness of the area around it, allowing for a larger and flatter growing area. I have seen these kinds of terraces many times in Portugal and La Palma. The steeper the slope of the land, the higher the walls. All of that amazing, crazy, backbreaking work to create terraces. All for a few extra square meters of growing area.
This is of course all conjecture. But I have seen similar places all over Europe. And it would be pattern illiterate of me to ignore this.
What conclusions can we draw from this?
One ofÂ my teachers has been Warren Brush and he taught us to ask three questions. Three questions that can help lead you down the path of recovery.
The first question is ‘what is this telling me?’
This experience tells me it is important to be out on the ground when trying to understand these things. You can’t remove yourself one dimension and look at it from above. You have to embody or mimic the raindrop, and the only way to do that is to be here and now, on the ground.
It further tells me a story of how concrete and runoff work together to encourage flash floods. Concrete works twofold, first off and most obviously; it is a runoff area. Water that falls on the concrete cannot do anything else but speed its way downhill. Gravity is pulling it downstream and anything light enough in its path is taken along. Especially summer rains, with their warmer temperatures, tend to take along soils. Warm water dissolves clay more easily, as any gardener knows. So concrete contributes to flash floods by producing runoff water. In other words: runoff water is a yield of hard surfaces.
On the flip-side of concrete is the fact it keeps the soil from doing what it does best: welcoming the rain.
Imagine the soil like a huge sponge. It takes in water and when it gets too full it drains some water out the bottom. If a large amount of water is suddenly released on top of a soaked sponge, it will run off. But all the time before that it will sink in. This process is well known and is part of the way nature cleans water. The soil sponge is what feeds groundwater, and groundwater is what feeds rivers over time. It can take thousands of years for a raindrop to reach a river once it has been infiltrated. Imagine that, some of the water that we see running in rivers today infiltrated into the soil in the middle ages.
That leads me to the second question: ‘What do I have to learn from this?’
We can learn to bring out the soilÂ from underneath the concrete. In order for there to be even the option of infiltration, the soil needs to stay uncovered.
We can learn to let the water flow above ground. Locking it up under the roads and inside concrete pipes is not only disrespectful, it is dangerous. Dangerous because when large amounts of rain fall, these pipes are never large enough. And what happens when they overflow? People’s homes are flooded, their livelihoods washed away, lives are hurt or lost. Much better to assist nature in creating the conditions around rivers and streams for the water level to rise and take on that extra water without a hitch.
Another lesson is something that I hinted to already: We can learn to respect the water for the life-giving substance that it is.
Without it, we won’t survive. Water is life. Scientifically this is true. And if we want our children to have a future, we have to teach them to respect water in all its forms. The stream and the river as the foremost representation of that.
They won’t learn to respect water if we don’t respect water ourselves. We disrespect the water by covering it with concrete and by polluting it, surrounding it on all sides with cars and exhaust fumes, concrete and trash.
We can learn to bring it back in its natural, abundant form.
Then we end with the third and final question: “How can I feed this so it can become life-giving?”
We can feed this situation to become life-giving by restoring rivers like this to their true form and creating spaces for life to be alive. We can feed this situation to become life-giving by making rivers into classrooms again, where we learn lessons of speed, balance, natural abundance, drag, excitement, beauty, sound. It is a place for feeling alive with the beauty of nature, to feel the soft soil under our feet, to listen to the sound of flowing water, to smell the fragrance of almonds blooming in spring.Â A place where we can learn to swim and to fall in love, where we write poetry and songs and plant trees to cool us down in summer. A river might feed us by being a place where we relax and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, and, perhaps to let go of what we have lost.
All of these functions belong to the river.
Covering them with concrete has robbed us of their gifts, and Athens as a city reflects it. The people in Athens reflect this. It is a city filled with people that don’t have a connection to the land, yet are yearning for this connection so badly. Restoring this essential part of our environment would be like a beacon of hope to all that live there, truly composting down the negative impact that we are having and turning it into a life-giving situation. It says we care for our future, we care for our children and we care for the earth.
Now, I know I am a new inhabitant in this country and it is not my place to call for change after having moved here only recently. Because of this realization I tried to look for some of the Greek ancestors to back me up ^_^
The ancestor that I found was in Plato, and he writes:
ps. Below you will find the rest of the pictures I took as I explored, and a video of the flash flood combined with some videos that I took.
My name is Bram van Overbeeke, and I joke sometimes that I design Human Habitat.
For the majority of human history we lived in balance with nature;Â we had cultures, traditions and a love for the land that kept us in that balance.
I believe that through proper design and attention we can create that caring situation again. Now and in the future.
Most often I design for people that wish to live a more sustainable life. Folks that imagine a garden, home and lifestyle, that is close to nature. Growing their own food without turning their home and garden into a large scale farming operation. Something that is appropriate to their skills and scale.
Edible landscaping, kitchen gardens, natural swimming pools, energy conservation and production, food forests, waterwise gardening; these are some of the terms used when we design your ideal living space. Both inside and outside.
A balance between simplicity and function. The designs range from small balconies through urban lots to houses and large scale farms.
Click the images above or swipe to the left to learn more.
Without a healthy earth, no healthy humans could exist.
When I design something I try to take into account the land as much as the clients that will live on that land. In many cultures the earth is considered primary, the humans that live on that land are considered to be passing through.
Taking care of the earth means emphasizing practices and strategies that will empower the land to become the best version of itself. This often means planting a diversity of longterm plants and trees as well as making space for annual crop gardens. WeÂ co-operate with animalsÂ that benefit the land in the most optimal way without limiting their own being; connecting all their needs, characteristics and products to other parts of the system. Building deep, fertile Soil as we garden along.
Gardening like an eco-system. I think long and hard to interconnect all parts of the system in such a way that the waste of one is recycled by another. In this way, with the constant input of sun and rain, the system will grow and mature to be an eco-system.Â An eco-system that both relies upon and cares for the people living in it.
People are the driving force behind many systems. When these systems take over and subordinate the people in them, things get out of balance very quickly.
When we consciouslyÂ design the network of relationships, we take into account the available personal energy and how people might interact. WeÂ strengthen bonds between family members, neighbours and neighbourhoods by social designs that are implemented over time. These systems can exist in the social sphere or in the physical sphere but most often overlap.
One simple exampleÂ is the mini library.
This concept might seem trivial but it goes quite deep. Enabling people to freely share books amongst eachother generates trust; trust in the broader society and each other.Â We will get to know our neighbours better through reading similar books and have a place to meet and share.Â Perhaps the tiny library evolves into a small stall, where we can share other things like plants or clothes, offer help and request it. A small design implementation opens the door to sharing a whole lot more than books.
By understanding our own needs and limitations we can design for cultural transformation that benefits people as well as the earth.
The best way to predict the future, is to help create it in the now.Â
Very simply put, I believe that noone ever lived in the past, nor will they live in the future. We always exist right now.
Why did I choose to name my company FutureCare Design then? I did that because I believe we can live and design with intent the kind of ‘future now’ we want to live in, for us and future generations. That means takingÂ care of people AND the earth, right now, in such a way that thereÂ isÂ a future! WeÂ can embody new and old ways of thinking that take future, past and present into account.
It is possible to live fully in the now and at the same time give apples to someone in the future by planting an apple tree today!