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CHAPTER NINE

To Clean A City

 

   The application of landscape design to the established farmand grazing properties is simple and direct. Although the designs are never repetitivebut are of wide and fascinating variety, the principles of design are constant andessentially uncomplicated. The potential of each farm may be fully disclosed anddesign decisions reached in a matter of an hour or two's inspection with the owner.Only rarely would it take longer than two days. The marking-in of the design on theland with hundreds of pegs, may occupy only two or three days, and the practicalconstructions thereafter, be completed by the owner in a matter of weeks.

   Because the landscape designer works with only those who havean adequate appreciation of the concepts and the principles involved, all decisionsare the owner's; it is his farm; the design is his and he knows there is no otherlike his farm. Now he will live and work with the landscape design, knowingthat everything he does on the land adds to the enrichment of the soil and to theglorious maturity of the farmscape.

   Nature is the Master Designer. She is not slow and may be fastin Her appreciative reactions to good design, which is deeply satisfying and veryflattering to the prideful owner.

   But the application of the same landscape design to a largecity is something entirely different. There is no enthusiastically co-operative ownerwho knows well the entire landscape, but instead a multitude of city officials, whoare interested and knowledgeable each in his particular segment of a vast and complicatedundertaking. On the farm the boundary fence, at least, is correctly located and thehomestead--the centre of administration and management--usually so. But the citydoesn't even have a boundary and the centres of administration and management areeither scattered with apparent abandon or, with less sense of practical reality,clustered together in overcrowded city canyons. They possess no related or designedlocation but simply occupy land which happened to be available at the time, or wascheaper, or occupied only by poorer, small and out-of-date structures.

   On the farm, only fences need be altered but in the city, greatcapital structures stand everywhere in the way. Even without any further considerationsthe thing appears impossible! What is there to do? Just what has always been done;give priority to the work which if not done is most likely to bring the city closerto a grinding halt or do the thing which public clamour demands should be done. Andthe clamour now is a command--clean up the bloody mess!

   The response of the establishment is predictable with certainty.It will do what it always does; create highly inefficient bureaucratic structureswhose immediate interest will be their own elevation to power and permanence. Theywill have the one efficient department of Public Relations to convince the peopleof their necessity and efficiency. Since some aspects of pollution are nicely photogenic,the Public Relations department will soon have good 'before-and-after pictures' ofsuccess to add to the mess of words they will issue. Their attack will be on thedirty, the untidy and the smelly. The attack on pollution of the air will be againstsmoke, the most obvious but the least dangerous area. The attack on pollution ofthe water will be against the scums and the floating rubbish, again the most obviousbut the least harmful. The smothering and dehumanising consequences of the lack ofbalanced unity in the landscapes and the approaching destruction of the whole environmentwill be ignored. The wide pollution of the soil which now ill feeds us, won't bethought of. How can such creations of the Establishment, attack the greatest sourceof pollution, the Establishment itself? So what is the answer?

   The major effort must be the design of City Forests on areasof land immediately outside the city, and the delivery to them, via pump and pipeline,of the effluents of the city.

   The effect of this measure would stop water pollution. It alsowould reverse the process of oxygen depletion caused by effluents which, whereverthey go, destroy the balance of waterlife by over-stimulating the slimes, the scumsand the algae. Over-stimulated to death--in their decay they use up the oxygen ofthe water to cause the death of myriads of small animals and great numbers of fishwhich likewise in their decay, further reduce the water's oxygen. These effluentseffect the production of oxygen by the seas. They have already caused the death ofgreat fresh water lakes.

   The indivisable pollutions of air and water can thus be attackedat the principal source.

   The next great influence for the benefit of city people maybe what happens on the farms and in the redesign of country towns, both of whichare simple and straightforward. The large populations of the cities can have greatinfluence on the country whenever they choose to use it. This is the time for choosing,because the effect of the countryside in polluting the total environment is almostoverwhelming. Since primitive pollution arises directly from population, the humanequivalent of the stock numbers add up to a high population in the country. But aswell there are the more insidious materials used on farms which, together with theircounterparts in industry, are the most dangerous destroyers of the balance of theenvironment.

   The pollution problems of city and country cannot be separated,they are merely different aspects on the one great threatening catastrophe.

   Present large cities cannot be redesigned or altered quicklyto substantially improve the efficiency and economy of city functions. It is toolate for that. They are more likely to become less efficient and more costly until,if and when, they cease to grow. But growth could be stopped and a new city designednearby, but divorced from the function of the present city, except for the joiningof the two by roads, public transport and communications. Who. could doubt that thiswould be the best for the larger cities and for the great majority of their citizens?The provision of those facilities which now lag behind population demands could catchup. Progressively rain run-off water control could be applied in the more criticalareas and the water added to effluent movements to the City Forests. Although theefficiency of the city operations are not improved immediately great environmentalamelioration would be achieved. The city would cease to be a major contributor toenvironment destruction.



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