Return to PORENA and start-up meeting at town hall

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This section is the transcript of my second visualised visit to an area about to embark on sustainable development. Click on the link to go to the start.

Streamed by Max Wahlter transcribed 2005 – 11-23

The last visit was to a place starting to go through the PORENA process to become more sustainable. I was invited there by the PORENA manager, Aaron Heathcliffe. The Process started with an inventory of the basics of life support in the area.

My quest is to return to follow the process and understand the next stages.

I arrive at the departure hall and meet Aaron immediately. He guides me to a lift which opens onto a walkway over to an entrance into an area I have not been before.

We get onto a train heading for some …ville.

At our destination we go over to the town hall and meet a few people who are standing in front of a large display with various models of what appears to be a radial city.

They are exploring the possibilities of re-planning their main centre on the lines of what has been learned at PORENA.

They also display soil types on a topographical map. They have grouped these in a growing zone analysis. They are also displaying land use types: forest, roads, rivers, built up areas. etc

Another part of the display shows an analysis of input and outputs from the area: transport, waste produced etc.

Physical analysis, city location, a map of soils map and food production, flows in and out – it all seems to be here.

Aaron starts to debrief them: “How did you complete the analysis? How did you enjoy working together..”

He seems to be drawing out of them that they can work together like this in future. He is asking them about how they felt about doing this work. It has actually got people from different areas of local government and industry working together.

Everything is now in the database and it can be flown through. Everyone is drinking tea and chatting.

Heathcliffe asks everyone to sit down. The data underlying the displays is all in the database. Some presentation in visual form has already been prepared. He goes over to the computer and starts to fly through the data from different angles. He checks the application of the radial city calculations. Shortfall or excess? He looks at the following:

1) What is grown in the area to identify shortfalls in terms of volume of food, number of fields supporting a number of people.

2) Clean water shortfall or excess.

3) Vehicles park size, status.

4) Oil and other fossil fuel use, plan for powerdown.

Heathcliffe asks further questions. The computer operator provides answers using the software. I hear the phrase “comp stat”. They go through number of cars, owners, roads driven, fuel consumptions, age of population, pop dynamics. All the data is there as a fantastic resource.

Next question from Heathcliffe: “What you think the next step would be?”

Someone from the audience raises their hand: “ I think we need to start to evaluate this data: Like what, in terms of the ability to provide a standard of living for the inhabitants here, are assets and what are liabilities.”

They agree to inventory assets and liabilities to make a value judgment. The software will present an overview of their analysis in the form of a “playing board”. In the middle, an overview map of the area. Along the top, stakeholders. Along the bottom, resource organizations. To the left, assets, to the right, concerns.

The discussion moves to assets – a good deal of land is available to grow food on – and the to concerns – a large vehicle park and a lot of transported goods.

One other concern is the lack of a centre, built on a radial pattern.

They then suggest all stakeholder organizations need to be identified. Resource organizations will be listed at the bottom.

Next is to put a value on the data using some scoring mechanism. Heathcliffe suggests they widen up their sphere of influence and open up the data to other groups. They could share the discussion on concerns and assets.

He will send a facilitator to do that.

Heathcliffe calls me over and tells me to let them get on with it themselves. They need to go through and evaluate data themselves.


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