Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good bye, Gjøvik!

  • Why didn't you want to understand me?
  • Why didn't you want to love my family?
  • Why didn't you want to see my beautiful daughter grow up?
My wife wanted to fill our garden with flowers, and she made a good start. In the Gjøvik song the town is told to be a place of flowers. So why didn't this town make a fertile ground for her?

Another of my wife's makings

One of my images of Gjøvik on Wikipedia. Before me the town of Gjøvik was really badly introduced on Wikipedia, the article of Gjøvik was a shame compared to the ones of her siblings around Lake Mjøsa, the towns of Hamar and Lillehammer. I'm sure my gallery of Gjøvik and the improvements made from my gallery has meant a lot for marketing and goodwill of the town. So that we have to leave is a shame!

Two times before we were forced to leave our home here in Gjøvik, because of cigarette smoke. This time we have to leave because of anti-biophilia and a missing commons. It's told that all good things are 3, but for us the third time was the worst. So now I give up the town of Gjøvik, as we seems to be like cursed here.

My vision was to make Gjøvik a center for Pocket Neighborhoods in Norway! I was even once contacted by Mr. Ross Chapin himself, the "primus motor" of the pocket neighborhood - movement of the USA, as he had found interest of this blog.

I really cannot understand how anybody can hate and disgust something as beautiful as pocket neighborhoods!?!

Why do Norwegians hate pocket neighborhoods?

Why do Norwegians embrace Suburban Hell? Here a Suburban Hell from Gjøvik.

It's like Norwegians are unable to connect quality of life with anything else than what the fabulous urban writer Nathan Lewis has named Suburban Hell. We only import the worst of american culture, like Suburban Hell. Pocket neighborhoods are now popping up all over the USA, while in Norway we continue like madmen with building a Suburban Hell of our whole country! Suburban Hell can only be compared with junk-food, another crappy idea from the USA.

Good bye, Gjøvik! You failed us for the third time. We have to leave you behind now. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry!

The only thing we can do now is to keep the vision of Christopher Alexander burning in our souls:

A New Kind of World

This is the world I want to create for my daughters, and all children on Earth.

Related reading:

Limiting Noise

Excerpt from Charles Siegel's book Unplanning, chapter 7. I strongly recommend to visit Siegel's Preservation Institute for reading free e-books and other resources.

Published at P2P-Foundation on August 31, 2014.

Noise is another telling example of the failure of growth. All through the nineteenth and twentieth century, the middle class tried to move to quieter neighborhoods by moving to lower density suburbs. Until World War I, they succeeded: from the walking city to the streetcar suburb, middle-class neighborhoods did become pleasanter and quieter. But during the twentieth century, so many new sources of noise appeared that modern suburbia is noisier than the much denser streetcar suburbs were one hundred years ago.

It should be obvious by now that the only way to reduce noise is by limiting its sources!

For example, cities and suburbs could cut their noise levels significantly by banning gasoline-powered gardening equipment. Electric edgers and electric chain saws work just as well, and there are always electrical outlets within reach on urban or suburban lots; there are also rechargeable battery-powered lawn mowers available. Some cities already have banned gasoline powered leaf blowers, because people refuse to put up with this new nuisance; the next step is to go back and get rid of the old nuisances that people accepted in the days when they thought less about the quality of life.

Some sources of noise can be banned at the municipal level, but we also need strict Federal standards to limit noise from motorcycles, garbage trucks, construction equipment, trucks with refrigeration equipment, and the like. Federal noise standards were developed in the 1970s, but they were never implemented, because the Reagan administration said they would slow economic growth: no doubt Reagan believed that people needed faster growth so they could afford to move to suburbia and get away from the city's noise.

A Norwegian suburb. A paradise of Reagan.

Likewise, if we want any quiet in our parks, we need to restrict the use of jet skis, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles and other motorized recreational equipment. Americans already spend too much time pushing buttons and getting instant gratification, and we would be better off with outdoor recreation that requires more physical effort, such as canoeing, sailing, hiking, and bicycling. Environmentalists have had some success in banning off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and jet skis.

We would be better off with outdoor recreation that requires more physical effort, such as canoeing

Finally, if we want any quiet in either our cities or our countryside, we need quieter cars and trucks. Hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, are much quieter than ordinary cars. Likewise, hybrid turbine buses reduce the noise and pollution from diesel buses dramatically, and we need similar technologies to replace conventional diesel trucks.
Noise is the number one reason that people give for wanting to live in lower density neighborhoods.
Vehicles are the single greatest source of noise in suburbs and cities. Noise is the number one reason that people give for wanting to live in lower density neighborhoods. Noise is also responsible for some of our worst suburban design - such as subdivisions surrounded by sound walls. There will be limits to the popularity of neotraditional neighborhoods until we do something to reduce traffic noise: many people will not want to live in denser neighborhoods if they have to listen to neighbors revving up their cars and motorcycles.

Many people will not want to live in denser neighborhoods if they have to listen to neighbors revving up their cars and motorcycles. Image: Basher Eyre

Noise is a clear example of the failure of growth. Through the nineteenth century, growth and new technology such as electric streetcars allowed people to escape from the cities to lower density neighborhoods that were quieter. During the twentieth century, new technology allowed people to escape to even lower density neighborhoods, but new technology also made these neighborhoods noisier. By now, it should be clear that political control of technology is needed to give us quiet neighborhoods or even a quiet countryside.

Even on the countryside cars have taken over

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