I have been interested in how to create better places since architecture school at the University of Florida, in the early 1980’s. Over time my interests have expanded from place, to community.In studying how to build better communities I started to run into a wall. I was studying communities through the world of urban planning. Looking at issues such as; creating a sense of place, density, walkability, and land use patterns. But, there was no end to this urban development pattern. What was pushing back against the community to keep it in balance with its environment? How big should the community be and what should it contain? What is the purpose of community? Live questions that urban planning did not provide me with satisfying answers to. I started to study biology to see if it could help answer these questions. In biology, livings systems consist of cells, organs, organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Biology study’s community! What can it teach us about why and how they should be built?
This paper is a result of this research. Studying living systems has helped answer many of my community planning questions, and more. It has also given me a better perspective on my relationships with others, and with my environment. It has also been a spiritual experience, helping me better understand my place in the world.
Interested? I invite you now to come with me and explore where we are, how we got here and, most importantly, how we can go "Back to the Garden." Start reading with Chapter 1 below.