Coming in 2014: The City that rejected Urban Renewal; The Long Arc of Community Ideas; The Forty-Year Dialogue between Ecology and Technology; Unfolding sequences for Better Cities; Christopher Alexander and the Computer Industry; Big Experiments in Community Self-Management; Appropriate Technology Today; Lost Patterns in Transportation and Energy; Science vs. Scientism; Patterns vs. Principles; with interviews, videos, photos and more!
RAIN's 40th anniversary year!
1974 - 2014
February 2, 2014
The members of Berlin's most persistent experimental community serve the public, and free themselves, at the same time. See Michael LaFond's instructive report for RAIN in 1994, and a recent conversation on the state of cooperatives in Berlin.
January 31, 2014
This is Jan VanderTuin's first-hand account of the origins of the CSA. It was written for RAIN in 1992, just as CSA's were starting to catch-on across the US. Jan discovered these direct producer-consumer farming co-ops in Europe (inspired by experiments in Allende's Chile). He joined them as a producer, and eventually brought his operational experience to Great Barrington, MA.
January 30, 2014
Perhaps the most influential community media institution in the US, Downtown Community Television started out by showing documentaries in neighborhoods from the back of an old milk truck. This report is from 1992, after luck and sweat provided the non-profit with a beautiful 19th-century firehouse in Manhattan's Chinatown.
A citizen transport center is key to grassroots, community-driven development of sensible, democratic, adaptive, and ecologically-sound local transportation systems. The Center for Appropriate Transport is a special-purpose community center, intended to create an economy and activism around sensible transportation. If you want, say, a locally-built streetcar system, locally-adapted bikes, harmonious bike infrastructure, etc., take a look at this wildly influential project. Thousands of projects have been inspired by CAT. RAIN helped to found it: read this 1993 RAIN description by Jason Moore.
January 29, 2014
Import replacement is the basic strategy for relocalization: the only viable way for communities to escape the ravages of the multinational corporations. It's a simple idea: as much as possible, grow your own food, and make your own goods. Keep the money local, push for local democracy in local government and in the workplace. NEDCO, a non-profit CDC (Community development Corporation) in Eugene, Oregon, is continually successful at pushing this strategy. Here Marc Bouvier reports on one of their initiatives, Oregon Marketplace, from 1993.
This 1993 study comes from farmer Jered Lawson, a graduate of UCSC's superb Communities Studies program, which provides a path for students to become inventive community organizers. Adding a CSA to the successful Homeless Garden Project was his graduation project, providing a direct path for the homeless, and their neighborhoods, to come towards each other, in a mutually beneficial, civilizing, personal, sensitive, and satisfying way.
Making Workbikes for the Neighborhood
January 27, 2014
In the US, the last decades brought progress in reviving local food production. But local small-scale product manufacture, for local consumption, hasn't fared as well. Most of the world's troubles, from wars for resources, to indentured debt, to income inequality, to vast unemployment, to vast pollution, to meaningless employment, can be attributed to the lack of local, well-adapted, cautious, community-responsive hand-manufacture and small-scale machine manufacturing.
So here's the solution: from a 1992 essay about flexible, custom bike design and manufacture. If local engineering talent could be conserved and directed towards democratic, community-driven adaptive production, rather than the tyrannical enrichment of multinational corporations, people would be happier, communities would be richer, and the nature we know, would revive.
January 25, 2014
People don't need to own 'one-of-everything'. This is the basic principle behind community ownership, even pocket examples like tool libraries. Certainly, people don't need to own all the transportation they use!
In 1994, RAIN published this study by our Berlin connection, Michael LaFond, following a suggestion of Jan VanderTuin's that 'carsharing' could be significant. It led to the first carsharing trial project in the US, and further interviews with Berlin's carsharing founders, whose experience greatly helped the movement on this side of the Atlantic.
January 28, 2014
Adam Diamond's first-hand account of the first Detroit Summer in 1992. Most people are unaware of just how deeply-rooted are Detroit's social justice and cooperative movements. In recent history, Detroit's citizens were the first to suffer from US corporate abandonment of their working population. Today, the intended corporate plan for all US cities is clear: a total elimination of democratic institutions, and the sell-off of civic institutions. Detroit is fighting back. Once again, now is the time for inter-city solidarity.
The PUARL conference: hope & surprises
January 16, 2014
Christopher Alexander's research on communities, cities, art and architecture has now inspired a biennial conference in Oregon. Greg Bryant writes about the PUARL in 2013. The attendees are doing critical and ambitious work, organizing, teaching and building in sympathy to people and the environment. So, it's important to ask: what is missing?
January 24, 2014
A CSA is a direct, long-term relationship between farmers and consumers. The small farm gets direct investment in their coming harvest from the consumer, who shares the bounty, and the risks. It was one of the most prominent movements in the late 20th century of cooperative, genuine disintermediation ('removing the middle-man' -- although this term is much abused today in the business world). RAIN covered CSA's twenty-two years ago.
January 23, 2014
People are happy to reuse containers, especially locally: just look at the growler phenomenon in any emerging microbrew scene. Of course, refillable containers are a key part of any high-quality, locally-sourced, locally-run, sustainable economy. RAIN studied them extensively twenty years ago, and published this piece by Chris Figenshau. For the sake of our economies and our earth, it's time we took these ideas far more seriously.