RetroSuburbia is part manual and part manifesto. The book shows how Australian suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilient in an energy descent future. It focuses on what can be done by an individual at the household level (rather than community or government levels).
RetroSuburbia is a source of inspiration, introducing concepts and outlining patterns and practical solutions. It empowers people to make positive changes in their lives. As with David’s previous work, it is thought provoking and provocative.
If you are already on the path of downshifting and living simply, exploring RetroSuburbia will be a confirmation and celebration that you are on the right track and guide you on the next steps forward. If you are just beginning this journey, it provides a guide to the diversity of options and helps work out priorities for action. For people concerned about making ends meet in more challenging times, RetroSuburbia provides a new lens for creatively sidestepping the obstacles.
The book outlines options available to retrofitters in three ‘fields’ – the Built, Biological and Behavioural – along with speculation on the future and philosophical musings. Throughout the book, examples from David’s ‘Aussie St’ story and real life case studies support and enhance the main content. RetroSuburbia can be read as a whole, cover to cover, or can be dipped into according to your interests.
It is self-published through Melliodora Publishing – in itself an expression of the values and processes espoused in the book. It is directly marketed to the public through the networks that bypass the monopolistic online conglomerates.
RetroSuburbia is almost 600 pages in full colour with 556 photos and over 100 watercolour illustrations from permaculture illustrator Brenna Quinlan.
Setting The Scene
The first section explores the big-picture issues, concepts and thinking tools that David thinks are useful in creative household level responses to the challenges of the coming years and decades.
Key challenges and retrosuburban responses outlines the connections between the personal and global challenges of the near future and how suburbia might a good place to survive and thrive in challenging futures. It also introduces some of the thinking tools, such as permaculture and pattern languages, to help retrofit suburbia one household at a time.
Built Field: Patterns of Human Habitats
The Built Field covers the recurring patterns and design solutions relevant to retrofitting detached houses and the other physical systems that support suburban households. This is an obvious starting point for many who want to make their place a better long-term prospect.
Retrofitting is less costly than new construction, allowing permaculture downshifters to focus on food production, water systems, home-based livelihoods and community resilience rather than sinking all their efforts into state of the art eco-housing.
Biological Field: Patterns of life and growth
The possibilities for retrofitting the Biological Field are many and varied. Every residential block has soil with a history of use and/or abuse, established plantings, some of which may produce food, and a wider ecological context of sunshine, water, wind, vegetation and wildlife that influence the site.
This section introduces recurring patterns and proven design solutions for abundant garden farming in suburbia. It doesn’t tell you how to raise seedlings or graft a tree but it will help you select and design the best growing systems for vegetables and fruit trees, along with guidelines on what to grow to make best use of what space you have without moving to a rural property.
Behaviour Field: Patterns of decisions and actions
The Behavioural Field includes everything about how we live in the Built and Biological Fields, from our most unconscious actions through to complex collective organisation that extends from the household out into the wider community and economy.
In every chapter David has tried to provide a strategic overview, practical tips and encouragement to collaborate in bringing retrosuburbia to life – and making it the new normal in your household, street and neighbourhood. Even when we can’t change the building, the season or the people we live with, we can always change how we see and experience life for the better.
This is just a taste, for more information check out RetroSuburbia.com
- 592 pages
- 90+ watercolour illustrations by artist Brenna Quinlan
- 400+ full colour photos
- Foreword by Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia)
- 34 chapters, spanning 3 fields – the Built, Behavioural and Biological
- Includes case studies: real-life examples of households creating change and building resilience
- Designed by Richard Telford
- Published by Melliodora Publishing, Australia
- Printed in Australia by Focus Print Group
- Printed on Australian made FSC certified paper (30% recycled)
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