Sustainability through Massive abundance.

Episode 40: Rating Your Edenicity

Take the quiz and discover how abundant and sustainable your life really is (or isn’t!).

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How do you know when it’s good enough?
Intro [music]
Housing & Energy
Transportation & Industry
Health & Education
Society & Governance
Food & Conservation
Close [music]

How do you know when it's good enough?

That's the question behind every design.

Edenicity has two definitions. The first is the Eden-like city depicted in the Reference Design that you'll find in the show notes. That's mainly what I've been talking about for 39 episodes now.

Today, I'll focus on the second definition of Edenicity, which is a measure of economic and ecological abundance. This is a number that you can calculate for any place where people live.

As I mentioned in Episode 1, the Garden of Eden would have an Edenicity of around 100. Sadly, no modern city comes close to that.

In Episode 22, we used a 14 question quiz to estimate the Edenicity of your childhood home. I also applied it to a few places I've lived and got numbers ranging from 30% to 70%.

But with modern amenities, and ecologically sound design, it shouldn't be hard to build cities well above 100. I wouldn't consider new construction with a score under 150.

Yet when I look at the hundreds of new cities being built right now, I'm hard pressed to find any with an Edenicity of even 100. All the ones I've seen are ecological and economic disasters. If they have cars and highways, that's a quick fail.

Today, we'll use an expanded quiz to estimate the Edenicity of where you live, or any place else, planned or built.

INTRO [music]

Cities designed like modern Edens, for economic and ecological abundance. I'm Kev Polk your guide to Edenicity.

Welcome to Episode 40, where we'll calculate the edenicity of where you live.


This will be a 40 question quiz about your personal experiences in the home where you live, have lived, or may live if you're shopping for a new place to live.

The questions are meant to be lifestyle indicators, not a comprehensive list of everything that should be done to create Edenicity.

Unless you're really good at holding numbers in your head, you might want to get out a piece of paper to tally your results.

Ready? Here we go.

Housing & Energy

Question 1: Does your home share any walls, floors or ceilings with neighbors?

As I explained in Episode 9, that just puts the laws of physics in your favor for energy efficiency.

Question 2: Does your home have views of outdoor greenery and the sky?

Now you may wonder what that's got to do with the environment. But remember, we're talking about ecological and economic abundance, which basically means having a more enjoyable life, and views have everything to do with that.

Question 3: Is your home free of mold and toxic chemicals?

Now before you rush to answer that, think about what's all involved in toxic chemicals. There's asbestos, of course, lead and radon and pesticides. So if there's any of that in your home, that's a "no." Then there's tobacco and cannabis, combustion heaters of any kind, and anything made of particleboard including furniture such as desks and bookshelves and floorboards. Note that most of these are a problem mainly if your home does not circulate much outside air.

Question 4: Is the area around your home dark and quiet at night?

Question 5: Do you use 100% renewable energy?

Question 6: Is your total energy bill, including heat, less than $30 per person per month?

Question 7: Do you have curbside recycling pickup? Bonus Question: Do you compost your food waste?

Question 8: Does your toilet have a bidet or reusable wipes?

Transportation & Industry

Question 9: Do you own zero cars?

Question 10: Is your commute less than 10 minutes?

Question 11: Can you run your daily errands and play outside without seeing a car?

Question 12: Would it be easy for a child to visit a public library alone from where you live by age 8?

Question 13: Do you pay less than $60 a month for transportation?

Question 14: Can you bicycle throughout the year in any weather?

Question 15: Are there any cafes within a five minute walk from where you live?

Question 16: Are there many good manufacturing or tech jobs nearby?

Health & Education

Question 17: Could an adult in your household easily take a year off to take care of a baby?

Question 18: Do you have free and easy medical and dental care?

Now look, if you're looking at a copay that's less than maybe $10 let's count that as free or close enough, anyway. I'm thinking about when I was in the southern Cook Islands, and I had a small skin infection and went to see a local doctor. Basically I was in and out of there in less than 45 minutes. And it cost me I think it was 7 New Zealand dollars at the time, and I left with my medications in hand. It was just no big deal. That's the level of service that I'm talking about.

Question 19: Do you get more than 20 minutes of daily exercise?

Question 20: Can grade school students get themselves to school in less than 10 minutes on foot, by bicycle or on public transit?

If they drive themselves to school in a car, or take an Uber, that doesn't count.

Question 21: Are the nearest schools all safe, welcoming places of connection and discovery? If you have to shop around for a good school, answer "no."

Question 22: Are all teachers well trained and well supported?

I'm taking the Finland model here, where about one out of 10 applicants to an education degree program actually gets in. Where there's none of this Teach for America nonsense where they take people who are not trained in education and give them a crash course. No non traditional tracks. And once you do jump through all the hoops to become a degreed and credential teacher, which seem almost as rigorous as the credentials to become a doctor, then you actually get a good salary and good benefits.

Question 23: Do students from ages 12 to 18 start school at 9am or later?

This is just basic biology. They really won't learn as well if they start earlier than that.

Question 24: Can you earn an accredited Bachelor, Master, PhD, or professional degree for free?

Society & Governance

Question 25: Do you have a guaranteed basic income?

Question 26: Do you eat with family daily?

Bonus Question: Do you eat with neighbors and friends daily?

Question 27: Do you know and trust your nearest neighbors?

Question 28: Do you have close friends who are different from you in terms of their cultural or ethnic or perhaps non binary or binary identity?

Question 29: Do people around you feel that they have no limits placed on them by society due to their cultural, ethnic or gender identity?

Question 30: Can you become mayor next week?

Did that one surprise you? Recall from Episode 18 that the governance structure of Edenicity is very fluid and allows people with very good ideas to be promoted very quickly to advocate for those specific ideas. So the good news is that yes, you could potentially become mayor next week. The bad news is, the week after you would probably be out.

Question 31: Do you trust the courts?

Question 32: Are police in your neighborhood unarmed?

Food and Conservation

Question 33: Is the air and water in your neighborhood always clean?

Question 34: Is there always enough nutritious, healthy food where you live?

Question35: Do you eat more from the landscape around you than you do from packages?

Question 36: Do you encounter wild plants and animals daily?

Question 37: Can you easily walk to a forest from home?

Question 38: Does the landscape around you catch and store rainwater?

If you don't know what that means, just answer "no." And when you have a moment, have a listen to episode number three and skip to the chapter where I talk about village homes in Davis, California.

Question 39: Is nearby wilderness restored faster than it's destroyed?

Question 40: Are there any forest cemeteries nearby?

Forest cemeteries? What are those? Yeah, we talked about those in Episode 36 right at the end, and believe me, if they were anywhere nearby, you would know about them.


Okay, that's the quiz! Add up your points and multiply by four to get the Edenicity of your location.

Chances are, the number will be different than the childhood Edenicity you may have calculated in Episode 22. That's because we're looking at the bigger picture now, all life stages and the whole region where you live.

Now, if you've already been trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, your Edenicity score will probably bring home to you just how much is out of your control when it comes to sustainable living. If the Edenicity score does nothing else, it dramatizes the fact that true sustainability, the kind that can end the mass extinction, is strictly a matter of large scale design.

Edenicity is simpler and more focused than the more rigorous green construction rating systems such as LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED focuses on the technical aspects of development and construction. Its basic unit is the project, which in practice usually means just one building.

Edenicity, by contrast, is regional, results oriented and subjective.

Your neighbor may or may not have the same score. A developer should strive to build something that provides everyone with the highest, most equal scores possible. And clearly, this quiz will evolve over time, as all designs do. But I think it's already good enough to do its job, which is to distinguish which places are on track to heal the world, which are not, and why.

The sad truth is, there are no really good choices right now. But that's about to change! More about that next time.

Close [music]

Okay, that was Episode 40. Now that you've calculated your Edenicity, how does it compare with your friends? Just tap that "share: button in your podcast player so they can take the quiz too. And be sure to join me next time when I'll discuss development strategies.

I'm Kev Polk and this has been Edenicity.

Edenicity 40: Rating Your Edenicity

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