Peak Moment TV: Independence Station

In the latest incarnation of your low budget cable TV show, but focused on the Peak Oil community, comes Peak Moment, a regular half-hour interview based vlog on people involved in local sustainability and their stories. It's worth a look through their YouTube archive for specific points of interest.
For a taste of the show, here's a description of episode #82 on a sustainable mixed use developer in Oregon:
Developer Steven Ribeiro is re-creating traditional towns, that put "waste" resources to good use. A mixed-use three-story building augments power from its solar panels (which provide shade and collect rainwater) with a tugboat engine (running on local biodiesel), using engine heat to warm the building. Cars are secondary in a 68-acre village, whose dwellings of all sizes are walkable to retail, offices, schools, entertainment, and open space.
Independence Station is located in Independence, Oregon 15 minutes from Salem. Independence Station is an innovative 57,000 square foot mixed-use development that is powered primarily by vegetable oil and the sun. Residents, businesses and visitors alike will experience what an intelligent sustainable building can really be.

Another good interview is Episode #73 with Daniel Lerch, manager of the Post Carbon Cities project, who has prepared a guidebook including case studies of cities large and small planning how to maintain essential services in the face of energy and climate uncertainty.

Mr. Lerch also has a list of all known local government actions in the U.S. and Canada made specifically in response to peak oil. Not that many so far!

Developers (with the exception of a few mavericks) unfortunately will not do any of this unless forced by a strong planning system. We all know that the technical solutions are well developed. The issue is lack of political will. People must recognise that the economic system ensures that many of the environmental and social issues referred to on this site only impact upon development decisions when regulations ensure that developers take them into account.

See this example of a Local London Policy now being taken up through the UK. The London Plan has taken a follow up lead and will soon require 20% renewable provision for major developments (at the moment its 10%). This incentivises energy efficiency because developers get into a horse trading situation where they offer energy efficiency measures to reduce their obligation to provide the more expensive option of on-site renewables. So the policy internalises some of the environmental costs of development and focuses developers on energy efficiency, creates a micro-renewable energy industry encouraging economies of scale. As economies of scale increase, and developers become better at energy efficiency, the provision required can increase steadily to 100% of projected on-site provision, i.e. carbon neutral development.

Also: This from an earlier post, showing the policies that force developers in the UK towards sustainable forms of development. And no, there is no conflict between garden space for families and high density development so long as policies encourage family sized units, because most space in low density developments is given up to roads, verges and less used front gardens. The Victorian Terrace provides huge gardens and can be between 100 and 400 dwellings/hectare, we are talking about moving from 15-20 dwellings/hectare to something closer to between 35 and 60 dwellings/hectare (More in cities) to produce walkable, serviceable places.

Here again are the main relevant policy guidance documents that UK planning authorities use to make decisions on developments to ensure the type of benefits explored in the film:

Sustainable Development:


Town Centres:

Sustainable development in rural areas:

Another requirement which may help in the long run, Design and Access Statements, which need to provide thorough analysis of the urban design of a site.

Note: developers get refused permission to build unless they , to the satisfaction of the local planning authority, meet these planning requirements. Builders balk at the idea, but the alternative is for voters to subsidise developers by having to put up with horrid places to live in and the resultant social problems, which cost money to solve, more expensively in the case of retro-fitting, if indeed they can be solved at that time at all.

Here's some guidance with examples of how its done from English Partnerships. Clearly, the Scandinavians and Germans are often ahead of the game, but this stuff is at least a step in the right direction:

Look down the page for the Urban Design Compendium:

horrid places to live in and the resultant social problems, which cost money to solve, more expensively in the case of retro-fitting, if indeed they can be solved at that time at all.

that's your opinion of the burbs not shared by all.

Also my blog is being assembled with the best of 100s of documentaries, lectures and debates, fully categorised and free-to-watch (stream)

Man, these guys have been broadcasting, or narrowcasting for quite a while.

Good thing TOD is right on top of this.

The issue is lack of political will.

Not exactly. That's a bit too politically unsophisticated. It puts the onus on the typical-workaday-joe who really doesn't have much say-so. It implies that the political system can fix it. But the people who are destroying the planet - yes they have names and addresses - as a proportion of the general population their number is so small one could enumerate them in any given locality. But they have the power until the average Joe revolts [crude paraphrase of JFK's observation about "all avenues for peaceful change being closed off"]. Until then the political will is to override anything that makes sense. Newt Gingrich wonders why people are not out in the streets, hello?

It's a hard one to negotiate. Maybe Malcolm X could have done it. Brother Malcolm calling for 1 child 1 family and victory gardens and issuing AKs to everyone at the same time - some combination of responsibility, freedom and potential violence to meet ongoing violence.

Political will, Al Gore's "renewable resource". Earnest Al. It's been rendered structually obsolete by our economic system. Until we are "willing" to exercise political control over our economic system (such exercising of power is more or less the legal definition of "terrorism") then we are dead in the water. Al won't go there. My guess is that we won't get there until such time as it makes more economic sense to abandon this current free-market theology than to stick with it.

It's already too late. The tail of people understanding "too late" and dropping out of the conventional process is fat and long. Sustainable development; bullshit.

Best hopes for 18 flats on every Wal-Mart 18 wheeler.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hi cfm,


Can you elaborate with some specific examples

re: "exercise political control over our economic system"

What do you see as being the most viable policies, should (hypothetically) such control be exercised?

Doing away with the legal status of corporations, for eg.?

More regulation, and if so, of what sort? Or...?

Sincere questions, BTW.

re: "free market theology"

What do you think can replace it? Could you possibly sum up (so I can have my come-backs prepared for the next "the free market will solve it" discussion I get into?) Seriously, would like to know your views.

Aniya: The political control which has to be exercised is due to the fact that "Big Business" is increasingly shirking its sociaal responsibilities by looking only for income when creating problems. A good example comes in the form of trying to circumvent planning and zoning ordinances through special exceptions - get a small one and then go back and say, gee that 100 foot deep strip wasn't enough to build a mall on, let me make that 3000'. That then eliminates all of the parks, green areas, and natural watersheds which should have been envisioned in the original planning process. If the political control is not exercised, the result can be something like a suburb inside an urban area. If you think about it, there are reasonable examples like that in almost every area of our lives. Gated communities, oil and gas development in urban areas, highways cutting up neighborhoods and allowing one severed part to thrive and the other to wither, and so on.

If necessary, the imposition of other social responsibilities on business, and thus on the economy may be necessary, and exist already. At one time, all business was local and the owners could be relied on to take care of their community - it was a matter of personal pride. And, yes, there are examples of that today, and it regenerates itself even when that business "moves on." e.g., Bartlesville, OK, the former home of Phillips Petroleum and today, still the cleanest place I have ever been. Frank Phillips insisted that "the Company" take care of the city and felt it was part of his responsibility to do so. After the merger with Conoco, formerly based 70 miles or so away and the move of the merged operation to Houston, the spirit of keeping it a great place to be, much less to live, continues. ConocoPhillips still has a large workforce there, but it is not a "company town" anymore. I know that meat processing companies do not always treat the communities they move into (in on?) do the same from personaal experience. Communities want the employment but end up with a lot more in terms of problems.

I offer a few thoughts along these lines for 2008 here: "Democratic Political Justice, Localism and Bioregionalism, Carbon and Global Climate Change, and the Internet"

That about covers it!

Hi cfm,


Can you elaborate with some specific examples

re: "exercise political control over our economic system"

What do you see as being the most viable policies, should (hypothetically) such control be exercised?

Doing away with the legal status of corporations, for eg.?

More regulation, and if so, of what sort? Or...?

Sincere questions, BTW.

re: "free market theology"

What do you think can replace it? Could you possibly sum up (so I can have my come-backs prepared for the next "the free market will solve it" discussion I get into?) Seriously, would like to know your views.

The answers seem simple enough:

1. small communities (neighborhoods, villages, towns) Think New Hampshire-esque where decisions are always made at the local level not just by elected officials, but the real input and vote of the people. This must trump national input on all things but those that are truly international, e.g., treaties, war powers, etc.

2. Localization. This must be undertaken by the locals themselves. It can only succeed this way given the base must be as in 1. (Examples: the video.) People must lead their municipalities in this direction to show them what is possible. However, if municipalities do not devolve much power back to the neighborhoodish level, this too will fail.

3. RRR.

4. In the US, you are literally looking at a Constitutional Convention to more clearly elucidate the division of power and specify local powers from State and state powers.

5. Capitalism must die. It must be replaced with something closer to the barter system and usury, of any kind, made, again, illegal. Usury leads to inflation and never-ending growth at speeds we cannot adapt to in a healthy fashion. Imagine how different a world this might be had banking, and more so, the fractional reserve system, not been created. Imagine how different it might be had population taken eons to rise to current levels instead of decades.

None of this is going to end greed, of course. That is why communities that are tight knit and strong at their core must exist: to stand against individual evil without stifling individual expression and production.

If, at the very least, usury is not removed from the equation, none of this is truly sustainable. We will, regardless of the systems adopted or adapted to, go through he same cycle in the future. Perhaps a simple way to put is this: we should strive to live in such a way that the only cycles of destruction we experience are natural ones. Cycles are real and inexorable. But I think we have some choice as to which types of cycles we submit ourselves to.

6. As alluded to above, we must choose harmony with our environment. Cuba provides a surprising example how this transition can start, though given the totalitarian model there, it might not be so easy in non-totalitarian nations.

The devil is in the details of implementation. In some ways, this may take care of itself. That is, if TSHTF resulting in TEOTWAWKI, those places prepared will prevail and their standard may become the de facto standard for that area or region. So the question applies only if we don't fall to the worst case scenario.

Let's say we end up with an extended recession, i.e. depression. This will leave the powers that be (TPTB) intact and lead to a long fight to realign socio-economico-geopolitically. In this case, small localization groups/transition towns will have to go toe-to-toe with TPTB. This will lead to conflict. That conflict might well be, and ideally would be, civil disobedience leading to redress and realignment. However, governments being what they are and human nature being addicted to power as it far too often is, more likely you would be looking at the imposition of military/paramilitary power to impose the current paradigms into the future. Again, the people would have the choice of open rebellion or the long-suffering, Ghandi-style rebellion. Not sure which Jefferson had in mind when he said a little rebellion is good for a nation.

None of this is going to happen without conflict if things get rough. In some ways, the worst that could happen for Freedom and The Pursuit of Happiness is for the S to not HTF. That's not advocating any open rebellion, but is a recognition of inertia. If the inertia doesn't get a shove, things will remain the same or completely collapse. Remaining the same, however, actually means get much worse as we drift further and further into a drone-like state of living. (Once again, Sci-Fi provides the vision of what is coming...)

Given what the population of the US has faced the last seven years, our shearing is nearly complete. Indeed, where are the protests? Where is the national strike? Where is th impeachment? 1776 is too distant. The Founding Father's voices muted, even considered quaint. Given this reality, how can anything happen except at the very local level? Yes, that is where it is starting, and where it must start - and end.

My vision is of a world that remains connected regardless of how good or bad the future becomes. The internet and other forms of mass communication must remain intact and must be a high priority for any and all groups of whatever size. Knowledge and information must remain available for those that need it. Communication must remain open to allow coordination and sharing of ideas, developments over time, etc. But, our day-to-day lives will almost certainly have to become far more pastoral. This does not mean science and advancement should not exist, but that it should be applied to making our lives healthier and happier in the holistic sense, not in the now-bankrupt idea of acquisitiveness. I envision a hobbiton-esque community with a gleaming understructure of hi technology. Smart houses based on renewable energies, mass transit except where impracticable, etc.

No matter how you slice it, to get to a sustainable world, not just a sustainable local community, we are looking at a shift in scale equal to the great changes of the past, e.g. The Dark Ages. With a great deal of luck founded in a great awakening, this might be The Light Ages.

My head is probably far up my arse, but this is how I see it right now. Specifics are beyond me, I think.


The Aldeia Project is really familiar. I walk almost every day an avenue very resemblant of that main street facing the church; but I especially like the weather cock.

"A small country to be born. The whole World to die."

I have been watching peak moment on youtube for about 6 months. It is not polished but the information seems good. It is alot more positive than most places I visit. It seems more solution oriented. I think there are over 70 different videos so far. Depending on your topic, it is worth a look.