Community Resources

Bobby was still in the drawing with Naomi. His niece’s jungle had come to life, and whatever they added manifested in her parallel world. They could draw things whilst they were inside the drawing, but this was a laborious process as each item had to be detailed individually. It was much better to draw whilst outside the drawing, where large changes could be made easily. They had already drawn roads, railways, power lines, and factories. Their Village was coming to life.

“Let’s build some houses now,” said Naomi. “Everybody needs somewhere to live.”

“What kind shall we have?” said Bobby. His hand was beginning to hurt from all that drawing. Who used a pencil these days? They were awkward to hold. Why did they have hexagonal profiles? Wasn’t it easier to cut and paste images?

Then he felt inspired. He took terms he’d overheard – smart growth, green building, small footprint, and airtight – and strung them into a sentence. He wasn’t quite sure why he did it. Did he really need to impress his ten-year-old niece?

She frowned as he drew the houses. Each feature he added elicited a new twist to her facial expression. There was something on her mind. “Well, what do you think?” he said, proud of his compact, low-rise, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly, mixed-use development based upon principles of urban intensification, and championing long-range, regional sustainability over short-term parochialism.

“I don’t like it,” said Naomi. “I want a nice house with a pretty garden and fences around it, and lots of open windows for sunshine and breezes. I don’t want to live in a small, sealed-up box with other boxes above it, and below it, and on both sides.”

Naomi wasn’t in tune with the new guard of urban planners, innovative architects, visionary developers, and community activists. She was a traditionalist, a reactionary, an enemy of resource stewardship best practice.

She had told him off already for using up all the trees in the drawing to make electricity poles and railway sleepers, and made him draw new trees for lumber to build her extravagant residences. He didn’t like what she was doing but couldn’t stop her; she had a right to manifest her own world. So he said, “Okay, Naomi, why don’t you draw big houses, and I’ll draw apartment blocks.”

“Okay,” she said, having started drawing before he’d finished the sentence. “The happy families can live in my houses, and the lonely people can live in your boxes.” She looked up from her drawing. “Is that all right?”

Housing, however, was not just made of wood. They’d also need metal. Bobby drew in some mines – surface mines for minerals, and sub-surface mines for ores. He included protestors at the former, and trapped miners in the latter. Even drawings must be realistic.

Once the ores and minerals were extracted, they were sent to factories in the industrial park at the edge of the Village. Nails, screws, nuts, bolts, beams and girders were produced to build the housing, and extra metal was cut, machined, turned, threaded, ground, filled and fashioned into other useful goods. They were simple things initially like tools and weapons, then jewellery and engine parts, and later boats and rockets. Their village transformed quickly from a low-tech to a hi-tech society.

As Bobby and Naomi continued drawing, their new world’s elements increased and connections multiplied exponentially. Soon their Village was a place of televisions, radios, newspapers, and books; then landlines, cellphones, workpads, laptops, and desktops. Everybody was connected to everybody else. Each object was manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold, before becoming obsolete, disposed of, repurposed, or recycled. Nothing was just what it was in the drawing. Everything was something else.

“Uncle Bobby, I’m getting a headache,” said Naomi.

“So am I, sweetheart. Shall we take a break from drawing?”

“Yes, let’s listen to my iPod. You can have one earphone, and I’ll have the other.”

They needed to disconnect from this crazy world they’d created. Naomi clicked through the screen menus, selecting Ambient>Instrumental>Nature>Jungle Sounds.

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