– by Mark Lakeman

An extended version of the short article published in CoSM Journal of Visionary Culture ‘Community’ edition.

It’s really simple. This is our home. We live in these patterns that tell us little about ourselves. Instead of realizing that this is our home, we are living in a reality that is literally an invasive set of patterns. We have been swept up by a huge wave of colonial and cultural disruption of extreme violence. The Roman military grid has us all zoned and isolated so we wouldn’t recognize the ecological basis to our reality. Once we wake up to that, we realize this is our home, our planet and our people. Maybe it was ok for us to go down and be tortured, but now we realize that this is torturing our neighbours children and that this whole confusion is going to take down everything that is sacred and precious to us. The creative urge of reality is getting its ass kicked by this insane confusion that is manifesting through us. Peak oil and global warming is giving us a great common cause. In six years, if we don’t reduce emissions by 90% across the planet we are dead. This ecological expression is going to create alarm and motivate people to each others service. This challenge facing all global and local communities is the greatest most unifying crisis we have ever had in the history of the world. If world peace ever had a chance, it’s right now.


Community Design Charrette Photo : Sara Dent www.farmlove.org

In our colonized condition, we have individuated and think we are separate. When we talk about community, people tend to think about getting together with people outside of themselves. It’s simply that there are larger scales of self. We are part of these greater scales, collections of friends and different subcultures are all selves. You can’t even speak and be heard without another person. You can’t even be fully in your participatory, creatively expressive self without another person being there. We need each other. Even as you are sitting there thinking you are all alone, you are made up of millions of people and billions of micro-organisms. There is no separation between self and community. The question is whether you are opening up to see that your self extends to all these scales including the planetary and the cosmic. Where did your parts come from? Probably there is a comet in you, and if the universe has done this a few times, expanding and contracting explosively, then we are connected to everything.

The idea is to come outside, get off the couch and do something with other people. Placemaking is a reflection of the vision and participation of people in a place. We focus on creating functional artifacts which can attract people to get together around a common conversation, transforming a space people might previously pass through, into a place where people can gather. These things stand in shining contrast to the product driven landscape all around them, they are a poem and a metaphor embodying sustainability. They could be made out of natural building materials and can demonstrate ecological design principles. Thousands of people pass by every day, and somewhere deep inside, or maybe right close to the surface, realize they have never thought about that before. The idea is to open them up.


Photo : Sara Dent www.farmlove.org


Permaculture Pencil art by Ben Tour www.thetourshow.com

Placemaking is ecological, it pays attention to the direction of the wind and where the light is happening in order to capture that light and rain, turning waste into a resource. It’s an integration of everything that we can take into consideration in order to create memorable, beautiful and functional public gathering places which are resilient over time. Our focus is on design as a means to engender relationships between people, facilitating a process by which people will come together in their neighbourhood to create something intentional and permanent. We have painted intersections and built little installations but we are still in this position of needing to motivate and activate.



Photo : Sara Dent www.farmlove.org


Permaculture Pencil art by Ben Tour www.thetourshow.com

The role of placemaking is to motivate and activate. As communities and neighbourhoods we have painted intersections and built little installations.

The role of placemaking is to motivate and activate. As communities and neighbourhoods we have painted intersections and built little installations.


Photos : Sara Dent www.farmlove.org


The great revelation of placemaking is to realize that the earth is our home. When you look at any human settlement where people are adapting to the land and building out of what is available, it becomes an expression of their earth based intelligence. Place is not a thing that someone external can design, it’s something that has to emerge from the ground where people are.


Photos : Sara Dent www.farmlove.org


Community is built best through using our bodies together, sweating, singing songs, handing things to each other and carrying things. As we create together, it reflects us all.

permie mark

Permaculture Pencil art by Ben Tour www.thetourshow.com

Mark Lakeman is committed to the emergence of a thriving and sustainable cultural landscape. He seeks to make every design project one which will further the development of a community vision using urban design, placemaking and ecological building.