Michael Bradham

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Cities can be designed in consideration of our genes.

At times in history nomadic herders opposed settled agriculture. Moving around to fertile pastures let previous pastures revitalize. Their stool fed plants.
Settled agriculture is when humans stayed in one place long enough that stool piled up to the point it got reused as fertilizer, spread across crop fields. Their stool fed plants.
Cities are when humans stopped growing food, stool often no longer used to grow food, but dumped into waterways/ocean. Their stool fed whatever grew from it in the ocean. Genes of humans no longer relate to food eaten, because genes in stool no longer feed plants.
Genes of nomadic herders were closely tied to physical movements required to care for animals, get food, and move to fresh pastures.
Genes of settled agricultural people were closely tied to physical movements required to care for animals, grow food, but not related to moving to fresh pastures.
Genes of people living in a city are closely tied to physical movements required to live in a city, but not related to care for animals, grow food, or moving to fresh pastures.
I grew up in NY. I lived 3 years in Hawaii, 2 years with no vehicle, cultivating land, being around animals, and performing physical exercise hundreds of years old. Returning and living 1 year in NYC, I realize all the inanimate objects that inhibit proper posture and peace of mind.
Inanimate objects influence genes because they hinder vision, movement, sunlight, wind, posture. Living in a city may limit influence of genes that keep people alive.
Can a city be designed in a way that does not inhibit genes that keep humans strong? I think they have in past. Probably Aztec empire was one. Do you know of others?

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    Feb 2 2014: your question demands more research and it is also a very interesting and thought provoking.

    definitely cities spatial design has an effect on peoples psychology and physiology, the topography on which that design is imposed also matters.
    most present cities fluorish out of economic reasons and purpose how can this be mesh and blend with 'inanimate objects' is a deeper question.

    i think apart of the biological consideration, you can also take a look at some books,

    David Harvey's " The Urbanisation of Capital", "Concoiusness and the Urban Experience".
    Also, Jane Jacob's; Birth and Death of American cities' and other books,
    Murray Bookchin "From Urbanisation to Cities".
    you can also look Patrick Geddesses ( a biologist ). , Evolution of Cities.
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    Feb 4 2014: Living close to the earth and learning within everchaning forever vital natural environment, feeling the essence of life, becomes a dream these days - the human population is growing rapidly creating its artificial conditions for "survival" and piling up its poisoning garbage.. We have paid for those "jobs" that in general make no sense toward improving our lifestyle. The city jobs and lifestyle are retarding our mentality and physical bodies.

    I came up with some solution to re-build our western "world" by creating small societies/villages/towns, where we may learn about the basic nature of sustainable living. Local organic farming, local sustainable schools with their own gardens to grow and harvest, new wise sciences learning and discovering without manipulating nature, new ethics with respect to uniqueness of every individual living being - and somehow comprehending that we are not a huge crowd of similar units whos needs can be standardized by gigantic industrial monsters.

    How great would be to be challenged by a different climate, local natural resources and discover new possibilities in dealing with them without demolishing/ poisoning these precious gifts from the earth - it's still ahead of us to find out.

    New comprehensive practical learning "on premises" - urgently needed.
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      Feb 5 2014: Your words hit me like sweet music.
      Are your solutions for United States land?
      Do the solutions involve being quiet/listening/learning from Native Americans?
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        Feb 5 2014: Practically any land. It is always very challenging but the efforts are very rewarding.
        We work with a group of very knowledgeable architects, engineers, scientists etc, who believe in this Futuristic-Town concept as a powerful solution to fix our postmodern mess. We still depend on donations and contributions. We need faithful volunteers especially within the area where we will be working. Native Americans? if they are willing to collaborate with us they can start Pioneering the whole country.

        The very inspirations are based on this unique combination of sound old traditional practicing and helpful innovative technology.

        Please ask any questions you wish.
  • Feb 3 2014: Not sure if I believe that the Aztec's really followed your hypothesis. Since their society was based on slavery and human sacrifice. I am not sure any society has been able to create this type of city.

    By the way, you sound like a surfer - North Shore, Mokuleia? Started surfing before skegs. 8>))
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      Feb 3 2014: “A deeper study of this society would no doubt bring to light profound contradictions which in their turn would explain those internal tensions that the community sublimated from time to time by forms of ritual. The origin of these contradictions would have to be sought in the superimposition and mixture of the differing cultures, that of the Toltecs, passed on by the settled inhabitants of the valley, and that of the nomadic tribes to which the Aztecs had belonged, which together made up the Mexican civilisation as it was at the time of its discovery by the Europeans. Native thought was dominated by dualism – in this case that which set up Quetzalcoatl against Tezcatlipoca – and this dualism is also found in the education itself.” (Soustelle, "The Amazing Aztecs" p.172)
      I think it depends on collaboration of those who move around live off the land, with those who wish to stay in one place. The Aztecs may have done that, maybe not. Interesting though how jungles can be dense with plants and animals, but not city made by hand of man.

      Whoa! before skegs, heavy boards and heavy waves man. I surfed a lot, satisfied with that.
      • Feb 3 2014: Yup very heavy and a 5 foot wave was considered big 8>)) - ended my surfing with a gun.
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      Feb 2 2014: Thought provoking writings Brendan.
      I agree with the urban architecture brain architecture relation. It seems ways to cultivate the mind already exist. I think exercise and dance practiced by cultures who realize and value this left-right brain balance.
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      Feb 2 2014: Read your abstract. Exciting words backed by research, excellent read. Thank you for offering.
      Egypt always intrigues me. "Recently read Art Across Time" by Laurie Adams. Provides an overview of many religions, gods worshipped, and art produced. Timelines concluding each chapter related style/period, works of art, and cultural/historical developments; with time. Not much concerning left-right brain, but many images and written languages.
      Maybe populated places that do not emphasis written words have strong relations between plants, animals, and humans. You have inspired.
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    Jan 30 2014: Well, what happens to our feces and urine now? Are they burned? Maybe they could be transported to farmlands? I've heard that human feces don't make good fertilizer that they carry many harmful bacteria but is it true?
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      Jan 30 2014: For a long time feces and urine was dumped in ocean.
      "In 1988, Congress passed the Ocean Dumping Ban Act, forbidding ocean disposal of sewage sludge by June 30, 1992." (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wwsystem.pdf)
      The waste now gets treated at waste treatment plants. But, with heavy rains, overflow does happen. Ive surfed south shore Long Island at these times, water has a distinct stinging taste on the lips.
      The end products include fertilizer pellets, lime, and material to add to compost.
      Correction to idea statement: "Cities are when humans stopped growing food, stool often no longer used to grow food, but dumped into waterways/ocean. Their stool fed whatever grew from it in the ocean. Genes of humans no longer relate to food eaten, because genes in stool no longer feed plants."
      Seems that human stool from cities does feed plants.
      Many ways to reuse waste on farmlands are currently practiced; composting toilets, composting in large plastic bins with sawdust.
      May be consider two people:
      1. A couple lives in forest. Picks fruit from trees, digs up roots, grows vegetables and grains. They perform physical actions necessary to grow the food. Stool is properly composted and used as fertilizer. Their physical actions and stool feed the plants they eat.
      2. A couple lives in city. They perform physical actions necessary to stay alive. Their stool is mixed with thousands of others, then properly composted and used as fertilizer. Their physical actions are removed from growing food.
      I think the genes of couple 1 in the forest would influence the plants they eat.
      I think the genes of couple 2 in the city are lost in the mix.
      I not claiming either lifestyle right or wrong.
      I think many cities were designed without thinking of the physical actions necessary for couple 1 to survive in the forest.

      NYC DEP pdf: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wwsystem.pdf
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        Jan 30 2014: it seems to me, Michael, that any strategy one adopts for waste disposal will have its benefits and disadvantages. If you do it the old-fashioned way, just on the ground, it will feed into the plants right near you that you may eat; but it will also stink and perhaps attract viruses that will harm you? If you flush it down a toilet to a plant, maybe the plant will use it for compost for crops and some of those crops might make their way back to you; but any crop that travels a distance loses some of its vitality versus one you grow right near you and harvest. So I guess it might come down to what lifestyle you prefer, some people prefer to be in a city, and whether you think you are sacrificing anything and can accept the amount of sacrifice.

        But why do you think some people prefer to be in a city? Is it that they prefer to be in a city, or they just can't handle the challenges of rural life? Some people say they enjoy the arts scene in a city, but potentially you can do the arts out in the country as well?
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          Feb 1 2014: I don't understand your post. When you write "you", are you writing about me?
          Some internet research concerning feeding plants with stool may provide you answers to your questions.
          If you wish to know reasons the people you write about prefer to be in a city, then asking them may provide you answers.
          You mention crops losing vitality after traveling a distance. I think also the human to plant gene relation also loses vitality.
          Many cities already grow a lot of food within, many do not. I think buildings with vegetables would work. Also buildings with animals. If humans can live in buildings, then why not plants and animals too. The idea I have is that cities can be designed in consideration of human genes. Also that the human genes that keep us alive can be influenced by a city. Human genes depend on plant and animal genes, therefore need to be closely related to one another, otherwise human genes may get very confused. Now I am confused.
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        Feb 2 2014: no, by "you" I meant people in general. One question in my mind is, if you begin to grow animals and vegetables within the city, after a while maybe it's not a city, it's just another agricultural area? So maybe you're really suggesting that everyone farm, instead of just having some people be farmers and some people live in cities without farming?

        You live in New York city, right, Michael? Why do you do so? Do you raise some food yourself? If you did raise food would you fertilize it with your own feces and urine? But would you then have an odor problem? How would you cope with it?

        You might be interested in the Masai people of Kenya. When they build their huts they use the dung of their cattle to make the roofs. The dung dries out and thus doesn't smell?
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          Feb 2 2014: Thank you for clearing up the "you" misunderstanding.
          A city can still be a city if some buildings have animals and plants in em instead of humans. I am suggesting that humans hold on to relations with plants and animals within a city. I am interested in observing cities designed considering these relations.
          I visiting family in NYC. I grow no food here.
          The huts of Kenya interest me.
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        Feb 2 2014: well, offhand, I would think it would be too expensive to build buildings just to house plants and animals? Maybe that's why there is a division between city and country, you can put smelly animals and possibly smelly crop-growing areas out there in the open, and not too many people are affected.

        I wonder if there's any product that would take the bad smell out of feces and urine, or cover it up, but still keep the nutrients? That's what you're saying, that the nutrients in the human waste are valuable?

        Now how important is this to you, Michael? Is it a case where you would like to grow some of your own food and nourish it with your own waste products? Let's say it's too hard to do that in the city, would you then move to the country so you could do it? Or perhaps your home base is already in the country?
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          Feb 2 2014: "I wonder if there's any product that would take the bad smell out of feces and urine, or cover it up, but still keep the nutrients?"
          Waste treatment does that. Composting does that.

          Last paragraph of questions is too personal and not necessary.
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        Feb 5 2014: well, to make my question more precise, Michael, is there any way for someone who is growing food on a very small scale in a city to take the smell out of their own feces and urine and put it on whatever they're growing? For example, I live in a suburb of Los Angeles called Glendale. Here we have community gardens, you have to get on a waiting list and when your name comes up you can rent a plot in a community garden, these gardens are fenced and there are about 30-60 plots in them, only the people renting the plots have a key and can get in, then you can grow plants on your plot. Your plot might be 12 feet long by eight feet wide. So if you save your feces and urine at home, is there some way to get the smell out of them so you can put it on your plot and not bother the people around you working on their plots? I know a little bit about home composting, but I've never heard of it taking the bad smell out of things.

        As far as the questions being too personal, well, the personal is rather interesting and I think would help us understand your position in this conversation better and probably bring some light on the issue you've raised.
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          Feb 6 2014: Some internet research concerning feeding plants with stool may provide you answers to your questions.
          I am not qualified to give you advice on this topic. Please do not ask me any more questions.
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        Feb 6 2014: Well, dude, I wasn't necessarily looking for professional "advice." I have found that many times people have great ideas even though they're not an expert on a subject and I can pull out their ideas just by asking. I thought that might happen with you. Yeah, I know I can go on the net, but it's pretty enjoyable too to talk to a live person and see what we can find out together. I will say, it does sound to me like you're pretty convinced it's a good idea to put your own waste on your food plants (I agree), and if you actually go ahead and do it sooner or later you will probably encounter the odor problem.
  • Jan 29 2014: No. That's not how it works. If you believe it is how it works, please explain your model in terms of the actual biochemistry involved. HOW do these "inanimate objects" supposedly "influence genes"? What are the mechanisms? What are the pathways?

    I'm a biologist, you sound like you are talking nonsense. Please show me how it is not nonsense. Prove me wrong.
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      Jan 29 2014: I not a biologist. Got no biochemistry of mechanisms or pathways to describe.
      This is an idea I had. If you write about how you believe it works, then I will read it.
      • Jan 29 2014: In that case, challenge accepted! It looks like you are feeling around for an idea based on observations but you don't really know what the underlying systems are, so you make do with what vocabulary you have. That is actually a good place to start, since you are honest about it. Knowledge of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom, as you no doubt already know.

        Believe it or not, your ideas actually already may have some parallel in modern neurobiology and molecular psychiatry. I'll be mulling it over.