Biophilic Living. Sustainable Design. Holistic Wellness.
Welcome to Nevaeh Wen, a holistic living community connected to nature on the outskirts of [A Major Metropolitan City]. Our vision and overall philosophy is simple: To live as we were created to live: in harmony with ourselves, with each other, and with our environment. In the words of Yiran Wang, “All we have are the connections we make.” These connections are physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, occupational, intellectual, and social. At Nevaeh Wen, we consider holistic connection to be our top priority. Holistic Connection is that connection to ourselves, to each other, to the world, to the earth, and to the universe. Our main method of accomplishing this is through a combination of Environmentally Sustainable Design and Biophilic Living. Biophilia literally means “Love of Nature,” and its benefits are all-encompassing: from societal (lowering the crime rate) to environmental (lowering the Urban Heat Island effect) to personal (improving cognitive abilities and emotional wellbeing).
Our purpose, our mission.
Guiding our city’s growth and development are a number of Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development, as defined by the United Nations General Assembly, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” But it goes much farther than that. Perhaps an even more modern definition of sustainable development is “the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services on which the economy and society depend.” Each of these goals is equally important as all the rest, as they are all interconnected with each other.
End poverty in all its forms, everywhere. Imagine not having to worry about money. Your job actually provides a decent enough living to meet all of your basic needs, from shelter and clothing to health and education. Imagine living in a community where your education, your health – mental, physical and spiritual – as well as your social safety – are also considered basic amenities on top of the regular water, sewer, trash, electricity, and clean, running water. Every citizen of our city has open access to social protection and social services, healthcare for both body and mind (yes, including vision and dental because we don’t see these as separate from the rest of your body), and education all the way through University-level Higher Education, as well. Our economy here is circular in nature, meaning that every business in Nevaeh Wen is community owned and operated by our citizens. While not all of our citizens choose to work here, everyone that works here is a citizen. And, our economy is real, whole, and complete. We have everything from cooperative grocery stores and gourmet restaurants and farmer’s markets to live music, theater, dance, cinema, and art. We have tourism destinations with nature trails for hiking and horseback riding and bed-and-breakfasts. We export some of our surplus goods at outside farmer’s markets as well as open our basic services to the “general public.” Here at Nevaeh Wen, there is a career for everyone with every interest, hobby, or talent.
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Nevaeh Wen’s housing is divided up into “districts,” each with its own community “micro farm.” Each garden in that district has its own “Master Gardener” who oversees the general operation of that micro farm. Members who live in each district are encouraged to participate in the tending, maintenance, and harvesting of their district’s micro farm, and are educated as to the benefits, of both mind and body, that they will receive by doing so. As an extra incentive, work hours are logged onto a digital “Key (to the city) Card” that can be redeemed at the “extracurricular,” “comfort,” and “luxury” levels. As a way of ensuring sustainability of each micro farm, produce supply is distributed on a ration system based on the nutritional needs of each individual member of that district. On top of the agricultural spaces in each district are “Edible Landscaping” throughout all of Nevaeh Wen’s walking, hiking, and horseback riding trails. Children walking home from school in the afternoon can enjoy fresh blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries right off the vine, or perhaps an apple or peach or orange, depending on the time of year. All walking trails lead to the heart of our city, where we have the “town square”, or “Centre.” Here you will find the cooperative grocery store that is owned and operated by the members of the community, a handful of gourmet “from farm to plate” restaurants using Nevaeh Wen’s Alpha Farm, from which we bring the produce sold each week at the Farmer’s Market we bring into the metropolitan area.
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In the words of the United Nations, “Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty.” Nevaeh Wen provides educational opportunities all the way from preschool through your PHD, at no cost. We have several preschools, elementary schools that go from K-5, middle schools that go from 6-8, high schools that go from 9-12, and an accredited University that provides Higher Education at no cost for members of the community. Our approach to education is unique in that we use the Holistic Education method, which is, in a nutshell, the method of educating the whole person, beyond just the “core curriculum.” Holistic Education is “a comprehensive approach to teaching where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format. Emphasis is placed on positive school environments and providing whole-child supports (services that support academic and nonacademic needs, also known as wraparound supports) to students.” This means that students are actually taught to reflect on their actions, and how they impact the world around them. They’re also taught how to learn from the world around them, as they grow up seeing the entire universe as their school. All learning is project-based, which means that not only are our students learning the core curriculum subjects, they are also learning how to apply critical thinking skills toward solving real-world problems. The benefits of Holistic Education go way beyond mere knowledge. Not only do you end up with improved academic achievement because you catered the teaching method to the needs of each individual student, you’re also going to have enhanced mental and emotional wellbeing, increased problem solving ability, and a reduced impact of inequities. Long story short, children who grow up in Nevaeh Wen are going to be better prepared for the world when they join the working force.
Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all ages. As mentioned above, all of these goals, like all of us, are interconnected with each other. Perhaps the best example of this is how education ties into poverty ties into health. Healthcare for all of our community members is free, paid for by an allotment from taxes. Our on-site facilities are state-of-the-art and are mostly staffed by our citizens as well. “House calls,” are no longer a thing of the past, as we have on-call family practice physicians who will come to you if for whatever reason you aren’t feeling well enough to move. The layout and design of our city is centripetal, meaning that everything points inward to the main town square (but really, it’s a circle). We have made it so that Nevaeh Wen is 100% walkable, with walkways, bike paths, and hiking trails weaving through that never even cross a road or street. In fact, we’ve built the drivable streets in such a way that it’s actually more convenient, if you’re traveling within the city limits, to just walk or ride a bike (or a horse, if that’s your thing!) to wherever it is you’re going. Again, it can’t be stated enough that Nevaeh Wen is, by design, a Biophilic City. And the benefits of being immersed in nature are extensive, proven to support cognitive function, physical health, and psychological wellbeing. We’ve incorporated biophilic design into our offices to increase productivity by 8%, creativeness, and well-being by 13%. We’ve incorporated it into our schools to increase rates of learning 20-25% as well as reducing the impact of ADHD. We’ve incorporated it into our healthcare spaces to increase post-operative recovery times by 8.5% as well as reducing the use of pain medication by 22%. We’ve incorporated it into our retail spaces, increasing sales by 8-12% as well as dropping crime by 7-8% by incorporating into our homes. But if the statistics don’t convince you, just take a walk through town, and in between playing on all the jungle gyms we have scattered throughout, feel free to pick an apple from one of the trees, or some blueberries from one of the vines…
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The United Nations says, “Conflict, insecurity, weak institutions and limited access to justice remain a great threat to sustainable development.” The accuracy of this statement can be seen just by reviewing the events of 2020 and early 2021 in the United States. From the inefficient response to the Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter protests and the White Supremacy reaction to those protests to the January 6 insurgency on the Capitol, the only other time in history where our country has been this divided against itself was during the Civil War. The evidence speaks for itself: where there are inequities, inequalities, injustices and insecurities, there is also instability. And where there is instability, there is unsustainability. Promoting a peaceful and inclusive society isn’t just about equality between races, or gender equality, it is about reducing the inequalities in every category. This is what’s going to promote a peaceful and prosperous community. Not only do the majority of our walkways and bike paths not cross any main roads where there might be motor vehicles driving on, these paths are well lit, with call boxes every 100 yards for use in an emergency. While we do have a police force to deal with actual criminal activity, we also have a Mental Health Emergency Services Team who will usually be dispatched in place of the police. Rather than sending the police to a situation more appropriate for a licensed mental health professional, such as a non-criminal emergency involving either a mental health crisis, a domestic disturbance, public disruptive behavior, or just substance abuse, we just go ahead and send the mental health professional. We are not the only city to be doing this; more and more cities in the United States are realizing that this approach is more effective in actually solving the problem, rather than exacerbating it with unnecessary jail time or police brutality. It not only saves money and allows the police to concentrate on law enforcement, it saves lives.
Weaving the Urban Fabric of a Sustainable Civilization
Nevaeh Wen’s urban fabric is modeled after Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities, and especially reminiscent of my own hometown, Greenbelt, Maryland. Laid out in a centripetal wheel pattern, the city is traversed “from center to circumference,” by eight main boulevards, evenly dividing itself into eight equally sized districts. Starting in the center and moving out from there in concentric circles are the main avenues connecting each of the districts. At the center of town beats the heart of the city, with the Town Hall, Law Enforcement and Mental Health Crisis Teams, Fire Station, University, Hospital, Theater, Concert Venue, City (Alpha) Farm, Community Center, Recreation Center, Restaurants, Shops, and Cooperative Grocery Store. Immediately across the main avenue connecting the heart of the city is the “Central Park,” a greenbelt wrapping around the downtown district and containing lakes, streams, hiking trails, playgrounds, and seasonal activities, including an ice skating rink in the winter, “Shakespeare In the Park” in the Summer and Fall, and botanical gardens in the spring.
Each district has its own different theme of architecture, from Bauhaus and Art Deco to Craftsman, Mediterranean, and Ultra-Modern. Bisecting each district while tying them all together is another “greenbelt” park wrapping all the way around the city as its own concentric circle. Inside this “greenbelt” is where you’ll find variously themed community learning science centers geared specifically to a particular branch of science (i.e. biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, etc), public schools ranging from pre-k on up through 12th grade, and art/music exhibits, all comfortably mingled with a variety of religious and spiritual denominational and non-denominational Houses of Worship and connected by walkways and bike paths and trolleys. The idea behind this rather diverse “Melting Pot” approach is so that children growing up in Nevaeh Wen will come to appreciate the balanced and symbiotic relationship that science, art, and religion actually have. Each district also has its own park, playground, micro garden, cooperative kitchen, health clinic, gym/recreation center, shopping/entertainment/business district, and housing community, all of which are each “individually wrapped” in its own greenspace, and connected through a series of walkways, bike paths, and trolleys.
Housing is made up of an even mixture of apartment buildings, duplexes, and townhouses, and are allocated based on the size of the family. Every building in Nevaeh Wen is built using a combination of rammed earth and structural insulated panels for maximum environmental sustainability. Each rooftop is comprised of Solar Roofing Tiles as well as other technologies utilizing both hydropower, wind power, and thermal radiation. Sewage and Water is recycled and reclaimed in a cyclical fashion, with predesigned plumbing strategies already taking the guesswork out of the separation and treatment. Rain gardens throughout make use of what mother earth bestows, as well as melted snow in the wintertime. Waste is collected through sorting cans throughout the city. Recyclables are recycled, and waste is used for biogas fuels and other purposes. Composting bins are also strategically placed throughout the city, not just at the community gardens and micro farms. All of our recycling, composting, biogas manufacturing, and sanitation and treatment facilities are what line the perimeter of the city, along with our domestic product export facilities, so as not to disrupt the flow of the design. With that said, they are also designed to have zero toxic releases into the environment.
Along the main avenues, roads and boulevards of Nevaeh Wen is where you will find a variety of public transportation services, ranging from electric cars and buses to trolleys running on electromagnetic tracks. While these services are for everyone equally throughout the entire city, they are in fact designed with our senior, elderly, and disabled population in mind, and are accessible and accommodating as such. As already mentioned, the design of the roadways in Nevaeh Wen is strategic and purposeful in making it quite inconvenient to drive a personal vehicle anywhere but on the boulevards that simply head straight out of town. And even on those eight boulevards heading out of town, you have access to trains and buses that will take you right into (the) [Major Metropolitan City].
Given the fact that all of the vast variety of businesses in Nevaeh Wen are owned and operated by the Citizens of Nevaeh Wen, it’s implicit that we not only have our own economy, but this economy is circular in nature. In other words, we are self-sufficient, with exports of our own ranging from excess produce from our Alpha Farm that we sell at famers markets in surrounding cities, to clothing, jewelry, crafts, art, music, and of course, excess energy production from our various alternative energy systems. Looking at it from the perspective of a business as a whole, our philosophy is to “promote from within,” literally raising our children, through the Holistic Education talked about above, with open minds, open hearts, and open opportunities, as well as empathetic guidance, and professional instruction, allowing them to pick their own paths best suited to their individual talents, passions, and goals, so that when the time comes, should they chose not to stay and work in their “Hometown,” they are fully prepared to meet the challenges of – and contribute to – any other city they decide on moving to. In other words, perhaps our finest and most valuable “export” is the man or woman who was raised here.
A final note on our culture, our politics, and our vision. We believe in inclusivity, peace, and understanding – even where there is disagreement. We believe in laying a foundation of guiding principles based simply and solely on What Works and What Doesn’t Work, rather than political agendas furthered by propaganda backed by personal preferences, petty differences, and pocketbooks. When we say that ours is a government “Of the People, By the People, and For the People,” we actually mean it. And a person, by definition, is a human being. We don’t go by race, age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. We believe in the difference between Equality and Equity, and we value the importance of Equity as it pertains to actually taking the time to understand and meet the needs of the individual. In fact, the Milken Institute of Public Health, out of the George Washington University, says it best: “Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”
Our City Counsel serves as the final decision maker, and is comprised of the heads of each department working together to ensure a smooth operation. Regular surveys and votes are done via a website, as well as “stations” throughout the town. A weekly “Check In” at town hall is held, and all citizens are encouraged to attend. This not only includes regular topics such as infrastructure maintenance and community events or issues, but also serves as a safe space to work out whatever deeper issues are at hand. Examples include arguments between neighbors, crimes committed that can be dealt with in more constructive ways than incarceration, and anything else the community deems necessary. As an added service, for those adults new to Nevaeh Wen who don’t have the benefit of having already been raised here, we also provide free seminars in those things that, through no fault of your own, you were just never taught; things like: Personal Finance, Relationship Values, Mindfulness, Survival Skills, Mental Health, Sustainable Living, Human Rights, Applied Mathematics, Sociology and Anthropology, and Nutrition. We teach these things, not only to our children, but to our parents as well, for the simple reason that we believe that the majority of the problems facing today’s society stem from an ignorance of these basic – but essential – life skills.
And we believe you, the Newcomer, deserve the same opportunity your child now has. Thank you for coming, and again, welcome.
And on those days that you head out of town into the bigger city, be it for business or pleasure, or both, be sure to take a look in your rearview mirror, and see the Nevaeh Wen Welcome Sign smiling back at you. For it will be in that moment, that you realize the importance of going within.
While Nevaeh Wen is quite obviously a fictional city, more characteristic of your typical “Utopian Society” than a modern American Development (and I certainly slacked off on Photoshopping together a stunningly attractive brochure to hand out), I beg to differ on the notion that it just isn’t possible. Or feasible.
For one thing, I grew up in one of three “Green Cities” built during FDR’s New Deal initiative. So I know they exist. All three of these cities were inspired by Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement. Ebenezer Howard himself was able to build two of his envisioned Garden Cities, over in England, and they’re still around today. There are Sustainably Designed Cities springing up all over the world: Sweden, Germany, France, are all waking up to the need for Sustainable Communities, and are already taking the initiative to build them.
In this particular description, I’ve listed nothing that isn’t already being tried somewhere else. Nowhere in this imaginary town is a technology that we don’t already currently have at our disposal. If Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui could design and engineer Machu Picchu to not only survive 700 years through numerous earthquakes and an average of 77 inches of rainfall each year and not just mudslide right down off the mountainside its built into but actually use all that water for irrigation, drinking water, and bathing water – and keep all of them separate – then I’ve got faith in our modern day engineers to figure this one out as well.
As for the educational and political systems, and the “too-close-to-communism-for-comfort” universal healthcare, just check out Finland, with their education system, France, with their Healthcare system, and Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands with their governmental systems and their listings on the “Happiest Countries In the World” blogs, and tell me how this isn’t possible. And since Denver, Oakland, Portland, and Eugene have already started sending Mental Health Emergency Teams out in place of Law Enforcement, maybe we’re not that far off after all.