Opening Up the Original Green

fields and forests on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   I believe it’s time to open up the Original Green... let’s discuss your ideas on how best to do it. I’ve always intended to open it up for everyone to use once it properly matured. Andrés Duany followed a similar course with the Transect, holding it close to the vest until it was robust, then releasing it for everyone to use. Today, the Transect is broadly useful to many people. There’s no reason the Original Green can’t be widely useful once released, too.

   The last several weeks have been fascinating on several counts, including the fact that the Original Green book has been released, but it’s possible that the most important event might have been the CNU Open Source strategy session on the opening of the Original Green. Here are some of the things we discussed, in the order in which we discussed them:

Original Green Voices

fields and forests on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   Every Original Green blog post to date has a single voice. That’s about to change. Ann Daigle wrote a piece on the Original Green and the Transect that will become this blog’s next post. Look for it in the next few days. If you have noteworthy insights on issues either surrounding or central to the Original Green, please write them up and send them in. This blog should be our voices, not just my voice. I’d like nothing more than for there to be such a flood of great ideas that my posts become a small minority of the total number.

Original Green Patterns

fields and forests on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   We’re going to find a way to build a resource bank of Original Green patterns that everyone can contribute to. Likely, it will be a wiki of some sort. I’ll set the graphic standards, then everyone will draw up their own patterns. The standard likely will be similar to that which I’ve set up for the Living Tradition series of books so that patterns from this series can be used, jump-starting the process.

Original Green Principles

enormously tall waterfall on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   We’ll develop a series of illustrated Original Green principles that anyone can download from the site. The idea is that if your project embodies Original Green principles, you ought to be able to promote it as such, without having to write up every word and draw every drawing from scratch. Obviously, the idea here is to help those who are upholding Original Green principles to set themselves apart from others who are not.

Original Green Standards

fields and orchards on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   This one will likely take some time to develop, and we need to do other things first, but Original Green principles could eventually lead to Original Green standards. Could this turn into a rating system someday? Possibly. What about LEED? This system should be supportive of LEED, not competitive with it. If we move forward with this, my objective would be to create a simple and transparent system that does two things: rates places and rates buildings. Multiply your place rating by your building rating to get the total rating, so a good building in a bad place doesn’t get it, nor does a bad building in a good place. One person should be able to produce a neighborhood rating in an hour or less. One person should also be able to produce a building rating in an hour or less. And it should be free. Quoting from Apple, it should be “a rating system for the rest of us.”

Creative Commons

north shore of Hawaii's Big Island

   We’ll look into Creative Commons licensing to help assure that the free resources are not misused. I don’t yet know precisely how this will work, but the intent is to make sure that both the core principles and the resources can spread freely.

Original Green Presentations

enormous gorge on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   A few of the Original Green presentations given to date are already posted on this site’s Presentations page. Eventually, I’d like to post most of them, or at least most of the recent ones. Download them and use them wherever they’re useful in your work. The only thing I ask is that you don’t alter the images or the text on any of the slides... but feel free to pull out the slides you need and rearrange them any way you like. And if anyone asks, tell them where you found them, so that they might find something useful here, too.

Original Green Buildings

fields on the north side of Hawaii's Big Island

   If you either find a building that’s especially representative of Original Green principles and patterns, whether it’s new or whether it’s old, please photograph it, write a story on it, and send it in. It can even be one of your buildings... just make sure that it is as Lovable, Durable, and Flexible as it is Frugal. I’ll eventually take the best of these and write a book about them.

Original Green Places

north shore of Hawaii's Big Island

   I plan to do the same thing with Original Green Places. Matter of fact, I’ve already done one blog post on South Main. Take a look at it as an example of the amount of writing and photography you’d need. As you can see, you don’t need a ton of images... just make sure they’re good ones. Also, please follow the general layout of the article, stepping through each one of the Original Green foundations the place fulfills.

   What do you think? Let’s talk about it!

   ~Steve Mouzon

Note: If any of the images above are useful to you, they’re available at high resolution for printing or download on my Zenfolio site. Just click on the image and it’ll take you there.

Legacy Comments

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 05:12 PM

Mary Vogel

I can feel your energy and excitement, Steve!  And yes, I want to participate.  But, since you are using landscape images, I wish more of these images actually depicted original green landscapes--i.e. native species rather than the turf grass or hay crop or other alien ornamentals that they do.  I have plenty to share from the PNW, but most are not the aerials you have up here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 02:49 PM

Steve Mouzon

Mary, you're exactly right... the things we illustrate should align with our principles. In this case, while plant material in most of these images looks very exotic, there's a reason for that... most are aerial shots of a nature preserve on the north side of the Big Island of Hawaii. I should have said that somewhere in the story. I'm not sure what the pasture grasses are in a couple of the images, but everything in the images looks other-worldly due in large part to the muted sunlight sliding in underneath the blanket of "vog" (volcanic fog) hanging low on the slopes above. I used such unusual images to try to signify that this may be an unusually momentous time (I hope) for the Original Green... not that any of this is obvious ;-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 02:52 PM

Steve Mouzon

One more thought... my friend Andrés Duany is absolutely rigorous about making certain that the essence of and reason for every image used is made very clear to the observer. That's a discipline that some of the rest of us need to develop. Too often, I assume that if the meaning is clear to me, it'll be clear to everyone else. Not so, of course.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 09:22 AM


These pictures are just amazing! I really like the idea of blogs about Original Green Places.  This helps to "paint the picture" I think. And like the OG says, "you first have to have OG places before you can have sustainable buildings".

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