Small Community (Urban) Planning. What is minimum critical infrastructure?

(.) #45

Be the change you want to see.

(noboxes) #46

This post is not to attack you or your dream. I am only giving counterpoints you may want to consider in planning, since the post title is about planning…

I think you are assuming there will be enough people who will want to live together with people they have never met before, at sea, on someone else’s barge, paying higher rent than they would on land, with extremely limited access to everything they are accustomed to on land. You may want to consider which way the windows views are aimed, noise abatement, water travel methods and comfort, and cost (installation, operation, distribution, and maintaining) of each piece of infrastructure.

I want to leave land because i am not allowed to garden, have animals, or put up solar panels or a wind turbine, and i have 12 acres! There were a lot of other rules made up over the last 20 years, due to people living nearby, except they are still shooting guns and burning garbage. I am not about to go seasteading and live within miles of anyone. It’s possible you will have a mix people who will be hermits in their shipping container, and those who want to be outside and doing projects, but you will not know what proportions of these different people you have, and this relates to space allotments and layout in your floating town.

The infrastructure of your floating town isn’t attractive to me, because i cannot rely on the infrastructure where i am now. Keeping your systems up will be more difficult than on land.

(.) #47

Happy holidays to everyone!!!

(noboxes) #48

The approach i suggested to start Marinea in the Cay Sal Bank, the small linkable platforms with minimal infrastructure for “rent”, was considered (at least, by me) because what people want and need when they voluntarily meet up and stay together isn’t really known. There may be many points of normal land-based infrastructure they will want to use and pay for only once a year, if ever. They all may prefer to be more self sufficient than you plan on. They also may prefer to be more mobile, or less mobile. The economies of scale may vanish if 50% of the town refuses to use your sewage system, and where you can park the town may depend on everyone being connected to your sewer.

I firmly believe a small fact-finding project is needed in the real world, out there, on the water, somewhere boating people can find it, you can gather hands-on data, and together you make decisions.

(.) #49

I do not have a dream, so it cannot be attacked.

(Larry G) #50

No being snarky, Jeff. Modern appliances contributed greatly to freeing up earning potential for women in the 1900s.

(Larry G) #51

That’s because I wrote most of that Wiki page and that is what I am interested in. Please feel free to contribute to the Wiki.

But note that most villages around the world are collections of individual family-sized residence, and yet they manage some degree of integration and common areas and infrastructure. Most villages are minimalist in infrastructure due to economic factors, it is reasonable to presume many seasteadng villages would be as well.

Don’t be lied to with statistics. That may be a true-ish factoid based upon the aggregate amount of goods transported divided by the number of people in the USA. That doesn’t mean that an average person individually requires movement of 40 tons of freight every year.

For example, you buy a new truck, boom! There you go, you had 3 tons shipped to you. Probably more because it was shipped in stages and probably got counted multiple times. It also doesn’t account for whether that freight was shipped from Seattle to Portland (175 miles) or from Raleigh North Carolina to Los Angeles (2540 miles). It doesn’t account for stuff that is trans-shipped through the US to other ports. If you could somehow theoretically determine how much shipping an individual uses it would have to be counted more realistically in tons/mile, not merely tons.

But you don’t do that every year, or even every other year. Many people never buy a truck, some people buy several over the course of a lifetime. The lifestyle choices these people make determines how much of what is being shipped. New lifestyle, new needs. Those who self-select to go seasteading are almost certainly not shipping as much stuff, and most of it will be durable goods.

Lots of stats get thrown around to support certain points of view, to shock, amaze, or even inform; but fail to make you think in logical connections.

Self-sufficiency doesn’t necessarily have a direct correlation to “how much gets shipped”. Self-sufficiency in MY book means enough local production to cover local needs and a profitable surplus that allows financial resources to import that which is more economical to import than produce locally. It simply means that the local economy can’t be totally consumption based upon resources stored up before moving there from elsewhere. This latter is the fundamental problem with MS The World- it’s a retirement playground where membership is based upon being rich enough to never be productive again.

Collecting is the hard part. But how many things are you aware of that are constructed of manganese alone? Of course one can print 3D plastics from a variety of stocks, but does it make economic sense when stocks from shore (including shipping costs) are MUCH cheaper?

I think a focus on trying to be different is less useful than focusing on solving problems.


As a part of hygiene, clean clothing is a good thing. Often the best feeling part of my entire week is a really thorough bath/shower, followed by clean clothing.

I, personally, have lived in situations where doing laundry, by hand, using creek water, having a hot shower, using creek water, was routinely followed by my one major social event, that of attending church.

Perfectly acceptable, even in a stodgy community.

I didn’t bathe every day, it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t wash clothes except as needed. I certainly didn’t make extra, unnecessary trips to the creek for wasteful quantities of water to achieve that goal of good personal hygiene, in a survival/minimalist mode, applied to a social context, and I lived for about 7 years in that situation, attending weddings, funerals, community gatherings for holidays and other occasions. Very few knew, or even cared about my personal endeavors. I met the appearance standards, was healthy, etc.

I stand by my claim, based on extended personal experience, regardless of someone else having misperceptions of the supposed need for energy and water wasteful devices.

I’ve made and used manual washing devices out of 5gallon plastic buckets and plungers, using minimal water, achieving excellent results, even working as a farm hand, mucking horse stalls, keeping hogs, etc., and STILL managed to haul creek water, wash laundry by hand, etc.

CAN people meet hygienic needs, including clean clothing, without the use of wasteful machinery and excessive energy and water usage? Unequivocally, I answer with a resounding YES, with years of personal experience doing so.

(Larry G) #53

Excessive is a value-laden word, specific to the individual. Wasteful in this context is the same. Railing against modern appliances is not a way to win converts. The question is not whether something CAN be done the way it used to. It’s whether it makes sense and is desirable to do so. Modern appliance free people from time-consuming tasks to do higher-value tasks. If you have no higher value skills to provide, and no higher values tasks to perform, knock yourself out. I’ve got better things to do than wash laundry by hand.

I have certainly endured situations where daily bathing was not feasible. It’s not a choice I would make lightly to eschew the possibility of daily bathing. It’s a value I hold, and going against that will also not gain a great many converts. It’s simply not a position worth espousing. At best, saying that someone might have to give up some conveniences to be more free can be acceptable, but dismissing the value in convenience is a losing proposition. It simply doesn’t ring true for people.

Now, if you tell me you have chosen me for your fully-funded, fully-designed and already-constructed mission to Mars, but I will only be able to have a sponge bath every two weeks for the duration of the mission, I would consider that. It’s all about how important things are in relation to other things.

All of this is somewhat far from the question, about minimum critical infrastructure. One must make SOME provision for hygiene. One must make some provision for cooking, sleeping, safety, waste elimination (biological and other) keeping temperature within life limits, water, etc. How you do that and how conveniently will determine how many people follow you. In an emergency situation that can be pretty minimal for some period of time. In a frontier situation it can likewise be minimal with a promise that it will get better. As a simple change in lifestyle from one place to another, it will not gain much momentum except among a few extreme personality types.

(Larry G) #54

So look for guidance on designing resorts and apartment complexes or condominiums. Private developers would have a better graspe of what is useful to people than urban planners. Urban planners get to impose their vision, private developers have to sell their vision.

Critical infrastructure is that which, if unavailable or affected negatively, puts people at risk of harm. Everything else may be useful but it’s not critical. The utilities you propose are probably CI. But even that can be highly distributed. Water catchment for example. Most likely is specific to each structure, since even if interconnected, they won’t actually share a contiguous roof. Same with solar power. Telecommunications probably benefit from aggregation and reselling access to the service, but this is most like private industry.

For minimum useful infrastructure for profitable occupation and economic growth, some things in your list would be consolidated. Frontiers don’t have “convenience stores”, they have “necessity stores”. People may buy luxuries there as a special thing, but the main purpose of such a store is to provide things that cannot be manufactured locally (either practically or economically).

So if you’re planning to provide space for such functions rather than expecting each seasteader to build their own, you’d want a general store that includes hardware, durable goods, groceries, etc and probably separately, a marketplace/market space for local exchange among local vendors and manufacturers (town square/commons/fish market/farmer’s market/flea market/swap meet space.)

Personally, I would expect that running a general store is a seasteader occupation. If I intended to do that, I would design my seastead to support that and provide my own space that could simply be adjacent to my market demographic (tie up to other seasteads). It could still be run as a Co-Op.

Meeting space- not sure if you mean like a convention center, or a conference room, or a town hall. Or even the fishmarket concept above. Frontiers typically have multi-purpose spaces for stuff like this rather than dedicated. The Inn might have a common room, the church is a meeting space, the school auditorium, non-profit orgs like grange halls and fraternal organizations have space. Weddings are often performed in all of these kinds of places.

Harbor/dock space is a necessity, and one of the first pieces that probably requires coordination amongst the population rather than simply benefiting from it. Individual seasteads could and probably would have their own docks for tying up a boat, but a larger harbor/marina requires coordination to use fruitfully and safely.

Transportation is a service. Without certain types of transportation (roadways for wheeled vehicles or fixed rail) there is not much need for transportation infrastructure other than a harbor/marina, and perhaps some radar tracking and beacon services (the latter of which can easily be provided by subscription or service fee by private enterprise.)

Personal services: medical, barber, salon/spa, massage, prostitution, tattooing, tailoring… space/shelter for any of these are best provided by the entity providing the service, just like any business owner.

Restaurants, entertainment and hotels- provide their own space. Possibly in the same structures. Banks/money exchange/financial & tax services/accountants the same.

One seastead occupation may be simply leasing space to these other business ventures. Strip malls and shopping centers choose to accept customers based upon optimizing the mix of complementary businesses quite often.

Schools are another topic that is often contentious. A well-educated population is fairly necessary to a free society. But publicly-funded schools are not the only, or often the best means of achieving broad-spread education. They are simply a means of gaining cost savings and streamlining convenience, not necessarily giving the best product. Increasingly, large physical schools are not necessary with the advent of modern communications and collaboration technology.

(Tom Schaefer) #55

Larry, Thank You! for taking the time to respond so thoroughly.

  1. I agree 100% with your definition of self sufficient, until the SHTF and then the dependency on under-resilient suppliers drags you under with them.

  2. Agree about the general store, but I’m pretty certain a workshop, it’s tools, and work area should be common to save costs. I’ve been thinking about buying a log splitter and this has brought this issue into real focus. Circular saw: Yes, I have one. Tractor with PTO: No. Log splitter: In a grey area. So on a seastead, is there a need for a drill press? Yes. But does everyone in a seastead group need one? No.

  3. Until a sufficient number of personal service providers join the seastead, I consider medical/dental and barber critical services and provisions/shared cost should be arranged for them. When it comes to “prostitutes”, there are health issues regarding their role as common infrastructure, so if envy can be put aside, I think I’ll keep my wife and maybe some concubines (maybe with some medical training?) privately :wink: .

  4. Agree about the schools. Young minds grouped together become targets for marxists.

  5. I think leasing or renting space to service providers and businesses is a great idea! Maybe a dentist floats up for a day or two every month, and then off to the next seastead group.


My own current attempt in business ventures is in Anaerobic Digesters. Taking organic materials, generally wastes, treating them, producing both safe, sanitary liquid organic fertilizer, which can be used in hydroponics, and Biogas, which can be upgraded to pure Methane.

(noboxes) #57

Much like the space station, or a trip to Mars, a seastead may lack built-in opportunities for physical exercise. Yet, in itself, an ordinary stationary bike is the most wasteful thing i can imagine. Coupling it to a 5 gallon wash tub to wash a couple of day’s laundry while one wastes time on TSI makes a lot more sense. It doesn’t mean at another time one would just push a button on the bucket and go check the garden (and pick lunch), or wash the solar panels, or change a reverse osmosis cartridge, or any of the many other physical tasks that do not make use of all your IQ points. Some people make time to do physical tasks they enjoy. Got a loaf of dead bread you won’t eat?, give a few minutes to break it apart and toss it to the chickens or ducks.

(noboxes) #58

If this is a topic that needs addressing at top levels, i’ll live somewhere else.

(Larry G) #59

Does everyone in a seastead need to be taxed to provide one in common? My point would be that if I anticipate needing a tool (or whatever “X”) then I will either provide my own X, contract with someone to use theirs (Hey Phil, can I borrow your X for 10 minutes? Sure, Larry- as long as you bring it back right away") or find another way. I don’t need a central plan to provide X for everybody universally. Some people don’t want or need X, and making them pay for it is not fair or useful. Without being sexist, through personal experience I know that my wife will NEVER willingly use a drill press. If she needed drill press services, she would be incapable of using it. She will willingly pay somebody else twice as much to do it for her. It frustrates me often that she will just go out and pay somebody to do stuff that would take me ten minutes and no incremental cost out of pocket if she would just let me do it on my own schedule. But I digress.

When you say “arranged for them” that implicitly means to me that you will decide what the terms are, and provide them whether they are requested or not. It implies they are incapable of arranging for themselves. It implies you are providing the resources to enable it, which must come from somewhere, presumably as a mandatory contribution from all possible parties (not just all interested parties).

If I were a barber, I wold not want to be limited to the space and fee structure, hours, and customer base that was “arranged for me”. I would want control of those things myself. I might pay someone to do them according to my wishes, but I wouldn’t want someone who has no interest in or understanding of my business to set me up arbitrarily.I wouldn’t want to have to provide my barbering services to everybody without possibility of refusal because they had pre-paid via a tax and have an entitled right to the service.

The market makes these things are available for purchase (even as a service or in time slots) in the amounts one determines necessary for a price the parties can mutually agree upon. Very few things are necessary to provide via a mandatory tax.

I threw the prostitution thing in there a bit tongue in cheek, but also to demonstrate the futility and undesirable nature of centrally deciding and arranging things “for” all the people.


A review of “utility” in a microeconomics textbook would explain that more fully … for anyone interested in understanding how relative importance can be calculated (in a general, theoretical sense).