Let's look at what all this MC stuff would mean, visually. How would MC environments compare to normal environments, aesthetically? Keep looking . . .
“Before”: Above are side and top views of a typical neighborhood arranged to keep neighbors apart with physical barriers. The neighborhood as a whole is characterized by clashing styles, and is a conglomeration devoid of harmony. Compare this drawing to the revamped neighborhoods below. Compare them, using both your eyes and your heart.
MC with Trellises: This is a revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood (the first illustration above). It is now an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area with connecting walkways and one landscape style (trellis and vines) throughout. An unoccupied part of one of the houses serves as the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Japanese Style: This is a revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood (the first illustration in this section). It's now an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area, connecting walkways, and one landscape style (Japanese) throughout. It contains one other architectural enhancement: a central structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Colonial Style: This is a revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood (the first illustration in this section). It is now an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area with connecting walkways and one landscape and architectural style (Colonial) throughout. It contains a central structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Dome: This is a revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood (the first illustration in this section). It is now an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area with connecting, enclosed walkways. It contains a central dome structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Tree House: This is a hillside-version revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood (the first illustration in this section). It is now an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area with connecting walkways. It contains a central tree-house structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Condominium: This is an example of an MC design utilizing existing condominium units and connecting walkways. An unoccupied part of one of the units serves as the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with Row Houses: This is an example of an MC design utilizing existing row houses. An enclosed corridor (see cutaway) has been added to the back of the building. An unoccupied part of one of the units serves as the focus of connectedness for the MC.
MC with RV Park: This is an example of an MC design utilizing an existing RV park. It contains a central structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC. The enclosed walkway to one vehicle demonstrates how some or all connections between RVs and the central structure might be handled.
MC with Apartments: This is an example of an MC design utilizing existing apartments. The central hub of each floor (one MC per floor) serves as the focus of connectedness for each of the ten MCs.
MC with Apartments: This is a floor plan of the previous apartment building. Notice how the central core serves as the focus of connectedness for the MC as well as for vertical transit via elevators and stairs.
Walkway enclosures are a way of keeping toddlers safe as they toddle around an MC, but some setups will choose not to enclose walkways because garden trains are used to move kids around or kids get accompanied in transit or there are surveillance systems in place or there are no young kids in the MC. Enclosed walkways are not necessarily a permanent fixture of an MC. They can be enclosed until no kids are under a certain age, like 3, 5, or 7, at which point the sides and roofs can be removed so that merely the walkway paths remain. Various types of brick, stone, wood planking, or cement patterns are possible for the walk in an enclosed walkway so enclosure removal will likely result in simple paths needing no revamping. Or due to weather or climate factors, the enclosures may remain indefinitely. One could donate the wood and glass of dismantled enclosures to Habitat for Humanity.
Normal Walkways: These walkways have no railings or roofs. They’re merely normal walks. Brick, stone, cinder block, wood planking, or cement patterns are possible for the walk. We recommend this walkway type for Japanese or other types of gardens, or for suburban block homes when there are no young kids or potential neighborhood dangers or inclement weather.
Walkways with Railings in MC: These walkways have railings (solid wood, 6” o.c. between iron or wood bars or use stone or brick) but no roofs. Various types of brick, stone, wood planking, or cement patterns are possible for the walk. Some walkways may be elevated at least 7' off the ground so they may be walked under as well as on. They have strong railings to prevent any possibility of anyone falling off. They can be used between condominiums, houses, apartments or block homes when some of the homes are up-slope or down-slope from others. The style is also compatible with Japanese or other types of gardens and when there are no potential neighborhood dangers nor inclement weather.
Walkways with Roofs in MC: These walkways are walks with roofs added (which may be plant-covered trellis roofs) for protection from rain, snow, or direct sunlight. They have no railings. We recommend this walkway type where some protection from the weather is required or where greenery is emphasized and walkways de-emphasized, and children are not very young.
Walkways with Railings and Roofs in MC: These walkways have railings and roofs for some protection from rain, snow, or direct sunlight. We recommend this walkway type where some protection from the weather is required, and where railings will make it safer for small children.
Enclosed Oriental Walkways in MC: These walkways are fully enclosed, with glass paned sides and tilted or flat roofs. Japanese-styled (small, horizontally-framed, 6" by 12" panes of glass predominate) sides furnish plenty of character. We recommend this walkway type for Japanese gardens in which there are potential neighborhood dangers and/or inclement weather concerns.
Enclosed Walled Walkways in MC: These walkways are fully enclosed and contain screens, glass, slats, bars, or trellises. We recommend this walkway type for areas in which there are potential neighborhood dangers and/or inclement weather concerns.
Glass Enclosed Walkways in MC: These walkways are fully glass enclosed (large panes). We recommend this walkway type for areas in which there are potential neighborhood dangers and/or inclement weather concerns, and a desire for higher landscape visibility.
Mixed Enclosed Walkways in MC: These walkways have combinations of large door-sized panes of glass, slats, stone, or brick fencing, etc. We recommend this walkway type for areas in which there are potential neighborhood dangers and/or inclement weather concerns, and a desire for higher landscape visibility.
Walkway Detail: Example of uncovered walkway on a slope.
Gate Detail: Example of a gate between the connected back yards and the outside, in an MC.
MC with Train: This is another revamp of the previously-depicted typical "Before" neighborhood. Here is an MC design with a central, enclosed, back-yard area, connecting walkways, one landscape style throughout, and a central structure constituting the focus of connectedness for the MC. In addition to walkway connectedness, this MC design contains light-rail connectedness in the form of a small but rideable railway for caregiving convenience as well as amusement.
You might create a unique back yard for your MC with a small railroad for transportation between all the homes and the hub/station. Here's how to do it.
Your yard train can be for recreation, transportation, or, more likely, both. It consists of a small-scale (approximately 1/8 to 1/4 of true scale) locomotive and several freight/passenger cars and an optional caboose. All cars are big enough to sit in, including the locomotive. The train would go three miles per hour for safety, especially if engaged in the transport of babies or small children.
The train would be used mostly to transport kids from one caregiving situation to another-usually from the train station (hub) to a home or vice versa, since the hub is likely to be the dedicated child-care center (among other things). The train can effectively transport anyone or anything to any other place in the MC. The yard train runs on tracks-like regular railroads only much smaller. For MC purposes, it needs to go in one direction only, and no switches are needed, although these sorts of accessories are fun to play with, adding realism to your MC's railway simulation.
The train engine has four to eight rechargeable car batteries. Batteries recharge automatically when the train sits alongside the hub-which is also the train station. These batteries run a silent electric motor that drives the train. Steam-powered, diesel or gas engines would be unfeasible in most urban or suburban settings because of the noise and pollution, but in some rural or semi-rural settings they are possibilities. They would never compete with electric motors for convenience of use and environmental feasibility, however (as long as the electric motor-driven locomotive's automatic recharger operated properly).
The train uses simple elevator-type technology to operate, in which the following specifications apply: The train can be called from any home by the simple push of a button. The train can always be stopped with the stop button pressed by someone sitting in the locomotive. The train is on level ground and can be pushed by hand without much difficulty, in case of mechanical difficulty or batteries low on juice. Use of a centrifugal clutch, a clutch-activation lever, or a simple transmission with an available neutral would be needed in order to allow such pushing, since the motor would be geared down considerably before the drive train reached the wheels, making pushing an ugly task without the availability of one of these features. For recreational purposes, the use of a multi-speed transmission would allow more exciting rides in addition to baby-safe rides in "low" gear.
The train stops at any home where a "call" has been initiated, but stops at no home where a call has not happened-just like an elevator.
The train ALWAYS stops at the station, although a person in the locomotive may immediately start it up again. The train, when not at the station, but after it has stopped for 60 seconds anywhere else in the MC, will start up and return to the station-its default location (just like an elevator returning to the lobby). If it encounters any "call" signals on the way, it will stop for them, after which it will begin its 60-second timer again. Normally, people who've called the train will use the train when it stops at their home, rather than letting it sit idle. They'll get in (or load a child into the train) and press the "go" button or wait for the automatic restart in 60 seconds. The timer can be adjusted for sitting time from 5 to 300 seconds.
Safety: There is no electricity in the rails, and if the locomotive is hitting/has hit something it will auto-stop. Freight cars and locomotives are a mere 4' to 6' long and are not very heavy. The locomotive doesn't need CB or radio control, or anything else complicated, and would be fairly light as well. Safety belts would be needed for situations where people rode the trains for fun at higher speeds. Young children would use child-safety seats, too.
Stop-and-go priorities can be handled with: Pole-mounted controls for stopping the train, located at each home and at the station. These controls flip off slightly protruding levers mounted on the locomotive that are off levers for battery power to the locomotive's motor. Each house has a two-foot "stopping" pole mounted in the ground and this pole has a slightly-protruding lever-tripping rod mounted on it in such a way that it can flip the locomotive's off switch as it passes, if the rod is in the extended, "call" position. If no train "call" has been issued by the home, the rod will be in the unextended position and the train will pass the stop.
The locomotive-mounted off switch is built in such a way that when the switch is turned off "on the fly," it starts up the 60-second timer that turns it back on. The locomotive's off button-on the cab-mounted controls-also starts up this timer. The cab controls are stop and go buttons. A very young person wouldn't be expected to, nor would s/he need to operate these controls, since the locomotive, like a well-trained pet, will automatically return to its proper place of waiting: the station. Or the train can be made to stop at any house by use of a "call."
A "call" from a house is done with a button in the home's train call box that not only extends the rod on the home's "stopping" pole-mounted off control (by use of an electromagnet-one could easily modify the mechanical parts of a standard doorbell chime, for instance) but also turns on the train's motor (indirectly) if the train is resting at the station. The station has two slightly-protruding control rods on its "stopping" pole instead of one. One (always extended) stops the train by turning off motor power on the passing locomotive, just like at the homes' stopping places. The other (extended except when just called) deactivates the automatic 60-second timer that restarts the motor. This is the control rod that all call boxes activate electromagnetically (they withdraw the normally-extended rod).
But once the locomotive begins to leave the station, there is a mechanical reset mechanism for the timer-deactivator rod. The "stopping" pole at the station has no unextended no-stop position. So the train always stops and awaits a go command from either the locomotive's cab controls or a home's call box. (But if a call is issued from a home and the route the train must take to get from its present nonstation position to the calling home includes passing the hub-station, then, although the train will stop at the station, it will automatically proceed to the calling home after the 60-second timer elapses, since the timer was never deactivated.)
The train station's "stopping" pole also contains safety-guarded, battery-recharge wiring that engages automatically when the train is at the station. The station needs no call box, since the train stops there unconditionally. So, to send someone from the station, bend over the locomotive and press the go button. Do the same to send someone from any home stop (but at home stops there's the option of waiting for automatic start-up). Of course, as soon as the people being train-transported are old enough to run the train controls, they can get in (or be lifted in, since an 18"-to-24"-tall car or locomotive needs only an external loading platform, not an openable door) by themselves and press the go button, as well as the stop button. Each passenger may encounter an automatic stop due to a train call at his/her home or other homes along the way. But s/he may perhaps be returning home on his/her own, in which case there may not be any train call in effect at his/her home. S/he will have to press the stop button when s/he reaches his/her destination.
The train station (which is also the MC's hub) will have a telephone that is connected to all homes, and will have walkways to each home as well. The station may or may not have call boxes for each home-they could come in handy if babies are the freight. This wouldn't be necessary, however, since loading a baby on a train would always be done in coordination (using the telephone) with the caregiver to be found at the destination home. That person, who has a call box at his/her fingertips and who expects to be unloading a child soon, will push the call button so that the oncoming train with the baby aboard stops there.
If you decide to build a central MC structure and walkways or railways on your block, you'll want to check your local zoning laws before you break ground. Zoning laws can vary from strict to lenient. Remember, if you think you have great obstacles to overcome regarding your local zoning, that zoning laws and regulations are designed to serve the citizens of the community; so if enough people in your community are setting up MCs, you should not have any trouble being able to get a variance for your particular situation, and eventually a change in the regulations for your community.
Our research tells us that, in general, zoning laws will allow the creation of common spaces with or without added hub structures, (as well as PSB wires as long as they have adequate clearance, do not cross streets, do not pose a danger, and do not interfere with or conflict with existing cable TV, phone, or electrical wiring):
As long as there is no crowding of structures that would violate the local fire safety regulations or high-density residential building restrictions (such as one that allows no more than 70 percent of a lot's area to be covered by buildings-this is mainly a solar access issue).
As long as a Block Plan has been submitted to and accepted by the residents of the neighborhood, and then given city approval. In most suburban block planning regulations, there is wording such as "Flexibility in providing for buildings and uses whose impact would be largely limited to the block should be allowed under the block planning process . . ." Where a city lacks such block planning documents, they can easily be added via the city council or other bodies of city government. Developing common areas in the center of-or elsewhere on-blocks is not uncommon. As long as the structures involved, like all structures, have undergone the building permit process, where a plan is submitted to Permit Services and checked to see that it conforms to the standard requirements for structural strength and safety.
As long as population density is not radically affected (MCs would either have a small effect, when elders or others live in the central structure, or no effect, when no elders or others would live in any type of additional structure). As long as setbacks and height requirements are satisfied or variances regarding such building codes are obtained.
Cottage industries must not introduce noise, pollution of any type, odor, traffic or retail sales into suburban neighborhoods. Ideally they'll reduce traffic and pollution because automobiles are not needed to get to work or child care.
It might be advisable to consult an attorney regarding issues about joint development of central block structures and common areas, with regards to the legal details surrounding ownership, wills, etc.
When a Block Plan is in effect, it replaces the lot-by-lot, zone-regulated development process that formerly governed. To the extent that block members wish it to, and city and neighborhood approve, the Block Plan can revise yard requirements, land-use arrangements, height restrictions, parking requirements, minimum lot sizes, etc. It can stipulate changes in the use of rights-of-way, acceptable building types, and so on.
A "block" may be defined as all the properties on both sides of a one-block length of street, or it may be all the properties enclosed by the city streets and sidewalks in an area; i.e., all properties one can get to without crossing any street. The former is auto-centered; the latter is people-centered. This latter definition would prevail in MCs so that there would be safe and easy access to common areas, walkways, and hubs that would be tangent to or central to three to twelve properties on the block, and so that there would be no need for children or wires to cross a street.
Block planning can work to give residents real power over their own environments. It's a good-possibly the best-way to get MC plans accomplished within any given locality. Its main drawback is that in some cities, governmental processes that need to be engaged may not be very speedy.