Sunday, November 29, 2009

Proactive Public Education In America

America’s Redundant System of Education

Did you ever ask yourself why education in America seems so entirely disconnected from anything that has anything at all to do with accomplishment? I mean, when was the last time you looked at your own unique set of educational credits and asked yourself just exactly how much that set of credits has contributed to your own professional success?

If you’re like most Americans today in 2009, whatever education you have acquired in the past ten, twenty or thirty years has most likely been reduced to a frustrated if not altogether angry essay on why you ever took the time to get an education in the first place. As very little of what has been taught in any educational institution anywhere in America can up until today in 2009 explain why with all of this teaching we as a nation are economically dead in the water, an awful lot of Americans are really quite disturbed over the fact that abiding by the institutional principles of education has left us more or less, collectively stupid and insolvent.

Having said this, here’s a few questions:

Regardless of your particular field of expertise, do you find yourself wandering in that field in hopes of finding a much broader sense of connectivity to others in your field?

Do you find other fields of expertise that seemingly have no bearing on your own absolutely fascinating?

Again, if you’re like most Americans, you can easily answer yes to both of the above questions.

Why is it that we in America place such extraordinary importance on the development of a human educational system whose singular goal is to “prepare us for the future” when in fact once we supposedly complete our education, we are not in any manner whatsoever, capable of managing the present?

Why is it that within an education system that demands more and more that teachers and professors earn advanced degrees for the singular purpose of preparing students to earn even more advanced degrees that no actual advancement ever really takes place?

The singular answer to all of these questions is that in the past thirty years all that we have accomplished through our national system of education is to produce theory after theory on the subject of theory. As we have evolved to the point that within that theory, we can theorize that even our preschoolers must be taught advanced theory in order to prepare them for a theoretical world; focus on intangible theory has all but replaced tangible logic. As logic is benchmarked in actual physical accomplishment and as the day when the need to produce actual physical work is clearly at hand, this singular answer to the above questions presents the ultimate question. How do we once again become a nation of doers?

This author is of the frame of mind that the point of actualizing our 21st century multi-industrial brawn is upon us. As it is, there are clear indications coming from all sectors of America’s industrial marketplace that applied multi-dimensional education is indeed the missing link that must be attached to the actual chain of new American industries we as Americans are supposed to be linking together not in theory but in accomplishment.

Having said what I have just said, take some time to think about the following questions. These questions by the way are entirely non-theoretical in nature.

What does a master carpenter have in common with a master surgeon?

First of all, a master carpenter is not an ordinary carpenter. Whereas an ordinary carpenter can build a three bedroom house and there are numerous three bedroom houses in America, a master carpenter cannot build a three bedroom house. The reason he cannot is that unlike the ordinary carpenter who sees the need to build many three bedroom houses, the master carpenter sees the bedroom as a home within a home. As the ordinary carpenter sees three bedrooms attached to a living room, dining room, kitchen, bath, den, basement and garage, a master carpenter sees the bedroom as a house within a house just as much as he sees lives within lives who live in that house. Knowing that the occupants of any given bedroom will eventually be occupants and owners of homes themselves, a master carpenter has the capacity to consult with a three year old child in every bit the same manner as he has the capacity to consult with that same child once he or she turns thirteen.

While the ordinary carpenter sees the completion of a three bedroom house as the end of his contract with the homeowner, the master carpenter sees the construction of any home he is building as a constantly evolving lifelong contract with all the inhabitants of that home. Whereas an ordinary carpenter is more or less detached from the family once he hands that family the keys to their completed three bedroom home, the master carpenter is given a set of keys to that home by the homeowner who knows that the master carpenter has chosen to warrant the quality of his work by constantly coming back and positively interacting with the constantly evolving imaginations of the constantly growing lives of all who reside in that home.

So what does a master carpenter truly have in common with a master surgeon?

Both of them know how to and actually do use the tools of their respective trades to improve as well as save lives. Both of them are tuned to their tools in every bit the same manner as a master musician is tuned to the instrument that is intricately wired to the heart that compels that musician to delve deeply into the work that is before her. As each of them listen intently to the pulse of their work, they do so knowing that the completed project would not have been completed successfully if in fact they did not know how to use those tools and how at some point in time, those tools and their talents will undoubtedly be required again by the same family. As one of those family members might be just three years of age, ultimately that person will reach the age of thirty three, sixty three and perhaps even ninety three. Thus the master carpenter, the master surgeon and the master musician intellectually conclude that through their constantly evolving manual labors using their tools to not only improve life but using the experiences they gain from living life to improve their tools, corresponds entirely with the physical environment they know must continuously improve as well. As the master surgeon knows that he can only respond to a design problem of the human body if he has an operating room embellished with state of the art medical tools and technologies, the master carpenter knows that by designing and building that environment, both the surgeon and the patient are that much more capable of living full and healthy lives.

What does a master carpenter have in common with an environmental activist?

Absolutely nothing!

As an environmental activist is living in a wholly abstract world of non provable theory, his or hers perspective on what needs to be accomplished is every bit as delusional as that of a psychologist who is living within the same delusional mindset. As neither of these two groups of people have even for a moment done anything other than serve as obstructionists to natural human industrial evolution, they indeed represent to America and the world an overall cowardly fear of change. While there was a brief period of time in America’s history where such skills were required to understand certain social stumbling blocks, that time has long since passed and people like this today are as about as helpful to our nation’s future industrial development as tits on a bull.

What does a master carpenter have in common with a master educator?

A master educator is devoted to the whole life development of a student. A master educator realizes that exposing the student to three dimensional learning enables the student to become a three dimensional thinker. As a three dimensional student can combine mechanical knowledge with how that knowledge is applied to the industrial economy of the community, that same student can under the direction of a master teacher understand as well the human impact of his or her contribution to that community.

What does a master carpenter have in common with a master politician?

The singular role of a master politician is to understand in quite a comprehensive manner, the greater industrial potential of his or her combined constituency. Master politicians are supposed to push social buttons that foster master responses of their whole industrial constituency. Unfortunately, as the vast majority of politicians in America today SHOULD NOT BE IN OFFICE AT ALL, the fact that they are belies the fact that they produce vast cultures of small minded ordinary three bedroom carpenters, environmentalists convinced of global warming and psychologists who have earned the perverted right to invade the minds of those who live in three bedroom homes in hopes that in their combined efforts they will be able to successfully legislate enough social reforms that in doing so will somehow manage to create a new economy. As we remain a nation ruled by abstract environmentalists and psychologists who have been sleeping for far too long with abstract politicians,
what does a master carpenter have in common with an abstract politician?

As the singular role of an abstract politician is to nurture complacency at the expense of inventiveness, the only thing a master carpenter has in common with an abstract politician is the fact that the carpenter who is put out of work by the abstract politician, holds in his hands, the wood, the hammer and the nails that will and always have put the abstract politician into his political grave.

Throughout the history of our nation, abstract politicians have done little more than destroy the naturally occurring creativity of a constantly evolving industrial society. As abstract politicians can’t even be described as intelligent theorists, these men exist for the singular purpose of catching the gravy that spills from the ladle as it is passed from plate to plate from one unemployed and disenfranchised American industrialist to another. As the spills fall and their legislative mindsets compel them to prosper from these spills, they use the arguments of abstract environmentalists and abstract psychologists to legislate for themselves everything from pay raises to healthcare benefits at the expense of natural born American industrial inventors. As the vast majority of American politicians are at whatever level they represent their supposed constituents doing so at the expense of their constituents, their collective dishonesty is indeed the foundation of our failed American educational system as it is as well at the foundation of our failed economy.

As we are clearly a nation who can across the board view the past thirty years of education in our America as having led to nothing more than industrial insolvency, the questions I posed at the beginning of this essay remain:

Regardless of your particular field of expertise, do you find yourself wandering in that field in hopes of finding a much broader sense of connectivity to others in your field?

Do you find other fields of expertise that seemingly have no bearing on your own absolutely fascinating?

As I know the answer to both of these questions is an unequivocal yes, I also know that the reason the answer is yes is due in large part to the remarkably positive and enlightened efforts of environmentalists and psychologists and politicians. As those who read my essays can easily point to my sarcasm and state that I am an activist trouble maker on one hand, it must also be known that I have spent my entire life being an environmentalist and psychologist in every bit the same manner as I have been a politician and a master carpenter. My point here is simple; even though we as a nation collectively realize that change is upon us, we unfortunately have failed to shed the roles of environmentalists and psychologists. As the time for brawn is indeed upon us, in my role as an activist problem solver, I am simply stating that we have got to get moving well beyond the mindset of inactive theory.

As this author believes that it is only the proactive re-engineering of our system of education that will allow us to do so, my essays offer my viewpoint as to how indeed we can. In my view, the best way we can is to look into the physical architectural bedroom environment of a typical American three year old. If in doing so we know that three year old will eventually turn six and we know that when that child does turn six, a new bedroom environment should be designed for them and their constantly evolving creative mind, then wouldn’t it only stand to reason that the ordinary carpenter who originally built that three bedroom house would in the eyes of that three and six year old become a master carpenter, master environmentalist, master psychologist, master politician, master educator, master surgeon and master musician?

Do we have to shape laws that require that we think this way, or do we only have to shape from sound theory cognitive and compassionate 21st century industrial momentum?

M. Patrick Dahlke

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

America's Failed Housing Industry, Failed Economy, Failed Dream

Healthy Homes, Healthy Communities and Healthy Economies
Can Come from Healthy Education.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 120,000,000 homes in America today as of 2009.

The years these homes were built and how many homes actually were built during those years are listed below.


1919 or earlier 9,136,000
1920 to 1929 5,537,000
1930 to 1939 5,993,000
1940 to 1949 7,916,000
1950 to 1959 12,994,000
1960 to 1969 15,292,000
1970 to 1974 10,969,000
1975 to 1979 14,404,000
1980 to 1984 7,474,000
1985 to 1989 8,810,000
1990 to 1994 7,028,000
1995 to 1999 8,794,000
2000 to 2004 9,152,000
2005 to 2009 4,882,000

As you study these statistics, there are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

First of all;

Between 2005 and 2009, we as Americans built fewer new homes than in any other period of time in the past 100 years as this figure is compared with not only the homes that were built but the population of the United States during the years these home were built.


As I am an architectural designer and master carpenter, I am as well, somewhat of an architectural historian.

Having built nothing other than highly artistic, alternative energy homes for the past four decades, it must be noted that like many other master tradesmen and women in America, my love for my craft is rooted to another period of time in our America.


As that time is the Victorian Era, I want you to consider the fact that over nine million homes built before the year 1919 are still in existence in our America today.


Not only are these homes in existence, they remain the human anchor that still 100 years later emotionally bonds many Americans to the remarkable artistic, industrially detailed and more specifically, the overall organic beauty of this era.


Whereas the population of America was but 75,000,000 people in 1919, virtually everyone who lived in this era participated in the growth of what clearly remains today as a powerful reminder of how human artistry and craftsmanship comingled with advanced industrial knowledge to create America’s most notable era of earth based industrial productivity that culminated in the construction of overwhelmingly beautiful and energy efficient American homes and communities.


Today in 2009 and as our population has soared to more than 300,000,000 people, not only is there little human artistry and craftsmanship comingling with advanced industrial home building knowledge, but the few homes we are building today in 2009 reflect our nation’s collective wandering altogether away from home building just as much they reflect our forgotten obligation to community building.

As the value of any given American home is as vague as the economic uncertainty those that live in these homes are facing, our nation’s much more brilliant capacity to overcome that uncertainty by building once again homes that speak quite clearly to the industrially advanced and remarkably beautiful organic architectural brilliance that went into creating homes in the “Victorian Era” and can just as easily go into creating homes of our current “Green Architectural Era” are simply not being built.

The question of course, is – “why” are they “not” ?

This essay is about home construction and renovation.

It is also about public education.

It’s not a “how to renovate your home essay” and it’s not a “how to build a new home essay”.

It is instead an essay on how communities filled with both renovated homes and new homes prosper when comprehensive community reinvestment based upon equally comprehensive and thoroughly quantified organic industrial education is the goal.

• Another set of statistics that might be interesting to you is that the decline in the construction of new homes here in 2009, parallels the decline of construction of new homes in previous periods of our nation’s industrial history.

Going right back to the Victorian Era and to the Post Victorian Era that existed between 1920 and 1939……………..,


1920 to 1929 5,537,000
1930 to 1939 5,993,000
TOTAL HOMES BUILT BETWEEN 1920 TO 1939 11,530,000

………. this particular decline in home construction represented many “historical industrial turning points”.

The first turning point was of course the many manufacturing systems that emerged from the construction of previously hand crafted products that went into building the masterpieces of the Victorian Era.

As the remarkable architectural detail that went into building these homes originated from the hands of tradesmen working with some rather rudimentary hand and/or shop tools, the focus on detail and the subsequent focus on the manufacturing process of these details enabled these tradesmen to develop assembly procedures that could not only expedite the home construction process but mass produce products for the housing industry as well.

The second turning point was the shift from the construction of labor intensive hand crafted homes to the construction of semi labor intensive and semi hand crafted homes whose construction processes were augmented by semi labor intensive manufacturing processes.

While production of such things as windows and doors, sinks and faucets, door and window hardware, ornamental iron work and millwork, etc. were up until this time, shaped by the hand of the tradesman, the tradesmen and the thought he put into the assembly of his finished product simply evolved.

In doing so, things originally shaped by the hand of the tradesman comingled with the machines also invented by the tradesman resulting in “products that could now be shaped by machine”.

As all of this was wonderful and cause for great celebration over the fact that the highly artistic, yet labor intensive accomplishments of the Victorian Era could begin to be automated and in doing so, elevate the status of the tradesman to industrialist, that celebration unfortunately culminated in the short lived roar of of our nation's Roaring Nineteen Twenties.

As America (and the rest of the world) rushed to embrace the manufacturing process, it did as well, rush to embrace an economy that many well intentioned dreamers thought would celebrate the whole evolution of that manufacturing process. Thinking that in doing so manual labor would somehow finally be done away with, a global economy was formed to embrace the few home products that could be manufactured while altogether forgetting about the many other home products and many more complex industrial structures that at the time simply could not.

The third turning point was then, the too late realization of the concept of infrastructure.

Once the roar of 1920s excitement over the collective technological vision of our Victorian Age met the reality that we did not have the infrastructure in place to support the future industrial growth these machines had the potential to represent for our economy, the post Victorian Age, the arrogant social roar of half baked industrial conceptualization subsided or more to the point was quashed by the fact that a much larger and considerably more angry roar was on our economic horizon.
As this angry roar has, over the course of our nation’s most contemporary assessment of history, been characterized throughout that history as a remarkable merging of three significant global events, World War I, the Great Depression and World War II, each of these events served to define for America the remarkable responsibility it had to always remember the importance of our underlying industrial philosophy.

As that philosophy was and remains anchored in the belief that “it takes an industrial community to give birth to an industrial child”, these three events served for decades as a reminder of how we as a nation had simply forgotten to do so.

Even though we had amassed a wealth of new industrial capabilities, those capabilities simply could not be connected fast enough to one another. While the false social assumption that eventually they would be, enabled our nation to fall victim to the devastating industrial, economic and political realities of this era, it was only through tremendous hardship that indeed a modern American industrial infrastructure would finally be put into place.

The fourth turning point would be a celebration over the fact that we as a nation had indeed figured out the concept of infrastructure.

• With an advanced post war industrial infrastructure in place, America boomed and as the statistics below indicate, that boom was most certainly expressed in the construction of new housing and new communities. After a significant bust cycle, a boom cycle representative of the many manufacturing systems envisioned at the end of the Victorian Era matured to a point where we could as a nation, prosper significantly in a pure manufacturing based economy.


1950 to 1959 12,994,000
1960 to 1969 15,292,000
1970 to 1974 10,969,000
1975 to 1979 14,404,000
TOTAL HOMES BUILT BETWEEN 1950 TO 1979 53,659,000

As these homes were built within the context of the manufacturing systems that enabled all sorts of raw materials to be turned into all sorts of standardized building materials and products, not only did the residential construction industry flourish, but the larger concept of sustained community development did as well. While the industrial dye that had been cast during the post Victorian era had matured to the point that America in its’ post War era flourished, it did so without the remarkable grandeur of beautiful Victorian architectural embellishment.

While the homes of this era were built with industrial efficiency in mind and the workforce at the time was more than capable of responding to this efficiency by working in factories that were as devoid of architectural character as the products these factories made, the workforce was quite content going home to a house that was more or less creatively sterile, while in the same breath living in communities that were systematically functional but creatively redundant.

While all of this was taking place, the subtler and more dynamic creative, industrial and organic elements of Victorian Era architecture remained hidden away and all but forgotten by an industrial society obsessed with the factory functionalism of the equipment that went into these homes as opposed to the greater architectural functionalism of the home itself. Yet, even though our nation was perfecting the construction of the tract house, the hidden architectural elements of the Victorian Era continued to surface serving in the process as a constant reminder that America did indeed once bear witness to a golden age of architectural embellishment.

As these ghost like architectural elements continued to serve as constant reminders that industrial potential must forever be rooted in the realization that organic architecture is the ultimate source of community livelihood, the sterile, systematically functional environment of industrially efficient communities came to represent a philosophical split that would by 1974, compel our nation once again to redefine its’ industrial focus.

The fifth turning point would be a post war industrial based socio-economic-environmental confrontation. This turning point would come to represent an ideological split in both our industrial design visualization and our collective and emerging organic/economic relationship with the earth.

• As everything manufactured up until this point was manufactured for the singular purpose of living a modern American lifestyle, appliances, televisions, furnaces, hot water heaters and such became mainstays of an expected American lifestyle. But as the environmental movement began to take root in the 1960s and 1970s, living in a sterile house that happened to have a washing machine, television and furnace grew increasingly at odds with living in a house that also had some measure of architectural character and organic ambiance attached to it.

• The dynamic structural elements of this ideological split can actually be seen in the statistics below. From 1919 to 1969, charting the growth of America’s housing stock was done in ten year increments. Throughout this period, the industries that drove our industrial economy were fueled by the fossil fuels that powered both our factories and homes as well as all forms of transportation required to get us and all of our industrial stuff from point A to point B in our industrial economy.

• It is most interesting to note however, that from 1974 onward, this same charting has been done in five year increments. Even more interesting is that such charting came into existence at precisely the same time as the energy crisis under former President Jimmy Carter also came into existence.

• This means that homes built between 1950 and 1969 were built within the framework of post war industrial consciousness, whereas homes built between 1970 and 1979 were built within what this author describes as a “transitional industrial organic consciousness”.


1950 to 1959 12,994,000
1960 to 1969 15,292,000


1970 to 1974 10,969,000
1975 to 1979 14,404,000


While homes built within this transitional industrial organic era were really no different than the homes built twenty years earlier, what was considerably different was the level of technology that went into making the appliances, televisions, furnaces and hot water heaters installed in these homes energy efficient.

Adding to this overall efficiency were a number of manufactured building products that when combined with energy efficient appliances, served to produce homes that were “air tight”. Essentially, as these homes were being constructed by tradesmen trained in the post war era of mass produced tract housing, the technologies and products produced in our factories and designed for relatively simple installation by relatively simple tradesmen were being produced in factories that were rapidly removing a human workforce from the assembly of these simple, if not altogether mundane technologies.

Needless to say, by 1979, the industrial dye that was cast to save America from the hardships of the post Victorian era and enabled America to flourish in a post war era, was now most certainly creating another era of national industrial and economic peril.

The sixth turning point would be the inoculation of information technologies into the manufacturing and marketing of America’s “air tight industrial consciousness”. If we as Americans could build air tight homes in our own country just imagine the economic growth we would experience if we in turn built air tight homes around the world.

• As our most recent historical documentation has revealed, air tight industrial consciousness has not gone over very well worldwide and indeed today in 2009, the failure of that consciousness is mirrored by the fact that global economic decline is preventing any form of home building from occurring on any measurable economic scale anywhere in the world.

• The statistics below are quite startling.

• First of all; from 1980 to 2009 we have in a thirty year period, only built 46,140,000 new homes in America.

• From 1950 to 1979 we as a nation built 53,659,000 new homes

• In 1979, the population of the United States was 226,545,805

• In 2009, the population of the United States is over 300,000,000

• How on earth can we expect to house 73,000,000 new people if in fact we are not actually building new housing and the new industries directly associated with supplying the infrastructure required to nurture either the existing or new communities required to do so?


1980 to 1984 7,474,000
1985 to 1989 8,810,000
1990 to 1994 7,028,000
1995 to 1999 8,794,000
2000 to 2004 9,152,000
2005 to 2009 4,882,000
TOTAL HOMES BUILT BETWEEN 1980 TO 2009 46,140,000

The answer of course, is we can’t.

The other answer is “of course we can”.

Having said this, the answer to the question cannot possibly be answered until the right question is actually posed. As we have (since the post Victorian Era) been attempting to build an air tight industrial economy and an equally air tight legislative imperative that protects our nation’s air tight industrial marketplace, we have done so within the constraints of building air tight homes, air tight industries, air tight legal arguments and air tight ideologies that are suffocating our otherwise historic capacity to breathe fresh air into an economy that here and now in 2009 and for the first time in our nation’s history of expansive industrial development actually (and not the least bit figuratively) needs fresh air to grow.



Victorian architecture was not “air tight architecture”. The entire philosophy behind Victorian architecture was not to prevent the elements of nature from entering the home but harnessing those elements as they interacted with the home over the course of any given year. Double hung windows were double hung for a reason. Transom windows were built for a purpose. Passive floor to ceiling air registers were installed with an objective. Roof pitches and shingles were engineered for a function. Rain gutters were placed because of a job requirement. Gardens were grown for environmental protection. Overhangs were built for heat deflection and collection. Foundations were built for air and moisture transfer. Root cellars were built for seasonal food storage. Air lock entries were built for the protection and comfort of a home’s occupants and the retention of a home’s heat in one season only to be used as air corridors filled with cool breezes in another. The placement of a home on a piece of earth was deliberately based upon energy efficiency as trees surrounding a home were placed for the same purpose. As ornamental woodwork, iron work, ceramic tile work, stained glass work, etc. all were added to express the artistic celebration of this age of master engineers and artisans.

In the same breath, the architectural foot print of these homes placed social spaces on the first floor while placing private spaces on the second or third. As the first floor social spaces were designed to capture the heat of day, they were as well designed to capture the social ambiance of the community that would on occasion visit within these rooms during the course of the day. As day passed into night the natural heat that accumulated on the first floor would rise to the second. Supplemented with heat generated from a woodstove strategically placed in the kitchen or a fireplace located in a north facing library, stoking the stove would assure that the early evening hours of the second floor would be filled with enough warmth to allow those who slept to do so comfortably for awhile. As night progressed and evenings became chillier, someone would of course have to be assigned the task of stoking the fire.

While all of this seemingly non technological artistic ambiance flowed through these homes and in order to make these homes function properly was to a point labor intensive, these homes none the less, represented to the owners then just as the owners now, the remarkable ability to be physically interactive with the architectural beauty of these homes.

As people could adjust the horizontal air currents blowing through the home by raising or lowering double hung window sashes, they could just as easily direct those breezes through the home by adjusting the transom windows or the floor to ceiling air registers that carried that air flow throughout the house.
Even though these homes are by today’s industrial standards considered as being energy inefficient, the fact of the matter remains, they in their time were the most efficient and the singular reason they were so is benchmarked by the fact that these homes allowed the performance of outside air to come in and shape the performance of the air inside. These were living and breathing Victorian Era architectural and social as well as economic and industrial masterpieces.

As the Victorian Era drew to a close and it was apparent that industrialization was shaping a much more complicated national economy, virtually all of the remarkably basic mechanical attributes developed by late 19th century master tradesmen were relegated to the realm of yesterday memories. The functions of windows were replaced with the functions of furnaces. The function of roof overhangs was replaced with the function of synthetic draperies. The function of naturally occurring wind currents were replaced by electric fans. Essentially, every advanced energy management system created during the Victorian Era was done away with once the tradesmen and women of that era realized that some but not all things could be mass produced. Thus as the emergence of an air tight industrial economy propelled our nation into a decidedly non organic or non-environmentally interactive economy, it did as well, leave many of us with the desire if not longing for Victorian Era transom windows, fresh air flow and a decidedly determined obsession with getting back to the transom windows that held the memories of our nation’s once great appreciation for fresh air and fun.

As renovating or retrofitting one’s home has over the course of the past twenty years here in our America proven to be just as unattainable as building a new home, this author is clearly suggesting that until once again every doorway in every home in America is once again embellished with the energy efficient architectural functionalism of technologically triggered transom windows that may be powered be thermostatically controlled active micro solar panels fully integrated into our nations wholly dynamic multi-fuel based utility grid, the fresh air and fun we as Americans once experienced in the Victorian Era, will simply never be revisited. As the steps required to pull a massive industrial economy out of its’ own self inflicted gunshot wounds to its’ own awkwardly stumbling 21st century industrial feet are indeed baby steps, could computer engineers manufacture a device that could be attached to a motor that is attached to a window that is attached to a house that is attached to a homeowner that is attached to a community that is attached to an economy?

If indeed we do have in our America millions of homes from many different architectural eras and in fact each and every one of those homes have a number of doorways in need of transom windows, don’t we also have within the midst of over 300,000,000 Americans perhaps just a few technicians that could conceivably harness the wind flowing through those transoms and in doing so create a remarkably diverse subculture of master tradesmen and women who could tie those wind currents to the lightweight blades of micro wind turbines that co-mingle quite nicely with our nation’s larger utility grid? If in fact we as a nation do have such people within our borders, could they not become either the founders or employees of new American industries?

As has always been the case throughout our nation’s history of industrial and economic confusion, people from all walks of life ultimately get together for the singular purpose of assuring that from whatever walk in life the individual pursues, another individual will come along to help turn the singular goal or dream of the individual into the collective accomplishment of a much larger team. This of course is the remarkably compelling story of our America today and this of course is the reason why we are all so collectively indecisive, anxious and in the same remarkable breath, so remarkably hopeful.

As the financial goal for most American homeowners remains benchmarked in owning a home and that ownership is represented by all aspects of a national economy that allows such ownership to be free of any form of burden, this essay simply suggests an alternative this author believes will have a much more positive impact on the economy of a community that houses hundreds if not thousands of homes that need renovation. As home ownership today in 2009 is as tentative as the economy itself and while much larger issues are being focused upon in hopes of fixing the economy, I simply do not believe that any such fixing will happen if in fact we do not begin to look at the renovation of our homes as the key that will ultimately unlock the doors to that repaired economy.

While we struggle over how to redefine our nation’s use of mixed sources of energy, while the ideological struggle between environmentalists and industrialists rambles on, while the struggle between organic farmers and corporate farmers more or less has both parties talking the same language, while the struggle between businesses that need capital and bankers reluctant to lend that capital is getting absolutely nowhere, I believe community wide renovation of existing housing is the only tool in our nation’s economic tool box of great ideas that has not yet been elevated to greatness.

As home ownership has more or less been left in the realm of “If I have a job, I can afford to own and improve my home”, the jobs that are supposed to assure that dream, simply are not coming down the pike either fast enough or in the quantity that will assure our nation’s 21st century economy remains sustainable well into the 22nd century.

Having said this, let me take a part a typical American home and attempt to put it back together again.

The picture above is simple graphic illustration of a typical American home exterior. While this home might have an architectural footprint that consists of several thousand sq. ft. of indoor living space and perhaps even more or even less outdoor living space, neither the size nor the cost of the home has any relevance. As the key to renovating an entire community of homes is the inoculation of industries into the community that will assure the future vitality of that community, enhancing the technological efficiency of that home is the key to being able to afford to do so.

Take a good look at this profoundly advanced artistic graphic (yes, I am an abstract industrial humorist).

It is a picture of a front door and a doorknob. It is a picture of a 2 and ¼ inch diameter circle mounted to a three foot wide by approximately seven foot tall rectangle. There are literally millions if not billions of these things called doors and doorknobs in America.

As one would probably assume that the use of the door and the doorknob is a given and such use is to either enter your home through your front door or leave it and in doing so locking it with a key, once such procedures have been accomplished, the door and the knob are pretty much taken for granted.

Aside from an occasional coat of paint or varnish, these two devices pretty much fade into the background of the daily lives of those who come and go through your home’s main entry. If a decision is made to have the door and doorknob replaced, one can either call a local carpenter to do the change out or one can do the change out themselves. Either way, over the course of the entire lifetime of a house, a front door and doorknob most likely won’t be replaced more than three maybe, four times.
As that lifetime could easily be one hundred years, the carpenter that made a small fortune building the house 100 years ago will make very little money replacing that door every twenty five years. Simply put, replacing a door and a doorknob really does not do much for the local economy.

Take a look at this next graphic.

It is also a picture of a front door and a doorknob, but, with a unique twist of added technology it becomes something else altogether.

The GPS doorknob.

In this picture, the door of course remains an important architectural element of and for the home. As the front door of any home represents the character and personality of those who live beyond that door, it also represents the dreams of those who live beyond that door. As we are most assuredly living in a most transformational age and the front door of our homes represents much more of a fear of losing that home rather than our dreams of renovating it, of all things, the doorknob attached to that door might very well be the device that assures those dreams are fulfilled.

Think about this.

You are sitting in your favorite easy chair on a lazy Sunday afternoon reading the paper. As you sit there, your mind wanders in and out of the many articles that fill the Sunday paper. As the front page is filled with stories of local, national and international events, you scan this section much more than you actually read it. As your daily life on everyday but Sunday is filled with having to live your real life in the midst of those stories unfolding, you move on in search of more relaxing articles.

You pick up the Arts and Entertainment section and in doing so read stories of how artistic people are transforming their personal lives through the artistic devotion they have to their particular artistic craft. As reading these articles has a tendency to leave you in somewhat of a dream state, you move on to the Travel Section. In this section, and while still sitting in your easy chair, you view pictures of world travelers wining and dining in exotic ports of call.

After you’re done with these two sections, you become restless, get out of the easy chair, walk over to the picture window in your living room and stretch your torso, gaze out that window with a certain solemn resolve, wander out into the kitchen stopping momentarily at the refrigerator only to go to the door that leads to your back yard. At this door (equipped with a doorknob), you gaze out at the incomplete garden and think to yourself “well it doesn’t quite look like the garden I saw on the Greek Island of Mikonos(my favorite), but it’s getting there.”

With that, you pass through the kitchen and the refrigerator only to head back to your easy chair.

Plopping down, you pick up the food section and in reading it, realize that you have yet to do the weekly shopping. As your reading continues and your hunger grows, you again get up, head towards the living room window, stretch and gaze out and of course, after doing so head back into the kitchen towards the refrigerator.
Unlike before when you thoughtfully passed this appliance by, this time you open the refrigerator door only to realize that in fact you had not done the weekly shopping. Closing the door and heading again to the back door and again gazing out at your unfinished Greek Island garden, your hunger surfaces while your refrigerator remains empty.

Thinking of the wonderful Greek Restaurant you dined at a few weeks before and remembering that at the bottom of the menu was the quote “WE DELIVER”, you think to yourself “wonderful, I don’t have to shop today. I can just pick up the phone and call the restaurant, have a great meal delivered and spend the rest of my day sitting in my favorite easy chair reading.”

Leaving the kitchen and stopping at the alcove that holds the content of your home office, you reach for the phone book, find the number of that Greek restaurant and place your call.

Not having a menu in front of you however, the conversation over what you want delivered becomes a bit confusing. None the less, you and the person on the other end of the phone arrive at a conclusion over what it is that you would like to eat.
Once arriving at that conclusion however, another issue comes up. As you first heard of this restaurant from a friend who recommended it highly and as your journey to that restaurant was met with trying to follow vague verbal directions as to how to actually get to that restaurant, now you are faced with the dilemma of trying to tell that Greek restaurateur how to get to your home.

After somewhat of a lengthy and stressful conversation, you hang up feeling more or less satisfied that your meal (and a carryout menu) will soon arrive at your favorite front door with your trusty front doorknob attached to it.

While your Sunday afternoon psyche was temporarily altered by the fact that you had this conversation, you none the less head back to your easy chair only to pick up the Home Section of your favorite Sunday paper. Getting filled up with wonderful ideas as to how to improve your home, you get up and start to walk around that home thinking as you do of all the wonderful improvements you could one day make on that home. Finally settling in the dining room and placing the Home Section on the table before you, your stomach starts to talk and in doing so, your eyes wander back and forth between the refrigerator, the front doorknob that welcomes the rest of the world into your home and the back doorknob that welcomes you into your yet to be finished Greek Island Garden.

As time passes and you do not here a knock coming from either the refrigerator door or the front door or the back door, you begin to wonder whether or not you will ever eat again.

Think about this!

As you do, think about the potential of your front doorknob being equipped with GPS technology.

If your doorknob was equipped with such technology, would you be eating right now?

If indeed you were eating, would an awful lot of wasted time and energy on the part of you and the Greek restaurateur have been eliminated?

If everyone else’s home in your neighborhood was equipped with the same high tech doorknob, would not an awful lot of other time and energy be eliminated as well? As time and energy wasted calculates to money lost, would such technology attached to a doorknob calculate into profits gained?

If this was the case, who would gain and how would such technology attached to a typical 3’ wide by 7’ tall residential front door be responsible for growing multiple, multi-billion 21st century American industries?

Can the twenty one square feet that comprises the area that makes up your front doorway also be comprised of an investment portfolio that assures your ability to be able to afford to update the thousands of square feet that make up the rest of your home beyond that doorway?

Of course it can and of course it should and needs to be.

If you consider your front door and consider the fact that passage through that front door represents to you precisely what it represents to every one of your neighbors and both you and your neighbors need jobs, how would an advanced technology doorknob create such jobs?

First of all, the carpenter who would be installing the doorknob would need to become educated. Thus the doorknob would create jobs in GPS based public education and GPS based building trade certification.

Next, all those who might have the need to respond to the information coming from your front doorknob would also need to be educated.

As a few obvious entities come to this author’s mind and those are of emergency medical and public safety responders being able to get to your door in the case of an emergency, the definition of emergency itself takes on an entirely new meaning once GPS technology is attached to your front door (who knows, maybe one of those responders owns a Greek restaurant).

Let’s say that you are living in a home that exists either in or in the vicinity of a flood plain. Knowing that you have a basement that has a history of flooding, would it not be logical to assume that your plumber with the aid of GPS technology would be able to respond quicker to an emergency and in doing so save you thousands of dollars of entirely unnecessary remodeling costs and rising insurance premiums?
In the same breath, would the installation of secondary power sources that could be activated in the event of primary power source failure by the GPS supported information coming from your doorknob even further enhance the whole sustainable environment that exists within your 21st century American home? Going a step further, would not the use of GPS benefit the redirection of surface rainwater and below surface water away from your foundation altogether? Would the plumbers knowledge of GIS technology enable him or her to become architects of your finally finished Greek Island backyard garden?

Would the installation of secondary power sources enrich the micro-economic development of all national power grids as those grids are specifically designed for your home and your community? If such enrichment were to take place, would not the economic growth of each community expand exponentially as a result of being connected to that power grid?

As a master carpenter who has spent his entire life attempting to apply the development of all sorts of alternative energy technologies into the homes I’ve worked on, I’ve come to realize that while all of these technologies are in existence, seeing these technologies being universally applied across America ultimately comes down to the success of healthy, common sense public dialogue and education. While this dialogue clearly has to be advanced in nature and the only mechanism we have in place to affect this advancement are national building codes and today’s codes are entirely obsolete, the growth of our nation’s 21st century industrial structure continues to falter as a result.

As there are literally tens of thousands of communities that make up the blueprint of our overall American experience, this experience is in jeopardy only because those building codes are is such a state of disarray. With everyone in America waiting for some kind of signal from Washington that the green light to forward green economic momentum is fully on and ready to go, the signal isn’t coming and therefore the momentum we as Americans have the potential to realize remains dormant due entirely to the fact that forward thinking national building codes embellished with regionally based environmental data are simply not in place.


If you consider the possibility that twenty one square feet of front entry door space has the potential of creating billions of dollars of new 21st century industrial growth, then looking at the foyer that exists just beyond that doorway might suggest the same or even or in fact, much more.

As the doorway can only be measured in square footage, the foyer can be measured in cubic footage. As again the size or price of a home has no bearing on the context of this essay, the whole function of whole architectural space within any given home most certainly does.

As the foyer of every home is a transformational space that enables people to sit down and take off their shoes while in the same instance having a friendly conversation, it is as well and at times a physical space that serves to draw unwanted air into a home. Particularly in cold climates, if the engineering of an entry foyer is not addressed properly, the draft of cold air resulting in just a few seconds or perhaps a few minutes of friendly conversation, clearly has the tendency to disrupt the physical comfort level within the rest of the home.

While there are many people who over the course of decades have come to realize that air lock entries stop this phenomenon from occurring and these people can perhaps be counted in the tens of thousands, there are tens of millions of other Americans who have virtually no clue as to what an air lock entry actually is. While air lock entries originated in our nation’s Victorian Era, while tens of thousands of these early 20th century homes still exist, they do so only to remind us as Americans in 2009 just how much we as 21st century industrialists have failed to consider the remarkably brilliant architectural environments created during this era as being crucial to our economic livelihood today.

Having said this, the fact of the matter remains that tens of millions don’t have the education required to either envision such entries or benefit financially from the fact that an air lock is a technologically advanced system that benefits their whole home and whole community economic environment just as much as every other technologically advanced home system does as well. The fact that within the small square footage of a front door and the relatively small cubic footage of an entry foyer lies the potential of enormous industrial and economic growth across America, one would think that through intelligent community educational reinvestment, intelligent community economic revitalization would occur. But, neither of the two are occurring, and, the reason they are not is once again, directly related to the fact that we do not have in our America a national building code that is designed to not just regulate but much more comprehensively teach and foster the broad spectrum economic momentum we clearly have the capacity to grow.

How on earth can a national industrial economy be expected to grow if there is no access to or common appreciation of seemingly advanced but none the less basic architectural knowledge?

How can a mortgage banker be expected to lend money to a potential homeowner if neither one of them have the knowledge of an air lock entry? In the same breath, how can an investment banker lend money to a business man who wants to specialize in building air lock entries, if the investment banker doesn’t actually have an air lock entry in his own home? In turn, how can a community college whose singular purpose is to educate and prepare its’ students for the exciting possibilities of our nation’s 21st century if the president of that school does not also have knowledge of an air lock entry either?

As I am convinced that America’s economic problems are as they are due to the fact that education has become gentrified or locked pathetically into the realm of hopelessly redundant, air locked higher education, the tens of thousands of communities that are supposed to be receiving the greater benefits of this education simply are not. Due to the sheer volume of these undereducated communities, whatever growth envisioned by gentrified centers of upper education runs the very real possibility of experiencing continued economic failure if in fact these communities don’t have access to that knowledge.

As the front door of a typical American home is but 21 square feet in area and an entry foyer might be but a few hundred cubic feet in architectural volume, beyond the front door and foyer are literally thousands of cubic feet of entirely untapped economic volume that if properly harnessed would lead to millions of cubic feet of community wide economic volume.

Education therefore is again the key. As I do not possess a college education, I do possess a highly developed industrial mind that has over the course of the past forty years grown to understand in quite some detail the capacity these technologies have to be successfully woven into the fabric of communities left abandoned by those whose obsession with theoretical research has left them incapable of talking intelligently and humanely to the carpenter that lives next door. As if those who swing hammers for a living must perpetually be relegated to the back burners of those who process logarithms, a cubic foot of architectural space lost to economic theory is not at all the same as a cubic foot of economic space gained through forward thinking industrial communication.

As every home in America has a certain amount of square footage that can be devoted to passive solar gain, as every home in America has air flow both inside and outside of it that can benefit from the harvesting of naturally generated wind current, every home in America does as well have the ability to represent the greater industrial vision all of whom live in America are quite capable of both understanding and harvesting. As our 21st century energy grid is clearly in the making and as all other aspects of our technologically advanced organic dialogue with our earth are ready to move forward, the overall lagging behind of our nation’s building code restructuring is clearly an expression of our universal frustration over the fact that whether we are professors with advanced degrees or carpenters that can shape a piece of oak into the blade of a custom built micro-wind turbine, we remain collectively lost and insolvent.

As the dream of this author has always been to get together with a team of scientists and carpenters, engineers and pipefitters, business executives and bankers, this dream can easily be embodied if similar teams across America were to simply take one block in every community in our nation and devote our collective energy and genius into building sustainable economic models that reflect the total capacity of that genius out into the community we live and work in.

Happy Sunday!

Just as soon as I can figure out how to operate this GPS device, I’ll deliver your food.

M. Patrick Dahlke