Land Use in Socialist Bergonia



The People
The Land







Daily Life


All private rents are gone.  No landlords -- no one makes money off of another person's use of land.  No unqualified private right to unlimited amounts of property.  

"The People" own all the land, the waters, and the mineral wealth underneath.  

The right of an individual, family or cooperative to use land does not come from the concept of sovereignty we call "ownership" (i.e. "fee simple" in English property law).  The right here comes from a permissive and conditional tenancy, called a "leasehold" based on the twin priorities of actual use and appropriate need.  No one has the right to retain control over idle land and empty buildings.

All "leaseholders" pay an annual rent to the local council.  They pays no other tax, fee or rent.

As long as he pays the rent, doesn't change the use of the land, and doesn't violate the laws limiting use (e.g. environmental & nuisance laws), the tenant may keep his lease indefinitely.  There are rules that allow the transfer of a residential leasehold to family when the leaseholder dies. 

Local councils base rents on objective criteria, such as number of rooms, square footage and acreage, which do not penalize leaseholders for improvements they (or their housing collective) make to the place.  

One may sell his leasehold, but any change in the use of the land requires approval of the local council, as well as the commune itself, not to mention the county land-use plan & the national environmental controls.  The price of buying a leasehold reflects (at least in theory) primarily the value of the improvements the seller has made. 

A Graphic Example of Land Use Practice

Maps & descriptions of the City of Varsca and its environs, showing how cities, towns and rural counties and their respective subdivisions are laid out.  A human geography vastly different than the mess that prevails in the U.S.

Socialist Land Use since the Revolution

Leaseholds -- the basic unit of socialist "ownership," where citizens, families and collectives "lease" premises from the public land trusts.

The Land Councils, Courts & Police -- localized control on the municipal and county level.

Standard land use patterns

Urban transportation -- trains, buses, cycling and walking.

Architecture & urban space-- the look & feel of Bergonian cities.

History of Land Use in Bergonia

Pre-Columbian times, before 1500 -- exploitation of peasants by the class of landed nobles called "Irigemi."

The Colonial Era, 1550-1800 -- the Iregemi class survives, but now many of them are French, English and Spanish colonists.  European law replaces native law in defining property rights.

Capitalist exploitation, 1800-1930s -- Radical reforms in the 1800s give the peasants title the their land, but corporations and banks come to oppress the peasants.  The peasants began losing their land to banks and creditors-- usually ex-Iregemi.

Land use since the Revolution

Land "Ownership" since the Revolution:

"Peoples control" of the Land

Before the 1932 Revolution the Democratic Front published manifestos proclaiming that the "people" would own the land.  In communist revolutions, the ideal of peoples ownership of the land has been used to justify state (and party) control of all the land resources.   However, the DF for the most part held that "peoples ownership" should not exclude-- and in fact should allow-- people to own their private homes.  The DF's stress on decentralization also meant that "peoples ownership" necessarily implied communal, collective and local control of all the productive land, and excluded the tyranny of national control.  The anarchists influenced this debate greatly, solidly counterbalancing all the socialist and communist tendencies for central planning.  See #8 of the Eight Principles.

Leaseholds-- the basic right to possess land 

The revolution required a new socialist way to allocate the land and rights to use and exploit the land.  The priorities embraced by the new policies have been: (a) security of families in their homes, (b) ease and low cost of collection, (c) low environmental impact (d) minimal interference with production & economic activity.  The principle of socialist equity is that a lease will presumptively go to (a) the party who has already occupied it, if any, and who has made improvements.  Congress passed laws that allowed families the right to hold onto their homes.  The law also gave factories and shops to the workers who worked there, and primary rights to agricultural land to the peasants who 

The local government's land council now formally issues "leases" of parcels of the "peoples land" to those who have a legitimate use.  Families hold "leases" to their houses and apartments for indefinite terms, but titles revert to the county if they violate land use law.    In effect the leaseholds do not have as much security as an American title.  Farmers' leases last as long as they continue to farm.

These leases are transferable-- residential leaseholders can both will and sell their leases, to recover the value of their improvements.  The law allows people the unconditional right to move anywhere they please, and so people may sell their leaseholds.

But compared to Americans, people do not move very often, and when they do they usually move to a new residence in their home town.  Very few people ever move from one state to another.  Throughout the 1800's, and into the early 1900's peasants flowed out of the countryside to the city for all the new industrial jobs.   But after the Revolution the socialist planners have located new economic development where the people already live, thus reducing the incentive for people to move.  Bergonians in fact have become a very root-bound people since the revolution. People usually live in the communities where their great-grandparents lived, and usually as part of a huge network of cousins.  In this much smaller market, prices for houses and apartments stay very stable. 

The local authority also leases land to businesses and industries for their shops, offices and plants, pursuant to use approval.  The corporations and small businesses hold their leases for indefinite terms.  Every county maintains several economic development authorities which construct new plants and developments to house new and growing enterprises, and then rents them out.  Corporations and small enterprises may sell their leases, though the buyer has to get approval from the planning council for the proposed use.  The law gives neighbors the right to file objections, and often neighborhood sentiment in the form of a petition or a meeting will be enough to avert an undesirable change.  This allows residential neighborhoods to protect themselves. 

How Rents on Leaseholds are fixed:   

The rate of rent is not based on "market value" since there is hardly a market, or any other kind of value.  Since the Greening, all rent discounts given for large non-agricultural holdings of acreage have been abolished, so there is no advantage to large, likely wasteful leaseholds.  This policy encourages small lots & parcels, making even factories compact.

Under this system improvements are not "taxed," and so no one is punished for improving their leasehold.  Three-fourths of the rent is based on the amount of acreage occupied, and one fourth is based on the structures & improvements thereon.  (This almost follows Henry George's "single tax.") 

Short-term Rentals:   

In each village, and each city neighborhood a housing authority exists to rents apartments through numerous "agents."  A small part of the population enjoy an unsettled life, moving about trying different jobs and little enterprises.  These people can rent apartments, and suffer at worst a six month lease.  

The majority of the population, however, joins a housing cooperative and thereby gets an apartment for a fixed amount of rent.

The Land Councils, Courts & Police

The County or City Land Council draws up a comprehensive plan. The basic conceptual unit is that of watershed, and then biome, and then minor watersheds (e.g. hollows).  Every plot of land is surveyed and assessed for its water, soil and biological characteristics, and given appropriate use.  

Land use laws:  

Every household and corporation must obey a slew of land use laws.  Laws came from Congress, the legislatures of the 31 states, and the land councils of each county and city.   "Socialism" and "Environmentalism" both generally imply minute regulation of economic activity, but Bergonians have generally tried consciously to regulate efficiently.  Bergonian socialist political science defines "efficiency" in government as the least amount of regulative effort (e.g. the quantity & detail of written regulations, the cost of policing and enforcement) producing the most improvement.  Efficiency in writing law and regulation requires (a) concision, (b) clarity, (d) simplicity.  The county must publish a paperback version of all laws governing leaseholds and land use, for sale to the public for a few coins.  

Standards for land planning:   

These are standards often cited in laws & regulations and in political science texts for land planning: 

The law of conservative land use:  use as little land as practicable for the purpose.   Land is a resource that should not be wasted.  This concept opposes sprawl. 

Never exceed the capacity of the water resources.

Preserve enough land to preserve all species habitats and all biomes.  This of course did not become a planning priority until the Greening.

Reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.  Reduce toxic emissions.  This means air pollution, discharge into streams, rivers and coastal waters, also run-off from human land use.

Keep local character, build local character.  This pertains to encouraging a distinct local architectural building style, a matter of aesthetics.  

Preservation is valued over demolition and replacement.  As "carrots" for leaseholders, the land council maintains a cheap bank for financing building improvements.   It also organizes plant nurseries, lawn and tree services, and panels of independent contractors & craftsmen.  

Arrange private space around public space.  Houses & apartment buildings surrounding a plaza or a garden space.

Safety Codes & Premises Liability: 

If contemporary American building and zoning codes were applied to the fine old cities & towns of Europe, or old New England villages, nothing would escape condemnation.  Likewise, Bergonians do not ubiquitously require railings, setbacks, fire safety doors, and wide roads.  People in Bergonia have to take responsibility for their own safety, and thus will not subordinate beauty to safety.  Bergonians are also expected to take care of each other, much more so than Americans.  Bergonia's medical and legal system do not combine to produce the stream of premises liability litigation.  When medical care comes from a socialized single-payer system, medical expenses never become the subject of litigation. Accordingly damages in lawsuits are less-- usually liquidated in nature by law-- and insurance is therefore cheap.

There are "craft" standards in Bergonia, promulgated by state and national craft guilds, e.g. plumbers, electricians, engineers, architects, tool makers, water systems managers.  These codes include safety standards, and the state and national guild councils are constantly working with laboratories and universities to obtain good and new research on safety issues.  Violations of these codes pretty much determine liability in Bergonian courts.  If one is sued for negligent design or work, one pays damages, but one can also lose his license to practice his craft or profession.  Every craftsman belongs to his guild, and pays the guild a fee, which helps to fund a liability pay-out fund-- pretty much a guild-based insurance fund-- that helps pay large claims against individual craftsmen.  Doctors, lawyers and other professions use the same approach.

Serious violations of environmental laws can easily result in eviction and forfeiture of leaseholds.  Any person who feels the land council or police has abused them may appeal to the commercial courts, and here lawyers abound.  Neighbors complaining against neighbors go to this court too.

The people love and hate the county or city Land Police, distinct from and often working in tandem with the regular criminal police.  These officers monitor and bust polluters, evict lease violators, hunt "smugglers" and "contraband conveyors" (e.g. drugs, illegal imports, toxins, & counterfeit money), and enforce animal protection laws.  These guys have over the years become the Revolution's most compelling "stick."  In the tough times of the 1930's the first generation of land police sometimes harassed the offices of rival leftist factions, and played a big roll in divvying up the nation's land and buildings among emerging socialist institutions and corporations.  In recent years they have become the nation's "green police."  Since the 1970s they have barged into the offices of many corporations to arrest polluters.    

Land Use Patterns

The Berg system prohibits the wholesale exploitation of new land by businesses.  Bergonia lacks anyone like the American "developer"-- the rapine monster who perpetrates suburban sprawl (with automatic government support and subsidy in the form of endless highway building and sewer systems), rapes all coastal land, and destroys pristine wilderness near ski resorts. 

The cities and towns remain compact, delimited behind "green lines"-- urban growth boundaries-- that preserve farmland, field and forest from encroachment.  This means that Bergonian cities, like those of Europe & Asia, have much higher population densities than American cities.  There are no "suburbs" in the American sense, but all cities have neighborhoods consisting of single dwelling houses, as well as townhouses, rowhouses and apartment buildings. 

Bergonian cities and towns are segmented into wards and neighborhoods, each with a core commercial district centered around a plaza, and with its own institutions (school, clinic, library).  The prevailing idea holds that neighborhoods can function as rather self-contained towns, so that their inhabitants don't as part of their routines have to leave very often.  Such an approach greatly reduces the demand for transportation.  This depends in great part in putting people close to their work, therefore neighborhoods typically contain or abut at least one factory or other major employer.  The neighborhoods are often separated by commons, parks, highway conduits, or big public facilities (e.g. stadiums, warehouse & work complexes) which are always built between neighborhoods.

American zoning mandates the separation of uses, isolating residential from commercial and industrial use, while Bergonians tolerate much intermingling of uses.  Thus even in good neighborhoods stores stand near homes, and in the higher density areas apartments sit on top of storefronts and craftsmen's shops.  This commingling of uses means that people have less distance to travel to shop, and far more often than in America can walk to do it.  

Green Lands

Land use policy protects the habitats of endangered species, as well as large preserves of protected forests, savanna, mountain, marsh and shoreline.  This is part of the doctrine of "conservative land use," which is the doctrine of frugal land use.  This doctrine holds: "Every project or endeavor should use as little land as possible for the efficient achievement of the proper purpose."   

Bergonia’s radical environmental revolution has resulted in the establishment of a permanent network of protected territories.  The zones are typically selected in order to preserve (a) all biomes, (b) habitats for all threatened species, (c) places of special natural beauty.  They consist of these designations:   

(a)  The Wilderlands:   

Core areas of scrupulously protected, pure unadulterated wilderness.  In Bergonian parlance these areas are called the Wilderlands.  The Wilderlands must include fully functional ecosystems, which means essential habitat for a complete suite of native species, fauna and flora on all levels.  Wilderlands must exist to protect the nation's full range of populations, species, habitats, landscapes, and ecosystem & climate types, particularly those that are scarce or endangered.  They should ideally preserve a sample of every environmental transmutation, including multiple transects of a bioregion type, from low to high elevation; variations reflecting variations in temperature and precipitation.  They should include protection of water environments, including freshwater streams, rivers and lakes, and coastal and marine environments.  Hopefully the Wilderland system should preserve all climates, soil types, and geologies.  

The nation has adopted a goal of committing 15% of the total land area to wilderness habitat and natural vegetation.  This may not seem like a very high percentage, especially compared to the US, Costa Rica and other countries, but the Bergonian continent has been heavily exploited by a large population for 2,500 years, and there is very little virgin land left.  Some zones are big blocks of forest far from all cities, but many are small irregularly shaped plots on the outskirts of cities, in order to preserve natural habitat in all parts of the country.  No one can hunt, fish or camp in the Wilderlands  

(b)  Public Trust Lands: 

In addition to the 15% Wilderlands, every state sets aside all unproductive, fallow & unused land into a public trust.  This set-aside is called the Public Trust .  It includes all the forests, wetlands, beaches, off-shore islands, grasslands, scrubland, mountains and even vacant lots that are not within the Wilderlands.  The public trust lands are conditionally open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, and mountain biking.  Motorized vehicles are generally prohibited from all public trust lands except on designated roads.  They usually fall under the jurisdiction of the county government and are subject to development. Every county Land Council creates a local forestry service who works in conjunction with the forestry department of the local university to administer the public trust lands.. 

(c)  Green Corridors,  

generally green corridors or lines of "stepping stones" connecting the various Wilderlands or otherwise existing to promote the natural movement of animal life.  They promote the migration of species, particularly birds and butterflies. (Fish are richly abundant in Bergonian seas and rivers, but none of them are migratory, like salmon.)  They help big animals with big ranges, such as preba-cat, pretla-cat, deer, sheep, bear and deer.  They also allow populations to interbreed, improving long-term genetic viability.   

Corridors may consist of (1) a line of "stepping stones," a series or chain of small and medium sized patches of wilderness, or (2) continuous strips or lanes of protected land.  Many corridors follow and include rivers or streams, to protect both aquatic life and terrestrial connectivity, plus improving water quality.  At the largest scale, Wildlife Corridors must be wide enough to allow easy movement for even the largest mammals-- preba-cat and bear-- at least several miles wide.  Roads and other infrastructure will inevitably cross the wildlife Corridors, and the crossings must be designed with the utmost care, typically with bridges or tunnels.

Whenever possible, urban and rural parks and open spaces should be linked to form functional Wildlife Corridors, which can then be joined to outlying core reserves.  The idea is to overlay two equal networks over the continent, a network of green corridors connecting the wilderlands, and a "red" string of roadways, towns and villages connecting human cities, both mutually accommodating and making way or each other.

(d)  Local Green Lands

may consist of parks, recreational forests, public beaches and coastal lands, public hunting & fishing set-asides, golf courses (golf is not a big sport in Berg), and botanical gardens.  But a great deal of it consists of fallow, unused rural land, wooded or otherwise wild.  During the Greening nearly every county in Bergonia committed itself to the establishment of a botanical garden.  County Land Councils sponsor environmental audits of every piece of land, and the Councils have set aside plots of forest, grassland and scrub of special environmental value or interest, e.g. a local marsh, a pretty vista, a stand of trees, a large owl population, a ravine where orchids grow in profusion.  

Rev Jan 05

A History of Land Use in Bergonia

Land use in Pre-Columbian Bergonia

Before Columbus, the ancient Bergonians had many forms of public and group ownership of land.  All unused land was "unowned," hence fell under control of the ruler. Shepherds, hunters, fugitives and holy men had free range over the public wilderness.  Some forests everyone recognized as "holy forests," meaning that no one could live there (save for hermits), and these remained dense, beautiful places of wildness.  The peasants of a village collectively owned the land they worked.  In the towns and cities, the clan lodges owned meeting halls, schools and large quantities of goods, as did the emerging craft guilds. All the landed gentry, the Iregemi, invested ownership of their estates in the family unit-- the noble "house"-- and not in any individual male lords.

The Pre-Columbian Bergonians also recognized limits on what an owner could do with the land.  Many villages and Iregemi had complicated divisions of land--one group might have the right to the game on a swath of land, while another might have rights to its waters and its acorns, truffles and berries.  Forests designated for hunting and gathering couldn't be cut for any reason unless on the order of the sovereign.   Shepherds had grazing rights to otherwise public land, and in fact the sovereign protected the shepherds from encroachments by peasants and others. 

The privilege to occupy or use land often carried with it an express or implied obligation.  Iregemi had responsibility for maintaining public paths and roads running through their lands or past their buildings.  Entire towns had the obligation to maintain inns and warehouses.   The allocation of water in Bergonia's semi-dry areas required complicated understandings, often limiting how much water an iregemi, a village or a monastery could take from a canal, spring or stream. 

The Bergonians were a fastidious, clean people, and every city and town dweller understood the importance of controlling their garbage.   Complicated conventions existed here too, but in larger cities the mayor provided sewers and garbage pick-up, and ordered people to comply. 

European Land Use during Colonial Times (1550-1800)

The plagues killed so many natives that most of the land became vacant-- forests growing up to consume entire villages.  Then European settlers came to take it.  They laid claim to the unoccupied lands according to their own property laws.  Kings gave grants and established colonial governments to police the grants and distribute them further.  Families of settlers got off the boats and wandered around until they found abandoned but habitable native houses situated on good productive land-- and moved in.  The European governors approved this form of colonization by recognizing any claims filed in writing-- and this of course started the process of deeding land to individuals, rather than to institutions, offices, families and other clan-based units.  As in Europe and America, land came under the capitalist regime of private ownership and became a commodity, valued as an object, considered an asset to expend.   The individual had unchecked power over the object of ownership, and owed no duty to it or to the community whatsoever-- it was in the individual's power to even destroy the object.  Europeans treated land the same way they treated slaves-- the same way they treated food!  The Europeans generally recognized no limits to what an owner could do with his land, completely unlike the Bergonians.

When the atrei population started to increase and fill up the land again, Europeans became the new Iregemi gentry in many areas.  But since all title vested with them, the new lords had absolute power over the land-- and the peasants and shepherds lost all legal rights to the land and became campesinos.  They were forced to grow cash crops, mainly cotton and sugar, and work in silver mines. 

Capitalist Land Use:  1800-1930

When the Europeans by force of arms subjugated the atrei and set up colonial states, they imposed their own property laws.  They swept aside atrei concepts of "variegated, overlapping" land use rights and communal and familial ownership.  And they imposed their system of individual ownership of land under "fee simples."  Collective landholdings were busted up into individual units, and sucked up into huge latifundias.

Mercantilist corporations also ended up with huge tracts of land, and plantations for cotton, sugar and fruit in the lowlands, and lumber and tea in the uplands.   As the country industrialized in the 1800's, new, thoroughly bourgeois corporations bought land from the gentry for exploitation-- mines, roads, railroads, plus new, efficient cross-cutting timbering-- and resulting from this unhindered exploitation a new class of millionaires (Berg's equivalent of the Morgans, DuPonts, Rockerfellers & Carnegies-- seek the Book of Dreams about Bergonia's richest dynasty, the Deans) acquired vast private estates.  This is the situation that prevailed before the Revolution.

  Urban Space

Similar to European Cities:  

Bergonian cities are compact, with a lively old commercial center, and new industrial suburbs.  Bergonian cities do tend to have straighter streets than European cities, with many cities enjoying right-angle grids of streets & avenues, reflecting the Tan Era concept of civic perfection.  

Bergonian cities also allow a little bit of space between the street and the buildings for a little bit of bushy or floral green.  This usually consists of a yard or flower bed raised up two or three feet from street level by a wall.  Bergonian cities like European cities have many idiosyncratic plazas, where church processionals and weekly markets are held.  

How different from American cities:   

Bergonians think that Americans are "fat"-- not just literally but culturally.  American cities are "fat," taking up far more room than they need.  Bergonian cities are "lean," like the Bergonian aesthetic.  These "lean" cities have no wasteful suburbs and no wasteful expanses of parking lots. Traveling out from the city center, one passes through neighborhoods and then comes to a rather abrupt boundary, beyond which is countryside.  Population densities are naturally much higher, but the careful use of space makes the cities airy and green. People live in townhouses and small houses with yards, as well as apartment buildings (rarely more than four stories). 

American cities at their centers have vertical spires that aim for the heavens (often surrounded by slums and brown-lands), and then miles and miles of horizontal concrete and manicured-lawn sprawl. Bergonian cities do not incorporate such extremes. Commercial buildings are never so large as their American counterparts. The preference is to house a large company or institution in several stone-facade buildings, at most seven or ten stories high, grouped around a courtyard or garden, rather than compacting the entire organization into a huge skyscraper or glass cube.  Bergonians like to link their buildings by elevated pedestrian bridges.  The Bergonians hate "macadam deserts," and do not build large parking lots.  Besides the high reliance on mass transit, they build parking garages.

The Look of Bergonian Cities:

A little of the crowdedness is relieved with roof gardens and patios, wide windows, skylights, balconies, courtyards, and plenty of small gardens around apartment buildings.   Bergonians reuse and refit existing buildings, rather than tearing them down and building larger, more box-like  ones, invariably uglier than the one torn down.  Therefore Bergonian cities keep their appearances.  Buildings on the average are significantly older and smaller than American buildings.  Hedges, shrubs, small trees and raised beds fill the space around urban buildings, increasing the intimate and dense feel of the urban space.  The greenery and the narrowness of many streets insures shade, and so Bergonian cities remain cooler than their American and even European counterparts.  The lack of wide streets and expansive parking lots -- asphalt rivers and lakes-- do the most to keep cities cool.

Few city administrations have attempted to straighten the crooked streets that tend to follow contours rather than grids, but every town and city has at least one major thoroughfare cutting linearly across the city space, forming an axis.  In contrast to the typical density of urban space, in most towns and cities at least one large airy plaza is situated along the axis, on which faces the old temples and public buildings.  Elsewhere the city's dense texture is relieved by plaza space or commons space.  Also in opposition to the texture of small buildings, stand a few grandly planned complexes-- covered markets and gallerias, government centers, universities, hospitals, and libraries-- commonly consisting of buildings clustered around a forum where there is conventionally at least one reflecting pool and one grove of trees.

In every city and large town craftsmen manufacture furniture and home furnishings.  Many people pick up a little extra money selling their crafts or vegetables at the local market, open once a week. This is often a matter of pride, a chance to show off, and a chance to have some fun.  

Every neighborhood sets up a central second hand market, where huge amounts of used furniture and household items are resold. There is nearby an "orphanage," where people dump items not worth reselling, like leftover lengths of pipe, scrap timber, old chairs, old shirts—which someone else may want.  Teenage boys often go there at night to hang out.

Virtually every city and town has a fish farm, a public orchard, a composting center, a baseball stadium, a permanent carnival, a cycling track and a running track.

Urban Transportation

Bergonians are much less mobile within their cities-- they usually live reasonably close to their workplace, and so do not "commute."  If they do not walk to work they use buses and trains (every city with more than 200,000 has a train or light rail system).  Most people can walk from their homes to do the basic shopping.  Rather than segregating stores from homes, the two coexist in the same blocks, even the same buildings.  Planners still follow the ancient pattern that every neighborhood had its own market.  Town-dwellers use small buses and cheap taxis to get around, in addition to small cars.  Driving taxis is the time-honored way for college students to earn extra money.  There are interstate, high-speed freeways, but they carry far fewer cars than in America or Europe.

Walking:  Bergonia's countryside is laced with public walkways and paths. Many of these paths have been in use for thousands of years. The walks often go places where cars cannot. They may pass through the middle of property as a right of way. A general principle is that no traditional walkway can be taken for any use unless it is adequately rerouted— guaranteeing that none of the traditional walkways will ever be demolished. The only exception ever permitted the permanent shutting down of a parcel of land for reestablishment of wilderness. This network allows a nation of hikers and recreational strollers.    

Cycling:  Now the country is everywhere building bicycle paths, as cycling has become immensely popular.  Every high school and college now has a cycling team, and racing is popular.  Some of the larger cities are constructing bicycle freeways to allow large numbers of cyclists to avoid traffic and pedestrians.


The "pattern language" of Bergonia

Architect Christopher Alexander & his colleagues developed the idea of "pattern language" to describe the recurring patterns that people build into their towns and houses. See The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language, from which I freely borrowed in crystallizing in my head what Bergonia looks & feels like.  

Every culture & sub-culture produces its own pattern language, by which it partitions & organizes physical space, by which it builds, by which it lives. 

Like the elemental words in a language combined in grammatical patterns to form coherent speech, a "pattern language" consists of basic elements which builders recombine each time they build or remodel a house, a building or a street.  While the patterns are dependable, they are capable of producing innumerable places, each one unique.

Borrowing shamelessly from Alexander, here is a bit of Bergonia's pattern language:

-independent regions ("trade over long distances is bad; autarchy is good.")

-interrelationship between city & adjoining food-producing countryside.

-interrelationship between a city's industry and the surrounding natural resources.

-agricultural valleys, with villages on hillsides or hilltops.

-tightly confined cities and towns, with no suburban "sprawl."  Since Bergonia's population is stable, there is little pressure for new growth.  Nearly all "growth" is done by remodeling existing urban places.

-four/five story limit for most classes of buildings, with a few tall towers marking the city center.

-in most cities the few tall buildings permitted in the city center all compliment each other, with similar or identical styles, and were all usually built together or according to a common plan.  

-an integrated web of public transportation, including network of inter-city rail, local light rail & subway, buses and mini-buses, taxis & walkways & sidewalks.

-"density rings" from city center outward to city edge.

-main streets are wide tree-lined avenues; side streets are (in most cities, but not all) narrow, winding and randomly ordered around plazas.

-bicycle paths everywhere.  Every new project must take bicycles into account, and there are even "cycleroutes," i.e. "bicycle freeways" in big cities.

-industrial plant sites small and integrated into city maze, to reduce commutes, arranged in narrow "ribbons" to separate wards & neighborhoods.

-a public ball field & basketball court in every neighborhood.

-identifiable neighborhoods.

-neighborhood communes of 7,000-10,000.

-retail & other commercial establishments on first floors, with apartments upstairs.

-promenade of entertainment establishments, including dance hall, game arcades, movie theater, real theater, bowling alley, carnival, "flea-market"/ "swap-meet".

-row houses with small private gardens behind each one, or with a commons in the interior of the city block.

-houses and residences clustered together with trees and walls.  Yards are small, with ornamental shrubs, little mowed grass.

-old people and children everywhere.

-people on the streets in the evenings.  Plenty of loitering.  Old men playing cards on street corners outside groceries.  

small public plazas & squares, often uniting neighborhoods.

-red tile roofs in the lowlands, slate & gray tile in the uplands.

-Overhanging rooftops, to create shadow, which help keeps houses cool in the subtropics.

-stucco houses.  brick houses.  a lot of stone.  Very few wooden houses or buildings. Newer buildings often made from concrete forms covered with stucco.

-small parking buildings interspersed throughout the city, often in the middle of a built-up block, serving all the buildings facing the street.  Many parking facilities are under the street level. 

-vacant lots are allowed to grow up and become wild, or else turned over to the local commune for garden, playground, new housing, etc.

-enclosed playgrounds  for children among housing.

-there has always been an effort to preserve the natural flow of streams & creeks through cities & towns, necessitating small strips of green space, alternating with culverts, small bridges & tunnels.

-small shops everywhere.  independent shopkeepers, craftsmen & professionals.

-street cafes, neighborhood bars, and corner groceries.

-small travelers inns.

-stores cluster around bus stops, trains stops & subway stations.

-every village a grocery, a pharmacy, a bakery, a gelateria, a cafe (or two) and a communally sponsored restaurant/ cafeteria.  The cafeteria is often used for community meetings.

-verandahs, balconies, big wide porches.

-arches, arches on verandahs & balconies, arched doorways indoors and out, and arched windows.

-"light wells" in larger buildings.

mirrors used to maximize interior lighting by throwing window light.  Thus mirrors hung from walls, often beveled & etched.  

-French glass doors connecting interior rooms to rooms with windows, in order to let natural light penetrate a building's interior.

-colored lights used for ambience & accent, e.g. backlighting, ornamental lights in public spaces like subway stations & airports, nighttime lighting along walkways-- red, green, yellow, blue.

-distinct preference for incandescent "yellow light," tungsten-halogen, and natural outdoor light, and distinct disdain for white fluorescent crap light.

-wooden floors, slate tile floors, no linoleum.

-louvered window shutters to allow in air but keep out sun.

Agricultural Use of Land--
Preservation of a Free Class of Peasant-Farmers.

It was decided very early that no single form of agricultural organization was going to work.  The agricultural sector was organized differently from region to region.

Most of Bergonia's agriculture depends upon thousands and thousands of small peasant villages, which exist as cooperatives.  The village cooperative has use of the surrounding productive land.

In regions settled by  European colonists, their descendants often live as freehold private household farmers, so those lesre have the greatest number f private family farms.  But many private homesteads exist in every state-- some people are better suited by preference and temperament to individual effort.

The revolution has allowed and encouraged all agricultural, though encouraging them to join local and regional farmer syndicates, which buy for their members wholesale, collectively share the costs of heavy equipment, advance loans for capital improvements, collectively share the costs of controlling disease. 

Here is a typical Bergonian city, Varsca, population 2,200,000, capital of the state of Zeinran.


10% of the total land area is given over to wilderlands.  Additional land is allocated for parks.  Wilderlands & parks are often paired, in order to maximize the size of forested tracts.  The land councils of the bunecs are now trying to identify an additional 5% to commit to wilderness.  Most of the newer plots will, to avoid busting up current legitimate land use, be quite small-- plans include some zones that will include as little as 20 acres. 

Wilderlands & parks are concentrated around the river courses, allowing places where the rivers can flood freely.  Wilderlands & parks are also often located at the headwaters of stream & rivers.  

The city of Varsca is tightly confined within its political boundary.  The small farming villages just beyond the political line are secure against any prospect of "development."

The autoroutes are used sometimes as "city walls," to demarcate their limit, and also sometimes built along county boundaries.  

The power plant is located next to coal mines, to minimize transportation costs.  It is also located east--downwind-- of the city.

Many towns & villages are located at the edge of the valley, on the first hillsides, to maximize the amount of flat, arable land for farming. 

The elevated autoroutes (freeways/motorways) are planned not to encourage commuting into and out of the city center, but to move traffic around it.

The elevated autoroutes are routed along political borders, and helps enclose the city.  In effect the autoroute serves as a "city wall."

Parks are aligned around the city border to further enclose the city.  Parks are also aligned as fingers penetrating toward the city center, serving to separate wards.

Four "wilderlands" -- areas barred to all human use except hiking & fishing -- abut the city edge, further enclosing it.  The mass of trees provided by these zones and the substantial number of parks help air quality, decreases bad run-off & reduces the urban "heat island" effect.  These green areas are concentrated along the rivers to protect river life & give the river a place to safely flood.

Many industrial zones are narrow, and aligned, like parks, to separate wards.  Varsca is a heavy-industry city with several auto factories too large for this "finger" configuration, and thus are located on the outer rim of the city, close to the residential neighborhoods where the workers live.

No exclusively commercial districts exist; people live in all sections of the city.  Nearly all retail establishments are integrated into residential neighborhoods, thus are small.  Since stores are scattered throughout the city, customers come most often on foot.  Thus reduced need for parking lots.  Stores usually are on street corners.  Stores are on the first floors of buildings, with apartments upstairs.  it is not uncommon for shopkeepers or collective members to live in apartments above their workplaces.  The few large establishments (e.g. department stores) are located at or near subway stations. 

The city center is densely populated, most people living in 5-6 story apartment buildings with shops on street level.  Many of these are the peculiarly Bergonian "pyramid" apartment building.

In the city center is an administrative center where the main government buildings, banks & the commercial tower are all located. 

Traffic through the center of town moves along several parallel main streets, alternatively one way, the most efficient way to move traffic volume through high density neighborhoods.  c.f. Zurich, Switzerland.

Several wide ring streets encircle the center  Just as the autoroutes move traffic around the city, the ring streets move traffic around the city center.

Outside the city center are several concentrations of high density building, called "sub-centers" or "electrons," with more stores & shops, forming the nucleus of a ward.

Virtually every Bergonian city has an archeological  or historical site at its center, typically a venerable set of ancient ruins.  Varsca, for example, was founded at least 2,500 years ago.  Archeology is a priority in land use that trumps, at least temporarily, all other interests.

Generally no place in the city is more than a mile from a train station, and no more than a mile from a major street or highway.  

There are two giant sports centers in the city, where people go to swim, lift weights & work out, play tennis, football, soccer & baseball, for massage, bath & spa, plus track & bike racing.   The baths are a source of great enjoyment. Each Ward has a smaller sports center as well.


The Wards 

The city of 2,200,000 is divided into 29 self-governing wards, with an average population of 71,000.  Each ward has its own council and executive.  This level of authority maintains the side streets, sidewalks, drains & sewers, garbage and recycling pick-up, housing allocation, "zoning," local police and courts, at least 3 high schools, at least one primary-care medical clinic.

The city government establishes basic "use zones," i.e. industrial, parkland, and land for leaseholds, also basic transportation lines.  But the wards make detailed allocations of land for specific uses, and the ward level grants commercial leaseholds.

The Communes

Each ward consists of eight to fourteen communes, which are organized neighborhoods, nearly all between 6,000 and 9,000 in population.

Most communes sponsor a few restaurants, a clinic and pharmacy and a market.  Many have a common kitchen and common garden space.  The commune makes requests to the ward & city government on behalf of its citizens-- e.g. pave this, fix that, can we have money to replace all the playground equipment.

Communes decide where the parking places will be, where the gardens & trees will be planted, and whether a new market can come in.  Communes get to veto many of the decisions that the city & wards authorities make concerning allocation of leaseholds.  

Communal decisions are made at monthly meetings open to everyone.  Individual participation in communal activities is strictly voluntary.  Communes get signatures on petitions, and the communal representative always gets to speak at the Ward meetings and the City Council meetings.