Dear Hakka Friends:
Last Saturday November 27, ~ 20 people gathered at the Calgary EcoHouse to view History Channel's video on Hakka Tulous. This educational video was announced at the news conference of October 21 in Beijing. It signified the launch of their "History Made for Tomorrow" series. This was the first time it has been shown in North America. I understand that it will be shown world wide shortly. This was a special EcoEvening event by invitation only. A rich assortment of bright minds discussed how the lessons of this sustainable precedent might be applied to our time, climate and culture.
Hakka Tulous are good examples of green buildings and sustainable communities combined in one unified structure. They are powerful reminders for the modern world and urban areas of how to protect and control the health of one's living environment. A few of the generic features of this ancient village architecture are seen in the video, including:
• central courtyard (serving a social function): as the stage of life to cultivate, build & celebrate community together (i.e. feasts, weddings, funerals, meetings, discussions, etc). Communities can build a unified voice to stop deleterious policies or unwanted industries to poison water, mutate crops, steal land, ruin fields or plague generations.
• central courtyard (utilized in a utility function): as central plenum, it also functions as a light well, ventilation shaft, fresh air source, clothes/food dryer, sheltered micro-climate and chimney at different times
• ancestral hall: off on one side of the courtyard, it allows inhabitants to remember and respect past generations and to remind busy people, that life does not exclusively belong to the moment of the present, but spans time from yesterday to tomorrow, and all things must be cared for as it is handed down from caretakers of the past to future generations through stewards of the present
• shared resources: this is a far more cost-effective and environmental superior way of living compared to single family homes or isolated pigeon holes in apartment buildings, to help avoid the duplicity of redundancy prevalent in the industrial world
• conserver society: to encourage modesty, shared ownership, common responsibility and teamwork and to reduce market demand, over production and concomitant pollution, and resource depletion
• cottage industries: specialization of products and services as a local business to promote local mircro-industries such as naturally dried fruit, and local handicrafts, reflecting culture, heritage and climate
• permaculture: local agriculture is found in the river vallies beside the tulous, manually tended by community teamwork without private lots or ownership
• renewable energy: scrap wood (branches) is used for cooking, river power for electricity and passive solar for drying fruit and vegetables. The first 2 sources could benefit from modern improvements.
• Feng Shui: there are several aspects of site planning that consider orientation to the south, such as the main gate, windows, balconies and water, while hills and trees are desirable on the north to deflect cold winds. Round tulous symbolize sky, square tolous symbolize earth.
• safe water: wells are the source of water for drinking (they have been used for centuries) and rivers for washing. No central water processing plant, no chlorine, no dumping of fluoride, no political intrigues, no government mismanagement, no bureaucratic debacles, no health risk to taxpayers.
• biological waste recycling: all human waste is normally recycled into fertilizer, a practice most of the world still uses except industrialized and over developed countries. Composting toilets however, would improve hygiene, and produce liquid fertilizer, healthy soil, and boost ecotourism
• greywater recycling: all greywater flows along an ingeniously engineered route from courtyard to field, to water the crops that sustain the local community, feeding the chickens and ducks along the way
• rammed earth construction: in a country powered by coal (70%) and proliferated by concrete plants, rammed earth is a local material from the building site, with very low embodied energy, using natural ingredients and built in traditional ways of construction. It is durable and moderates temperature extremes. Minoru continues to monitor actual temperatures in Chengqi Lou. But there are a number of ways that traditional rammed earth used in tulous can be upgraded and improved. Rammed earth construction has many modern applications in many parts of the world as a superior method of ecological construction.
This is not an exhaustive list, but only a few of the sustainable features discussed or considered that evening. A more comprehensive inventory is contained in our PPTs and papers.
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Thank you for your interest in saving, appreciating, recognizing and repopulating Hakka Tulous and Weilong.