Saturday, August 16, 2008

Polar Cities: Interview with Joey Stanford, U.S. director of the Polar Cities Project

Susan Wilson, writing for Tech.blorge, intervieed Joey Stanford, the U.S. director of the Polar Cities Project. Here is a slightly-edited version of her report.

Plans for building the first Model Polar City in the history of humankind are underway. The Polar City Project is debating between locating the model polar city in either Norway or Alaska as a site for their first test city to be built by around 2012.

Currently, the Polar Cities Project is focusing on seeking corporate sponsors and fundraising. The non-profit group is looking for an international fundraiser from North America, Europe or Asia to help put the project on a firm financial footing. If you and someone you know would like to be part of this exciting ground-breaking project, please email: [reporter.bloom [AT] gmail] or leave a comment below.

Joey Stanford is the U.S. director of the Polar Cities Project. Joey, 38, lives in Longmont, Colorado with his wife Oksana and son Timothy. He working with Danny Bloom, Taiwan-based creator of the project mission, to turn the polar cities concept into a future reality, if needed.

Interviewer: Joey, how did you pick Alaska or Norway for your first Polar City?

Joey: Danny did the original research on location. It boils down to several factors:
* Political considerations:
* Government stability.
* Was the area being carved up by governments? We don’t want to
get into this.
* Will the natives be resentful?
* Environmental considerations:
* Environmental stability. (e.g. are we next to a big volcano?)
* existing population density
* Geothermal resource availability
* Native resident impact
* Logistical factors such as
* existing infrastructure (roads, airports, electric, water, etc.)
* available property

Interviewer: What will be the deciding factor between the two cities?

Joey: There is not really one factor. It’s an amalgamation of overall construction
and operation costs combined with any particular incentives for the locations.
And this is just the northern polar regions. A similar exercise will need to
be undertaken at the southern polar regions. It is interesting to note that
it appears that the USA controls most of the regions with known land
masses. That should be an interesting area to watch.

Me: You expect to have this city built in 2012. When will you begin the actual
building process and do you have blue prints (more than just the pictures
previously posted) for your new Polar City?

Joey: Anything is possible with adequate funding. Until now we have not even
discussed funding but have focused on awareness and researching the activities
needed. The actual building of a pilot city, and it’s timetable, are dependent
upon us receiving funding. We have only just now given this public
so understandably it’s hard for me to comment. We certainly would like to
have something habitable built as soon as possible to demonstrate the concept
and use it as a learning vehicle to improve our plans.

Me: Can you share any of the blue prints or pictures of the actual city to be
built with our readers?

Joey: The initial concept artwork was published. We have not commissioned a
professionally created blueprint yet because we keep evolving our thinking
as new ideas become available or new research paths turn up suggestions. This
is likely to continue even after a pilot city is built.

Me: How will you choose the citizens for your new city?

Joey: That is probably the most difficult question of all. Who decides?
Arguably, the sponsor/builder of a city has the right to determine this.
We currently envision three main scenarios:
1) A country builds a city for their population and restricts it accordingly.
They develop some sort of selection process.
2) A large corporation builds a city (and extends it to include a working
space) and relocates employees here.
3) The UN, EU, or other organization builds a city for it’s own purposes
potentially restricting access to served members or perhaps as a dedicated
refugee camp.

Me: Are there specific skills, age ranges, professions that you are looking for
in potential inhabitants?

Joey: Like life on a space station, anyone who has a useful skill can be put to work in the operation and maintenance of the city. Our current design considerations are focusing on making everything "cheap", "easy to fix/replace", and "easy to operate" to accommodate non-skilled and elderly. Formal training programs in the cities for non-skilled residences is not something we’ve looked into because we don’t envision ourselves operating most of the cities.

Me: For instance, I notice that you are married with a child. I presume that
married couples and families will be included and will they have their own area or different housing than singles?

Joey: We are designing the cities to take everyone and so far we have not considered any segregation except at a family level and perhaps, a small restricted wing for law enforcement or operations personnel considerations (or
presumably company executives and national dignitaries). The rooms will be very small, about the size of regular passenger class on a cruise ship. Aside from the special wing, we have no plans for any "first class" facilities.

Me: What about such issues as daycares and medical needs? Will they be part of the Polar City or will they be services provided by outside facilities?

Joey: We are focusing on the construction and not the operation per se. Yes
we envision daycare, medical, fire, police, communications, kitchens, etc. but most of these will be generic spaces which can be adapted to suit the city’s needs.

Me: Will religion, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity be factors in any way?

Joey: Yes. Living in tight spaces with close neighbors is very difficult. Tolerance is the only way to survive in these cities. Conceptually we think there will be a zero tolerance protocol in effect for all cities but it’s up to the city’s

Me: How many people will the first Polar City house ?

Joey: To be determined. We’d like to do a 200 bed facility but if we can only do a 10 bed pilot, we’ll be happy with that.

Me: Will there be employment/offices within the City or will the inhabitants
need to leave to go to their jobs?

Joey: It depends. We hope that some cities will create a workspace for residence. For our project, the city itself will be the workspace. For a city built by company (e.g. IBM) there might be an extension to the city for this. Or they
may choose to keep to a standard design and just import what they need
from other cities. One of our design considerations is that a city be as self-sufficient (really, self-sustaining) as possible. We have several ideas taken from current technology on how to do this but frankly we need more help in this area.

Me: What special features will Polar City have?

Joey: Most everything will be generic so it can be converted to suit the needs of the residents. E.g. A city might have a large gymnasium for students to play
in which can be reconfigured into a theatre or dance hall for special city events.
We’re also quite keen on incorporating a vertical farm.

Me: What particular methods of heating and cooling the City and its residences
will be incorporated?

Joey: We’ve been strongly interested in geothermal, solar, and wind power. Ideally we would want to exploit as many of the renewable energy resources available as possible that are fiscally reasonable.

Me: What technologies will you use to provide energy for you Model City and are they already incorporated in blueprints?

Joey: As above.

Me: Will there be any type of internal transportation within your first Polar City? What kinds and how will they be powered?

Joey: For the smaller city design everything is done via foot and ramps (for
accessibility and reliability) however we have some issues to work out for the upper levels which may require an elevator. For the larger cities, we’ve discussed moving walkways since they are highly reliable and easily serviceable. We’ve also discussed enclosed movable walkways between large cities as well as an inter-city light rail system.

Me: You are currently fundraising and seeking individual and corporate donors
for this first City. Will they be provided with a special residence for times when they come to visit?

Joey: The first city is meant to be a pilot so I personally expect it to operate
a bit differently. If someone pays for a room then it’s their room to do with as they please (within city regulations). There is an upkeep charge associated
with the city as well. For the larger scale production-ready cities there may
be a room purchase fee and a monthly utilities fee or, nothing at all (e.g.
the corporate facilities might come as part of the employment contract).

Me: Will various parts of the City have corporate sponsorships and bear corporate logos?

Joey: If that is what it takes to build our pilot city so we can learn more and
demonstrate the concept, yes. I have no objection to the Pepsi Hall, the
Coors kitchen, and the Hilton wing. :-)

Me: How is the fundraising going so far? Do you have any major event planned
for raising money?

Joey: At this time we’ve only just announced our intention of seeking funding so there are no plans in place yet. Our focus is really on the design and
operation of the cities to protect humanity. Money is simply a tool we need
to obtain our objectives.

Me: What other information would you like to get out to potential donors/inhabitants?

Joey: We still need lots of help. The more we can get done by volunteers, the less financial assistance we need. We need project managers, technical writers, construction architects, city planners, HVAC specialists, etc.. We would ideally like to save all donations and put them into construction costs.

Me: Is there a way that people can provide small donations towards your project through say PayPal or some other online payment method?

Joey: Not at this time. We’ve talked about this approach but there are some activities we need to do first (e.g. USA 501c3 status).

Me: One idea you might want to try is to "sell" engraved bricks or space on a
commemorative wall on line as a fundraiser. In Atlanta, during the 1996 Olympics, they sold bricks that could be engraved with names or a dedication to pave the Olympic park. Having a wall that would contain the names of individual donors (and the level they donated) as honorary founders of the first Polar City might be a way of raising money. Just a thought.

Joey: We’ve considered a plaque for the project team but this sounds much more fun!

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