Repentance and Reformation


"When I was a little girl, there were bumper stickers about how Ithaca was ten square miles surrounded by reality," said County Executive Maria Reynolds. "The reality was that Ithaca was surrounded by sprawl, inhabited less by people than by Volvos and Subarus. We have changed that reality. We have repented of our past sins against the environment, and we have reformed Tompkins County to make it the beacon of progress it should always have been."

Governor Tamara Libous, State Senator William Seward, and Assemblywoman Peregrina Dogood joined Reynolds in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the "Tompkins County Reformation," a series of revival meetings that replaced Tompkins County's prior Nodal Development models of environmental presentation with a far sterner - but in many ways more blessed - urbanism.

"You showed the way," exclaimed Governor Libous to a jubilant crowd. "You showed the way to a more concentrated urban core filled with exciting things for people to do, while leaving the rural areas to a sustainable mix of farming and mining and animal habitat. You showed the world how to apply your water resources to the difficult challenges of providing energy to your residents."

Senator Seward took the unusual step of apologizing to the crowd for his ancestor, New York State Senator James L. Seward. "When my grandfather supported Home Rule for municipalities, it was only because he hadn't yet seen the light of centralized rural urbanism. In his retirement, and in his diaries, he frequently mourned his youthful errors and wished for the simpler solutions you developed."

Exhibits at the Ithaca History and Nature Center included the original 2021 petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow Tompkins County to become an experimental center for localized consumption of fracked natural gas, as well as a number of different plans for restructuring the City of Ithaca to accomodate the massive number of people displaced by the project. Visitors could roleplay as planners, lawyers, volunteers moving into the city, and even the bitter-enders who refused to move downtown even after their houses were demolished.

Cornell University's Department of City and Rural Planning showed maps of the shift, including the "repentance zoning" applied in the Town of Dryden for taking its mistaken suburban "home rule" principles to court. Lecturers described models for applying the Tompkins Model to other counties and regions, with examples from Binghamton to Boulder to Poland and South Africa.

Lecturing to a packed auditorium of students and visitors, Professor Christine Nunes described how "Early 21st century environmentalism was an illusion, an echo of pastoral dreams designed to defer and delay progress toward a genuinely efficient application of our natural resources. We lacked the vision to see how only radical shifts toward concentrated urban centers and spot industrialization of our rural areas could support our population, reduce our impact, and give wildlife the room they needed to thrive."

A small group of protestors outside the lecture hall held signs claiming increased cancer rates, polluted water, and damaged natural areas, but the dignitaries and most celebrants ignored them. Police reported twenty arrests.

Tour buses brought visitors from the walkable zone of Ithaca to the outer reaches of the farms and nature preserves that dominate the county, with special stops at natural gas and water extraction facilities along the way. A visit to the State Police offices in the former Town of Dryden included a demonstration of techniques used to ensure that former residents remained downtown, as well as rides on the methane-powered helicopters used for enforcement.

In downtown Ithaca, sidewalk parties reveled late into the night, with fireworks over Cayuga Lake drawing thousands to the waterfront.

Separation of Uses


WHEREAS, the distribution of residents in New York State has led to excessive consumption of natural resources; and

WHEREAS, the distribution of residents in New York State has also prevented the exploitation of natural resources; and

WHEREAS, land presently used by those misplaced residents would be better suited for agricultural, forestry, or mining purposes;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby authorizes condemnation proceedings against all primarily residential properties not within the limits of an incorporated city or village with a density of five units per acre or higher;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby authorizes condemnation proceedings against all commercial properties not sited on a state highway, as well as those commercial properties on a state highway whose business is other than serving agriculture, forestry, mining, or transportation;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby orders the clearing of buildings from the condemned properties;

the STATE OF NEW YORK grants itself the right to choose from those areas for conservation or management as state land, and orders the sale of remaining properties at auction for agriculture, forestry, or mining purposes.



"Daddy, what is this thing crawling on me?!"

"Aerial spraying knocked the ticks back for a year, but local municipalities report that the costs are too high for more than occasional use. Apple farmers report their worst year ever, as beekeepers fled, wild bees perished, and few flowers were pollinated."

"Cities grew this year, as rural residents fled their homes to avoid the tick plague and the costs of our chemical warfare against them. Unfortunately, bedbugs continue to spread in the New York Metropolitan area, though they bear fewer diseases than the ticks."

"I'm sorry, sir, but that dog needs to move. Household pets are no longer permitted in the Tick Exclusion Area."

"Feral cat populations have exploded in the Tick Exclusion Zone as state workers bring in strays to try to knock down the mouse population supporting ticks with an especially virulent strain of the Lyme Disease Complex. Residents are advised to avoid contact with these cats, particularly feeding or petting them."

"A surprising number of former New Yorkers are moving to northern Ontario, looking for places where their nemesis, Ixodes scapularis, can't follow them."

"Governor Clinton (IV) announced today that an area from the northern limits of Armonk to Kinderhook to Schenectady to eastern Rochester to Hornell has been closed to human settlement. Only temporary workers are allowed in by permit, as well as motorists on the Thruway. All people departing this area who stopped outside of an approved sprayed rest area must undergo an insecticidal shower or bath."

Syracuse incubators


Congratulations, Syracuse! We have triumphed.

40 years of non-stop progress since 2010 quintupled the city's population to almost 750,000.

We transformed our skyline with building after building and replaced a blighted highway with a glorious park.

We preserved pieces of our past amidst the new glory.

Our canal and railroad heritage is not merely preserved but active once again. The Syracuse Inner Harbor buzzes with activity once more, receiving grain from the west and shipping out our manufactures. Our railyards in DeWitt and Jamesville have grown four times in the last two decades, and even the now quiet Thruway has more activity around Syracuse than anywhere else.

Some of our gains resemble those of other cities. The suburbs' slow reversion to farmland brought us more residents, as did the move north after the hurricane seasons of 2026 and 2037. We learned from our neighbor, Utica, of the advantages of welcoming refugees, many of whom proved critical in re-establishing our industries.

How did we outpace Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany? Our incubator spaces proved crucial. We reduced the cost of starting a business or moving a business to Syracuse. Slashing the cost of doing business by making sure there was more than enough business space and few limitations on using it transformed our downtown, making it easy for businesses of all sizes to thrive. As businesses started roaring, incentives for urban builders to rapidly expand the housing stock similarly made it easy for people to move here in those critical years of growth.

Our growth rate has fallen, as the number of people moving has fallen, but our incubators continue to roar. A second generation of entrepreneurs, inspired by the genius they saw in their youth, is taking the reins. We produce goods, ideas, and knowledge at a pace never seen outside of the megalopolises on the coast.

And, of course, SU just won the NCAA basketball crown - again.

Will we continue to triumph?

Great Lakes Compact

A constitution written in stone








Spalding Gray's nightmare


"They were like a hundred thousand rednecks rallying in New Paltz, New York, ninety miles above the City, about to march in." - Spalding Gray, "Swimming to Cambodia", 1989.

From the diaspora -

These have been dark decades. Many of us perished, many of us in our desperation created yet more disaster. Our masters have been brutal, and we in turn have shown that same brutality to each other.

There are fewer of us now, better able to support ourselves on these meager hills. We have slowly, painfully, sadly learned the art of extracting food in a world of hot sun and harsh rain, and how to keep it through the blizzards while we hide from the snow.

Our stories live on, even when we don't, so long as we share them. Time and experience have softened our fate, but we must never forget our loss. Our masters plead with us to forget, but in this we can never surrender. As long as we live we will not forget the Winter March, the Tappan Zee deception, the years of suffering that followed.

Time is short and our children are few but we will survive to take back what was ours, to bring justice to those who gave none to us.

Preserve your strength,
Alexander G. Sullivan

The Drowning


[by Thomas Shelley]

In the deep still of the night Riley's heart was racing. He was gently rocking Sylvia back and forth in a tightly tangled embrace. Sylvia was still sobbing uncontrollably. It was the dream again. It was always the same:

Sylvia is clinging to her mother who is clinging to something. Sheets of lightening illuminate enormous waves and a terrifying sky formed of wind and rain. There is a huge gust, a crashing wave and Sylvia's mother is gone. Sylvia screams, "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" Her mother's distant refrain of Sylvia's name is her last word.

Sylvia awakened terrified and screaming at this point in the dream. Riley knows that this will go on for a long time.

Most of the young people that crowd the town are refugees from what is call "The Drowning". The sudden rise of sea level took everyone by surprise. The increase in global warming was supposed to cause a gradual rise of about three feet or one meter by 2100. A series of unforeseen events caused a much more rapid rise in sea level - nearly 50 feet (15 meters) in most places by mid-century. Since nearly 90 percent of the world's population lived at or near sea level in the early 21st Century, the sudden rise in sea level along with other deleterious events contributed to a catastrophic loss of life on a global scale. By 2100 only 680 million souls survived of the nearly 9 billion persons alive prior to "The Drowning". Ironically, or perhaps not, the 7-1/2 percent of the human population that survived turns out to be the true carrying capacity of the Earth.

Sylvia collapsed into a fitful sleep. Riley lie awake, still rattled by Sylvia's recurring dream, wondering what the new day would bring.

Incendiary Fence


I don't know if this piece of paper will hold up or if anyone will find it, but maybe it will help DEP understand what they're up against.

I joined up ten years ago. I'd survived three tours of duty overseas, figured God must be on my side, and was tired of looking at concrete and drywall. DEP meant adventure, something else to look at, and survivor benefits that might let my son's saxophone get noticed by the ones who matter. He has dreams - I never really cared, I guess.

This mission started out as the usual. Satellite told us there was a problem. Permanent buildings in the 50-100 mile range from the reservoir, apparently a vandal settlement too close in, pushing the edge of the bombing zone.

Those bastards in HQ had given in to media pressure for some kind of "fair warning" when settlements were on the edge, so we set off in the chopper to take a look and drop some pamphlets. We figured they could read, but the chopper let us get in with loudspeakers too.

It was a bad idea. There were lots of 'em down there, and they ran around making it pretty clear they'd seen and heard us. The wind was picking up a bit, but suddenly the tail of the chopper - I don't know, it seemed to fall off and we were spinning on our way down. Maybe it broke, maybe they shot it somehow. Chuck died at the bottom, but they pulled me out.

I warned them that messing with the DEP was a bad idea, and that the best they could do was leave me with the chopper and get the hell out of there. "Take me with you," I said, "and you'll get bombed wherever you go."

They just grinned, took my communicator, and boarded me up in this room. They sure built it tight for something thrown together in a summer under tree cover. I smell a bit of smoke - maybe they're still around, or maybe they just left the fires going to make it seem like that.

There's the plane - it won't be long now. DEP - take care of my wife and kid!

The Trio


"So picking up from last week, when was the Last Legislature? Michelle?"

"It was in 2035. They all got infighted."

"Close! It was in 2035, and a majority of them were indicted for corruption. The HSR contracts and their secret stockholdings made it look really bad for them when the project collapsed. The prosecutors got the lists of who'd been given what. The New York State Legislature had no clear process for replacing all of those people, and couldn't conduct business."

"Anyone know what happened next? Samuel?"

"Governor Yerkes had a convention."

"That's right. Instead of electing a new legislature, voters elected delegates. Those delegates gave up completely on the legislature and gave us the Trio instead. Can anyone tell me how the Trio gets chosen?"

"We pick one every three years. But they can't live too close together."

"That's right, Marcy. Members of the Trio have to have three million people between their homes, and they have to have lived in those homes for at least ten years. They can't move around to run from a different area. Can anyone explain what the Trio is in charge of? Joel?"

"The Trio makes state law, runs the bureaucracy, and acts as the top court in the state."

"Are you reading that out of your textbook? No? All right, that's correct. The old functions of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are concentrated in these three seats. Each one directs different parts of the government, but they all have to come together to agree on a budget. How do we keep them from getting too powerful? Michelle?"

"They have to take a year off the Trio when their term ends. Only two have ever gotten back on, I think."

"Well, we may see a third this November, but yes, that's right. Between the distance rule and the one-term rule we've had regular changes of power."

"Yeah, but Upstate only gets in once in a while."

"Joel, I didn't call on you that time."

"I know, but why do they have to do that to us? Why did they only say three million people apart when the state has 25 million people?"

"That question won't be on the test, Joel."

Albany, 2058


[By Andy Arthur, originally published here. Reprinted by permission.]

What the future of the Capital City may be like after peak oil. May 5, 2008.

Albany in recent years has been undergoing quite a renaissance thanks to a change in the economy that made urban real estate much more desirable. The lower part of Arbor Hill is once again tree lined, and owned by mid-level bureaucrats who decades ago purchased up former apartment houses and turned them into quality housing.

Many structures in Albany during that period where either demolished or significantly renovated as new wealth floated into the city. The wealthiest bureaucrats and the whos who of the Albany elite all purchased homes in Center Square, while nearby neighborhoods came dominated by mid-level legislative and executive branch bureaucrats who make New York State government function. Indeed, several former state office buildings have been turned into condominiums and rental housing for the many state employees who continue to work downtown.

A lot of people no longer come downtown to work as their work has been digitized and provided on computers in people's homes. Regional offices for state agencies still buzz with a limited number of top level staff administering their functions, while rank and file work at home. Fiber-optics and widespread digitization means formerly paper forms move in and out of offices quickly. While technology has lead to a moderate decrease in the state workforce, most still are employed, a bit working from all corners of our state.

Today, with gas prices exceeding $25 dollars a gallon in most parts of our state, regular commuting is out of the reach of most New Yorkers. Modern cars are quite fuel efficient getting around 40 miles per gallon of gasoline, and can drive the first 50 miles all on electricity, but even that is expensive in New York State, with going rates exceeding $2 a Kw/h. Driving indeed is a luxury for most New Yorkers - something people do on the weekend for pleasure.

Due to the high cost of energy, houses and commercial structures are vastly more efficient then those of 50 years ago. Insulation is thick, and green roofs are the norm. The average structure consumes half as much energy as years ago, but remains comfortable in the summer and winter alike. Most houses don't heat above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but without drafts they remain comfortable. Modern clothes, using advanced materials keeps people warm at this temperature, but is not bulky like sweaters of the past. In the summertime, a combination of highly-efficient fans and vent shafts. Incandescent lighting disappeared nearly 40 years ago from the market, and many houses use advanced lumeneres that use T-5 and T-8 florescent to provide lighting at actual rates exceeding 100 lumen for watt. Houses are designed to let in as much light as possible, and it rare that lighting is used at all in the day time. To turn lights on in the daytime, requires the resident to press a special override button that overrides the automatic switch that ensures lights are not on during the day time.

Many houses and apartment structures generate a significant portion of their energy needs. With such high electricity rates, it is quite profitable to sell as much electricity as possible back to the grid. Many houses with solar cells on their roofs can make their occupants as much as $30-$50 a day in energy, much of which won't be consumed immediately and will be sold be back to the grid to provide energy to major industries in our cities.

In the past 30 years the suburbs around our city have seen a collapse and failure. Many former suburban structures have long been abandoned. Many shopping malls have been torn down and the soils under them reclaimed for agricultural purposes, providing reasonably priced food to the cities nearby. Other suburban developments have been purchased by the state after most of the former owners have abandoned their property for the cities or towns where there is more community. Large tracts of suburbia are now wild forests, reverting back to their natural structure after a series of demolitions and controlled burns by the state.

Walk around what used to be Colonie and you will occasionally find foundations from old suburban housing. Dig in the soil you might find abandoned sewer lines. But what you mostly see is grown up woods, and a variety of farms producing virtually every kind of food product one could grow in our region to provide low cost food to the city. You can still see the remnants of the clover leafs of the south bound carriage road of the Adirondack Northway, although those three lanes have been converted over to electrified railroad tracks, and provide light rail service from Saratoga to Albany. The former northbound carriage way on the Adirondack Northway provides sufficient capacity for a two-lane highway that carries the remaining automobile traffic on the road.

Nobody would have guessed that suburbia would be a reversible condition that within 50 years would start to collapse, while cities saw gentrification and new life as never before seen. With such high fuel costs people find it cheaper to live in the city, where they can reach out with a diverse group of people. At the same time, small towns in are growing as they provide low-cost living and easy access to products and culture, and access to work through high-speed Internet.

Despite the increasing cost to travel across the state and the nation, people are well aware of what is happening in the world. The Internet brings in customized information from all kinds of people, from blogs to professional news organizations. Thanks to low-cost wireless internet technology, everybody from anywhere can quickly send information over the internet.

While we still rely on a variety of advanced technological devices, due to their cost of creation and importation to our country with high energy prices, we consume a lot less of them. Many people have computers that are over a decade old, but they still work reliably, as today's computers are much better built, and are too expensive to replace. Technological advancement happens slower now, but has reached maturity so most people are happy with their computers for a long time.

Cities and small towns in our country are flourishing. They are filled with inspired people who now have the time and resources to invest in their communities. Local community organizations are growing, as people have the time and money to invest in their communities. Pollution levels in our country have dropped to lowest levels since the beginning of the industrial revolutions, swimming and fishing are popular pass times in our rivers, which are largely lined with lush parks, particularly near urban areas. Without so much petroleum and other fossil fuels polluting our city skylines, cancer rates have dropped.