My place Totenby some named “Totscana” as a Norwegian counterpart of famous Italian Toscana, has lost much of its charm by suburban houses spread all over this pleasant landscape. This is a horrible thing to do! This way the beautiful landscape is reduced to a kind of Los Angeles like Suburban Hell!


Suburban housing doesn’t belong to the countryside, like in “Totscana”. People who are not directly involved in agriculture should live in urban places. Otherwise the countryside becomes reduced to a kind of Suburban Hell, a favourite phrase of Nathan Lewis.

Read Nathan Lewis’ essay:

– The Eco-Technic Civilization

From the essay:

We don’t try to mix “the city” and “farms.” Urban places are dense and distinct from farming areas. People who are not directly involved in agriculture should live in urban places — whether tiny country villages, or huge metropolises.

European village

European village. Although this village is in an agricultural region, this village itself is a dense urban place, and there is a distinct transition to farmland.

Chinese village

Chinese village. Again, a dense urban place, and farmlands. Don’t mix them.


 “It seems the US Americans have been teaching children that surburbia is good and urbanism is bad ever since 1952. Thanks alot!” – KRISTIAN HOFF-ANDERSEN

But of course, modernist “urbanism” is not urbanism, it’s nihilism! Only traditional urbanism can support pleasure of life. Nathan Lewis is one of the best urbanist writers, so go on to his fabolous archive to learn more:

– Traditional City/Heroic Materialism Series

A Pattern Language

Using the Pattern Language we can create urban spaces more joyful than the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation

The Eco-Technic Civilization. Try to imagine it. If you can imagine it, you can have it! It is actually cheaper and easier to do than today’s Suburban Hell. – Nathan Lewis

6 Comments Nathan Lewis: People Who are Not Directly Involved in Agriculture Should Live in Urban Places

  1. AvatarCarl

    I do not agree and will try to explain why some Must live in rural area, though not participate in farming activities.
    Since people began farming, they were in less need for wide open spaces to chase beasts and harvest wild fruit and vegetables. Those farmers are the first who build houses, communities,… evolving in cities. Genetically, in western civilisations, those who can adapt to that new environment have outgrown those who need the open space to survive. As there is no more wide open space, and as we all live in houses or equivalent, those who need space to survive, those who are valuable but can not cope to the suffocating environment of a city, only have the countryside, where farmers grow their crops and cattle, to survive. So, it is impossible to say that all people who do not participate in farming should live in a city environment. I believe that it is the reason why so many need drugs like Ritalin/Relatine to supress the (way too) many impression that a city environment provides. See it (the mind) like two kinda homini: Farmers (those who stick in one place, weird enough those who now live in cities) and The Original Man, those who need open space because their brains still have the possibility to integrate all impulses, needed to survive in a wild environment. Though there is none left in the western world,… would you want to erradicate a part of humanity that still has this gift?

  2. Øyvind HolmstadØyvind Holmstad

    I disagree. Disconnected suburban houses are an evil thing, and don’t belong either in a city or on the countryside. An alternative if you want more space and still to have a community, is a nature community:

    This is a very good idea indeed! A nature community is built around a strong commons, and you have self sufficiency and every house is surrounded with the 5 permaculture zones. In a nature community everything is connected. A suburban lot is not connected to anything. Like in Hell, where all connections are broken.

    I support the nature community movement of Norway as much as I can, and is a friend with Naviana, one of this movement’s founders:

  3. AvatarJames

    Farming can be carried out in both rural and urban region of a country. Therefore the aspect of people not involved in Agriculture to live in Urban areas is logically false.

  4. Øyvind HolmstadØyvind Holmstad

    No James, the Suburban Eden as it was developed by General Motors to sell cars is an evil thing. As Kunstler explains:

    “Across the rural northeast, where I live, the countryside is littered with new houses. It was good farmland until recently. On every country road, every unpaved lane, every former cowpath, stand new houses, and each one is somebody’s version of the American Dream. Most are simple raised ranches based on tried-and-true formulas – plans conceived originally in the 1950s, not rethought since then, and sold ten thousand times over.

    These housing “products” represent a triumph of mass merchandising over regional building traditions, of salesmanship over civilization. You can be sure the same houses have been built along a highway strip outside Fresno, California, as at the edge of a swamp in Pahokee, Florida, and on the blizzard-blown fringes of St. Cloud, Minnesota. They might be anywhere. The places they stand are just different versions of nowhere, because these houses exist in no specific relation to anything except the road and the power cable. Electric lighting has reduced the windows to lame gestures. Tradition comes prepackaged as screw-on aluminium shutters, vinyl clapboards, perhaps a phony cupola on the roof ridge, or a plastic pediment over the door – tribute, in sad vestiges, to a lost past from which nearly all connections have been severed. There they sit on their one- or two- or half-acre parcels of land – the scruffy lawns littered with the jetsam of a consumerist religion (broken tricycles, junk cars, torn plastic wading pools) – these dwellings of a proud and sovereign people. If the ordinary house of our time seems like a joke, remember that it expresses the spirit of our age. The question, then, is: what kind of joke represents the spirit of our age? And the answer is: a joke on ourselves.” – James Howard Kunstler, “The Geography of Nowhere”, page 166

    “In America, with its superabundance of cheap land, simple property laws, social mobility, mania for profit, zest for practical invention, and Bible-drunk sense of history, the yearning to escape industrialism expressed itself as a renewed search for Eden. America reinvented that paradise, described so briefly and vaguely in the book of genesis, called it Suburbia, and put it for sale.” – James Howard Kunstler, “The Geography of Nowhere”, page 37

    “The physical envelope of the house itself no longer connects their lives to the outside in any active way; rather, it seals them off from it. The outside world has become an abstraction filtered through television, just as the weather is an abstraction filtered through air conditioning.

    The car, of course, is the other connection to the outside world, but to be precise it connects the inhabitants to the inside of their car, not to the outside world per se. The outside world is only an element for moving through, as submarines move through water.” – James Howard Kunstler, “The Geography of Nowhere”, page 167

    “But this new wealth was spent on suburban houses, and on cars to get to them and appliances to put in them. It transformed American (and Norwegian) culture. The private world of home and family was everything; the public realm was out. When middle-class families took a vacation, it meant a trip by car to a national park, or perhaps to a second home by a mountain lake or beach. Most of all, it meant getting away from other people. Americans (and Norwegians) no longer wished to congregate in “playgrounds” like Atlantic City where most of the action took place in public places with crowds of strangers pressing in. Those still in the habit went to new playgrounds like Miami Beach, where the decor was not threadbare and the weather nicer. If you wanted the public realm in postwar America (and Norway), there was TV.” — James Howard Kunstler, “The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape”, page 229

    “I don’t believe automobile suburbs are an adequate replacement for cities, since the motive force behind suburbia has been the exaltation of privacy and the elimination of the public realm. Where city life optimizes the possibility of contact between people, and especially different kinds of people, the suburb strives to eliminate precisely that kind of human contact.” – James Howard Kunstler, “The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape”, page 189

    “The Dream, more specifically, was a detached home on a sacred plot of earth in a rural setting, unbesmirched by the industry that made the home possible; a place where one could play at cultivating the soil without having to rely on husbandry for a livelihood; a place that was, most of all, not the city.” – James Howard Kunstler, «The Geography of Nowhere», page 101

    So the suburban culture is a non-culture, neither rural or urban, but sub-urban. It destroys both the city and the countryside. Urban farming on the other hand is a good thing!

  5. Ozgur ZerenOzgur Zeren


    To be honest, cities are not good places to live. For anyone.

    For a hominid species which evolved in small groups as hunter gatherers, and then continued their cultural development via loosely knit, low density, quite spread-out farming communities, modern cities constitute an abomination in terms of physiology and psychology.

    It could be possible to manage in cities if cities were well planned and built to provide enough spacing – even if at least vertically – and sufficient greenery.

    But they aren’t.


    Current way of living in overcrowded cities is not natural for human species. It must be changed. What’s to be put in place, is a question in itself, which must be addressed.

  6. Øyvind HolmstadØyvind Holmstad

    There are eight city types!

    – Eight city types and their interactions:

    The NOURISHING-PHYSICAL, FRACTAL NETWORKED, SPONTANEOUS AND SELF-­BUILT city is a far better place to live than scattered suburbs. You talk about high-rises, but don’t seem to recognize that “the tower in the park” is vertical suburbia:

    There’s easier to establish tribal networks in the city than on the countryside.

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