Retrofitting Communities

Retrofitting Communities

Appropriate Solutions

Becoming More Wholistic and Sustainable

Many remote settlements suffer designs and constructions that are more suited to temperate, wet climate town or city living, and generally are exceedingly unsustainable, making individual living and community management difficult and prohibitively expensive. Imposing inappropriate solutions in remote settlements can only result in outcomes downmarket of rural towns, many of which are in serious decline. Many of those towns are in financial crisis, and getting worse. It would be optimistic to expect a conventionally designed remote Aboriginal settlement of low-income people to be exempt from even greater problems.

In many cases, what is needed is an extensive retrofit wherever designs are not wholistic or sustainable. Smart and creative solutions to correct past dysfunctional, outmoded or inadequate designs, and transform them into highly functional, coherent designs that create an integrated, wholistic and sustainable overall solution.

Wholistic and sustainable solutions have been tried and tested in every climate including desert conditions. Permaculture can be practised in all climates and conditions, given its rationale is “what works best”, and is very much about adapting itself to different situations, even as it enhances and optimises those situations. Arid-land Permaculture specialises in getting the most from desert conditions.

Working through every aspect of community life and adjusting it to become wholistic and sustainable does not have to be done all at once. Much can be worked through gradually, a little at a time, as manpower and funding become available. CDEP, as a part-time, shoestring-budget work scheme lends itself admirably to retrofitting, by a gradual, step-by-step, learning-as-you-go procedure.


Whilst it would be preferable to be pro-active and retrofit when things are working relatively well, crises are the more usual initiating occasions. The rule here is to take each crisis, breakdown, etc and use it as an opportunity to create a permanent sustainable retrofit of that situation, even as the immediate crisis is being addressed.  Repairs are opportunities to create solutions that are improvements on the original designs.

Design for Personal Responsibility and Psychological Growth

One of the problems in many remote communities is that much has been designed to operate by a specialised few, whilst the majority of people are not involved and unable to participate. Retrofitting should always be towards solutions that require greater individual responsibility and greater community involvement and participation by more people. A thriving community of active participants is preferable to a community of largely uninvolved people suffering lack of fulfilment and boredom.

Streamline Administrative Functions

The kind of paperwork that the administration must complete is so vast and convoluted, that many communities fail to keep up, and those that do have usually let other important community functions suffer. Communities need their own instrinsic paperwork for their good functioning. This should be specifically designed to for the community’s needs, and from there, feed to the attendant stakeholders, so that the paperwork enables community members become better tuned in to the community’s actual functioning in all crucial areas.

This entry was posted in Sustainable Communities. Bookmark the permalink.