From civicintelligence

Imagine for a moment the simple pleasure of a trip to the grocery store. Remember the first steps into the building. Oh, how the fluorescent lights hum above. Can you remember the particular smell most markets have? The blending of the floral, the produce and the hot deli that makes for a confusing yet comforting feeling of nostalgia? You've been coming here for as long as you can remember, and that smell has never changed.

Just Lovely

The long aisles of consumables are packaged just for you. In the space of your mind trolly along blithely and let whatever location you find yourself in define your meal purchases. Over here you have tinned beef stew. Pick up a loaf of freshly made french bread and some smooth sweet cream butter and you've got an old classic meal that will stick to your ribs and keep you warm over the winter. But if you're in the mood for something more exotic, you could simply visit the next aisle over.

Chances are though that your beef stew is made of castaways and cut-offs, the dregs of meals made otherwise. That bread? Made up on the other side of the country, shipped and store, refrigerated the whole way no doubt, and plucked from the refrigerator at 3am and popped in the oven. And should your butter really be that brilliantly yellow?


In her book, Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, Carolyn Steel says that

"[C]ities are not just made of bricks and mortar, they are inhabited by flesh-and-blood humans and so must rely on the natural world to feed them. Cities, like people, are what they eat."

In later chapters she uses the greek word Sitos to inform new vocabulary

  • Sitopia: From Sitos(Food) and Topos (Place)
    • Sitopia: A city or town designed with sustainable food usage at the forefront of development and design in order to cure many of the other problems that come with metropolitan living
  • Sitosphere: From Sitos and sphaira (Sphere)
    • Sitosphere: The area where a community or person's food is grown, processed and moved through

What is the Difference?

What is the difference between a Sitopia and a Utopia?

Utopia, at its very root means both "Good Place" and "No Place." Utopia does not exist, and nor can it because so many of its ideals are unrealistic and impossible to obtain in moral ways.

Examples of Utopia

Sir Thomas More

  • (1516)
  • Island Community
  • City-states with room for neighbors, but each less than a days walk apart
  • Capital City
  • Houses had ample back yards for gardens that residents loved to work in:
They're extremely fond of these gardens, in which they grow fruit, including grapes, as well as grass and flowers. They keep them in wonderful condition - In fact, I've never seen anything to beat them for beauty or fertility. The people...are keen gardeners not only because they enjoy it, but because there are inter-street competitions for the best kept garden.
  • Children are taught farming from a young age.
  • All citizens spend mandatory 2 years working the field.
  • Work hours were short
  • All land and property held in common
  • Families came together with neighbors for communal meals

St. Gall Plan

  • 9th century
  • Normal Monastery Buildings: Church, School, cloister, infirmary, kitchen, kitchen, dinning hall, guest houses, cemetery
  • Abnormal buildings: Cowsheds, Stables, housing for pigs, sheep, geese, hens, a barn, a threshing floor, brewery, and a bakery
  • The earliest example of a planned utopia

New Lanark

  • 1799
  • Indentured servants turned eager with shorter hours
  • Rewarding good behavior and deeds.
  • installed high quality housing,a school and a non-profit shop
  • villages of 1200 people working 1500 acres of land

Garden Cities

  • 1898
  • 6000 acres, 1000 of which would be built up and the rest used for agriculture
  • all land and properties held in common, with rent being payed to bolster the city so that rather than land owners the city gets rich, rather than land owners.
  • Cities would be laid out in concentric circles:
    • Central public park bordered by a combination winter garden/market
    • Grand Avenue 150 meters wide
  • 200 people per hectare in residential areas
  • Maximum population of 30,000 with an additional 2000 to work the land
  • When population cap was reached, a satellite city would be founded; connected by railway
  • Central City with a population of 58,000
"We should have a cluster of cities...each inhabitant of the whole group, though in once sense living in a town of small size, would be in reality living in, and would enjoy all the advantages of a great and most beautiful city; and yet all the fresh delights of the country - field, hedgerow, and woodland - not prim parks and gardens merely - would be within a very few minutes walk or ride."


  • 2020
  • Most people walk or ride bikes
  • Residential buildings combined with hydroponic farms
    • Waste water recycled for use in hydroponic farms
  • Restaurant feature localize menus exclusively
  • Offshore wind farms
  • 80,000 people
  • Roofs covered in vegetation to reduce rain water run off and improve thermal performance
  • Consolidation stations strip out all incoming packaging and recycle it.

Civic Intelligence Patterns

The Commons

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But leaves the greater villain loose

Who steals the common from the goose

The Commons patten manifests itself as a need for residents to relinquish their personal ties and privilege to owning everything they have. One may posses without laying claim.

Power, Water, Food stuffs, and land would all be common, with monies paid out going to increase the city's value.

The Good Life

Sitopia is the search for The Good Life What better life is there than a utopian one, and according to Steel "A sitopia is a utopia grounded in reality"

Back to the Roots

Sitopia is an ends to getting back to a time when city and country where inexorably linked. A time when food was grown outside the city and people that lived within "Ate the view" so to speak.

Demystification and Re-enchantment

Food has become magic. We go into these bright shiny stores with music we like playing over the speakers and we pick up what we need. And when we use it all up, we go back to the store and there it is. Isn't that lovely.

It is long time we learn where our food comes from. We need to see the blood and bones. And we need to love them. If we truly want to survive, we need to be in love with surviving.

Citizen Science

Science needs to be accessible again. We need to be able to teach and to learn. Science doesn't need to be biology and cell structure and quantum physics. Children and adults both can and should be taught simple things. How to care for a garden, How to cook (its science too!) Crafting...Reading...

Meaningful Maps

Maps that show population density, pollution, crime, weather patterns, migratory patterns, and companion planting, all are all crucial to the development of a community centered around food and the movement there of

  • Population density is an important statistic both when creating a viable community and when knowing when to start construction on the next satellite city. Even though that Garden City template is the best form a sitopia can take, and thusly is heavy planned population wise, it is still very important to keep track of who lives where.
  • Pollution plagues the land, and it even though the planting process of Sitopia is geared toward counteracting pollution with proper crop rotation and mulching, as well as grass fed animals, it is important to keep track of what is polluted, what is polluted, and how the levels are changing.
  • Ideally, Sitopias will be crime free because of what is held in common. when people have all their creature comforts covered then they are less likely to harm their neighbors. Still, outliers exist, and knowing what crimes exist where can help counteract those unknowns.
  • When crops are grown organically it is important to keep track of the way weather shifts, because even the slightest changes can create chaotic shifts in plant behavior and growth.
  • Naturally, the woodlands of sitopias will be home to many animals as they come to realize that the mature forest rings that surround these cities are safe to inhabit. Hunting will be permitted as long as it is not for sport, and who knows what will be out there. conversally, before the ground is broken, in an agriculture society, we need to be sure that we don't start planting in a place were birds that will destroy the crops will be roosting during their migratory flights.
  • Companion planting is the process of planting organisms together the are found in nature. doing so has been proven to improve texture, flavor, and growth cycles of these plants.

Durable Assets

Land and water are assets. They are the most important assets we have. If we cannot learn to exist with them and keep themas healthy as we strive to keep ourselves, then all is lost.

Solar power, crop rotation, sustainable building, thermal paint, organic foods, all of these are easy things to do that help keep our land healthy and our water fresh.

Shared Vision

Shared vision is the easiest to explain but most difficult pattern required to create sitopia.

  • Without shares vision, Sitopia is impossible. The effort has to include everyone, inside and out. If even one person doubts the possibility of a civil life in this manner, than it is unachievable for everyone.

New Patterns

Food as a Right

Food is not a commodity that should people should have to pay for, and this extends to water as well. For a community to be healthy, it's people need to be healthy too, and one of the most important parts of staying healthy is access to proper foods. When food access to foods becomes a matter of wealth then people begin to suffer in the name of money.

Eat the View

Thriving on the things that grow naturally where we are is a large part of healthy eating. Eating the view means learning to like what you have, rather than reaching as far as you can for things beyond your land's grasp. Eating the view reduces energy and consumption that goes into moving food and keeps money in the community longer.

Heritage Plants and Animals

Heritage Plants and Animals are the organisms that have been pushed almost to extinction by large scale grow and slaughter companies. These examples are not optimal for things that Large slaughterhouses and big agro-buisness farms value in their products. Heritage organisms are removed from grocery store products. Prized are they for their varying flavours and textures (in plants) and difference in temperament and stature (animals.)

A Civic-ly intelligent Sitopia