Ferney-Voltaire is in the middle of discussing the revision of the town planning rules. The town hall has done exactly what they promised and put all the presentations on their web site
This e-book is a guide to re-imagining our cities and our way of life to find a way to reduce our carbon emissions to zero.
This book, written by Alex Steffen, is completely free to share with others, as it has a “creative commons” license.
As it is so new, it is only available in English, however, if anyone is interested in translating it into French, the author will allow us.
Download it here. Read it. Share it.
The first thing you notice when entering Ferney-Voltaire is the colour green. Any space that has room seems to have Flowers, fruits and vegetables growing in it. It’s actually hard to see many of the buildings behind the vegetation. There are allotments all over as well as several active AMAPs. More than half of the food needed by the inhabitants of Ferney is grown in the town.
The next thing you notice is the wonderfully calm atmosphere. The city centre is not exactly off limits to cars, but the speed limit has been reduced to 20km/hr and most people in cars don’t drive around town. It’s a bit like the centre of Lucerne. There are bicycles of all types and shapes – with and without trailers for both goods and children. The velo taxi’s are great too, providing local employment and making sure everyone can get around town. The bicycle lanes have been extended throughout and both pedestrians and cyclists can move across town without ever needing to be on a road.
When it comes to housing we have had two major changes. Existing housing has been made slightly wider to fit external insulation and triple glazing, as well as mostly upgraded to solar panels. New housing is energy positive – generating more energy than it uses – and is designed with zero impact on growing space. All new buildings and many of the existing ones have green roofs where they are not suitable for solar. All parking is underground, but lit with sun-pipes during daylight to save power.
Local shopping is now based around the local economy. All shops and local tradespeople accept the local currency. We now have several local agriculture outlets (an extension of AMAPs) providing local, healthy, organic food. Similarly we have more cafés, also providing local food. Two car sharing/rental systems, a tool hire co-operative, as well as a thriving butcher, cheese shop, and bakers. The saturday market has been extended – it is now 100% bio, and 95% local and all residents have the right to sell their produce from their own gardens – being paid in the local currency of course.
La Poterie has been remade as a modern industrial zone, providing local manufacturing using local materials (like wood and clay) as well as materials from the small dechetterie/recycling centre. In addition there are several repair/re-use/up-cycling cafés, where people can bring objects to be repaired or re-used. This has provided more jobs in town, as well as teaching people all sorts of useful skills.
Local associative life is thriving. Having free wireless internet in all meeting rooms made it much easier to crowd-source innovations and speed up all sorts of projects in town – especially new arts projects. The ability to bring speakers in to conferences by Skype instead of in person, meant we could bring many more new ideas to Ferney. But overall, one of my favourite local projects is the two Party Trees in Parc de la Tire & Pace Abbé de Boisson – with a (free) booking system online at the Mairie. Anyone resident in the town can book the park area around a Tree for an outdoor party – not cleaning up after yourself simply means you will not be allowed to book again. This has significantly contributed, in summer, to the social interaction in the town.
I have lived in Ferney since 2002 with my three children. I unfortunately could not attend the workshop “Imagine Ferney until 2032” and I’d like to send you my thoughts on the matter. Here is my vision for the future …
- The city has become an “eco-town” par excellence. It is really well laid out for pedestrians and bicycles. It adopted a restrictive policy regarding cars (less parking, etc.) to discourage the installation of people who would treat as a dormitory town. Public transport is preferred, as well as trips by bicycle and on foot. There is good signage to protect pedestrians and bicycle travelers.
- The city center has become a traffic-free zone. Vehicles are now obliged to make a detour to travel between Gex (and others) and Geneva.
- All the classic real estate programs (and especially the construction of individual houses) were stopped. Projects are allowed only if truly “green” and high density, which take up little space horizontally (see what is done in Northern Europe). and preserve the maximum space for public projects like parks, gardens, etc..
- Each new construction in the town centre now must be in harmony with the style of the historic center (of which there was not much, but by reducing the number of ugly buildings, parking lots, plazas Soviet concrete, etc.., we managed to highlight what was left).
- The elementary school classrooms are now smaller, so with better conditions for students and teachers, as students whose parents do not pay taxes in Ferney are no longer allowed.
- Recycling is practiced everywhere and by everyone. It is possible to deposit garden waste to make compost. In addition, everyone who wants to has the opportunity to cultivate a small vegetable garden …
- The Abbé Boisson Park has been re-worked with solid and secure playgrounds of the type used in Paris, New York, etc.. Hazardous installations (including the “banana” and the air bridge which is very dangerous for young children) have been removed and there are several swings. (See eg. http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/playgrounds/ or http://parcsetjardins.equipement.paris.fr/)
- The buildings of the Aumard Centre and the shops opposite (Keep Cool, French Games, Pascale Institute, etc..) were replaced by modern commercial spaces that are prettier, take up less space (more compact, less wasted space with unnecessary and dangerous concrete stairs, etc..) and attract people to really want to go window shopping and maybe even buy something …
- There are more craft businesses and fewer real estate agents and even one or two small agricultural enterprises, and we can be sure there will always be a few cows in Ferney!