51 years ago, my late wife and I left our professions, mine Architect, builder, wife choreographer, teacher for a more simplistic back to earth lifestyle.  We saw the trend that we are experiencing today with excessive growth and expansion in all areas.  Our goall was as it is to this date to minimize our adverse impact on the environment and teach others how they too, can live productive lives while becoming more sustainable. 

 This essay was sent to friend, Dean Christine, dean of school of Architecture and Environmental Design, Cal Poly, California State University at San Louis Obispo California.. 

Dear Christine, Looking over your winter 2017 Connections magazine for the second and third time brings back memories of my time at Cal Poly between 1951 and 1955.

Comparing the growth in number of students, faculty, and facilities of the college today as compared to when I was a student is really phenomenal. There is no doubt that you and your colleagues are doing a fine job preparing students for a career in Architecture, engineering, construction, and related fields.

All of a sudden, though, I am wondering – can this engine of growth we are experiencing in this day and age, in almost every avenue of our lives, here and abroad be sustained indefinitely?  I do not think so!  From my perspective of old age, 87 and counting, comparing what it was like 87 years ago, as to what is going on today, I feel I can reasonably project what this country and the world may look like for future generation.

I do not like to be a dooms day advocate but I would like to take you for a little walk with me - as I see the past, as we continue on our present path, and what can be expected for future generations. Yes, it is a fact that growth fuels economies so that people can prosper. Let us take a look at the engines that fuel this growth to try to understand if we are able to manage them especially for the benefit of future generations.  Let us look at money and how it works in our system for the exchanges of goods and services, of capital investment in how it plays a roll of industrial development, labor, energy, natural resources, and ingenuity.  How each of these parts play a the roll to make up where we are today and what we can expect in the future.

 Money – capital investment – industry

Money -- works well as a tool for the exchange of goods and services.  In the past, money bought slaves to provide goods and services for the rich.  Today money buys people among other things in somewhat the same way. In today's world without your paycheck you can end up homeless.  So that your boss has control over what you can or want to do.  It decides what house you live in, what schools your children can go to, what kind of vehicle drive or can  own or purchase on the basis of your credit report, along with almost everything else in our lives.

Capital -- Our capitalistic system is based on consumption which in turn fuels Industrial growth stimulating more investments which in turn produces profits very often at the expense of our natural resources and the environment.  Money incentives work marvelously well to build nations and their economies as well as for people to be able to up grade their situations. 

Labor – population - expansion

Population growth is good for economies as economies need consumers. Taking into account that nature is extraordinarily prolific! For eon’s nature’s checks and balances with diseases, and catastrophic events kept populations growth in their proper perspective along with all other ecosystems. Then man came along with modern medicine for one.  Major diseases were conquered overriding natures checks and balances so that the population of the planet has increased exponentially. Humankind are not able to manage population overload to keep this expansion in balance. In our time, there were vast areas of undeveloped land available to accommodate this unprecedented growth world wide.  In a relatively short time,rural areas could no longer sustain this growth so urban area became a natural development.  As a result, more housing, cities, automobiles, highways, factories, airplanes, etc., came into being.

One of the most tragic part of this development occurs when excellent food producing being land is being converted into the concrete jungle.  Land that will be required to feed this ever increasing population will no longer be available, not only in this country, but worldwide.

In the past 60 years, in the immediate area where I live, I have seen vast truck garden farms, orchards, and other excellent food producing areas transformed into highways, shopping centers, commercial buildings, housing, and other structures of all kinds and shapes. From San Francisco North to Santa Rosa has become one continuous urban corridor. I have seen the arms of this growth stretching 130 miles north of San Francisco to Willits. Can we continue on this path indefinitely? I do not think so!


We are almost complete dependent on sequestered hydrocarbons or fossil fuels that have been dormant for eon, better known as - oil, coal, and natural gas to fuel our economies. The adverse effect of this relatively cheap source of energy is global warming which is no longer a myth. We are experiencing, as we speak, drastic weather changes globally. Furthermore, the long term effect of this global warming trend is still to be determined. It is foolish for us to harvest these sequestered hydrocarbons that have been dormant for eons putting them into our atmosphere along with all the other hydrocarbons being released as a result of global expansion in all areas.

Natural Resources

Along with the above mentioned engines that fuel our economy, natural resources are essential. Many of our essential natural resources even renewable ones are being depleted at an astonishing rate. Let’s take a look at the redwood forest as an example. Only 4% of our old growth redwood forest stands remain standing mostly in state parks. Where the inventory was at an average of about 450,000 board feet of merchantable timber per acre 100 years ago, our present inventory now standing at less than 5,000 board feet per acre. 

Some fish populations like the Coho Salmon are almost diminished to extinction as as well as some bird species, etc.


Man loves to build all kinds of things. The tendency is for more, bigger, brighter than ever from apples and oranges, strawberries and to homes, to automobiles, to airplanes, to skyscrapers, even to cities worldwide. Just look at the marvels that are found in all walks of life world wide. Given the opportunity he will build edifices, highways, bridges, overpasses, and byways of extraordinary size and complexity. 


If there is to be a future for future generation, I believe the time has come where growth needs to be toned to sustainability in all phases of life not today but yesterday or we the people and most importantly future generations will have to pay the consequences for our negligence. As individuals we must take actions to govern ourselves as much as is possible. Governments, institutions, and industry cannot do this for us as they all have a vested interest in continuing the status quo.

In conclusion, I do not believe this wakeup call can/will be heard in time for us as individuals or as nations world wide to act responsibly in a timely way for the benefit of future generations.  My solution is for kindred souls as individuals or collectively learn the basic Sustainable Lifestyle Skills so that they too can remove themselves from the dependency of the systems in place as my late wife and I did and create an alternative lifestyle independent of the status quote.  

WIDOWER, 87 year old, retired architect, founder and director of “The Redwood Forest Institute” (www.savetrees.org) seeking 3 skilled couples to establish a small sustainable community on a beautiful, secluded, 400-acre ranch with a river running through it, halfway between Willits and Fort Bragg, deep in the redwood forest. 

The idea is to carry on with 51 years of work with forest stewardship creating the most awesome, private, 400 acre park in Mendocino County and at the same time becoming as self-sustaining as possible in food production, energy, and financially independence. 

Seeking, successful middle aged professionals, wanting to get away from it all and live a more simple down to earth lifestyle. They need to be smart with some some farming skills, handyman skills.  No pets, no smoking, good landlord and work references required. Please send a detailed description of relevant skills and experience to Bello, PO Box 2079, Willits, CA 95490 or email [email protected]

Thanks in advance for participating in this message,

Charles Bello