These resources provide background reading to the RetroSuburbia book. Some are standalone resources that were written before or concurrently with the book, others are extensions to specific sections in the book.


A History from the Future

This essay is a speculative story about responses to energy descent in central Victoria. Many of the scenarios and ideas in the story are referred to in RetroSuburbia, but the focus is on wider community and government responses rather than household responses. As such, it provides useful background reading on...

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A short personal and global history of Retrofitting the Suburbs

This article is an extension of the Preface in RetroSuburbia. It outlines David Holmgren’s personal journey to writing RetroSuburbia in the context of events and movements in wider society over many decades.

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Feeding RetroSuburbia

Food and where it comes from is an ongoing theme in RetroSuburbia. This essay extends on the discussions in Chapter 29, Sustainable and sustaining diet, and the further information given in Appendix 4, Retrosuburban diet. It outlines David’s vision for a localised, resilient food system in an energy descent future...

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Futures framework for RetroSuburbia: limits to growth, energy futures and energy descent scenarios

This article outlines some of the background concepts informing RetroSuburbia, in particular the concepts of ‘Limits to growth’, ‘Energy descent’ and ‘Future scenarios’. It extends on the information given in the ‘Energy descent futures’ text box (p 22) and ‘My assumptions’ (p 22–23).

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Looking after teeth: a personal story

This piece is an extension of the section Looking after your teeth in Chapter 31, Health, disability and ageing in which Holmgren uses his own experience to illustrate issues around, and the importance of, dental care for a resilient household.

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Phil Bourne on decision making, interpersonal relations and conflict resolution

This piece was written by Phil Bourne to lend his expertise in the area of ‘people processes’ to the final chapter of the book: Decision making, interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution. It has a few additions from David Holmgren. Phil is a long term member of the Commonground Co-op and...

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RetroSuburbia; The Manifesto

This essay is based on an earlier version that was first published by the Simplicity Institute in 2012. It was written before RetroSuburbia and summarises many of the ideas behind the book. The transformation of suburbia, and similar low density residential landscapes, into dynamic, productive and engaging communities is the...

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The Melbourne Model

The Age recently published an article entitled, Melbourne’s liveability choice: soar like Manhattan or sprawl like LA The article quoted Infrastructure Australia’s three scenarios for Melbourne in 2046. The LA model: More than one million extra people – or 40 per cent of projected population growth to 2046 – will...

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