Past the Periphery

Past the Periphery

For longer than I care to recall, I was caught up inside the city's walls and occupied with its streets, amusements, and its special possibilities for patronage. The city had lost its walls long ago, but the comfort of its annual rhythms, and the magnetism of its social life, kept me captive - though I was as free as a Roman to wander on.

Each of us is looking to possess something that can appreciate and bring us riches. In the city this something tends to be ourselves. We fall into the routines of making a name for ourselves, playing ricochet as our moniker bounces off buildings and street corners, raising our local market value bit by bit.

Out in the periphery past the settlements lay fields, forests and valleys where rumors of riches dwell but few people. One's name doesn't go far whatsoever out there, except maybe as chains or furlongs of echoes. Self-image quickly evaporates as the rules of the city fade, giving way to a new dimension of development. A dimension based on personal vision and will for what can be coalesced and scaled.

What does it mean to settle out in a frontier and take control of a territory?

The majority of castles are built in the countryside, far away from the constraints and competition inherent to towns. They set themselves out in the midst of latent resources, offering a solution to the problem of productivity and placemaking. A good castle, a pioneering castle doesn't extract gains based on dominance. Rather, it specializes in coordination of local actors, helping bring order and wealth to a sector of Earth that was operating below its natural potential.

The castle protects many things and people, but most of all it gives definition to processes and serves as the seat for the "problem" of each sector, which is nothing more than the old age question: how should things develop? There may be common techniques across territories. But each sector is unique and the most successful visions that address this question will be unique also.

So wander I did.

I travelled lightly across all kinds of countryside. I was alone and possessed few resources or assumptions. Week by week, I began to encounter and get to know people of many different professions. Their work and their ambitions were different than the majority of townsmen I had met. Not better, simpler or more pure. Simply different, and perhaps on average a bit more colorful.

The longer I pressed on, the more people I began to encounter with a shared story and mutual aspirations. Tradesmen, laborers, crafters, makers, small farmers and builders of all kinds. Each working on their own, greatly disconnected from one another and the resources that would accelerate their ambitions. Broken vocabularies. A new frontier or an old kind of foundation?

This place is far out past the periphery of the main city, barely mapped and not counted as a place of high potential. Its development needs to be different, the design of its castle more practical and durable than most others.

But again, what kind of place is this? How would it tend to develop, if the connections among its long-standing components were accelerated? What kind of castle needs to be created?