The Vedic/Vastu planned and designed community of Maharishi Vedic City in southeast Iowa offers a number of interesting and insightful lessons for planners. Here are the ten primary lessons from researching and visiting this unique sustainable city:
- Maharishi Vedic City has had the advantage of a largely blank canvas from which to work with, as well as the foresight to avoid mistakes made previously elsewhere. In Maharishi Vedic City, the zoning code is even written in a manner that prohibits unsustainable practices before they can become commonplace.
- The Vedic/Vastu architectural designs and the “garden city” layout of the city are harmonious within a rural Midwestern agricultural setting.
- It shouldn’t take ordinances like those found in Maharishi Vedic City to assure a healthy and sustainable community, it should only take common sense. Unfortunately, under our system of predatory and exploitive capitalism, common sense usually loses out to greed. Perhaps, that’s one reason why Maharishi Vedic City is such a refreshing breath of fresh air amidst a nation overrun with sameness.
- The geometric Mandala neighborhood designs employed here preserve and enhance open space, while most historic Western designs largely overrun nature with structures and impervious surfaces.
- Maharishi Vedic City is an entire community of one zoning category. While this may sound dysfunctional, it actually works by using nature as the transitional zone between differing categories of land uses.
- To some, Maharishi Vedic City may seem like low-density sprawl, but in reality it is designed and being built as a garden city composed of ten compact developments interlaced with open space.
- Not many cities or towns can claim more than 50 percent of their land area is open space.
- In fully sustainable communities, certain locally unwanted land uses (a.k.a. LULUs) may actually become a thing of the past. These could include landfills, power plants, junk yards, and the like.
- Despite hard work and good intentions, plans and projections may not come to fruition as quickly as anticipated. That’s when it is most important not to give into the pressure of “traditional market forces,” but to remain consistent with the principles of Vedic/Vastu planning and design. Sometimes, revolutionary ideas take time to jell with the general populace. Any proposed changes should be appropriate with the original intent and goals when the city was established.
- This unique community in southeast Iowa is and will continue to be a fascinating study in the application of Vedic and Vastu principles in the United States. The lessons learned could refashion the entire paradigm of planning and design found here…something which is sorely needed.
10/7/22 Addendum – one more: Maharishi Vedic City was using nature-based solutions (NbS) identified in ancient Vedic/Vastu design principles from India long before it became the latest planning catch-phrase.