Invasion of the Pod People

By Bruce Firestone | Architecture

May 04

Or what to do with underused parking lots and golf courses…

OK, I’ll admit it. I am a bad (actually terrible) golfer and a not much better driver (of cars, that is).

These days golf is a sport in decline (even before Covid-19 cratered much of the planet’s economy), which has triggered questions like: What to do with underused courses?

The debate over the fate of these lands is often fierce, witness the on-going argument pitting local councillor Jenna Sudds and Kanata Lakes homeowners against ClubLink-owned Kanata Golf and Country Club, who want to turn their erstwhile golf property into a 1,500-unit housing and apartment project.

Local residents want to keep the lands in its current use or turn it into open space. It’s a great place to walkabout or, in winter, toboggan with your kids.

How do I know that?

Because I owned a home backing onto that golf course for a generation. My spouse and I brought up five great kids whilst living there and we used the golf course every year (for sliding, not golfing).

To me, golf courses always were a waste of space–they use enormous amounts of energy, water, chemicals, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizer to keep their manicured greens in perfect condition. Golfers walk through a cancer-causing soup with each round IMHO.

So, what would I recommend for the reuse of some golf courses?

How about:

-grow local, turning part of it into microgardens producing a font of produce?

-playland, adding outdoor games like pickleball courts?

-tiny home paradise, creating spots for affordable housing?

Hence, turn this:

Into this:

And while we are at it, how about colonizing underused parking lots, turning this:

Into this:

I call this: Invasion of the POD People (a term I derived from the classic 1956 sci-fi horror film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers). POD people are folks who are tired of not having access to safe, affordable housing, a scandal in North America and beyond. Somehow, we forgot how to create enough housing for our citizens. Are you freaking kidding me?

I lived in Australia for many years and, more recently, I noted that Aussies are doing something about homelessness and parking lots. Yes, they are re-purposing parking garages to host homeless at night, https://www.boredpanda.com/homeless-shelters-car-parks-charity-australia-beddown/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic, so maybe my idea of re-purposing parking lots and golf course lands is not as far fetched as one might think…

I wrote a novel about this sort of “civil disobedience” (it’s called Jenna’s Story). I attach an excerpt from the work below but, I apologize in advance, it has some language NSFO or children under 18.

Be well everyone,

Prof Bruce

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GHS-pictogram-skull.svg

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Invasion_of_the_Body_Snatchers_(1956_poster).jpg

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Excerpt from Jenna’s Story:

Tom is restless these days, so he goes for long nighttime walks to calm himself down, get some exercise as well as feel less alienated and alone.

There are a lot of changes happening in his neighborhood, and around the nation as what everyone has taken to calling “pod people” invade cites and towns across America.

They’re not exactly the same as the aliens who invaded the US in Jack Finney’s classic 1955 novel, the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but might as well be as far as equity lords, police and Homeland Security Squad are concerned.

Immigrants, illegal aliens, people of color, the poor and homeless as well as a surprising number of middleclass people are riding in on long wagon trains of mobile pods—quantum tunnel generated micro homes that are sleek, jelly bean shaped, canvas-colored places on wheels. They are self-propelled by small EMP engines so they don’t move very fast, but they are quicker than 19th century Conestoga heavy wagons that, when fully loaded with up to 6 tons of cargo and people, could only travel a maximum of 4 mph.

In his neck of the woods, these pods have colonized almost every green space in San Francisco—Golden Gate Park, Lands End, Lake Merced Park, Potrero Hill, Lafayette Park, Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park, Presidio Golf Course—and when these places filled up, pod people who came in later waves have taken to parking them on streets, in squares, even in backyards, front yards and side yards of private homes and buildings.

They’ve also crossed the Golden Gate Bridge invading Sausalito and surrounding zones including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Millions of Americans are giving notice to their landlords, electing instead to buy a pod from Federal Unincorporated Company Kabooses, a not-for-profit manufacturer of these homes run by a crony of Abel Toreli’s, whose initials are on the side of each micro residence, that is, “F.U.C.K.”

Inhabitants or graffiti artists have cleverly added hand painted words after these initials such as, “you”, “them”, “yourself”, “it”, “yeah”, “POTUS”, “the feds”, “SCOTUS”, “slumlords”, “scumlords”, “gooberment”, “the man”, “DICKtatorship”, “robocracy”, “the SS”, “crapitalism”, “Amerika”, “bankenstein”, “aristoCATS”, “the Repulik”, “eviktion”, “democrazy”, “fascinazis”, and inexplicably, “Charlie Sheen”.

Once they find a parking space, they disable their EMP engines and settle in, rent free. They have street parties, drink a lot, play music—loudly—do an amazing range of legal and illegal drugs, and then get up every day to go to work, if they have a job. If they don’t, they turn their pods into mini flea market stalls selling whatever art, services or products these micro entrepreneurs can get access to or dream up.

A lot of the pod people across the States are from areas located within two miles of hazardous waste sites where persistent sickness and much higher cancer rates prevail; 56 percent of folks living that close to toxic dumps are minorities. This is their chance to get away, lower their monthly costs plus get access to better jobs and services.

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.

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