Considering Pelletizing of Bio-Waste as a Source of Food & Energy

As we consider what an compact Arcology themed Ecovillage might look like as the first step towards larger more ambitious EcoCity Development, we need to look at where the energy is going to come from. Its seems to be understood that such a model of development should be self-reliant in the production of energy if possible. The type of energy mix would depend on the location and assets of the property where the project was located.

While Arcosanti itself may not seem like the ideal location for a biofuel facility given that is located in a arid/semi-arid region of the world, the fact that much of the property of the project is part of riparian zone does permit some consideration of woody biomass potential. Indeed several of the buildings at Arcosanti are heated by fireplace and despite this it seems to only have scratched the surface of the total woody biomass capacity of the site, as evidenced by the many fallen branches and trees seen on a hike of the riparian areas.

Regardless I wanted to talk a bit about the promise that pelletizing might have in relation to converting waste biomass into fuel and feed in a ecovillage with many characteristics similar to Arcosanti.

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Exploring Possibilities for Local Sustainable Food Production in Haverhill MA

At the current time I am in a town in the Northern Metro Area of Boston called Billerica MA which I plan to discuss more later in relation to the ShowTime Series Weeds.

I am staying with a friend a Kyle Wakefield who I met through Jimi Carnazza. Kyle is interested in exploring possibilities for collaborating in the areas of sustainable community and business development. He is especially interested in converting vehicles to run on vegi oil and alternative earth building such as Cobb.

So we are looking at a few project possibilities while I am in the area.

Last year Jimi asked me to help him establish the nonprofit Full Circle Earth by becoming a co-founding board member.

Today Kyle and I went to the town of Haverhill MA a city of 60000 in Essex County is on the extreme northeastern part of the MA right next to New Hampshire.

The reason for visiting was to see Dudley Farm and to evaluate it as possible site for the building of our proposed Environmental Education EcoCenter.

Before meeting Roger, who was to be giving us the tour of the property, we went in search of the downtown Haverhill in hopes of finding food – a quick burrito or something like that. While unsuccessful in seeking out a meal before the meeting, we were encouraged that after almost giving up we found that there a descent central business district in Haverhill that was actually thriving.

We saw lots of pizza places but not much burrito or wrap places. Haverhill like a lot of old mill towns in New England has struggled to rebound from the demise of its industrial core. Apparently the long time mayor has had some success in revitalizing the urban core by luring artists and creative types into the old mill buildings by offering them as converted lofts. Over 150 million dollars has been put into revitalizing the urban core which includes am impressive number of high rise buildings considering its size and that most of the highways leading to the center of town were two rather than four lane – which by the way was a common thing I noted in all of MA.

After giving up on our search for food, we met with Roger and explored Dudley Farm which is nicely situated just a few miles outside of Haverhill town center. Roger is young 22 but we were impressed with his maturity and the strength of his convictions. Originally from Sacramento, CA he has found himself in Haverhill though his wife’s family’s ownership of Dudley Farm. With his History background Roger is interested in making the property a model for communal farming. We discussed the idea of creating something a bit more diverse and community oriented than the typical nuclear family farm of American Lore.

We heard from Roger that the mayor mentioned above who had supposedly done so much for urban revitalization in the urban core of Haverhill, did not seem to care much about open space. Roger say that he seems to be encouraging the rapid development of the remaining farm and rural properties in the town.

While the offer to use the land for our Nonprofit for free seemed generous, he said that he or his family could offer no guarantees that we could have long term use of the land. This was due to the fact the owner was old and that once he died the land might be divided up by his four children. Despite this it seemed a generous offer and something I saw a real opportunity for FCE’s development.

The small town coziness of MA and New England also comes at a cost. The challenges of farming in many MA towns, exposes a major flaw with MA’s Town Governance System. This system of governance has encouraged the urbanization and in many areas the suburbanization of rural areas by imposing laws that are designed for cities in rural areas and by encouraging the spreading out of development between the small towns so that Boston melds together in a series of long belts around the city that stretches up 60 miles from the city core and covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the state as well as spilling over into New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

The overspilling of development and resulting regulations seems to have created a lot of resentment and confusion in rural areas to what is urban and rural. One example is that in the New England Town System there are no urban and rural boundaries, only towns that become urban by way of suburbanization or a historically dense urban core. Even smaller more rural towns in NE seem often to embrace rigid regulations on farming. In many cases though, the imposition of urban restrictions against animal farming seem to make no sense as in the case of Dudley Farm. Such blanket regulations also increasingly fly in the face of the burgeoning back to the land movement that focuses on more local food sustainable food production.

Yesterday I talked with Anne Wirstad who worked with Richard Nelson pioneer of the SolaRoof Passive Solar Bubble System for several years in Norway (here is a Youtube video of them “LifeSynthesis – bubble generator testing in Norway” testing out the system in 2012), that was calledAgriPod. In 2013 they started her own initiative (Anne and her partner Robert working in Norway with a local municipal waste management business continued the work started under AgriPod. This included securing a grant from the EU to further develop the AgriPod SolarBubble/SolaRoof concept into a working prototype.

The SolarBubble system always intrigued me because I saw it as a system of great potential to allow for minimization of heat loss at night from passive solar heated buildings. While the focus now is on greenhouses we are seeing that this type of technology could have a wide application throughout the building industry.

EdenSpace Project

At the current time I am in a town in the Northern Metro Area of Boston called Billerica MA which I plan to discuss more later in relation to the ShowTime Series Weeds.

I am staying with a friend a Kyle Wakefield who I met through Jimi Carnazza. Kyle is interested in exploring possibilities for collaborating in the areas of sustainable community and business development. He is especially interested in converting vehicles to run on vegi oil and alternative earth building such as Cobb.

So we are looking at a few project possibilities while I am in the area. 

Last year Jimi asked me to help him establish the nonprofit Full Circle Earth by becoming a co-founding board member.

Today Kyle and I went to the town of Haverhill MA a city of 60000 in Essex County is on the extreme northeastern part of the MA right next to New…

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Review of Headlines from Feb 26 WSJ Newspaper

I went to Starbucks the other day and read the Wall Street Journal while talking to a friend who was chatting and texting on her tablet.

While I have pretty much abandoned print newspapers and magazines as a source of news I found it useful to go through and consider the major news of the day in this way. Something about the newspaper format helped to me to organize the pressing issues of the day in a more cohesive way than the way I usually do it with the web browser.

Whats interesting is I found a Reuters Digest of all the headlines from the WSJ for that Day.

White House Weighs Future of NSA Surveillance – Don’t worry no one in government is serious about any kind of radical reform of anything including military and intelligence spending or practices.

BitCoin Hits Hard Times as Shutdown of One Trader Rattles Market – The Mt Gox collapse cost BitCoin traders 450 million dollars. I never understood the idea of people making huge amounts of money in BitCoin. At least when you invest in a stock you have an idea you are investing in something and have information about that investment. Possibly BitCoin was more about investing in the future like say Gold or another commodity. It was about the idea the BitCoin was the money of the future for the Global Economy, so get in now before it really takes off. Yet I think we need to look at the fundamentals of BitCoin and consider what it is and what it does that traditional money trading and transfer systems don’t offer.

Tesla Shares Hit Record High on Anticipated Battery Deal – Elon Musk who made his fortune through PayPal originally has had a series of well known successes several of which relate to sustainability and green business – his electric car company Telsa and also the solar install company called SolarCity. Apparently the punctured battery case fires proved a minor distraction. Good. Hopefully Telsa can bring the price of electric cars down and in the process also find better ways to power up these vehicles such as setting up a network of alternative energy powered fueling stations across the country. While electric according to many experts is still better than conventional powered vehicles, it involves using a power grid that is primarily powered by fossil fuel and still nearly 50 percent powered by coal.

Supreme Court Eases Rules for the Search of Homes – In addition to that it affirmed a right of authorities to conduct pre-trial freezes of defendant assets. I think there is a problem with the Supreme Court at a very fundamental level that has to deal with years of Republican nominations of pro-corporate establishment types that is now finally gaining traction with a series of decisions that seems to support corporate rights over individual rights.

3 Eu Countries Freezing Aid to Uganda – What about US? This reminds us of the reality that a cleavage has emerged between more modern regions of the world where its citizenry has embraced many key aspects of an individual’s right to choose their lifestyle and places like Africa and Asia where it seems this kind of change is more slow going. Indeed in some respects there even seems to be a race among countries in Africa as to who is going to impose the most Draconian laws against homosexuality. Really it exposes the troubling reality that we have to shift our thinking and accept that much of the world is not ready to see human rights as including the right to choose to be a homosexual. Thus we need to consider that countries that imposes these rules should not have as favorable status as nations who share our values and respect the right choose one’s sexual preference without persecution and the risk of imprisonment or even death.

Detroit and Creditors Debate how Quickly Judge should Resolve City’s Bankruptcy CaseWhat we see here is not about Detroit, its about the structure to rebuild our decaying urban cores and infrastructure while support and subsidize car culture and sprawl. The irony is the very car culture that led to Detroit’s rise is not precipitating its fall.

US Gov Proposes Banning Logos for Snack Foods & Soda in Schools + US Obesity Rate among Preschool Children Drops 40 % over Past Decade – Possibly these two news items are a sign of a shift away from pandering to corporate food interests at the expense of our country’s health. However the fundamental problem is that the corporate bottom line sees more profit in promoting ill health than good health. Part of the issue is that we don’t know how to profit promoting good and healthy lifestyles and living.

Marketing chief rises at Yahoo – Marisa Mayer is recovering from the marketing flop that led to one of her hand picked high level execs being fired by her after just 11 months on the job, by elevating a new rising star to the top marketing position in Yahoo. The real story though is not in the corporate gossip but rather the way in which this rising star is using Hollywood star power to market a company in a way that seems to crossing new boundaries. Still not sure what it is Yahoo at least seems to be able to buy up star power to polish its image and promote its products and logos. Ultimately though what matters is if people find a service compelling and Yahoo still has yet to demonstrate it can offer the kind of integration of services that other big name IT players offer like Google, Facebook and Apple offer in the mass market and IBM, Oracle and Microsoft offer in the corporate market.

Citibank alumni rises within Obama admin to rival Goldman clique in Washington – So now Citibank has replaced Goldman as the go to people in Wall Street Revolving Door Politics? Which do you prefer Coke or Pepsi? I prefer neither and I think Obama needs to say YES WE CAN stop kissing corporate America’s ass in Washington!

Thoughts on Forbes and the Delusions of the Ruling Class

I actually have been reading Forbes on a regular basis. This was because, I had noted a greater sense of depth and thoughtfulness that one might expect (or I had expected/seen in the past) from a magazine that chronicles the world’s mega-rich. I also like some of the technology reporting.

Yet I think what is often the case is that we only glimpse a small part of the reality and we often wrongly assume a pattern or shift when it is just an imaginary blip. I started following the online edition of Forbes recently because its still free and had some interesting content about technology as well as social commentary which I would not have expected to find in traditional versions of the publication. Most recently I had begun to see a tilt back towards the more conventional Forbes mentality. That is this idea of being a magazine to promote hedonism, materialism and a definition of the American Dream that revolves around the power addiction needs of the super rich.

Below is my comment to the article in Forbes titled: Bipartisanship Is Great For Politicians But Gridlock Is Better For The American People

“My thinking is that Forbes is struggling to find its intellectual way and to put this kind of “intellectual” content on here is a sign of that. I felt like it was reflecting a shift in thinking where the obvious implications of the dangers of too much wealth concentrated among the ruling class becomes self-evident even to the more thoughtful members of the Ruling Class. Basically the article rehashed the same old weak economic argument that always lacked the reality of being actually proven to work in the real world. In that way, it really reflected the worst assumptions made about the economics class itself – that it talks about abstract theories of how the world works. Economists are taught to think that economics is the center of the universe and they become isolated from the whole or a holistic view of how society. An example of the tendency is to see the planetary Ecology and/or Ecosystems – which we rely on to sustain our economy – as a free and infinite resource. While reference is made to the “ruling elites” in Washington, I see these kind of people who seem to parrot the same uncritical supply views almost in unison as robots who seem not able to ask questions or to look critically at our capitalist dominated society. And to consider bias and delusion in how a society dominated by wealth and power might seek to distort reality so as to affirm the author’s very predictable and intellectually stale point of view. Need I say more?”

 Interestingly enough the post despite various grammar mistakes which is common in my writing the post was “called out” by the online editors as have several of my other posts which had a similar demeanor.

Why Google Glass Exposes New Questions about the Intrusiveness of Technology in our Lives

A Facebook post by Libby Hubbard (AKA Doctress Neutopia) featured about an article in Wired about a Google Glass (hole) user experience. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/12/glasshole/.

An Academic who I had met at Arcosanti several years back by the name of Barry Vacker mentioned the word Simulacrum in relation to the article which he criticized as “sophmoric and laughable.” Simulacrum was a word I first became aware of when reading post-modern theory (in my college days) from Jean Baudrillard but I never “grokked” it in my mind and so it still confuses me I have to admit. I was more of a Michel Faucault, Jean Francios Lyotard post-modernist. Simulacrum:  a fake image of the real? Ill have to think about it more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum.

What I see is that the article is a user experience piece and was written informally – its in Silicon Valley geek style (as the writer admits that’s what he is and what he represents – a reporter for that culture and frame of mind). Even if it was laughable or sophmoric , we can still explore the points the author is trying to make: people have not fully adjusted to the potential of this new technology. Of course Vacker is a professional writer and academic so he has the experience of really trying to professional write something which I really do not. However he never got into specifics about what about the article was sophmoric.

Indeed when I met the writer and academic at Arcosanti, I briefly and distantly recall this us debating about some topic I have long since forgotten. However what I recall is this sense that because I was not an academic without a Phd, that I was going to be held to a lesser and inferior standard as a thinker and person of ideas. Its sort of understandable right? To consider that if you put all your life energy into a structure designed to facilitate higher learning and thinking, you are bound to think your mind and way of thinking is superior to those who are not part of your academic culture and way of life. Yet when you feel judged by an academic who deems you inferior to them intellectually, it also understandable to consider it a negative experience that gives real life meaning to that idea of ivory tower intellectualism.

Indeed to say something is “laughable” is almost like disregarding everything that was said, like it was a waste of time and there was nothing redeeming in the article what so ever. Still there may be value to something’s laughability. Indeed I find much of what I see on TV, in celebrity culture and even in the news as laughable but I still get some value from it. Admittedly the article may be unremarkable, but it tells a story and shares a experience about a new technology and how that experience affected the user – I found some value to that and it got me to think more and deeper not just about the possible implications of this cutting edge technology, but about the people from that sub-culture who pioneer, develop and promote these technologies to the global masses.

I think its more about style than any real substantive problem with the writer. I would have liked to see the author actually describe the experience of using it a bit better. Example: how do you surf and how the images come up on the glasses and how this affects how you see things through the glasses.

The writer also expresses a sense of discomfort about wearing the device and how others see it and him in wearing it as a glasshole/asshole as he becomes a walking monitor/monitoring device of others which understandably might make people uncomfortable. I can relate to this on some level, having taken pictures of people who did not want their pictures taken and looked uncomfortable and in a few cases expressed their desire to not have their picture taken.

I also would have liked to have seen more about the possibility that this data can be another tool for monitoring not just the patterns of the user but of the people he watches and collects data on with his “Glass”. This relates not only to the government but also private corporations and how they could develop software to collect and data mind data from Google Glass users. Indeed I have read other articles about Glass that included more information about the specifics of this which was lacking in this article.

Its almost like the social unease about how other’s view him suspiciously or uncomfortably as a Google Glass Users is the defining essence of this article. Possibly its reflecting a collective concern or expression about about the potential abuse and intrusiveness of this powerful tool. While having many possible positive benefits, it another way to chip away at our privacy.

Consider that most likely in about five years from now there will be millions of these devices collecting huge amounts of data just at idle as the person wearing them does their daily life duties and routines. So it has the potential to unconsciousness and unintentionally transform the mundane and routine into the extraordinary. The implications could be way beyond those of the person wearing it. It may indeed affect thousands of people and without many of these people even knowing they have been “locked in” to the “Matrix” thanks to Google Glass capturing them as the User passes them. Apparently there is a software which can get a lock on a face (facial recognition software) and ID them without either that person being aware of its.

Arcosanti Reformulation Project

I am in Arkansas now and considering the long travel ahead of me to get to Arcosanti and the Memorial for Paolo Soleri. For a long time, I discounted my coming to this event due to financial concerns and other priorities.

What led to the change was the thought that there is chance that something important can be developed for the future of the project. I figured what the hell, its not often I get to be with 150 other people who care enough of Soleri’s vision and dream to come back to a place they once called home – even if for a very short time.

I have also been posting a lot online and privately with a discussion that was initiated by one of the Alum to a list of some of the people attending.

I have also been considering how to formally link Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri with the organization I am trying to get off the ground with Jimi Carnazza – Full Circle Earth.

Arcosanti & Full Circle Earth: To Develop a KnowledgeBase for Compact Urban Themed Sustainable Habitat Development

What I have come up with is a statement on the role of Arcosanti in bringing two of the founders of this organization together and to consider some of the things that can be done to promote Arcosanti and Arcology on a practical level. The reality is that incorporating Arcology theory into practical practice is not an easy thing to do and this is why so few have done it – that I am aware of at least. To consider an applied Arcology model or even a theoretical framework for the dissemination of this idea,  we need to form and build networks with the mix of people needed to actually build such a prototype. In this process, we need to reconsider what Soleri meant by Arcology. We also need to explore how he wanted to implement the first one at Arcosanti as a prototype. So as we consider sustainability and Arcology on a practical level, a lot of questions are going to have to be answered. Its definitely not a job I think we can do alone so if anyone reading has any interest in what I am writing about please contact me (Jeff Buderer: buderman@gmail.com).

(Re)formulating Arcosanti: The Alternative Arcosanti Project as an Start-up KnowledgeBase for Building Sustainable Arcology Themed Developments

So far I have created a wiki called the Alternative Arcosanti Project. Its work in progress – a mish-mash of what I thought were some core ideas of how to or what to consider in (Re)Formulating Arcosanti. So I proposed the name “Arcosanti Reformation Project” as one possible title for the group, rather than just something generic like the Arcosanti Alumni Group.

At the end of his life Soleri talked about the need for something more fundamental in society than incremental reform which seems almost everyone would agree has gotten the progressive no where in terms of improving the overall socioeconomic dynamics of society. Yes Soleri had become a critic of the reform movement and saw it as a failure. That we are not moving forward as a society corruption seems to be growing. Such a trend and relationship between corruption of the society and workshop of money and power as ends to themselves seem very predictable when looking at historical trends. Soleri warned us about the unhealthy worship of money and materials values.

To Create Change You Must BE The Change

Our critical mind might wonder whether Arcosant itself could not have taken more of a leadership in being a model for a more sustainable urban habitat? So my suggestion is that by calling any movement to reform Arcosanti, a (Re)formulation process, we are putting Soleri’s very own prescriptions (or at least in the process considering some of concerns and trying to consider how a culture might be formed around these for building future societies) for fixing society and the world.

We are acknowledging what he had a problem with, while we are taking action where he seemed to be unable to act as a leader. We are empowered with the realization that we must first create a model of change most immediate to us, especially before lecturing the larger society about what is wrong with it. We must be a model of the change we want to see by figuring out how to put those ideals we hold dear into practical practice in our lives – in order to be taken seriously.

So in order for Soleri’s ideals and vision to survive of not just Arcosanti but Arcology itself, we must see that Arcosanti and Arcology must be reformatted or reformulated. From that process what needs to emerge is:

  1. A solid, consistent and compassionate ideology for changing not just the built environment but the very nature of what we see as our humanity.
  2. This ideology must not be classroom and neither should it be workplace based.
  3. The success of the movement will be based on the development of powerful human relationships and bonds within the process of living and working together to build the Worlds First Prototype Arcology.

In the above-mentioned process an “Arcology Ideology” can be truly birthed as something that is not seeking to impose things on people as one person’s ego-centric impulse, but getting us to more deeply to think about how we might actually work together effectively with others as part of their shared interest in “building” a healthy and prosperous humanity.

 Notes and References

The Challenge of Creating a Thriving Global Eco-Cities Movement

Earlier in the year I considered going to the Ecocities Conference taking place in Sept in Nantes France. I worked with Libby Hubbard (AKA Doctress Neutopia) on a submission to the event.

We explored the limited evidence of success in which even a broad definition of EcoCity can be applied. In response to the slow growth of EcoCities, conference organizers seemed to be taking steps to bring in people and ideas that might enable a discussion of how to build a ecocity that might eventually bring in larger scale redevelopment players. Yet it is the case that many of these so called big time players who as decision-makers mold our modern cities are the ones that resist the needed changes. Conventional environmental and planning actors have been hobbled, humbled and in many cases made jaded by the largeness of the task at hand to transform the human built environment and to do so in very short period of time. In response they have tended to see incremental reform as the only realistic option to create practical change. Could it be that the only real long term solution is to build smaller, more human scale built environments arranged along ecological principles and resize the city more in the range of the Greek city state?

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