Lifetrac 5 Ready to Roll, Microhouse Coming Soon

Download LifeTrac 5 CAD files and documentation here.

Our School at Blair Grocery’s LifeTrac 5 is finished!

When filmmaker Ian Midgley went in search of world changers, he found Open Source Ecology and Our School at Blair Grocery. And then he imagined what could happen when two different visionary projects collaborate, each contributing to the work of the other. Ian’s inspiring idea became a reality this past week as Open Source Ecology and Our School at Blair Grocery came together to build a LifeTrac 5 tractor for the school to take back home to the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans for use in its gardens. Meanwhile The Spark film crew, led by filmmaker/collaborator Tom Griffing, captured it all – the coming together, the hard work, the unexpected hurdles, the ultimate achievement – in footage shot for The Spark.

In all, 21 people converged at the Factor e Farm to take part in the build and film project, including James Slade, Jason Smith, Savanna Slade, and students from Our School at Blair Grocery. The build took close to a week. OSE’s Operations Manager, Katie Whitman, praised everyone involved, with special thanks to Dedicated Project Visitors Lucas Warner, Leandra Forman, Cory Shenky, and Jordan Pheonix, who pushed hard to make the tractor a reality: “Their resilience was amazing,” Katie explains. “The timeline for this build was being pushed back by externalities that they could not control. They painstakingly worked through all the holdups to completion.” Katie attributes the build’s success to “the stamina and character of the people involved.”

During the build, the flow of learning definitely went two ways. Durante Chappell from Our School at Blair Grocery shared expertise during the build, offering time-saving solutions. He would see someone struggling and quietly offer advice.

If you ask the tractor-building crew about highlights of the past week, they probably won’t fail to mention, along with new friends and great work done, DeRonta Langand’s southern-style fried chicken, complemented by Tom Griffing’s gumbo. Terrific! Thanks to all involved for a memorable week. The tractor is finished, ready to go to work, but the story of the collaboration will ripple forward through the impact of the upcoming film, The Spark, inspiring other collaborations between organizations working for social good.

This week, we are saying goodbye, with sincere thanks, to Leandra, Cory, and Jordan, but we also welcome Miguel Castro and John Stager as new DPVs (working on the Hydrafabber).

Meanwhile, OSE Executive Director Marcin Jakubowski notes other highlights from recent Design Sprints. Design Sprint collaborators are working on oxyacetylene version of CNC torch table, with a gas control and separate height controller. The Open Source Welder/Plasma Cutter design is in progress. Here is an initial diagram.

Marcin met this past week with designer  John Motloch and construction manager Chris Reinhart  to move forward on OSE’s Microhouse build.  The Microhouse is a natural construction building made primarily from compressed earth blocks and built using OSE’s open-source construction equipment such as the Brick Press.

Open Source Ecology’s CEB Microhouse

The design is perfect for anyone who wants to create simple, affordable, and energy efficient living space. Fans of the DIY tiny house movement will want to look at this option. John and Chris will be responsible for the build of the 400-square foot Microhouse, which is now scheduled for Sep 28. And with the build coming up and plans falling into place, we can now announce that we are ready finally to fulfill the 2011 Kickstarter reward structure.



  1. Brad Lewis

    Broken link above for Kickstarter campaign should just be:

  2. Peter

    The “Kickstarter reward structure”-link fails. It should be

    Thanks for all the hard work! You are on to something big…

  3. Aidan Williamson

    What was the name of the machinist (male, early thirties?) present at this build?