Ups and Downs and the Plan

For all of you who are interested in building global villages in the future – here are some lessons from our experience. This applies to the case where you start with raw, undeveloped land.

To begin with, the upshot is that we have just succeeded in producing our first compressed earth brick – on November 26. You can follow most of the deployment progress here, and the theoretical work is here.

On the negative side, here is a list of present challenges, all of which must be negotiated as part of the reality of our undertaking. Hardware troubles (equipment breakdown) and software issues (lack of skill -because no amount of schooling can prepare you for pioneering on real land) are the two main challenges. These considerations are taken with the intent of creating a world-class facility by year-end 2010, and the present population of 3. This means every day is precious, and all of us need to be at peak performance.

First trouble is internet, the backbone of our operations. Our 1000 foot power line to the wireless receiver got chewed up by mice – because we have not gotten a chance to bury it for the last 6 months. Too late now. To kill this issue, we decided to migrate from the problematic wireless internet to a land line. Now we decided to get a land line because we cannot afford to lose the week that it would take to get another power line ($200) and bury it properly (additional costs).

Next is the tractor. We just spend $2k on the transmission and clutch. Now the power steering went out. Without it, it is difficult to steer, especially with a loaded front-end loader – so that now we can’t do further work on burying the base of the greenhouse, nor can we pick up additional one-ton bales for mulching. The issue is that our tractor, a Massey Ferguson Model 90, is not a popular one so getting parts and fixing it is more expensive. Our solution immediately is to fix the power steering, then migrate to another tractor, such as an Allis Chalmers D-17 Series 4 via donation, which was very common and parts are available. Of course the long term solution is the open source hybrid-electric tractor, which has no transmission or clutch, and power steering will be a non-issue to fix if it is open source.

Water is the third item. We collect rainwater from our greenhouse roof, at an approximate rate of 400 gallons per inch of rainfall. It has not rained for the last 6 weeks – quite unseasonable. We’re out of water. We hauled in 100 gallons the other day. Today it’s raining (that’s why I’m blogging now) – but the downspout froze overnight, so we are collecting no water, as it is all spilling out of the downspout. (By the end of the day, it unfroze, and we have collected at least 100 gallons) This could have been avoided with foresight. The solution– hopefully in a week – is to dig and finish our well. That’s another story: one part of the purchased hydraulic-rotary drilling rig from Rockmaster was bent, and a water pump connection had a leak in it. Replacement parts have been shipped. I did not micromanage this project – so we still have no working rig and we’ve already had the rig for a few months. There is no robust solution to accountability of our team outside of full internal accountability of all members. I learn that the accountability issue is an important one – because it will always exist in the presence of deadlines and set deliverables.

Power is next. The Lister, since we cleaned it out to regain compression – is still not put back together completely – as the CEB was a priority for the last month. Today I will finally put it back together. We were running a backup generator in the meanwhile. Regarding our donated battery pack – one of the 24 cells is dead – so we can use only half of the battery pack until we get a replacement cell. Our solution here is to look for another donated battery pack, as we’re seeing that its capaticty is closer to 5 kWhr as opposed to the 10 that we sought. The longer term electrical solution is the Solar Turbine with on-demand Babington burner backup and hot oil storage, both for cooking and power generation when the sun doesn’t shine. In the near term, we’ll look for solar cell donations. We are interested in a total solar cell capacity of 5 kW for 24 people.

Ronny’s house addition is still in progress, and he’s freezing cold in the unheated camper. Our goal is to finish his house by December 7, so bye-bye CEB until then. That’s a reality. Of course the CEB would have been the solution here.

The greenhouse itself is rather cold at night, even if it’s in the 80s on a sunny day. The stove is not sufficient to heat it at the farthest end, so some plants have died. In the immediate term, we will close off one half of the greenhouse. The long-term greenhouse solution is unprecedented double-layer CEB walls with dynamic liquid insulation ( in between, with double-leyer glazing and standard SolaRoof technique on top. By the way, this is particularly attractive and affordable if we have our open source plastic extruder for producing high-tech glazing.

Regarding bees, I still have to give them supplemental feeding. It looks like the 2 colonies are not overly robust, and their stored reserves of honey are small. Moreover, we did not collect any honey this year. We are doing them organically, without any form of pesticide. We will try Sasha’s organic bee cultivation – where he uses a smaller-than-normal foundation that assists in warding off mites – as soon as we have the energy for it. Sasha, just point us to the source of the foundation in the USA, and we’ll try it.

This leads into the involvement of others, if we are committed to $3M capitalization by year end 2010. That means $3k per day – quite a task if we are living on $3/day. Indeed, that would make an interesting David vs. Goliath episode. But the pen is mightier than the sword. See this pen rolling gently on the page? It is quicker than a thousand daggers, more potent than the nuclear bomb.

Our program is to detail our status and working issues –from the most mundane to the most exotic – and deploy a team of tens to hundreds. The tasks are then to write grants, fundraise, and develop resources based on a clear set of deliverables. Motivation for this can be provided only by injecting tasty meaning into the endeavor. We are confident that this can be done by focusing and prioritizing a set of technologies that constitute an open source technology pattern language for localization (taken from our other blog) on the one hand, and a concrete foundation for a Global Village construction set on the other.

The bottom line is, we are not trying to provide a fixed solution set to Global Village localization infrastructures. Most people who interact with us fail to recognize that we are just proposing a seed set of widely-applicable items – which we support with a rating system and our full intention to deploy. This is our means only to movitate concrete action – and transgress endless armchair theory.

In support of this approach, Franz Nahrada has pointed out an existing, open source funding mechanism that we should replicate. Their development item is an open source wireless bridge. It has been funded by donations, large and small, from people interested in the product. This is the core of the funding mechanism that we are proposing for our 16 Global Village technologies: fundraising from stakeholders based on a well-defined deliverable. A diagram of this process for OSE was published here. We will apply this technique to the 16 technologies on a case-by-case basis. We are looking for individuals to take on the role of project managers for each of the technologies. This means setting up the donation-handling and deployment infrastructure for each project. Please send us an email at if you would like to take on that role.

What’s in It for You? Why should a wide support group participate in developing Open Source Techology for localization? The main reasons are embodied in four products of the collaborative development process:

Level 1 – Significant products at absolute lowest cost.

  • CEB, solar turbine, flex fab workshops, turnkey greenhouses, cars, tractors, other machinery, with infrastructure and localization focus
  • Endpoint of open source development process is a physical production facility

Level 2 – Production workshops – you build the above over a weekend

  • Requires significant workshop infrastructure
  • Unprecedented production model with respect to advanced technologies

Level 3 – Enterprise incubation via open franchising- open product design and enterprise plans

  • Household energy, integrated building, CEB machines, greenhouses, edible landscaping, automobile leasing, heavy equipment leasing, consulting, etc.

Level 4 – Replicable Global Villages – creation and evolution of communities

  • Open Source Enterprise Communities via voluntary contract
  • Research, development, and education lifestyle
  • Right livelihood and land base
  • Investment mechanisms for replication

Otherwise, stay tuned for our forthcoming proposal, supporting videos, and slide presentation. Contact us if you would like to be placed on a direct email list to receive the proposal and supporting materials.


  1. Lucas

    Dream wild.

    Would it help if you had a team of say 10 people who carry all they need (food and all) so that you have a “development party”, a “long weekend” or a “year’s end work festival”? You need a specific profile, or maybe just strong arms and a CV. Make a call to the community. Maybe you’ll get welders – equipment, learning and all. Maybe some folks with digital video cameras, too. As long as they bring their own food – hey, and maybe a hexayurt or two – then they are welcome.

    Would that work?

    It could be done for some at-hand deliverable, and see how that works.

    You set the date.

    (Oh, and I’ve sent an email requesting to receive the proposal etc.)

  2. Sasha

    Hi there this is the site for small cell plastic foundation, yes I know I dont like the concept of plastic in a beehive neither… But it offers instant help instead of years long regression without foundation or two or more years of regressions with small cell wax foundation, small cell wax foundation can be found here:
    btw disregard their note for experienced beekeepers only.

    Second it would be great if you could purchase smal cell bees from some organic grower, it wiould make things much easier for you.
    Best wishes to you and tour crew.
    Would like to visit and help you someday!

    PS what is wrong with the bees?
    For immediatelly help to them, I guess they have a lot of varroa, use sugar dusting (google dowda method)like dscribed here:

    Good luck!

  3. maggie

    get more ducks. merry christmas