It will be cold soon, but we should be prepared for it. We've stocked up on food staple
s, all the basics just in case. Perhaps it's only a psychological comfort to us, but there's rarely anything wrong with being prepared. The common living space, a quick but robust concrete tilt up
destined to be a group space or communal workspace, was well insulated with tanks of water for passive solar
heating, a heat pump
to warm the floors, and a small, simple multi-fueled stove capable of burning almost anything from wood to charcoal, propane to white gas
. It is intended to be left unused except on exceptionally cloudy or cold days, or during gatherings and feasts, as the passive heating and cooling systems should do wonders on it;s own. Come summertime, we'll core some proper windows in the tilt up slabs, triple glaze them with articulated panes and install passive solar powered cooling vanes.
The open gardens are well prepared for the coming spring, and the rather massive geodesic
greenhouse only requires panels for the crown and final troubleshooting of its self-activated ventilation system. We can expect hothouse
tomatoes, bell peppers, string beans, and other delectables perhaps even before Christmas. The interim water tower we erected last month is having leaking issues, and requires further weatherproofing for if/when any hard freezes occur. As it is, many of us miss a truly hot shower, but the temporary solar water heater
will have to do for now. Some of us have taken to heating pails of water on the parabolic
We do have electricity coming to us from the 'grid', but we've all agreed that we should use it only sparingly for things like the computers, emergency hot water and heating. So far we've been plenty warm. We'll be weaning ourselves off the grid very soon. All of our lighting already comes from a batch of high quality solar panels, a bank of batteries, and a constellation of easily movable, cheap and indestructible cool-white LED
lights. This was a wise investment. We'll always have light, and plenty of it, when and where we need it.
We've set up a community server
to share the satellite link
. A few of us already had laptops and wireless cards, so we pooled to buy an 802.11 access point
, and a few others pooled to buy a batch of wireless cards and an assortment of older but quite usable laptops for community use
. This is going quite well, and is perhaps the easiest project of all. A few die-hards insist on stringing cat 5 for 100 megabit connections to the server's hub, and that's fine. I've always liked the look of cables, and I'm sure I'll use it occasionally in the lab for moving really big files.
The rammed earth
and found object
dwelling I've been working on as my first private home and workspace is nearly finished. The crazy-nice guy down at the local junkyard
seems happy to see me haul off the odd bits that I do on my bike trailer, and I always try to organize things for him a bit before I go. I bring him beer, smokes, and veggie sandwiches and he tells me his crazy hermit's tales. I've tried to explain to him the whole situation back home, but I think it would comfort him more if I just lied and told him that we worshipped the devil and danced naked in the moonlight. Well, a few people were dancing naked in the moonlight
down in the wooded glade by the creek to the primal sounds of a small drum circle
last full moon, but if anything they were worshipping Bacchus
and the first batch of excellent beer.
My future home consists of a deeply banked, nearly underground layout not unlike a modest Hobbit's cave, if Bilbo's Bag End
was constructed of found lumber, doors, panels, corrugated sheeting and a myriad of recycled products for insulation. Inside the floors and wainscots are neatly tiled with well-tamped split flagstone
s from the creek. There is no mortar
, but any of the small gaps are filled and chinked with even thinner shards to finish the floor off into a uniform smoothness. It is quite pleasant to walk on barefoot. The final structural touches left to do are the small observatory tower and star-gazing loft and final details and troubleshooting of the insulation. Next I will work on furniture and cabinetry for living spaces and the workshop. After that I'll finish laying out the landscape designs above and beside it and start ground preparation.
Evenings after almost unbearably pleasant group meals have been spent either in raucous sing-alongs with grundoon
and refugees from nanobot deathmatch
, or in intense brainstorming sessions aided by materials from The Whole Earth Catalog
, New Arcology
, Buckminster Fuller
, and Paolo Soleri
and his Arcosanti
project. We discuss a few more domes, for gardening and housing, for workshops. I think I've managed to drive home the idea that domes aren't all that nutty; they're very functional, efficient, and easy to construct. It's a shame they have the loopy new age image that they do, as they are really quite useful. Just because you have a geodesic dome doesn't mean you sleep under a teak-framed pyramid surrounded by quartz
points and amethyst
geodes listening to Ravi Shankar
. Someone wants to build a ceramics studio
, and we all heartily agree. Crockery
is useful and saleable
, not to mention therapeutic to make, and we talk about other saleable arts and crafts. Plans are in the works for a hybrid traditional-digital printmaking
studio. We discuss various windmill
vertical rotors, Venturi
-ducted turbines for electrical power and direct mechanical power for moving water and milling
. I want to build a 24" Dobsonian
mount reflecting telescope
and grind my own mirrors once the dust settles, and a few others want to join in and help me build it or build their own. I've never looked through a 24" reflector before. I've looked through a 16" once, and I could count the rings of Saturn with it and see the fine lace of the Crab Nebula like it was an iridescent doily in the palm of my hand.
You can see my bias here, though I enjoy the campfire sing-alongs and jam sessions, I live flesh-and-blood for the brainstorming
. The idea of ideas is my oyster, my snug little pearlescent home. Irritants and problems only give me an excuse to make pearls. This particular evening we burn well into the night, people fading out left and right to go pass out with heads spinning with potential. A couple of gallons of beer and a few hours later, we're down to three, then two, then one, and I fidget alone with my laptop, everything
and Google almost until dawn, eyes saucers of enchantment before I stumble off to my sleeping bag and camping pad in the corner.
As I struggle to doze off, a mantra: We're doing this
. We're totally fucking doing this
Someday after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin