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Civilization Made Anew

How can we work together to help heal, or even rebuild, civilization? This brief article is intended to give some ideas. Many wonderful free resources are linked throughout.

Part 1: Building Complex Machinery From "Waste" Material

A lot of useful tools can be made out of recycled materials; all that is required is the understanding of how to do so. For example, Dave Gingery built an entire machine shop from scrap aluminum.

The processes of smelting and casting alone can take one quite far. In the above instance, Dave first made a charcoal foundry to smelt aluminum, and then casted the parts for a lathe. Next, he used the lathe to make a drill press, and so on. Many useful machine parts can be made this way with minimal resources!

We don't have to stop there either. Once we are done, we can use this machine shop to build even more devices to handle different kinds of materials. For example, making the machines designed by Precious Plastic can help us to do a similar process with scrap plastic.

In combination with skills like glassblowing, silvering, lens grinding, electroplating, sputtering, and so on, we can make some very sophisticated laboratory equipment for achieving even more efficient and refined results. Some examples:

• UNESCO - Low Cost Equipment For Science & Technology Education [Volume 1; Volume 2]

• The Inexpensive Science Teaching Equipment Project [Volume I - Biology; Volume II - Chemistry; Volume III - Physics]

• C.L. Stong - The Amateur Scientist: [PDF Book; Extra Info 1; Extra Info 2]

John Strong - Procedures In Experimental Physics

A lot of old, out-of-print books are a treasure trove of these sorts of practical skills and can be downloaded for free from Internet Archive if we know what we are looking for. [A good resource for finding these kinds of books was the (now defunct) Lindsey Publishing Catalog. However, their old stock is still sold through a company called Your Old Time Bookstore.]

In general, this kind of "technological bootstrapping" can be applied to just about any process required to fulfill basic human needs. For example, The Open Source Ecology group has a similar project that they refer to as The Global Village Construction Set whose aim is to produce designs for all of the devices that are necessary to build a modern society from the ground up.

Some other good resources are...

The Soil & Health Library

Journey To Forever

Rex Research

• LOW←TECH MAGAZINE [Standard Website; Solar-Powered Website]



Practical Action


N55 Design

• Alex Weir's CDs For The Third-World (CD3WD) [Digital Download; Archived Version; Extra Info]

YouTube Channel - How To Make Everything

YouTube Channel - Primitive Technology

Pneumatic Options Research Library

The Evenfall Woodworks Library

The Science Madness Library

This kind of knowledge, coupled to methods of planning like Buckminster Fuller's Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science and philosophies like Peter Kropkin's Mutal Aid, can also help heal the other harmful situations that are currently destroying all of us.

Part 2: More With Less By Working With Nature

Many people might be surprised to find out just how little of what humanity has built is truly vital to their personal health and well-being. With even a little bit of knowledge, basic needs like clean air, water, food, clothes, and shelter can be had without a lot of technology.

Unfortunately, some circumstances can inhibit our ability to do this effectively. For example, resources like food are still scarce for many. This is caused by mismanagement of what is already available (e.g.: inefficient distribution of food crop leading to spoilage), a lack of clean places to forage (e.g.: due to pollution), and many other problems. Some of these issues are systemic in that they are "built into" the processes that are predominant within modern agriculture itself. The following table will attempt to point out a few of these and offer suggestions on their resolution...

Current Issue Resolution Specific Examples
Reason: high densities of a single plant type leads to competition for soil nutrients
Reason: unity in diversity; each plant contributing constructively; all existing in complement
Companion Planting [e.g.: 1, 2]
Crop Rotation [e.g.: 1, 2]
Chemical Fertilizers
Reason: having the minimum amount of nutrients available produces weak and unhealthy plants susceptible to "pests"
Enriching Soil
Reason: having the maximum amount of nutrients available produces healthy and hearty plants able to protect themselves
Hot Composting
Cold Composting
Mycorrhizal Inoculation
Rock Flour
"Nightsoil" from Smoldering
Pesticides / Herbicides / Fungicides
Reason: contributes toxins to the environment and poisons groundwater supply; indiscriminately kills helpful organisms
Constructive Alternatives
Reason: non-toxic; using insects and animals to help; etc.
Bee Keeping
Butterfly Gardening
Fukuoka Method
Aigamo Method
• Various "Organic" Approaches
Hot Water Seed Treatment
GMO Hybrids
Reason: artificially limits the continuation of crop by making "seedless" varieties
Heirloom Seeds
Reason: seeds allow for continuation
Planting In Rows
Reason: inefficient use of water and soil; instability of root structure
Planting On Contours (In Arcs, Circles, & Spirals)
Reason: maximizes water and soil use; plants support one another
Circle Gardening
Reason: may be a waste of water (i.e.: taking away from water table) when it isn't necessary
Efficient Water Usage
Reason: increases or stabilizes ground water
Rainwater Harvesting
Greywater Recycling
Dry Farming
Seasonal Growing
Reason: must rely completely on preservation during winter
Year-Around Crops
Reason: produces a surplus of food; creates more secure food sources
Greenhouses + Insulation and/or Hot Composting

When we work with Nature instead of against it, some of the most inhospitable habitats can be made into lush environments once more. Here are a few amazingly beautiful example videos...

Willie Smits - How To Restore A Rainforest

Geoff Lawton - Greening The Desert
Geoff Lawton - The 2,000 Year Old Food Forest

Paul Stamets - 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World

There is no shortage of inspiration and opportunity!

We have put together a YouTube playlist with many more videos of a similar nature, and have formulated a general plan that applies the above information to automated food production on the local level.

Thank you for reading! ♥