Solutions for Self-Reliance

This Week in Resilience – June 2, 2013

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Do you know a recent graduate that can’t find a job?

Almost everyone does, and we’re likely to see much more of that in the future.

Technological capitalism isn’t delivering much good knowledge work anymore, and the number of people competing for the dwindling number of remaining slots is growing exponentially.

We actually have fewer people working in the US, Europe, and Japan than in the early eighties. And that number is still shrinking!

Unfortunately, it’s not a situation we can change (anybody that says different is trying to get elected).

It’s a function of a system in failure.

Fortunately, there are things that can be done – that’s what this newsletter is all about!

One solution is to combine knowledge with real hands-on-skills (seems like a no brainer, but it isn’t). With that combo, you don’t have to wait to get hired. You can actually build something that generates an income.

I’ve seen it successfully applied by people in wide variety of products and services (it’s a common theme for success stories in the new economy).

Here’s an example.

Youngstown Ohio recently added an aquaponics greenhouse to their vocational high school (top photo).

The total conversion cost about $50k in parts (much of the labor was supplied by students in other fields at the school). It includes multiple fish tanks, grow beds, vertical grow towers, and much more.

Now, that’s a useful skill set for a local business that supplies late or early season greens to restaurants and local institutions.

NOTE: To really see the opportunity here, think of local farming as a service. A services approach will allow you outcompete factory farms.

However, in order to turn this opportunity into reality, this skill needs to be combined with some knowledge of organic farming, marketing, teaching, and logistics.

Hope this gets you thinking about solutions….

Political Chicken. Most cities and towns in the US allow people to raise chickens. The few that don’t, should.

If your town/city doesn’t allow you to have a chicken coop, you might want to copy the I-Cluck campaign in Iowa City. They have an online petition (it uses the Care2, a petition making site), a paper petition you can modify/download, and a downloadable poster (seen below).

Resilient Rally

Pushing the limits of wood as a fuel.

I personally use wood to heat my home at less than 1/2 of what it would cost me to do it with fracked natural gas. Not only that, improvements in wood heating technology provide me most of the convenience of a natural gas/oil system at very high levels of efficiency.

Is there a next step? Could wood be used as a fuel for home-scale electricity and biochar? It’s getting there.

To get the inside scoop on what is possible right now, I’m planning to talk with the people behind All Power Labs this Wednesday on the Resilient Strategies Roundtable. They’ve done some excellent open source work on wood gasification for electricity and biochar production.

They’re even shipping a product called the power pallet (seen below) that significantly simplifies wood gasification technology at the personal level. These pallets ship in either the 10 kW or 20 kW versions, at a cost of <$2 a watt.

Power Pallet

 

New Home-Scale Electric Tractors. I’ve been looking for a successor to the GE’s Elec-trak (we talked to an amazing expert on Elec-Trak this week on the Resilient Strategies Roundtable).

Why? To build a resilient community, we need to improve the landscape. An electric home scale tractor is a way to get that done faster, cleaner, better.

While on the hunt, I ran into METI (Modern Electric Tractors Incorporated). It’s a group of inventive Elec-Trak enthusiasts that updated the design and built a prototype. Unfortunately, they haven’t figured out how to get a business going yet.

METI

Well, that’s it for this week.

I’ll be back next week with more. Keep moving forward.

Sincerely Yours,

 

JOHN ROBB

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