What I Found Interesting This Week 12/22/12

What I Found Interesting This Week 12/22/12

It’s heartening to see how many people are using resilience as the mechanism to regain control of life, prosperity, and happiness.

Don’t lose focus folks.  The future is local.  The world will re-organize around us.

Here’s what I found interesting in resilience this week:


Here’s a transformation from idleness to productivity in Maplewood, NJ.   See Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates for more (click to enlarge).

Edible Estates

Yards to Gardens.  Co-gardening matching service in the Minneapolis area.  Want company in your garden?


Yeti solar.  An off grid solar LED that’s pretty cool, but pricey.   Could last 20 years.  Install and forget.  Bright LED light 6 hours a day.

Solar Hot Air.  This system is a pretty simple DIY project that can, if properly designed and sized, can provide quite a bit of heating at a claimed ~50% efficiency.   Scott’s aluminum downspout design is pretty impressive.


Note from the above design:  The collector came to life at 8:15 am.  Outside air temperature was 13°.  I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t put any wood on the fire this morning, and just used solar only for a while.  The inside temp dropped about a degree from the initial 67°, but by 10 am we were increasing.  Our high today was around 31°, and we stayed a comfortable 68° with no other heat source than the collector.  Pretty cool…I finally made a fire in the wood stove around 3 pm to keep from cooling off as the sun dropped.  The collector finally shut down at 3:30 pm.

If you are interested in a commercial solar hot air system, here’s one called SunMate.

A virtual community power company.   In a small number of US states (Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California), it’s legal to create a community power company that negotiates for power from suppliers on the community’s behalf.    This power company doesn’t run the grid, which remains in the hands of the existing utility.  See: The Cape Light Compact for an example for how this works.   The legislation that makes this possible is “Community Choice Aggregation.”

Kitchen Moonshine.  Here’s a product from Denmark called the EasyStill.  It’s a table top still from Denmark.    I suspect this is merely water distiller with a modified the boiling point.  NOTE:  this is both illegal and potentially dangerous.


Visual this:   Here’s James L. Price, a retired Senior Master Sergeant (USAF) standing in front of all the electricity most households will need for the next twenty years.

Price Solar


Inventgeek has a cool DIY floating hydroponics project (1.5 hours to build).  Fun.

Floating Hydroponics


Local Currencies.  The Mayor of Bristol (UK) on why he takes his salary in Bristol Pounds.  Good start.  More needs to happen.  Import replacement.  Tax payments in Bristol Pounds.  Bristol needs to start to use the currency as an economic feedback loop rather than a loyalty program.

Recycling water from an AC system.  Jerry figured out his air conditioning system was dumping at least 350 gallons of water a year (condensation on the coils).   So, he built a little pump system to reclaim that water. Simple way to utilize what should be fairly clean water.  Here’s DIY plans to use it to irrigate a garden bed.

Farmhack.  A caged PVC in ground water tank?  I’m not sure about the stability of this DIY design, but here it is.



Keep innovating,




PS:  Remember,  there’s more than enough room at the bottom to create a new socio-economic reality.

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  • http://pennypincherpersonalfinance.blogspot.com Penny Pincher

    You may enjoy permies.com for some of that kind of DIY energy and also hugelkulture gardens and backyard chickens and so forth.

    One can make a still out of a crock pot, if the lid has a hole drilled in it for a handle. (or get creative and make a lid from sheet copper if your existing lid doesn’t work like that). Remove the handle. You then take about 3 or 4 feet worth of a copper ice machine line like 1/4″ in diameter, and stick it in this hole, make it curve up then down into the vessel that will receive the alcohol, but on the way down put it through a plastic gallon jug full of ice water and out a hole in the side near the bottom of the jug. Use superglue first or caulk to make that hole in the side of the jug water-tight around the line. Cut a bigger hole in the top of the jug to receive more ice easier. You can siphon off the water in it in order to add more ice, and not have to disturb the setup, or just start with it not all the way full. Put whatever it is you brewed that you want to distill in the crock pot and seal the lid of the crock pot with dough. Also dough around the copper line. Stick a towel under the jug of ice. Put it on the “low” setting and about 8 or 12 hours later you will have about a pint of something like Everclear. You can then disassemble your still, restore the handle to the lid of your crock pot, and resume life as usual. The first time you do this, you might want to be close at hand, to make sure it’s not going to catch fire. Don’t do it around open flame. That means pilot lights. Do this on the other side of the kitchen from the stove if your stove has flame.

    The difference between the results of this and the results of a hotter method, is that with this will get you very pure alcohol with no flavor the first time, the hotter method you get more water and flavor and you may have to distill several times to get it to “whisky” strength. And I think it’s safer because there’s no flame in a crock pot and the temperature is constant.

    A method for stovetop, which you can use for distilling water as well, is to invert the lid of a pot you are boiling your stuff in, and put another vessel on legs or a little stand inside your pot so it will receive the steam dripping off the upside down lid and won’t float in the stuff you’re boiling but instead be standing above it. And keep the heat low if you’re doing alcohol. You don’t need to boil the stuff, only simmer.

    Since you can cook in a solar cooker, you could make a solar distiller using the stovetop idea, but inside a black box with a window on top in the sun instead of over a stove.

    It’s actually not illegal AFAIK to have a still by federal law (although some states might say it’s illegal). It’s illegal however to make alcohol without first getting a permit. If you want to be legal, then get the permit. But in the privacy of your home, and if you’re not going to sell it, who is going to know unless you tell them?

    You can use ethyl alcohol to make perfume, to sterilize wounds, for cleaning, to make tinctures, to clarify homemade soap into clear glycerine soap, all kinds of things besides getting drunk.

    I’m sure there are other things you could distill too, like plant essences for example.

  • http://pennypincherpersonalfinance.blogspot.com Penny Pincher

    Re. the underground caged water tank, what about lining the hole on all sides with Wonderboard while burying it? That might add a little strength to the hole and protect the tank better. Wonderboard is that cement board people put down before ceramic-tiling a floor or wall. It comes in 3′ by 5′ sheets. There’s another brand that is smoother, also.

  • http://pennypincherpersonalfinance.blogspot.com Penny Pincher

    Correction to the still comment: it should read illegal to distill (rather than make) alcohol without a permit. Brewing alcohol (i.e. beer and wine) is legal federally but may be illegal in your state.

  • http://www.atamaivillage.com Jack Santa Barbara

    We would like to tell Resilient Communities visitors about our project of developing a resilient village in NZ. We have 120 ha of land upon which we are developing a village based on traditional village designs, enhanced with permaculture principles. Our focus is attempting to anticipate climate chaos and energy descent, and be ahead of the curve by ensuring we have control of our essential services – food, water, energy and shelter. We see the necessity of doing this as a community rather than an individual effort.

    After 6 years of planning we have local council approval for about 40 dwelling titles – our target is at least 50 families. To date there are 10 families on site, and one new home has been built according to Atamai Building Guidelines. It is working beautifully and has almost no operating costs.

    Dwelling titles are freehold, but most of the land will be held in Commons. We have been successfully managing the Commons with a consensus decision process since 2010.

    We have established a community orchard, and planted utility trees, developed a farm operation that produces veggies, poultry and eggs, raises sheep, and is starting a dairy herd. A pine plantation is being converted to a sustainable forestry operation, and we have created some livelihoods for villagers. We currently have more livelihood opporutnities than we have people. We need builders, a lawyer, an accountant, someone to manage a plant nursery, engineers who know how to build and maintain simple but effective technologies to supplement what we have already done.

    So if there are folks out there who have the skills and motivation to create a resilient future for your family, have a look at our project and get in touch if it appeals to you.


    Let the force be with you!

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