What I Found Interesting This Week 1/26/2013

Mil makerspace

Want to know what the secret to prosperity in the 21st Century?

It’s simple.

Be an asset to a community that grows, harvests, generates and makes most of what it needs.  In fact, the difference in prosperity between resilient communities that do produce and the industrial bedroom communities that don’t will be so stark, it’s very likely that nearly everyone will be living like this by the end of the Century.

The reason this is possible, is that all of the skills, methods, techniques, technologies, and knowledge required to provide local communities with productive superpowers (unlike ever before in history), are growing in functionality and elegance daily.  They are being driven forward by a tidal wave of innovation from a global network of tinkerers, artisans, amateurs, and entrepreneurs.

All I’m doing is helping people to see it and participate in it.  Doing the research required to find out who, what, when, and how this is happening and sharing it with readers here (and at a greater depth and in collaboration with my supporters at Resilient Strategies).

So, without further ado, here’s what I found interesting this week.

Makerspaces.  If you like to make new things, then you need to join a makerspace like this one in Milwaukee.   It has the tools, equipment, expertise, and camaraderie necessary to get things done.  This is where the next economy is being born and where people are rebooting their passion for work.   Every community needs one and if yours doesn’t, found one yourself.

Mil makerspace

Zone 1 — plant your food gardens near your home, so that you can access them frequently.  Permaculture has a useful concept called zones.  Zones help you think about the ways you can best utilize your property for maximal results.   Here’s an example of what a zone map would look like (via Klamath Knot http://www.klamathknot.com/ ).


Compost tubes?  Could a compost system feed a garden directly (less work, better results)?  Perhaps…  This composting system (via ecofilms) generated lots of discussion.  I suspect it could, but not in the way the device is currently designed.   BTW:  an effective way to do this was featured as part of an arid garden design detailed in January’s RS report.


Plastic barrel food system.  Here’s a simple design for home aquaponics (the combination of a fish tank and hydroponics to create a small ecosystem) called “barrelponics” via Ann at Aquaannie.co   As you can see, the designs do a lot with very little material.


Mining local garbage for resources.  3D printing (small machines, like desktop printers, that can print objects using plastic, metal, wood substitute, etc.) is going to make it possible for local artisans to make many of things we currently buy from China.  However, it would much more efficient/cheaper if it was possible to recycle the trash we currently have in piles nearly everywhere (since the 50’s) as feedstock for these printers.  Here’s an entrepreneurial project (funded via Kickstarter) called Filabot trying to do that with recycled ABS plastic (it grinds, melts, and extrudes the plastic you put into it).  This is only the start, technologies like this have the potential to turn garbage dumps into treasure troves.



Here’s some open source plans for a device called the Recyclebot that does the same thing.

DIY 3D scanning using an XBOX 360 Kinect.  Very simple DIY project from the University of Washington.

XBox Scan



Worm farm in a planted pot?  Here’s an idea for a worm farm composting system that’s built into a planted pot.  The idea is to squeeze a micro-ecology into a pot to improve output over the long term.  It’s related to the composting tube seen above.   Not sure it works, but conceptually it’s interesting.

wormfarm_pot copy


Keep your balance and focus.   The ongoing re-localization of economic and social life is going to be a bit disconcerting at first, but it’s going to pay off more than you can imagine.


Resiliently Yours,


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  • http://goingupslope.blogspot.com John D. Wheeler

    On the Square Foot Gardening forum, someone reports having good results with using a worm tube in his garden: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1603-worm-tube-for-the-sfg

    Do you have any guides to where makerspaces are or how to set one up?

  • Plug Nickel Outfit

    The composting tube idea is interesting and I can’t help but be curious as to the flaw in the example you depict. I’ve been using vermiculture for a few years now – initially to accelerate cold composting of horse manure in piles. Now every location where plants are cultivated, including containers – there are red wriggler worms in the soil. This last year we began using worm bins for all kitchen and food waste.

    I grow squash and melon vertically in 4′ diameter beds with a raised wire frame around the perimeter to support the foliage and fruit. After thinking about the idea of the composting tube for a couple days I’m considering a variant of this using a 5 gal. plastic bucket instead of the tube – and centering it in the 4′ dia. bed. I’m considering cutting out the bottom of the bucket and setting it 3-5 inches below the soil line. The extra size of the bucket vs the plumbing pipe would accommodate more composting material and allow for a more lively worm community there.

    So John – Would you be willing to pass along a hint as to what you feel the flaw is to the example you depict – and how that flaw might apply to what I’m considering? The only issue I’m coming up with is a possible direct vector for bad bacteria coming into direct contact with the roots of the plants – but I’m not even sure that’d be much of an issue as some cultivation techniques involve the use of rotting flesh, etc. directly at the root level.

    • John Robb

      One problem — how nutrients flow out of the tube.

      • Plug Nickel Outfit

        Thank you, John – that’s appreciated.

        As mentioned – I’ve been working with worm bins for a year or so now and have managed to divert the kitchen waste from a couple households to the worms. Haven’t gotten organised enough yet to channel our paper waste there – but it’s in the works too. I found the notion of the worm tube interesting as it may eliminate a step in the process of getting the material into the ground. (pawing through a worm bin is a pretty messy affair!)

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