Solutions for Self-Reliance

What I Found Interesting This Week 4/7/13


I’ve been thinking a bit about how to make the things we need locally.   Here’s what I found:

Is Minecraft the future of making things?    It’s likely not coincidental that nearly every kid you know is playing (or knows someone that does) Minecraft.


Why?  It’s a tool for designing things and it’s so easy to use, it unleashes creativity.

With it, kids can build a complex house or nearly any object they want both easily and fast.

This is interesting because designing and making things using 3D printers is growing fast.  However, it’s still tough to get involved.  Why?  The computer aided design software you have to use in order to design, refine, and print objects in 3D is really hard to use.

Minecraft may be the way around that impasse.  A generation of kids already trained to design and build things in a way that makes them easy to print in 3D.  Additionally, it lets them design a big object as a team (and they do).

What will these kids make?  Nearly everything we currently buy at Walmart at a level of quality and customization we’ve never seen before…  They’ll design it as teams globally and produce it locally (much of it from recycled or local materials).

Make everything locally.   Here’s something interesting for anyone interested in making copies of things using a 3D printer.  It’s a low cost 3D scanner called the Photon.


It’s for turning objects and parts that you have into software models that you can use to print a copy on a 3D printer (or send it to a company that will print a copy for you).  As always, the guys that built it didn’t go to financial middlemen to get funding.  Instead, they made an appeal directly to potential customers.  It worked, people bought  $156,000 + of these devices and a community has been launched.


Natural swimming pools provide all of the fun of a standard swimming pool, but without the chemicals and the maintenance.    As you can see below, a natural pool system can turn a recreational pool into a productive asset rather than merely a chemically laced cost center.

Planted ponds

The secret to a natural pools is something called a biofilter.  To clean the pool, you pump water through the biofilter (images via Gartenart).


What is a biofilter?  It’s usually made with porous rocks or gravel.  Essentially, any material that has nooks and crannies that bacteria can breed in.  With a biofilter, you actually want the bacteria to grow because they eat the pollutants in the water, cleansing it in the process.

NOTE:  I’ll have more about natural pool design and my interview with Michael George of Gartenart (an expert in natural pool construction), in this month’s newsletter (make sure you sign up for email delivery of this letter to get the letter when I send it out).

Social Security’s End in Sight?  

It appears that the President is getting ready to propose cuts in social security, a move that the opposition party has been clamoring for.

I found this interesting because even if it is merely a tactical political move, it likely signals the beginning of the end for government sponsored retirement programs (already under attack across Europe).   The proverbial third rail of politics is being grounded.

From here on out, these big social safety nets will wither away.  The speed of the cutbacks will depend on when the next (inevitable) financial crisis is.

Of course, this ISN’T the end of the world, but you need to take action to eliminate the impact of these cuts on you and the people you care about.

How?  Invest your time, energy, money, and mindpower in building a resilient home and community. Productive places.  Places that allow us to connect to the world as a peer rather than a dependent.  

In the long run, these locally productive assets and globally networked communities will enable us to compete with the current global, national, and corporate systems that can’t/won’t deliver prosperity anymore. 

Resiliently Yours,



JR Small




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