Journal of the New Alchemists

...220;Eco-Catastrophe!,” Nancy Todd turned to her husband John and said, “We must do something.” The year was 1969 and the Todds along with Bill McLarney went on to found the New Alchemy Institute. History repeats itself. What the New Alchemists did, in response to the 1970s era energy crisis and political instability, sounds a lot like what people have been up to since the 2008 economic bubble: aquaculture, organic gardening, ear...

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A Year after The Age of Limits: 5 Responses to the End Times

...earning to be free of laws and civil constraints, to reduce our overly complex society into a simple survival of the fittest paradigm, where, at last, we perhaps can find the fulfillment we lack.  Mind, personal fulfillment is the positive spin on this fantasy–the negative one would point out that there’s some pretty fishy stuff involved here in regard to race and class, urban vs. rural, and suppressed desires to blow out our neighbor...

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Saturday Linkages: Water Shaming, Scotts and Robot Houses

Smarter urban water: how Denver turned to ridiculing waste http:// gu.com/p/4va3t/tw   Grid-It: Knoll your everyday carry http:// boingboing.net/2014/08/20/gri d-it-knoll-your-edc.html  … In Our Garden: Four Surprising Fruits http:// thehorticult.com/in-our-garden- four-surprising-fruits-that-are-now-in-full-swing/  … Sneak peak of a LIGHT-UP ROBOT-FACE Tree House http:// relaxshacks.blogspot.com/2014/08/sneak- peak-of-light...

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Clicker Training Chickens

...so, using hens takes away the potential mind games that occur between dog and trainer. Free of that distraction, the trainer learns the correct rhythm for training. It’s pure stimulus-response–reward. Here’s a video of a chick learning the basics. You can find others of this sort on Youtube: You might be able to find a chicken training seminar in your area, probably under the banner of dog training. With the rise of urban chic...

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A Time Out Box for Quail

..., lush rainy spring in Chicago and all my birds get a large bouquet of fresh weedy greens everyday to supplement their feed: chickweed, dandelion, clover, shephard’s purse, garlic mustard, stinging nettles. Besides chickens, I have been raising quail for the past four years – I have both Coturnix and Bobwhite quail. Quail need to be enclosed and can’t ‘free range’. They are top choice of any urban predator: raccoon, possum, stray cat and rapto...

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Our New Chickens

When I put out the call to you, our readers, to name the ideal urban chicken I got a call from my friend Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms. He said something like, “Duh, the Barnevelder, of course!” Craig and his partner Gary Jackemuk have an ambitions breeding program to take the Barnevelder from show chicken back to farm chicken. So far the results are impressive. I took this as a message that I should fix my run and get ready fo...

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Secrets In Your Pantry?

...The first thing that came to mind is the occasional package of scary, deep fried, orange dusted cornmeal snacks. The truth is that we don’t often have them on hand more than a couple times a year (largely because I would go through them like a crack addict). But we do have plenty of other dodgy convenience foods picked up at Trader Joes and consumed on those evenings we’re too tired to cook. While the image of the urban homesteader i...

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Al Pacino Closed My Bike Lane

It’s the classic urban cycling problem: when faced with the indignities of riding in a car-centric city like Los Angeles, do you make it all one big fun challenge or become what Bikesnob calls “the righteous cyclist?”  Righteous cyclists, according to Bikesnob, are “convinced that the very act of turning the pedals will actually restore acres and acres of rainforest, suck smog from the sky and refreeze the ice caps....

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A Review of Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian Line

Last week upscale retalier Williams-Sonoma announced an urban homesteady line of goods they call “Agrarian”. A number of Root Simple readers responded to the news after I linked to a Wall Street Journal article about the Agrarian line. One reader likened the “Agrarian” items to Marie Antoinette’s 18th century cosplay mini-farm. Another hoped that mainstream acceptance of things like chicken coops and beehives might...

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Mitchell Joachim’s Techno-Utopian Future

...a few simple but wonderful ideas that I’ll blog about tomorrow. But first I’ve got to try to digest the strangeness that was a presentation by architect and futurist Mitchell Joachim. Fab Tree Hab. Mitchell Joachim. Joachim is the thoughtstylist in chief of Planetary One and Terreform One, non-profit organizations that, “pioneer visionary socio-ecological and infrastructural strategies for urban environments.” Ar...

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