Our New Straw Bale Garden–Part I

Straw bales–ready to prepare. Pot in the center will be a solar powered fountain. We’re going to experiment with a straw bale vegetable garden in our backyard, inspired by Michael Tortorello’s article in the New York Times. The plan is to grow in the bales and harvest the resulting compost for use in permanent raised beds (that have yet to be built). We’ll keep growing in bales until we have enough compost for the beds. T...

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Learn to Build with Adobe

...ing for college credit for your adobe construction coursework? I am teaching the following spring 2014 semester classes through Santa Fe Community College’s Adobe Construction Department: Class: ADOB 113 – Passive Solar Adobe Design Format: 8-Week Online Class Dates: January 21 to March 15, 2014 Credits: 2 Course #: 31660 Class: ADOB 111 – Adobe Construction Basics Format: 8-Week Online Class Dates: March 24 to May 17, 2014 Cr...

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Block Party Weekend

...led “intentional community” of folks who, basically, give a damn and are interested in improving our forlorn, polluted, and abused city. The block party featured ecologically savvy and self-reliant touches such as solar ovens to cook the vegetarian buffet and photovoltaic panels to power the amplifiers of the bands entertaining the crowds on Bimini Street. The fine folks at the Bicycle Kitchen had a repair stand to fix people’s...

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The Elf and Ethics

The Elf is a kind of aerodynamic, electric assist tricycle with solar panels to charge the batteries. It’s a type of vehicle, somewhere between a bike and a car, that a number of inventors have tinkered with over the years. Good arguments exist for and against this type of transportation. On the one hand it uses far fewer resources than an automobile. But one could also argue, as does the owner of a bike shop in this video, that we’...

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What the Internet Will Look Like After the Zombie Apocalypse

...icating with each other. To hook your laptop into the network you have to connect it via an Ethernet cable to one of the nodes or set up a wi-fi network at a node. The routers can even be powered by small 12 volt batteries or solar panels. To be clear, this is a wireless network that is independent of the internet (though you could route the internet over it). Such a network could be used in an emergency such as an earthquake or weather event to...

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Making It

...ound up. Projects range from the simple to the ambitious, and include activities done in the home, in the garden and out on the streets. Provides step-by-step instructions for a wide range of projects, from building a 99-cent solar oven to making your own laundry soap to instructions for brewing beer. Making It is the go-to source for post-consumer living activities that are fun, inexpensive and eminently doable. Our goal in this book was to prov...

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The Energy Environment Simulator

...e demonstrates energy inputs and demands. Depending on how you turn the knobs, you can either engineer a future of never-ending power or, on the other extreme, your own personal zombie apocalypse. One of the energy sources is labeled “new technology.” This could either be solar or that UFO doughnut from the Thrive movie. The only info we have on it is that it was manufactured by Tenntronics, a defunct company that was in business from...

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Our Footprint

...rip to a remote Swedish mining town in the arctic. Arctic journeys aside, the way we won the Low Impact contest is simple. We live in a small house and don’t drive much. That’s just about it. We can’t afford solar panels, and everything else we’ve done, such as the washing machine greywater system, is DIY and un-permitted. We’re sure that many people in our 1920s era neighborhood would have also won this contest. Fol...

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Sweatin’ Pipe

Working with copper pipe is a skill that everyone should know, in fact SurviveLA thinks it should be taught to elementary school children. Home owners, renters and kids all should know how to put pipe together with a blow torch since you never know when a pipe is going to burst, not to mention being able to construct some of the solar water heating projects we touched on last week. The tools needed for this job are cheap, and thanks to youtube,...

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Airing Our Dirty Laundry

...suffer Pharaoh’s plagues sprinkled with Job’s scabies for designing this ugly, awkward and inelegant machine. Besides, with the blazing hot sun of Los Angeles, it makes perfect sense to use our region’s free solar power. So why air dry? Let’s do the math. Assuming our (gas powered) dryer uses an average of .22 therms of natural gas per load at our gas company Sempra Energy’s August rate of 59 cents per therm, by usin...

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