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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Saturday Linkages: Straw Bales and Bike Hacks

Photo by Tracy Walsh/Poser Design Gardening Straw bale gardening in the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/10kt1Hf DIY How to fix a bicycle tube http://www.afrigadget.com/2013/02/22/how-to-fix-a-bicycle-tube/ … Bike headlight displays speed: http://boingboing.net/2013/03/20/bike-headlight-displays-speed.html Build-It-Solar Blog: A Inexpensive DIY Blower Door http://www.builditsolarblog.com/2013/02/a-inexpensive-diy-blower-door-that.html?spref=tw …...

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Our Keyhole Vegetable Bed: What Worked and What Didn’t Work

This is what our keyhole bed looked like yesterday just before I fed the remaining vegetables to our chickens and the compost pile. Ignore the large pot–that’s a future solar powered fountain that will be incorporated in a new vegetable garden we’re working on. Here’s what the keyhole bed looked like just after I installed it back in October. Note the compost repository in the center of the bed. I used straw wattle (ava...

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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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SurviveLA Food Review: Mary Jane’s Farm Organic Buttery Herb Pasta

...nd works very well in that capacity. That said, it is ripe for doctoring, because it is so very basic. I brought along a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes from the SurviveLA gardens (and dehydrated in the compound’s solar dehydrator – more on that in a future post), and that added the perfect amount of interest. Nuts, canned tuna, fresh veggies if you wanted to carry them, all would work well too. You cook this entree in its own b...

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Visit the Eco-Home

Julia Russell is Los Angeles’ original urban homesteader. If you haven’t visited her beautiful “Eco-Home”, now is the time. She’s a pioneer in edible landscaping, solar power, and many other things we all now take for granted. Best of all, you can take a tour: “Since the 1970’s, April has been home to Earth Day. The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “the Green Generation,” and what better way to strengthen y...

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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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Dome Building

...metrical form that also works better with standard building materials. It’s most popular in rural France, but there are numerous examples in North America, as well as a children’s toy that looks like fun. Passive solar guru Steve Baer is responsible both for the Zome as architecture and toy. For those who want to get busy in the backyard and construct a simple dome out of scavenged materials, here’s a great resource. And on als...

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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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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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