The Engineers Without Borders UK Professional Network (EWB-UK PN) held their first conference on Saturday 22nd June. And what a conference it was. It was titled “Massive Small Change“, here is the hash tag for the live tweets #massivesmallchange. (Ignore Ianrosmarin’s individualised V3 promotions, it gets good afterwards.) If I had to summarise it I would say it was about non-linear effects of intervention and how with changes of approach we can enact real, self-sustaining progress.
The idea of moving beyond community involvement to community investment remained strong throughout the day. The victim image limits the options we are willing to entertain. Despite perceptions there is a lot of money available in these communities, often tied up in other necessities. If we can provide the opportunity to invest in catalytic improvements, the same revenue stream can be re-fed into other investments and free up ever greater shares of ever growing income.
The talks were brilliant, particularly the ones I attended in the main hall. The topics broad yet on the whole focused, building upon and complementing one another without ever repeating themselves. Continue reading →
This post is intended to be read alongside this publication.
My impressions, thoughts and comments on the innovations in the 2013 Sustania 10o, an “annual guide to 100 innovative solutions from around the world that presents readily available projects, initiatives and technologies at the forefront of sustainable transformation.”
To press non-economic values into the framework of the economic calculus, economists use the method of cost/benefit analysis. This is generally though to be an enlightened and progressive development, as it is at least an attempt to take account of benefits which might otherwise be disregarded altogether. In fact, however, it is a procedure by which the higher is reduced to the level of the lower and the priceless is given a price. It can therefore never serve to clarify the situation and lead to an enlightened decision. All it can do is lead to self-deception or the deception of others; for to undertake to measure the immeasurable is absurd and constitutes but an elaborate method of moving from preconceived notions to foregone conclusions…The logical absurdity, however, is not the greatest fault of the undertaking: what is worse, and destructive of civilisation, is the pretence that everything has a price or, in other words, that money is the highest of all values.
– Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered (Page 31), E.F. Schumacher
One problem with categorising dates by the weekends i.e “First weekend in June” is you forget what other events approximate to it, such as a friend’s birthday. So where was I instead of reconnecting with old friends? In a field, in Devon, with a bunch of strangers. I will be vague with names since I cannot recall which individuals requested not to be photographed and uploaded.
Meet Nick. Nick has been living in a field for a few months. He decided he would like to live off-grid in a sustainable fashion and that his housing solution would be a Hexayurt. We were supposed to build it in December with the aid of wind, rain, and limited daylight but that had to be delayed. In the meanwhile Nick lived in a van, and we waited for the sun. Continue reading →
Should any experienced educator spot any mistakes in my methods please alert me to them.
A latent dream to become an educator has taken great leaps forwards. With great luck I might be accepted onto teacher training course, despite losing many of my application slots (a grand total of 3) to schools that have yet to remove vacancies from the system, and are even slower to reject me after informing me that there is no space. I am also waiting on my previous employer to respond to my reference request should he ever find a free moment in between providing water and medicines to Malians.
In the meanwhile I am tutoring and as yet remain far below any threshold for reporting my earnings. I do wish I could pay tax. I initially advertised to provide free maths and physics tuition up to GCSE. In the meantime I am revising my A-Level and university maths and will tutor these once I am confident enough to devise teaching strategies. I am now charging new tutees, we negotiate but it averages about £10 per hour and I eagerly wait for the time when honestly will allow me to charge £15.
Articles I’ve read in the past week. One for every day.
There are therefore four logical combinations of the two oppositions, resource abundance vs. scarcity and egalitarianism vs. hierarchy. To put things in somewhat vulgar-Marxist terms, the first axis dictates the economic base of the post-capitalist future, while the second pertains to the socio-political superstructure. Two possible futures are socialisms (only one of which I will actually call by that name) while the other two are contrasting flavors of barbarism.
I recently attended the World Future Energy Summit. I was unable to attend the conference but the visitors and speakers were prestigous, Wen Jiabao, Premier of People’s Republic of China, Francois Hollande, President of France, Christina Fernandez, President of Argentina, Hwang-sik, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly and Ban Ki Moon UN Secretary General. With such illustrious guests you could rest assured that there was no danger of anything important or interesting happening.
The exhibition was an endless sea of stalls, some meagre tables with no table cloth and a pile of leaflets, others colossal corporate monuments with animated displays, artwork, meeting rooms and sometimes water features.
I had to answer some questions in an application recently. I thought the answers were blog worthy.
Describe the world as it is. (a description of the status quo and context in which you will be working)
Stresses to infrastructure arise when it is asked to supply more than it can deliver. Sometimes this is an explosion of need following disastrous events, or it can be a slow build up as the old infrastructure falls behind due to increased demand or diminished capacity. Failure to expand can be caused by technological, physical, financial or governance limitations
Vinay asked to throw together some graphics for the updated hexayurt site. Whilst making them I discovered styles in sketchup. An incredibly cool tool. So I made him a gif showing 13 members of the hexayurt family and a banner concept piece.
The Future We Deserve a collaborative book project to create a vision of the future is finished and launched as of yesterday. I cannot describe how good the book is to read. Perhaps it has been best expressed by Vinay in the introduction.
It is all available to read online, You can download the PDF or buy the book. I contributed to the book in the 11th hour after a moment of inspiration about a future scenario. Vinay encouraged me to write it up for the book. It is freely available online so to help promote the launch I reblogging my contribution to the book.
After reading a blog post by Noah Raford I was awakened to the fact that visions of the future are typically commissioned by the wealthy and as such are horrendously narrow in their vision. How will the the glittery sustainable technology we all wish for change the world?