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 →
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.
So you want to build a hexayurt? There is no shortage of information online. But which website do you go to? What do you find there? The information is all there but it is a bit messy. Numerous diagrams and building guides. Many videos. Some with the latest developments, some out of date. The mailing lists are full of questions and answers.
All of this mess in only one piece of open source appropriate technology, in one material.
I’ve started migrating the work onto opensource platforms. I’m learning how to use Scribus and Inkscape. Not sure if I’ll also learn freeCAD, at this moment I think the accessibility of SketchUp and the 3Dwarehouse to be more useful. Continue reading →
—– NOTE: between the time I drafted this post and when I was finally ready to release it the nature of what I want to do has taken on a whole new life. I have kept this post the way it is for the most part since it serves it’s purpose but I recommend you read my next post “The project with no name”
Every time I think I am on to the next step it turns out I stumble across and even more basic or crucial step. So here is the instruction manual before I tackle anything further.