Instead of installing an expensive motor, former Princeton student Eden Full is making a simple part that expands with heat, automatically moving a panel to its most electricty-generating position: The SunSalutor.
"November 2011 – January 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings, in which artisan cloth workers smashed machines which were destroying their trades, undercutting wages and forcing them into unemployment and destitution. Today, the industrial system that the Luddites were rebelling against has led to climate change and huge losses of biodiversity, and its new technologies, such as information technology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology raise equally profound issues. Yet anyone who raises concern about the price and side-effects of new technologies is harshly condemned as a 'luddite', someone supposedly irrationally opposed to technology and progress."
"In fact, the Luddites were not 'luddites’ in that sense: the idea that they were opposed to all technology is a history written by the victors. In fact the Luddites opposed only technology ‘hurtful to Commonality’, ie. to the common good, rather than the narrow interests of the few. They destroyed some machines whilst leaving alone others in the same workshop. So being a luddite today means being a sceptic about the dogma of technology as progress, not about denying the real benefits of some technologies. It means insisting that the crucial decisions about which technologies are developed are made democratically, not just imposed by corporations and technocratic elites. And it means standing up for our own ideas of what progress really is."
The tool shown here was designed for use in outdoor nurseries specializing in ornamental and bedding plants. At nurseries in California where it was tested, it reduced workers’ forward bending angle by as much as 47%. The time spent working at a forward-bent angle of more than 20 degrees was reduced by nearly half. Hand gripping effort was reduced by more than half. Lifting strain was reduced by 40%. Workers reported less work-related pain when using the handles, and those who had the most severe symptoms at the start reported the most improvement.
What happens when two industrial design students from Sweden end up in Kenya creating a pedal powered machine for small-scale farmers who are often illiterate and speak more than 60 languages? You get a do-it-yourself design that seems to have come out of the IKEA factories - pictoral manuals included.
"Made in Kenya", the bachelor project of Niklas Kull and Gabriella Rubin, is a textbook example of low-tech made accessible to everybody, regardless of their native tongue and language skills.
"Indeed, it is ironical that many international and non-governmental organisations try to save crops that contain no more than 14 percent protein by killing another food source (insects) that may contain up to 75 percent high-quality protein."
Julieta Ramos-Elorduy in "Ecological implications of minilivestock", red. Maurizio Paoletti, 2005.
See also: "Edible forest insects: humans bite back!!" (.pdf 4MB), Patrick Durst, Dennis Johnson, Robin Leslie, Kenichi Shono, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2010. Summary at the edible forest insects FAO-website. Previously: mass insect-farming.
"The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home."
After quitting Soberton Down, we came up a hill leading to Hambledon, and turned off to our left to bring us down to Mr. Goldsmith's at West End, where we now are, at about a mile from the village of Hambledon.
A village it now is; but it was formerly a considerable market-town, and it had three fairs in the year. Wens [large overcrowded cities] have devoured market-towns and villages; and shops have devoured markets and fairs; and this, too, to the infinite injury of the most numerous classes of the people.
Shop-keeping, merely as shop-keeping, is injurious to any community. What are the shop and the shop-keeper for? To receive and distribute the produce of the land. There are other articles, certainly; but the main part is the produce of the land. The shop must be paid for; the shop-keeper must be kept.
When fairs were frequent, shops were not needed. A manufacturer of shoes, of stockings, of hats; of almost anything that man wants, could manufacture at home in an obscure hamlet, with cheap house-rent, good air, and plenty of room. He need pay no heavy rent for shop; and no disadvantages from confined situation; and then, by attending three or four or five or six fairs in a year, he sold the work of his hands, unloaded with a heavy expense attending the keeping of a shop.
Quoted from: "Rural Rides", William Cobbett, 1830.
A very well documented and illustrated website on the history of everyday home life, housekeeping and domestic objects: Old & Interesting. A few examples:
"Featherbeds were only for the rich in the 14th century, but by the 19th century they were a comfort that ordinary people could aspire to - especially if they kept a few geese. The beds, also called feather ticks or feather mattresses, were valuable possessions. People made wills promising them to the next generation, and emigrants travelling to the New World from Europe packed up bulky featherbeds and took them on the voyage. If you didn't inherit one, you needed to buy up to 50 pounds of feathers, or save feathers from years of plucking until there were enough for a new bed."
"For centuries in small cottages there were people who could not afford any kind of candle. For them a cheap alternative was a rushlight made from a rush dipped in grease, or a burning splinter of wood. These were held pinched in a nip like pliers or tongs on a stand. Nips were also called nippers or a pair of nips. They could be combined with a candle-holder for people who used both kinds of light, depending on their needs and budget at different times."
"When you stop and think about it, you probably realise that brooms got their name because they used to be made of branches of broom, a yellow-flowering shrub - except when they were made of birch or heather. Many other shrubby plants have been used across the world for sweeping and brushing. Tie a bundle of good local twigs together, with a tight, narrow grip at one end, and you can whisk dirt away. If you attach the broom to a broomstick, so much the better."
More: Old & Interesting
"Kazakh architect and artist Saken Narynov created a superstructure able to host what we could call an adobe vertical city. In fact, the structure is used as a matrix that can be more or less densely filled with multifamily habitation units. The traditional earth based material thus hybrids with the steel structure in a very unusual and interesting way and the space resulting between the habitation units and the structure is beautifully occupied by mazes of staircases and elevated pathways."
"The design recalls recent works by the Chilean architect Marcelo Cortes, who employs a steel meshwork onto which mud is sprayed, but on a far greater scale. Cortes has developed a "quincha metalica", a form of traditional quincha construction (mud and straw packed between a bamboo or wood frame) that uses a steel frame work."
"America's 20th largest bus service -- hauling 120,000 riders a day -- is profitable and also illegal. It's not really a bus service at all, but a willy-nilly aggregation of 350 licensed and 500 unlicensed privately-owned 'dollar vans' that roam the streets of Brooklyn and Queens, picking up passengers from street corners where city buses are either missing or inconvenient." Read more. Via Makeshift.
Metafilter reports that The Rodale Institute has just published the results of a 30-year study that claims that - in terms of yields, economic viability, energy usage, and human health - organic farming is better than conventional farming.
With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? "Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias."