Low-tech Zine

Brazilian “mini-publisher” Casatrês made a beautiful zine which includes three articles from Low-tech Magazine, translated into Portuguese. It is for sale on their website.

Damaged Earth Catalog

“We are humans and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross profits obscure actual loss. In response to this dilemma and to these losses a realm of intimate, community power is developing—power of communities to conduct their own education, find their own inspiration, shape their own environment, and share their knowledge with others. Practices that aid this process are sought and promoted by the DAMAGED EARTH CATALOG.”

–> Damaged Earth Catalog. [Read more…]

Reconstrained Design & Locally Produced Gravity Batteries

The Reconstrained Design Group at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute in Portugal “challenges the dominance of the grid system through developing functional prototypes that operate outside of its control”.

Solutions include gravity batteries to provide night-time storage from solar or wind power using the natural phenomenon of gravity in vertiginous regions. The uniqueness of this battery is its ability to be built, installed and maintained by local communities using local materials and techniques and to not rely on any external help or funding. It uses basic physics principles to provide an easily achievable and efficient way to store energy without conventional battery systems.”

Also check out their manifesto and publications.

New Alchemy Institute

From 1971 to 1991, the New Alchemy Institute published its research and activities in a variety scientific journals, including its own journals and quarterlies — these are now online.

Waffle Gardens

Historic Zuni waffle gardens, circa 1919. (Photo courtesy of Kirk Bemis)

For the past 64 years, Jim Enote has planted a waffle garden, sunken garden beds enclosed by clay-heavy walls that he learned to build from his grandmother. This year, he planted onions and chiles, which he waters from a nearby stream. It’s an Indigenous farming tradition suited for the semi-arid, high-altitude desert of the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, where waffle gardens have long flourished and Enote has farmed since childhood.

“They are the inverse of raised beds, and for an area where it is more arid, they’re actually very efficient at conserving water,” said Enote, who leads the Colorado Plateau Foundation to protect Indigenous land, traditions, and water. Each interior cell of the waffle covers about a square foot of land, just below ground-level, and the raised, mounded earthen walls are designed to help keep moisture in the soil.

Read more: The Resurgence of Waffle Gardens Is Helping Indigenous Farmers Grow Food with Less Water, Greta Moran, Civil Eats, October 2021.

Remaking Suburbia

Quoted from: Trainer, Ted. “Remaking settlements for sustainability: the Simpler Way.” Journal of Political Ecology 26.1 (2019): 202-223.

In view of the global resource and ecological situation, per-capita resource consumption rates in the rich world probably need to be reduced by 90%. This can only be done if there is a “de-growth” transition to some kind of Simpler Way centered on mostly small, highly self-sufficient and self-governing communities in control of local economies within a culture that is not focused on material wealth.

It is not surprising that the viability of such a vision is typically regarded as implausible. The aim of this study is to show that normal outer city suburbs could be restructured along the lines required to cut global impacts by the necessary amount, while improving the quality of life. Data on typical Australian consumption rates, food production yields, suburban geographies, etc. is used to estimate the achievable reductions.

The theoretical conclusion that such reductions could be made aligns with a study of the Dancing Rabbit Eco-village in northeast Missouri. Heavy cuts in resource consumption cannot be made without extreme change in economic, political, settlement and cultural systems.