The Wet, Cold Season is Here – Time to Fix Up Your Computers for Dream-Building.

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It’s that time of year in the Pacific Northwest – the end of September, and the first chilly nights are here.  Dew is forming more readily in the mornings, some days are just gray and cold again, and we are thinking about how we are going to last the winter and keep from going stir-crazy. For the self-actuated social entrepreneur, and many others, this is the time to mind the keep, keep the hearth, and hit the internet with your stories of last year and plans for the next. Whatever your circumstances, whatever your reasons, it’s good to make sure that during this time your connection to the web is intact.

As always, we are in the business of discouraging waste and encouraging functionality – and computers are no exception. Now is a good time to make sure that your computer’s software is fully functional and free of bugs such as malware, adware or OS/drive errors. Most problems on all devices are easily solved by eliminating bulk software or turning off excess features and programs which are no longer in use. If your PC is getting up there in age (we actually set the bar at 8 years, otherwise it’s pretty easy to keep a Windows 7 PC humming along nicely on Dual-Core with 4GB of RAM) you could look into upgrading the hardware or special-ordering a refurbished machine through us. We have a connection to a Microsoft-certified wholesaler in Canada that can ship out a good used or refurbished laptop for less than $200. We can help you set up appropriate open-source security software, such as non-profit and cloud antivirus and Firefox with Ad-blocking, to make sure that your platform stays solid as you use it. If you’re intrepid, we’ll give you the resources to do it yourself.

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Sustainability as a business strategy wins on all levels.

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Traditionally, sustainability and business would seem to be odd bedfellows. This assumption may stop being true  by the end of this decade. In fact it may soon be that the only companies and organizations that can persist, let alone profit, are ones that adopt a sustainable model. Many companies, universities, governments and investment firms are switching to a model that is positive and sustainable – saving money and making profits too. Ivy league universities like Stanford and Yale have been pressured by internal student movements to divest from fossil fuels and opt for renewables instead. Hedge funds around the world are dropping Monsanto, and governments are voting their influence out of their countries. Over the last decade, the largest growth in new jobs was in the nonprofit sector. In 2015, solar and wind energy installations created more jobs than coal and gas combined. The war over solar is the subject of headlines in Forbes and Bloomberg, and some of the biggest names in business are the ones involved in this switch to Renewable Power and transportation. History is being written right now in the green sector, not in fossil fuels and chemical agribusiness.

There is evidence that companies that use socially progressive or environmental business models are increasing in market share and customer loyalty. Positive brand recognition in the present and future will go to companies that go the extra mile for the planet, its people, and their profits. Here are some ways that adopting more sustainable strategies in your homes and organizations can affect your bottom line. You will also boost loyalty and morale, improve your immediate environment, and help the planet.

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Testimonials for Our IT Services

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The retired logo from Geeks Cheaper.

I have finally decided to move my acclaimed IT business, Geeks Cheaper, into EarthStar Enterprises, the practical off-shoot of EarthStar Foundation, and bring it under the focus of Sustainability where it should be. This official shift has been long in deliberation, even though the whole focus of my IT consultation and repair for years was already around ecological, social and economic justice. I waited to do so because I was afraid of sacrificing parts of my limited business income from people who didn’t care about sustainability or perhaps were even put off by it – and the natural need to protect security for myself and my family kept me from making the shift outright.

Now I realize that all that energy and time should go into EarthStar for a few reasons, most importantly this – a totally sustainable model is the only model I can personally support or be involved in now. Also as it turns out, sustainable brands are one of the only sectors that shows growth in the current market. Thankfully, this is a win-win for me, the Earth, and my family, and my loyal customers. Welcome to EarthStar Enterprises, your go-to service center for all kinds of practical sustainable applications – including IT repair! Contact me  for service anywhere in the world, but first check out some of the reviews I’ve gathered over the last 5-10 years:

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High-Tech Tutoring and Mentoring, with a Sustainable Spin.

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Teaching Services

Information technology and sustainability seem like they are in opposite camps, even perhaps at war with each other. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and one is related to the other. People involved in natural research, organic farming, movement building, all of it, are deeply immersed in IT as a valuable tool that’s critical to momentum and power in this world. Many naturalists and sustainability educators, people engaged in the green lifestyle, feel like advanced technology is hurting the planet and its people and it is even unnecessary – they are right too, ultimately, the planet and its people will go on just fine without it. But the point we need to consider, in my opinion, is that it exists, now, and the problems it creates must be dealt with handily because it’s not going away – once people, as any animal, get a taste of something they like, you cannot willingly force them to go back. This is why we need to use them (internet and devices) less for consumption and more for the creativity their creators envisioned them for – not as they’ve largely become, complicated on-demand newspapers and TV sets. At any rate, most people want to use their tech to do great things for the planet, but end up abusing the power and procrastinating. We are here to help you use that which you have purchased, in a sustainable way, and do the creative world-enhancing things you may have set out to do.

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Explore All Your Options for Connection – Internet Services and Beyond

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Internet connectivity and nature don’t often go together. That is to say, usually where you find nature you do not find Internet – and vice versa. This is rapidly changing, though, and we are pleased to announce our help in connecting you with a variety of networking services to keep you connected while you are gardening, walking, building your cob house or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. Do you like having your raw gluten-free vegan hemp seed and fig cake, and eating it too?  Ever wanted to synchronize or share files such as pictures and video, printers, bookmarks and settings across all the computers in your home or office? Do you dream of being connected to fast internet when you’re in the car, at the office, on your deck or podcasting your bike commute to work? We can connect you to Cable, DSL, Cellular and Satellite services that will keep you up to speed wherever or however you are. We will help you sync your memories and make sure that every facet of your digital life is as connected as you wish – and for less than those companies usually charge to send out a tech. We don’t install the invasive, bulky and redundant software that the service companies provide which reduce your computer’s processing speed, and we make sure your network and your computers are secure and clean. We can help you take advantage of the file, media and printer sharing features that your network has to offer. With our services, you can be guaranteed that every part of your system is set up securely and correctly, and that you’re making the fullest use of the network you pay for. As usual, every thought is given to ecological sustainability, from start to finish.

Contact us to consult with an expert for reliable network and internet services and support today!

Changing the Nature of Life by Changing the Ways we Use Money.

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The current economic system is completely unhealthy for human beings and the rest of life on Earth – spiritually, physically, and practically. Humans are not living up to their fullest humanity, and the environment is being destroyed, and we know it. But what is the problem with the existing system – we can’t ditch it “just like that” and we can’t fight it – we have to figure out what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and what to do about it to make things better for all humans living on this planet. To do that, we must use our minds to hack culture, to get to the bottom of why we have designed this system over the years to secure our future resources and have come full-circle to a world that is utterly insecure with dwindling resources. How did we go wrong, what are the logical fallacies in the original argument of the social contract we supposedly entered into at birth and how do we reverse them by design?

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Living, Farming, and Blogging through Climate Change.

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It’s ever-present and yet hard to pinpoint, but such is the nature of this massive complex of phenomena we refer to as weather and climate – it’s even more slippery now that it is changing rapidly around us in ways we can’t yet fully predict. The data is in and the scientific community has come to the preponderance of opinion that climate change is a real global phenomenon being perpetuated by human activiities. Here are some sources from NASA, NOAA and WikiPedia on the subject. We will not spend the time here to discuss the existence or causes of this reality, that is a point for another article – here I would like to write about what it’s like to live, work, and farm through this global phenomenon.

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Late May Harvest is Sparse but Plentiful.

Fresh picked salad mix soaks in solar-pumped water to clean and hydrate it.

The harvest for veggies available this time of year is not terribly varied, but still abundant – because we overwintered our lettuce and kale starts, letting them germinate in the cold. The result is an already-abundant crop of red/green lettuce and russian kale leaves and raab, with more to come! For now check out these pics of our off-grid fresh harvest. Check us out Saturdays at the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market, come and talk sustainability with us and taste some of the fruits of this effort so far.

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Put the Internet in Space.

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Space has two of the most vital requirements for the operation of Internet servers – energy and cold.  Given that space is so cold, almost to absolute zero, there would be little to no need for the massive atmospheric controls usually used for the giant server complexes that crawl across the surface of our planet, worsening the effects of climate change with energy usage from unsustainable sources.

Given that there is even better access to the ultimate power plant in our solar system, the Sun, in space, power would hardly be an issue at all, except for the investment in gear to harness it – namely, giant PV panels.

Given also that most of the communications on our Earth are currently facilitated by satellite anyway, we could move most of the operations for the overhead of our global Internet into space and take care of several problems at once – climate change and habitat loss, to name a couple.

Since commercialization of space for material resources hasn’t yet proved cost effective, thus hindering the race to colonize space for humanity, putting more of our communications technology up there could create more of a platform for Humanity to spring out to other locations with time. The Internet in space could be a breakaway concept to space colonization in general, and help solve some of the critical issues we need to face for our own survival in order to make that future possible.

Flowers in bloom in Early May, Olympic Peninsula

We are documenting flower blooms throughout the year here, and quite enjoying it. 🙂

About Our Stewardship Farm in the Olympic Mountains

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Where are we?

We are located in the mountains above Port Angeles, WA, on a 120-acre Christmas tree farm. The property has been managed as a sustainable stewardship forest for almost 20 years; the owner built his own house here 30 years ago when he and his partner bought most of the current land in order to preserve the habitat from development.

Protecting and improving the health of the forest.

Much of the land here has old growth forest still, with no plans to harvest most of it. We protect habitat for cougars, coyotes, deer, ermine, owls, hawks, ravens, and countless amphibians. Since starting their impromptu wildlife preserve-of-sorts, there have been added ponds and water retention to the land that simply wasn’t there before – and threatened species like red-legged frogs, mudpuppies and rough-skinned newts thrive in the waterways. It’s our goal that whatever we harvest from the forest or land we return at least five-fold, planting berry bushes and other wild edibles for the birds and animals.

Note: as of 9/21/2016 we are no longer in this location. Brendan and family live in an apartment where they are re-grouping and saving up for a land lease-to-own. This article is now a historical document.

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On Grid Solar Power Generates Positive for the Planet and your Pocketbook.

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With an on-grid power inverter, you can turn a rooftop solar installation into a powerhouse for your pocketbook. Whether your setup is one kilowatt or 5, you can have the benefits of Solar and peace of mind that your carbon footprint is being reduced by your investment. You can lease to own installations from companies like Sungevity and SolarCity, or you can purchase your own. If you choose to not go with one of the big companies, you can install it yourself or find a local qualified installer to do it for you at a good cost. The installation can be daunting but not too much for a good home improvement do it yourselfer.

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SolarCity and Sungevity, Two Companies that are Changing the World for Solar Power.

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SolarCity is a company that was founded by billionaire investor Elon Musk, who also is behind SpaceX and Tesla Motors (two other futuristic companies). It’s a real, working company that is producing power systems right here in the United States and deploying them for families, schools and businesses to benefit from solar energy immediately. Right now their range covers much of the country, and though they are running up against some resistance in WA, much of the country can sign up. Basically, the company gives you a quote based on the size of installation your building support, usually your rooftop, and sets up a payment scale based on that. Customers may have their power bill completely slashed or may even receive a check in the mail instead of a bill, and their relationship with the local Utility company is all their own. The solar panels are paid for on a lease system in a monthly payment to SolarCity that is usually less than a power bill would be except it lends to the potential ownership of the setup.

Solar is growing all over the world.Another such company is Sungevity, who also has a fundraising option for nonprofit organizations. Between the two of these, much of the US has the ability to start making clean power on their rooftops right now. Companies like Sungevity and SolarCity make it easier than ever to go solar in your home by financing the system and allowing homeowners to rent or lease-to-own their setup.

Human-Assisted Climate Change is Real, and It’s Getting Worse Until WE Change.

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Climate change increases the chances of all kinds of natural disasters, including forest fires.Global warming isn’t cooling down and practically every expert with an opinion on the matter thinks we haven’t yet seen the full wrath that a modified climate can unleash. Climate scientists have been talking seriously since the 1970s about this unforeseen effect of fossil fuels, but the world thus far hasn’t taken heed – until now, when massive storms, droughts, and fires have devastated local and global economies, ruined livelihoods and taken lives. It’s a sad state of affairs that our civilization allowed these tragedies to occur by not taking action sooner, and even more tragic that even now that they have been happening there are still those willing to spend billions of dollars to deny that it is even occuring. Boardrooms in the UN have discussed carbon taxes and allowances to deal with the cost of the damage inflicted by climate change, but there is as yet no massive international government push for the adoption of clean energy technologies. The plain truth is that clean energy technologies need to be adopted en masse yesterday. There are so many of these technologies available, though, and there is so much energy in the environment that moves and changes through its different forms all the time, that there is no reason why we should remain stuck to one especially-destructive form of chemical energy – except that the brunt of the monetized interests in this world have a major stock in it. There are many different fronts taking on this challenge, including groups like 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, CREDO Action, and many others changing hearts and minds and how business is done. There were over 400,000 people gathered in the streets of lower Manhattan (millions worldwide in solidarity) in late September 2014 demanding meaningful action on this matter, in all parts of our society, immediately. Anyone in a position of power in our society is either denying the evidence at hand, even when it’s literally battering their storm doors, or paying close attention to people power. Keep voicing out and inform yourself, here and everywhere you can.

Creating an Engine for Sustainable Ideas.

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We want to basically create a do engine for sustainability, using the AI of various massive web services and clever design, to connect people with each other, and with the ideas and resources we will all hopefully use to change the way we are living on the planet. EarthStar is in the process of building our real-world and virtual connections, and developing our sustainability database of issues, concepts and solutions for the problems facing our global society in the years ahead. 

A Project Accelerator for Sustainability.

What we’re talking about is being there when the individual or organization wants to pursue sustainability, and offering ideas as well as the whole nine yards – an ordered set of instructions, a list of local or online resources to get the materials and prices, service installers and contractors to help you, videos, open source designs, and everything else to get the job done.

  • Describe the challenge or issue you are facing and find real world options for overcoming it in the long haul, sustainably.
  • Connect the dots for resources, budget, timeline, people, diagrams and guidelines involved.
  • Find other examples of what you want to do locally and globally.
  • Robotically organize the bits and pieces of the virtual world to acquire real resources according to preference, timeline and budget, so human beings can easily get started.

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Our Road to Global Sustainability: Where we are Going with this…

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As a mother labors to give birth to the future in human form, we are laboring to process the massive vision that is EarthStar, little by little, into reality. Right now we are in a networking and organizational development phase – we are reaching out and making connections with intentional communities and sustainability workers all over – we are laying the groundwork for an open source foundation that can move on its own momentum into the future. Movement-building is a key factor to remember when taking on an audacious goal, and we must work now to see what’s already out there, connecting ideas and people in a community.

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Off-Grid solar lets you live with the land where power lines don’t reach.

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So what’s off-grid solar power all about?

Well first off, I live off-grid myself, having most of my power coming directly from the sun. I have a battery and a relatively low-wattage solar panel providing enough power for lights and some low-wattage computers and other meager appliances. I do not have the luxury of a multi-kW ongrid hookup for things like water heaters, washing machines, or large-screen HDTV’s – but we find other ways to heat water and do our laundry anyway.

It’s not easy – we have to budget power and literally count every volt and amp of every appliance we plug in, to find out if it fits within the parameters of our AC power inverter and battery life. Thankfully newer computers are offering more and more power with less and less power consumption, and longer battery life – enabling us to get more blogging done after the sun goes to bed. LED bulbs also get your basic need of light covered through the light easily with extremely low power consumption.

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Secure your Software and Save your Devices with Help from a Pro

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If you have used computers or mobile internet devices for a little while you’re probably familiar with this story. You just picked up a new device about 6 months ago, now little by little your computer or tiny pocket computer (aka phone or smartphone) is running slower than you know it should be. Either it won’t boot anything at all, or it’s flashing a mysterious and frightening blue screen and then restarting. It might be giving you strange messages about your system security from software that you’ve never seen before and you know you never installed. Even when it was brand new out of the box, it was jam-packed with a million extra icons for features you didn’t understand and would probably never end up using – but you didn’t know exactly how to remove them.  Even for the most die-hard computer taskmaster, these are situations that would cause many of us to throw our hands up in the air and just buy a new one – but rest assured that this is as unnecessary as it is wasteful and damaging to the ecosystem.

You may need professional help with this – and we are a group poised to assist. We have been helping people with their IT professionally for over a decade and are ready to help you directly or connect you with someone who can, in order to save you time and money – and to save the world one more device from e-waste landfill. Read more

LED light bulbs give more light for your energy – and they’re cheaper and better than ever.

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Little LED lights are changing the world one bulb at a time, and they are getting cheaper.

Little LED lights are changing the world one bulb at a time, and they are getting cheaper.

With LED lights, people can get the full spectrum of lighting using less power. LEDs use only a fraction of the electricity than even compact fluorescents do, with more energy going into light itself unless being wasted on byproducts like heat. They are extremely cheap and easy to manufacture, less toxic for the environment and don’t require special disposal for hazardous materials. As opposed to fluorescent lights, when they break, if they break, you don’t have to take special precautions to clean up the mess in order to avoid getting sick. They also have a much longer lifespan than any other kind of bulb.

LEDs run the gamut from low red to ultraviolet and can be combined into multi spectrum lighting for psychological health and even plant growth and raising animals that require UV to survive. All this means it can only be beneficial for people.

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Earthships – sustainable passive solar buildings that provide almost all basic needs.

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Earthships are partially-underground passive-solar buildings that incorporate as many of the needs of living into one self-contained unit as possible. They are well-known for using recycled materials like tires and bottles and Earth to create structures that are comfortably-heated throughout the winter. They are capable of supporting a full diet of food for the inhabitants (because the south-facing part of the building is basically a green house). But don’t take our word for it, visit the Earthships homepage.

Principles behind Earthships can be employed as attachments for existing houses, or integrated into greenhouse design. Earthships could be set up as a food and heat source for residential dwellings that are connected by tubes or tunnels.

At our farm in the Olympic Mountains, we are hoping to create a full size Earthship, if not work passive solar, upcycling, tires and other Earthship elements into design for the tiny houses we are living in here. A lot of our heat in the winter comes from wood, and it would be good to integrate Earthship tech into the house. In the summertime, the hope is to use the convection created by excess heat, plus a thermostat controlling the timed opening of vents, to make extra energy and supply ventilation.

We plan to visit the local library and establish talks and a regular group to plan an Earthship on the property here.

Please use our contact page if you want to share your experiences, stories, insights, plans, or desire to participate in our projects!

If you have time, check out this video (and any others that might pop up) on YouTube:

 

Cob houses – a natural blast from the past with a modern twist.

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A Beautiful Natural Home in EnglandModern housing is unsustainable in a number of ways.

Thankfully many people have worked to develop housing technologies which combine ancient methods with modern advancements and create comfortable, beautiful, unique homes that are also cheap to build in terms of labor and materials. Cob is an ancient building method which uses the dirt, wood and raw materials of the land itself to create houses that are more like works of art. These houses take advantage of passive heating and cooling to stay naturally cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. An average individual can learn cob building in the course of a couple weeks, though it takes patience and skill learned from hours into days of experience to complete your structure. Cob is a building artform that is lost on the undisciplined worker. These constructions are by no means substandard housing, cob constructions are fitted with all necessary modern plumbing and appliances.

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Why should we care about sustainability?

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Feel and share the love for your home planet...

Feel and share the love for your home planet…

The question has been actually posed to me by some who don’t completely understand yet – why should we care about saving the environment? Why should we care about changing our ways, why should we put the needs of the many above our own? Why should we make conscious decisions when we buy, work, vote and even think that benefit the whole rather than just ourselves? My own upbringing and enrichment as a child leaves me with little to no choice, but it’s true that not everybody has that background and some people need reasons to start thinking that way. If you’re on this page it’s because you already kind of “get it”, but you still may encounter people out there every day – even friends and family – who may ridicule you for wearing your love for the Earth on your sleeve. When they ask why you care so much, here are three reasons off the bat that you can have handy just in case. Add them to your toolkit.

1) There is no planet B.

The simple fact is that even though some still have a fantasy about going into space and setting up colonies on the moon or mars or even a distant solar system in the even that our ecosystem does collapse, a scenario I will simply call Planetfall, we do not have the resources to make such a voyage for every man, woman and child. Such planning would take decades, even centuries, more time than we have before the damage we’ve wrought will come back to bear on us as a collective.

2) The problems are systemic, and they are affecting everybody right now.

It is officially recognized in the highest chambers of all the lands that climate change is a real thing that’s affecting people everywhere right now. There is more concern yet about the slow damage of radioactive isotopes, heavy metals, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides which are toxic to all life showing up in our food, water, and air in unavoidable ways. Rather than invest in clean and renewable energies, robber barons around the world have begun to parcel off land and aquifers to literally destroy the rock of our planet’s surface to get at an ultimately limited supply of natural gas.

3) Have a heart, for Earth’s sake!

There is a serious and rampant lack of connection between human beings at large on the surface of the Earth and the Earth itself. By this I mean that we’ve lost the literal and metaphysical connection to nature and what makes it grow. Thankfully there is a resurgence in this desire to go out and learn about nature, learn how we can help it to help ourselves, to take care of it as we truly take care of ourselves. This missing connection to the heartbeat of the Earth if you will is arguably what causes much of the social chaos and disconnect that we observe in the culture that has consumed the planet for the last century, the culture that is dying out.  That lack of connection ironically continues the cycle of meaningless consumption to fill an emotional void in place of rekindling a real connection to your home planet. Even if the whole ecosystem doesn’t collapse on the current course (and that’s a big “if” as NASA would have us know) there are people all around the world feeling the effects of our decisions every day, dealing with the garbage and making the cheap goods and feeling the effects of climate change as their homes are washed away. With all the clean, green technology in the world, we will get nowhere in becoming responsible stewards of the Earth if we don’t re-develop this bond with our Home. This is the most important thing – but it doesn’t have to be serious. Nature is relaxing, enriching, engaging and educational at every level – and it can teach us alot about our world and ourselves, even how to solve many of our problems. The answers may be out there now! Go out and explore.

Geodesic structures are sturdy, beautiful, and light on resources.

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Geodesic domes were invented in the 1960’s by Buckminster Fuller to meet the growing housing need of a growing population. Mr Fuller imagined that human civilization could support 20 billion + individuals living on the face of the earth if the adopted sustainable strategies. He designed his domes to mimic the molecular structure of nature around us which is always light on resources and designed beautifully to withstand the elements.

On top of being visually attractive, geodesic domes are also designed for optimun light, heat, and air flow inside and around the dome. In a windstorm it is probably quieter then just about any other dwelling you could think of even the yurts designed by the Mongolians for use on the windy and frigid steppes. It is no coincidence that many Native American structures, such as the igloo of the north, are designed this way.

Now it is surprisingly easy to design your dome for your home or green house or business by using an online calculator or any of a slew of software for your PC or mobile device. The connectors, struts, and supplies are easy to order, gather, or fabricate. There are any number of prefabricated kits which can be purchased from the internet for under $10,000 most of the time, which definitely beats the building costs of any typical dwelling. If you are more of a do-it-yourself-er, you can download open source designs for free. The round and open flow of the floor plan makes it so that use of a tiny space is more harmonious, making it so that you can live in a smaller building it may not even need to be permitted by the county.

Check out the resources embedded in this page to get started, or use the contact form to get ahold of us for help with building, planning, or networking services in your area to get going.

 

 

 

No-till permaculture saves time and money while making the most of your onsite resources.

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Brendan sporting his green thumb.Although there are things about it that leave something to be desired, tilling a garden’s soil every year is still the old standby for creating a garden literally from the ground up. Tilling aerates the soil, and “green compost” or old cover crop and other plant material can be chopped up into the soil to return carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients for further growth. In combination with a no-till method, tilling can be a great way to get a garden going at least – to transform the surface of the land once, in order to set up mulching and compost-injection systems that keep up the no-till permaculture design in the long run. Generally speaking, however, no-till gardening is easier, more effective, healthier for the environment and better at keeping nutrients and water in the soil. It’s also closer to the natural systems that uphold the balance of nature in forests and fields as it is.

Soil tilling is directly-tied to large scale conventional agriculture, even the smallest organic producers, and on such a scale requires massive mechanization and thus, use of fossil fuels – creating more CO2 for the atmosphere and increasing the greenhouse effect. It will be difficult to get large-scale no-till permaculture to catch on wildly even in a way that it will affect the big or even small-scale organic ag producers. In the meantime, it works well and well enough to get by – as it has for thousands of years. By rotating crops and animals and using cover crop to fix nitrogen and carbon and water to the soil in off-seasons, this kind of agriculture can be carried out long term even though it ends up with many of the problems that natural biodynamic permaculture solves from the get-go. A careful farmer, however, can make use of his land and care for it well for decades before it has to be left fallow.

Check out Images of this year’s gardening projects!

How do we make information technology sustainable?

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Communications and information technology are widely considered essential to modern society; however, the materials we use in these devices are usually highly-toxic when they come out of the Earth and when they are returned to landfill. E-cycling laws make it illegal to dump electronics in landfills in the US, but even so people everywhere are either unaware or openly flout these important rules to protect our groundwater. Even so, e-waste is the largest growing waste problem in the work, up there with plastic packaging but potentially much more immediately hazardous to human and other forms of life.

Material culture has also instilled this industry with its values of “buy a new one”, even though the items in question are some of our most precious, costly and hazardous in terms of toxic waste. Out of all the products we have, this of anything should be the category which we waste the least. This is especially true considering most of the issues faced by typical computer users are embedded software inconsistencies which slow them down. Users who don’t understand Laptops full of toxic materials are being discarded more often than they are repaired.how to fix their computer, or don’t have access to quality IT services away from the store where they got it (who usually wants to sell them a new one), and tend to go with the flow and purchase a brand new PC not knowing that the same software problems may be worse in the new one. This creates problems all the way along, for the Earth, for the customer, for the trained local  repair guy who is left without work, for the factory line worker living in substandard conditions, and for the financial health of the Nation as emergency computer purchases are often put on credit cards.

We hope to slow down if not reverse this trend of endless consumption of these devices, even though the industry seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Most of the time a “dead”, “sick” or “slow” PC can be turned around for less than $100 in skilled local labor.

By employing these skills on EarthStar Foundation, we will have constant connection to the outside world that doesn’t place undue financial burden on any of our community members. It’s our thought that nature and technology can work hand-in-hand, but those who care for nature must learn to repair and maintain technology, and those who are into technology must learn to care for nature. We must learn to understand and repair the technology we are using to reduce financial dependence on the corporations that provide it.

Reinventing the wheel for a zero emissions Renaissance.

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Gridlock in a typical urban jungle, dumping tons of CO2 every second.When many people think about the challenge we face with global warming, they think first about transportation – namely, our cars. It’s now pretty common knowledge that carbon dioxide emitted by conventional automobiles is one of the gases contributing to the greenhouse effect; though there are a number of sources for this increase in CO2, we need to do something about how we move around. Air travel is actually one of the worst offenders, dumping carbon right into the upper atmosphere – since carbon dioxide is heavier than most of the air, it takes a very long time to get from the ground to where it can do the most damage. Companies like Tesla Motors are making electric cars awesome.The greatest hope toward emissions-free transportation seems to be in clean-running electric motors powered by batteries. Electric vehicles (EV’s) are rapidly being accepted into mainstream society with major manufacturers finally releasing production models on the public market. Motor, controller and battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. The Tesla Model S sports an 200 mile-per-charge from its proprietary recyclable batteries; people are noticing as Tesla outsold 10 of its major competitors in California last year. Nissan and even General Motors have gotten into the game, releasing all-electric models which are being snapped up by an expectant market eager for change. Check out Revenge of the Electric Car for a truly inspiring romp through the exciting growing world of vehicle electrification. EV conversions make the old so much bettter than it ever was new.EV Conversion is the less-known, Earth-conscious method of taking a vehicle which would eventually be scrap and bringing new high-tech life to it for a much lower price than purchasing even a new conventional vehicle. Since you are basically recycling a car, megawatts of energy and tons of material are saved, so your environmental footprint is far less than it would be were you to buy a brand new one, however cool they have become. Modern EV Kits offer a daily charge range of about 80-120 miles, which is more than enough for us to run errands like local CSA (Farm Share), restaurant and market deliveries. We will also be developing new ways of using rooftop solar on-the-go to extend the daily battery life of these vehicles. Future campaigns will include encouraging local public works to install more EV chargers, as well as creating open source training materials to enable mechanics across the country to make EV conversions mainstream.

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Hyperloop trains could provide safe, super-fast and clean transport everywhere.

Air travel is one of the worst contributors to global warming.This leaves the problem of long-range transportation and the dumping of upper-atmospheric carbon by jet airliners. There is some work going into electric aircraft propulsion but it has a long way to go; this technology isn’t as far along as its ground-based counterpart beyond the RC hobby sector. There is some hope, though, for high-speed travel around and perhaps between continents, using magnetic-levitation bullet train tubes. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, recently placed the engineering challenge before the world to create a super-sonic hyperloop train that would connect major cities of North America. Eventually we may want to experiment with this kind of exciting technology at EarthStar, making a mini-hyperloop for quick transport of materials around the property. Solar aircraft are emerging, but not quite mature enough.All told, there are too many avenues for exploration to keep beating the same drum of internal combustion. The time has come and people are ready for the modes of transportation we were promised would come with the new millenium. Thus far, corporate boardrooms have failed to deliver far above and beyond the standard, so it’s up to the tinkerers and dreamers to create the future in their backyards and garages. Hyper-fast bullet trains could connect the landscape, if we want them to enough.If any of this seems far out of the scope of reality and it’s difficult to imagine a world covered with clean-running electric cars, solar-powered charging stations and super-sonic hypertrains instead of Chevrons, Shells, Exxons and BP’s, look at the Silicon and Internet Revolutions, how fast they came about and transformed the entire world from the ground up. Remember, when the old doesn’t work anymore, people will naturally seek out the new. If you’re already on that frontier, where we and many others will be, you will find yourself embracing and creating rather than dreading the future.

Using the Power of Greenhouses to Reliably Grow Food in All Seasons and Climates.

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The Eden Project is one example of a well-known geodesic biodome in action.Where we live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard to imagine a diet that includes things like avocados, bananas, and coffee without going to the store to get these things. Generally the climate here doesn’t favor growing high-temperature species – hats off to you in more moderate climes, we just can’t do it up here! Unless you have a hothouse, or climate-stable insulated biodome that is.

We have made a number of small prototype domes from material as simple as bendy straws, bubble wrap, and packing tape. They're light enough to throw around and hold their shape well.The concepts of hothouses and even geodesic domes are not new ones, their efficacy and structural integrity have been proven. People use both of these technologies around the world even today to produce an amazing variety of food year round.. and have an awesome piece of space age architecture to boot!

Geodesic domes are light and easy to build, out of just about anything. Even so, we’ve been unsatisfied with the typical method of building domes, by creating hubs and single struts that make up the sides of the triangles that make up the dome. We’ve been working on prototypes that use a modular construction – that is, we put the dome together piece by Playing with a piece, in hexagonal and pentagonal panels that interlock, so they can be disassembled, moved, and reassembled at a whim. This small-scale that adds up to large-scale construction allows us to use many different recycled materials to create the structure and surface.

This design isn't geodesic, but it demonstrates the vertical axis turbine concept at the top.In addition, we hope to include a combination wind generator / convection solar heat generator at the top of our domes that captures energy from the wind blowing by the top, assisted by excess heat being vented from the dome at a certain temperature. In the winter seasons, temperature and light sensors can use increased wind energy outside to produce added heat and multi-spectrum LED light in order to keep growing stable throughout the year. Rather than a wasteful fossil-fuel-powered greenhouse that uses up power running fans to vent excess heat in the peak of summer, this design would take money off your power bill or even net you a check in the hottest months.

Imagine the impact it would have on shipping, cooling and unsustainable production in the broken long-distance fresh-foodA basic design for a modular geodesic home or biodome (what's the difference? You decide if there is any.) industry if more and more people began producing their own desirable produce year round in their own backyards, patios, and walkways, using geodesic or bubble dome technology. This comes at the same time that California, the fresh produce basket of much of the world, is having a crippling drought caused by climate change – which has many worried about the ability and price of many of the world’s favorite vegetables.

In a time that many people are worried about the use and spread of GMO’s, backyard biodomes would make sure that at least some of the seeds we are saving would remain uncontaminated by GMO crops.

These applications would have an impact on climate change as well – as well as possibly producing power during times of excess heat, reducing the need for fossil fuels, during peak production they would naturally “breathe”, moving CO2-laden air from the ground through the dome and up, fixing the CO2 into our food. This is what all plants do naturally, but we hope to accelerate the process. In areas that have been desertified, deployment of this kind of technology could help fix valuable water and create oases of life to fix more nutrients and moisture.

Resources:
The Buckminster Fuller Institute
On “Deep Winter Greenhouses”

More of the Eden Project. We would like something like this on the Olympic Peninsula.

Creating a renewable and dynamic energy future.

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Renewable Energy PlatformsIf you’re interested enough in sustainability to be reading this site, you may well have heard a lot about the problems with our energy systems as they exist. What people want, what they are waiting to get behind, are solutions. There is a grassroots movement happening globally, made of individuals and organizations, who are creating their own power solutions and flipping the grid in their areas. Solar power in some states has become popular enough that the fossil fuel industries have tried (unsuccessfully) to enact special rates and taxes to discourage people from selling power back to the grid. In Hawaii, for example, there was serious concern this summer that solar power would fry sections of the grid from overabundant wattage – in other words, solar has come so far in just a couple of years since the creation of clean energy tax credits that it’s starting to push back fossil fuels and make it necessary for traditional power plants to scale back operations. This is exactly what we want to happen! The tide is beginning to turn, and the odds aren’t so hopelessly stacked against anymore, but the battle is far from over.

Besides averting catastrophe for global civilization, there are obvious financial benefits to going green and installing renewable energies. There is usually a large up-front cost, which is the biggest impediment to the shift currently, but that one-time installment can make you a lifetime of power. Since most appliances get more energy efficient with time, and power rates go up, this only means that you will be making more and more money from energy production long after the pinch from your original purchase has gone. Even so, there are emerging means for people to get around the initial financial burden to get set up and start contributing to the transition. You are in the right place to learn about, then begin to deploy, the alternatives.

Solar and wind equipment is expensive now, but like LCD screens and smartphones, technology will continue to improve and cost will come down. The federal government is still reimbursing 30% of the equipment costs for installing grid-tie renewable energy until 2016. Renewable energy has also recently gotten a large injection of capital with the coming-of-age of crowdfunding, allowing local groups to appeal to the masses to meet the high financial burden of these technologies – and such a free flow of capital to innovative projects is pushing new limits for the tech itself.

Vertical Axis wind turbines are proven more efficient than horizontal-axis ones.Solar being the first and most obvious pick for renewable power, much energy can also come from vertical-axis wind turbines mounted on the building tops and sides. Vertical axis wind turbines are much more efficient than horizontal-axis ones as they spin in most wind conditions, and have less friction. If people can reduce energy use in every possible way, using computers and devices that are highly energy efficient and coming up with alternative means of heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, milling grain, even doing dishes and laundry, that don’t involve power, then all this energy production can be sold back to the power grid at the same rate you would normally buy it for. Surplus energy production (and there will be a lot of it) will be turned in to pure energy production credits which show up as a check in the mail (instead of a bill) from the power utility.

One way or another, when more power is produced at home instead of afar, more financial and actual power – the power of freedom to make your own decisions without fear of not being able to pay the bills – stays at home.

What is EarthStar?

Welcome to EarthStar.

We are creating a high-tech sustainable future today. We provide real goods, services, information and inspiration to individuals, families , organizations, governments and businesses – empowering people to make green choices to meet their everyday needs.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is a way of thinking and living that examines everything we do for its impact on humanity and the planet in the long run. By reducing resource use you can also stop loss of income and keep more in the home, enabling you to make even more choices that can make a positive difference! If you ever have thought that anything should be left better than it was, or if our children deserve a chance at a healthy future, then you’re already thinking sustainably. Sustainability applies to every facet of our lives and comes into play every time you make a decision. Technology now enables you to make sustainable choices for almost everything you do throughout the day; it’s our goal to help you use the tech available to make those choices.

What is Earthstar?

EarthStar is a service provider, online retailer, information resource, community, and non-profit foundation for Environmental Research and direct action. Our goal is to put sustainable products, services, and ideas into the hands of everyday people so they can do something to reverse the negative impacts our global civilization on the planet.

A concept drawing for one version of the EarthStar Foundation.What do we hope to accomplish?

We want to make a real impact on our civilization’s bottom line, as well as create or enhance a culture of sustainability that instills hearts, minds and souls with love for the Earth and the desire to see it through to the next chapter of our planet’s history. It’s our core mission to nurture this and the next generation with the skills and intuition and respect for nature which will be necessary in order to make the change real. The “change” we are talking about here is mental and spiritual just as well as physical. Many are frustrated in the current cultural paradigm, feeling the constant pinch of the financially-motivated material culture that surrounds most of us. We hope to increase awareness of the old culture, as well as nuts-and-bolts practical application of the “new culture” we’re hoping to help create. Even in circles advancing the cause of sustainability, there is sometimes a feeling of dread when thinking about the future, of hopelesssness in the face of a daunting if not impossible-seeming challenge. When we look at the culture through the eyes of the mass media it would appear as if the world has turned a blind eye to the suffering of the planet – but appearances can be deceiving.

We are not alone.

There is a rapidly-advancing movement of self-empowered humans working actively toward a different future than the one seen through the television and movies. What is not accounted for is something subdermal, a feeling or an energy seething beneath the surface, within every heart and mind. This thing is the most dangerous thing to any given power structure throughout history that’s fought freedom of information: an idea. That idea: This global material culture is, at its heart, not sustainable. It cannot last and it must evolve or be replaced entirely. This isn’t an ultimatum being given to a disobedient child, it’s a scientific fact. A culture based on endless material acquisition cannot, logically, advance its cause forever on a planet with finite material resources. Thankfully, this seeming obstacle to human progress is also the greatest design challenge ever placed before a civilization, one that calls us to great deeds in the very name of preserving the future for coming generations. There is no greater cause, and no more exciting opportunity. I am pleased to say this project and this website is not the first or only of its kind and in fact there are millions of similar organizations around the world moving piece by piece toward global change. Bear in mind that the “culture” is made out of people, individuals, and that people working toward the same goal together are capable of truly amazing things. I sincerely hope you’ll join us!