Things have been hectic over here. Family emergencies, school, housing, work, etc. all add up to sometimes neglecting ones’ passion. I have 100GB or more of pictures and video that have never seen the light of day.. hopefully this is the first of many gallery drops. Enjoy!
Constructively Confronting Systemic Toxicity: The Trump Administration, The Cultural Environment, and the Road Forward.
The Trump Administration appears on the horizon, and Real fear for the present and future sets in. Suddenly, the wolf emerges from under its sheepskin. Nothing could be clearer, the steps we take in these moments will echo into time immemorial. Never has a population lived at such an important impasse between matters of culture, economy, government, race, and environment. How rapidly humans are impacting the environment has far out-stripped the environment’s ability to support us, let alone the rest of the ecosystem and its countless other inhabitants – and then there’s this. Media lied to us. Politicians lied to us. Polls lied to us. They made us forget what it was like to live with a Wolf when we had our cool, suave, friendly POTUS who actually signed deals for Wall Street, lied to the Sioux about how important their sovereignty was, and sent flying killer robots to kill poor brown kids in their beds. We forgot those “unattractive” things because we wanted to believe in the idea that our problems could be fixed with a magic wand. Well, it can’t. Sorry, we have to do it ourselves.
The Frog Slowly Boiling: There’s Something Not Matching Up in Reality, and Standing Rock is Revealing It.
Images coming from the front-lines of the Standing Rock occupation in South Dakota today are disturbing at best, except for that bit when the herd of Buffalo (the work of species rehabilitation in recent years) showed up seemingly in solidarity with the protesters. The Internet is on fire about this, has been for weeks, and only now are mainstream media outlets that were ignoring it for weeks, confident that the blase cover story and re-routing issued by Obama weeks before would hold up and that the Internet phenomenon would die down.
Now major networks and newspapers are touching it finally, but of course choosing to focus on the violent struggles, burning tires, “illegal” road blockades and other noise around the fiasco. Typical. But even though everybody and their sister seem to be talking about this on the Online circles we are already in touch with, there is a deeper systemic issue we’re not talking about. The elephant in the room here is the silence of the masses, and of the candidates, and – until the last 24-72 hours – of the media.
Sustainable and environment-related causes have gotten a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Some see this as a fad or a craze, as if it were some “health swing” that happens every decade. The real reason this is becoming more popular is that the environment (which we as a species still occupy) is in need of relief, shall we say, from the pressures humankind is putting on it. Nonetheless, our civilization, which has carried on in its mad drive for material profit at an accelerated growth since the Industrial “Revolution”, seems to be at odds with the very place we call home, and, ironically, represents the reserve of natural resources with which Industry must make business happen. Not all businesses or people think this way, and it’s not necessary to link making a buck with this rapacious speed with which we’re eating up reserves and polluting what’s left. There’s a lot of talk about the Triple Bottom Line which amounts to People, Planet, and Profit. I’d like to point out the need to switch thinking, even though it’s nice alliteration, to think of it more as People – Planet – Financial with Profit (actual) being the meeting of these three concepts. In my opinion, actual profit is not achieved until your business creates gains in all three.
If we are going to re-define profit altogether, we need new profit modeling software that allows businesses, individuals and organizations to track, record, and publish their efforts results in real time.
There’s a lot of talk out there about renewable energy, living off-grid, tiny homes, passive solar, underground greenhouses, and other ways of fixing more of our resources closer to the homestead. If there was a way to do much of this, using very simple even throw-away or recycled materials, we’d hear about it right? Well, if you’ve heard about EarthShips, you’re lucky. If you haven’t yet, you’re in luck. Talk about the sustainability rubber meeting the road, it couldn’t get more perfect. Of course they’re hard to code, zone, and establish – because they fly in the face of all the dominant trends in building that have been written and dominated by a Dupont-dominated building industry and reinforced by a culture that will demean you for wanting to “live in a hole” because they just don’t understand yet that natural or Earth-based building is the wave of a future that we can actually afford to turn the lights on in. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at some of these videos from Taos, NM (Earthship capital of the Earth right now) and other places where people are innovating these unique structures. Also please keep in mind, that even if zoning or coding will not allow you to build one of these to live in primarily on your land, you can still construct an outlying “shop” or “greenhouse” that use these techniques, and even pipe the warm air it creates into a “proper” house – just to make the system happy. As innovations like this become more popular, hopefully culture will shift toward adopting concepts like this – building renewable sustainable homes with recycled materials – and move away from the toxic stick-houses that are hurting the Earth and easy to destroy by climate-assisted super-storms.
The Smartest Cities are Going Green – Literally – Improving Image and Health, and Curing the Pollution Problem at its Source
Most of us would agree that cities are a huge source of pollution. Generally, most of the junk in the air, waters, and land comes from urban areas, where the greatest concentrations of humans are gathered. This leads some to believe that the best way to “get sustainable” is to move to the country, where things aren’t so crowded and the potential and space exists to do projects that nurture the Earth and grow food. In reality, if there was a mass exodus of people from the cities currently, the countryside would be destroyed by urban sprawl in no time. This process of people leaving the gray city slate for the forested green of the country could explain how urban sprawl actually occurs. Rather than entertain potentially destructive notions in the hope of making a dent in the problem, turn the problem to its source for solutions. Cities are hubs of communication, the home to millions who want to see green where they live; they don’t want to have to leave to have their cake and eat it too. They want to green their cities, and why shouldn’t they? Introducing the movement to improve the ecology in the most ecologically destitute places on Earth, turning some of the world’s biggest cities into resplendent emerald attractions that bring even more residents, commerce, and tourists.
This is probably one of the best ideas for reforestation that you haven’t heard of yet. Have you? Well, if you have, good – because it’s brilliant! This is a group of web programmers turned environmentalist that have set up a search engine that plants a tree every time you make a search! It’s based on a google API so it has all the power you’re used to, but less ads – and the ads you experience also go to fund reforestation! Check out Ecosia.org now to use it as-is or install safe add-ons and search plugins for your browser. We encourage this as well as any and all efforts to use the time we spend on computers and internet devices to do good for the environment!
Do you have plants to water? Do you grow food in a dry region? Don’t throw out those recyclable containers! Jars, bottles, and cartons of all kinds can be used to literally pull water out of the air, and keep it from flying away. Water is a polar molecule – it attracts to itself magnetically. Also, it makes a great heat sink, cooling down your plants in the hot dry summer. If you have taken a look at plants in the morning dew, you will notice that moisture tends to stick around established plants – why? Part of it has to do with the moisture in the plant fixing more moisture from the air. Have you ever seen the water droplets on the side of a cold bottle of water form before anyone has opened it? That’s moisture in the air that’s forming on the bottle due to the cold, and a little bit due to the electromagnetic bonds all water molecules feel to each other. “Plant” jars and bottles at the base of your plants to help pull moisture out of the air, keeping them alive and well – and to help keep water from evaporating out of your soil. On a grand scale, think of the effect this could have to help fix liquid fresh water in areas that are being desertified, or where we need to reforest, but it’s hard to get liquid water out to every tree in the rehabilitation zone. Passive condensation tech like this could be part of a toolkit for survival in the parched 21st century, especially with drought from climate change. Just fill any water-tight container with a fitting lid to the brim and bury it 3/4 in the Earth. Compare the results between plants with passive moisturizing or without. Let us know!
It tends to appear that money and the environment are at odds. In order to make money, usually you have to participate in a job or investments that actively antagonize the already-unstable global ecosystem. There is a lot of talk about the parasitic “big banks”, “too big to fail”, and the system of toxic corporate financial entities that control the system. Not often enough, however, do people change where they bank in order to change things. Signing up at a credit union is one such way. Credit unions are non-profit organizations that exist for the express purpose of helping ordinary citizens build up credit and actually move forward as a result of keeping a stable balance. They tend to invest in local projects, businesses, governments and housing and thus represent a more direct democratic option in banking. Here’s a government website specifically created to help people find a credit union in their area. There has been a new trend as well in environmental investment banking with banks such as Aspiration opening checking account services to everyday people that allow for investing with a conscience. These banks have come to the conclusion, as many of us have, that the future of business is green, and investments into that future will be lucrative as well as wholesome for all concerned. These maintain a portfolio of investments that rate ecological benefit against monetary profit. They do this by picking “high road companies” vs. “low road companies” and prioritize investments on a scale of how well a company is doing financially and the good they are doing for the planet and humanity in the process.
Many of us would accept it as an axiom that we are all interconnected. Now for some reason this isn’t readily apparent to just everyone yet, possibly because it isn’t always obvious. It takes some viewing through a layer or two of perspective, but ultimately we are connected infinitely in innumerable ways. From the second we emerge into the world, we are utterly dependent upon other humans, our forebears and others, for survival. Without that help, and the help of others throughout life, we would literally die. Throughout life it’s not so clear-cut as it is for an infant, but without the interaction with others we would be lost. The “lone wolf” idea, where it comes to humans, is not applicable – for that matter, neither is it for wolves. We sometimes get overwhelmed with toxic human relationships that no longer serve our growth, and without the maturity of sight that comes with experience it’s easy enough to project all of humanity onto the relationships we’ve had so far. Ideally, we should move forward in a generally upward direction, improving ourselves and our relationships with time. Unfortunately, often enough, this isn’t what happens in experience – many of us tend to project our hopes, dreams, fears and demons onto others and get angry when other individuals don’t accept our ideas of fairness. Either way, we are teaching each other and learning from each other at all times, for better or for worse. It’s a two-way street, to be fair: the individual usually ahead in age is in the position to offer help, in exchange for the ability to teach. The individual in a position of learning and needing material help has the opportunity to learn, teach, and provide service. In turn, everybody helps each other in a teach-learn-serve triangle of relationship.
A cannabis user doesn’t necessarily have to be the one writing this. This is an appeal for the legitimate use of cannabis as a personal spiritual sacrament to connect to the living world. It’s for those among us who use cannabis as a way to connect to a deeper reality that this world doesn’t always connect to. There are various uses for every thing under the sun, and the focus of something tends to be its dominant use – and thus, the focus on the use of cannabis as either a way to have fun, relax, or heal. There is less focus on the use that the place of its origin recognizes, as “all of the above” but very importantly a way to transcend the material world and connect to a deeper spirituality. This is a very Indian (we’re talking Hindu, not Native American) way of thinking and for various reasons has deep discord with the dominant thinking of the West which is very materialist. I’m trying not to make this sound too cliche because obviously this is the subject of countless riffs on this divide, but the important part is this – one recognizes that there is a greater mass to creation than what meets the eye, and looks for it – the other is consumed by the reality of “what is” and what we’re able to objectively demonstrate in a laboratory or on a balance sheet. Thus, the deep divide over cannabis. The actual history of the world shows that several ancient cultures, many of whom are still around, have used this herb for thousands of years. (Not that it matters to those already convinced it makes you “dumb” or “unmotivated”, recently they also found it in William Shakespeare’s tobacco pipe..) One of these cultures is alive and well, a cradle of civilization whose written works are some of the oldest known and many of whose modern members are word-renowned for their scientific, medical and spiritual knowledge.
Don’t ask yourself “should cannabis be legalized” for this or that purpose, ask yourself “why is it illegal in the first place?” Honestly, is it because it’s “dangerous”, “addictive”, and leads to the decay of brain cells and motivation – according to the same FDA that regards wholesome breakfast cereal like Frosted Flakes as more “nutritional” than an avocado? Is it because it causes social conditions like depression, mania, schizophrenia, or any number of other labels the pharmaceutical industrial complex has come up with to describe humans reacting to the craziness of the world? Is it the cause of so much social decay and economic depravity as observed in places like the third world – or, our domestic version, the inner city?
Can We Wake Up From this Crazy Dream, or is It Too Late? The Coincidence of 400ppm and Dakota Pipeline Arrests.
These are two major pieces of news that should be totally alarming to anyone paying attention. Good thing people already paying attention are already alarmed. We’re not trying to be alarmist, but if you’re not alarmed, be. We should honestly start a puppet show, rap video, or comedy skit about it to be taken seriously though, because alarmists are known to be a “bummer”. Oh well, there’s still this bit to attend to.
For years, there has been a magic number, a threshold of carbon particles in the air hovering around 400 parts per million… something about this “sets the level” for the climate, whereby past this point it may be extremely difficult, if not (some say) impossible, to reverse the trend and get back to 350 parts-per-million or below. Here is one post from the day that has seemed pretty doom and gloom to already-eco-minded types.
So what does this mean, for the planet, for the human race, for the individual?
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.
For those of us who think about the Earth all the time, Earth Day can be kind of like New Years. It used to be, when I was living mostly on a 27″ screen attached to a 500W power hog, doing web design in a cushy apartment, Earth Day was a sore reminder that I hadn’t done enough the year before. I could never really feel like anything I did that day was enough to make up for it. Little by little, those experiences added up to the pressing feeling that I needed to do something to change my lifestyle, and it worked. Either way, this day is about celebrating the Earth and how much we love it – not about feeling bad that we’re not doing enough. So I chose this moment to recap and write a little about everything we’ve done since last April, and what we hope to get done before the next Earth Day rolls around. maybe you maybe you can find some ideas in here that you can employ over the next year. If you have any ideas, weigh in on our Facebook page.
There is an observation which was mis-named a law, which has been guiding the hand of the IT-powered economy since it came up in the 1960’s. Moore’s law (more accurately called Moore’s Observation) describes the seemingly-endless acceleration of computer technology since they first used the semiconductor silicon to replace vacuum tubes. Currently, this prediction is undergoing renovation.
Decades ago, a scientist at Intel observed that the complexity of silicon wafers, used to make computer chips, doubled about every 18 months. This has led the entire industry to rally behind a prediction that has become a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Think about it. If you didn’t notice, computers and other information technology devices seem to have been getting faster and faster, the power they deliver and the number of features they possess as a result seem to increase as a function of time, relative to how much money it costs to buy them. The physics behind what made this acceleration possible escapes understanding for most, but it’s essential to understanding the next few years of global economic shifting as the silicon trend slows to a standstill, and IT manufacturers find new ways to advance.
Over the weekend, we had the treat of going to a unique gathering in the activity room at the local Port Angeles library. Sarah Tucker has been working with marine debris and other forms of recyclables to create beautiful art pieces that have been recognized for making apparent the plight of sea creatures and other animals in places we ritually contaminate with our garbage. As 99% of the plastic we were trying to find recently is missing, possibly dissolved to micro-plastic, the current home of much of it may be the top predator in the ocean – at this point, humans. There is an emerging trend seeking to reclaim this apparent “garbage” as essential materials to artwork – and to proving a point about out excess.
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.
In the community where we live, we are employing many awesome ways of doing food gardens. Since we’re right on the edge of the wilderness pretty much, most of our gardening is done in huge areas fenced in from deer. We are using recycled goods from the local recycled place Around Again to make much of this. The choice for what kind of garden you are planting (if you have to choose only one of them and not all of the above) depends on the resources you have available, and how you will be able to use them efficiently to get the most out of your time during the season. We’ve decided to play with all sorts of methods so we can discover by-and-by what works here in the long run.
In our newest garden, before we have a fence on it (still don’t as of this writing) I laid hugulkultur-inspired “lasagna beds” of layered stick, leaves and straw, manure, sand, dirt, clay, and made a point not to mix them. The experiment was to see if this layering effect would lead to more sub-surface habitat and a range of food items, not to mention the spaces in the litter, where invertebrates like rolly-pollies and earthworms can live, eat and move around. Many gardeners will agree that invertebrate droppings, including but not limited to the legendary castings of earthworms, make the best food for plants of all kinds. With this in mind, these experimental beds a year or two in feature copious earthworms per cubic foot of soil, and lots of potatoes harvested. (We planted potatoes here because the deer tried them and got sick – nightshade – then never tried them again.)
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:
I am making power in my backyard with microscopic pond algae. Rather, they are making the power, as I believe they’ve been doing since the Jurassic age, and I am just beginning to gather it, test it, and put it to use. Diatoms are surface phytoplankton (plant-like photosynthetic microbes in the surface of water) that are mostly made of silica (glass). Even though algae is being cultivated for fuel sources lately, this is not that kind of energy. There is no combustion here. The effect I’m observing I believe to be based on quantum physics in the interaction between light and silicon via the photoelectric effect, the same interaction that produces power in conventional solar panels. There is some precedent for this coming from moss – and theoretically any plant can put out energy that can be used to power light-duty applications.
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.
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?
Not all of us were blessed from birth to be tech gurus or IT warriors. Very few of us carry a cache of tiny screwdrivers on their waist clip, and even less know what somebody means when they talk about “Moore’s Law“. That’s why help is here. We would like to help you learn – or if you’re insistent, we will repair your devices or replace them with refurbished and used ones. Rather than purchase brand new ones straight from big-box retail stores and perpetuate the e-waste crisis, the global citizen thing to do is help save health of our world and all its citizens. On an individual level, this also saves you money.
We’re accustomed to thinking about energy in a very limited scope. Since the time most of us have been born, fossil fuel energy or chemical energy in the form of wood, coal, natural gas, and petroleum have been the norm. Even where you find electricity moving through the walls, most of the time it’s created with fossil energy. If it’s not made with fossil fuels, usually it’s hydroelectric – from dams – but most dams are unsustainable and make few if any contingencies for fish and other aquatic life, also they sacrifice habitat for animals and even important heritage sites. Either way, most of our devices, appliances and indeed thinking is wrapped around a singular source of energy. If it moves, it’s usually gas – if it plugs, runs, or plays and it’s not your car, usually it comes out of your wall and you pay a monthly bill for it.
To begin to change the energy paradigm on this planet, we need to begin to think about energy entirely differently.
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?
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.
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.
We purchased a GoPro camera and decided to take a peek under the surface of the ponds scraping the front of our house. This is the world we discovered with a tiny underwater camera…. This equipment and study is part of our ongoing study of this lifestyle and ecosystem. Enjoy! 🙂
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.
We are documenting flower blooms throughout the year here, and quite enjoying it. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 for reasoned discussion.
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.
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.
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. How do we control the impact of our creation? How do we avoid being consumed ourselves by the waste of an out-of-control industry?
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. The greatest hope toward emissions-free transportation seems to be in clean-running electric motors powered by batteries.
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.
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!
If 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.
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.
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!