Session 4 -- Sustainability-friendly Technology
To believe in the abundance of Nature we must partake of it, not remotely, nor second hand, but for ourselves in the very comfort of our homes. To partake of such abundance we need only plant a fruit tree in our front yards. (Kirby Fry)
There's no such thing as sustainable technology or economic development without sustainable human development to match... (Paolo Lugari, founder of Gaviotas)
Only those serving an apprenticeship to nature can be trusted with machines. (Sir Herbert Read)
Reflecting on the limits of technology symbolized in the year 2000 problem.
Exploring "alternative" technologies
that support community and reduce the human "footprint"
"Tyranny of Technology," Jerry Mander, Resurgence, No. 164.
"How Do We Love All Our Children?",
William McDonough, EarthLight, Winter 1998-99.
(see also:"The Next Industrial Revolution," The Atlantic Monthly, October 1998.
"Colombia's Model City," Alan Weisman.
"Ecological & Economical Design," Larry Santoyo.
"Eden in the City," Regina Hugo.
"Greywater and Your Garden,"
Ecology Center, Berkeley, CA.
Has our dependence on technology brought us to the brink of Y2K? Can we make Y2K an opportunity to shift to technology and practices that are more friendly to Earth and humans alike? This session examines our relationship to technology and describes a few examples of "appropriate" technology.
Y2K or not, Jerry Mander believes that our technology-based society will fail. He asserts that everyday life is dominated by interactions with human-created artifacts and the processes they engender. The separation from the natural world, he says, makes us vulnerable to confusion and bad decisions.
Architect William McDonough offers an alternative way of designing products and cities as if "Öall the children, of all species, for all time" matter to us. Alan Weisman inspires us with the incredible Gaviotas story of building a sustainable community in a very hostile environment, based on the invention of technologies and agricultural practices appropriate to that place.
We are invited by Larry Santoyo to imagine what it would be like to live in a way that is based on the principles of permaculture, a wholistic approach to the design of human habitats, food production and the use of sustainability-friendly technologies with mindful attention to place. Regina Hugo tells an "appetizing" story of Cahill, who tends permaculture-based gardens in Seattle. Asheville, NC has opened the nationís first "edible public park," and an office complex in British Columbia uses composting toilets and greywater recycling.
Planet-friendly technologies can be simple
and inexpensive, even homemade, such as the "do-it-yourself"
instructions for greywater irrigation, a solar
box cooker, using passive solar energy
large amounts of water, and sprouting seeds
at home. Information on composting
and systems for off-the-grid
power generation (including California's
rebate program for renewable energy)
are further examples of sustainability-supporting technology that
is now available. The Resources & Links section provides sources
of further information: The Solar
Cooking Archive is an excellent source
of do-it-yourself passive solar cooking technology; Real Goods, Jade
Mountain and Lehman's
offer a wide range of "green"
technologies as well as information; the Ark
Institute is a good source of seeds
and related information. Some of these sources offer sustainability-friendly
recommendations for Y2K.
OPENING THE CIRCLE
ENTERING THE CONVERSATION (Each person responds)
How would you describe your relationship with the various technologies in your life?
QUESTIONS TO DEEPEN THE STUDY
1. What steps, if any, have you taken
to bring more consciousness into your interaction with technology?
2. How do you react to David Browerís assertion (quoted by Mander) that "All technology should be assumed guilty until proved innocent"?
3. Do you think that using "alternative" technologies has to require buying more "stuff"?
4. What technology in your life would you find most difficult to give up? Easiest?
5. How willing are you to explore use of alternative technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) or wind power generation, solar cooking, or greywater treatment?
6. How could you apply the principles of permaculture in the place where you live?
7. What can we learn from the way in which technology is being used in Gaviotas?
WHAT ACTIONS COULD BE TAKEN?
REFLECTING ON THE CONVERSATION (Each person responds)
What changes, if any, in your relationship with technology does Y2K prompt?
CLOSING THE CIRCLE OR
RITUAL (See "Ritual
RESOURCES & LINKS
Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the
World, Alan Weisman, Chelsea
How to Grow More Vegetables, John Jeavons, .
Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner, Fourth Estate Limited, 1996.
Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison, with Reny Mia Slay,
Home Power Magazine, P.O. Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520. www.homepower.com
Real Goods, 555 Leslie St., Ukiah, CA 95482-5507, 1-800-762-7325.
Solar Living Source Book, John Schaeffer, ed., 9th Edition, Real Goods.
Jade Mountain Catalog, 717 Poplar Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304. 1-800-442-1972.
Lehmnanís Non-electric Catalog, P.O. Box 41, Kidron, OH 44636, 330-857-1111.
The Cobberís Companion, Michael Smith, Cob Cottage Company, P.O. Box 123, Cottage Grove, OR 97424, 1997. (541) 942-2005.
Voluntary Simplicity, Northwest Earth Institute (NCEI, 415-785-1056).
Solar Cooking Archive, http://www.accessone.com/~sbcn/