The Co-Intelligence Institute/Y2K Return to Y2K home RETURN to CII home

Vertical Horticulture, other sustainability items

Tom Osher []
has lived in San Francisco since 1967, has been a grass roots
organizer and activist for many years, especially working with Food Not
Bombs since 1988, is the father of two grown children. He currently
lives in Bayview-Hunters Pt., where he will be making his home and
garden a model for self-sustainability. This will include vertical
horticulture, electricity-generating devices, pirate radio for the
purpose of communicating locally when and if there are no
telecommunications, compost-creating toilets, etc.

Mon, 19 Apr 1999


This website is an experiment in global collaboration thru the internet to mine the ingeniousness of humanity. To make neighborhoods globally self-sustainable before 2000. Not only as the most responsible and intelligent answer to Y2K and any and all future possible disasters, but to lay the groundwork for a non-polluting, non-toxic, mutually co-operative network of self-sustainable, non-sovereign/inclusive communities throughout the world.

We are hoping that those who "pass through the bagelhole" will come out self-sustainable as well as their communities before 2000. We are hoping that individuals that have ideas to give will give and those who need to learn will take.

Volunteers (which we all are) are needed to cull the links we have, check the ideas,constantly honing and improving the current list.Internet access is all that is necessary.

We are also hoping that great new ideas for sustainable projects will be born, fostered, and designed here to be implemented there (wherever you are). That is what the projects section is for.

Hope you enjoy and leave with some sense of fulfillment and realize that the human family does not have to be dysfunctional but thru our common interconnectedness can create a world with which we can, in all humility, be proud of.

They say," When the entire Universe passes thru the bagelhole, that's when the Transformation will begin." I believe that time is now.

Tom O (bagelhole1)

One idea, that needs "partnering" is synergistic, solar-passive, self-sustainable greenhouses around but not necessarily 10,000 sq.ft. This type of green house can be modeled off of Anna Eddy's greenhouse in Cape Cod. The vegetables would be grown using a method developed by P. Ziegler called "aeroponics" a simple system growing organics vertically, with looped nutrient tubing. The best method for growing as far as efficiency and economy. Both of these methods have been tried and proven and are available. Brownfields or unutilized land or roofs can be used. Nat'l. Guard or other agencies possibly could be used to construct to save money if cities or gov't. is partnered in also. All this could be done anywhere and everywhere. But it must be done pretty soon, if there is to be winter harvests. Which is the purpose, to serve as substantive contingency for cities, should food production methods breakdown. If nothing happens, its still a good thing for communities to have. The maintenance after construction is minimal compared to the value of the yield.

Plan to Make Cities Food Independent (especially for Portland, now)

Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Hi, my name is Tom Osher, of San Francisco. I am working on a project around making communities as self-sustainable as possible before 2000, as a contingency to y2k and any other future possible disasters.

One idea, that needs "partnering" is synergistic, solar-passive, self- sustainable greenhouses around but not necessarily 10,000 sq.ft. This type of green house can be modeled off of Anna Eddy's and New Alchemy Instit. of Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

The vegetables would be grown using a method developed by P. Ziegler called "aeroponics" a simple system growing organics vertically, with looped nutrient tubing. The best method for growing as far as efficiency and economy.

Both of these methods have been tried and proven and are available. Brownfields or unutilized land or roofs can be used. Nat'l. Guard or other agencies possibly could be used to construct to save money if cities or gov't. is partnered in also.

All this could be done anywhere and everywhere. But it must be done pretty soon, if there is to be winter harvests. Which is the purpose, to serve as substantive contingency for cities, should food production methods breakdown. If nothing happens, its still a good thing for communities to have. The maintenance after construction is minimal compared to the value of the yield.

This is a general overview of the project. Your organization seems like it would at least, philosophically, be resonant. If you are interested, I could then provide you with the details.
Look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Tom Osher


I am involved in creating an ever-improving list of low-tech, homemade style ideas for self-sustainability for individuals, apartments and neighborhoods for implementation before 2000, as a contingency for y2k's worst-case scenerio. I am trying to mobilize a movement where handy people, scientists, academics will come forward with good ideas that can be implemented quickly, cheaply, and easily.

In 3-6 months, I won't be surprised if everyone will be aware of y2k and its serious danger possibilities. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. But panic could be the order of the day if there are no real contingencies happening. I have been involved in the internet around this issue since July, and I feel there may be no substantial contingency prep in place, only some stockpiling of goods on an indiv. basis. If this list could be created by then, a safety net for everyone would exist both for y2k and any disaster, the need for martial law could be obviated, the groundwork for a self-sustainable society would be layed, panic could be alleviated, and many able bodies might be willing to make the effort for sustainable implementation before 2000. . .if the ideas are there for them.

So, you see, I'm talking about short-term sustainability, for this contingency, later we can deal with long-term sustainable practices. These ideas are not necessarily in a book, but can be culled from those who have lots of experience and engineering know-how. Things that can be constructed out of found scrap. Here's one idea:

Vertical Horticulture

We have been beginning to experiment with verticle horticulture. Very simple and cheap, you probably know all about it already, but its simply making a column with chicken wire and tar paper, filling a pipe about 4or5 inches in diameter with sand and stones, and the rest of the area with soil, removing the pipe and making little pockets in a spiral around the outside to hold about 16 to 20 seedlings. Our columns are about 3 1/2 feet high, 14" across. You water down thru the sand. Melons on the bottom, salads and greens in the middle, tall things, beans, peas, etc., at the top. One side gets more sun, is a consideration. And it can be place anywhere, on balconies, roofs, sidewalks, etc. Its pretty simple. But electrical generating devices, composting toilets, water devices, etc. need to be created for global feasibility. This way, once a good model is created, thru the Internet or whatever, the implementation for self-sustainability can happen quickly. It is through linking fingers throuigh the hole in the bagel, unity will occur.

Co-reliantly, Tom Osher

This project has a scope so grand, that most individuals have a hard time comprehending it. It is based around the simple, prosaic idea of developing a list of low-tech, homemade style ideas for sustainability (the full gamut). This ever-improving list will be posted on websites throughout the world ( ,Cassandra project ,Alternative Survival Information ,Resilient Communities Project )for starters.

It will be ordered by function, alphabetically, and by region, to make accessibility for implementation as easy as pie. So that, individuals and groups will actually be able to make themselves and their neighborhoods self-sustainable by 2000. This project has no commercial aspect, but is simply humanitarian. There is an urgency with y2k imminent and a need for collaboration on the widest scope.

This is a call to the best among us, to the best within us to lead the way, lay the groundwork, and savor to the fullest, global collaboration.

Now as the self-imposed deadline approaches (Easter day) for the launch of the project on to websites, there is a need for good ideas to be submitted, and for people (collaborators) to help cull the many links I have for ideas, to get the project off to a good start, by making the list impressive.

In conjunction with this, to augment and compliment this project is the hope and idea to collaborate in partnership either with or including gov't., business, and non-profits, the mass construction of large (10,000 sq. ft) synergistic, self-sustaining, solar-passive greenhouses in the model developed by Anna Edey of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. in the 80's. Utilizing wasted, urban areas, possibly nat'l. guard (for construction), P. Ziegler's, cutting edge, methods of growing, called "aeroponics", vertical gardening, with nutrient fed looped tubing.

If any see the sense in this, and wish to be amongst the "early collaborators", e-mail me now, with how you would like to help. The time has come to transcend the dysfunctional element that has so long characterized the human family.


Tom O (bagelhole1)
Saturday, March 13, 1999

I would like to briefly share my vision, one that I feel is shared by many, which is simple: a web of omniotic, fluid, non-sovereign, mutually co- operative, self-sustainable, autonomous, non-polluting, synergistic, non- hierarchical, non-Luddite, consensual,communities wherein individuals can stay and help maintain, improve, enjoy, or move on.

That was brief, wasn't it? The key to get from here to there being to lay the groundwork now, before the immanent Fall. Y2k being the opportunity/motivator/deadline.

No need to control, educate, or confront necessarily. Just to collaborate, those who hear the call and like I said lay the groundwork. Let the process be organic, grassroots, unforced.

This list of low-tech, homemade style ideas for sustainable practices that I have been working on, would make it as easy as possible for those of us to do this. I am almost there in getting this list up on the websites, but I am a little stymied, in that I have about 2-300 e-mails a day to deal with, in addition to the normal exigencies of existence, and hundreds of excellent links with these kind of ideas to cull and place in order according to function, alphabetically, and by geography.

I have about 10 volunteers but so far nothing from them as they need to be self-motivated. I'm working on getting more. But I hope to get this up by April 4, a few days ahead of Robert Theobald's videoconference on 4/8 and on to the Cassandra Project and from there around the world.

Obviously, this project calls for collaboration in the widest sense. It is not just my project, its everyone who wants to be involved, who see the importance of it. Once its up on websites, good ideas coming in should increase exponentially and the list can be honed again and again to make it as easy as pie to implement.

Does this make sense and would anyone like me to send them some links to cull? I know most of us are overwhelmed with the day being only 24 hours long, but maybe one could make it a priority.

After all, are we not just one big family, trying to get beyond our dysfunctionalism?

Cuzzin Tom O (bagelhole1)
Tuesday, January 26, 1999

Bagelhole1 (, under construction, calls for collaborators, globally, to share ideas as to the best ways (design, mediums,etc) we can think of to build a bus for about 50 people, that is a hybrid, run both by pedal power and electrical (generated by the pedal power and the turbine on top), equipped with sail. There would be a driver who steers, changes gears, and brakes. Music, perhaps, to inspire the pedal/passengers, maybe made from bamboo partially. All passengers ride/pedal for free, of course. Electric kicks in, when there are not enough pedal/riders.

Every city could have such a bus to bring attention to people to aid in soliciting low-tech, homemade style ideas for self-sustainability, thinking in terms of small neighborhoods, in mutual co-operation with each other, as a way to really kick off community contingency preparation, globally. This needs to be done very quickly. So please heed, if you hear the call, this post and come up with some good ideas to submit and/or post this as appropriately as you can, to widen the scope, please.

Finally, this could be viewed,in addition to the above, as our first real exercise in global collaboration, maybe.


I would like to suggest a way, and see what you all think. 1.I think we need to prioritize creating self-sustainability for everyone, home-owners, apartment dwellers, homeless and poor, neighborhoods, with low-tech, home-made style self-sustainability ideas. If we can come up with this list, by bringing this idea to the attention of everyone we can, mine the ingeniousness of humanity thru the web, to have this list in place, within 3 months, so that when the general public is aware of the possibility of infrastructure breakdown for an indefinite period there will be a place for them to direct their energy and implement to make the self-sustainable neighborhoods, globally.

Otherwise they won't know what to do, just like right now, other than the idea of stockpiling, with the existence of this list, they will have something to do: implementing these ideas as fast as they can.

The challenge to the y2k conscious is to get this type of substantive contingency in place before 2000. Then no one need die or suffer unnecessarily, nor do we need the imposition of martial law, no need for global panic, as the shit approaches the fan, and we lay the groundwork for what people (mostly) seem to be craving in their hearts: a new better way of living on this planet. That is, self-sustainable, ecological, no waste, mutually co-operative, web of autonomous communities to which we are all members, fluid, consensual, interconneted through the web, various, multidimensional, unique, non- sovereign. Only the individual need be sovereign. This would lead to the end of violence dominated, waste/suicide culture that exists today.

First, the funky self-sustainable part before 2000. Create the safety net, the organic structure from the grass roots.

Not everyone needs to be working on this right now. 2. There are many other issues that need to be addressed. Like nuclear missiles. While governments still exist they have the premise of being responsible, and they need to be made to disassemble every nuclear missile that exists before 2000. They have no right to jeopardize the planet by keeping these intact when y2k threatens, by creating the possibility of them accidentally going off. A huge list of people, and organizations, created thru the web is one way of exerting pressure on the powers to be is one idea.

3. Another priority is gaining help from those gov't. orgs that are there to help, and don't quite know what to do. There is many instances where the government have indicated their willingness to enter into a mutually co- operative mode with citizen action groups and volunteers. The Redcross, Fema, DOE, Gov't emerg. groups and orgs like NERT(neighborhood emergency relief team). They need to be directed towards publicizing the call for lo-tech sustainable ideas, stockpiling for endangered or challenged communities like homeless, disabled, drug dependent, poor people in projects, hospitals, pharmacies, locating and coordinating parts for maintenance of all mechanical devices, organizing collectives and whereabouts of resources and skills are a few things these orgs. can help address and sponsor. Citizen volunteers providing the manpower along with skills and ideas. And many other areas that people can add to the list of what needs to be addressed.

4. Websites that already exist can co-ordinate all the activity that is going on everywhere, to make sure that the best of the best is easily available, and that it is consistently improving. A lot like what the Cassandra project is doing already. All these activities to be carried out by volunteers, those who hear the call.

Simplicity is key to everything, faith in the process, try to be a model. Community building is the antidote to alienation, one of the things that have unhinged so many people. It is healing. Only need to control your need to control. These ideas are a gift from the Universe, they don't belong to me or anyone, do they make sense, could you show me the flaws, so we can improve them. I'm tired of so much talk, leading nowhere.

Let each of us be guided by our hearts, not our fears, not outside experts. The meaningfulness of life is directly related to how much you allow yourself to care, in my opinion. Lets stop having the blind lead the blind. Group mind is thru the internet, I realize most of the world isn't connected to the Internet, but we are not forgetting about these people. They can be communicated with appropriately thru media and hard copy. But they will learn anyway, soon enough, and we don't need to necessarily "educate" them. We just need to provide a way for them, thru organizing over the web, creating the appropriate lists and making them available, and addressing what must be addressed now. We can do it ourselves. The internet makes it possible.

Freedom is directly related to responsibility. The more free you are, the more willing and able you are to shoulder the responsibility. The ability to respond to what's happening right now. We all need to be free, you can't be free if you are addicted, attached, or dogmatic. I realize that we are all capable of the entire range of human behaviour, human nature is fluid, adaptable. We need to be flexperts, drop all our sticky attachments, notice our deep interdependence and change it to interdependance.

All of us can be self-deluded at any moment, this obvious realization, should keep our minds open. Each one of us has the ability to discern to determine what is really real, so that our response is appropriate. Fear and greed have alot to do with obfuscating the reality and causing distorted and inappropriate reactions.

When people, put aside the tendency to compete thru egos, and pull together in our big moment of truth, and we can feel at last, at home, and connected with all of humanity, our family, take a deep breath and breathe a deep sigh of relief, accepting our differences and individuality, but acknowledging our equality, in our insignificance(in relationship to the Universe), in the fact that we all share the same dilemma and ultimate destiny, in that we are all more or less, relatively speaking, the same distance from the source, or whatever unifies the Universe, that our only hope is to drop the shit and pull together. . .

We can begin to joyfully acknowledge the hope and possibility that exists in times of chaos and crisis that is in each of our hearts, right this moment, and from now on. I hope these thoughts mirror yours and resonate, and that there is a general consensus, that we can move into action/collaboration and to continue to focus and refocus, increasing our effectiveness and succeed in achieving substantive community contingency preparation for y2k before 2000, or any other of the numerous looming disasters that make our existences so tenuous, and have a happy new year.

In Unity,
Tom O

Subject: Fwd: Global self-sustainable neighborhoods, y2k contingency
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 17:38:27 EDT

In the US it seems progressive type people are asleep as to y2k and its implications.But if you put your ear to the hole in the bagel, you may hear the whisper of the universe as it rushes by borne on the River of Time. If your ears are really clean you can hear the word or sound "teotwawki" (the end of the world as we know it). Maybe.

Co-reliantly, Tom O.

Y2K Problem/Opportunity: a Call to Action

By Tom Osher

Einstein explained that as one approaches the speed of light, time slows down -- a concept hard to believe but fun to contemplate. Now, as we approach the year 2000, watch how the time will speed up, much as a river accelerates as it approaches a huge waterfall.

The 20th century began with the tragedy of the Titanic with its inadequate contingency plans (i.e., not enough lifeboats). Now, at the end of the century -- all of humanity, because of the invasive growth of computers, floats, as it were, together on one giant ark called Technology. At the end of the river is the year 2000 problem, Y2K, like a giant iceberg. " Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore. B. Dylan. The people on board are preoccupied with their existence, the problem is a year and a quarter away and few realize the potential of its severity. We are about to make the same mistake that occurred with the Titanic. We have had one century to learn the importance of adequate, appropriate and inclusive contingency planning when facing potential disaster -- the sinking of Technology. We must have lifeboats for everybody.

Therein lies the challenge that faces all of humanity: prepare for the worst by making all communities autonomously self-sustainable, neighborhood by neighborhood, worldwide, by the year 2000, or face tidal waves of panic and the possibility of infrastructure meltdown, martial law/chaos, world-wide for an indefinite period of time.

Cynics may scoff and say, "Why bother? It,s impossible. But they don,t recognize that in the very fact of their existence they face the impossible every day of their lives. Besides, we may not have everything in place -- here and everywhere by the year 2000 -- but the more we do, the less reason for panic, the smoother the transition, the less possibility of martial law/chaos.

This inevitable event is of a singular nature historically; it is one of a kind. We cannot expect aid from the usual disaster aid sources (FEMA, Red Cross, etc.): the problem will be too widespread and ongoing, and these organizations will be undermined as well.

It is a once in a millennium opportunity to transform society, non-violently. We need to create task forces of volunteers and groups to start realizing the many areas of contingency implementation. We need to have large neighborhood meetings, where people can input their knowledge of sources, resources, ideas and means for each of the different areas of infrastructure: food, water, waste, transport, communications, health and safety, electricity, gas, fuel, etc.

Information and solutions need to be shared on the Internet. The government needs to be audited, to know their readiness and their contingencies, and petitioned for land-use permission and for funds for labor and supplies.

Individuals and groups need to e-mail and we will e-mail you a packet with more info and articles gleaned from the Internet to help convince you of the truth of these statements and the seriousness of this report. You can also call me at 415-824-4214. Just leave your name and number.

*Although the year 2000 problem (date-referencing computers and embedded microchips that can only go up to the year 1999 and are unable to process 2000) sounds simple, countless computers will malfunction as they encounter dates in the year 2000. But the prevalence of computers in our lives means that if and when these computers fail, problems will range from mere inconveniences to life-threatening consequences. Both the public and the private sector are working on the problem, but collectively they cannot eliminate every year 2000 bug. While the Y2K issue does not necessarily represent Armageddon, the threat to trade, transportation, health care, financial institutions, telecommunication, power sources and government functions is very real.