Thursday, March 11, 2010

1 Chron 12:32 report, 60: Towards Industrial Civilisation 2.0 -- the post scarcity, open source, sustainable, resilient village

In recent weeks I have been keeping an eye on the initiatives of Polish Physicist Marcin Jakubowski, of the Open Source Ecology initiative Factor e Farm outside Kansas City. (Blog.)

For, his Global, resilient Community/Village ideas have much to teach us about moving beyond the age of scarcity and mass production to a new, more resilient, light eco-footprint era.

For instance, we may ponder this vimeo video from OSE:

How to Build a Post-Scarcity Village from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

You will see Jakubowski starts with the Life Trac, which has become somewhat of a symbol of what he is doing.

Namely, pioneering a new industrial era in which open source industrial technologies form a base for small communities to build localised villages that can sustain themselves in the main through internal or easily accessible resources. And, because the core technologies are open source, once a cluster that is self-replicating -- including computerised modular, flexible fabrication machines [cf. here and here] -- is developed, this becomes an alternative to the current dependence on massive manufacturing centres and debt-riddled purchases of high maintenance cost major equipment.

The Life Trac machine you see cost US$ 4,000 to build, largely from junkyard parts and standard metal tubing etc. So far, its annual maintenance cost is US$ 100; and because it is highly modular, using a power plant, hydraulic power and a simple sturdy frame, it can be built in a local community. (They have developed a mini version, are working on a version 2 prototype of the full-sized tractor/ backhoe/ loader/ bulldozer/ earth tiller. They are also developing a similar open source utility vehicle -- UniMOS, modelled on Mercedes Benz's famous UniMOG -- and are looking at the open source car movement.)

The second major machine -- the Liberator compressed, stabilised earth block press -- is an update on the CINVA RAM type compressed earth brick machine. (I think we in the Caribbean should look at marrying that with the Auroville Earth Institute of India’s Auram, which makes a wide variety of bricks, blocks and tiles, including an interlocking range.)

In short, we are seeing the early phases of a potential industrial transformation. And while we may not want to buy into the full-bore Homebrew Industrial Revolution ideology -- I do confess to some heartfelt sympathies! -- we of the Caribbean should certainly look very carefully at clusters of technologies that would transform our region from being primarily consumers of technology to producers. (And of course, on the open source software model, e.g. Linux and Open Office, commercial enterprises would be refocussed on creating real value-added to the generic products coming from open source fabs. No gewgaws and gimcracks, thank you, just honest value added. [BTW, Open office is now my primary office productivity software. I am using the Go OO fork of version 3.2 of Open , and highly recommend it.)

Then there is the potential of bamboo, especially the Guadua “vegetable steel” genus [angustifolia the starring member: up to 100 ft tall, 10 inches across at base, 5 - 7 years to grow, thorns to discourage praedial larceny; I believe 20 x the productivity of a similar acreage of pine forest . . . and the timber is harder than oak when properly processed], to transform the region's timber and construction industries. (Bamboo bahareque and related construction technologies seem to be highly promising. I have also not forgotten Moladi's rapid build foamed, reinforced concrete system and the Hebel type autoclaved aerated concrete modular "tilt-up" building construction system.)

And if you hear an echo of the Celtic Monasteries of the era just past the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, yes, it is there: we have in this historic movement a proven survivable institution that became a cluster of resilient centres for preserving civilisation and upliftment of the local community, which we can then adapt to modern circumstances.

Now, think about integrating this with the work of our region's universities and Disaster/ Emergency Management Offices. The latter need reliable, capable machines, and the former need seed-plots to do pioneering research.

While I am at it, let me plug the astonishing grid beam modular furniture and mechanical prototyping system based on square section wood or metal members with a grid of drilled holes on a pitch equal to the side of the square:, e.g. 1 and a 1/2 inch square timber [officially 2 x 2] will use a 1 1/2 inch spaced hole system.

The latter also need to have off-grid energy systems, rapid build housing solutions, easily packed modular furniture, remotely piloted or semi- autonomous reconnaissance machines. [Think here robotic aircraft -- some of which (as the recent Montserrat Craig Cabey disappearance at sea on a jet ski case reminds me . . . ) need to have long range maritime search capacity; and snaking and/or crawling robots that can go into the sort of pancake collapsed environment we saw on our TVs since January, as well.]

Then we need C21 Schooners capable of both motor and wind driven travel across our region at reasonable cost, for robust regional trade. Nor have I forgotten the need for sealift and airlift that can move containerised modular equipment and people rapidly across our region and for linking regional hub ports to the wider world.

Moreover, we all need good solid ICTs and access to life-long high quality education that can exploit Internet technology and existing infrastructure to build the capacity we will need. Thus, there is an opportunity for a network of schools of hope that use Internet technologies and create lifelong learning opportunities though not only initial primary and secondary offerings, but lifelong learning through a vibrant community college movement.

In short, the recent Haiti Schools of Hope proposal is a step towards a much wider opportunity.

How does this all fit into the Biblical worldview and its central gospel message?

1 –> Ac 17 teaches us that nationhood is the creation of God, who desires per Gal 3:14 to bless us in Christ with the same promise given to Abraham.

2 –> This fits in with the biblical plot line: Creation, fall, restoration: redemption, conversion and transformation through the gospel, blessing, consummation and eternal felicity.

3 –> In this context, God comes to nations in times of kairos — hinges on which the course of history pivots — with his spokesmen [and women!] who bring the counsels of eternal wisdom that we must choose to listen to or reject.

4 –> Here is the wise counsel of king Jehoshaphat on this, as he spoke with 20-20 prophetic vision:

2 Chron 20:20“Listen to me, you people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe! Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.”

5 –> Those nations and generations that instead reject the wise and loving counsel of God walk in a path of self-chosen self-destruction, as Eph 4 cautions:

Eph 4:17 So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. 4:19 Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

5 --> By utter contrast, those who have come to know God in the face of Christ are called to live sensibly, in ways that will bring the blessing of God into their lives and communities:

Eph 4:20 But you did not learn about Christ like this, 4:21 if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. 4:22 You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 4:23 to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 4:24 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.

In short, a call to godly, wise sustainable nationhood and community life under God in the face of an era of environmental and economic challenges is a part of the overall mandate of the church to disciple, nurture and prophetically counsel the nations to seek God-blessed reformation through the Word of God.

Why not now, why not here, why not us? END

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