I love Monday’s. They, like all my days, start before sunrise. But on the weekends (I work Tues-Fri) I prepare the day for my family: coffee, tea, hot breakfast, etc. I try to give myself a 30 minute cushion before the bussle of the day hits with the young’ins and their boundless energy. It is a good time. Then they are off to school and Mia and I often get several hours to ourselves – at least a few hours to recharge our relationship with time just for us – at a coffee shop, at home, or shopping in Madison. Today was the latter, which also involved us seeing a banker about funding the New Revolution before all the money’s gone (more on that later –I hope!). The afternoons are more focused, with a standing invitation to our Community Supported Energy group for workdays at the farm. And that is the subject of today’s post as we ramp up on our second Gen 2 gasifier, so I headed North.
The weather is warming, which allows for outdoor work and more workstations to happen at once. I pull as far into the drive as my low slung VW Golf will let me after the 8″ snow this weekend and am amazed at the scale of work laid out before me. Opening the door, I am met with a cacophony of productive noise: my buddy that runs the sewer utility is hard at a sheet of steel with a saber saw cutting out burn plates. After a hearty back slap, I go into the greenhouse/workshop to see “Brother Dick” working hard at a section of salvaged pipe with an angle grinder kicking up an impressive amount of dust as he clears it of corrosion. Our electronics expert is giving a piece of 6″ steel pipe the old “what for” with our 14″ cut off saw and spraying the area in a slightly concerning display of sparks in the process. Further in, the farm owner is hard at a propane tank we cut in half last week as he welds on various braces and legs… I love the smell of welding rods in the afternoon! There is enough active testosterone in the room to power a Hummvee – you can almost hear Tim the Tool Man laughing wryly somewhere in the distance. I pull the farmer off the tank long enough for him to point me at some steel that was cut earlier and he chucks me a big az Milwaukee Drill meaningfully. My job awaits…
As we stare down the future that we are desperately trying to envision for our children there is so much to do. This blog has changed mightily in its 3 years. It started as a journal of our struggles to live lighter here in HOA Middle America. In that regard I guess it is still the same, but my answers to those struggles certainly have altered. 3 years ago I was focused on using our .4 acres to showcase “Green” living. Cutting waste streams, native landscaping, and reducing energy by buying new appliances, changing lightbulbs, etc while growing some organic veggies for our kids to eat. Pretty sure there is even a post in there about where to buy organic clothes. But the whole time I was reading: Permaculture, Natural Capitalism, Sustainable Ag, Smart Growth, and success stories like Small is Possible and dozens more. The more I read, the more inspiring options I saw. And then I started hitting books like David Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles, books on Peak Oil and others like James Martin’s The Meaning of the 21st Century. Books that inspired me; books that scared the hell out of me. I watched the Crash Course and read all 600 pages of David Blume’s Alcohol can be a Gas. My answers to the Big Problems morphed as I became more fully aware of how awesomely BIG those problems truly are. I still reduce energy, but now I am more focused on making it. I am less concerned about promoting “green” energy, than I am about finding ways to link energy/food/economic systems into processes that are carbon negative, yet produce surpluses of both fuel and food while actually building fertility. I went from native landscaping to edible landscaping to permaculture designs that need no inputs and create surpluses at every turn. But back to my “hairy man” fest.
Here we are, 5 men that may or may not have much in common. Our ages span almost 5 decades from youngest to eldest. Our interests and specialties range from treating sewage sludge to designing remotely operated underwater vehicles to draft horses to organic agriculture. But we are all linked by our heartfelt belief that the current path we are on is all effed up and that we need a better future. But more than that, we are committed that this future must be MADE. There is no waiting around for Obama or Hydrogen or Kyoto II. If those things work that will be awesome, but for me –for us– the best way to predict the future is to help create it. Literally in this case. We are turning hundreds of pounds of salvage steel into gasifiers as we work to perfect our systems. I am looking at buying 8 acres of agricultural wasteland on the edge of town to make this crap happen. We are a group of “do-ers” and we are getting busy. And so are thousands of others across this nation. If you are busy doing the Good Work – I thank you on behalf of my children. If not, there is much to do and we need more people doing it.
We’ve had bumper stickers on our cars for years. It is time to put the slogans into practice. Hand me that drill, I’ve got work to do.
Be the Change.