Archive for resources

Renewable Energy Radio Shows

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by Drogo

NPR WYPR-FM Alternative Energy Ideas and Information 88.1

NPR Baltimore Radio host Dan Rodricks hosts a show called “Mid-Day”. This week he has dedicated every day to talking about a plethora of various (electrical) Energy options we have to Power America. He has had many different guests to debate the positive and negative effects of each existing and/or potential energy resource. Coal, Oil, Gas, Nuclear, Wind, Solar, Hydro, Geothermal, etc… Dan has been tackling them all for us.

When I asked him “After a week of hosting shows dedicated to Energy Resources, are you discouraged or encouraged about our future? Or are your feelings too mixed to say?”; Mr. Rodricks told me: “I’m excited about all the innovation and enthusiasm for renewables — it’s real this time.”

It is real. It is time. Thank you Sir Rodricks! Visit his Radio Show online: NPR Midday Website

photo taken by Drogo 2001: Solar Panel fields on the Road in California

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Buckminster Fuller

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, SCOD Thesis, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Drogo

Richard B. Fuller Jr. “Bucky”  1895-1983

Design Scientist Inventor / Comprehensive Polymath Thinker

American inventor, machinist, mechanic, laborer, WW1 Navy soldier, industrial manager, scientist, engineer, architect, designer, author, teacher, professor, and genius

Tensegrity, Geodesic domes, Spaceship Earth, Ephemeralization, Synergy, Alternative, Vehicles, Fullerenes, Bucky balls, Tetrahedral Molecular Geometry, Drop City

“I was brought up under an incredible amount of misinformation” – B.F.

Bucky was born in Milton Massachusetts in 1895. He was the grandson of a Unitarian minister (Arthur Buckminster Fuller), and the grandnephew of American Transcendentalist (Margaret Fuller). Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Bucky had a Froebel Preschool-Kindergarten education. As a child, Bucky spent many years on the coast of Maine. He had trouble with abstract geometry at first, oddly, but he already loved inventing tools and contraptions. He became a certified machinist, attended Milton Academy, and later studied at Harvard. He was expelled twice from Harvard; once for partying with a vaudeville troupe, and then for “irresponsibility and lack of interest”.

Bucky realized he was a non-conformist misfit that did not fit the habitation of Harvard Fraternity life. Years later he did eventually get a Science Degree from Bates College in Maine. He worked for the meat-packing industry, and served during WW1 in the Navy. He married Anne Hewlett in 1917. In 1920 Bucky and Anne’s father developed the “Stockade Building System” Company to produce portable, sanitary, weatherproof, fireproof, affordable housing.

His SBS Company did not even make it to the Great Depression. Bucky was bankrupt and unemployed by 1922. While living at public low-income housing in Chicago, Illinois, his 2-year-old daughter Alexandra died from polio and spinal meningitis complications. Allegedly, he felt responsible and this caused him to drink frequently and to contemplate suicide for a while. He finally chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

By 1928 Bucky created a social relationship with a café in Greenwich Village where he could informally lecture, exhibit, and get meals in exchange for interior decorating. It was there he met Isamu Noguchi in 1929. They worked on the Dymaxion Car and began their lifelong friendship and partnership.

In the 1930’s Bucky developed the Dymaxion Car and the Dymaxion House. During WW2 he was head mechanical engineer of the US Board of Economic Warfare.

In the 1940’s Buckminster lectured at Bennington College in Vermont, and taught at the Black Mountain College, North Carolina. He began reinventing Dr. Bauersfeld’s (1926) German geodesic dome, getting US patents, and made it more popular. In 1949 Bucky built his first geodesic dome (icosahedron). The US Army employed his firm Geodesics Inc. to make them domes.

By the 1950’s there were thousands of geodesic domes around the World. In 1955 Bucky met a new partner, James Fitzgibbon.

In the 1960’s Bucky taught at Southern Illinois University. During a meeting of the International Union of Architects in Paris, Bucky initiated a “World Design Science Decade (65-75)” to apply the principles of science to solve human problems. During this time Bucky advocated alternative renewable energy sources, and a global awakening awareness of Synergy on Spaceship Earth that makes corrupt politics obsolete.

At the Symposium on the Science of Creative Intelligence in Amherst, MA 1971; Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi spoke at a Press Conference together. Bucky criticized previous utopian schemes as too exclusive, and thought this was a major source of their failure. To work, he thought that a utopia needs to include everyone.

As a Unitarian philosopher and scientific environmentalist, Bucky developed a term to protect our resources called Ephemeralization which meant “doing more with less”. Also combining Unitarian philosophy with science, engineering, and architecture he gave us the term Synergy. Synergetics uses physics and geometry to describe parts of a system in relation to the whole, how they change and work together. Bucky was driven by concern for human sustainability, yet he remained optimistic despite the conventional realities and set-backs during his lifetime.

Honors and Awards

28 US patents

Several Honorary Degrees

1960 awarded F.P. Brown Medal from Franklin Institute

1968 named a Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

1969 named “Humanist of the Year” by American Humanist Association

1970 Gold Medal from AIA

1983 Freedom Medal from President Ronald Reagan

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“I am not trying to imitate Nature, but to understand her.”

“We have to respond to what the environment is doing.” – B.F.

“Selfishness is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable…. War is obsolete.”

“The Big Show, Everything, is God to me.”

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Antoine Predock

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Nature Studies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2011 by Drogo

Alternative Architect Antoine Predock Website Homepage

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Rio Grande Nature Center, Albuquerque, NM

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African-American Museum Proposal DC

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Human Rights Museum

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Notes written at RWU from Architecture Magazine 1984 v 73 by Crosbie:

Rio Grande Nature Center – Architectural movement across the landscape, into the water, enhances educational function. Sited in the wetlands preserve of Albuquerque, NM; it celebrated the history of water management. Arrive through a tunnel of trees, procession snakes around to the hidden bunker of earth berms, concrete, and vegetation. The Metal corrugated entry culvert tunnel burrowing through a berm, uses appropriate engineering language. The central station overlooks exhibits and landscape. Down a spiral ramp is a water pump exhibit with a reverse periscope for underwater viewing. Circular center space with 22 water columns, skylights, kid friendly vistas, sculpted dam.

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SCOD Bibliography

Posted in Book Reports, SCOD Thesis with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Drogo

Green Roof Books

 

Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide

By Edmund & Lucie Snodgrass

 

Green Roofs: Ecological Design & Construction

By Earth Pledge

 

Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home

By Rob Roy

 

Building Green: Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods

By Clark Snell & Tim Callahan

SCOD Thesis References

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, SCOD Thesis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by Drogo


 

Primary Case Studies

 

1. Landscape Design by Thomas Jefferson

2. Garden Cities by Ebenezer Howard

3. Organic Design by Frank Lloyd Wright

4. Arcosanti & Cosanti by Paolo Solari

5. Claymont Community by Bennett

6. Stowell Galleries in Harpers Ferry, WV

7. Odd Fellows Lodge in Harpers Ferry, WV

8. Pendragon Bed & Breakfast in Virginia

9. Forest Hostel near Savannah, Georgia

10.  Alternative Architecture

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SCOD Case Study Image Galleries

 

The Claymont Community

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Historic Architecture, Spiritual, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by Drogo

A Review of the Claymont Society for Continuous Education

Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, West of Washington DC, an organic spiritual community resides at Claymont Court. Claymont Court Mansion was built on hundreds of acres of rural land by a relative of George Washington in 1820. In 1974 John Bennet founded the Claymont Society there. The historic estate and grounds remain secluded, yet accessible and maintained thanks to the good people at the Claymont Community.

Claymont Community members attend their regular Society meetings, where they participate in group activities, cook, serve, eat, and clean up together. Also they have various projects, events, and maintenance duties which are usually decided by democratic or social consensus. These responsibilities insure that the community is maintained, and income is received from donations, workshops, seminars, retreats, and events. Their spiritual philosophies are based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff and John Bennett.

Various individual members of the community through-out the years, have brought their own interests, practices, and personalities to Claymont. The Mansion and School (“Barn”) are the largest structures on the property, but there are also collections of smaller dwellings scattered within, and on the outskirts of the land. The foods that they grow, make, use, and serve on site are mostly organic and vegetarian in nature. Although the school for children is no longer in operation, they have a very successful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that is cooperative with the surrounding area farmers’ markets.

Their mission was: “To promote a way of life that is balanced, harmonious, and uses our full potential while being responsible to nature.”

Their vision was: “A community where people interact using all human faculties to their fullest, in a spirit of cooperation. A harmonious educational environment that utilizes an understanding of nature, conscious awareness, and synergy created by a ‘milieu’ of unconditional love, to improve the quality of life on this planet.”

From my experience attending the Claymont School as a child, living and working with them for a brief time, and from my continued communications; I believe they succeeded, and continue to succeed in their mission and vision statements. I attempted to make a transfer to their communal way of life, and fully believed I was ready, however there were factors I had not considered, which led to me backing out. The factors that stopped me from making the transition to live there full-time were mostly Capitalist issues. My Capitalist issues that deterred me were regarding loan payments on a new car, needing a functional car to have to try to pay my college loans, and then there were previous personal obligations, responsibilities, and interests. However despite my limited part-time commitment to Claymont, I continue to believe that they are a model that more of us living in corporate mundane housing should strive for or support in any way possible.

Here is the proposal I wrote for the Claymont Society to consider me for residency, which they accepted:

A Claymont Proposal for Habitation

Noble Intent”

I have noble intent in as far as having “the will to discover an imperishable Reality beyond the changes and chances of this mortal world”.  Bennett used this description of human ‘will’ for his definition of ‘spiritual’, calling it “man’s noblest quality”. This quest for truth can be seen in relation to the 18th century view of man as a noble savage on the path of “spiritual psychology”. This ‘Noble Intent’ that I have, cannot be less noble than accepting in the modern world use of human technology as part of Nature. (see J.G. Bennett’s A Spiritual Psychology, Preface)

The following are my answers to a series of questions regarding habitation and work at Claymont:

1)         A short bio

…. (not included in this public version)

2)    Why do you want to move here?

I was not brought forth from the hills of Harpers Ferry to merely accept the system of the conventional mundanes, that surround and threaten Claymont.  This was first exemplified through my early educational systems: from Montessori, to public-school gifted programs, the Claymont School, the Banner School,  Catholic high-school and beyond through college studies.

3)    What ideas for community contributions / work projects do you have?

Architecture:               Interior and Exterior renovations and restorations at the mansion, private houses, barns, & future property structures

–           designing and documentation through drawing and photo images

–                      construction work; solo, organizing help, and / or contracting

–                      contributing to the writing of records for systems of the “whole”

Landscape:      Agriculture, gardening, design assistance, roadway maintenance, terrain drainage, etc…

–           CSA

–           Mansion & barns

–           private dwellings and public ways

4) Are you sane? (additional question by John Henry)

An interesting and worthy question of my own sanity, will be answered pertaining to the two forms of psychology as described by Bennett (and as answered by myself).  If you believe in sanity, perhaps there is some insanity about that.  In regards to “clinical psychology” I believe I am stable enough to be sane most of the time, and have never committed any crimes that are deemed by U.S. courts to be insane.

My failings in sanity are best addressed in accordance with Bennet’s “do-it-yourself psychology” which is a practical, yet also spiritual psychology.  Maintenance of my sanity is achieved regularly by commitment to action (or will), by myself both physically and mentally; sometimes with the assistance of others; to work on myself, “in search for the imperishable Real” and experience of the NOW. I cannot explain in words, my full feelings as to why I want to live and work at Claymont, only that I want to based on all of my previous thoughts and experiences. I think that hoping that I can fit into a community similar to myself is sane, and perhaps both can be improved by the experience, if even only slightly more than before the effort was made.

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some friends of Claymont during a music festival event in 2003 (?)

visit the Claymont Official Website

or read another account of Claymont

Garden Cities by Ebenezer Howard

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Book Reports, Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by Drogo

From the book Garden Cities of To-morrow by Ebenezer Howard 1898, 1902

Ebenezer Howard was a shop keeper’s assistant, farmer, writer, sociologist, and statesman. Howard valued good living conditions, democracy, nature, human rights, and personalities. Osburn and Mumford added notes that introduce, critique, review, and praise Howard. JH Osburn claims Howard may have been influenced by Bellamy’s book Looking Backward. According to Lewis Mumford Howard was also inspired by Spense, Buckingham, Wakefield, George, and Kropotkin. Howard’s narrow building lots were handed down from medieval English dimensions (20 x 130 ft).

Garden Cities of To-morrow begins by describing the “Three Magnets”: Town, Country, and Town-Country. Howard explains why we are attracted to the best of both Town and Country aspects. Town-Country benefits have cooperation, beauty, nature, green fields, green parks, good utilities, good commerce, social opportunity, high wages, low rents, low price rates, and low pollution!

In most chapters, Howard proposes how Garden Cities would function with diagrams. He describes inter-connected urban nodes. Central City is shown with a constellation of satellite micro-cities (garden cities, towns, villages, developments). Garden Cities at their heart have a central garden, with rings of dwellings, shops, roads, industry, fields, and farms. The ordered layout is meant to improve biological, social, economic, and personal life for everyone.

Howard considered some difficulties with analytic self-criticism. He saw the weak points in his plans, and how they might fail. This foresight can allow us to prepare for the worst problems, to better shape designs for the future. He maintained that human ideals are worth trying; quoting Darwin “Selfish and contentious men will not cohere, and without coherence nothing can be accomplished,”. Howard believed that Socialism and Individualism must come together in the future to realize a true, vital organic society and state.

Ebenezer Howard felt that Garden Cities would work, because the plans were based on understanding human nature. He indicated that Urban or Communal failures are a result of the ‘Duality Principle’ (Janus). Ignorance of the Duality Principle allows kindred mistakes, by regarding one principle action to the exclusion of others. Howard believed we are all communists to some degree, even those that shudder at being told this, because we believe in roads, parks, and libraries. Individualism is no less excellent, in his mind, as he compares good society to an orchestra that plays together, but practice separately. Expense, however, always tends to get in the way of progress.

Sir Raymond Unwin worked with Howard. In 1903 they designed and established the first Garden City in England, named ‘Letchworth’. Letchworth proved a success, and in 1919 the second Garden City ‘Welwyn’ was founded. By 1950 the cities had a combined population of over 40,000. The account of their success is given in Purdom’s Building of Satellite Towns. Some key points regarding the study of Garden Cities are: how urban and rural districts connect, health and sanitation, zoning limitations of density and sprawl allowing light, gardens, and leisure, harmony rather than standardization, communications, ownership and cooperative leasing, public freedom and choice of enterprise.

Contemporary critics dismissed “Garden Cities” as more akin to the fantasy of H.G. Wells, than to the realities of urban planning. Despite the critics, Garden Cities of To-morrow is cited in countless planning bibliographies, and provides an organic alternative to bleak industrial future city-scapes. So what happened? Our suburbs in America do not follow his models, although some are better than others. Howard wanted to keep the city, town, and country distinct from each other, unlike amorphous suburban sprawl. He wanted more green around and in cities, by confining and condensing urban development, to keep the country rural, pastoral, and agrarian; yet integrating their foundations for healthy and function living.

“The pathway of any experiment worth achieving, is strewn with failures. Success is, for the most part, built on failure.”  – Ebenezer Howard

“Creative work always arises by the synthesis in one’s mind of material from otherwise unrelated sources…”  – J.H. Osburn