Libraries could become the hub of the new local resilient community. NPR onto this here:
The Maker Station is a 50-foot trailer in the parking lot of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind. It's a hackerspace where do-it-yourselfers share tools and expertise.
As information becomes more digital, public libraries are striving to redefine their roles. A small number are working to create "hackerspaces," where do-it-yourselfers share sophisticated tools and their expertise.
The Allen County Public Library, which serves the city of Fort Wayne, Ind., has a modest hackerspace inside a trailer in its parking lot. Library director Jeff Krull says hosting it is consistent with the library's mission.
"We see the library as not being in the book business, but being in the learning business and the exploration business and the expand-your-mind business," he says. "We feel this is really in that spirit, that we provide a resource to the community that individuals would not be able to have access to on their own."
The 50-foot trailer is known as the Maker Station and belongs to TekVenture, an educational nonprofit that had struggled to find a building it could afford before it was approached by the library. TekVenture signed an agreement with the library to operate in its parking lot for a year. TekVenture President Greg Jacobs says this partnership made sense.
"The library is a well-established, respectable institution in the area. The library is used by everybody," he says. "Regardless of your stripe in society, you're going to use library facilities."
The Allen County facility includes a CNC router, a computer-controlled power tool that cuts wood, plastic and some metals. The Maker Station also has a lathe, scroll and band saws, an electronics bench and an injection molding machine, which makes objects by heating up recycled plastic chips.
Like any hackerspace worth its salt, it has a 3-D printer, which can produce plastic objects based on a computer file. In recent years, there's been some chatter on the librarian blogs about the rise of 3-D printing. Meg Backus has a blog about "interventionist librarianship" and teaches a course at Syracuse University called "Innovations in Public Libraries."
Meg Backus teaches a course on "Innovation in Public Libraries" with colleague Thomas Gokey. They put together this video to explain more about 3-D printing and hackerspaces.
"People in the library world have noticed that 3-D printers would be a fit for libraries or that libraries should be paying attention to this technology and how it develops, because this could be a really big deal," Backus says. "I'd be completely surprised if we don't all have 3-D printers in 20 years."
There's already a 3-D printer, donated by a local computer store, in the Fayetteville Free Library in upstate New York. Not only that, the library was recently awarded $10,000 for the creation of a hackerspace. Lauren Smedley, 29, is the librarian responsible for winning the grant and raising $3,500 in pledges for the hackerspace on the website IndieGoGo.
Smedley walks a visitor into an unoccupied wing of her library with 10-foot-high ceilings. She explains that this was once the home of the Stickley furniture factory.
"People used to make things in this very room, and we're going to offer this community the opportunity to once again make things here," she says. "And it's just a thrill. It's really exciting."
Smedley is calling the Fayetteville hackerspace the "Fabulous Laboratory." It will have about 8,000 square feet and be equipped with a number of sophisticated, computer-controlled power tools. This Fabulous Laboratory may not seem out of place in a library that has a cafe, video-gaming stations and iPads available for checkout, and regular author appearances via Skype.
"I really envision this space being a place for people to come and tinker and explore," she says. "We're really looking to have a peer-to-peer training that has proven effective in maker spaces, really, across the world, with some facilitation from the library staff. It's really whatever the community wants to use it for is how we'll support it."
The library is expecting a grant from the state of New York to renovate the wing for the hackerspace and a business incubation center.
I saw this slide last night at the MEAL meeting. I did not know this - that our industrial food system that we think as the normal - only produces 30% of the world's food.
The 150 big farms that we have on PEI - are not our future.
First of all, almost all are owned by people in their 60's. No one can take on the debt required to take the farm into the future. The choice for the families is to sell to a corporate buyer or to find a development deal.
There is a better way. You may not know this but there is a new Back to the Land Movement in progress and not just on PEI. Thousands of young couples have given up on the idea of a "Job" - and are seeking to make growing food their life.
They do not want or need 1,000 or 3,000 acres. They don't need or want millions of dollars of equipment or buildings.
Instead they want between 1 and 40 acres. Their focus is on quality not quantity.
They have direct relationships with their customers. They sell direct or they sell direct to chefs. Here are just a few who use the Farmers Market. Many use CSA to provide working capital - they are connected to their end buyers and they react to what the end buyer wants. The end buyer has the same connection back.
This is the big but unnoticed trend. We can act to make this stronger and faster.
Back in the 1970's when the first wave of Back to the Landers arrived - many got help from the old farmers then - whose own kids had left the Island.
There was a strong link. Could we not work to make this happen again? Could a large conventional farm start a network using their land where they could help the young buy and operate parts of the larger whole?
Where they too have a different relationship with their buyer than the traditional arms length one. Where they could offer advice, the use of equipment etc. Where they could have a stake in the new?
Could they not be able to band together also and help each other? Making the transition from city to rural is not easy and the answers do not come from a book. Growing food in anew way is not easy either. Selling food and being a real business person is not easy. Settling into PEI is not easy.
A few of us are taking these thoughts and starting to work on them. My bet is that we have a lot more of the new here but we cannot see it yet. Nor can those in it see themselves clearly either. My hope is that i we can start to "Map" the new, it will reveal itself and we will be able to see where best to help.
I close therefore with the most important map ever made to show you the power of such a process.
In 1854 London was again having a cholera epidemic. This was before we knew anything about germs. the conventional wisdom was that disease was spread by smells. But one doctor, John Snow, did not buy that idea. What he did was to map the deaths in the area to see if a pattern would emerge that might give him an answer. This is the map.
The deaths cluster around a pump. The Broad Street Pump. The pump and so the water was the source. Snow had the pump dug up and it was discovered that the pump was contaminated with sewage. He had broken the Smell (Miasma) Theory that had medicine on the wrong foot and showed the link to water. It was only a matter of time and Pasteur to discover the agents in the water.
My point is that without the use of such a map - what is going on cannot be clearly seen. Maps like this produce emergent properties that cannot be seen by using data alone. They provide the basis for a debate. For sadly Snow could not convince the establishment that what they could all see was true. They closed the pump but insisted that it was still smells. But the map could not die for it showed the truth to anyone who had eyes to see.
My hope is that if we "map" the new system - show the people who are farming in the new way - show their connections to the processing and to the end market - show how the community is financing them - show the CSA clusters - show the chef nodes and their connections - then we will see the PEI Local Food System as a system for the first time.
Then we will be able to see what best we can do to make it all stronger.
How hard is it for corporations to understand that when they do something that is overwhelmingly evil corporation-y, the public will inevitably hate them for it? Case in point: Chick-fil-A, the fast food company, decided to take serious legal action against, wait for it ... a guy in Vermont who handscreens t-shirts and sells them around town.
Yes, the now-infamous legal action is targets a folk artist named Bo Muller-Moore, who has printed t-shirts displaying the slogan "Eat More Kale" since 2000. Chick-fil-A claims that said slogan is too similar to their "Eat Mor Chikin" slogan, and therefore Muller-Moore must cease and desist. Instead of complying, Muller-Moore has decided to fight the mammoth fast food corporation. And, as Alex detailed in his post on the story, the move has swiftly snowballed into one of those corporate David vs Goliath battles where everyone is cheering for David--and hates Goliath.
Muller-Moore has been flooded with support. The local food movement, which is highlighting his story to convey the importance of local produce and the power wielded by industrial food, has rallied to his side. Local business groups and politicians in Vermont are working pro bono to help him ward off the legal attack. Consumers are voicing their support with dollars, buying the shirts in record numbers. Hell, even the state's governor just issued some strong words defending 'Eat More Kale', and issued a warning to the fast food giant.
Muller-Moore also enjoys the support of everyone who hates it when corporations do stupid, asshole-ish things. This brazen example of overreach is exactly the kind of thing that inspires backlash against corporate greed--and in a cultural moment marked by elevated awareness about such malfeasance, it's good to see local food, politicians, and ordinary people standing up against it. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of this: as the influence of Occupy Wall Street-style dissent reverberates through mainstream culture, there will be more resistance against blatant acts of corporate misconduct.
This is just good politics and good sense. The new food system is emerging here on PEI too. The large conventional farms cannot be passed on - even if the families want this - for the numbers cannot work.
In the place of a few large farms with millions of dollars of capital tied up in infrastructure and few employees, a new farmer is here.
They tend to be young. They want very small parcels of land. One of the best I know has 1 acre! They sell high quality food direct to the consumer or to chefs.
As the world population grows and so the demand for food, a small place like PEI CANNOT be a commodity producer. But we can be a quality producer.
In this context, we could have back 15,000 farms on PEI with all the employment that that involves.
Time to acknowledge that SMALL is the key to Quality and that lots of Small Aggregated into a large network is the new BIG.
"When a tool breaks, at the very worst the space-station crew calls Houston and says, 'Send us a CAD (computer-aided design) file of that tool,' and they'll be able to 3D-print it," said Jason Dunn, chief technology officer and cofounder of Made in Space, Inc. "Ideally, one day they'll be able to design it themselves."
Made in Space came out of Singularity University — a school for startups aimed at solving the world's biggest problems. It chose to locate itself at the NASA Ames Research Park in Moffett Field, Calif., near Silicon Valley.
The founders estimate that printing parts in space could reduce the structural mass of objects by at least 30 percent, because the objects would not need to survive Earth's gravity or the extreme G-forces of launching into orbit aboard a rocket.
"Our long-term goal for 3D printing is to actually build functioning spacecraft," Dunn told InnovationNewsDaily. "A Cubesat (miniature satellite) could be built with the machine we are designing for the space station in the next several years."
First, the company must create a 3D printer that works well in the seemingly weightless conditions of space. It used past NASA funding to test a prototype and several commercial 3D printers during two hours worth of stomach-churning aircraft dives meant to simulate microgravity. Such printing runs led to the world's first tool — a small wrench — ever printed in partial gravity.
The tests eventually convinced Dunn and his team to go with their own custom printer design. They plan to focus on an extrusion printer capable of building objects out of plastic polymers, but say that the printer could still make a huge number of the space station's $1-billion-worth of spare parts.
"We think that one-third of those parts could be built using the machine we're building right now," Dunn explained. "We're starting with polymers because they're extrusion-based, and in some cases we're starting to produce our own space-qualified polymers."
The company's Small Innovative Research proposal — submitted with Arkyd Astronautics, Inc. and NanoRacks, LLC — makes the project eligible to receive up to $125,000 in NASA funding sometime next year. If all goes well with upcoming parabolic and suborbital flight tests, Made in Space could see its first 3D printer reach the space station by 2014.
2 years later she took on a classic role - the suffering invalid. She retreated into a world of illness and dependency. She reverted to a 2 year old unable to do the smallest task. Eager to seek out the next illness and treatment.
She is 83 tomorrow. I have been her caregiver for 30 years. If I had my life again, I would have wished for this to have been different.
So it is a bitter sweet celebration.
The financial squeeze is on for all of us - except the 1%. How are we going to make it? The answer that is emerging is that we can do a lot more with less - if we think radically.
In this post I want to show you the Tiny House. A big idea that can change a lot.
Keeping up a house in the traditional way will be impossible over time. So is it possible to look at a house in a new way?
When I first saw this - I reacted with "How quaint" but over time, I have seen more to this.
The industrial system makes us into wage slaves by making us pay too much for key things. Such as now a College Education. We leave school, if we go there, with so much debt that we have to take the job - but now there are so few jobs.
We want to be healthy, so we spend a fortune on pills and procedures. Many Americans spend as much on health insurance as they do on house payments.
We aspire for a house. Usually over 2,000 square feet. We have to heat it. Insure it, Repair it. We fill it with stuff. The only house we can afford is in the suburbs, so we need a car. Maybe 2 cars!
The new financial reality means that none of this is affordable now. So what to do? Live on the street? Live in a flop house? No I think the key is to start to think of what we need in a new light.
Do I need to go to school full time for 4 years and have all this debt? The jobs that demand the degree are not there or are hell. So do I rethink my education?
Is my health dependent on drugs? No it is not. If you eat well and live a real life, it is likely that you will be well.
Do I need a big house full of stuff? No we don't. Does the stuff make us happy? The traditional house ties us down just as the health care costs and student loan do.
Now is it possible to live in a 100 square foot house? As you see, Jay now has his house and a larger one of about 400 square feet for his family. Might not the Network apply to housing too?
See this video for more on this.
It's early days. But I know that my kids can get a better education out there on the web and at a Co Working palce. I know for sure that I don't need the health care system unless I am in an accident.
It will just take a bit more work to think through the practical aspects of networked housing. I am talking to my daughter about this for us right now. How can we be separate and together? How do we combine smaller spaces?
You don't have to wait for your kids to grow up either. You have a teen child? Hey they can have a house now too. Think what he will learn? Not just about buolding a house but about living in a new way. What will be his thoughts over time abiut stuff? How free will he be?
And if you are wondering how to make sure that your eldery mum and da are ok - how about this?
Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.
It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.
Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain, and dying alone. They’ve talked about this with their families. They want to be sure, when the time comes, that no heroic measures will happen—that they will never experience, during their last moments on earth, someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to resuscitate them with CPR (that’s what happens if CPR is done right).
Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. That’s when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. The patient will get cut open, perforated with tubes, hooked up to machines, and assaulted with drugs. All of this occurs in the Intensive Care Unit at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly, “Promise me if you find me like this that you’ll kill me.” They mean it. Some medical personnel wear medallions stamped “NO CODE” to tell physicians not to perform CPR on them. I have even seen it as a tattoo.
I spent a terrible 3 days with a cousin. Her mother was dying but she was so scared to lose her mum that she insisted that the full on rescue attempt be made. So her mums' last 3 days were spent on a ventilator with staff doing all sorts of things to her. We sat stunned and unable to communicate with her as we were pushed away by the "care".
Her mother died "alone" untouched by a living hand. No loving words. Only mechanical intervention.
Beyond what this means for the dying and their families, there is the cost. 25- 50% of the total LIFETIME cost of healthcare is spent in these futile interventions. If we wish to cut back on health care spending - THIS is where we have to start.