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    • August 5, 2016 8:41:14 AM PDT
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      Self-sufficient Communities

      Hello people.

      What do you think about self-sufficient Communities (Energy, Food, etc..) ?

      How would you build up one ?
      What would be "THE" technology you would like to see in it ?
      Solar / Wind ? How to deal with livestocks ?

      Just curious how other people would do it with the tools we have today.
      See you.

    • August 5, 2016 9:35:27 AM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      Not sure if you've ever heard of earthships, but my ex fiancé would never stop talking about wanting to live in one, it grew on me as well. Earthships are extremely versatile and economic, they are made out of natural and recycled materials and they aim to be completely self-sustaining hence off the grid (reason as to why the american government completely hates them). They use solar and wind energy for heating, cooling and electricity amongst other things, its a pretty cool concept.

      https://youtu.be/L9jdIm7grCY

    • August 5, 2016 9:45:16 AM PDT
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      Nice, Steamtech also showed me:
      http://phys.org/news/2016-01-battery-molten-metals-low-cost-long-lasting.html
      This could be helpful on a higher scale, for necessary industrial plants and maintenance factories.
      But on a house level, this is very interesting.
      Thank you

    • August 5, 2016 10:03:14 AM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      Personally
      A self sufficient community would need aquaponic gardens, either centrally located in a large facility or split up per household. Aquaponic gardens would need a bit of care to get going but could easily sustain multiple families, there is one in Colorado US, that's around 3,600sq/ft (335m^sq) that can output as much produce as a 20acre farm, not to mention just as much in fish as well, as thats part of the cycle. These farms can be built at any scale.

      Solar can be used in a few ways, not only electricity, but put the right lens in a ceiling and it could be used to cook food, or heat water depending on the aparatus. Wind energy could be used for electricity or to generate compressed air, or pump water from an aquifer. Not to mention sustainable electricity can also be pulled from ionizing particles in the atmosphere. The article that @TheFrenchCoq links would be instrumental for power storage.

      Heavily insulated homes, and geothermal cycling of air would help maintain temperatures inside the homes. The heavy insulation I'm thinking of would be like dirtbag homes, or using large compressed dirt bricks that have been fired. All of which can be locally sourced in most countries, build those houses deeper in the ground or in the side of a mountain the less resources you'd use on construction.

      The geothermal cycling would be like pumping water through tubing into a 30ft (9m) hole and back up, removing heat or adding heat to an area. Down at 30ft (9m) the ground is temperature stabalized, pumping water down that far then up again stabilizes that water, have air running over those pipes and that will either add or remove heat depending on the season.

      Live stock, would be chickens they are easy to raise, produce lots of eggs and can be eaten as well.
      Honey bees and farms also need to be at each aquaponic farm. Honey bees other than pollinating each plant in said farm, they create honey which can be stored for very long periods of time. Not to mention that honey has been and can be used as a preservative, and an antiseptic for bandages. Honey when it decomposes creates hydrogen peroxide as some antiseptic molecules.

      Food wastes can be put in compost bins and broken down into compost and used in the hydroponic gardens. Human wastes can be dealt with much the same, as long as the people going into the community aren't squeamish. Solid wastes can be broken down and separated, the solid material once the bad bacteria is washed/baked away it can be used to create biodegradable cups or planters. Not to mention Urine can be recycled down the elementary components for use in other areas.

      Water can be stored, and reclaimed in a man made aquifer and smaller aquifers for each home. Filters can be made from charcoal and locally sourced sand and dirt. Charcoal can be made from waste materials, I.E. fibers from plants or waste plant parts. This can be made on site.

      Bamboo will also need to be grown and used on site for things such as scaffolding, piping, flooring, laminate, charcoal, etc. Wheat would also be a useful resource.

      Local sources of iron, and other minerals can be found to supplement for trade or other uses. A self-Sufficient community should have its own maker space essentially. Large machines like a lathe, mill, loom, thread wheel, saw, press, forge, and metal working tools need to be all supplied.

      This post was edited by Deleted Member at August 5, 2016 10:59:11 AM PDT
    • August 5, 2016 11:01:05 AM PDT
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      I just spent more time reading up on communes and the Amish than I think I ever have. Thanks for that.

      I have doubts about intentional communities that intend to sustain themselves by "going backward", i.e. forsaking modern technology, engaging in complete isolationism, and trying to do away with the idea of money or personal ownership. It seems like the only ones that survive longterm (I'm mainly talking about the Amish and similar groups, here) started back in the day, holding onto a way of life that they were largely born into, and though different, was not too different economically and technologically from what was available in their day. Unless a community splits every time they hit 150 they're going to have to expand, and that usually means purchasing more land, setting up more infrastructure, and increasing production, which is going to cost money, force them to connect with the outside world, and likely adopt modern farming methods.

      I think to do it in this day and age you'd have to start off with a lot of funds to set things up (I'm talking millions), in an area safe from most natural and manmade disasters and with an endless supply of water (preferably a waterfall), and eco-friendly modern conveniences should be embraced. Hydroelectric power, supplemented by solar in the winter if necessary (having separate winter behaviours and accomodations may not be a bad idea if there's enough money). Set up the greenhouses and the plant agriculture before introducing poultry and small livestock (sheep, goats, and the like; cattle probably wouldn't be the best if you're trying to be eco friendly or keep costs down). Be selective with the populace regarding profession (mainly farmers, mechanics, engineers, medical and veterinary professionals, a few economists, and teachers) and attitude (no hermits, no loafers), keeping them at the population level of a [small] township.

      Democracy (esp. by a council) seems to work decently well for small, nearly homogenous communities, so let's go with that.

    • August 5, 2016 11:46:59 AM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      @ConsumerOfStories - I think "Going backward" Would be the worst possible thing we could do as a society. Technology is a paramount in the development of a sustainable colony or community.

      We'd need lots of these, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzMV6IBzmjs some specialized for medical uses, and some designed more for engineering or sciences.

      And in order to go forward we need to innovate, mix old tech with new tech. For example mix sterling engine(old tech) with newer tech, micro-controller, thermal sensors, and atomized fuel injectors or even better magnetically confined plasma chamber as a heat source instead, to come up more efficient power generation.

      This post was edited by Deleted Member at August 5, 2016 1:56:28 PM PDT
    • August 5, 2016 3:00:53 PM PDT
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      I would build an underground tunnel system, with a geothermal plant for energy, and a farm+arboretum, also underground, for food / CO2 processing. I think THE technology I'd like to see is that knocky thing where you can control stuff by tapping different rhythms on the surface of anything. Or maybe a VI-controlled central computer.

    • August 5, 2016 3:57:54 PM PDT
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      I'm with allblackeverything - I belong to an EarthShip community in my area and have participated on several builds. They are awesome. Although they've been around for several decades, they still have some unresolved issues. They are self-sufficient, mortgage free, use recycled materials, treat waste water by recycling grey water up to four times and through the built-in year round greenhouse. They don't draw on the aquifers for water - instead collect rainwater. You can also build other structures such as greenhouses and barns using the same design and technology. Building one of these babies is extremely labour intensive. You haven't suffered until you've pounded 300 lbs of earth into a one tire using a sledge (x about 750 tires for a 1000 sq ft earthship). For a barn-greenhouse and aquaponics, I would prefer the design of Anna Edey as described in her book Solviva. The thing about that type of living, is that it almost requires a like-minded community approach, a type of makerspace, sharing of tools, pooling of skills, labor and technology. The concepts attracts two types of people: adventurous geeks and idealistic flakes (no offense intended to anyone who identifies with either camp).

    • August 5, 2016 3:58:47 PM PDT
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      ...pooling of skills, labor and technology. The concepts attracts two types of people: adventurous geeks and idealistic flakes (no offense intended to anyone who identifies with either camp).

    • August 7, 2016 7:03:26 AM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      @SZNEL - What kind of unresolved issues do earthships have? I'm curious as its not regularly mentioned in anything I've read up on yet.

    • August 10, 2016 9:17:18 AM PDT
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      Now, we need to put some figures on all this for 20 people.
      Switzerland would be a good spot to start with (Political stability, interesting tax system, ...). What do you think ?
      This plan would probably cost less than 30 millions from land to cattle.

    • August 10, 2016 10:53:54 AM PDT
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      steamtech - problems with Earthships are many: 1. you can't get a mortgage so you need to be wealthy or build out of pocket; 2. they don't go up in a few days like a modern house - minimum 6 weeks, most take years 3. very labor-muscle intensive to build, so labor costs can be exorbitant or you can rely on volunteer labor - there is a sort of tacit agreement among Earthship enthusiast: you help me build mine, and I'll help you build yours; 4. getting municipal building permits can be a pain or they can downright refuse 5. the structures have their own infrastructure so you need to be a bit "hands-on-do-it-yourself" to maintain and repair it. It's not like you can call someone 6. maintaining a comfortable environment can be a challenge depending on the climate where you're building and more experimenting with different technologies and materials needs to be done in the area of humidity, cooling and heating. 7. there is a lot of controversy about using recycled tires, rubber degradation and off-gasing among other issues. 8. the architect, Mike Reynolds, hasn't helped his cause by exaggerating the features 9. it comes with all the problems of solar-wind energy - inefficient storage, etc.

    • August 10, 2016 10:56:50 AM PDT
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      Steamtech - [problems cont'd] among other issues. 8. the architect, Mike Reynolds, hasn't helped his cause by exaggerating the benefits and features 9. All the problems of solar-wind energy - inefficient storage, etc. also have to be dealt with. It's not a one-size fits all solution. Each ship needs to tailored to the environment in which it's built. I think the concept have much merit and the more we build, the more data we can gather, the more solutions we can develop for the issues.

    • August 10, 2016 11:11:30 AM PDT
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      FrenchCoq - Did you say cattle? I love a thick, juicy, medium rare faux-fillet as much as the next guy but bringing cattle or hogs into your community is "une autre paire de manches". Your land and water needs go sky high as you have to sustain the creatures and the ability of the land to absorb the waste is severely taxed. Self-sufficient communities are based on taking only what you need. You need to do a cost-benefit analysis including environmental costs before you bring in cattle or any large animal. I agree with Switzerland as a location, although I think the Scandinavian countries might also be an option [Norway, Finland and Sweden].

    • August 10, 2016 11:19:58 AM PDT
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      SZNEL - Of course, it needs to be done. But the idea would be to recreate a sane ecosystem over an important land including water, and other natural ressources.
      Then a few cattle and hogs wouldn't matter much ? As the ecosystem would be sustainable.
      Don't think that I am eluding the consumption of some animals compared to what they actually "output". Some breeds might be much more interesting than others. But that might be only achieve within an emulative try & fail loop.
      TL;DR: This place needs a lot of diverse lands.

    • August 10, 2016 12:35:34 PM PDT
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      I would suggest a permaculture approach and design which would fit in very well with self-sufficient communities. Are you familiar with the approach? It uses the observed features in a natural ecosystems and is based on care of the earth, of people and a return of surplus. It has a strong ecological foundation and is meant to be a social enterprise. There is an interesting example right here in Quebec: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3riW_yiCN5E

    • August 10, 2016 12:58:54 PM PDT
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      ConsumerOfStories: I share your doubts re: forsaking technology or "going" backward. Also, from what I've seen of the communities I belong to, homogeneity in terms of shared values and goals is crucially important. That type of community does tend to attract impractical people or those looking for a free ride. You may be able to keep the community small and avoid expansion if all the members agree to limit births and manage their population in accordance with the territory they have. I also agree with you that you need to attract the skills, expertise and education necessary to sustain the community and resolve technical problems. As for money, no getting around the need for it, but you could set up a local, non-capitalist economy with functional links to the outside economy. Getting the latest iPhone, Wii or Xbox would have to cease to be a priority. I think the issues would arise in the 2nd generation. If the community was not able to pass on their values or skill sets, it wouldn't survive unless people embraced the concept of "family" as people who share your values and lifestyle and not necessarily those who share blood ties.

    • August 10, 2016 1:18:36 PM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      SZNEL - The permaculture is awesome, mix that with aquaponic gardens, and it would make an incredible difference in the amount of food produced in a facility. I like it!

    • August 10, 2016 3:18:02 PM PDT
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      Steamtech - Permaculture is a design of beauty. We have a group experimenting with aquaponics using the dirty fish water to fertilize the plants in their greenhouse and the plant soil also cleans the water (granted still grey water) but I am uncertain if it's ethical to basically trap fish, especially those that have the instinct to migrate. Seems kind of cruel. So far, all the group has grown is catfish and tilapia. The stock is quite expensive and you can't forget about it, it requires daily monitoring - technology could help with that. If you can reproduce your own little ones, you've got a very cheap source of protein. We've also tried inoculating birch logs with oyster mushroom mycellium. Mine didn't turn out but others have had better luck.

    • August 10, 2016 3:29:19 PM PDT
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      Steamtech - one of the most critical issues to be resolved is how to store the energy you collect via wind/solar or water turbine. The earthships use a bank of marine deep cycle batteries but they have limitations. I am wondering if a Ballard’s hydrogen fuel cell such as the FCgen-H2PM would be better (suppose you could afford it)? The FCgen is suited for application ranging from 1kW to 30kW. If you're running a home, greenhouse and maybe a barn, a bank of marine batteries are eventually going to let you down especially if your energy source (sun or wind) peters out for a while (i.e., winter typically has less sun, at least in my area).

    • August 10, 2016 4:23:24 PM PDT
    • Self-sufficient Communities

      SZNEL - Getting a setup with aquaponics and the Permaculture wouldn't be too difficult I would think. Especially if you simulate the migration aspect of the fish through a larger water tank, say moving between the aquaponics garden and the outside. Also wastes from the aquaponic's system like food wastes can be used to help out any of the permaculture especially when starting out.

      Fuel cell wouldn't work well in my opinion, how are you going to get the hydrogen? There's several ways each one costs a lot of energy/money, for example electrolysis you get about half or less of the amount of energy you put into it back. There are other ways to get hydrogen, but energy is lost in conversion, so its not a super great solution on top of that water is kind of precious so it would need to be conserved.(I'm thinking on a larger scale)

      There is a company that I told @TheFrenchCoq about, they are create Molten Salt batteries meant for grid storage. These devices would work rather well as when you charge a battery it gets hot or if you use a lot of the battery's power it also gets warm. Since the core of that battery is already molten not much changes, and the company is making it out of materials that are easy to find in most areas of the world. The only thing that's hard is finding the liquid metals for use in the anode and cathode.

      Even then there is a company in Germany that is working on a style of grid storage in the form of a super large compressed air tank. You have wind powered compressors basically filling up that tank, and when you need the power from the tank you open a valve into a high and low pressure turbine to generate electricity. Most of the device can be created with lathe mills and a forge, and some way to make pottery or concrete containers

      Also as an alternative to cattle for a self sufficient colony, you could have rabbits. They could be fed via the gardens are easy to maintain and reproduce rather fast, they'd make a good steak, especially if they were a larger breed.

    • August 10, 2016 4:35:52 PM PDT
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      Steamtech - I had envisioned an aquaponic system similar to what you describe, less captive and more of a "river system". The molten salt battery sounds like an alternative. In the Ballard system, the hydrogen is obtained from water using a membrane that creates an osmosis-like reaction. That's what makes the Ballard technology so powerful. I don't understand it 100% - the explanation they provide of how their product works raises more questions than answers. My brother raised rabbits for awhile, they are not easy. They are prone to many diseases especially when raised in close quarters. My sister-in-law and I cried our eyes out when my brother harvested Ernie and Mike. The stew was good, though.

    • August 10, 2016 4:37:53 PM PDT
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      Steamtech - we just need to have space to experiment with all these things to find viable solutions. I know it can be done. Personally, I think it would freakin' exciting to be part of an experiment like this. What a challenge!

    • August 10, 2016 4:45:45 PM PDT
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      JM - why underground? To protect from the elements? Would you produce artificial light for Vitamin D?

    • August 10, 2016 4:47:38 PM PDT
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      2 years, I buy a farm in switzerland. Come and experiment for free.

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