Terra Preta and “the Biochar Solution”

The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change, by Albert BatesA review by Kiko Denzer Living trees lock up carbon, and burning releases it. That’s the conflict-ridden equation of global warming. Albert Bates has been at the front lines of the warming conflict since his 1990 title, Climate in Crisis. …

Tribal Genealogical Patterns: A Universal Language?

[download this pattern as an envelope design here] ’the folk has thus preserved, without understanding, the remains of old traditions that go back sometimes to the indeterminably distant past, to which we can only refer as “prehistoric”…’ Had the folk beliefs not indeed once been understood, we could not now …

Alan Scott, Brick Ovens, A Marriage

Alan Scott’s Ovencrafters provides DIY masonry oven plans and hardware (doors and pyrometers) for bakers wanting to start their own small business, or just to bake large amounts of bread and other food for family and friends. It was set up on Gandhian principles of “Policy with principles, commerce with morality, wealth through work, and science with humanity.” Many ovens and many small bakeries now feed good bread to their communities as a direct result, and the book Alan inspired and co-wrote, The Bread Builders, has become a bible for a growing circle of builder/bakers.

Living More with Less

We’ve been attending a local fellowship consisting of an interesting mix of Mennonite families (almost all of whom have left agriculture for more “professional” pursuits), as well as baptists, quakers, and a bunch of folks I won’t try to categorize. Many of them are self-employed, live fairly simply, and try …

Michael Pollan, a Cob Oven, & the NY Times

how to build an upsidedown fire
“Communal table: A 36 Hour Dinner Party”

The NY Times Magazine recently published this article by Michael Pollan about a 36 hour dinner party cooked in a mud oven. Best, for me, was how he explained the purpose of the oven:

The idea is to make the most efficient use of precious firewood and to keep the heat (and the danger) of the cook fire some distance from everybody’s homes. But what appeals to me about the tradition is how the communal oven also becomes a focus for social life (“focus” is Latin for “hearth”), a place to…

Spoons

carved from green wood: roughed out with a hatchet and/or a northwestern style adze, then shaped and finished with crooked knives and a straight blades (click on the thumbnail for an uncropped view of the entire photo). Some of the detail work is done w/little burins. The bowls I carved …

Teaching with Mud, Sand, and Straw

Working with mud, sand, and straw is a way to teach geology, engineering, physics, history, drawing, composition, and design. It is also a way to teach social skills, like cooperation. But more important than just what it teaches is how it teaches: Jon Young is a wilderness educator who takes …