Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Although I dream of someday creating my own self-sufficient lifestyle in the country, I realize that I will simply have to remain a city-dweller for a few years if I want work to quickly pay back my student loans. I am sure that many other eco-dreamers dwell in city apartments, yearning for the simple life. But an upcoming course in Radical Urban Sustainability Training makes me wonder if we can have the best of both worlds.
Radical Urban Sustainability stresses implementing affordable, sustainable systems for city dwellers. If you are tired of depending on the external world for your food, power and water just because you live in a city/suburban house or apartment, you could learn how to break away from the system in a two-day-long boot camp on urban self-reliance. You will discover how to maximize your space by raising micro-livestock, growing gardens, cultivating mini-ecosystems and creating your own energy. Participants will learn to build self-reliant infrastructure by utilizing salvaged and recycled materials. Curriculum focuses on the interrelatedness of sustainability to social justice. The course description states that the RUST systems can apply to either urban or rural environments — even in apartment spaces! Expect a constant stream of hands-on activities, demos and lectures throughout the two days.
RUST, or Radical Urban Sustainability Training, is held in Albany, N.Y., on July 10-11. Course teachers include Scott Kellogg, co-author of the Toolbox for Sustainable City Living and developer of the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, and Lauren Ross, environmental engineer and permaculture expert. The Radix Ecological Sustainability Center is an active demonstration of environmental technologies and sustainable micro-industries that apply to urban lifestyles. You can browse through a virtual tour on their website.
Typical topics/demos in the course include:
- Low-tech bioremediation (cleaning contaminated soils using plants, fungi and bacteria)
- Rainwater harvesting
- Aquaculture: ponds, plants, fish, algae
- Constructed wetlands/greywater
- Autonomous technologies: wind turbines and passive solar
- Worm composting and soldier flies
- Raised bed gardening and soil alchemy
- City chickens and micro-livestock
- Struggles for land and gentrification
- Brownfield restoration
- Biofuels: methane digesters, wood gas and veggie oil vehicles
- Mycoscaping: edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation
- Energy depletion and climate justice
- Sustainable and efficient wood burning
One intriguing example of Radix's urban sustainability is this constructed wetland. Radix builds their own wetlands which purify greywater. The plants gain nutrients and the cleaned water can help irrigate vegetable crops!
The workshop will take place in the Albany Free School. Cost varies on a sliding scale from $150 to $350 depending on how much you can pay. Vegan meals and camping are included.
To register, mail your name, e-mail, a paragraph about your interests, any special needs and a check with a deposit of $90 to:
199 Circular St.
Saratoga Springs, NY
You might want to shoot Scott an e-mail first to make sure there is space available.
If you already have plans that weekend, don’t fret. These guys plan to offer another RUST course in October.
Photos courtesy of the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center