The Open Source Ecology Project, a Weekend Visit

| 11/10/2011 3:16:22 PM

Tags: Open Source Ecology, tractor, earth brick, engineering, students, construction, , Ben Nelson,

This past weekend, I had a chance to travel to Missouri, to the Factor-E Farm, home of the Open Source Ecology project. While you may already know about the project from the TED Talk presented by Marcin Jakubowski, some friends from the local ecology group and I wanted to go see the project in person.

Not only would we get a tour, but also a chance to help out, as labor laying earthen bricks for a new permanent building.


For me, I knew the trip down was going to be a bit grueling. The plan was to meet at a Park & Ride about an hour and a half drive from my house at midnight Friday. I was already up at 4:00 AM that day to go work out of town. So, I had already put in a full-day's work, AND been on the road for six and a half hours BEFORE meeting my compadres at a nearly abandoned Park & Ride south-west of Madison, Wisconsin. There weren't even any electric lights at that lot. Oh well, moonlight is more eco-friendly...

We packed seven people, plus camping gear, into an old work minivan, and hit the road. I can't say comfort was at the fore-front, but our miles-per-gallon-per-person were pretty good. A Prius wouldn't have held as many people, and a bus wouldn't have gotten as good mileage.

After many hours, and a gas stop, the sun had returned to above the horizon, and we were now in rural Missouri. We piled out of the van in a small town, only a few miles from the Open Source Ecology project. After stretching, we headed into the local cafe. I don't think it got any more local than this place. It was obvious that everyone there knew each other. The dining room was a bit smoky. (We have a smoking ban in Wisconsin now, I had gotten used to that…) I can't recall the name of the cafe, (Ted & Julie's?) but it was the names of a husband and wife team. Sure enough, the name tag on the man taking our order matched the sign on the door.

5/25/2012 10:20:51 AM

Great post, over in the UK we're finding that energy efficiency is a big issue, not only for environmental reasons, but also the ever increasing gas prices from the big providers.

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