MOTHER's Newsworthies: Dr. John Todd and Buster Lloyd-Jones

Learn how Dr. John Todd and Buster Lloyd-Jones are bettering their communities.

| July/August 1977


Dr. John Todd is co-founder and director of The New Alchemy Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The philosophy of the institute, John says, is "to find more kindly ways of working with the planet."


Brief: Dr. John Todd

To catch up on the latest doings of John Todd is to be given an overview of some of the most exciting goings-on in the whole field of alternative technology.

John, if you don't already know, is co-founder and director of The New Alchemy Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Established in 1969, N.A.I. also has centers in Costa Rica and Canada. The common philosophy of the three, John says, is "to find more kindly ways of working with the planet," and at each one the kind of work that goes on is dictated by the local environment ("although there's a lot of cross-pollination.")

The "Alkies" ( "right now we're a group of some 20-odd") are made up of architects, horticulturists, solar energy specialists, fish culturists, systems people, and windmill developers. And, "In terms of the range of things we're all doing," John says, "I can hardly begin to describe it."

John's current projects, besides his administrative work, include N.A.I.'s two major bio-shelters, or microfarms: the Cape Cod ark and the even more impressive Canadian ark on Prince Edward Island. Each is "a kind of terrestrial capsule", solar-heated and wind-powered ... "a contained entity to produce year-round foods in northern climates." The Canadian ark has within it a barn with space for food preservation, a human habitation with a composting toilet, a research lab, a family greenhouse, an aquaculture system, ongoing hydroponic experiments, commercial crops, integrated pest controls, and a propagating bench for the rooting of tree cuttings.

Still another Todd interest: the design of agricultural forests in the U.S. and Canada ... forest-based ecosystems involving not only trees but livestock, equivalent in productivity and economics to orthodox farms.

Then there are numerous studies like the one (described in a recent N.I.A. book) on the use of lichens to identify kinds and degrees of air pollution, the advanced wind-driven powerplant for the Canadian government (a first prototype has been operating since last fall), and John's "long-overdue" book, The Sun Dries Us While We Dance: A New Alchemist's Tale of Pioneering for the Twenty-first Century, which will be "a kind of narrative on the whole question of design and restructuring of society within a more human and more biologically apt framework". —Sonia Nordenson.  

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