Peter Van Dresser: Ecologist

A Plowboy Interview with Peter Van Dresser, a man with a lifelong interest in technology and its applications within the framework of an ecological consciousness.

| September/October 1975

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    One of those who've gone ahead is Peter van Dresser, a man with a lifelong interest in technology and its applications within the framework of an ecological consciousness.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Peter van Dresser's first solar heated house (built in 1949 or 1950) has been vacant for several years and shows the wear and tear inflicted by vandals. The collector in the foreground was vented to the dwelling through underground ducts. The design was not entirely successful . . . the collector is too far from the house and its panels should be inclined rather than vertical. That's the remains of a Jacobs wind-driven generator on the pole behind the house and the ""dormer"" on the building's roof is actually a small room in which the self-contained electrical system's storage batteries were kept.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 035-008-01-second-sun-heate
    Peter's second sun-heated dwelling is a landmark in Santa Fe, New Mexico's Canyon Road district. The solar collectors (which were merely added onto an already existing adobe structure) are slanted to take maximum advantage of the winter sun. Air, heated by the sun in the panels, is vented by electric blowers to the floor of the building
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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  • 035-008-01-first-solar
  • 035-008-01-second-sun-heate

The following interview was originally published two years ago in the October 1973 issue of LIFESTYLE! (a former-and much less widely distributed-sister publication of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS ® ). 

The interview is being reprinted here (at John Shuttleworth's request, as explained on the preceding two pages) because [1] far too few individuals saw the piece in LIFESTYLE! and [2] far too few of today's "ecologists" and "alternative lifestyle pioneers" have the slightest inkling of what the low-energy, self-sufficient society of the future will really have to be like if the planet is to have any chance of surviving. 

Fortunately for us all, a handful of thoughtful philosophers and thinkers and doers do have a reasoned concept of the tremendous — and necessary — changes in living patterns which we must all make if Earth is to endure. Peter van Dresser is one of those philosophers and thinkers and doers . . . and many more of today's citizens especiaIly those who fancy themselves "environmental pioneers" of one stripe or another would do well to study the man's work. 

Solar energy, wind power, humanitarian, ecology, alternative lifestyle and related freaks of 1973 . . . please take note: You didn't — as you sometimes seem to believe — invent all those groovy fields of interest overnight all by yourselves alone. Other — and occasionally better — men and women were trying to "put it all together" a long time before it became fashionable (or even possible) to do so. 



One of those who've gone ahead is Peter van Dresser, a man with a lifelong interest in technology and its applications within the framework of an ecological consciousness. At various times in his life, Mr. van Dresser has been — among other things — a writer of science fiction, a professional regional and urban planner, a member of the Decentralist movement of the 1930's, a pioneer in the development of rocket engines and a near-total dropout from our military-industrial society. 

In 1949, van Dresser moved to a small village in the mountains of northern New Mexico. There he opened a little restaurant, designed and built solar-and wind-powered houses and began working in earnest for the development of decentralized, self-sufficient communities which "make use of sophisticated technology to produce a high standard of living, yet exist harmoniously with the natural world around them". 






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