Top Tips for Regenerative Living Part 7: Using Appropriate Technologies at Home



Kyle and the kids heading downtown for a swim in the River

When I was living at the Possibility Alliance in Missouri (check out this article in the Technoskeptic about the PA) I heard a tale told of some local Amish who decided against putting lightning rods on their barns.  They weren’t pro barn fires but they were pro-community and realized that losing the occasional barn to a fire is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of their community.  Similarly, when I asked an Amish man I was working with why they didn’t own cars  I expected his answer to include reasons promoting simple living but Instead he said cars made it too easy for their community to fracture. They decided that horses and buggies were more appropriate for their goals as a group. Both of these stories point to a level of consideration and wisdom usually absent from the average American discussion around community. 

The term “Appropriate Technology” was coined by EF Schumacher in his seminal work, Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered back in 1973 to describe technologies that promote the values of health, beauty, and permanence.  And Gandhi is seen as one of the original purveyors of this idea with his work on small-scale, village-centered economies in early 20th century India.  For Gandhi, it was a means of providing dignified work for while maintaining cultural values amidst the crushing weight of British imperialism.

On our urban homestead in Reno, NV where we’re interested in good living and concerned about our impact on the planet, I ask myself, “What are the appropriate technologies we can use to meet our needs in a conscientious manner?”  Here’s a list of several we employ:

Passive solar design for light and heat
Bicycles and trailers
Sun Oven
Mass in our buildings for heat retention
Greywater systems
Solar wall heaters
Solar food dehydrators
Masonry heater (heats, cooks, entertains, dries clothing, dries fruit, heats water)
Root cellar
Natural building (and using natural materials for art and beautification)
People, in numbers

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