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getting 12 ants lined up right away  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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As I am plotting and shceming, right now I very much like the idea of having 12 ants here. And then, suppose that 20 gappers arrive over the next few months, some of the ants would like to host gappers and some won't. The gappers show up, the ants meet the gappers and if a gapper has three ants interested in having them, then the gapper chooses which of the three to set up shop with.

So, activity moves forward. Ants have helpers. Gappers learn stuff and have a stong leader. I don't have to work on the computer all day to "prime the pump". I am downright giddy at the thought of this getting pulled off. I would also have a pool of people that might be willing to work a collection of small jobs for me.


There are three people saying that they would like to try the ant program. Nobody has put their money up. I would kinda like to get all 12 spots filled so that full planning and action can be moving forward.


I just added awards for second and third place for the ant challenge. Perhaps that will help some.


Any other suggestions?
 
paul wheaton
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Maybe get the word out? So, maybe if more people knew that this was happening, more people would sign up.

Maybe I can sweeten the pot with visits from experts?

 
paul wheaton
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Maybe I need to throw in extra candy for the first six that have paid. Something like two days of use of the sawmill. ?? Or maybe an extra day with the excavator?


 
John Wolfram
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It dawned on me that your gappers/ants in many ways are quite similar to Joel Salatin's interns/fiefdoms. Since Salatin populates his fiefdoms with former interns, have you reached out to former gappers as a source for ants?
 
paul wheaton
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Maybe the thing to do is to say there are twelve kinds of candy. The first person to put money in gets eight units of candy. The second person gets seven ...

ant 1: 8 pieces of candy
ant 2: 7 pieces of candy
ant 3: 6 pieces of candy
ant 4: 5 pieces of candy
ant 5: 4 pieces of candy
ant 6: 3 pieces of candy
ant 7: 2 pieces of candy
ant 8: 1 piece of candy
ant 9: zero candy
ant 10: zero candy
ant 11: zero candy
ant 12: zero candy


1 piece of candy =

2 hours with the excavator and driver
1 day with the sawmill
1 day in the shop
1 day with the pickup
1 weekend stay in the tipi (maybe for a guest)
1 day of an EV

I'm trying to think of what else might be good to add to the candy list. Ideas?


 
paul wheaton
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John Wolfram wrote:It dawned on me that your gappers/ants in many ways are quite similar to Joel Salatin's interns/fiefdoms. Since Salatin populates his fiefdoms with former interns, have you reached out to former gappers as a source for ants?


I would assume that former gappers would get the dailyish email.

 
Cassie Langstraat
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paul wheaton wrote:Maybe I need to throw in extra candy for the first six that have paid. Something like two days of use of the sawmill. ?? Or maybe an extra day with the excavator?



yes and yes and yes
 
paul wheaton
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Cassie Langstraat
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paul wheaton wrote:Maybe get the word out? So, maybe if more people knew that this was happening, more people would sign up.

Maybe I can sweeten the pot with visits from experts?



trying to think of how to get the word out on this one.. banners? facebook? people didn't respond very well to the first post, but maybe if we explained it a little bit better they might.

who might be people who have audiences that would be interested in this? hmm, marjory? she's not really super permaculturey though I suppose and this is. hm, spirko? it's kinda survival-esque. he might be a good one.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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paul wheaton wrote:I made the "candy offer" official here


yeah i posted the "yes yes yes" while you were posting the official offer, so once I posted mine I saw it.
 
paul wheaton
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I think we should start with the dailyish email to tell folks about the candy and two extra awards and see how things go from there.
 
evan l pierce
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I've all but decided that I'm doing this, and now I'm just getting my ducks in a row to make it happen. That said, since at least 6 ants have to make it through for any of it to count, (right?,) what if there were 4th, 5th, and 6th place prizes, too? Wouldn't have to be big things, but just a little something to encourage folks to stick it out til the end even if they feel like they're not a top contender.
 
paul wheaton
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since at least 6 ants have to make it through for any of it to count, (right?,)


Nope.

If two people do the ant thing, then they have a lovely home that they built, complete with a lovely food systems and all the praise and fame that comes with that. And they can choose to rent another year if they want or sell off their improvements if they want.

Perhaps what you mean to say is that there will be no deep roots package given away. That is correct.


but just a little something to encourage folks to stick it out til the end even if they feel like they're not a top contender.


I think you are correct.

Of course, at this point in time, people are paying me $800 and I am putting in about $3000 worth of candy. So I am already going in the hole on each ant plot. Naturally, if I gave out even more candy, then it is even more attractive, but at some point I gotta stop. I do like the idea that all 12 spots will be taken in the next week or two, and I like to think that I have already sweetened the pot enough for that. We'll see.
 
Penny Dumelie
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A couple thoughts.

It would be easier to promote if there was one page/post to link to that explains ant village in a way that anyone can understand it.
I understand what you are saying in the ant village thread because I read the forums and have searched around for the info I don't know....

but if I was linked to that thread and had never spent time on the forums, I now have to take time to search out deep roots and shallow roots and gappers, etc.
Unless it's in one of the other related threads, I might not know about the podcast requirement (assuming that still applies for ants)
And maybe that's okay since it means a person has to take the time to learn about where they would be headed, but it's not great for promotion purposes.

The other thought, you could have a participation reward that takes time but not stuff.
I think if I was an ant, it would be cool to be able to make a short "show-off" video with you.
Show you around my ant plot (towards the end of it all) and explain what has been accomplished and so on.
And maybe you could throw it up on your YouTube channel.

 
Kyrt Ryder
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paul wheaton wrote:I'm trying to think of what else might be good to add to the candy list. Ideas?


Could a discount ($50 or $100, whichever feels more appropriate to you, perhaps with a limited number a given person could use [max of 4 perhaps? Or perhaps no more than 1/2 a person's candy pieces could be discount units.] ) Everybody's in a different position in life, I know personally I have far more non-tangible resources than I do raw cash (to the point that even 50$ off would be meaningful to me) and- were I not tied down to family that need my assistance- I would send money and pack my bags immediately.

(Kind of a weird place to make my first post, I've been a long time lurker/informal student of these boards and the Ant Challenge has greatly intrigued me. It's good to have finally stepped out of the shadows and started posting.)
 
Kyrt Ryder
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evan l pierce wrote:I've all but decided that I'm doing this, and now I'm just getting my ducks in a row to make it happen. That said, since at least 6 ants have to make it through for any of it to count, (right?,) what if there were 4th, 5th, and 6th place prizes, too? Wouldn't have to be big things, but just a little something to encourage folks to stick it out til the end even if they feel like they're not a top contender.


I know Paul's already acknowledged struggling with the thought of giving away too much when the quality of the competitors remains to be seen, but it would be pretty cool if all the ants who did not win but had proven themselves sustainable and were fully prepared to overwinter on their own labor (and were above some bare minimum standard of quality for the community and fit into Paul's ethics and all that) were allowed one more year on their acre at no cost or at the cost of one acre's taxes as a percent of the whole land-base.
 
leila hamaya
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i think youre onto something good here...my maybe irrelevant suggestion is that maybe calling them ants...is not the right totem animal =) ...perhaps you are actually looking for eagles =), or even bears....or lions...ah perhaps it doesnt matter much...
 
Fred Tyler
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Leila,
Ants are industrious and work hard for the good of the community. The name comes from Paul's discussion surrounding the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper.
 
Dillon Nichols
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1) I agree with Penny; a fully updated, concise post that covers everything a newbie would need to know about this challenge seems like an important feature. If there is already a great post out there with info on some detail, a link to it instead of repetition. The simpler it is to understand, the more likely news of it will carry.

I'm really interested in this program - won't be participating because I'm Canadian, but think it's a fantastic and interesting idea, and I'd love to see it succeed and spread.

Accordingly, I've been reading about it fairly often as the threads update and multiply.

And every time I do, I see I've missed some other new info!


2) As a cynic, I don't believe you will have 6 survivors at the end of this as currently described; I think the sort of self-starter that you need is more likely than the average permie, let alone the average person, to be engaged with something already, unless they're just starting out or freshly divorced, etc. I'm sure you can find a dozen people able to thrive, I just wonder if you can find them all this year.

The Salatin setup, where some interns then create their own projects, 'harvests' these people over a longer time period.

Rather than throwing more and more incentives in an attempt to get bodies for this program NOW, what about making it a multi-year thing?

Judge people at a set point in fall, max 500 days(or whatever) after they started. If only 3 have survived to that point in year 1, you film your 'grading' of each one, they can pay to stay on another year, and the next fall maybe enough additional people have finished to allow the prize to be awarded.

If people don't choose to stay, they're out.

Points awarded for community building would maybe need to be adjusted upwards to reflect the lowered importance of having 6 bodies there on the first judging day.


3) Reading that back, I'm not that thrilled with my plan above. But I really think that a longer timeframe to get the right people, as opposed to adding more incentives, is worth consideration. Anyone have a better framework suggestion?
 
John Wolfram
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paul wheaton wrote:
John Wolfram wrote:It dawned on me that your gappers/ants in many ways are quite similar to Joel Salatin's interns/fiefdoms. Since Salatin populates his fiefdoms with former interns, have you reached out to former gappers as a source for ants?

I would assume that former gappers would get the dailyish email.

True, but I would also assume that the gappers you don't want to come back as ants are getting those emails as well. Individually reaching out to people lets you recruit the ones you actually want.
 
paul wheaton
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Yup, the ant and the grasshopper.

I think the promise of permaculture is that rather than being ant all year long, year after year after year, you can be more of an ant the first year and more of a grasshopper the following years. A system where you can give a gift to your future self.

Another aspect to this project is the idea that to many people, doing this stuff looks pretty easy from the sidelines. And I think it can be. But when you start to build, people might find that the hammock calls to them and by the time winter rolls around .... well, it turns out that there was a bit of self discovery that you are more of a grasshopper than an ant.

Everybody is different. Some people will work extremely hard and very little will come of it. Other people will do very little physical work, but accomplish great things. Some people will create a large space, others will create a small space. Some people will create a small space that is a work of art fashioned after living on boats that will end up more appealing than the larger spaces.

These differences are such critically important ingredients. When you have 12 ants working on 12 shelters and 12 food systems, I think that each ant will see what the other 11 are doing and harvest ideas. And then all 12 ants may be able to double their overall forward velocity.

Of all of the experiments I have ever done, I think that this will be the most powerful experiment of all time. I think that this could be the foundation for moving permaculture forward.
 
evan l pierce
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Attached are some pictures of a sketchup I made of a vision of what I might do with my ant acre.

Note that the ant hole is aligned with the hill, in this case, a western-facing hill, and the three uphill drainage ditches redirect water away and around the ant hole into some highly optimistic ponds downhill. While the ant hole will have windows facing out to the uphill (east) and downhill (west), the north and south sides will be bermed. The berms can be excavated to integrate a small root cellar (north) and oehler greenhouse (south) respectively.

(edit: perhaps this post could be more appropriately placed elsewhere, I'm not sure, but I just thought I would share some of the enthusiasm I'm feeling about my coming ant adventure)
ant-hole-post-and-beam.png
[Thumbnail for ant-hole-post-and-beam.png]
8 ft x 6 ft interior with 4 ft overhangs to the east and west
ant-hole.png
[Thumbnail for ant-hole.png]
the dry earth layer is sculpted to turn the flat roof into a gable
ant-acre.png
[Thumbnail for ant-acre.png]
bordering allied ant neighbors to the north and south, and tall hugelfences to the east and west
 
Su Ba
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I see this as not only a great experiment and learning opportunity, but a good opportunity for the pioneer wannabe types. A person could plunge into the whole idea without having the financial risk of purchasing a hunk of land and building a home, while also having a support community to help them out. I hear lots of wannabes saying "If only I could afford the land I'd ......." Well here's the chance to try and see if it's worth spending years saving money to buy that dream land. A wannabe could find out quickly if this is truly the life they wish to embrace.

Where I live many people have bought raw land, then with commitment, hard labor, and a scramble for the needed knowledge, have built homes and created little farms. These farms are anywhere from one to 20 acres, on the whole. A few people were successful and still live here. The vast majority found out that their fantasy dreams were nothing like real life. The lucky ones quickly sold, moved away, and didn't lose all their money. But most went bankrupt, losing everything and either losing the land to the bank or selling it at a significant loss. If those people had been able to be one of Paul's ants for a year, they would have discovered that the lifestyle wasn't for them long before they had lost all their money.

People have told me I would have been a great pioneer woman. 12 years ago I took a piece of land, changed into a homestead farm, built a home. I had little previous knowledge and experience. I risked it all. Looking back, starting out by renting a small acre and doing my learning there for a year or two might have been smarter. But being that I was too hardheaded to quit, I didn't fail. Surviving the rough life in the beginning, I appreciate everything that I now have.

If I were young and unmarried, this is the type of opportunity I'd be looking for. Something where my investment was minimal, a support group was already in place, where I could work hard, glean knowledge, learn from others' experiences, and see if this was the lifestyle I really wanted. Heck, I could always walk away at anytime. But if I loved it, I could stay for a few years honing my skills and learning.

I'm curious to see if Paul can find 12 pioneers. Or has the "bloodline" died out? I'm far more interested and seeing how the ants progress. I will be avidly following their stories.
 
paul wheaton
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Evan is here and has started.

Evan has been posting lots of pictures of his efforts and I know that hundreds of people are grooving on those pictures. And I know those people want more pictures and more of this sort of thing. More, more, more! And people are itching to see this program become MORE.

Evan asked me how to get more ants here and my first response was to post lots of pictures. I think that might be part of the reason Evan is posting so much.

Then Evan and I sat down for about half an hour and brainstormed more ways to get more ants started. As a result, I did add candy to the list (tractor, votswagon and log arch). I made it clear that there are more building materials available than just what is on the acre.

I like the suggestion above about making a youtube video.

We are going to try to get more pictures up of the available acres plus the ant/gapper tool library.

Here are some ideas I have. Mostly I am posting these in a feeble attempt to coax even better ideas out of you all:

444) Get a whole lot of people that are reading this to proclaim that they will be here on certain dates, as gappers, to help the ants

445) Arrange for some people with declared skills to publicly announce that they will be coming out for a week or two to help the ants and, as a side effect, guide any gappers that happen to be here. I know that we have somebody coming that has skills in dry stack. And another person that has skills with art in permaculture. Maybe I could arrange for some natural builders to come by for a week or two. Ernie and Erica?

446) Somebody arranges a workshop on an ant plot - that could bring in the other ants, plus experts, plus gappers.

447) Is it possible that somebody wants to come out and put the magic touch on wofati 0.7 so that it is an amazing showpiece for ant/gapper village/library? Make the whole thing seem more like a home rather than a basic shelter. We could currently use some mattresses and bedding.

44 I have paid a lot of money to have water here this summer. In the meantime, there are probably four other water projects that could be started. They are all a matter of time, materials, work, etc. But it does seem that getting water here will be a big boost.

449) I wonder if it helps if I say: 200 yards from ant village is a campsite that is on timber company land. People are allowed to camp there. They can bring dogs, tobacco and pot all they want.

450) I'm not sure if I have made this clear yet: Evan says that he will feed any gappers that are super industrious working on his stuff (but he warns that his fare is pretty basic stuff). Taylor (a deep roots guy) is currently here and building his stuff and says that he would be willing to feed hard working gappers and maybe even pay folks.

451) Maybe there is somebody that is super interested in being an ant - but something of an ant-from-afar. And they would hire somebody to come out, take lots of pictures and build lots of things. Then that person might then choose to do interesting things with their plot afterwards. Or, come and live here later?

452) Maybe some of the "ant lovers" will offer tools/toys/etc. for Evan plus future ants. Or maybe they can pledge something for the candy list - so then they only pony up something if an ant desires it more than the other offered candy. Maybe and "ant lover" can offer a "proenneke package" that includes eight excellent hand tools. ?? Fencing materials coupon? Seed pack?


So - anybody have some more brainstorming ideas?

 
Lee Daniels
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paul wheaton wrote:
450) I'm not sure if I have made this clear yet: Evan says that he will feed any gappers that are super industrious working on his stuff (but he warns that his fare is pretty basic stuff). Taylor (a deep roots guy) is currently here and building his stuff and says that he would be willing to feed hard working gappers and maybe even pay folks.


From a potential gappers view, For those of us that will be bringing groceries, Can you post info about the available cooking sources and equipment? I'm very interested in helping out.

Once I get stuff together to officially "proclaim", I will be starting a post asking for menu assistance. A 7 day Wheaton Lab approved Super Week Gapper menu. Food I will buy at the store in Missoula or that is available to buy at the Lab.
 
Brian Brown
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I will be bringing some proenneke package tools back with me on Monday when I return along with some hand made ones. Might take an hour or two in the evenings to have a small class on their uses. I have some really nice bass wood that would make several cups and bowl that I will also bring. I will have some down time after dark that might be put to use teaching a few primitive skills that I imagine will come in handy.
 
paul wheaton
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Lee,

Wofati 0.7 has a propane stove and, currently, several outdoor rocket stoves. Plus one propane oven. There are several cast iron pans and kettles.

 
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