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Shawn Klassen-Koop

gardener & author
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since Dec 16, 2014
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Shawn spent the most formative years of his life working at a summer camp where he quickly gained a passion for nature and for building a better world. Struggling to see how his future career in computer engineering was going to solve these big problems, he decided to leave it behind and dedicate himself to finding practical solutions that people can implement in their backyards. Shawn looks forward to starting his own homestead in southern Manitoba in the next few years, where he plans to implement many of the techniques laid out in his upcoming book and come up with a few more solutions along the way.
Manitoba, Canada
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Recent posts by Shawn Klassen-Koop

At one job I had we were having issues with important messages being filtered out as spam, sometimes not even going into our spam folders. I had a conversation with the IT guy who is REALLY good at his job. He told me that if there were zero spam filters anywhere along the way, I would receive something like 3000 spam emails for every email I actually wanted to receive. Ever since then I've had a different level of appreciation for spam filters, even though there are obviously still some issues.

Nick Neufeld wrote:Hi Shawn,
Did you install a rain cistern? I'm planning an off-grid cabin in Manitoba and would like to hear about your project and how it's working out. I'm hoping to use only rain and snow for domestic use. Not planning on digging a well.
Thanks,
Nick



Hi Nick, glad to hear of another Manitoban looking at these things. Unfortunately my project had to be put on indefinite hold due to health issues so I can't share any success stories or lessons learned, but I can share a bit about what I thought of over the past few years.

One thing to mention (mostly for non-Manitobans) is that in Manitoba most houses have a basement. Since our frost line can be 6-8 feet deep, if you're digging a conventional footing and doing 100% conventional building, continuing to dig out the basement and finish the space is the cheapest $/s.f. you can build. And it is better for heating than adding another story since the ground might be around 0 degrees C while the outside air might be -30 degrees C. So if you're digging a basement, one option could be to put some sort of cistern in the basement space since you are already excavating it. But then you're also giving up inside space which is usually at a premium. In my opinion, the only other option I would consider for storage in Manitoba is burying a concrete cistern. I hate to use the concrete, but you can't bury a metal tank and the plastic ones can't handle the hydraulic pressure of ground moisture very well if the tank is ever empty. Obviously though this depends a lot on the specific site and how the water levels are.

I think there are a few different strategies one could consider in MB:

1. Get enough tanks so that you collect enough water when it's warm to last you through the winter. Of course, if there's a dry year this is a challenge. But that's a problem with relying on rainwater anyway.
2. Figure out a way to collect moisture from snow during the winter so you need less tanks to store water. I think it's possible but I don't think it's very efficient. I have yet to come up with a strategy that I think would meet my criteria on this front.

Obviously this all depends on what sort of water needs you have. If you're going for a conventional home water usage, then you're going to need a lot more water than if you're going for something more frugal.

Something else to consider: We were originally planning on building a home with a roughly 900 s.f. footprint. But then we started talking about building a much smaller house - 240 s.f.. So as we were planning the much smaller house, we started to think that 240 s.f. is not a lot of roof catchment. And even with frugal usage, it might not always be enough. Maybe one day we'd get a shop built and collect rain from there too, but regardless, for nearly all situations, I think it is very good to have a backup plan.

One backup plan is to just dig a well and have that available if you need it. But that's costly. And, like I said above, where I was planning to build has a very high water table and I was concerned about toxins entering the water supply from nearby conventional agriculture. Of course a prudent step would be to test and see.

The other option is to haul in water from the municipal system. It's not the most sustainable strategy, but depending on your situation may function as an acceptable backup in case you don't get enough rainwater stored up.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. Best of luck with your project.
4 months ago

Bruce Katlin wrote:Paul: Have you looked into Smashwords?



I have been using one of their competitors, Draft2Digital, which distributes to almost all of the same platforms.
6 months ago

Gorbusch Home wrote:The paperbook is currently Not available at Amazon.de



I have now sorted through a messy situation. It should be up within 72 hours.

Gorbusch Home wrote:The paperbook is currently Not available at Amazon.de
I will Check Others source and otherweise go for the eBook First.



If you place an order at buildingabetterworldbook.com, I can get a paper copy to you.

If anyone outside the US wants to sort out some sort of bulk purchase, contact me on my website and we can have a conversation to try and sort out something that works for both of us.

If you're in the US, please buy from Paul through permies. I'm not coming here to try and scoop up his sales. I just know the international stuff is tricky for him and I can help with that.

Thanks again to everyone who has been so supportive of this book!

paul wheaton wrote:I think I need somebody to teach me how to use youtube like zoom.  Is there a way to tie zoom into youtube?



https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360028478292-Streaming-a-Meeting-or-Webinar-on-YouTube-Live

Looks like not on Linux.
10 months ago
I have not tried myself, but I've heard that Bluestacks is pretty good.
1 year ago
Episode 26: Where Do We Go From Here?



This podcast series has been all about providing ideas and solutions for building a better world in your backyard instead of being angry at bad guys. This episode, the last episode of this podcast series, talks about where to go from here, how to decide what to do first, and how to spread the word so that together we can make a huge impact in solving the world's problems.

To learn more about the book, visit buildingabetterworldbook.com.
1 year ago
Episode 25: Strategies for Early Retirement



There are many paths to retirement. Some are more extreme than others. This episode explores strategies for acquiring a home without a mortgage, retiring early, and much more. The culmination is "The BEER Plan", which people might like for mysterious, subliminal reasons.

To see more info about the book, visit buildingabetterworldbook.com.
1 year ago
Episode 24: A Millionaire Life Without a Million Dollars



Most people spend their lives working at a job trying to get ahead, but there is another way. This episode shares the fictional story of two people and their life journeys that take radically different paths. One finds that they are living the life of a millionaire... without having a million dollars.

More about the book can be found at buildingabetterworldbook.com.
1 year ago