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45 Low Tech Bricks to Build a Better World
Recorded Webinar with Paul Wheaton

In this recorded presentation and discussion, Paul covered 45 Low Tech Things - an extension of and update to his famous 72 Bricks to Build a Better World keynote from Permaculture Voices.

Listen to participants grill the Duke about Rocket Mass Heaters, other Rocket Devices, Natural Building, Permaculture Earthworks, Solar Food Dehydrator, Responsible Animal Management, and much more.

Rocket Cooktop
Rocket Oven
Rocket Kiln
Lorena Rocket Cooktop
Rocket Water Heater
Oehler Structure
Passive Greenhouse
Humus Well
Mulch Pit
Willow Feeder
Dry Outhouse
Never Buy Chicken Feed Again
Solar Food Dehydrator
Cool Box
Stealth Pond
Natural Swimming Pool
Paddock-Shift Systems
Mycelium Insulation
Sealing a Pond without a Liner
Junk Pole Fence
SKIP: a Framework to Connect Industrious People with Elderly Land Owners
Bone Sauce
Cleaners You Can Eat
Dry Stack
Berm Shed
Roundwood Timber Framing
Adobe - Cob
Slip Straw
STUN - Sheer Total Utter Neglect
Landrace Gardening
Skiddable Structures
Wavy Deer Fence
Starting Trees from Seeds
Hay Box Cooker

Duration: 1hr47min
Format: HD Streaming


Recorded Webinar with Paul Wheaton - 45 Low Tech Bricks to Build a Better World
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Paul mentioned Gert in his recent 45 low tech bricks live webinar (which was fantastic BTW). I believe the context was a question about why people don't want to be Gert (https://permies.com/t/gert). That got me thinking that the reason Gert seems strange to many is because it requires a paradigm shift about what wealth is and how to "weight" different forms of wealth.

Most simply trade their time/effort at a workie job for cash. So to most, wealth is cash. But Gert gets that wealth has more dimensions. I'd agree with Dr. Chris Martenson (Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting) that there are 8 forms of capitol: living, financial, material, social, spiritual, intellectual, experiential, and cultural. What makes Gert different is that she sees wealth across more/different dimensions and rank orders them differently.

People hate chaos. Usually takes "uncomfortable wrongness" to force us to change. That adjustment reaction under uncertainty drove a bump in permaculture interest during Covid. As we return to "normal" that bump is beginning to flatten. People are returning to old paradigms. I've heard folks at permies talk about that "bump" and ask what to do about it. https://permies.com/wiki/237906/Podcast-Year-Thought-Experiment

Here's what I propose.

First, recognize that the "green" message will only reach so far. Given the number of years and large amount of resources spent branding and rebranding climate alarmism in the last decades, whatever crowd was going to be reached by that message has been saturated.

Second, realize that it takes a paradigm shift to how we understand wealth. That shift will come with some combination of "push" and "pull." The push could include climate conversations but more likely will include different messaging. For example, permaculture offers some pretty fantastic promise; of resilience against uncertainty, to need less cash and have more time, to restore the "salt of life" to a bland culture, to offer communities to profoundly lonely people... If we get the messaging of permaculture right, if we tug the right threads, we can show already "hungry" people that permaculture "tastes" good.

And lots of good work has been done here. Paul's work on permaculture Thorns is a fantastic exploration of communities. Many permaculture videos tap into a richness to life that I found personally compelling. In a very uncertain world, entire communities have been created around resilience.

Permies as a site is already helping people transition their thinking. It has is allowed people to meet in that adjustment reaction journey. Every post, every piece of knowledge, every time we hear of other people valuing different forms of wealth and weighting them differently; that nudges us down that path. Paul talks about levels of crazy. Well, we're all being slowly "ratcheted" down permaculture crazy: but it takes time. That's key. That transition into thinking differently and then living differently takes many years. Partly because the reaction itself takes time. Partly because there is a learning curve to every subject where permaculture can be applied.

My wife and I bought land, convinced both sets of parents to by land next door (the grandkids helped) and slowly, they're shifting paradigms. It's been a 4 year journey turning those battleships. I'm now finding myself envying folks from different time periods, even the ones without decent plumbing and electricity. Their lives were their own, all their labor was theirs, they were resilient, and they have more salt in life... Is convenience really a good metric? "Convenience" at what cost?

I'd encourage the folks running permies, the folks at Wheaton Labs; be encouraged. You've set out on a long game and it's working. For those of us that "get it" it's dead obvious that Gert is incredibly more wealthy (and healthy) than Joe Stockbroker.

If you want to reach more folks about living better, remember why people want to be Joe Stockbroker in the first place. They value the security, status, the optics of having money, cars, comfort... But this generation knows that's a lie. They've been lied to that social security will be there for them. Pensions are a joke. Food is fake. People are sick. Life is bland. They are lonely. Unfulfilled. Dependent. Vulnerable. And in many aspects, poor.

Permaculture isn't everything, but when we expand how we understand wealth and our rank ordering of its forms, permaculture steps forward to show what that life can look like. I think that's compelling. What does that mean?

  • More focus on regional and local communities. Help folks organize RMH jamborees in their areas, in their homes.
  • Consider creating a certifying body so folks can contract with them to build things they don't feel confident to build (and to give credibility to regulators...)
  • Less focus on permaculture experts, more focus on the transferable knowledge they provide.
  • Less focus on convincing data-oriented folks with metrics; more focus on compelling stories (e.g., day in the life of a RMH...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZYqtsH-0Cw).
  • Less focus on perfect implementations and ideal solutions. More focus on the continuum and natural progression: encourage folks to take the next step.
  • Less focus on stuff just at the lab; more focus on collaborating with communities that have overlap: bitcoiners, Peak Prosperity, Neil McCoy Ward, (for example).

  • Does that make business sense? Good question. I could see how doing less at the lab (etc) could seem risky. But what if you had a smaller piece of a way bigger pie... with your fingers into other pies... In the end, I think that's more pie. And we all know how much Paul likes pie...

    Paul is asking the question everyone asks about work that is meaningful to them: essentially, will the work go on without him (https://permies.com/wiki/237906/Podcast-Year-Thought-Experiment). If "the work" is a compelling ethos and not a collection of solutions, then I think the answer is "yes." Paul has done a fantastic job of giving the world "bricks." The mortar is story. It's connecting those bricks to people in ways that are compelling. (My analogy only works if we ignore dry stacking for a moment.) Something about Paul is compelling. He pulled us in and together asking "what's possible?" and "can we make this better?" But we've got pretty good answers to these questions now.

    The question that remains: are these bricks compelling? I think it is compelling, if we give people more "handles" to grab; handles that move them. I think that's the move. That's how the wave continues to build. That's how Paul can "exit" and see the momentum continue forward. I think the move is to change minds about wealth and time preference by showing them what life can look like and that it's being done by people just like them. Permies is doing that. I'd say, double down in that direction.
    You'll find me in my office. I'll probably be drinking. And reading this tiny ad.
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