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Packet #3:

reading ::

Sacred EcologyGuinea Pig B: The 56 Year Experiment -
R. Buckminster Fuller

:: excerpts I found interesting:

...Therefore the fact that we are designed to be born naked, helpless and ignorant is, I feel, a very important matter. We must pay attention to that. We are also designed to be very hungry and to be continually rehungered and rethirsted and multiplyingly curious. Therefore we are quite clearly designed to be inexorably driven to learn only by trial and error how to get on in life. As a consequence of the design, we have had to make an incredible number of mistakes, that being the only way we can find out "what's what" and a little bit about "why," and an even more meager bit regarding "how" we can take advantage of what we have learned from our mistakes."

This observation struck me as just utterly profound.

...Humanity, which yesterday was remotely deployed by evolution, is now being deliberatly integrated to make us all very intimate with one another and probably ultimately to crossbreed us back into one physically similar human family.;

But I think this is happening without deliberate intention. Somehow it's just happening naturally. Good, it should help eliminate some prejeduces and foster tolerance.

...We are at a human examination point at which it is critically necessary for each of us individually to have some self-discovered, logically reasonable, experience-engendered idea of how and why we are here on this little planet in this star system and galaxy, amongst the billions of approximately equally star-populated galaxies of Universe. I assume it is because human minds were designed with the capability to discover from time to time the only-mathematically-stateable principles governing the eternal interrrelationships existing between various extraordinary phenomena—a capability possessed by no known phenomenon other than humans.

This was a quick read and an interesting introduction to Buckminster Fuller. I had heard of him back in college but not to the extent I am about to dive into with him.

A brief bio of "Bucky":

Richard Buckminster Fuller, the innovative thinker, engineer, and inventor, was born July 12, 1895 in Milton, Mass. Despite early failures and tragedies, including his being expelled from Harvard University twice and the death of his four-year-old daughter, Fuller went on to achieve many successes. He is best known for inventing the geodesic dome; his design has been used in structures all over the world. Besides Harvard, Fuller also attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and was a professor at Southern Illinois University. He is the author of "Synergetics: Explanations in the Geometry of Thinkin"g, a book that discusses the utopic role technology will play in the future, and many other books.

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reading ::Sacred EcologyStories of the Great Turning -
various contributors, edited by Peter Reason & Melanie Newman



:: I've just started this book. It is filled with stories by people who could be telling my story.


good-daylily-motifart making: Field Design 2

Second in this series.


:: The elements:

The Daylily is influenced by Dard Hunter's rose he designed for the Roycrofters. It is also known as the Roycrofter rose.


dard hunter roseFrom images I took of flora around my place I generated several motifs for field design candidates.

This daylily is what I settled on. This time of summer you will find these everywhere. Intentionally planted in yards and growing wild alongside the roads and highways.

I used the word GOOD: (defined)
:: Adjective–

  1. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.
  2. satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health.
  3. of high quality; excellent.
  4. right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here.
    His credentials are good.
  5. well-behaved: a good child.

:: Noun–

  1. profit or advantage; worth; benefit: What good will that do? We shall work for the common good.
  2. excellence or merit; kindness: to do good.
  3. moral righteousness; virtue: to be a power for good.
field lilyI chose this word to complement my daylily motif as the second in a series of characteristics I now try to incorporate in my way of living. With GOOD, I connect with “good teacher,” I’m continuing to build my “good credentials” by completing my MFA in Graphic Design, and I most definitely wish “to be a power for good.”

I no longer want to be part of an industry that pushes products for the sake of propagating consumerism. Our landfills are piled high with stuff we never really needed or isn’t built to last. I want to work with people who are as consciously aware of these dilemmas and are working to make change—for example, building to suit/not building one-size-fits-all, building to last and with materials that we recognize and can be replenished (that counts out petroleum-based plastics), making things that can have multiple uses, making what REALLY serves us.

While I wait for the grass to grow, and an upcoming flight to take aerial shots of this field design, I work on another flyer...


the conversation continues:

:: My 5 initial flyers have disappeared. I will take that to mean some people were curious and wanted to know what was going on. Nothing had happened the first couple of weeks, then I was too afraid to look in it again, fearing they'd still be in there. But, no, and that makes me happy. The dialog has started. I hope some of them start to talk back. That flyer is also attached to the packet just prior to this one.

New field design, progress on the cistern/pergola, time for a new flyer. This one would describe the elements of the design and offer some of the details of the cistern/pergola project.

You can download your own copy of the flyer by clicking on the image below:

GOOD flyer


take one box

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researching traditional peoples:

:: an interview with Amish Jake—Friday, June 21, 2013

In the town of Jamesport, Missouri, I had the pleasure of interviewing an Amish gentleman named Jake Graber who was sitting on a bench chatting with locals in this quaint town. He graciously answered the following questions:

ME: What words would you use to describe your way of living?

JAKE: Simple, natural, intentional separation, scriptural connection (not to follow the world/worldly things)

ME: Do you:
build from raw materials?—Yes
...what__They mill a lot of their own lumber, depending on the type of material needed for a project, they might need to go to Lowe’s for pressure treated wood.

ME: Do you use electricity?


ME: Do you and how do you power the following:
___lights– propane
___refrigeration– propane (I never knew this was possible)
___heating– wood
___cooling– n/a (the spend most of their time in the basement during the warm days and open the “cave” door
(to the cellar) to let in cool air

___laundry–a Maytag ringer washer that’s powered by compressed air and gasoline motors
___cooking– propane
___other (power tools) – gasoline generators and air compressors

ME: If you use light bulbs, do you use the new energy efficient bulbs (CFL, LED,...)?

JAKE: LED lights are on the buggy, hooked up to a 12volt battery

ME: Have you incorporated any other modern energy creating or conserving technologies? (solar, wind, hydro, energy star appliances,...)

JAKE: No, we keep our life as simple as possible.

ME: Is your living practice driven by love for nature/or God’s creation, or just by religious guidelines? Or are the two connected? If so, how?

JAKE: It’s a combination of both.

ME: Are you aware of the growing concerns for global warming and ecological decline?

JAKE: Yes. The solution is you gotta work together. The water pollution is causing cancer. The farmers who spray pesticides are polluting the water. Easier farming does harm. Folks have to let things go their full cycle. It’s not natural to have things grow faster.

ME: Do you have any feelings about global use of resources (water, fossil fuels, soil erosion, minerals, ...) ?
Do you have advice to share?

JAKE: It’s better to use what’s natural, like sun and wind than fossil fuels.

ME: What is your observation of the overall consumption of non-Amish folks? How does it compare to that of your community members? Again, do you have advice to offer?

JAKE: We raise most of our own goods. Keep it efficient. Keep buying to just the essentials.

ME: Have you had commercially canned or processed foods? How would you compare them to what your family and community produce?

JAKE: Very little. I can count on one hand how many TV dinners I’ve eaten in my life. I’ve eaten fast food. I would get tired of that taste very quickly.

ME: How does the process of growing/gathering and preparing your food impact the quality compared to commercially processed foods?

JAKE: I’d rather sit and eat a restaurant meal. It comes from your upbringing. Everyone today wants everything the way the want it right now. We don’t go to bed ‘til the hay is put up. We don’t eat until the job is done.

ME: Have you heard about genetically modified foods? What are your thoughts on those?

JAKE: I’ve heard a little about them and the hormones they’re putting in food. If I knew it were in it I might shy away from it. I’d be reluctant to order it if it were at auction. That stuff just ends up hurting somebody down the line.

ME: Do you have any questions for me?

JAKE: No. I just hope I was able to help you out with your paper.
You know, we can’t go back to the old style of living. Nobody wants to work. They have no patience. I see them circle around the parking lot at Walmart looking for that perfect close spot to park when there’s a perfectly good spot a little farther out with no trouble to get to, but they don’t want to walk the extra. Not everything will go your way. Life is not designed to be without strife. You just have to take it in stride. If something doesn’t work out as planned, you look at it again and figure out something different.

ME: Jake, thank you for your generosity and your time.

JAKE: I just hope I was able to help you out with your paper. It’s time for me to move on now.


:: Graber Family Farm Tour

Graber family farm

Actually, I didn’t know Jake’s last name until we toured the Graber farm later that afternoon. They have 65 acres and on it are a store to sell their hand-built goods, a chicken coop, fenced pastures with six horses, a barn that has stables and garage space for the extra buggies, cats and kittens, a workshop where a son was preparing lumber for a pergola (although his pronunciation of it was a bit different) job in another town, the house with a very large deck (which acted more as shade underneath leading to their basement), and a precarious phone booth in the middle of it all. They use the phone for emergencies and resides in what looks like a very clean, white, out house. There’s a little bar stool inside to sit on. I guess you might want to sit if you were having a crisis and needed to explain the emergency details to 911.

We walked into every building. I got to sit up in the buggy while Mom took a cheesy tourist photo of me. The last stop of the tour was inside their house. Well, just the basement of the house. The temperature was indeed better inside there than outside (94°), but I would still have trouble sleeping in it myself. She showed us her laundry setup: a Maytag ringer washer (like Jake described). But, she put the wet clothes in a standard washing machine, powered by an air compressor, on Spin cycle to finish draining the water from them. There was a tub of gray water where she had washed a load earlier. She had no qualms about the public seeing her underwear drying on a circular, multi-runged, rack hanging from the underside of the deck outside her door. Gives new meaning to “airing your dirty laundry.” I had to look twice to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. We were introduced to the clothing they wear to church and she pointed out her treadle sewing machine. She was also wearing a partially complete new dress she had been sewing. It was held together mostly by straight pins. It especially caught my attention when I saw them down the front of her dress where buttons will soon be going. Ouch.

In the shop she showed us the school desks where the children were taught. My brilliant mother asked where the teachers came from and if they were formally trained. Apparently they come from the community and teach only their ways and concepts without formal external training. I had found in my research that they only go to 8th grade. Now I was wondering how they measured that since they were teaching their own content.

Jamesport, MO

I wish I had asked her name. I was reluctant to pry too far into these people’s lives as they did not want you taking their pictures and some of them prefer not to talk to non-Amish people at all. In this town, they were pretty friendly—openly waiving and smiling. I suspect they relied a lot on tourism. But, I’ll continue the recounting of the day, referring to “her” with no name or as Mrs. Graber. Our tour guide turned out to be the wife of Jake, although she did not admit that until my mother pressed her on the name connection just before we left. But she, too, was very generous with information and sharing the lifestyle of her Amish family. In a final observation of my mother’s, as she asked if there was a family connection to the Jake Graber in town that we’d spoken to, which was confirmed, she then followed up with, “how did he get into town (which was a few miles away)? Did he take a buggy?” “No,” replied our tour guide. “I’m not sure how he got there or how’s getting home.” I fear we may have gotten Jake in trouble with the Mrs. on that one.

All in all, it was a good, informative day. Good conversation, good food, good shopping.

Amish boy

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making/repurposing: Cistern Revival (part II)

:: drawings to guide me in building the pergola support for the water run-off to the cistern:

pergola drawings1

(click either image for larger view)

pergola plans 2

...it all starts with a good foundation...

footings dug footing poured

post footed

No big workbench, saw horses at Mom's house, oh well, tailgate works just fine...
cutting the slots for the support boards (2"x6"x10') — braced between the two 4x4 posts. Notice the pin holes in the bottoms. They sit on bolts in the footing mount to stabilize them.

tailgate work

I cut all the boards ahead of assembly. This can be scary as pieces may not fit exactly as planned. I had to go back and widen these slots because I used non-treated samples to test them with. When it came time to fit the real boards... too tight.

pergola cornerWith the help of my cousin and mother, we got the cross boards put up and secured with screws. I used 1x2s for finishing decoration and alignment.

Next, I had to re-route the downspouts from the garage guttering to the middle of the pergola and over and down to the cistern.

The guys at Home Depot were very helpful in offering materials ideas to solve my problem. Here's what I did...

downspout mergeer

vertical run

Here's the hand pump I built to pull water from the cistern and out to my garden beds.

hand pump

And here are the plans I drew up for that:
(click on it to see larger view)

hand pump plans

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identity crisis—a name for "my island"

:: I shall call it "Painted Rock"
This didn't just come to me. I've been thinking about it for a long time. Several years ago my neighbors up the road put a rock at the corner of their property with "Whispering Oaks" on it. That is what they had named their little farm. I remembered a professor from undergrad who named his property "Toad Ranch." There are others out my way who have named their farms. Mine needed a name, and I thought, "Painted Rock."

I love to paint, my house sits on a big rock (bedrock). It fits. It also fits with the notion of "my island"—rock, island...well, I see it.

So the search for the perfect brand begins. I did a design brief, font studies, a mood board (which I will keep working on), I researched other individuals and small groups that are doing what I'm doing and thinking what I'm thinking.

painted rock logoHere's what I have so far for a logo. It's still under construction.


And here's part of my design brief:

A Process Designed

Painted Rock is my space. It has also been referred to as my “island.” It is my 4.82 acres of land (on bedrock), trees, house, garage, pasture, and all the other elements I’ve brought to it. I have occupied this space for 12 years with the intention of living closer to natural systems, simplifying my life, and living with more intention and awareness of my impact on my space and beyond.
The story-telling and design presence for Painted Rock will begin with a website (followed by other collateral pieces as needed) to share my process and applicable information, and share my thoughts regarding this intentional living process. Its look and feel will reflect the essence of nature, contemporary structure, combined digital and traditional media, with a tinge of historical flavor that tells the audience I also connect the future of Painted Rock to the grounded purposes and aesthetics of the past.

There are many individuals, communities, and organizations that offer their stories, insights, and helpful hints, along with some activism elements. Mine compares more with the individuals/families who share my intentions and have acted within their own spaces to make ecological and spiritual change.
Many of the websites I’ve researched are under-designed. I’m sure that is not a concern for them. I also suppose that their target audience is not concerned with design aesthetic either. There are some sites that have stronger visual appeal. All content is similar depending on what the individuals, community, or organization is doing and offers to viewers.

::Target Audience
As a designer/artist, I believe I can communicate with those who have shared interests but have been turned off by the crudeness of the designs found in many of these other sites. I no longer feel the need to shout it from the rooftops and force my thoughts onto others, but I’m not content with the “build it and they will come” approach either. I wish to connect with my local community (immediate neighborhood) outward to greater Kansas City to those who might find conviction within themselves to act by observing another “neighbor” who took initiative and wanted to share the experience and that it IS possible and do-able.

I’m not competing. I’m joining forces except with my own battalion (albeit a small one).


This will be the branding for "my island." I came up with a different logo for my design business and it was in the first packet this semester.

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Upcoming tours/visits:

:: Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
Saturday, July 13, 2013
As part of my researching peoples living close to the land and resource consciously, I'll be visiting their community, touring, and asking a lot of questions. Check out their website:

:: Red Earth Farms
Same day, I'll swing over to Red Earth Farms where they are doing much of the same. Here's their website: www.redearthfarms.org/

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