Roman Ruins?

No. Detroit. This is a scintillating panoramic photographic expose’ of what has become of the “Venice” of America. One good thing: nature takes over. Check this out…

Imagining Detroit by Mark Bittman

An excellent article from the NY Times on Detroit. What’s happening there is applicable elsewhere. As folks become more aware of where their food comes from, and better yet, how to grow it, in our devastated cities, there will be massive change around the issues of our basic necessities.

Learning from Detroit

Seeding Small Business: 5 Ideas from Detroit:
Detroit entrepreneurs are learning to rely on each other, finding the seeds of a new economy in resources discarded by corporate America.
by Stacy Mitchell

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to spend a day in Detroit meeting with local entrepreneurs and sharing ideas for spurring small business development.

Detroit is an enormously challenged city. It is the poorest big city in the U. S. Nearly one in three workers is unemployed. The city’s population has shrunk to a mere 40 percent of what it once was. Vacant houses and empty lots comprise large portions of Detroit’s land area…”

In Praise of Dumpster Diving

Following on the heals of my last post maybe we could find some use for what has fallen to the ground and hangs by a thread from the crashing buildings in a place like Detroit, or for that matter, on every street corner and in every dumpster in America, eh? Check your trash. What are we throwing “away”? Use what resources are available in the immediate environment…

“Letter Re: In Praise of Productive Dumpster Diving
By James Wesley, Rawles on December 7, 2010 9:04 PM
Ever since I was a young’n, it has been hard for me to pass a dumpster or trash heap without investigating it. I quickly learned that folks throw out a lot of good stuff, thinking it is worthless (someone said “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”); e.g. I’ve found appliances which only need a new electrical plug! Nowadays, the same habit has greatly enhanced my prepping inventory, and best of all, it’s free, leaving more of my tight budget to buy store-bought items. If you collect more things than you can use, the extras can be bartered, sold, or given/lent.

I’ll start with some common-sense cautions:

1) Avoid climbing on or in dumpsters. No sense getting injured, even before the SHTF. Or, you can get trapped inside a high-walled one. If you have to, carry two ladders with you. Also, it’s common to meet up with nasty critters inside.

2) Unless you’re starving, stay away from food garbage dumpsters. Although, I must admit, I’ve gotten perfectly good food items from behind grocery stores which were discarded on the sell-by date.

3) Watch for nails and other “sharps”. Wear gloves.

4) To be safe (legal), seek permission beforehand. In my experience, checking with the site guys always resulted in a friendly “sure, go ahead!”

5) Do not touch the charity bins, such as those owned by Goodwill.

I’ve personally gotten my best finds from construction sites. Obviously, there’s mostly wood, but hey, I’m a woodchuck anyway, and have made many projects out of scrap lumber. Also a good source for kindling. I’ve found plenty of other goodies, though: tools which only needed a new handle (often you can find a tool with the handle bad and another one with the steel part bad, and swap the parts). The best thing I’ve been getting lately by far is scrap copper, as #2 (not shiny) is fetching $2.80/lb.

You’d be surprised at the number of short lengths crews throw out. Plastic buckets are very common, as are pallets (both have multiple uses) Some of the best troves can be found when a company is going out of business (nowadays, imagine that!). It just isn’t worth their time to try and sell a lot of their office and shop stuff. Good furniture, filing cabinets, pads of paper, buckets of nuts and bolts, cleaning supplies, etc.

Obviously, you’re going to have to do a bit of investigating in order to find the best dumpsters. Once you do, you can visit the same ones every few days or so and get more of the same stuff you previously found. The biggest drawback a lot of you will have is the attitude of “wouldn’t stoop so low”, or “that is just too embarrassing”. Well, over the years I’ve come to realize just how right my late mother was when she always told me “pride goeth before the fall”. Maybe not a direct quote, but now I understand it. – Bullet Bob”

Is America Becoming Detroit?

After spending a significant amount of time in Detroit this past year, teaching and consulting, I have to ask if the country is moving in this direction. This article spells things out pretty drastically. What does amaze me is that regardless of the condition of a city like Detroit, the fact that the corporations have hightailed it out of there creates a tremendous amount of opportunity for those of us that would have it that we plant our own food and build our own homes. Can we find this opportunity in the face of constraint? Does Permaculture have answers to the issues of food deserts and crumbling infrastructure? Think so. Know so. The trees are growing out of the ruins.

Detroit PDC

Some of the preliminary design work at the Detroit PDC.

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  • 2014 Calendar

    1. Advanced Farming Session 2 of 2

      October 22 - October 26
    2. Aquaponics Workshop

      October 25
    3. Advanced Teaching Session 3 of 3

      November 6 - November 9
    4. Kinstone Express Permaculture Train Tours

      November 8
    5. Tea & Tour at Kinstone

      November 9 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
    6. Advanced Design Session 2 of 2

      November 12 - November 16