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library of tools and techniques now in the public domain.
Your contributions welcome!
Eco-Iwo by Albert Bates (c) Copyright 1990 by The Book Publishing Company, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Where we are planting trees right now:
providing water, food, fuel, peace and hope to the peoples of the Middle East from the peoples of the Middle East
$20 from you plants 10 trees!
One tree removes 55 pounds of carbon each year, equal to 1100 miles of car travel or 5500 miles in a commercial airliner (assuming 2 passengers out of 200 on the flight).
Join Starhawk (USA), Klaudia van Gool (UK) and Murad Alkhufash (PA) 16-30 May 2013 in Marda Village, Salfit, Palestine, for the full Permaculture Design Certification Course
and visit out Facebook Site: Marda Permaculture
We are now working with keyline injection of biochar in a compost tea slurry to regenerate degraded soils.
We are part of the Transition Towns movement. Our county seat at Hohenwald, Tennessee is the 25th Transition Town in the USA.
We are working with county government, the business community, local charities, and the public to create a resilient and ecologically responsive economic fabric that will endure the turmoil and chaos of The Great Change now underway.
and Climate Change
by Albert K. Bates
and available in Kindle from
the Sail Transport Network
and an international
protecting the Pacific Gyre while trying to outlaw BPA.
2014 STN-Pedal Power Produce wish list
Equipment and materials:
We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use oil once. You can only use metals once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered.
M. King Hubbert, 1983
|The Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times
by Albert K. Bates
now available in Kindle from
Institute program areas over the past decades have included research into food and energy applied sciences towards the end of improving food security and reducing climate-altering dependence upon fossil fuels; using improved communications methodologies for demonstrations of alternative economic and social experiments; and multidisciplinary research into mechanisms for narrowing the gap between the developed and developing world without undue negative cultural and environmental impacts.
From our crafting of a trike for an orphan of the 1974 earthquake in San Andrés Itzapa Guatemala has now come Asociación Maya Pedal, building pedal-powered machines, or bicimáquinas.
Our focus is on a convergence of renewable energy, environmental building, sustainable agriculture, biological wastewater systems, community conflict resolution methodologies, holistic community planning, permaculture design, experiential education, natural capital economics, ready access to global information, and a host of emerging modalities for systemic social improvements. We have received numerous awards and frequent recognition for this work, which has always been at the leading edge of systemic social change, but we continue to rely principally on grassroots support in the form of donations to pursue these efforts.
Working in Fundraising? Take a look at our project proposal and reports for Womens Training in Sustainable Community Development in Ecuador
The Institute's principal work in the late 1970s related to the transportation sector. Working under a series of contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy, The Institute performed groundbreaking work on concentrating photovoltaic arrays, low cost, long-distance electric and hybrid vehicles, and multi-fuel heat engines. This work led to the inception of the Solar Car Corporation of Melbourne, Florida and Groton Connecticut. SCC went out of business in the late 1990s, a victim, like the Tucker, of being too far ahead of its time. With a capitalization of less than $10 million, SCC lacked the financial ability to combat the conjoined forces of industry and government which quickly arrayed against it, despite a vastly superior product that correctly foresaw fundamental shifts in transportation demands.
A lasting contribution which the Institute made to our transportation future was to take the science of "hypercars" and place it firmly into the public domain. The Institute did this by parading its solar-powered automobile daily through the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and by publishing its technological innovations in the open literature. Later attempts to patent and sequester the key technologies of solar-powered cars were defeated as a result of this contribution.
As of 2006, we have been participating in the emerging Sail Transport Network, returning coastal trade to wind-power with shipments of cacao, cassava starch, coffee and vanilla bean. Have a boat you want to donate? Contact us!
While we are fully cognizant of peak oil and the economic collapse that is unfolding, the Institute's principal work today is in the climate change sector. Working under a series of contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others, the Institute is performing groundbreaking work on rural development retasking, changing the focus ...
... FROM industrial agriculture that is designed to produce the fastest, cheapest, low value-added, and least nutritious food the world has ever known, and all of the health effects that implies
...TO creating health human ecologies that generate surplus food, fuel, and value-added products while storing both labile and recalcitrant carbon in the soil, mitigating the runaway greenhouse effects now in the pipeline, and preserving and protecting the broad-spectrum speciation that is the intellect of Gaia.
We are accomplishing these mission targets by serving as a active policy development resource and training center, and an experimental laboratory for the Transition Towns, Permaculture, Ecovillage, Bioregional, Reforestation and Biochar networks.
You can help.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and GVI President Albert Bates
Other applications coming our of the solar car research included 1 kw solar (dish) Stirling and rotary turbines; direct current-powered compact air conditioning; solar powered electric watercraft; and trough concentrator arrays for solar water heating.
||What is new today is a merging of all these disparate threads into a holistic vision for the future.
How fast do bacteria replicate in presence of food? Every 20 minutes. One bacterium in 72 hours with infinite food supply would weigh more than the planet Earth. What stops that from happening? The absense of food. What will stop the human population from overrunning the planet? The absense of food. We are poised at the cusp of a Malthusian correction.
Our goal is to develop and disseminate a method of agriculture that supplies our food in an ethical way, which also means being a positive force in the climate equation, building healthy future soils and promoting biodiversity. We want to heal the planet from the abuses of our careless predecessors.
When some part of a growing plant dies, it drops material high in protein, which is food for the soil decomposers. That food becomes bacterial and fungal biomass. The N is tied up. The C is tied up. Bacterial and fungal bodies are eaten by nematodes and microarthropods which release the nitrates (soluable) and ammonium (gas) fertilizers in their wastes. If you can fix those nutrient flows you can eliminate the need for fertilizer. Healthy organic soil systems do this, and can more than double yields in the first growing season they are applied.
Mother Nature takes soluable nutrients and changes them into biomass. Biological processes decompose the biomass and use metabolic wastes to make soluable nutrients to fuel the next round of the cycle. Humans are Gaia's tool for taking plant waste free oxygen and turning it into plant food CO2. In a healthy system, it all goes around, is not shuffled off to form toxic burdens on the atmosphere or ocean, but merely replenishes its own needs.
This is not rocket science.
With the Peoples Republic of China we have been exploring a legal system of standards for ecovillage design.
It is an inconvenient truth that all proposals or efforts to slow global warming or to move toward sustainability are serious intellectual frauds if they do not advocate reducing populations to sustainable levels at the local, national and global scales.
Albert Allen Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado
The USA and China are like two drinking buddies staying at the bar until closing time. They will drain every last drop of petroleum (and other natural resources) that they can get their hands on. What happens next is not even remotely on their minds. Everything they are doing is for the sake of keeping the binge going.
Did you know that the urban habitat crisis could be solved by allowing people to grow their own houses?
In the 1970s the Institute began research into fast growing plant species that could serve multiple purposes even while providing residential building materials for an expanding world population. Our experimental hybrid poplar and chestnut plantations are now more than 20 years old. Our tree varieties, including Tennessee's own state tree, the Tulip Poplar are able to process wastewater and reclaim severely eroded landscapes. Today we have more than 20 varieties of temperate bamboo growing at our Ecovillage Training Center, and more than 200 varieties under study at the nearby Earth Advocates Research Center for size, growth rates, temperature tolerance and other characteristics. We like bamboo as a cultivatible architecture. Only 500 square meters are needed to grow one house in one year, about the size of a typical U.S. living room.
Biochar from bamboo has a unique pore structure, making it a perfect soil structure for beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi, resulting in crop yield gains of as much as 800-percent. It is important to mix the biochar with well-prepared compost inoculated with bacteria from undisturbed (usually nearby forest) local soils.
To provide owner-built homes for the 100,000,000 people now without adequate housing, the area needed to grow bamboo for one year is less than the area annually being clearcut in the Caribbean rainforests of Belize, Honduras and Colombia each year!
Biochar from Bamboo
Biochar and organic no-till methods mimic natural ecosystems by helping to close the nutrient cycle. Biochar serves as a "coral reef" in the soil, harboring microbial and fungal communities and storing nutrients and moisture for controlled release. Coupling biochar production with winter hoophouses make its production very economical, especially if the feedstocks are harvested from "waste" products (local sawmill byproducts, oilseed husks and bagasse) or annual non-food yields (bamboo, leaves, wetland reeds and hyacinths).
Improving soil fertility inexpensively will enable farmers to once again produce the food consumed by a local population without fossil-fuel based inputs. As we have seen for the past four centuries, conversion of natural vegetation to cropland reduces soil carbon content by one-half to one-third. However, soil carbon loss can be reversed by agricultural practices that build up the carbon in soils by, for example, reducing the period of bare fallow, planting cover crops, and changing aeration of the soil (such as by no till, ridge till, or keyline planting). Adding biochar to this mix of strategies provides the potential to take the planet from 386 ppmv CO2 to 350, or even 250 ppmv, on timescales short enough to prevent catastrophic tipping points from exterminating life on Earth.
Bambitat, a GVI sponsored organization, is developing unique strategies for lightweight, fast growing bamboo habitats.
Did you know that water hyacinths can be used to fight AIDS?
Water hyacinths are a nightmare plant for many water management authorities. Untreated wastewater from cities and nutrient runoffs from farms provide ideal growing conditions for hyacinths in rivers and lakes, hindering recreation and navigation, starving fish of oxygen, and blocking water pumps. Hyacinths put out lovely flowers that make them useful for decorating and gardens, but millions of them can kill a freshwater ecosystem. In the early 1990s, the Institute began using the multiplying effects of hyacinths in wastewater reclamation experiments. We found that hyacinths could be harvested and composted and turned into garden soil. Then we discovered another use: as substrate for the Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum. Reishi, which has been ground and taken as a tonic in Chinese medicine for more than 1000 years, contains powerful immune boosters known as ganoderms. Laboratory trials have confirmed that ganoderms are effective in combating viral and bacterial infections by stimulating the production of interleukin 2 in the bloodstream. Reishi is now being used in the treatment of AIDS. At our Ecovillage Training Center in Tennessee we demonstrated the complete cycle, from greywater remediation through water hyacinths to composted mushroom substrate, to cultivation and processing of Reishi and other edible and medicinal mushrooms. All of the waste products are used. These techniques are now being distributed by development organizations in the Americas and Africa to produce clean water, food, medicine, energy, fertile soil, and healthy children.
In 2010 we will be demonstrating how to make biochar from solar-dried hyacinths.
Throughout its history, it has been a goal of the Institute to serve as a living laboratory for developing, incubating, and showcasing new technologies. The Institute provides the scientific and technical expertise that advances new ideas from paper to practice, and builds and tests prototypes in the real world, in combination with other technologies which affect overall performance. Once an idea is proven to work, the Institute takes it to the stage of commercial viability.
Today, the Institute's principal work relates to the creation of a prototype Ecovillage Training Center which offers courses and immersion apprenticeships in permaculture, agriforestry, soyfoods, solar cars, constructed wetlands, biomimetic engineering, natural capital restoration, alternate energy, ecological building, conflict resolution, consensus and community, midwifery, natural nutrition, alternative medicine, healing touch, and many other promising paths to environmental sustainability.
Plenty's Kids to the Country Program at the Ecovillage Training Center is now in its 16th year in bringing underprivileged children from low income housing and homeless shelters to a summer vacation of horses, hikes and swimming holes.
Consulting with schools such as Witts University (Johannesburg), Cal Poly Pomona and Berea College (Kentucky), we are designing new "green campus" population centers to steer universities into the transition to sustainability.
The Institute sponsors the Western Hemisphere hub office of the Global Ecovillage Network, guided the formation of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas, and is engaging in many other efforts to foster the expansion of the sustainable community movement worldwide. The Institute's program partners include the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka, Seoul National University's Sustainable Urban Development program in Korea, Sortavala in Russia, the Green Kibbutz Movement in Israel, Los Angeles EcoVillage, The Tholego Development Project in South Africa, Luna Nueva in Mexico, the Institute for Latin American Permaculture in Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela and Peru, Reserva Sasardi, the Institute for New Frontiers in Cooperation, Builders without Borders, the United Nations Best Practices program (ECOSOC), Context Institute, Plenty International, Permaculture Institute of Peru, Grupo de Apoyo al Sector Rural, Aztlan Centro De Rescate Ecologico, Ecoaldea en Huehuecoyotl, Asociacion Gaia, Ecovillage Network of Canada, Comunidade Tribal Vale Encantado and ABRASCA (Brazil), the emerging ecovillage communities in Unguia and the Sasardi Reserve in Colombia, the Permaculture Institute of Brazil, Fundacion Darien, 7 Generaciones (Uruguay), La Caravana Arcoiris para la Paz, and many more. Global Village Video is a subsidiary production company which produces instructional tapes and dvds on a variety of subjects.
Since 1994, we have been weaving together the emerging ecovillage movement, which we view as having the potential to bring about lasting change by seeking, as a central organizing principle, a harmonious balance between human habitat and the natural world.
Consider a Bequest
Many of us choose to give to charity on a regular basis or to leave a bequest of money or property as a final gift. These kindnesses merge to create power for good in the world. If you would like to consider such a gifting, please examine a paragraph suitable to insert into your testimentary bequests. US residents can now make unlimited charitable contributions from their IRAs and 401(k) plans. The possibility that there will a $1 million estate-tax exemption, plus a higher tax rate, in two years makes a compelling case for spreading wealth around now.
We apologize for not being able to keep our annual summaries updated as regularly as we would like. We hope to catch up soon.
In the year ending December, 2010:
Joined the founding board of the U.S. Biochar Initiative, published a landmark book on biochar, contributed chapters to two others, and helped form the Southeast Biochar Association.
Led the delegation of the Global Ecovillage Network at COP-16, the Climate Summit in Cancún, and provided two Klimaforum side events there.
Inaugurated a permaculture design curriculum at Lillieoru, Estonia's first ecovillage training center.
Also, we provided the 6th annual Permaculture Design Course at Maya Mountain Research Farm and the 2d annual Permaculture Design Course at The Village, Cloughjordan, Tipperary Ireland.
Wrote more magazine articles on biochar and climate change for magazines in the US, Europe, and Australia.
Gave lectures on climate change, ecovillages, carbon farming, biochar and mushrooms at the Electric Picnic (Ireland), at Von Krahl Theater in the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia and in Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu.
Helped launch ETC Voices in podcast and written blog and began hosting the long-running C-realm podcast.
Continued our international apprenticeship program with UNITAR recognition.
Attended and presented at conferences and events in Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Belize, Ireland, Brazil, and Mexico.
Completed our sixteenth year as a site for the Kids to the Country summer program.
Began a partnership in providing workshops and event lectures for Mother Earth News.
Began working with a Transition Towns mulling group in rural Southeastern Mexico.
In the year ending December, 2009:
Our first Carbon Farming Intensive took place over a two month period at the Ecovillage Training Center in Summertown, Tennessee. The six-part curriculum explored the holistic management of soil, water, carbon, energy and the economy in the context of carbon negative agriculture. Carbon farming is a system of agricultural design that returns carbon to the soil for increased soil health and agricultural production. The intensive was led by a cadre of highly accomplished instructors on the cutting edge of sustainable farming development, including Joel Salatin, Elaine Ingham, Kirk Gadzia, Darren Doherty, Brad Lancaster and Eric Toensmeier. Beginning with this course, we began work on creation of a soil laboratory at the Ecovillage Training Center.
This year’s Financial Permaculture Summit in Hohenwald, Tennessee, themed ‘Greening a Rural American Community’, explored various ways that permaculture and business designers can learn from each other. Albert Bates opened the weekend with a session that introduced the key steps to becoming a Transition Town. The Transition Town Movement was started by Rob Hopkins in Southern England, and promotes participatory, community-driven sustainability initiatives. Transition Towns look to the issues of peak oil and climate change as the primary motivators to help them to become more localized, resilient communities. The introduction of this topic at the summit sparked much discussion about how to organize in places where there is still heated debate over the direct relevance of climate change to small communities.
October 2nd marked the largest Gaia University graduation ceremony yet. Congratulations to BSc graduates Benjamin Griffin, Connor Stedman and Kurt Belser; MSc graduates Ben Jones and Mary Ellen Bowen; and Graduate Diploma recipient Eden Vardy. Ben Jones, MSc, is founder and director of the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farms Institute (VISFI), which hosted the first Gaia U International Orientation December 1 - 9. Ben is also the creator of Beneficial Consultants, offering community-building support, land management and organic farming services, and mission and vision facilitation. The Virgin Islands event brought in our largest and most diverse group of new Associates thus far, with people from five continents in attendance, ranging in age from their late teens to mid-sixties.
Also, we provided the 5th annual Permaculture Design Course at Maya Mountain Research Farm and the first Permaculture Design Course at The Village, Cloughjordan, Tipperary Ireland.
We wrote invited magazine articles on biochar and climate change for magazines in the US, Europe, and Australia.
We gave lectures on biochar and mushrooms at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, the Electric Picnic (ireland), the Bottom Summit and Vartorv Cafe in Copenhagen, and the Green Earth Expo in Denver.
We wrote the chapter on "Agriculture to Permaculture" for Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2010.
We expanded our support of Ecoaldea Gratitud and Casa Sanarte to include staff travel bursaries to a permaculture convergence in Cuba and the Continental Bioregional Congress in Tennessee..
We successfully obtained visas for Cuban delegates to attend the Continental Bioregional Congress in Tennessee..
We once more expanded the Peace Though Permaculture effort in Palestine and were accorded formal Palestinian Authority recognition as a non-profit relief and development agency.
We continued our international apprenticeship program with UNITAR recognition.
We attended and presented at conferences and events in Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, Michigan, Belize, Ireland, Brazil, and Denmark.
We completed our fifteenth year as a site for the Kids to the Country summer program.
We participated with ABRA 144's Treeclimbing School in protecting rainforest canopy ecotourism in the Amazon.
We attended the Brazilian Academy of Science program on Terra Preta Soils in Manaus, Amazonia, and the North American Biochar Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and
We led the delegation of the Global Ecovillage Network at COP-15, the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and assisted with the Windows of Hope 2-week seminar there.
In the year ending December, 2008, we:
1. Expanded our support of Ecoaldea Gratitud, to include Casa Sanarte, an urban holistic health center, and launched a UN-sponsored urban gardens program in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
2. Expanded the Peace Though Permaculture movement in Palestine to provide aid in Gaza while continuing the Trees for Airmiles olive plantings following behind the bulldozers in the West Bank.
3. Began a series of biochar insertion trenches in the hardwood forest at the Ecovillage Training Center while experimenting with pyrolizing wood and cookstoves for greenhouses and hoophouses.
4. Completed work on our 2-year USDA-funded Rural Development program to transition our county to post-petroleum economic independence with the creation of a Financial Permaculture curriculum and week-long workshop attracting several hundred people. This will now become an annual event.
5. Continued our international apprenticeship program with UNITAR affiliation.
6. Attended and presented at conferences and events in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, New Mexico, Belize, Mexico, and England.
7. Conducted Gaia University events and trainings.
8. Completed our fourteenth year as a site for the Kids to the Country summer program.
9. Provided a grant in support for ABRA 144 working on rainforest canopy ecotourism in the Amazon.
10. Consulted with Mantria Corporation on development of a carbon-negative bamboo-to-biochar housing development for VW workers near Chattanooga.
11. Provided venture capital to spinoff a new "superfood" business for soup kitchen staples, using the fermentation and flavoring processes on hemp, soy and cassava starch, recently developed in GVI's food science laboratory.
12. Continued advancements in our research program including solar biochar and oils from pond algae, bamboo and other fast-growing biomass, pyrolizing biochar in tube solar oven designs, solar dehydrators, solar water heaters, solar space heaters, and solar water distillers, solar greenhouses, four season edible landscapes, permaculture sciences, no-till organic, carbon farming, square foot and lasagna carbon gardening and more gourmet and medicinal fungi, algaes, and bacteria.
In the year ending December, 2007, we:
In the year ending December, 2006, we:
In the year ending December, 2005, we:
1. Became a founding sponsor of Ecoaldea Gratitud, a climate-change-mitigation broadly based ecovillage and nature sanctuary program in Mexico.
2. Brought participants from Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Palestine, England, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Colombia, and Canada to the USA for training under the auspices of the UNITAR program.
3. Presented on ecovillages at the UN Committee on Sustainable Development 13th annual meeting in New York and also for Sustainable Hudson Valley.
4. Attended and presented at Peak Oil conferences in Lisbon, Portugal, Yellow Springs, Ohio and New York City.
5. Attended the North American Bioregional Convergence at Earthaven in North Carolina and the South American Convergence in Brazil.
6. Made multiple trips to China to work on ecovillage standard development.
7. Chartered Gaia University and established its first working campus.
8. Attended a tour of eco-development programs in Provence, France
9. Presented on Peak Oil and ecovillages at numerous university and community venues in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
10. Attended the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Solheimer Ecovillage in Iceland and met with the President of Iceland and numerous Ministers and MPs.
11. Hosted the National Vegan Conference.
12. Participated in the 7th International Permaculture Convergence in Slovenia and the 2nd International Ecovillage Conference in Scotland.
13. Attended the Communal Studies Association meeting in Pennsylvania.
14. Completed our eleventh year as a site for the Kids to the Country summer program.
15. Invented a new process for making cheese-like fermented soyfoods that melt on pizzas and pack a lot of flavor.
16. Erected a new strawbale hipitat on our Tennessee campus.
It shall be the policy of this organization that no discrimination shall exist toward any person, employee, member, or guest in any program, privilege, activity or facility of this organization on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, physical handicap, or national or ethnic origin.
Article Six of our charter, November, 1974.