Russ's Regenerative Design https://russs.net From lines to circles, from grey to green. Wed, 13 Jan 2021 08:25:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 https://russs.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/cropped-Maier-R-Logo-v2-inverted-grey-1-32x32.png Russ's Regenerative Design https://russs.net 32 32 Calendar Sales Up! https://russs.net/calendar-sales-up/ https://russs.net/calendar-sales-up/#respond Wed, 13 Jan 2021 08:25:44 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=5107

Up!  Thanks for all the requests and encouragement to get a PDF download of the EarthCycles Calendar up for sale. I’ve put it onto to our GoBrik Store where you can purchase the super high resolution master file for printing at a print shop near you. The file (along with instructions) can be purchased using credit card, paypal, IDR transfer, or Brikcoins. If you want to learn more about the calendar, I’ve also got a new feature page up on my personal site  If you’re in Indonesia, in a few more days I’ll have an option to purchase prints of the calendar up on the Store too. 

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First Print! https://russs.net/first-print/ https://russs.net/first-print/#respond Thu, 07 Jan 2021 17:22:14 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=5034 Woohoo! After thinking about this idea for the last ten years, I am super excited to finally make the first full print of my Earth cycle calendar! Thanks to my master navigator brother Chris for the help adding the Moon’s apsidal procession and the Earth’s aphelion and perihelion cycle!

 

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An Earth Cycles Calendar https://russs.net/my-new-old-calendar/ https://russs.net/my-new-old-calendar/#respond Mon, 28 Dec 2020 06:42:46 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=5019

The calendar in progress.

I’ve wanted to make a calendar for myself for a long time.  Back when I was a landscape artist in Northern B.C. Canada, I spent hours and hours working on a calendar design that would show one of my seasonal paintings each month.  But, I didn’t want it to be a simple date/month calendar.  You see, the stars, and in particular the planets, are super clear on the cold crisp winter nights.  Inspired by my readings of Aztec and Mayan traditions, I really wanted my calendar to capture their cycles.

Alas, using the traditional square, flip, calendar design, I just couldn’t get it to work!  I let the project go, and moved on.

But the desire never departed!

Last year, after late night conversation with my friend Mel about the way our conceptions of time affect the way we live our lives, I was inspired to return to the intention.  I was convinced more than ever, that our square, linear calendars were missing something important– and consequent our living.  As I’ve delved deep into ecological ethics this year– which is essentially all about syncing with cycles– I became yet more determined to figure this out how to sync my calendar with the solar cycles.

Mel had given me some key ideas for reworking the year into a circular presentation.  A method of portraying the flow of the Earth’s cyclical relationship with the other planets became clear.  She challenged me to de-emphasize our rather contrived start and end of the year, and instead prioritize the equinoxes and solstices.  After these are connected directly to our spin around the sun.

It’s tedious and meticulous work: each day, month and week has to be manually laid out.

Circular calendars aren’t new.  They’ve been around since Stone Henge!  However, I am really excited about this design that I am building.  By focus on cycles, and syncing with the solar systems flow, the circular context can hold a tremendous amount of interesting, valuable information about the year.  Most importantly, like the ancient calendars of the Aztecs and Mayans, it takes our awareness above and beyond the cycles of our own planet!

This happens to sync with my delve into ecological ethics:  seeing the Earth’s place in our solar system is fundamental to appreciating and discerning what is happening here.

I am excited to print it big, put a clock into the center, and hang it on my wall for 2021.

Rather than featuring art, the calendar can be the art itself.  🙂

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Better Ottawa Recycling? https://russs.net/recycling-in-ottawa/ https://russs.net/recycling-in-ottawa/#respond Sun, 22 Nov 2020 10:31:55 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4976

The other day, my brother asked me about a proposal for a new recycling program in our city of Ottawa, Canada.

My brother really wants to know what I think.  The new program, which apparently increases the responsibility of businesses and has them pay for the costs of recycling the packaging they produce.  The program seems to have lots of support.  Even the local green party member is tacitly supporting it (he says they should move faster with implementation).  Since, I actually worked at a plastic recycling facility in Ottawa, and have been researching and thinking about the related issues for the last decade, this question has personal significance to me!

Me back at my stint working in a recycling factory in Canada.

Me back at my stint working in a recycling factory in Canada.  Read the essay I wrote afterwards.

On the surface it look like a great idea.  Canadians are proud of their green tech and are genuinely and deeply passionate about ‘saving the environment’ and ‘going green’.  It seems to cover the generally accepted criteria of what ‘green’ means.  Perhaps the most compelling part of the idea is that the program aims to put the burden of the cost on industry.  Those making the plastic can pay the cost of its processing.  Consumers can keep consuming, governments can keep operating their same programs, and industry “can innovate like it does best” and keep doing what it is doing.

Our Dad is a historian.  Our basement is full of history books and growing up we learned all sorts of stories about long ago battles and politics.  The funny thing about history, is though it looks like things have changed with a new king, a new goverment, a new program, the actual reality keeps on going on.

When you take a look at the history of recycling, its kinda the same.  Despite all the new technology, programs and innovations, the net results over the last few decades haven’t changed much since the outset!  Industry and government has been presiding over solutions for plastic and the results, as measured by scientists, are pretty clear:  the vast majority of plastic eventually gets out loose into the biosphere.

The most broad meta-study of what has happened to our plastic over the last fifty years an estimated 8300 million metric tons (Mt) of virgin plastics have been produced worldwide; 9% of which have been recycled, 12% were incinerated and 79% have accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.If my brother had gotten 11% on one of his tests, I would have been pretty disapointed in him!

Ok, so that’s the plastic getting into the biosphere.  But there’s something even more disconcerting that has stayed the same.  The concept of recycling, as developed and delivered to us by industry, systematically decrease our collective ecological awareness over the decades.

Growing up in the land of the Northern Tutchone people of the Yukon back in the 80’s, when we threw it away, we knew exactly where it was going.  In fact, the highlight of our month was the regular trip to local dump where we my brother and I would help our Dad lug it out ourselves.  The dump was surrounded by forest, and we’d often see bears, eagles and other animals scavenging.  I like to think it gave us some mindfullness of our consumption and throwing away.

BBC: UK Recycling ending up in Malaysia

Today, no one has any idea where the plastic they use goes.  When I worked at the local Ottawa recycling facility, between shifts, I  asked my foreman where they various bales were going.  He shrugged, “India, China– somewhere in Asia”.  Even he didn’t really know!

Up until 2017, most of the folks in the UK who happily assumed that their council and industry were taking care of their plastic– until David Attenborough and other investigative journalist showed them pictures of their UK plastic (often still their town’s labelled recycling bag) kicking around in vast south east asian dump sites.

Will increasing the efficiency of Ottawa recycling make it work?  Will imposing responsibilities on plastic producers make them more responsible?  Will having business invest more in recycling and plastic technology save the day?  While these may sound fantastic, its good to remember similar proposals and promises over the last thirty years and compare them to the results.

Sure it will help… a little.

But, according to Roland Geyer, the scientist who wrote the plastic survey study I quoted above, if we keep going with just little amendments to our direction, we’re still effectively headed in to the same place: “Without a sea change in industrial habits, this is our lasting legacy”.

How come?  I observe that one thing that industrial systems have in common is an experiential disconnect from ecological consequences.  By giving all the responsibility to government and industry, we loose connection with the consequences of our consumption and disposal.  We loose an innate awareness of our connection to local and global ecologies.

 

My friend Pak Har, who is the CEO of a large Indonesian juice corporation, is extremely conscious of his company’s plastic production.  His company sells packaged juice products which produces about 2000 tons of non-recyclable plastic which go loose into the Indonesian biosphere every year.  He told the story of attending a family wedding of the owner of the company that supplies him the plastic for his products.  At the wedding, Pak Har bumped into the owners suppliers.  He was shocked to discover that they were executives and representatives from the biggest names in oil corporations.

Funnily, enough, this is what I would call an ‘ecological experience’.  Pak Har had heard me talk about the connection between plastic and petroleum and he’s given it tons of though himself, but the deep realization didn’t occur til he experienced it first hand.

When we consume plastic, we’re connecting to a much deeper system of petroleum derived energy and petroleum based capital.  When this moves around it has ecological consequences far broader than our landfills and recycling plants.  As all this plastic moves from company to company, industry to industry, much energy is expended along the way.  The CO2 emissions of managing, moving and recycling plastic have become more and more significant.   In fact, by 2030, CO2 emissions from the production, processing and disposal of plastic could reach 1.34 gigatons per year—equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.4

Yikes.

So what to do back in Ottawa?  Is the enhanced recycling program a good and green idea?

My apologies Ed, but with all that said I am going to avoid directly answering the question.  Maybe that little discourse, gives you some intutions, however, I will be the first to admit that such meta-critique doesn’t help anyone.   It doesn’t assist the green party candidate in his evaluation, it doesn’t help the companies in their new task, nor the citizens in theirs.  At best it gets people depressed and feeling cornered by the impossibility of the challenge.

For me there is a much more important and pressing question.  And more helpful.

What does “green” mean exactly?  What in fact is an ecological contribution?!  The folks making the decisions in Ottawa have the best of intentions, the funds and the political backing.  What strikes me though, is that for all their good intentions, they are missing an adequate framework to make a proper evaluation of how to manage Ottawa’s plastic in a way that is an authentic contribution to the greening of the biosphere.

That green party candidate, his top priority is surely ecological concerns, yet his evaluation of the recycling options falls into relatively simplistic criteria: “How much plastic can we divert from landfill?”  “How much of the funding can be taken in by industry rather than the government?”  “How much responsibility can we put on manufacturing?”  “How much can we reduce the city’s recycling budget? (so they that can spend it on other green stuff)”.

Since, my background is in philosophy, with a love ethics, this is where I think I can best assist.

Given the connection of plastic to a much deeper system and story, I think we all want a deeper evaluation than one that is purely economic and quantitative.  And not just for Ottawa’s recycling program, but also waste to energy technologies, cleaning up the ocean, bioplastics, etc.

How do we do this?

I believe we need a new, impartial, non-ethical, ethics for making the evaluation.

Hold on… non-ethical ethics?

Yep, that’s right– whereas traditional ethics has concerned itself with the good/bad. righ/wrong of human relations and enterprise, we’re now far beyond that.  The green party candidate, Pak Har, my brother, me… we all want to do the best thing for the Earth– and so in this sense we’ve moved beyond the ethical analysis of the last century– when ecological impacts were not of concern or consequence.

Stay tuned.  I happen to have been working on this for the last year and am excited to share a new major essay on this. I am poised with a Copernikan level breakthrough!   If you’re in a rush check out the preliminary conceptual infrastructure that we’ve been laying over the last few months.

 

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1Geyer, Jambeck and Lavender,’Production, use and fate of all plastics ever made’, (Science Advances)

2Matthew Taylor, $180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge, (theguardian.com, 26 Dec 2017)

3Geyer, Jambeck and Lavender,’Production, use and fate of all plastics ever made’, (Science Advances)

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Theorectical Inspiration https://russs.net/the-three-body-problem/ https://russs.net/the-three-body-problem/#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2020 04:33:57 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4956 I’ve been reading this awesome science fiction series the last month.   It’s a triology called the Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin.  If you haven’t heard of it yet, you have now, and you’ll be hearing more.  Apparently, its slated for a big HBO series.  And with good reason.  Its solid, fascinating and a great story.  And personally…  inspiring!

The author Liu Cixin is fabulously scientifically literate.  Like any good science fi, his work involves extrapolations of current science.  However, his grasp of current science is so commanding that the extrapolations that he paints are vividly educating, compelling and engaging.  But this novel, which begins in rural China, has been more than just a good read, educating and thought provoking.  Personally, living rural Indonesian village, I’ve also found it to be deeply inspiring.

Without spoiling the story, the novel paints a picture of an advanced alien civilization in a three sun solar system that is inherently unstable and unpredictable (“the three body problem”).   They discover the Earth– a stable solar system– and set out to invade.  However, the trip from their star to ours will take 400 years, and they are concerned that human technological progress is so fast that humanity will catch up to them.  So in advance, they send some autonomous quantum particles at the speed of light to Earth in to disrupt the theoretical physics work being done by scientists on Earth.  The particles can’t do anything physical, but they can disrupt all the particle acceleration experiments being done around the world.

The idea is simple.  By preventing humans making progress to understand the basics of matter and the universe, they will not progress technologically.  And it make sense!  The depth of our theoretical understanding of the world– of atoms, electrons and their forces– are were we able to progress to electricity, nuclear power, space exploration.  Without theoretical progress we’ll never get to the big applications– fusion power, non-combustion space propulsion, etc.  The entire novel, and Liu’s next two books in the series, are based on the importance of theory.   In the end, its not the scientists or soldiers or politicians that make the crucial breakthroughs, but those doing the theory and philosophy.

Go theory!

Over Covid, I’ve been going deep into reflection and the lonely and thankless task of theoretical development.  I say “thankless” because unlike the practical ecological work that I often do, working with communities, groups and governments to make and build actual physical stuff, when your doing theory, you don’t see any physical results.

Deep down you know its important, but the task of relentlessly refining words and sentences to hone the requisite succinct precision of axioms and tenets is well… not the funnest thing in the world!   I am working on several new concepts that inter-connect like a matrix.  I must have written 5,000 words, to get 500.  Its a process of constant conceptual refinement.  You work on one concept, only to understand the other better.  Then you have to go back and refine the first.  Its like simplifying a complex quadratic equation, cancelling out variables, until you get its most simplified version.  In fact, that’s actual what it is– but with words!

The three body problem has encouraged my intuition that the development of ecological theory is not just important, its crucial.

I am seeing that we’re a lot the Earth in the story that can’t move forward with technological progress and solutions, because its theoretical understanding has been blocked.  However, for su instead of alien’s blocking us– its the economic systems that  we’ve created that have taken a life of their own.

Recent stories in the media tell about “how big oil misled the public into believing plastic would be recycled” (that’s the actual title of the paper) or how oil companies have known since the 1980’s about the existential risks of burning fuels but buried it.  I wrote a story myself on the “evil illusion of recycling“.  In a moment where everyone is talking about conspiracy theories, the way that petro-captial system has systematically conspired to undermine our collective awareness of ecological reality is biggest and most dramatic conspiracy of them all!

Without accurate awareness, its no wonder that all our technological attempts to be greener, to reduce Co2 emissions, to reduce plastic pollution, have failed.

Its not that we don’t care about our planet.  Its not that we’re some sort of virus destroying its own habitat.  On the contrary.  My observation is that we’re all tremendously concerned and motivated.  Rutger Bergman does a great job of making clear that humanity is in fact potently motivated towards helping, solving problems and assisting others when properly informed (another great book: Humankind).   We’ve simply not had the real world facts to place ourselves properly in a redemptive narrative.  We’ve been stuck in an old and flawed ecological paradigm, and we just haven’t had the accurate feedback to build a theoretical ecological foundation for moving forward with real solutions.

My last decade working with “the plastic problem” (heh… title of another novel?) has given me lots of real world experience about what is actually happening ecologically.  From this I’ve been working on a theoretical framework for petro-capital transition.  My passion and focus had been waning the last few weeks.  But now, reading this great novel… I am inspired and back at it.

Thanks Liu Cixin! 🙂   And thanks Irfan for the book recommendation!

 

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The Long Story of Plastic https://russs.net/the-long-story-of-plastic/ https://russs.net/the-long-story-of-plastic/#respond Mon, 14 Sep 2020 09:20:59 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4946 Over the last few covid months, I’ve had a chance to reflect deeply on the issue of plastic pollution and delve deep into its causes. My team and I have mined some important insights through discussions and writing, and we’re now getting ready to share them. Our biggest realization?

Most important of all is telling the long story of plastic.

Over the last few years, the world’s attention has been drawn to the second half of the story: to where plastic goes after it leaves our hands. More and more folks are realizing that whatever we do with plastic, its ending up in the biosphere and that Recycling, incineration, dumping simply delay the inevitable. It is fantastic that this awakening is happening– and with it an unprecedented concern arising for the earth’s biosphere and desire to do something.

However, this has only made us more aware of the problem of plastic pollution.  It hasn’t made clear what that something is that we should do.

In order to answer that, we need to know the first part of the story.  What is plastic exactly?  Where does it come from?  How did it get to our hands in the first place.   After leading thousands of plastic workshops with folks from dozens of countries, I am acutely aware of the widespread ignorance of plastic’s short and long backstory.

Knowing the short-term industrial story helps us see past false solutions.

Knowing the long-term million year history of plastic is key to solving it.

But actually ‘solving it’ isn’t descriptive enough– in fact, the deeper I have delved into it, the more I see that the solution lies in plastic itself.

Have I piqued your curiosity?  Well then… let me tell you a story! Check out our newly published page on ecobricks.org/plastic

Plastic: The Long Story

 

And if that piques your curiosity more, you can check out our academic level white paper, which lays out the science and research we’ve been doing to piece the story together

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I Came For The Plastic https://russs.net/my-daily-walk/ https://russs.net/my-daily-walk/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2020 06:44:27 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4934 I’ve always been a big believer in intentionally choosing difficult and challenging life circumstances.  Be it to face personal fears or to stoke creativity in the face of challenge, this principle of existential immersion has inevitably lead to roads that are arduous, ugly and difficult– yet deeply enriching.

This is a photo of my road in Bali and the small jungle river that I pass on my walk each morning to my favorite cafe.  Here in Bali, there’s really no solution for plastic, and so this is where it ends up.   Bali isn’t exceptional of course– the whole world doesn’t have a solution for plastic, its just that here the reality isn’t hidden.

Whereas some people come to Bali for its famous beaches, I came for its plastic– an issue that was hitting the media five years ago as I sought to continue my regenerative innovation work.   And though it hurts my heart to see it every morning, having this in my face, is what keeps me focused and has helped me stay motivated– especially through the long covid days and months.

Its so easy to get lost in the news of the day, the passing politics and issues of the instant,  to worry about careers and bills and what choices to make next.  Seeing the river each morning keeps me focused. When I start to think about my generational legacy on the planet, it strikes me that there’s simply nothing more important than our personal ecological harmony.  I mean, where does all our food come from?  What brings us the most joy?  What makes us healthy?  What will ensure the joy and healthiness of our children?  Our answers to all these questions fundamentally depend on living in healthy ecosystems.  And how we live in our ecosystems, right now, is being watched by our children.  The choices we make today will be echoed and amplified over time to the good or ill of our ecosystems… and everything else.

That said there’s one great thing about plastic.  Maybe in fact, its why I’ve gravitated to it in particular as a challenge…

Unlike the crises of ocean acidification, climate change, species extinction, or glacial melting, with plastic  we can actually touch it.  Whereas all those other crises extend so far in time and space (hyperobjects in the words of philosopher Timothy Morton) that they fast overwhelm, the ubiquity of plastic in our moments enables us to make daily, practical choices– small choices, but one’s with existential spin.

And since plastic is something that connects across cultures and continents, it uniquely is suited for intentional, united, and mandalic collective action.

Over Covid, I’ve been pretty silent on social media and my blog here.  But that’s not for a lack of thinking, reflecting, coding and writing.   Afterall, each day I pass this little river and since the scorched, degrading and leaching plastic running out to the ocean.   I am convinced more than ever that “the problem is the solution”  (to quote Bill Molinson’s first principle of permaculture) and that plastic has great potential for ecological redemption.  In fact, because through it we also touch the petroleum powered capital economy at the root of all our ecological malaise, following the road to solving plastic is the road to much more.

I’ve been mining insights and am getting excited to share the philosophy that is emerging.

Stay tuned….

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Busting out of the Covid Cave https://russs.net/busting-out-of-the-covid-cave/ https://russs.net/busting-out-of-the-covid-cave/#respond Sat, 18 Jul 2020 14:43:38 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4931 It’s been a while.  I miss writing.  I miss my blogging.  Oh… it’s not as if I haven’t been writing.  Indeed, the entirety of Covid, my fingers have been dancing on my keyboard.  I can clang out a good 40-50 words a minute when I am focused, much to the chagrin of my partner in the next room.  Sometimes I even amaze myself when half my brain sits back and just listens to the relentless click click of keys as the words flow forth.  Alas, these days, the vast majority of these words have been spent on reports and web pages, emails, java script code, html, css, and meeting notes, heavy with meaning and intention.

Its no nearly as fun as a good unplanned run of verbosity.

I must say though, I have been writing about some pretty interesting stuff.  Over the covid crash, the isolation has done marvels for reflection.  On the philosophical front, I’ve been digging deep, and mining the insights like its 1898!  Our ecobricks.org website is now chalk full of fresh new page courtesy of my clickety clicks.  The thing is, this type of writing needs to be meticulously polished before it can be shared.  You can’t just sit down write a philosophical discourse and hit POST.

When you get to writing about cutting edge ideas, it’s a little like laying a stone fence– each  and every word needs to be carefully considered, before being placed.   My last essay took months to refine before it was ready to post.   Heck, sometimes you need to take your chisel knock some edges of the rock so that it fits.  I think I’ve invented about half a dozen new words and tense this last year.

And I really yearn to use them new words!

It would be lovely to emerge from the covid cave and back into the light with these new stones– maybe even gems! — that I have found down here.   I’ve been fantasizing about returning to make blogs and facebook posts once a day.  My more rational side scoffs at the waste of time– words that could have otherwise been typed into essays and code with far more ‘consequence’.  But what’s with all this consequence, if you never have any fun with it?  My joy in writing is the twist and turn of terms, playing with paragraphs and dancing with meaning and metaphors.

Time to ink my pen and bust out of this covid cave!

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Full Open Source Luminous Sword https://russs.net/opensource/ https://russs.net/opensource/#respond Wed, 29 Apr 2020 05:37:39 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4588 Today, I am incredibly grateful to be writing this post on a dazzling Librem 13 laptop that runs on fully open source hardware and software.  It’s an amazing computer, endowed with the best of vibes and a great story.

I use this sleek black machine to do my writing, communicating, web and app development.  Its an essential tool in my quest to keep tons of plastic are kept out of the biosphere.  I suppose if I were living in the world of the Hobbit or Game of Thrones this sleek, fast and lithe device would be my magic sword, shinning and cutting through the darkness.

Of course, like any magic sword… this one has a story.

I met Trisha on a beach in Palawan, Philippines back in 2014.  It was a super intense and pivotal movement of my life as my time in the Philippines was coming to a close.  Trisha, a retired New Zelander with a passion for living gently on the planet, happened to be visiting my friends at the Maia Earth Village on the island.  It was one of those fateful encounters, that you have no idea will have so much consequence.

Hanging out and charging

Trisha really liked the home-made solar charger that I had with me.   The openCharger was indeed pretty cool– it was a village co-creation that my Igorot friends and I had made.  It turned out Trisha had a passion for empowering social and environmental projects.  She insisted that I make another one for her, and put down a deposit.  I promised I would get her one!

It took almost a year, but I was finally able to get it to her in New Zealand.   We’ve kept in touch over the last five years.  In 2016,  we realized that by complete coincidence, we both have homes in the same small town in Bali, Indonesia.  Here in Bali, she has observed the slow unfolding of the work of my partner and I; raising ecological consciousness through ecobricking in Indonesia.  She has watched our work grow from a few tepid Bali schools in 2014, to to a roaring social movement in 2020 involving millions.

Over the last years, we have stayed in touch with dinners and coffees.  At key moments– inflection points– she would step in to encourage Ani and I with her good energy.  When we were shy a couple hundred dollars for making posters and booklets for a convergence of ecobrickers in Jogja, one of Indonesiania’s main cities, she handed us some cash.  When we were low on food, she invited us offer for dinner and surprised us with a bag of groceries.  When we, were short of funds for a flight to Jakarta for an important meeting, she chipped in.

These influxes of energy at just the right moment helped us compound our impact by several orders of magnitude.  That Jogja convergence?  It led to the first Indonesian city to fully endorse ecobricking.  The Jakarta flight?  The meeting was attended by the top leadership of the world’s largest Muslim organization who have since been disseminating ecobricks to their 98 million members.   The food?  Well, that was a little more indirect, but it kept us going with our work with websites and social media that engages people we can’t meet in person (this video on our work has 47 million views so far).

Jombang, East Java – Another city follows the example of Jogja by training a team to disseminate plastic consciousness throughout their region.

Of course, even engaging millions of people with social media is a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of global plastic consumption.  This is why every big company invests tens of millions of dollars into app development to drive engagement (in their case to generate profit and capital).  But how does a non-capital movement keep up with these big budgeted slick app and platforms?  Well, thanks to the open source movement, comparable data technologies are available for free, and there are awesome services out there that empower the keen to keep up.

Of course, you need a good personal computer to take advantage.

And this is where Trisha saw another inflection point.  Seeing us with the latent network, development talent, vision and drive… but just missing the tools, she offered to help me get me the needed computer. She asked me which one… and I immediately knew the answer.

Purism is a principled, social purpose company based in the US.  They only sell one model of laptop– the Librem.  Unlike the majority of big tech companies, their business model does not center around data collection.  Consequently, with a focus on privacy and security they build with only open source technology.  They cut no corners in their work and use the best components available that meet their principles.  The result is a laptop that has no branded logo, kills switches for data and video, and running a super solid Linux OS.  I let Trisha know that the 13′ inch model was ideal for both my work and travel and she ordered it for me.  After some trials and tribulations getting it from the US to Indonesia (thanks Jack and Merlin!) it finally made it to my desk.

I use my Librem 13 aggressively everyday and it continues to run as smoothly and as fast as ever.  Through it and Purism, I’ve connected with all sorts of other open source technologies and project.  Using the machine, I’ve been able to lead the development of our GoBrik.com webapp.  It’s now rocking with over 40,000 users.

That said, there’s been something even more valuable that I have gained through the process.

Trisha and I consciously established a safe space and encouraged each the other to express our needs.

In my case, if I needed help with something, I was to ask her for it directly.  Meanwhile,  if she had the need to allocate her energy elsewhere, or felt she wasn’t in a position to help, than she committed to expressing that clearly.   This luminous arrangement empowered us both.   For me, the hardest about my work leading a non-capital social movement, is asking for help.  My ego and the notion that it clings to of being able to do it all alone, cries out in agony at the thought of admitting otherwise.  Even if deep down I know that with the help of others something valuable and crucial can be realized, even if I know that there is a vast community of resonance out there eager to help, it is still enormously challenging to concede what my ego perceives as weakness and dependance. The safe space gave me the courage to articulate my needs and broke through the fear and ego that were holding me back.  Once expressed, it almost didn’t matter if Trisha helped or not… I was past half way there already!

I’ve come to grasp that asking for help, and expressing my needs and emotions is not the weakness my ego thinks it is.  Rather, for me, its been a road of cultivating a my power to cocreate with others.   After all, asking for help is the other side of the coin of giving– the latter couldn’t exist without the first.  In the end, giving and receiving are but terms we put on the ebb and flow of humanity’s co-creative process.  To the extent that I can past my ego to ask for help, the more others can give and the faster we can get on with manifesting important things together– like open source, non-capital, regenerative solutions for the pressing challenges of our age!

Wooosh!    Can you hear it?  That’s my sword cutting through the dark night.

Thank you Trisha!

 

 

Our intention is to have everything freed down to the schematic level, but have not cleared all design, patents, legal, and contractual details. We will continue to advance toward this goal as it aligns with our long-term beliefs.

Purism on their Librem laptop

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Single Use Plastic during Covid-19 https://russs.net/single-use-plastic-during-covid-19/ https://russs.net/single-use-plastic-during-covid-19/#respond Fri, 03 Apr 2020 12:28:10 +0000 https://russs.net/?p=4791 Stuck at home, Ani and I have found ourselves consuming more plastic than usual.  Its seem that we’re not alone.  Understandably, in the face of a pandemic, there are a lot more important things than the problems of plastic, and it seems that globally plastic production and consumption has suddenly jumped up.  I couldn’t help but wonder though, what role is plastic playing exactly in these crazy pandemic times?  After all, a look at the history of pandemics shows a pattern of waste accumulation compounding already challenging situations.

Breaking research in the US this month indicates that SARS-Cov-2 (the virus that causes CoVid-19 disease) can last for up 72 hours on plastic.  In fact, of all the surfaces that the researchers examined, the virus remained viable the longest on polyethylene plastic.  One of the main materials for single use plastic.  Since ecobricks are all about securing single-use plastic, my team and I sat up and took note.  The consequences are more than significant.  Since then we’ve been furiously investigating the implications.  And figuring out… what to do with the plastic!

This recent US research, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine echoes an earlier, rather prophetic study in 2015.  UK researchers examined a different strain of corona virus, but came to the same conclusions that plastic can harbour and pass on the the virus.  The 2015 UK researchers, warn in no uncertain terms, about how the virus can spread on plastic surfaces: ”

the virus retained infectivity for 5 days on all surfaces… Therefore, natural contamination of common surface material with very few coronavirus particles could represent a considerable risk of infection spread if touched and transferred to facial mucosa.

All this is pretty relevant for anyone who uses plastic and who is trying to social distance during Covid-19. For some reason though, the media hasn’t made the connection between this study and the plastics that are used for packaging food and other necessities during this period.  A big fuss is being made about bringing back plastic bags to help out during this period and Starbucks banning disposable cups.  But no one seems to be talking about how single-use plastic is perhaps the most dangerous fomite, given that it moves around from buyer to seller to waste disposal and is intimately handled by humans during consumption.

Although fomite (i.e contaminated surface) transmission is not as significant as virus transmission through the air,  over the first few hours that plastic has been contaminated, touching it, then touching ones face, is exactly what the UK researchers in the 2015 research warn could be a dangerous potential method for the virus to spread.  And with all the packaged food and goods being bounced from one location to the next, plastic is connects factory workers to restaurant workers to people in their homes to waste management workers.

Now all that said, personally, I really hate it when people refer to ‘research’ and make alarmist claims.  It pains me to it in a blog post without footnotes and references. (alas there’s no way to make footnotes here!).

Our white paper in progress! Check it out…

THIS is exactly why, my team and I have been working furiously for the last week to release not only a white paper documenting our research, conjectures and conclusions.  From this we base our guidelines on how ecobricking can mitigate the ‘fomite’ (a surface that transmits the virus) risk of plastic.  Our white paper draft is 17 pages, with 2 pages of end note references.

It turns out that the process of cleaning and drying ones plastic to prepare it for ecobricking, is exactly what is needed to prevent plastic from becoming a fomite.  And in case any contaminated plastic gets in the bottle, it is securely contained and will deactivate in several days (–from a survey of 14 virus survival rates in back in 1991).

We’re getting ready to publicly release our white paper.  If anyone with a science background has some free time to take a look at the paper we’ve come up with I’d be much obliged.  Or if you’re just interested, I invite you to take a look at the pre-release.  I’ll post the link to the latest PDF in the comments below.

Ani and I, in between working on web pages and white papers, are washing and sun drying all the plastic we consume.  That’s our clothe-line with plastic from our latest home delivery from our favorite Ubud Raw Chocolate shop.  As soon as the plastic comes into our home, we take the food out, cut it open, then wash it right away.  We then put it up to dry in the sun.  Once dry, we cut it up and ecobrick it.   That way the plastic  won’t be a burden on the banjar (Balinese neighbourhood) right now– I actually haven’t seen anyone collecting plastic for a while now.

Then… once things return to normal, we can use the ecobrick to expand our garden benches.  🙂

 

 

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