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High > Low < Tech

2 weekly blog resisting the second law

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January 2015

Chapter 9 – To deep in the rabbit hole

Darkside – Freak, Go Home

This is not just my first post on time. It was even written yesterday. Which is even more remarkable as I have been struggling to write it because not much has happened in the last two weeks while so much has happened in the last two weeks. Like Alice – if Alice was a male engineer – I have been following the rabbit with the clock of internal workings into the rabbithole. The world I found is bizar to me to say the least. Some stuff makes you feel small and some stuff makes you feel big. And all the characters from short-tempered queens – male or female – over fearful mice to smoking caterpillars and even an ever grinning cat can be found.

I have been struggling how to write about all I’ve learned in the past 4 month but especially the past 4 weeks. I want to be critical without scorching, I want to be fair without fooling myself. I want to praise where deserved and shun where necessary. But at the moment I am to deep inside the rabbithole. I will not avoid this topic because it is difficult but I have to give me more time to be able to write accordingly.

So for now I decided just to recap for myself what the lessons for me are in therms of sustainability:

1. Development that requires continious grow (expansion) can never be sustainable. A sustainable model can grow but it does not require such to prevail. Growth is a side effect not the target. When growth becomes a target on itself it leads to the loss of integrity which then in turn will attract people that seek short cuts.

2. The biggest contribution one can make for a more sustainable and environmental friendly future is change his/her diet. According to a UN report 51% of greenhouse gas emission is due to livestock grazing. With all the side effects of deforestation, ocean deadzones and crime. But the most compelling argument should be that right now on earth there is enough food grown for 10-15 billion people but depending on the area between 50% and 80% procent of it (mostly corn) is fed to livestock (caddle)[2]. There you have a nice argument for your next discussion about the necessity of GMO’s.
The best thing would be to go vegan. I am not there yet. I could be considerd a vegetarian wasn’t it for the chicken I eat every 2 or 3 month. I could even become Vegan quite easily but am not yet ready to let go of eggs and cheese.

3. There are no short cuts. Take pride in mastering a long difficult way and enjoy the step by step process. Don’t wear somebody elses feathers (don’t take credit for others accomplishments).

This all is pretty straight forward and nothing new. But I don’t know what else to write. As an engineer I want problems to be about technology but so far the most effective solutions to problems ranging from minor to dire do not fail because of technology but because of the lacking will of implementation.

Photos are unrelated to the topic.

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[1] http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294
[2] http://cowspiracy.com

Chapter 8 – Short Cuts

Woodkid – Conquest of spaces

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It is new years eve 2014 close to midnight, I am only wearing my underpants, my hair is full of mud and I gaze at the stars while floating on my back in red earth colored water. The water is blocking my ears and noises – if any – only reach me muffled.

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I take deep slow breaths. I have been visiting great projects and initiatives here in Auroville [1-12]. But I also made discoveries about the inner workings that leave me less optimistic. In a view days the documentary “Cowspiracy” [13] will undermine my whole view of sustainability and the role of NGO’s in it. And that is just a precursor for the NGO history 101 I’ll get a couple of days after that. But here in my little time bubble in the mud pool of sadhana forest I am safe and blissfull.

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It is extraordinary how many awesome projects are out there growing organic food, developing alternative building materials and techniques, reforesting the desert, solarlectrifying rural villages, making cooking cleaner et cetera et cetera. Many struggle. To understand their struggle I’ve become really good in mapping out their resources. But in the end the problems boil down to a rather simple sounding issue: Short cuts. Or more accurate: People looking for short cuts, wanting to work less, wanting to make a quick bug. It happens on all levels. From what I’ve seen so far there are no short cuts if you want it to last. Whatever that is.

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I wash the mud out of my hair and wade back to dryer grounds. I brought no towel so I just sit with the others at the campfire till I can put the rest of my cloth back on.And then it is sddenly 2015. A big hug from 30 or 40 people, life guitar music with drums and violin, one lost rocket in the distant, thats it. Later I collect some friends from another party and we head for the beach. We are quite early so everybody sleeps, I persue my own form of meditation, going through the highlights of my year. Moved to Austria, finished my studies with destinction, broke my wrist, went to India, got stuck in the kashmere floodings, started working for an NGO.

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A fishermen approaches me. When he finds out that I am german he insists of explaining to me why he likes Hitler. Under different circmstances I would be very curious how someone would glorify propaganda driven war and industrialized genocide but the sun is about to rise and I am really not in the mode, so back off.

And then the sun rises on 2015. It will be an interesting year that is for sure.IMG_20150113_153442

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All photos (except indicated differently) in this blog are my own and are not allowed to be used without my explicit permission.

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[1] Sadhana Forest

[2] Bamboo Research Center

[3] Earth Institute

[4] iWasteless

[5] Sunlit Future

[6] Buddah Garden

[7] Botanical Garden

[8] Solitude

[9] Praktilab

[10] Solar Kitchen

[11] Solar Workshop

[12] Matri Mandir

[13] Cowspiracy – Documentary

Chapter 7 – Men in skirts

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After two month I am traveling again. I have gotten comfortable in Tilonia and so I am a little bit weary. But for no reason. I catch the train to Jaipur, see the city palace (boring) and the Janar Matar (awesome) and lots of people only hunting for a good selfie. Seems to be that proofing you have been there is more important than being there. I guess +20 Facebook likes make it more real. Definitely feels good.
An indian family invites me to join their picnic and later I get tea and lunch from the shop owner that just sold me a plastic box for 24 rupees because I know more than 10 words of Hindi. The riksha driver wants to be my friend. We shake on it.

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I the evening I fly to Chennai and get picked up by B’s uncle and father. Lucky me because Chennai is a hot damp mess of construction sights. Overpasses off course. My clothes are soaking wet. The next day I board a train to Calicut and just 11 short hours later I find myself there. Switch to the local bus and a three hour procession of palm trees and some incredible views and I arrive at my destination.

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Kambalakkad (Wayanad, Kerala, Southern India). A tropical place with many plantations in the back country of Kerala. Once very backward now very much developed. Islam and Christianity battle with opulent buildings and shrines for attention and believers competing with the main religion Hinduism. Lots of Gulf money (many workers works over seas in the middle east) has enriched the area. And between all that the reappearing hammer and sickle. Kerala has a strong communist government. What a mix. And all the men wear skirts. Well it is called lungi, djothi, wasti. A traditional Indian piece of clothing. I smile at the blanket around their wastes not knowing that I will wear one myself very soon.

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The reason I came here is RASTA[1] a sister organisation of Barefoot at the end of the world. Well the end of my world. The earth is round and technically there no ends but sometimes a place is so far away from what are use to that you find yourself at the edge of your world. Luckily if you cross over that edge you don’t fall but your world increases.

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So at the edge of my world I find the campus – with 4,5 houses, overgrown by coffee and coconut trees and all the mandatory jungle noises – of a small NGO barely scrapping by. A chaotic little place of heart aching beauty.Besides making a map of the campus, a 5 phase plan to facilitate tourism as source of income, restarting the biogas reactor, cleaning the solar heater and fixing the rainwater pipe I incidentally get involved in the solar electrification project. Before I know it I find myself in the front row of the meetings with local government. I get the feeling that the “german engineer” is used to add some blingbling. Besides saying who I am, where I am from and what my profession is I don’t contribute much to the discussions. Later however I get to point out some hickups in the planned process.

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Dusk is my favorite time here. The light becomes irie and seems to sharpen the senses causing every contour to edge out, surpass normal reality. I love that … so much. If you ever want to get away from everything: THIS IS THE PLACE. Insider tip.

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After just one week I leave RASTA and head for Trivandrum. The train ride shows me for the first time the surreal India I know from the western commercials. Plantations, elephants, swamps, incredible trees, rice fields, etc. Its like watching slide show.

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In Trivandrum I participate in an Indian wedding which is great fun…and requires me to wear a lungi. And actually it fits me well. Plus it is the perfect clothing for this hot damp climate. In case of more freedom of movement or extreme heat: Just fold it up to a short skirt. The dancing part after the ceremony was a little bit short for my taste. Although it seems like I will always be remembered for my “lungi dance”. My own little piece of immortality.

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1 https://www.facebook.com/RastaWayand

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All photos (except indicated differently) in this blog are my own and are not allowed to be used without my explicit permission.

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