Yesterday was another day where I got to spend lots of time sitting around with people who don’t speak English, and I don’t understand much Swiss German. It is actually ironic, as I was watching old Austrian and German films on the tele for that I am assuming are holiday classics, and actually understood quite a bit of what was being said.
But sitting around with the local dialect, i was lost. I still joke that me learning Swiss German is like me heading to Omaha Nebraska to learn Italian.
I think what was on my mind was a quote from a few days ago where I lamented how in developed worlds we throw away a lot of cooked foods, yet, in the 3rd world, most of the food that is available never gets out of the fields – instead it rots right there in the field. Call it the irony of food waste vs. hungry people on our planet.
What was fun, was yesterday I took one of my spiffy new quadrant based sketchbooks I didn’t’ want, and sketched away as the people chatted. While I started working on another area that will help us with the lab in Colorado and with the Agrowvillages in old school ways to preserve foods with smoking, dehydrating, and curing. Did I ever think I would be doing such work? Not really – but I am putting in rough locations to roll out the various ideas in the lab site plan and how long it will take to build the entire system.
If you told me 10 years ago, or whenever it was I was sitting in that Starbucks in Austin, Texas for three weeks, furiously scribbling ideas from sunrise to sunset, would have lead to all the high and low tech Agrowvillage work – I would have laughed at you.
Today, it is the Firefox books meet Silicon Valley and the Internet of things.
So as I sketched top views on how to work a year round growing facility in an area with snow and hail, I remembered that when I walked the land, there really isn’t much level space. This is fine, as I always think if you can, building and growing on terraces is far more efficient with water use than just a flat area. At one peak on the property is a small space I always joked would make a tiny little room cabin with a spectacular view to write or think in. The only downside is that if you go straight up to the site, you are wheezing.
So I sketched a concept for a walking path that would be fairly level, and then did a few switchbacks that would allow an elderly person to walk up to the ridge for the little cabin.
Here in Switzerland, they all have little garden houses and ponds.
I looked down at the sketch and the beauty taking shape in the design of the greenhouses, the box farming, aqua and agroponic rooms, chickens, aquaponics…(rest of interesting list)
“Guess I can’t really call the little space a garden house, as there is full working gardens on the building site below.”
"I am calling it a Mountain house!" I suppose it is fitting, as everything will be on a mountain – since most of the level space is for research and figuring out ways to produce off the grid food and energy production ideas – why not call it a “mountain house.”
Another part of the insanity of invention, is when you can see the idea clearly in your mind, and you know how to actually build it – many times it means you are stupid enough to actually do the unnatural and hump all the supplies up to the ridge by hand – simply because you know how cool it will be to have a tiny shack to sit in and watch sunsets or sunrises, snow fall or whatever nature gives…. you can walk up the mountain with your sketchbooks, computer, or mobile coffee making kit. Call it a special little spot to enjoy on the planet...as i write, it "feels" right to plan for making it.
Of course before i got to this place to plan, I thought about all the mornings when I first started clearing the land. I would wake up in my tent, thankful that a bear and a mountain lion didn’t’ want to eat me, take my old creaky body and hump more chainsaws and whatever tools I needed up the mountain – all to clear the area to make the road. What is exciting is that the distance from the current level site to this ridge is nowhere near as difficult!
The joy to be an optimist that suffers from temporary stupidity! “I love this idea! I want to carry all that heavy stuff up the ridge by hand! Yeah! Brilliant! Then again, I might need the space to talk to go talk to the creator, “Uhm, sir, I know you would like me to figure out some new ideas for ways to helping people live better lives, but do you have a manual for all this? Or do I just wing it?”
As mentioned, if 10 years ago, that ill fated house sitting adventure for an old friend, three sketchbooks of information about subjects i knew nothing about – would lead to ideas to help developed nations eat healthier, and starving ones simply get enough to live.
Sometimes it is simply better you don’t know the future.