There is an illustration of how it could look, there is a list of assumptions behind this design, there will be a long list of urgent questions that just illustrate how flimsy the "how" is backed up.
Yet I feel this is the way to do it, this is how it should be done more often. Presenting in reasonable detail a total picture should arouse detailed support. People should address us with bits of conflicting or supportive information. No one will do it without such an incentive. A few will do it no doubt with ideas and data that suddenly will give a boost to this Open Source challenge.
I personally know nothing about heat pipes or molten salt. But thousands of people do. One day I'll get the missing news from one of them.
Miracles happen. Mayor Gert Leers of Maastricht is seen in this picture to pin up a decoration on the sweater of an amazed Demotech's initiator. By the act shown on the photograph he became Ridder in de orde van Oranje-Nassau. Reinder's house mates cheered their own new knight, only not to shield behind him when a few weeks later the Kraak Festival, this big LBB event was prohibited by this same generous mayor. Could this new knight have been the secret weapon that would have turned the tide?
Future new item
Thu Jul 19 (2007)
Text will be replaced, as the YouTube movie "Say no to terrorism" waa no longer available
Contributon from Joel Roszmann
What is going on in Guatemala today?
Fri May 04 (2007)
Bram and Chinto will leave for Guatemala in two weeks. That means that the Demotech Lab is a flurry of activity as we prepare to get everything ready for them to go. A half dozen StorageStools, in various stages of completion, litter the workshop and provide constant reminder of the task at hand, lit by the mid afternoon sunshine which drifts into the room through cracked and dusty windows.
Bram is working at one of the work benches carving sticks of bamboo for Reinder to test in his latest concept for the base of the bag inside of the stool. Working next to him, the 74 year old man stands over his own bench, quickly picking up Bram's finished pieces and putting them together in the correct shape. With work going on at a steady pace, I sit at a computer and find myself wondering what is going on in Guatemala. What does the world look like that these stools are about to enter into?
A quick internet search is reveals a few bits of news. There is a general election due in September, and two candidates, one a General and one an ex-rebel have been chosen to represent a party for presidentship. The "hunger season" is coming some time in May or June, and higher than normal maize prices are a concern to poorer inhabitants. There was a murder reported recently near the capital. Coffee and Sugar cane production are normal, but there is worry that the rainy season may come late this year due to climate change. There is a whole country alive there where I have never been.
But somewhere in that country, and I must admit with a bit of guilt that I still haven't asked bram exactly where, there is a village which will be invited to start producing the stools that Reinder and Bram are working on as I type. Somewhere, I tell myself, there will be people whose lives change because of what we do here.
I then remember the stool I built a week ago, with a group of children here in Maastricht. It occurs to me that for the moment, somewhere is not so important to me. My stool, sitting in my living room, seems somehow more real than the entire nation of Guatemala. It makes me laugh to think that somewhere people are going to enjoy making and having that stool in exactly the same way that I am enjoying the one that I have and made.
More. I bet they will enjoy it more.
Julia Klomfass completes Internship
Wed Mar 28 (2007)
| A student of Environmental Sciences in Berlin, Julia Klomfass has just recently finished her three week internship at Demotech, where she has been working to bridge the gap between the conceptual understanding of hands-on work and academic life/lifestyle.
In her report, available here, Julia gives an exciting and heartfelt appeal to reintegrate hands-on work into education at all levels. Learning at Demotech, Julia set out to "find the patterns of hands-on work and a way to teach them to fellow students". her results, summarized in her report , are striking. Julia notes that many of the thinking patterns and practical skills vital to hands-on work are grossly undervalued in modern society, and that learning those would make a strong step towards sustainability by getting people more in touch with their surroundings. Moreover, she points out that the social concept that manual work is simple, or mindless, is false, and maps some of the more evident differences in thinking processes necessary to work successfully with your hands.
Connected to a publication by Demotech from 1998 "To Make", Julia's reflections build on Demotech's
Julia Klomfass shows one of her hands on results
previous experiences with learning in the field, as well as to progress of the current project by Bram in Guatemala. The importance of knowing how people learn outside of an academic environment is of great interest to us, and will be studied further.
Hydraulic Ram Pump Video for Guatemala
Sat Feb 10 (2007)
In the early eighties, I traveled in Maroc with a bulky Polaroid projection screen to Casablanca, coming from a farm near Al Hoseima where I recorded our donkey on Polaroid instant movie film doing its rounds while driving the water pump we had build. With this -at that time- ultra modern equipment I wanted to link experts from the Casablanca university to their own rural reality. Nothing much came out of it.
This time, preparing for Guatemala Bram and I do it the other way round. What we did in Maastricht, at out lab, has been videod by Bram. He made a short movie, showing out test set-up of the hydraulic ram pump. To see is that the ram pump sprouts water jets and higher up indeed some water stream out. How a ram pumps actually works is almost impossible to explain to laymen. However we want farmers in the mountains to explain precisely this: how and why it works, notwithstanding the language barrier, notwithstanding that they are totally new to this pumping principle. Then how could we create this understanding, how to create curiosity and later enthousiasm?
Here you can find the video that Bram made.
Bram takes along to Guatemala a video beamer working on a battery, also a DVD-diskman with a little screen to see the movie. What you, reader can see, these farmers will see also. Having seen that, will they come to the workshops where the hydraulic ram pump will be build together with them?
If so, we have created a tool to get a complicated technial message accross.
If not we will do it as we did it up to now: demonstrate, invite pariticipation, show them how to make best use of Appropriate Technology. No doubt the useual way will work, as it has always worked.
But imagine! imagine that video will speed up the process of learning. Imagine a little DVD-disk will do most of the work of explaining, without us being there too, Image this to happen not on one place only but where ever needed ...
Workforce adventure in making
Mon Sep 25 (2006)
Basic ability of students at the Maastricht University is to study: analyze text and produce essays, not "to make". Ability to make is not expected, let alone trained.
Workforce students do not accept that. Where sustainability ask for "re-design", it also asks for re-making. To research making, to make different, is what they want to have in their fingers, literarily.
Last Sunday two Workforce students, Sara and Conrad, worked on our pulley project. This is how they experience their exercise in making:
We start off with a concrete and precise task but with a little lack of orientation. The overall picture is unclear. So is the next step. During the process one increasingly understands the importance of trying out different ways, while being highly attentive to the different implications of each idea. Start thinking and experiencing with your hands! Use your intelligence not only for the design aspect but also the building/designing/learning process and how to facilitate it. Finally, it falls together nicely and gives a rewarding feeling of JOY.
Sara, Conrad and the Pocket Poulley
Face lift for demotech.org
Fri Sep 15 (2006)
Yes, www.demotech.org looks different from now on! We say goodbye to the old home page with the many pictures mosaic and three slogans: "Poverty?", "Sustainability?" and "More joy per Person" to exchange it for the middle of the road home page
we have now. Why?
For a start, we indeed want to be seen and recognized as middle of the road. Demotech should function as a normal useful tool, like a hammer. A hammer works best when it is just a hammer, without funny extra's.
Stijn Quast, one of the students of the Workforce
, has modeled the structure of our old website into a frame that performs better for people that look for information. What does still need improvements is the layout, f.e. the design of the header. The new setup is expected to perform better in regard of:
what most people expect to find in a website, thus organized in a more or less standardized version
flatter website, fewer steps to go to information
the website should work with older computers
a smart visual layout. Color coding is used for different categories, icons are more descriptive ...
Four people are now involved in this new setup. Guiding from the side line has been done by our long time web master Marc. New, young and enthusiastic support came from Sander Bokern, who has done all the PHP-scripts for the forum. I myself have to take care for text and content. I have to do a better job, hope to gradually upgrade the text-blocks that often are inserted as temporary. And then there is Stijn, who went all out for this web-transfer and who has spend most of his free time this summer on this job. Thanks to Stijn!
But thanks to you too, reader! We need some patience from you to clear the dirty bits left over, to make details better functioning or better looking.
And do not forget to look at the Participation page. More and more people from all over the world participate by now. Become one of them!
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