Global Village Construction Set

It’s possible to plant 50 trees in one afternoon.

To press 5,000 bricks from the dirt beneath your feet in one day.

To build an affordable tractor in six days.

It’s possible thanks to the members of Open Source Ecology (OSE). They aren’t armchair visionaries. These engineers, farmers, and developers are dedicated to making communities sustainable and self-reliant. They’re taking on scarcity and inequality with open source enthusiasm

OSE got its start when Marcin Jakubowski’s tractor broke.  Well, lets back up a little. After Jakubowski earned a PhD in the physics of fusion energy, he bought a farm in Missouri where he grew fruit trees and raised goats. One day his tractor broke. He didn’t have the hands-on experience to fix it himself. But he hauled out some can-do attitude along with his welder and torch. He realized a tractor is simply a box with wheels, each powered by hydraulic motors.  So he bolted together square steel tubing to make one from scratch. It worked.

This inspired him to look beyond pricey, commercially made machines. He began to come up with versions that were hardy, low cost, and constructed out of locally sourced or repurposed materials. His posted designs generated lots of enthusiasm and input. Participants began showing up to help build prototyles on project days, becoming OSE collaborators.

The idea evolved. They considered what it takes to build independent, sustainable communities that support farming, construction, small manufacturing,  and power generation. They came up with a list of the 50 machines most important for modern life including a hay baler, bakery oven, laser cutter, drill press, solar concentrator, and truck.  Low cost, industrial strength, DIY versions of these machines became known as the Global Village Construction Set.  The motors, parts, and other fittings of these machines are designed to be interchangeable. All the 3D designs, schematics, and instructional videos are posted on the OSE Wiki.

On average, constructing these machines costs about eight times less than comparable machines made by industrial manufacturers. As Jakubowski explained in his recent TED talk, “Our goal is a repository of published design so clear, so complete, that a single burned DVD is effectively a civilization starter kit. ..The implications are significant: a greater distribution of the means of production, environmentally sound supply chains, and a newly relevant DIY Maker culture can hope to transcend artificial scarcity.”

So often hope seems abstract.  This is tangible hope, made of steel. It puts independence and equality in reach for people in both the developed and developing world.  Welding never seemed so inspiring.

This post is originally from Laura’s author blog where you can find hundreds of posts about mindfulness, learning, creativity, sustainability, and more.  

Posted in community, DIY, global, great turning, optimism, real wealth, self-reliance, shift, simple living, sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DIY: Monstrous Jeans Patch

 Although my son wears heavyweight and durable pants, he still manages to stain, rip, and fray them to shreds. I used to amuse myself by cutting patches from old jeans in the shape of dinosaurs to sew over ripped knees, but he’s way too old for that. He still destroys pants and I still like to amuse myself with stitchery. So this time, rather than sew on a plain square patch or cut the pants into shorts, I made a quick repair—monster style.

I got the idea from Samantha at By Meikk (you’ll have to hit the “translate” button to read her blog, which appears to be written in Dutch). She uses fleece and felt backed with fusible webbing to cleverly patch a hole with a monster face.

I took a quicker (lazier) route.

add a monster face to jeans,

I positioned a contrasting color iron-on patch over the hole from the inside, making sure that the shiny fusible coating faced against the pants fabric. Before ironing in place, I cut jagged teeth from a white iron-on patch and positioned the fusible side in toward the other patch. I covered it all with a piece of parchment paper to keep it from sticking to the iron. Then I held the iron, turned up to the hottest setting, on the patch area and fused it for about 45 seconds.

Next I cut eyes from a left-over piece of contrast color iron-on patch and ironed them shiny side down on the outside of the fabric.

monster patch repair,

I know these patches tend to loosen after a few go-rounds in the washing machine, so I sewed around the edges with primitive Frankenstein-like stitches.

Hand sewing to ensure patches stay in place. (image: L. Weldon)

Then I colored a pupil in each eye with a fabric marker.

make a monster jeans patch,

The whole process took less than ten minutes. I folded the pants along with my son’s other clean laundry, anticipating that he’d be surprised when he put them on. That didn’t happen. His siblings found my repair job so silly that they informed him his pants were now monstrous. I wasn’t sure he’d approve but he looked, laughed, and came over to hug me. Apparently our kids can outgrow all sorts of things but retain a lingering affection for whimsical mothers.

Posted in craft, DIY, stitchery | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Best Appetizer Ever: Hidden Gems


Extra-crunch version made with almond meal. (image: L. Weldon)

Life is full of appetizer moments. Parties, potlucks, birthdays, holidays, and those events that have no name but yet persistently land on the calendar. I’m here to offer you a panacea—an appetizer you can customize for every event. It’s crusty, savory, and durable. Better yet, you can make it in advance. Even freeze it in advance. Best of all, you can fill it with all sorts of options. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this for non-appetizer reasons as well, perhaps to accompany soup or a salad. Just imagine the culinary possibilities…


Hidden Gem Appetizers 


Appetizer Ingredients

35 stuffed olives (garlic-stuffed olives are particularly excellent) patted dry, OR other filling*

1 cup flour (white or gluten-free mix or almond flour**)

generous dash salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

dash cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups grated cheese, try sharp cheddar or gouda

2 Tablespoons butter

1 egg, beaten

dash Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce


Dip Ingredients

3/4 cups sour cream or veggie dip

2 Tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce or hot sauce



Roll olives or other chosen filling on a dish towel or paper towel to dry.

In a food processor or with a pastry cutter, mix flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Add cheese and butter, cutting in till mixture resembles crumbs. Mix in egg and sauce. If you have time, chill this mixture.

Coat a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Taking about 2 teaspoons of dough, use your hands to roll it into a rough ball, flatten the ball, then form the dough around an olive or other filling of your choice.  Place each one on the prepared pan, cover, and chill for an hour or up to two days. At this point the pan can be wrapped tightly and frozen if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake trays of appetizers until they’re golden brown and crusty, about 20 to 25 minutes. It’s best if you flip them over with a spatula halfway through the baking time.

Mix the dip ingredients. Serve appetizers hot, with dip in the middle of your serving tray. You might want to double the recipe. They warm up nicely the next day or two as well. Hidden gems really are amazing.


*Try 1″ pieces of andouille sausage, smoked tofu, cooked mushrooms, chorizo sausage, artichoke hearts, shrimp, or anything you’re inspired to roll in a pastry crust. (Cheese doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory choice, sorry to say, because it likes to ooze out of the dough. I haven’t given up on it, next I”ll try small bits of a hard cheese like Emmental, Blue, or Gruyere)

**Almond flour is a great choice, especially for low-carb folks. The dough tends to slump a little rather than hold its shape in this recipe, but it tastes even better than the flour versions. Both pictures here show appetizers made with almond flour.

Hidden Gems, ready for the oven (image: L. Weldon)

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Outdoor Photos

Outdoor Photos

Find a quiet rain. Then a green spruce tree. You will notice that nearly every needle has been decorated with a tiny raindrop ornament. Look closely inside the drop and there you are. In color. Upside down. The raindrop has no instructions to flip us right-side up. People, dogs, muskrats, woods, and hill, whatever fits, heads down like quail from a hunter’s belt. Raindrops have been collecting snapshots since objects and people were placed, to their surprise, here and there on earth.

Raindrops are fickle, of course, willing to substitute one image for another without a thought as we pass by them. Our spot taken by a flash of lightening or a wet duck. Still, even if we are only on display for a moment in a water drop as it clings to a pine needle, it is expected that we be on our best behavior, hair combed, jacket buttoned, no vulgar language. Smiling is not necessary, but a pleasant attitude is helpful, and would be, I think, appreciated.

by Tom Hennen

From his extraordinarily beautiful, too-little known book, Darkness Sticks to Everything: Collected and New Poems (NYT review here)

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Anti-Pipeline Resolution Passes!

resolution against Nexus Pipeline

Our little township is taking a stand against a giant.

Construction of the massive Nexus pipeline is planned for 2015. This high pressure pipeline will ship fracked Utica and Marcellus shale gas out of the country. Its route goes through Ohio and Michigan, then into Ontario, Canada. The major corporate player in this venture is Spectra Energy, a company with an appalling safety record. Why should you care? Here are just a few reasons.

Our little community passed Resolution 27-14, opposing construction of this and any other high pressure gas transmission pipelines. This may seem like a largely symbolic act, but New York’s highest court recently upheld the right of towns to ban fracking within their borders. We hope the rights to local rule are also returned to us in Ohio, restoring the ability of local citizens to apply private property rights and zoning laws to oil and gas industry usage. (A right we still don’t have in 38 states.)

Here’s more information you need to know:

~Maps of northeast Ohio areas where construction of the Nexus pipeline is planned for 2015, here

~Lots of information about fracking here: Will Fracking Affect My Family?

~Full text of anti-pipeline resolution below. 

Litchfield township, Ohio

Resolution 27-14

Resolution Opposing Construction of the Proposed Nexus and other International High Pressure Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines

WHEREAS, Spectra Energy Corporation, Enbridge Inc., and DTE Energy propose to construct a new 42″ High Pressure Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline, known as the “Nexus” Pipeline, running through Litchfield Township, Medina County, Ohio to transmit natural gas from the Ohio Utica and Marcellus shale gas formations to service customers primarily in Canada.

WHEREAS, other similar High Pressure Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines (Pipelines) proposed to transmit Ohio natural gas through Ohio may be constructed to pass through Litchfield Township, Ohio in the future.

WHEREAS, such Pipelines pose a serious threat to the general welfare of the Township residents because of the inherent risks of leaks and ruptures which can result in explosion, fire, environmental contamination, property damage, personal injury, and death.

WHEREAS, such Pipelines require additional property tax revenue to pay for emergency medical and fire training, equipment and personnel required for evacuations and for emergency response in the event of explosion, fires, or other accidents.

WHEREAS, such Pipelines will not benefit Township residents with much needed natural gas supplies and will merely transfer natural gas through the Township without providing any utilitarian public benefit.

WHEREAS, such Pipelines diminish the desire to reside near the vicinity of the Pipeline route which results in the inability to sell real property or in lower property values and subsequent loss of fees and property tax revenue.

NOW THEREFOR BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Litchfield Township Trustees, Ohio, deems that the location of High Pressure Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines within Litchfield Township are against the interests of the public health, safety, morals, comfort, and general welfare of said Township and its residents and stands against the construction of the proposed “Nexus” pipeline or any other such Pipelines proposed in the future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution be filed as comment before the appropriate officials of Medina County, Ohio House of REpresentatives, United States Congress, the Federal Energy REgulatory Commission, DTE Energy, Enbridge, Inc., and Spectra Energy Corporation.

(date adopted, 11/24/14)

Posted in community, fracking, hope | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Everything’s Lusher



The glory of the sensual world
may be expanding according
to a crusty New England poet
who astonished the literary world today
with a press-conference revelation
of his researches.  “Everything’s lusher,”
mused the poet, speaking
before an audience of some 50-odd
reporters and photographers
assembled in his garret.
He cited several beautiful flowers
and an extraordinary cloud
that passed over Western Massachusetts,
he says, sometime last week.
“Even the traffic lights,”
mused the poet, “even
the lives of critics.” His comments
have already called forth a universal
cavalcade of assent from commentators
including a posthumous encomium
from Walt Whitman.  “Damn straight
it’s lusher,” Whitman opines in part,
“Fact is, it always was.”

~Michael Lipson

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Landscape Art: Huge Hand-Crafted Outdoor Garden Bell

landscape installation, landscape sculpture, welded yard art, repurposed yard art, Mark Weldon,

Landscape sculpture hand-crafted by Mark Weldon, on Bit of Earth Farm

This is a unique, hand-crafted landscape sculpture. Each part of this garden bell was locally sourced. It’s made from 6 x 8 and 6 x 6 smooth cedar beams, finished with durable natural oil. It features plates, caps, and hangers fashioned from repurposed steel, and offers the distinctive look of square-headed hardware. The two functional bells are heavy repurposed canisters, each with a deep resonant tone when struck. The piece is 140 inches at the peak, nearly 12 feet. It can be secured to concrete or a building, or be mounted 3 feet in the ground to stand a little over 100 inches tall.

You can see from the photos (supported by a rod and rope for the photo) its size compared to two six-foot-tall men!

landscape art, garden sculpture, garden bell, repurposed metal art, art from the farm, Bit of Earth Farm,

Landscape art by Mark Weldon, Bit of Earth Farm

This interactive piece is an impressive and enduring landscape statement. Imagine it in a garden bed at your home, business, or organization.

It was designed and built by Mark Weldon on our small family farm. Another of his large-scale landscape installation pieces is currently for sale at the Elements Gallery in Peninsula.

garden sculpture, landscape art, welded yard art, Mark Weldon, Bit of Earth Farm,

Six-foot-tall garden bell from repurposed materials, made by Mark Weldon on Bit of Earth Farm.

If your design business, landscape company, or gallery wants to take this or any pieces by Mark on consignment, let us know. If you prefer a custom piece, please get in touch with Mark either through our contact page or by email (

shop mom and pop

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