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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/31/13

Preserving the Past to Serve the Future, *Transition, Permaculture, and Slow Technology*

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*Transition, Permaculture, and Slow Technology*

[image: baskets]<click here>

"Today, traditional knowledge <http://issuu.com/ipogea/docs/tkwb?e=1012267/2873119> is in danger and its disappearance would not only cause the loss of people's capability to keep and pass on the artistic and natural heritage, but also of an extraordinary source of knowledge and cultural diversity from which the appropriate innovation solutions can be derived today and in the future." 

* **Slow Money <http://slowmoney.org/>* is a movement to organize investors and donors to steer new sources of capital to small food enterprises, organic farms, and local food systems. The *Slow Food*<http://www.slowfoodusa.org/> *[image: slow food]<click here> *movement aims to preserve cultural cuisine and in so doing to preserve the food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an eco-region. It is also a social and political movement that resists the dehumanizing effects of fast food and corporate farming. *Slow Tech* is about the re-invigoration of heirloom technologies and traditional skills needed to thrive in a carbon-constrained future.

Transition <http://www.slowfoodusa.org/> is the movement by which people are re-skilled in heirloom technologies. Permaculture gave birth to the Transition movement and offers guidance on how to use those skills to design resilient lives. [image: Transition Handbook]<click here>The ethics; earth care <http://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/earthcare/>, people care <http://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/peoplecare/>, and fair share <http://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/fairshare/> form the foundation for Permaculture and are also found in most traditional societies. Permaculture <http://permacultureprinciples.com/> incorporates knowledge from cultures that have existed in balance with their environment for much longer than our consumer-centered fossil-fueled society. We should not ignore the positive accomplishments of modern times, but in the transition to a sustainable future, we need to consider values and concepts different from what has become the social norm. 

*Slow Technology:*

C. Milton Dixon <http://kinstonecircle.com/faculty/milton-dixon/>, interviewed in The (Chicago) Examiner <http://www.examiner.com/>, May 2011, said:

"(High tech is) industrial technology and refers to things that are out of your control, as opposed to low technology, which is simple things done in a smart way. Low technology is using the intelligence of nature to accomplish tasks. High technology is buying an apple from the store; low technology is getting an apple from a tree you planted yourself. One of the big differences is in high technology you are disconnected from cause-and-effect relationships. So if you pollute through high technology, you may not feel the direct result. Low technology is connection because you are involved in the process and you are directly affected by the consequences."

The idea of Slow Technology has its roots in the ideological movement called "appropriate technology," a term coined by E.F. Schumacher in his book "Small is Beautiful," first published in 1973. Slow or appropriate technology centers on ideas of proper scale: technology should be "people-centered." "Slow technology as an ideology that extends[image: smallisbeautifulandbord] <click here> thoughtfulness about how devices shape our relationships to time, emotion, and energy. Slow Technology is articulated in an article <http://www.johan.redstrom.se/thesis/pdf/slowtech.pdf> by two Swedish designers, Lars Hallnas and Johan Redstrom, who in 2001 described Slow Technology as "a design agenda for technology aimed at reflection and moments of mental rest rather than efficiency in performance."

..... the central condition of empowering people to develop to the best of their abilities and to have freedom to succeed or fail based on their own efforts is critical. The appropriate technology movement <http://wickone.myweb.uga.edu/Appropriate.html> has at its philosophical heart the desire to capacitate people of all walks of life to create (1) *Meaningful Employment*, (2*) Comprehension of Technology *, (3) *Self-Reliance*, and (4) *Reduced Environmental Impacts. *

Transition <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/> fosters and supports the revitalization of Slow Tech skills and Permaculture asks us to consider relearning the proficiency needed to reanimate wind mills, watermills, and sailing vessels while putting hand tools, levers, and blocks-and-tackle back into service.

Technology can be Slow in various ways: <click here>

- It takes time to learn how it works, - It takes time to understand why it works the way it works, - It takes time to apply it - It takes time to see what it is - and it takes time to find out the consequences of using it

[image: woodworking tools]<click here> No woodworker's first project is a chair, a house, a mill, or a boat. My first woodworking lesson was to take a rough piece of lumber, and using hand tools (that I sharpened) to shape it into a three-dimensional absolutely square finished piece of wood. It took me a full day and I used every tool on my bench.

Once my practice was established I developed a method that worked for me. First I sat with a piece of tracing paper and did a rough sketch of the final product. Then I drew it full scale in three views. From that drawing I could determine what amount of wood was needed, where each joint would go, and how the pieces would transition from one to[image: andy chair and table]<click here> another to create an aesthetically pleasing whole. Then the sawing, planing, joinery, shaping, and finishing would take place. Each of those steps were learned by doing, learning from others, by using traditional references, and knowing that the dimensions and materials were appropriate for the final use.

I was lucky both to have mentors, and to have the time to hone my skills first as a student, then an apprentice, and then as a resident woodworker at Peters Valley Craft Center <http://www.petersvalley.org/> in New Jersey. Peters Valley gave me the opportunity and the time, to learn the business, practice my craft, and teach. It also was a community of like-minded professional potters, weavers, metal workers, and woodworkers that supported one [image: potter at peters valley]<click here> another. If we are to learn the skills necessary to survive and thrive in a post-carbon world, more places like Peters Valley will be necessary, more experienced craft workers will have to open their shops to apprentices, and more people are going to have to be willing to take the time, resources, and effort to learn.

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Andrew Willner has been a city planner, furniture designer, sculptor, boat builder, environmentalist, Permaculturist, Transition advocate, story teller, blogger, and photographer. He was Executive Director and Baykeeper at NY/NJ Baykeeper (more...)
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