Day 11 @EDE Class: Composting Toilet, Transition of A Community

Sep 6, 2018.

Composting Toilet

Flush toilets become the dominant toilet structure because it’s in human nature to avoid uncomfortable things. (I won’t feel bad if you leave this blog now 🙂 However we really need to LOOK at waste management when designing an ecovillage.  Composting toilets are mostly dry toilets. It saves water, produces organic fertilizer that can enrich soil, and reduces carbon and nitrogen that goes into the air.

The good design is usually simple, affordable and socially acceptable. And it’s not complete new technology. Many traditional farming society have been using their own versions. I also found beauty of simplicity in the line drawing in Albert’s slides 🙂

 

Transition of a community

Now something more beautiful, the transition of the entire community into an ecovillage 🙂  We looked at the case of the Transition Town, Totnes in UK. (click this link for on a 2-minute history on Youtube)

 

Totnes story
The Totnes Story (Photo from Transitionnetwork.org website)

To bring the community together, you will first need to develop relationship. To integrate rather than separate. To make people feel comfortable to open up and connect with each other. Albert talked about things that a group can do together to build relationship: recycle trash, clean up public space, compost, make biochar, host workshop, … Surely there is no one-size-fit-all activity list and it depends on what fits in a specific community. It also needs certain number of people who share the vision and dare changes. A village with only a few empty nesters are probably not the suitable place to start.

Now I am already thinking about Huadao Ecological Community, the community that we visited on Day 7 and that I hope to explore more for a half-farming-and-half-X life experiment. The biggest challenge right now is that there are very few regular residents. It seems an interesting problem to solve.

A town-hall meeting

Our community of the class here is also undergoing some transition, though the direction is not sure. A town hall meeting was called by the class facilitator on duty. The center request was if we should make it a group agreement that no one should interrupt the teacher’s lecture and hold their questions and comments till Q&A time. It sounds too common-sense. (Later I learned that some students were annoyed by comments deemed irrelevant but interrupted the lecture.) Anyway, the process of group discussion was one small step towards practicing conflict management. We distinguished “comment” from “question”. Yes, you should still be able to ask a specific question as it rises. We debated and finally agreed that a group agreement should be specific and avoid vague expression like “try his/her best not to interrupt…” Recognizing we are all human beings and won’t be perfect, we also recognize how dynamic our reaction can become.

People of the Day

Yujing. Someone in the class suggested to me that I should interview Yujing, the founder of Green Alliance, a large successful retailer of organic farm products based in Beijing. She is in our class only for this week. At the end of the town hall meeting, Yuying asked me if the two of us can have a conversation. Perfect!

Back in 2003, she became a stay-home mom. But she knew from the beginning that she cannot bear such life for long. She always likes reading, so she started a book club. (Heh, I am a book club organizer too 🙂 In 2008, when the milk powder scandal of leading domestic dairy firms made heart torturing national headlines, she determined to do something for the food safety for her child and other children. In 2011, she started a store with another 5 co-founders that sold only organic farm products, back then when the concept of organic product was still foreign to most urban residents. Like in many successful entrepreneur stories,  she had her most difficult time when all the other 5 co-founders left and she was on her own. Some people suggested that she lower the bar to include non-organically grown products. She didn’t give in. Over the last 7 years, she has built a large community of suppliers (farmers) all over the country and urban customers in Beijing. She is now looking at national expansion.

 

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