The “Basic Concept” may be summed up in a question:
“…is it possible to live with the environment and alter it, as man must do, and still not violate it?”
Countless individuals before and since have aired that question. In the face of much evidence to the contrary, many have decided the answer is an optimistic “Yes!”
The inevitable follow-ups “What then must we do?” and “How should we live day-to-day?” are still up for debate. Attempting to contribute to the answers, this network’s focus is on tools — good essential tools. Guided by ecological concepts presented by many visionaries, we define “essential” tools as those which:
The combined directory will be organized and cross-referenced by topic as well as by country/region and by language. Below are the provisional groups of subjects (which will be subdivided further).
The last theme on the list may be of interest to only a small percentage of the folks reading this. However, we contend that those remaining primal skills are worthy of preservation by more than dusty books on library shelves, because — again in the words of Christopher Williams — “…it seems to be necessary to re-establish our direction. If we succeed in assimilating the ecological sophistication of indigenous societies with our knowledge and establish a modern organic technology, the result will be a happy one.”
At the same time, libraries should be scoured for many of the “jewels in hiding”.
The best information and/or practical instruction on some subjects may only be available in a foreign language or in some faraway country, for example. Information alone can be spread around the globe speedily and at little cost. Moving instructors or students long distances is an ecological contradiction. As a temporary measure it may be justified; however, much consideration ought to be given to the question of how those distances can be shortened in the soonest and most convivial way.
The same is true for the actual tools. The rampant outsourcing of manufacturing to countries with cheap labour and nearly no environmental or human abuse laws has had at least three decidedly negative effects:
a) Vast amounts of materials are shipped across the world, and back again in processed forms, using fossil energy.
b) Hundreds of reputable old domestic manufacturers, large and small, as well as individual craftspersons, unable to compete with cheaply-produced imports, have had to close up shop.
c) In the process, the quality standards are typically lowered. The present generation of tool users is being “dumbed down” to accept poorer performance and/or a shorter life expectancy from nearly all household and trade products. (Yes, there are exceptions, but this is the major trend!).
a) quality over low price;
b) locally produced tools and materials over imports;
c) the reduction of energy spent on distribution of goods.
All these are complex issues requiring frequent reassessment. Given the times we live in, we must all be neither too inflexible nor too lax, and never complacent. This endeavor involves the moving of figurative boulders, not pebbles.
Commitment, perseverance and feedback from all involved will be called for. This is a case where “There’s no time to lose“!
We are sending a questionnaire to seasoned small farmers, gardeners, woodworkers, blacksmiths etc. asking them to:
1. list the most essential tools of their trade; and
2. list additions which are simply useful to have (or crucial only to some specialized task) but are not vital to their activities.
The Vido Family
1636 Kintore Rd.
Lower Kintore, N.B.
E7H 2L4 Canada
Updated Oct. 2009