SECTIONS OF THE BOOK SOLVIVA:
Table of Contents
|| Some current realities
|| A visit to Solviva
How I got on the path of seeking
better ways to live... || Wastewater
Greyburg or Greendale: where
would you rather live?
"In Our Every Deliberation
We Must Consider the Impact of Our Decisions
on the Next Seven Generations."
From the GREAT LAW of the IROQUOIS
Over the millennia, we Homo sapiens, the so-called Wise Ones,
have been striving to improve the quality of our lives and to
ensure an ever better life for our children. Many cultures around
the world, including Native Americans, consciously planned and
acted to protect the well-being of seven generations into the
In my native land, Sweden, I know a carpenter who uses wood that
was milled and stored by his father from trees that were girdled
at the right time of year and cut by his grandfather. The trees
were trimmed, thinned and protected by his great-grandfather,
great-great-, great-great-great-, and great-great-great-great-grandfathers.
The seeds for those trees were collected from the best quality
trees and sown on land that was cleared, cultivated, fertilized,
weeded and watered by his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather,
seven generations back, and he in turn was using wood from trees
that were produced during the seven generations before him. Will
today's carpenter sow and tend the seeds for his future seventh
generation? Not likely.
Only during the last century, especially since World War II, have
we all but forgotten the concept of planning for the seventh generation.
Forests are being razed; soil, groundwater and lakes are being
polluted and depleted; oil is being burned - all at an unprecedented
and utterly unsustainable rate, as if there will be no tomorrow.
Nuclear wastes, so toxic that a few pounds can kill a city, are
accumulating by the thousands of tons, with no viable solution
for their disposal. Most of our food is sprayed with many different
toxic chemicals, many of which become far more toxic as they recombine
in our bodies and our environment.
The cost of living has gone up astronomically, but we hardly feel
it because most of the costs are hidden in waste, depletion and
debt deferred to the future, to burden our children and future
generations. According to the War Resisters' League, 50 percent
of our taxes are spent to pay for past and present military budgets,
which is spent primarily to ensure US access to resources around
Perhaps the pivotal reason for the lack of appropriate care for
the future is The Bomb. Ever since August 6, 1945, it has become
self-evident that our technology has evolved to the point that
we can destroy our own species and most of the rest of life on
this wondrous planet. I am baffled by the sense of relief that
spread over the U.S. when the USSR fell apart: "No more cold
war, no more danger of the bombs!" Yet, thousands of nuclear
bombs still sit in rusting silos, now controlled by smaller unstable
nations, capable of going off at any moment, triggered by failing
technology or vengeful terrorists.
It seems that we are programmed to self-destruct with either a
bang or a prolonged agonizing whimper in the near future. No wonder
stress, waste, crime, violence, disease and escapist behavior
are rampant. No wonder people no longer think seven generations
So what are we to do?
Shall we believe those who claim the situation is hopeless, that
we have gone to the point of no return and therefore we might
as well keep doing more of the same?
Or shall we believe those who say we may be able to save ourselves,
but only if we drastically change our lifestyle and standard of
living? According to these people, we must give up many of the
comforts and conveniences that we hold dear, such as cars, long
hot showers and deep baths, meat, plastics. Some claim that giving
up toxic pesticides will lead to ugly, wilted and scarce food
in our markets and to worldwide crop failures and starvation.
Saving the environment will supposedly lead to the loss of millions
of jobs. Spotted owls or jobs, snail darters or electricity. If
such tradeoffs are required in order for us to survive, then our
prognosis is gloomy indeed.
But in truth no such tradeoffs are required. This is a book of
Great Good News. I will demonstrate that we now, today, have the
technology and know-how to reduce pollution and depletion of resources
by 80 percent or more, and I will show how this can be done in
ways that can reduce our cost of living and improve the quality
of our life.
Since 1977 I have accumulated evidence through direct experience
on my farm on the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of
Massachusetts. Here I have been seeking to find ever more harmonious
ways to live on Earth. The more I looked at the problems caused
by our modern ways of living, the more I realized how profoundly
these problems are all interconnected. My focus has therefore
been broad and comprehensive, to design more sustainable and economical
ways to provide for the basic necessities of our lives, including
heating, cooling, electricity, food, transportation, and management
of wastewater and solid wastes.
It was in the late 70s that I began to develop my own versions
of what I call solar-dynamic, bio-benign living design, and I
have been continuing this work ever since. These ongoing experiments
have provided results that proved far more successful than I had
ever imagined possible. For instance, who could have predicted
that sewage can be filtered through leaves and wood chips and
in five minutes be transformed into odor-free water containing
90 percent less nitrogen? I would never have thought it possible
- until I did it. Who could have predicted that tomato plants
could grow 30 feet long and live four years right in the kitchen,
without any pesticides or normal fertilizers, producing superb-quality
tomatoes continuously, even in the middle of winter? I certainly
did not think this would be possible - until I did it.
Based on my experiences
and knowledge I conclude that with today's technologies the following
We can manage our wastewater, from homes, schools, business
and industry, in ways that eliminate water pollution, thereby
protecting our drinking water, fishing industry, wildlife, ponds
and harbors - and this can be done in ways that save money, as
well as irrigate and fertilize our landscapes and forests.
We can recycle 90 percent of our solid wastes in ways that
save time and money, energy and resources, and that greatly reduce
pollution - while creating more jobs.
We can produce high yields of high-quality organic foods
year-round in any climate, in urban and rural locations, without
heating fuels or cooling fans, without toxic chemicals, and with
far less irrigation water. Thus we can greatly reduce the depletion
and pollution of soil, water, oil and other resources, as well
as avoid the health hazards caused by conventional food production
4. We can use solar
power to provide most of the energy to heat and cool our homes,
schools and other buildings, with renewable plant-derived fuels
as backup. This can create more jobs and reduce by 80 percent
or more the cost, pollution and depletion caused by conventional
methods that rely on oil, gas, and coal.
5. We can greatly
reduce our consumption of electricity with various efficiency
technologies, and most of the remaining requirements can be satisfied
with small-scale solar, wind and water power sources, thereby
reducing by over 80 percent the current use of oil, coal, gas,
and large-scale hydro - and eliminating nuclear power.
We can greatly improve public transportation, and both
private and public transportation can be provided with electric
vehicles with batteries powered primarily by the sun, supplemented
with methanol and other plant-derived fuels. This can reduce consumption
of gasoline by 80 percent or more.
There are many in the U.S. and around the world
who share my views that these goals are possible to achieve, but
most find it unbelievable. I can understand this skepticism. After
all, very few people have had a chance to experience such sustainable
technologies firsthand. Instead they hear that solar was proven
in the 70s to be ineffective, that recycling can never exceed
30 percent, that electric cars are slow and have a very short
range, and that eliminating pesticides would result in unpalatable
food and global famines.
I am not saying that the transition to sustainable
methods will be easy. There are formidable forces at work to maintain
the current infrastructure, among them: inertia, doubt, lack of
knowledge and experience, pessimism, fear, greed, and perhaps
most obstructive, vast investments in the status quo and paralyzing
regulations and bureaucracy.
But I believe most people are good at heart and
want to do their best to help ensure the well-being of all, for
now and for the future. Unfortunately, we are not yet at the point
where all the better alternatives are easily available. There
is a Catch-22: the sustainable technologies will not be mainstreamed
into society until masses of people want them, and masses of people
will not want them until they are mainstreamed. There will be
a phasing-in period before these technologies become widely and
easily available, and are thus able to reach their astonishing
As more and more people learn about better ways
to live and have a chance to experience firsthand that these methods
decrease costs, pollution and depletion and are beautiful, reliable
and convenient, then a critical mass of this knowledge and understanding
will be reached. When this happens, hope for a better future will
be rekindled, and with it the will to spread sustainable and harmonious
living systems - like a blessing around our planet.
With this book I hope to greatly increase general
public awareness of what is possible for us to accomplish with
today's technology. I wish you an inspiring journey through the
words and pictures herein, and happy envisioning, planning and
action for a better future for us all.
BACK TO TOP
From the book Solviva
- ISBN: 0-9662349-0-1
Published by Trailblazer Press 1998, RFD 1 Box 582, Vineyard Haven,
Tel: (508) 693-3341, Fax: (508) 693-2228, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
PRICE: $35 plus shipping
Discount schedule: Commercial: 1-2 copies: 20%, 3-4 copies: 30%,
5 or more copies: 40%
Non-commercial: 3-4 copies: 20%, 5-9 copies: 30%, 10 or more: