Sola Roof Guy Revolutions 02

Sept. 28, 2002 [as written and without any revision]

There are great things happening at! If you have not visited recently I would like you to take a look around. I am sure you will want to see the Elliotts' Lively-Up Greenhouse (see pictures at our PEOPLE & PROJECTS section) the uses our Liquid Solar processes including the Bubble Insulation and Shading systems. The Elliotts are having an open house at their Homestead and are showing off their solar greenhouse on the weekend of October 5th.

We are glad to be part of the One World? community and we are also building a relationship with Development Space?.com as well as the ecovillage movement through our collaboration with Sustainable Village - a distributor of appropriate technologies:

We are now transforming solaroofgarden into an opensource Web Community through improved interactive features that are coming soon at our improved website. I have been truly inspired by the degree of participation that is already happening and which is expanding so rapidly that I am glad to say that some members are stepping up to take leadership roles and offer their assistance. We now have over 1100 members and receive several hundred visits per day and to create more interaction we now sponsor an active discussion forum which you can visit at:

As the World Summit on Sustainable Development has mobilized new energy and hope for real change I have noted that "saving the environment" is beginning to take second place to the development of sustainable human habitats and communities. I would like to share with you below my thoughts on a People First vision for sustainable living and how we can make this happen.

An Opensource Collaborative Initiative: Grass Roots Solutions for Sustainable Living By: Richard Nelson

(not: the domain was lost and is NOT now a solaroof website)

Is it not providential that in an era of global problems we have now a global communication & collaboration capability? The internet gives inspired individuals the capability to speak directly to the World - to reach the people out there who are also creating solutions - and the means to work with them in Grass Roots collaboration. Let me explain that while I believe that we are moving in the right direction - we could, if we had better vision of what sustainability means, mobilize a greater COLLABORATION among designers, builders and, inclusive of the DIY approach, individuals and families acting in their own homes and communities - and this could result in real change.

Consider that the power of collaboration is not measured by numerical strength but by the strength of a shared vision. Therefore collaborations can start to manifest their power almost from their beginnings. Grass Roots collaborations can create a powerful up-welling for change when people, at a deeper level of their consciousness, are aligned in great numbers by a common vision.

It is true that people are moved to action by threats - we are all familiar with the commanding power of force. We can be told to "do what is right". Some of us can be mobilized by guilt and conviction that we must remedy wrongs when they are discovered. Many are motivated to remediate the negative effects of human activity and will campaign for good governments everywhere to create and enforce self-imposed restrictions and regulations for the sake of the environment and the Global Ecology. The ENVIRONMENTAL movement has had this kind of vision: one that puts the environment first and calls for people to sacrifice.

This is well and good, but it is not enough. The vision of SUSTAINABILITY has something to add. "Sustainable Living" is not about the environment - it is about you and me - how we live and make our livelihood. It is a vision for and about people. It is a banner that can put people first without apology. Most parents will connect with the idea of sustainable living because it is concerned with our children; that they will have a better life than our generation and a secure future.

A sustainable living vision calls us take to take positive steps to change our lives, at home and in our local communities. I believe this vision will be effective because it allows and encourages people respond in a Grass Roots initiative and together create positive energy and innovative solutions that actually change our personal and collective lifestyles. Such a response cannot be commanded - it must be inspired by the vision (and the challenge) of sustainable living. The sustainable living movement would have this kind of vision: one that puts the PEOPLE first and calls for a Grass Roots collaborative that is focused on our "built" habitats; our homes and communities.

My conclusion is that the sustainable living vision can inspire the self-motivation and creative excitement needed to drive a worldwide collaboration. Such a collective effort should not adopt traditional organizational and administrative structures. It needs to express a self-directing and self-organizing style that can encourage and mobilize a massively parallel effort by multitudes of inspired people who can now share information, communicate and collaborate in teams over the Internet.

This Web Community (modeled after the GNU/Linux and Open Source Software? development community) will not be problem focused but rather, solution centered and capable of rapid creation and testing of solutions; followed by wide spread implementation. When the criteria is sustainable living then a merit based system of collaboration will sort out the best practices that are accessible, affordable, adaptable, and appropriate to the local conditions. Sustainability as a vision will deliver solutions that are scalable from where we live - in our homes - to where we work and play in our communities.

Sustainability looks at the HUMAN HABITAT in its relation to the natural environment. In distinction to environmentalist's focus, which is on the disruption of the natural world by humans, Sustainable Living would bring a natural order to our built environment so that we can live self-sufficiently within the bounds of our homes, communities and our commercial and industrial sites. At its best, achieving sustainability would completely eliminate the impact of human communities and activities on their surroundings. Our habitations could become more decentralized and interfaced with nature because our proximity would do no harm; in fact our activity would seek to become beneficial and restorative of the damage that our former un-sustainable lifestyles have already inflicted.

Where is this program to be implemented? That would be your home and mine. Who is in charge? That would be you and me, all working together in small groups. This process is also inclusive of everyone who wants to enjoy a sustainable lifestyle. It will be discovered that there is no better lifestyle to be found at any price. We will build a secure, healthy, satisfying, natural and harmonious way of life. We will discard, avoid and gradually eliminate the toxic, harmful and destructive aspects of modern living.

There will be many, many pioneers and a huge variety of solutions for sustainable living. This Grass Roots know-how will be Open Source; openly accessible to everyone with permission to use, improve, make, duplicate and distribute in any manner possible to the imagination and resourcefulness of this worldwide web community. We will publish and share our experience and know-how without restriction or the constraints imposed by proprietary rights to know-how.

Therefore, I hope you can support me in this conclusion: Sustainable Development can only be based on our knowledge of Sustainable Living and this is a grass roots issue. It is bottom up - not top down. Information and knowledge guide it - but it must be a REALITY and not a philosophy. It is to be expressed in ACTION and not only words. It is concerned with our day-to-day life and will affect the ordinary things that we all do every day.

Perhaps it is the focus on "development" that is tripping us up and confusing some of the thinking. I believe we should, in the first place, replace this term with "living". After all - development focuses on growth rather than equilibrium. Sustainable Living is dynamic but implies an accomplished state of being. Let's get this right first (not the cart before the horse) and sustainable development will naturally follow.

At the beginning of this new millennium, we now possess the communication and collaboration means to mobilize an unimaginably large pool of human capacity, skills, know how and talent, - therefore, why not build a sustainable living vision that everyone can share and act on by participation in a Grass Roots internet collaboration?