I spent a couple of years traveling and living in remote permaculture communities before starting my own project six months ago, so far I feel like I'm living the dream but I'm just at the beginning. Having some successful examples help a lot.
>I spent a couple of years traveling and living in remote permaculture communities before starting my own project six months ago
Cool. Suggest you write something about that experience and share it. Also maybe check out Rico Zook (you might know of him already). A person I know, in the same town (Kodaikanal) somewhat near where Alex's earthship is (whose website link I gave above), is getting a permaculture farm and farmhouse done with consultancy by Rico or someone trained by him.
I'll definitely share the experience in the future. At the moment I'm still doing a tone of learning and trying to reproduce the basics of what I saw in the past years. There's so many things to do just to get through the winter and be ready for the next growing season.
What's your impression of that book? Asking because interested in that area, have done some on it (organic gardening in general, though not the intensive kind like in that book), and have read a similar book by John Jeavons:
Excerpt from this page on his site:
[ A political science graduate of Yale University, Jeavons worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Stanford University before launching his career in small-scale agriculture education. He is the author of the best-selling sustainable farming handbook How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine, now in its 8th edition in eight languages ]
The first year you just watch the land, see what happen naturally with the seasons. And then oh shit, so many things to do to get ready for the second year!
Also see permaculture, a related thing.
I've always wanted to live remotely but I'm not yet finished with school. One day! I live in the rockies. Most of that part of Alberta is a national park, but I think I could find some land and build a little house.
I'm surprised that one fella was building windmills. Definitely something to aspire to.
Here's a copy https://web.archive.org/web/20181013192728/http://scoraigwin...
Update: That link worked. Looks like a good article.
One of the coolest things are the giant billows that help regulate the air pressure in the whole _air tight_ building. The expand and contract as the air heats and cools, preventing all the glass windows from bursting from overpressure. Quick video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVYIy_cO4e4
Small communities tend to do well.
People who believe in the policy they are implementing will work to make sure it secedes, while those who disbelieve will try to make it fail. Your subjects cannot be blind to the policy.
Of course, do these mansions handle their own services? What do they do about externalities?
Most people will acquire the land in their village. Typically a young couple wanting their own home. There are two options. If you family has some land available, you can just go inform the headman that you will be building your home there. Second option is you approach headman who keeps tabs on land that is available. He will show you were to build. The community is always consulted before land is allocated. For example someone may object that you are too close to them and your livestock might cause problems with his garden. Other objecttions might be that the family closest has a son who is going to build there in near future. The headman tends to be aware of all these maters though and he tends to have spots ready to allocate.
In the past we used to build Blair toilets. People still fetch water from the well. Carrying the bucket on their head or pushing it in wheelbarrow. We are starting to dig boreholes (very expensive) and flushing toilets with septic tanks are starting to appear. Very few though have piped water. Gas stoves also starting to appear along with solar panels for lighting. We still have a long long way to go though.
There is still plenty of tribal lands available. Currently, people tend to settle in the tribal lands that are close to roads and towns. Next step I guess is moving further away from towns. People also have land which they grow crops. This tends to be separate from the homestead and quite substantial in size. A good 100metres by 50/100metres. I see people have started subdividing these fields and settling in them. Fewer people are depending on the harvest now to survive so some of this land is not in use.
I know I haven't answered your question. I really don't know how we are going to transition from the rather informal way in which land is dished out and houses built to the more formal approach. What I do know is it is going to take a long time. Africa currently has other pressing problems. Healthcare, education, corruption ... Whilst there has been the odd controversy here and there land in the tribal areas is not one of the big issues. A lot of it is allocated to families that have lived in the area for generations.
By the time anyone 'official' finds out about your building, it will have been there decades, and usually it will have exceeded any time limit for them to tell you to pull it down.
The Lammas eco-village  in Wales is very similar to the one in the OP, and is one of the driving forces for this kind of movement (and the One Planet scheme).
In the northern hemisphere, you'll have to size the PV+Wind system's predicted kWh per month production to the shortest sunlight days of the year, from mid November to mid February. December and January are particularly bad. If you have a home that you are certain will not draw more than 1500kWH per month in those times, the PV system will need to be able to produce a cumulative 2000kWh in December. This does mean that you'll have a significant excess of kWh in all other, longer months of the year, even enough to run small air conditioners from late May to mid September.
Forget ever using electrical element heating, which is 100% efficient from a thermodynamics perspective, but uses a ridiculous amount of kWh per heating unit. Household heating will have to be designed another way, with passive + insulation + natural gas/propane + wood stove + other BTU heat sources considered. Anything that's not electrical, unless you're quite wealthy and can afford to build a gargantuan ground mount PV system.
The harder problem is the energy storage. Until the advent of things like the tesla powerwall and similar Li-Ion based storage systems, people bought massive banks of AGM lead acid batteries and replaced them every 5 years at great cost. The cycle lifetime of those is quite limited, they're huge and heavy, and their cycle lifetime is significantly shortened if you regularly cycle them on a daily basis below 40% state of charge.
As economics of scale for battery storage improve (due to market demand for electric cars, drops in $ per kWh stored with 21700 batteries, etc), the fully-built system $ per kWh cost will drop further. It's totally possible to combine wind and PV charging feeds, with multiple different charge controllers, into one battery bank.
It's not going to be as cheap as electricity at $0.08/kWh in Seattle from the mostly hydroelectric fed grid utility, but amortizing the cost of the big PV system over many years you can achieve a fully off grid cost in the sub $0.20/kWh range.
Insulate to passive house standard and old lightbulbs throw enough heat - https://www.nypassivehouse.org/how-three-light-bulbs-help-ke...
A question regarding this. Why are heat pumps not used for heating, instead of resistive heating? Afaik, they should offer 3-4x the efficiency and really cut down on the electricity requirements.
Ground-source heat pumps are difficult to get right, expensive to install%, and can be painful to get planning approval for^. Plus, if you have the land for a system, you often have the land for a small woodlot.
% You'll need more land if you have to trench instead of drilling a well.
^ Some areas don't allow direct expansion, so you have to do an inefficient heat-exchange. Running open-loop would be efficient and cheap, but districts can be very afraid of groundwater contamination.
Living in a society is always a compromise, these people have just struck a slightly different subset of trade-offs -- but to sustain their lifestyle, they are still largely dependent on the wider world being what it is.
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. [Donne's original spelling and punctuation]
Sorry, not all that relevant, but it sounds too good, so couldn't resist quoting it.
Since I sometimes have to drive my car I won't ever ride my bike.
(the article is interesting, but why-oh-why does the Beeb site show blurry photographs instead of sharp ones? We've had an imagine tag for decades now!)
Same perceived load speed of the page, no junk.
- eco-village network
- intentional communities
The Whole Earth Catalog, which was mentioned by Steve Jobs in his Stanford commencement speech ("Stay hungry. Stay foolish."), was also a great resource for these kinds of things. I was lucky to get to read it when my uncle from the States brought us a copy on a visit. Tons of useful and interesting products and techniques mentioned and described in it, including, e.g. Japanese saws, which I mentioned on HN some time ago.
[ The Whole Earth Catalog (WEC) was an American counterculture magazine and product catalog published by Stewart Brand several times a year between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. The magazine featured essays and articles, but was primarily focused on product reviews. The editorial focus was on self-sufficiency, ecology, alternative education, "do it yourself" (DIY), and holism, and featured the slogan "access to tools". ]
One of the things that has always held me back is access to decent internet. Has anyone found a way around this or has set up any major "wireless tower" to get internet from another distant location?
So it's not hard to find stuff on the subject, for example:
Many people fantasize about a simpler life, but actually making it happen can take years or simply be completely out of reach. There is probably a huge market for catering to feeding those fantasies and satisfying them to some degree virtually.
Also, if you go for long periods of not paying any "national insurance" (similar to social security) you can actually not receive the govenment pension on retirement.
Still, having the major stress removed of worrying about healthcare is reason enough to enjoy living in the UK over the US.
It is in Scotland.
(I'm not 100% sure how this is enforced. It rather seems as though getting a cheap flat north of the border and declaring that as your normal residence for the duration of studies could be worthwhile if you can afford it...)
It's debatable whether it's very ethical to do what you suggested - though I don't imagine it's particularly common.
The university would presumably also expect a Scotland-resident student to take Scottish exams at a Scottish school, which is a separate system to England, so even more hassle.
Besides, even on Scoraig, people are paying tax, and probably at a high proportion of their small income. Everything bought from the mainland will charge VAT; fuel, alcohol and cigarettes brought to the island pay high duties; and I have no reason to believe they're not paying council tax either.