Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Home Front: survival nutrition

 Its always interesting to see how food and nutrition is handled in disaster situations in film and TV. From The Walking Dead's baby formula and prison storerooms  to The Day After Tomorrow's vending machines, not to mention ZombieLand's Twinkies and Bill the (delicious) Donkey in The Postman.

I did a little reading about the "average adult daily energy intake" which lead to some interesting findings.

It is common to see "8,700kJ" as the average recommended intake, usually quoted on fast food menu's and the like, (as seen here on this poster for some tasty poultry products seasoned with 11 secret herbs and spices, as devised by a well known Kentucky Colonel.)

This figure is based in part by the Food Standard Code as published by the Australia New Zealand Standards Code (FSC). The FSC lists that value for daily intake levels based on an average adult diet. It is interesting to note however, that this doesn't take into account activity levels, and lifestyle.

It is it seems, more of a "minimum level" for and it has been suggested that it is more suited to bed-ridden individuals, rather than active survivalists, running, ducking, dodging and weaving their way through the ruins of civilization.

Interestingly when I looked up the nutritional content of current MRE kits, they suggested that servicemembers (who were classified as highly active men between the ages of 18 and 30) typically use about 4,200 Calories a day. The conversion is  1 kJ = 0.2 Calories (Cals)or 1 Calorie = 4.2 kJ, giving a figure of 17,640 kJ a little over double the "average adult intake diet".

Lets assume that post-disaster, you will not be having a sedentary desk-job life, and will be a rugged, fighting, and self-reliant survivor, chopping wood for fire, hunting and foraging (or farming) for food, and perhaps battling off marauders, zombies, triffids or the elements.

According to the FSC, and "MyDailyIntake.net", a "balanced diet for an average adult" is made up of the following nutrients each day:

Quantity Per Day
8,700 kilojoules
50 grams
70 grams
310 grams
90 grams
Sodium (salt)
2.3 grams
Dietary Fibre
30 grams
Saturated Fatty Acids
24 grams

To meet up with our projects "serviceman" levels, you basically have to double that. Obviously, people have done with much less, for millennia and still managed to fight, survive and prosper, till you now find humanity all over the world. 

These "USCG/ SOLAS standard exceeding" food-bars state on their wrapper that  A daily maritime diet (being stuck on a life-boat, i presume) equals 3,333kJ, and a similar land based situation (say, stranded on a desert island) equates to 5,000kJ. However this is a base-survival diet, and wouldn't be much fun, or enough on its own to keep you fighting-fit.

Again, looking around at the figures, I found the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council published this table.

The average amount of kilojoules required daily is represented in the following table:
12-15 years
10 900 kj
9 550 kj
16-18 years
12 900 kj
10 200 kj
19-50 years
11 550 kj
9 300 kj
51-70 years
10 450 kj
8 800 kj
Adults over 70 years
9 450 kj
8 300 kj
Source: NHMRC, Canberra. These figures represent average requirements for the Australian population. Actual energy needs for individuals will vary considerably depending on activity levels, body composition, state of health, age, weight and height. 

This follows the same sorts of levels as I might expect of an average, active person, lying as it does between the "sedentary 8700kJ" and the "active serviceman 17,640kJ", and well above the "marooned on a lifeboat 3,333kJ" levels the USCG suggest.

So, how do you get that level of nutrition, and maintain it, with limited resources?

Prison-style nutra-loaf?

Stockpiles of MREs?

Mainstay Survival Rations?

a truckload of 2280 kJ Quarter Pounders?

There are lots of choices out there, and it comes down to how you aim to prepare, what you are preparing for, and how you want to live, before and after a crisis comes.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home Front: Winterising

I really don't like the cold. That's one reason I have stayed in Melbourne, its very mild here in the winter. it rarely drops below freezing, had only snowed in urban areas perhaps twice in the last 20 years and winters, whilst chilly and et at times, blustery and overcast, are short, and pretty much a doddle. Especially when considering I compare those to Calgary, where i lived for two winters, having been evacuated from Dubai, UAE on New Years Eve 1990, or living in England for three years in the 1980's in an old Edwardian house.

My current house is a poorly insulated, rendered weatherboard with wide sliding windows.  It gets hot in summer, and in winter can get cold enough to see our breath indoors. 

Lacking central heating, or even functional fireplaces, we have two options: use the aged wall mounted electric heaters of dubious qulaity and upkeep, or portable heaters like oil radiators.

The third option is to improve on what we have!

I have used long strips of electrical tape to create flaps to cover the seams of our windows, which in turn has reduced the drafts, as well as rattle. We also make judicious use of our venetian blinds, and the available daylight for passive solar heating and heat retention at night.

I have the Pot Belly Stove working nicely, but its purely an outside solution in the rental, in this non-disaster situation, although i could install it, and flute it pretty easily. 

We also tend to cook longer, slower, bulkier foods, partially to provide bigger, hotter meals, but also as the cooking process again acts as "passive" heating, as well as being more likely to use candle-light accents around the house, which also put out heat.  Just recently I inherited a clothes-dryer, which we put in the lounge room. Noisy, but that added heat is very welcome.

Rugging up is the simplest option, and I have a collection of coats (my Platatac Harry 1.2 Softshell is getting a lot of wear this season), gloves (like the Condor Combat Nomex gloves, which have been great on the frosty mornings, like when i scraped enough ice from my window to make this snow-ball) and more often the Ironclad landscaper glovesbecause I've cut the iPhone/iPad because I've cut the finger tips off of the index finger and thumbs for iPhone/iPad touch screen use. Headsox, bandannas and Headover are also the go. I'm not shy of wearing my LazyPatch doona suit either.

The cold totally killed my late crop of tomatoes too .... but at least it doesn't look like i'll need to take "The Day After Tomorrow" steps just yet.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Last days for backers - MS Cleaning kits

 Hi all, I am still looking for people to buy-in with me to help these guys get their project over the line.

my original post is here:
Aussie-readers MS Cleaning Kits

they can ship a dozen kits to Australia for $60 for shipping, on top of the item pledge levels.... or 2 for $40 shipping...

Peter did a podcast which explains the MS Clean and the direction of the company... among other things. Check it out.

drop me a comment, email or IM if you're keen....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: TruSpec Combat Shirt

 I snapped up this shirt from eBay, and have gotten a lot of utility from it. Not surprising considering its design origins.

This is the TruSpec Combat Shirt from Atlanco.

The key thing about this kind of shirt, and the reason I wanted one, was that it combines a 60/40 cotton/nylon blend t-shirt material body with a rugged 65/35 polyester/cotton ripstop blend arms and shoulders. Cool and comfortable torso, tough and rugged arms and shoulders for hard wear and outdoorsy adventure.

Basically I wanted a work shirt that would be good to wear in the long hot Australian summer, in or out of my gear. I always look first to military gear, because i know that it is often built extra hardy, and, essentially, for badassness.

The TruSpec shirts however, have added functionality that is well worth covering. As well as being a breathable, wicking and fast drying ,aterial, the "No Melt, No Drip" Cordura Baselayer fabric is reported to reduce the severity of burn injuries and helps protect against flash fires.

Considering my proclivity for being too close to fires, both controlled, wild and just being stupid, I thought this was a great additional feature that whilst I didn't intend to test to stringently, would come in handy.  As well as what it is made of, the folks at Atlanco gave some thought to those who might be wearing it, and what other utility they would look for. Both biceps house a zippered storage pocket, angled for ease of use.

They also feature loop-fields for attachment of patches, here i've got one from Strike Industries, who make the Simple Plate Carrier pack and Tactical Sling Catch i'm so fond of

I've also got a double sided call-sign panel from PatchPanel and one of their IR IFF squares in the built in tape-covered area. Very clever way of making this a "need-only" system of ID.

The other arm features flag, rank and nametape fields, as well as the zippered pocket.

You can also see here the padded elbow patch, with its double stitching and placement to really add to the build.

It was also great to not e that there were no shoulder seams, and all the seams were flat, which really minimizes chafing and pinch-spots, especially noticeable when carrying a pack, or doing repetitive work like chopping wood or digging in a field.

I also liked the cuffs, which also featured hook-and loop closures, to keep nature out, but also the gusseting that kept the fit true.

They offer these in several different sizes, in a variety of colour schemes. I opted for Large/Long in order to accommodate my super long arms, but could have done with a "medium" body fit, i think. The Khaki/Sand option sat nicely for me. You can see here how the tough shirt sleeves poke out of my First Spear OAGRE vest, whilst my torso has the softer wicking cotton/nylon t-shirt.

All in all a very comfortable, rugged and practical shirt, and one that I expect to get a lot of hard wear out of, no matter what I throw at it, or myself into.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Fishbones - Piranha

Yes, here I am again with another Kickstarter project. I'm actually reporting this one out-of-sequence, as through some kind of fulfillment time warp, this is the second of two projects that Brent and Eldrick Garcia put forwards. The first being their very cute "Fishbones" but I haven't had a chance to properly review those just yet.

These are the "v 2.0" product, the Piranha "Knotless gear tie"

As you might have noticed, I am rather enamored of paracord and so should you be! It's great stuff, but one of its great advantages can also be a disadvantage. It holds great knots! Sometimes trying to pick apart a tightly cinched knot can be very arduous, and Brent and Garcia came up with a very elegant solution with their Fishbone tools.

The Piranha is the result of a number of design stages, and really offers great utility as well as a great aesthetic.
Cut from 3/16th" thick 304 Stainless Steel the Piranha measures 60mm (2 1/4") from lip to tail, and 28mm (1 1/4") from crest to fin. There is also a titanium option, for the mass-conscious.

It fits nicely into  MOLLE channels, with the dorsal fin hooking neatly over, and being held in place with the tail-fin notch. I found that that tail-fin notch was a snug fit for Type 111paracord, which proved to be very useful in snagging and camming the cord into place.

Speaking of camming, it is worth noting the Fishbones teams own warning about these devices

"Note: Not for climbing or load bearing applications where failure would cause damage or injury."

So, with that in mind, lets have a look at some of the fun things that you can do with them.

The stonewashed edges of the steel are smooth and rounded,  having been sharp cut originally, but that significantly bites into the cord, so the current models are rounded to avoid this.

You might worry that the rounded edges would slip and not hold the loops, as seen above, in a top and bottom view of one of my preferred hitches, but they hold fast.

The two hook gaps are sized to interlock, giving you a solid connection of two ends of cord if you prefer.

Splicing two lines together is also a breeze with the Piranha, simply by winding one through the other, friction will hold  the lines together, even once tension had been released. Again, here are top and bottom views of this splice.

This was a really nice way to link two ends of cord together, without adding a knot that would likely bind and bite, making undoing troublesome.

One of the things I liked about the balance of the took, was that the "tail fin" notch allowed a loop to be fitted snugly, and dangled to make a fish hook. I successfully snagged and hauled my Bullock Echo from one of its D-rings through this method. For extra security,  I could have threaded a leader through the keychain opening, but that hole is too small for paracord, unless you are using the inner cord after gutting it.

 I also found that I could set three lines simply by using the dorsal notches which gave me a no-slide anchor from which I feel would give a very adequate hold for a tent guy rope, or any other three way roping you might need.

The versatility, small size and light weight (well, at just over 25g per unit in the 304 stainless steel) means that this is going to find its way into my EDC in no short time. If nothing else, they feel great in the hand or pocket, and gives me a fidget-focus when I need to keep my hands busy.

The hook gap also doubles as a bottle opener, adding some multi functionality that I really appreciate, as well as the other uses that the guys behind the Piranhas have already stated.

One of the awesome things that they offered is a quick summary of some modifications that you could apply to the Piranhas. I'm going to give a couple of these a try (and I'll get back to you with how they turn out ... )

 I also found that I could wrap the Piranha around an already strung line, given sufficient slack, to give a mid-line attachment option. So many options, such versatility. I'm also going to cover their original Fish Bones and the heavy-duty Snapper so stay tuned!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: Platatac - Bush Dax pants

I was very sorry to hear that some of my favorite pants, the Platatac Urban Dax (wearing them right now, in fact) didn't make it out of prototyping, and certainly not to market.

There are all kinds of business reasons for this kind of thing to happen, but in the end, I am just grateful that I got to grab a pair whilst they were available.  I saw some advertised on the Platatac eBay shop but not in my size,and I was worried that I might never get another pair like them.

I'd seen some of the Platatac TacDax in the "news" and when I pestered the guys about bringing back the Urban Dax, or if they had any laying about in the warehouse, they hooked me up with a set of their in-between line, the Bush Dax.

"Dax" (or dacks), for those of you who aren't aware are an Aussie colloquialism for pants, especially track suit pants. Rhyming slang ... I've never really gotten it, but, there you go.

The Bush Dax follow the same generous lines as the Urban Dax, with some interesting variations and different features.

First up, the material is slightly different, perhaps a combination of treatment and weight of fabric, but felt more like cotton duck than the Urban Dax. With the same generous crotch, with both reinforced seat and crotch, I have been perfectly confident squatting, throwing my leg over walls and generally scrambling about in them. I've torn the crotch out of so many lesser pants I cant begin to state how important that is to me.
Next up are the array of pockets available.

Like the Urban Dax, these have a variety of ambidextrous pockets, ten in total: Regular "jeans-style" pockets right where you expect them , and are nicely placed, and a good depth. I'm so glad I have pants with pockets and am allowed to use them ... The jeans-pockets don't have any internal pockets.

 Same goes for the backside pockets, hook-and-loop secured flaps cover up essentially a standard jeans-seat pocket.

The front and sides are where the magic starts. There are two small pockets on the front of each quad. These are billowed, and also feature hook-and-loop closures, and easily fit my iPhone in its Strike Industries BattleCase with quick-pull ring.

The sides of the ubiquitous cargo-pocket feature a mesh-lined side pocket, with a zipper closure, which in turn are deep enough to easily store my hefty HexBright Flex flashlight and keep it in place for when i need it, especially if I'm sitting.

You can also see that I have connected my lanyard to one of the integral accessory loops that are found at each of the 60mm belt loops, offering a solid place to anchor your gear without clogging up your belt and belt loops.

As with all the Platatac gear, and clothes, these are seriously well put together, double stitched on all the major load-bearing seams, and bartacked at the joints.

 Here is the most important feature, to my mind, and my principle test. The main cargo-pocket, with its twin spot hook-and-loop closures, and billowed sides, for high capacity storage, with happily fit my iPad.

Silly you might think, or at the best, totally POG of me, but given my day-to-day activity, having somewhere I can stash my iPad is quite a benefit.  It also gives a nice standard measure. So, with my excuses aside, I can run, climb, crawl around under things and then whip out my iPad to access whatever data or app i need ... great pocket. Again, it lacks any of the internal compartments that the Urban Dax had, but that simplicity probably saved the design from the cutting-room floor.

I have a lot of EDC gear, and the spacious pockets of the Bush Dax meant that I didn't have to worry about jamming it all into ta couple of pockets, but distribute it into workable zones.

The position and placement of the pockets was really comfortable, something is is occasionally missed (or perhaps, given my preying mantis proportions, I just don't fit where makes expect pockets to sit), but with the Bush Dax, I had nothing to complain about.

One thing I didn't may much attention to was the elastic drawstring blousing available in the ankles. (which are the saem as found in the ADF DPCU uniform, apparently). Good for keeping crap out of your legs, but for my needs, a bit too much, so i left them slack, and able to drape over my boots, to keep me looking a little bit civilized ..

Lastly, a really cool feature that I haven't had a lot of success with, are the knees.

Each knee has a hook-and-loop closing pouch at the base of the knee, which opens up to allow a knee-pad to be inserted, with a little effort, and placed one of my smaller pads in the pouch (I left one out to give an idea of scale, these are Team Wendy KEPS Sleak elbow pads.

I found that the opening was very narrow, even for a narrow pad like an elbow pad.
Perhaps there is a better way of doing it?


So, that aside, these are some great pants, not heavy, or stiff, but neither are they lightweight, and offered me versatility in my wardrobe, without sacrificing utility or hardiness.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Hardcore Hardware Australia - LFK01

Every now and then my out-doorsy/quasi-military aesthetic meshes with that of my very stylish partner, Omega and there will be "oooh's" and "aaah's" over the same things. A good example of this would be my prototype Urban Dax pants, or the Nukotool TiGBi skull-keyring I acquired for her birthday last year.

In keeping with the close personal defense theme,  when popping in to Platatac to shoot the breeze one weekend, with Omega and Tactical Baby along for the ride, I casually pointed out the pointy-cabinet to her, and was thrilled when she singled out this beauty from Hardcore Hardware Australia, their LFK01I took note, and months later, presented this one to her.  

HHA are a local company, who state that their "primary function is to design, develop and construct mission specific tactical tools for Military, Law Enforcement, Fire, Search & Rescue personnel". 

My kind of makers!

The LFK01 is a wicked Recurve trailing point fixed blade, a format that especially appeals to Omega, and in this case, there is plenty of substance to it. Measuring 168mm in overall length, with 70mm of blade, this little piece is designed to fill the gap between a full sized fixed blade, and a folder.

Weighing in at 180g, this is a dense little knife, and a lot of that mass comes as a result of the bulk of the knife being 6mm D2 tool steel. D2 is a high chrome content steel, which HHA note is sometimes called "Semi-stainless", has excellent edge holding capabilities and extraordinary wear resistance. They heat treat the blades to bring the hardness to 56-60HRC, which is given a Teflon coating to reduce any corrosion that might occur, as well as reducing glare and the maintenance required for it. A thin coat of oil is all HHA recommend if it is stored or exposed to wet environments.

Here is a good shot of the blade, showing the thick body, with its broad, 44mm grind. This is a blade that is no nonsense, and will take all the punishment you could dish out. Its heft reminded me more of the KA-BAR Zombie Killer Tanto than any other blade in my own collection.

The spine of the blade features some subtle crenelations, giving ample purchase for a thumb-grip, without catching or digging either your hand, or on your gear, when worn.

Between these two pictures you can see the profile it gives in the hand, as well as the aggressive angle it sits in. This is a blade that will make a mark, and leave a lasting impression, without having to give itself away unnecessarily.

A Mil-C-5040H Type III paracord wrapping give very strong positive gripping, and adds shock-resistance (although with a knife this size, I cant imagine you would get much impact shock.
The cord is treated with a proprietary acrylic solution to keep it in place, tidy and clean, but apparently wont interfere with using the cord in a survival situation. Great logic guys! The pointed pommel can also be depended on to leave a lasting impression.

The very hungry edge is constrained in a two part carry system. A 100d Cordura outer which includes in the back a MOLLE attachment system, with one channel worth of press-stud fixing tab in place. The inner layer is a folded Kydex insert, and is designed to allow ambidextrous wear of the blade.

This is further facilitated by the central placement of press-stud retention webbing, which allows the blade to be seated left or right, facing up, or down. I fed some paracord through the provided eyelets, and with a cord-lock, quickly converted this into a neck-knife for Omega to wear out and about. Quite the talking point at some of the more exciting events we attend.

This is a beautiful, brutal piece, thoroughly efficient, uncompromisingly rugged, and everything I could hope for in a gift for a loved one.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Griffin - Mossy Oak Survivor iPhone case

One of the contacts I made whilst at the SSAA SHOT Expo was Peter Ferrigno of Griffin Technology, who showed off one of their pretty hard core iPhone cases. I've covered a couple of cases before, in the Snow Lizard SLXtreme case and the Opt Silicone Armor case.

Being a Sporting Shooters type event, Griffin was displaying the Mossy Oak variant of their Survivor range, Peter was kind enough to send me one to have a play with.  This is a three part case, which Griffin report being compliant to MIL-STD 810G standard.
Griffin demonstrations for this case include imbedding it in a block of concrete and hammering it free, which is pretty impressive. The three components of the case are the main body, the removable face-plate, and the belt clip.Here's how the whole case it put together:

The outer cladding is made of shock and vibration-absorbing silicone, whilst a polycarbonate shell provides the outer structure and is also the patterned component, for your Mossy Oak needs.

Inside the outer cladding, the inner structure is again the hard polycarbonate plastic providing inner support and is backed up with foam padding to add to the internal shock absorbance.

A scratch resistant polycarbonate screen cover clips into the main outer cladding at six points to lock into place.

The belt clip attaches via two clasps that lock onto the top and bottom of the phone, and will work either way up, to suit your tastes and how you wear your rig.

You can see here that the back panels of the phone have a couple more polycarbonate sections with the Mossy Oak pattern showing through. You can also see the clever swiveling camera port, which is inset into the backing.

These ports follow the same pattern for all the access points of the camera, and whilst they don't offer submersion-level protection, I imagine that they would shrug off anything but total immersion. This is a weather proof case with a lot of thought put into the needs of the outdoorsman.

Each of the audio port, mute-switch and power socket ports are covered with a thick, snug fitting silicone plug, hinged and deeply set, almost difficult to open, so no risk of accidental exposure.

 I found the home button a little tricky at first, as it needs a good solid press to activate, but once I have the angle down pat, it was a breeze to operate.

The polycarbonate screen protector was really responsive, and tactile, which was a nice change from the somewhat sluggish response from the SLXtreme case, even with a film screen-guard on my iPhone. The audio was pretty clear, both receiving and making calls, and the front facing camera still worked fine for all my tacticool selfies.

The belt clip deserves some more description too. Fully swivel-able, in stiff slicking fashion, the clasp itself has a latch over the opening end, to lock it closed, to prevent accidental un-clasping when you are belly crawling in the wilderness. It also will lock open, and back, to create a stand, which is a nice addition.

 The all-important PALS/MOLLE test was a great success, and showed that not only did the tongue of the clip fit into the channels nicely, but that it could be swiveled in place for optimum viewing angle, and detached from the backing for use easily, and replaced just as easily.

The biggest drawback I had with the case was that the power socket plug was too small for me to dock with either my in-car music/charger or my desktop docking clock-radio. However, when I was out and about, this wasn't really an issue.

Being a clip-on cover, and the way the access ports close, this isn't a submersible case, which means I wont be strapping it to my chest on my next Tough Mudder, but it IS really weather resistant, which means I can keep using my phone in Melbourne's inclement weather, and not worry about shirting it out.

All in all this is a very rugged and hard wearing feeling case, and I have no doubt that I could hand it to any of my kids and expect to get it back fully functioning, if a little sticky. Perfect for distracting them when taking out zombies or triffids in the front yard!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Home Front: Atamai Eco-Village

 An old friend of mine dropped me a message, from his side of The Ditch to remind me that his home would make an excellent example of Apocalypse Equipped living. He is one of the members and developers of the Resilient Community at Atamai Village.

I, like my Viking ancestors, have pillaged their website and Facebook page to gather all the content below,  so all credit to the creators and writers.

What I liked most of all about this whole idea was the planning and conscious decisions made in its development. I think these folks have put a lot of time and effort into not only being self-sufficient, not only for food and resources, but also in the maintenance, development and management of their site.

Craig assures me that being a hard worker, in the event of zombies, all i need do is fight my way over the Tasman, baby on my back, and i'll be welcome. If it were not for the entanglements of lovers and children in Melbourne, he'd have already been giving me the hard-sell to move over. I'd be tempted too ....


A Permaculture Designed New Zealand Eco-Village

Located within biking distance to Motueka, a small town in the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island, the village’s land provides attractive and comfortable housing sites of mixed sizes for 50+ families.
Details on sections for sale now, can be found here. You can contact us via our website form.
A village is a settlement where people move from the privacy and separateness of their individual homes and families to their daily exchanges with others – all within the village and its environs. These are exchanges for basic needs such as food and other goods, social exchanges of support and mutual interest, cultural exchanges for fun and enjoyment, exchanges where projects are planned and carried out with others, a place where goods and services are exchanged to the benefit of both parties.
Village life is filled with opportunities for exchanges with a deeper texture, where the depth and breadth of relationships is enriching at many levels; where the joys and tribulations of a full life are felt and shared. Village life involves a sense of place and connectedness – to the land and the people – where relationships to both are rich and mutually sustaining.

A village operates on a human scale
  • where people know the land and each other
  • where that knowledge translates into caring and support for both
  • where people pay attention to the local because they depend on it for their well-being
  • where there is a connection to the broader world, but where that connection is based on fair exchange rather than dependency.

Physical Infrastructure

Common Resources

A key feature of most traditional villages is land owned and managed collectively. This feature has been incorporated into the Atamai design. Most of the land already developed, or that remains to be developed, will be part of the Commons Resource that the developer transfers to Atamai Village Council (the body that owns and governs the commons resources). The Commons Land already consists of approximately 10 ha and approximately 25 ha will come into the Commons with the second stage of development.
This common land is a critical feature of Atamai's food production and more. Such lands under community control can be used to generate income for the village by renting or leasing parcels of land or specific rights (e.g. grazing) over parcels of land to villagers or other parties. Exactly how these commons resources will be used will be determined by villagers rather than the developer.
The common resources are owned collectively by all villagers.

Permaculture Features

Atamai Village is designed on permaculture principles. All freehold titles have been chosen to ensure a favourable solar aspect and enough space for at least a vegetable garden and orchard areas. Some sites are suitable for raising livestock of various sorts. Wind and water features have also been taken into account, and the entire site is adjacent to a forestry block which is being transformed into a sustainable forestry operation.
Permaculture principles are also being used to develop all Commons land to be owned and managed by Atamai Village Council.
These permaculture features are one component of a secure food supply, by optimizing the availability of productive land, and where appropriate, creating microclimates for special purpose growing.

Access and cycle ways

Img 0881Image
A large portion of Atamai Village will be car free, with access and cycle ways designed to connect various parts of the Village. All access and cycle ways will have a grade of no more than 1 in 10 to ensure ease of access by walking or cycling. When necessary, small electric vehicles can be used to move goods or people. All access ways will also be large enough to accommodate emergency vehicles.
These features will reduce our reliance on fossil fuel transport, and facilitate ease of movement when energy descent becomes more prominent. They will also make Village areas safer and more accommodating to people-scale activities, thus facilitating social interaction and a sense of community.

Building Design Guide

An extensive Building Design Guide has been prepared to describe the standards for all buildings within the village. This document addresses such issues as passive solar house designs, use of non-toxic, sustainably sourced local materials, on-site energy production, waste handling requirements, and related items.

Building Covenant     

2011 Feb 002We believe these design features are so important that a covenant is placed on each title that ensures the goals of sustainable buildings will forever occur on each dwelling site. So you can be sure that village buildings will follow these guidelines, and enjoy their long term benefits – an important part of a resilient community. 
These standards ensure that buildings will be comfortable and inexpensive to operate on an on-going basis, have a low ecological footprint, and be safe to live in. The first home built according to these guidelines is now in place.                          

Clean Land Covenant

All land within the village will be covenanted to ensure that nothing will be done to the land that would prevent that parcel of land from being BioGro Certified. This same guideline applies to both individual freehold titles and all Commons land. The guideline does not require that each land parcel become BioGro certified, but only that nothing is done to it that would prevent such certification.
Atamai and related parties also have control over almost the entire catchment area for Village lands.
These features ensure that no pesticides or other toxic materials will be used on any of the lands under village control, providing a safe and healthy environment for growing food and enjoying our natural surroundings. These features will also enhance the biodiversity potential for both fauna and flora throughout the village lands.

Water Security

Img 0478One of the standards in the Building Design Guide specifies two 24,000 l water tanks for each dwelling and a roof-top collection system for domestic and garden use. Separate tanks for fire protection elevated about dwelling height are also part of the plan, and some are already in place. In addition, there are several ponds now constructed, and more to come, as well as several areas where super-wells are options should they be needed. With the local annual rainfall of approximate 1000 mm, these measures should provide adequate water security for villagers.
Mvi 0975 21190413The rainwater collection, ponds and wells collectively provide a resilient water system to meet village needs for the foreseeable future; these measures take into account the predicted changes based on altered rain patterns induced by climate change. The ponds also provide opportunities for recreation and aesthetic enjoyment.

Food Security

Each title provides areas for a veggie garden and some food bearing trees. Some sites are also suitable for raising livestock. Options are also available to use part of the Commons for livestock or additional food production. A community orchard was established in 2007 which is now coming into production. The orchard area, along with land for community gardens, has already been transferred from the developer to Atamai Village Council. To supplement these village food producing areas an adjacent 24 ha farm operation is being established by one of the first villagers, with the objective of supplying bulk and specialty crops for the village and beyond.

Topsoil from each site has been carefully removed during excavation and then reapplied to the site. None of the land was previously used for industrial type agriculture (e.g. tobacco, etc).
The water features of the village layout are another important resource for food production.
These soil and water features are supplemented by the region’s record high sunshine levels to provide ample opportunity for each villager to produce their own organic and locally sourced food, or purchase it from another villager. Having these vital resources under direct village control (individually or collectively) provide a degree of resilience hard to match elsewhere.

Dealing with Waste

The building design standards also include a provision for each building to deal with its own waste on site. Recommended solutions include various grey water drainage systems and composting toilets. There are various versions of both to match the circumstances of each household.
Handling human waste in this fashion avoids contaminating other areas and also provides a valuable resource for the orchards.

Social Infrastructure

Img 0801In addition to being responsible for the physical infrastructure of the village, the developer has also provided for some basic social infrastructure components to support village activities.

Atamai Village Council

The developer established Atamai Village Council as an Incorporated Society to own and manage the village common resources. This entity provides a basic legal structure for ownership of common resources and a means of managing them. It has been operating since 2010.

Consensus Decision Making Covenant

2012 July 006Village life is about more than just sharing the physical assets of the Commons - it covers all facets of human interactions and therefore has some predictable features. Owning and managing the Commons Resources will require a decision process that will benefit from both wisdom and broad support. Consequently, a Consensus Decision Making Process is included as one of the key covenants placed on each freehold title. All villagers are expected to participate in training regarding this process and to support its use in making decisions as part of Atamai Village Council.
Atamai Village Council has been functioning using this model since 2010.

Conflict Transformation Covenant

A second social covenant that goes on each freehold title deals with Conflict Transformation. It is inevitable that conflicts will arise in any collective human endeavour so it is best to have agreement on a constructive way of dealing with them when they do. This covenant deals with villagers training in conflict transformation techniques and committing to using these approaches when conflict occurs. Supportive mediation is part of this process if required so the parties in conflict have access to assistance should it be needed.
These two covenants on each title (the Consensus Decision Making and Conflict Transformation) provide two components of a social infrastructure for the village to operate successfully over the long term. These features allow for new villagers to receive training in the use of these processes and participate in village life from their earliest involvement with the village. Naturally, there is a process for modifying these processes as we gain experience with them and find ways of making them better – something all villagers can contribute to.


So, there you have it.

A real life, functional and active resilient community, working towards self sufficiency, ecologically sound and sustainable practices, and the social engineering required to maintain it.

I applaud them all, and am quietly envious of the opportunities and challenges it presents.  It also reminds me to bone-up on my "the GPS's are gone" navigation and boating skills...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...