Existence: Chapter Sixteen: Part Two
Let’s explore the composting toilet concept to develop the application. For manure handling and waste treatment, we would like to minimize the people work in the process of developing the economic value of soil restoration with nutrient production. One set of designs is found in The Humanure Handbook 2e by Joseph Jenkins (1999). Our plan is to take the basic features of construction and apply them to a local demonstration project at a site when the toilet will be used for festivals.
The composting toilet operates based on the ability of microbes to break down biopolymers. This comes with the release thermal energy. The initial mix of components would be urine, manure and a masking agent, straw or clay and another component to absorb moisture and odor. Wood chips and sawdust work well, but any organic matter may play this role.
The design will chute material to a location where it is away from people and accessible for turning. Microbes from the manure act to break down materials in an oxidation process, which can be monitored with a thermometer. When temperature decreases, it is time to turn the compost. Successive microbial communities feed on the remnants of previous communities and break down organic materials as long as there is heat and moisture, plus necessary amounts of oxygen. The process is generally done in a batch reaction, although continuous digesters can be developed. The temperature should exceed 140oF in order to quench the germination of weed seeds – worms, fungi and other life forms will return to the compost material after the batch temperature returns to normal.
A batch reactor would require two working bins – one bin for current collection while the second bin is composting. The materials should be tracked – urine and runoff tea can potentially be separated into a different treatment system and used as organic fertilizer. The operating volume is a key to system design – projections should be made on a system-to-system basis. After the composting toilet is built, there is a small maintenance requirement; somebody should be assigned to look after the system on a daily basis to ensure that smooth operations are in order.
Design can be kept simple – with a mode of failure analysis taking place to identify obstructions that appear in the process. Covering general system maintenance and having the necessary materials for treatment on-hand in a weather-protected form are necessary functions. Having a good definition of expectations will help the process run smoothly. There should also be contacts for information, especially who to contact in the event of an emergency.
The goal here is to assimilate bio-cyclic systems into community, while teaching people to understand their role in the process of ecosystem management of the whole. Essentially, each workshop provides continuity with the other workshops offered – the unified framework that can be expanded or contracted dependant on the circumstance. This is the role of the leader with the most practical experience.
The grid of sixty-four approach allows anywhere from four to sixty-four topics to be in play for each workshop – depending on the depth of the community. Each grid of sixty-four represents a whole community and is also part of a larger scale grid that unites independent communities. Each workshop is a POD under development; several themes can be brought together within the group using combined skills to complete the demonstration project. Areas developed at other POD workshops can then be applied to this POD and additional seminars can be scheduled to cover more aspects. As long as there is a scribe tracking the skills added into the project over time, each community will be able to provide a unique learning experience and data on the POD process. Divergent approaches to the same tasks are welcome and comparative evaluation encouraged whenever possible.
Each POD is a mechanism for creating community – a stand-alone demonstration project at one site can serve as the model for systems at other sites. The aim is to have a readily duplicated system that can be constructed and functional within ten days. Exchange of principles between PODs will be necessary to expand community ability. We require feedback to know how things work; to apply improvements made by one group to applications in similar groups. People who learn their tasks well increase in level to other tasks by teaching people how to take over the functions of their current task. Each science has its own application in every process – including the battery of social sciences necessary to develop community.
Community depends on operational biology. Each workshop will be based on our ability to keep functional mechanisms going up to the point where operational redundancy is restored. Keeping material ‘backed up’ will prevent catastrophic loss – having open source supply chains will help communications. There is no limit to the application, but initial focus should be on providing function after system collapse. Each POD workshop should develop a plan to meet the worst-case scenario that might exist within that particular community.
Hour cards are a mechanism for people to exchange work on an equitable basis. Development of a knowledge base is increased by the investment of hours into research. The amount of time applied on task governs the available growth that the individual receives from his effort. Just going through the motions, without taking the time to think and observe, will not give full benefit of action. The development of a routine, where differences are documented, allows us to gather the full breadth of information on the task.
To develop a skill requires many hours of practice until the initial nuance becomes commonplace. Unfortunately, we may not have that time depending on the urgency of the situation. Eventually, each of us will develop mechanisms of approach that allow our unique abilities to be recognized and applied in community benefit. If we can better communicate these abilities, we can jumpstart communication of universal concepts.
The hour card will provide data and information that allows characterization of people involved in developing PODs. These include current skill level, theme interests and workshops completed. Verification takes place in context of community – demonstrating tasks at workshops increases the participant’s level in the sovereign scoring system and provides leverage of value for the hour card exchange.
Hour cards would be placed on the game grid at the beginning of a workshop and revised after the end of the workshop, based on the skills displayed in the demonstration task. Each community would maintain their own grid of sixty-four and issue their own hour cards. The community would fit into the State of Jefferson Grid as one unit of a larger grid of sixty-four.