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Preserving the Past to Serve the Future, Andrew Willner
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Preserving the Past to Serve the Future, Andrew Willner


Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Waterways Reskilling, November 23, 2013, Preserving the Past to Serve the Future, Panel Moderator

Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Waterways Reskilling, November 23, 2013, Preserving the Past to Serve the Future, Panel Moderator

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  • 1. Waterways Reskilling: Back to the Carbon Neutral Future Heirloom Technologies and Modern Know-how Create an Environmentally Sound Future for the Hudson River, her Tributaries and Estuaries Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) & SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force November 23, 2013, New Paltz, NY
  • 2. ”Today, traditional knowledge is in danger and its disappearance would not only cause the loss of people’s capability to keep and pass on the artistic and natural heritage, but also of an extraordinary source of knowledge and cultural diversity from which the appropriate innovation solutions can be derived today and in the future.”
  • 3. Slow Money is a movement to organize investors and donors to steer new sources of capital to small food enterprises, organic farms, and local food systems. The Slow Foodmovement aims to preserve cultural cuisine and in so doing to preserve the food plants and seeds, domestic animals and farming within an eco-region. It is also a social and political movement that resists the dehumanizing effects of fast food and corporate farming. Slow Tech is about the re-invigoration of heirloom technologies and traditional skills needed to thrive in a carbonconstrained future. The idea of Slow Technology or “Slow Tech” has its roots in the ideological movement called “appropriate technology,” a term coined by E.F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful, first published in 1973. Slow Tech should be thoughtful about how devices shape our relationships to time, emotion, energy, and bioregional environment.
  • 4. C. Milton Dixon, interviewed in The (Chicago) Examiner, May 2011, said: ”(high tech is) industrial technology and refers to things that are out of your control, as opposed to low technology, which is simple things done in a smart way. Low technology is using the intelligence of nature to accomplish tasks. High technology is buying an apple from the store; low technology is getting an apple from a tree you planted yourself. One of the big differences is in high technology you are disconnected from cause and effect relationships. So if you pollute through high technology, you may not feel the direct result. Low technology is connection because you are involved in the process and you are directly affected by the consequences.”
  • 5.      It takes time to learn how it works, It takes time to understand why it works the way it works, It takes time to apply it It takes time to see what it is and it takes time to find out the consequences of using it
  • 6. Transition is the movement by which people are re-skilled in heirloom technologies. Permaculture gave birth to the Transition movement and offers guidance on how to use those skills to design resilient lives. The ethics; earth care, people care, and fair share form the foundation for Permaculture and are also found in most traditional societies. Permaculture incorporates knowledge from cultures that have existed in balance with their environment for much longer than our consumer centered fossil fueled society. We should not ignore the positive accomplishments of modern times, but in the transition to a sustainable future, we need to consider values and concepts different from what has become the social norm. Transition fosters and supports the revitalization of Slow Tech skills and asks us to relearn the proficiency needed to reanimate the skills need to reinvigorating our bioregional waterways for a post carbon future.
  • 7. A Transition Reskilling turns back the clock to reclaim technologies that have immediate relevance and are key to the carbon neutral future of the MidAtlantic region: 1) Sail-freight, which is resurging as people build and rebuild wooden ships for the transport of goods along coastal and inland waters of the Hudson 2) Small and micro-scale, direct hydropower generation, 3) Port & dock restoration, design and management, 4) Future fisheries, 5) Boat-building and watermill restoration. Valley,
  • 8. Historically, thousands of vessels plied the waters to and from cities on the Harbor and the farming areas of New Jersey and the Hudson Valley delivering fresh local farm produce, fish, shellfish, and passengers to ports along the way. The Hudson River and the Harbor was once a bustling highway linking even the smallest communities into a web of regularly scheduled routes. Farmers and oystermen relied on this vibrant and diverse fleet of vessels to bring their goods to market and to receive supplies. The schooners, sloops, and steam boats provided a unique way of life for early inhabitants. For those who worked the inland waters of New York City Bioregion, the sea was a common element in their lives.
  • 9. Small hydro is the development of hydroelectric power on a scale serving a small community or industrial plant. The definition of a small hydro project varies but a generating capacity of up to 10 megawatts (MW) is generally accepted as the upper limit of what can be termed small hydro. Small hydro plants may be connected to conventional electrical distribution networks as a source of low-cost renewable energy. Alternatively, small hydro projects may be built in isolated areas that would be uneconomic to serve from a network, or in areas where there is no national electrical distribution network. Since small hydro projects usually have minimal reservoirs and civil construction work, they are seen as having a relatively low environmental impact compared to large hydro. This decreased environmental impact depends strongly on the balance between stream flow and power production.
  • 10. There are places where traditional fishing is still practiced, and fishermen have the knowledge to pass on. From Maine to the Carolinas, fishermen and the communities in which they live are starting to “take back” the management of their fisheries. Commercial fishermen long thought of as “ocean rapers” and “bottom scrapers” are at the heart of a “community based fisheries management and science movement, and community supported fisheries.
  • 11. As the Hudson and the region reinvents portions of the waterfront for living, playing, and relaxing, it is critical to invest in the parts of the waterfront devoted to working. The working waterfront is vital to the economy of the region. It is home to tugboat and barge operators, marinas, and ship-repair outfits that provide maritime support services. The waterfront is not only the preferable place of business for many firms, it is essential to their daily operations. And workers, in turn, depend on these businesses for their livelihoods. A renewed working waterfront is essential in a powered down future as much of our food and other commerce will happen on the rivers and estuaries in our bioregion. It will also be the main way that we communicate with each other.
  • 12. The skills used in building timber framed watermills and large wooden vessels are very similar. Woodworkers not only have to build objects of rare beauty but for hard use. The techniques used by craftsmen like Jim Kricker, his crew at Roundout Woodworking and Erik Andrus at the Vermont Sail Freight Project are keeping traditional Slow technologies alive for the next generation of craftsman and a world in which these essential tools will be necessary.