Continuing after the break....
- Hi Marcin, Ben and everyone
I was sorry to hear of the recent parting of the ways between Marcin and Ben - I hope it will not alter how I/Dadamac (and others) are able to connect with Ben and/or Marcin
You and I were first in contact last year. We discussed in considerable depth the value of what you are doing and how it might relate to what John Dada and I are trying to do through Attachab Eco-Village http://dadamac.net/projects/attachab and the Knowledge Resource Centre http://dadamac.net/projects/krc. We agreed that sometime there could be mutual benefit in seeing how your ongoing research and development work is relevant for rural Africa now.
In September last year when I was with John in Nigeria, you and I greeted each other briefly on Skype (typed chat) and tried to set up a voice-chat so you and John could put voices to names. The bandwidth on the Nigerian side is only sometimes sufficient to allow this - and we could not do it that evening.
Recently John has been talking about plans to get a tractor at Attachab so I reminded him of Open Farm and Lifetrac, and you and he have recently been in contact about this.
In the long-term I love the idea that Lifetrac could be built from scrap metal - and I think of all the burnt out hulks of wrecked cars and lorries that litter the roadsides along the main routes through Nigeria. I think that doing a feasibility study of turning them into Lifetracs would be an exciting and worthwhile project. Maybe we should look at that long term possibility. I wonder if you (or anyone you know) would be interested in such a project, how we might get it funded, and other practicalities. However, that would be a long-term project.Dadamac could help to find the right people on the ground to be involved in such a project, if funds were available.
For immediate needs at Attachab we are hoping for something a bit more "user ready" (if we can raise the money). I think that if a Lifetrac could be made available, in an affordable way then John would be interested in using it, instead of a standard tractor, and would have people around with relevant skills who could learn to fix it. The multi purpose aspects of a Lifetrac would also be of interest. Of course if we do have a working Fifetrac the we can invite other pepole tp come and see it and try it. Given that the design for Lifetrac is Open Source, I wonder if there are any individuals/groups who might be willing/able to help move things forward in this "immediate needs" way. Is there any way forward other than the "start-from-scrap-metal" way?
BTW - We plan to be able to send back good information to people who connect with projects at Attachab. We already have some people on the team in Nigeria who have skills with cameras (but these people tend to be very busy). Therefore we are currently developing a training course called Cameras for Communication, which John plans to make part of the induction training for all staff and volunteers he works with. We are already delivering the first module (digital photography) to the first participants. http://www.dadamac.net/projects/cameras4communication. We hope that gradually it will become second nature for people on the team in Nigeria to keep a photo (and video) diary of the projects there for feedback to any at-a-distance collaborators.
We were first in direct contact in November last year, when you announced you would be in Kent for a month, and I wrote to check if that was Kent in SE England (in which case we might meet) but it was Kent Ohio USA. We exchanged a few emails related to permaculture.
I was newly interested in permaculture because I had just come back from Nigeria, where Dadamac had collaborated with Marcus Simmons, of Ecoshelter, to get an eco-dome built http://www.dadamac.net/projects/ecodome at Attachab. Marcus had done more than the eco-dome project, including interesting us all in the idea of permaculture.
Later I was very interested to see your video on the open farm blog, especially the bit about digging holes to catch water - with the dual benefit of irrigation and stopping the topsoil from getting washed away. It was a completely new idea to me and I wondered if it might be relevant for Attachab. Regrading th gradient there, I confess I did not notice the gradient down to the river very much when I was at Attachab with John, but when I saw the the strategy I thought it was interesting and perhaps relevant. I know the rains are so torrential that losing topsoil seems likely to be a problem, so it seems something worth exploring with John sometime.
Now you are ready to move on to other projects. I wonder if there is any way that Attachab Eco-Village could work with you. I need to explain that, at this point, we have no money to invite you over as a consultant or anything like that, so we would need to "rub minds" to see how we could come up with some appropriate plan for collaboration. I feel it could well be someone's interest (as well as yours and ours) to see how your expertise would apply in rural Nigeria, and maybe the fact that we would be trying things out in reality might be sufficient to attract some financial backing to help us go forward. If it does become financially possible I don't know it you would like to advise from a distance or actually come and spend some time at Attachab. At this point I can only flag up the fact that we are interested in permaculture, ready to learn, and perhaps you could teach us.