Report of a Dutch ere-meeting about Starting a Learning Tribe
Saturday, June 15, 2019, at 10.15 am.
It is still raining as we met on a little motorboat in a town in Noord Holland. So we sit inside for coffee and a delicious chocolate cake made by one of the 4 ere-forum-participants. One woman, three men. Two of them have met before, two of them are only known from the forum. The advantage of such a little but different group, shaped/selected already by participating in the ere-forums, is the openness to discuss freely about things which in bigger groups often stay only on the surface. During the day we learn to know each other better. We all appear to have an active knowledge about healthy food, we have all already made our financial situation comfortable. That means big financial buffers, enough or even high income and (very) low expenses.
But different phases in life: one with two young teenagers, one couple without children in their thirties/forties one in his seventies. And as it appears: all with a very broad scope of general knowledge as well as specialized knowledge. Two of us are entrepreneurs, two of us are salaried. All of us have a technical basis education (industrial design, electronics engineer, building engineer, computer/education) .
We have a loosely defined agenda today, with subjects as boating, energy, about being/forming a learning tribe, and whatever we want to discuss today.
We start about boating. The rain stops slowly, the owner of the boat shows how well the lay out of such a (former) sailing ship of 26 feet is arranged and organized. With use of every space. You can easily live on it with one or two persons or even with one or two little children. The simple electricity system with motor-dynamo and a start-and service-battery, the water tank with foot-pump, the frugal kerosine heather, the new inboard two cylinder diesel motor, its maintenance and cooling is showed and briefly discussed before we sail away. We sail out of the city on canals, along meadows seamed by reed. We anchor in a quiet little creek to have our potluck lunch. Other boating types like kayaks, rowing- and sailing-boats and the newest S(standing)U(p)P(addleboards) hype are discussed under the aspect of using your body. The sun starts to shine but wind and water are still rather cool, so the swim ladder stays unfolded.
Via other canals, partly lined with live-on-board and house boats, we return to the city center. There is a little harbor where the boat has its own box. The boat is steered by a novice but thanks to the slow speed she steers, after some practice, effortless.
We have discussed the topic of forming a learning tribe during lunch. Are we as forum not already a learning tribe? All of us feel that way, but meetings like this, where we learn to know each other specialties, help to deepen the possibilities to learn from each other. Two of us are emerging themselves in permaculture, kitchen gardening, bacterial possibilities, fermenting food, having a lot of supply of greens and fruit from their gardens. Two of us are skilled in the use/creation of real estate as income source, one of us is very skilled in hard/software set ups, one in risk management, one is to become a jewel maker as well… So we conclude that it is enough to meet perhaps some other time but that we always can ask each other if we want to make use of each others skills and knowledge.
We walk from the boat to the home of one of us. That home is a restored, ancient and listed house built in 1570 and town garden. The restoration process has been organized and partly done by the couple who owns the house now in 2004 and 2005. The wife joins our group now too. The restoration was an intensive project, partly done by themselves partly by hired service men. Juggling with requirements of a monument, to keep the costs at bay and the requirements of making the house energy friendly, was a battle with bureaucracy. Mostly by ignoring the remarks of the officials and just doing what made sense (from the view of the owner/user/payer-of-the costs) but also paying respect to the good old parts. Interesting additions to the house were a gutter in the hallway for storing fresh fruit and vegetables (mostly) eliminating the need for a refrigerator and in a wall niche a DIY bed for guests which folded can then also be used as a standing desk.
Last year the tilted and flat roofs were ‚after’ insulated over the copper cladding (the tilted one) and bitumen (the flat one) with xps insulation boards and over those a layer of weather and u.v. light resistant material. And a part was insulated with sedum-plants. Result: the rooms thereunder don't heat up much in summer and keep much better their warmth in winter. Now, with double HR++ glass, insulation of the attic (from the inside under the very old roof-tiles) and some outer wall and the placement of an insulation curtain in the staircases, the house is better insulated than those build until 2000. We compare the heating costs of all of our own houses, and of course one of us has the best results because, like Jacob, he wears in winter 5 layers of cloth and the thermostat on 10 C! (when his girlfriend is not home, haha).
In one of his reactions Jacob has mentioned a design of a human powered generator. This spring one of us has built such a generator inspired by the (bought) plans of David Butcher <firstname.lastname@example.org
>. He has made it cheeper/firmer than Davids model, by adapting the frame of an old bicycle, instead of new steel struts and a new pedal set, handle bar and saddle, but further according the plans.
And now we are really experiencing how much effort it cost to pedal the flywheel and generator to make some watts! The strongest of us comes to a result of 57 Watt, for a short time! Panting we realize what kind of (enormous )effort it would require to produce even one thousand ( one Kilo) Watt. And thus how stimulating it is to reduce our use of electricity. We discuss what all of us have done so far to reduce electricity. One of use has even his router on a timer, so that at night nothing in the house uses electricity….And we see that a lot of electricity using stuff use energy absorbing adaptors to reduce and change the 110/220 AC current to 12 - 19 volt DC current (radio, laptop, mobile, led-lamps, not too big flatscreens) can easily be fed by a 12 volt system, using (car) batteries and solar panels. Would it not be wise to fit (new) houses with a 12 volt net, and here and there some 110/220 volt power outlets (for cooking or a washing machine)?
We use the rest of our potluck meals to have diner and at 7 pm there is a train to catch and a car to start before the parking-site closes. A wonderful day, with lots of knowledge shared/exchanged and above all: seeing how creative each other in real life makes his/her choices to live life with joy and care.
Like the earlier meetings in the Netherlands, the many shared interests but also (large) differences in our personal situations made it an interesting and inspirational meetup.