Pathways to Better Times

Community (whole systems) Cooking and Eating Crafting and Making
Disaster Response Environment Energy and transportation
Enterprise Frugality Growing
Housing Preserving and Processing Simple Living
Family Windmills (special focus this issue) Miscellaneous
Spirituality Preparedness Nuggets Original Justpeace Simple Living Page
Food Security Garbage and Waste
HOME BETTER TIMES: The Cookbook and Almanac of Useful Information for Poor People Better Times: the Webzine, Vol. 1 # 1, August 28, 1999

++++++ The question is: How do we get there from here? Part of this answer is a careful discernment of how we got here. Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history will in fact repeat them, again and again and again and again until they learn their lessons. To quote another cliche: If you always do what you always do, you always get what you always get.

++++++ For those who are ready to move this world where 3 billion people live in abject poverty, in which the culture of death reigns fierce, and deadly, where the strong prey upon the weak and grow rich by unjust means, this little corner of cyber space offers pathways and journeys, fertile ground for all who would help grow a civilization of life and love. If we don't like the structures of violence, greed, lust, death, exploitation, injustice, and oppression, what do we need to do differently? Can we spend our way out with an orgy of materialistic consumerism? Shoot our way out of the box? Kill even more innocent babies?

++++++ Or is something different called for, a change in our ways and manners of living? If we want to grow new structures of beauty, wisdom, mercy, love, joy, peace, and reconciliation, the place to begin is at home. Each act of goodness -- each mitzvah! -- participates with God in the creation of a better future, building structures of redemption to heal our troubled lands.

++++++ My prayer is that this page will offer you information that will help you in your journeys. "Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; for the evil have no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out." (Proverbs 24:19-20) If you would like to receive an automatic email each time this page is updated, send me a blank email with "Subscribe Better Times" in the subject line.

Enterprise TOP

On-line seminars in sustainable economics, at the Communications for a Sustainable Future site. In particular, we note the Ownership Solution, which has some distributist roots.

Homesteading and other practical links, a personal page of links.

Environment TOP

Scorecard, enter your zip code, find out what pollutants are being released in your neighborhood and who is doing the polluting.

Ecological and Environmental Access, at Communications for a Sustainable Future, has a wide variety of resources, including the "list-servs of record" of the sustainable building movement (strawbale, earthship, cob, etc.)

The Battle of Seattle page at the Co-intelligence Institute's site. Probably the best collection of links and articles on the subject I've seen, plenty of information, but not so much that it isn't digestible. A must read is Hawken's take on the event.

Bio-democracy & the Organic Consumers Association, a clearinghouse for information and grassroots technical assistance in support of sustainable organic agriculture and the dangers of corporate control of agriculture.

Climate change and impact on US water supplies, extensive bibliography of peer reviewed literature.

Housing TOP

Our Earthship, a family is building an "earthship" dwelling and are posting pictures of their progress, together with comments and information

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, green roofs help regulate the inside temperature of a building, clean up air pollution, provide beauty, sound insulation, and food production.

Eco House , from the St. Petersburg Sustainable Community Development project. Aims to convert apartment buildings into sustainable communities, with roof tops gardens, recycling and composting, energy savings, resident ownership of the building as a cooperative.

The Knead for Casas que Cantan! Telling the story of the building of strawbale houses in an impoverished village in Mexico. Projected is supported by the Knead Cafe in Kallispell, Montana. You'll also find an on-line cookbook here and free music you can download.

Yellow Mountain Institute, research and development on sustainable building technologies.

Project Echo, creating low cost, sustainable building technologies that are disaster resistant (particularly tornadoes and earthquakes).

Straw Bale Central, clearinghouse for information and techniques.

Robert Bolman's Natural Building and Social Justice Page, with a description of the strawbale/cob house his is building, plus information about his slide show presentations in the US Northwest.

California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, a beautiful site with lots of information and pictures.

Not Available Online. . . Build It With Bales, Volume 2, by Matts Myhrman and S. O. MacDonald. Distributed by Chelsea Green, can be ordered by any book store. A "basics" handbook, information that has been tested and is pretty much universally accepted within the straw bale community.

Family TOP

The NFP Files, get the facts, learn the biological truths about your own body, understand why tens of millions of families are using this practical and effective and non-invasive method of family planning.

What is Natural Family Planning? No pills, chemicals, or abortafacients. Calls for deep communication between married partners.

Homesteading on a 21st century ark, a Christian family shares their beliefs on homesteading and simple living, plus some thoughts on the practicalities thereof.

Growing TOP

I Can Garden!, great resource with newsletter and discussion boards for gardening info.

City Gardening, information, pictures, on-line chat

Do it yourself garden site, sponsored by an on-line garden store, practical gardening information, nicely organized for easy access.

Land, Livestock, and Environment, lots of content and links, organic-oriented, includes information from and about developing countries.

Permaculture, agriculture, gardening link page

Resources for tropical agriculture, from a Christian research and missions organization, Amaranth to Zai Holes: Ideas for growing food under difficult conditions , online book text, in particular see Above Ground (container) gardening for models, techniques, tips.

Square foot gardening, tips and links.

Truman's garden page, how easy can watering and feeding a garden be? Check out this guys home-built setup. It's amazing what you can do with a few dictaphone parts and a trash can.

The hydroponic home(made) garden, sponsored by a commercial enterprise, information and design considerations, discusses components and has some diagrams.

Container Gardening in the City, promoting the "wading pool" system as the ultimate low-tech cheap container for city gardening. Step by step instructions, project initiated by people of faith to help the urban poor.

Chris' Hydroponics Home Page, by a University of Florida horticulture student, pictures and descriptions of his homemade hydroponics system.

Hydroponics Links, from a guy who seems to be working on growing a 75' long tomato plant.

Hydroponics - the Weedless Garden, from a home hydroponics gardener, pictures and info about growing without weeds.

My hydroponics diary, an Aussie takes us day by day through the development of his Down Under garden. Fair dinkum mate, it's a great site.

Irish-Eyes, a guide to growing potatoes and garlic, on a commercial site offering seed potatoes and other items of interest to those who would grow spuds in their backyards.

Organic food production in the slums of Mexico City

Grow your own yeast, the tiniest garden plants!

Energy and Transportation TOP

Converting an engine to run on alternative fuel such as alcohol or vegetable oil, discussion thread from last year about some of the details and options.

Turning sewage into cheap power, 2 million watts, to be exact, report on a functioning plant in Ottawa, Canada; they estimate they can get its production up to 10 megawatts using methane gas from the city's sewage treatment system.

Green LA, Los Angeles residents can voluntarily agree to pay 6% extra on their electric bill, with the funds used to subsidize the purchase of electricity generated by renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) This electricity tends to cost a bit more than power generated by fossil fuel plants, but the price of the fossil fuel plant doesn't include the cost of the pollution. As of November 1999, 20,000 households had signed up for the program. This program is designed to allow consumers to encourage alternative non-polluting energy markets to create new productive enterprises to provide such renewable energy.

PV Power, from the Dept. Of Energy, a set of detailed pages about generating your own power with solar cells.

Green Cars, organized campaign encouraging automakers to make "green" cars (high full efficiency, low pollution/emissions, perhaps alternative non-fossil carbohydrate based fuels or electric hybrids.

How to make a solar water heater, an online VITA technical publication.

Grassroots Biodiesel Page, making fuel from vegetable oil, Recipes for home-made biodiesel.

Electricity-free Refrigeration, here are do-it-yourself plans for building an absorption refrigerator that does not use electricity.

Bio-energy List Archives, searchable, this is one of the lists I archive.

WIRE - the Worldwide Information System for Renewable Energy, sponsored by the German government (site is in English, however), tons of resources (click on "guest access" or do a free registration which allows more options (such as providing information to the database).

International information on renewal energy, Geothermal, Biomass, Waste, Hydro, Solar, Wind, PV

Atlas, reviewing and prioritizing Europe's future energy technologies, from the European Commission.

The evolving renewal energy market, from the International Energy Association, which is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Full text of report.

Energy Efficiency, collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on cost-effective energy efficiency projects. Many details found here.

Preserving and Processing TOP

Canning and preserving the harvest, on-line forum with extensive archives and links.

Vegetable seed savers handbook, from Seeds of Texas Seed Exchange. Lots of practical details.

The Complete Guide to Home Canning, from Mississippi Extension. Selection, use and care of canning equipment.

Cooking and Eating TOP

Soup, it may not actually have all the world's recipes for soups, but this site is working on it. Searchable, soup of the day, resources and more.

Culinary Herb FAQ, everything you ever wanted to know about every culinary herb -- growing, harvesting, preserving, using.

In Season, all about using and cooking locally grown, seasonal produce.

International Dutch Oven Society, history, recipes, cookbooks.

Solar cooking and water pasteurization email listserv, has archives of messages.

Canned Food Recipes, from the industry "Canned Food Alliance", a selection of nutritional recipes using canned foods (this site will be useful to low income people and those running emergency food pantries.) Recipes are searchable, and an email newsletter is available.

Community (whole systems) TOP

Center for a Sustainable Economy, research and advocacy concerning market and tax-incentive proposals supportive sustainable economics.

Natural Capitalism: creating the next industrial revolution, a conversation with Amory Lovins, transcript of a San Diego presentation. Amory Lovins is vice president of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, an information center operation by the National Center for Appropriate Technology. Provides technical assistance to farmers, Extension agents, market gardeners, and others with an interest in agriculture. Extensive online library of reports giving practical details of sustainable commercial agriculture.

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy promotes energy efficiency as a way of bolstering the common good (including economic prosperity), lots of resources, including a home energy consumption guide, ratings of energy efficiency of appliances, legislative and tax alerts.

Positive Futures Network, working to build a more just and sustainable world. The Post-Corporate World

New Urban Agenda, highlighting progress along the road to sustainability, reports from them that's doin'.

Corporate Agriculture Research Project, monitors corporate agri-business and supports alternatives. Has a regular email newsletter, Agribusiness Examiner, and a new services, Agbiz Tiller. Dares to talk about justice and the small farmer and farm worker.

Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society, academic group studying the relationship between human values and agriculture systems.

Community Development Society, a professional organization, has on-line journal with abstracts of articles, other resources. Entrepreneurial community gardens (from 1999 conference proceedings).

Spirituality TOP

View an icon of Dorothy Day ... View an icon of Archbishop Oscar Romero

Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic Worker community,

The Chesterton Page , a cyberplace for counter-cultural Catholics (and others with similar interests). Essays and Prose, flowing from an on-going conversation among readers of the Caelum et Terra magazine (1991-96), those participating are generally interested in low-tech, agrarian culture, and the apostolate of beauty.

Crafting and Making TOP

How Stuff Works hundreds of reports describing how out technology works.

Industry Profiles, from Volunteers in Technical Assistance, detailed explanations of various manufacturing operations. If you need to know how to manufacture 15,000 dozen dress shirts a year, or how to extract oil and meal from sorghum, it's online here, as are several other such descriptions.

Development Publications CD, 150 of Volunteers in Technology Assistance technical publications and books conveniently on a CD for browsing or printing on your home computer. It's only $95, give one as a gift to your favorite library in a poor neighborhood or to a community development organization. Village Technology Handbook, the classic reference work from VITA on appropriate technologies that increase the security and the quality of life for many poor people worldwide.

Understanding Technology Series, more riches from the VITA folks, a series of technical papers summarizing, from hydroponics to making paint and many points between. A rich information source on making and doing. Volunteers in Technical Assistance, home page, their mission is to empower the impoverished in developing countries to manage their own development.

Bizarre stuff you can make in your kitchen, a compendium of home science experiments from the 1930s to the 60s. Great educational fun.,

Centre for Alternative Technology, "Europe's foremost eco-centre." Educational group, offers publications and research (some online at the site), demonstration projects. Features, practical solutions, and tip sheets

Natural homemade cleaners, recipes made from common ingredients.

Singer Sewing Machines, lots of information about the various models over the decades, online access to the operating manuals for many of them.

Aprovecho Research Center, in the foothills of the Cascade Range of Oregon, "aprovecho" is Spanish for "I make best use of". Develops, tests, applies appropriate technology concepts, sustainable forestry, organic gardening, sustainable energy and housing ideas..

Lindsay Books, a great publisher of incredible how-to books, need to know how to build a machine shop from scratch? It's here, as is detailed information about running vehicles on producer gas. Good fast service, we've ordered several of their titles.


The Penren Windmill Book, should be subtitled, "Everything you need to know to build your own windmill to pump water or generate electricity from off-the-shelf parts." It is well recommended in the non-profit windmill enthusiast community. It costs $35, I haven't actually bought it yet, but during some recent cyberspace research on windmills, it was mentioned everywhere.

Windmills, there is a lot of information here about historic and modern windmills and their uses. I got sidetracked by this site for more than an hour when I stumbled across it. Did you know that windmills were a primary energy source for flour milling during the colonial era of the US? Every farm neighborhood had one or more.

Windmills and how they work, nice little page explaining windmills, has diagrams and pictures.

Windmill design and construction, "windmills were works of art, no two were ever alike," history, design, milling.

Mills of the 18th & 19th centuries in Camden County, North Carolina, nice site describing early windmills in this area of the US.

Wind Energy Link Page, at the Sandia National Laboratories renewable and wind energy pages.

Ben Sluder's Wind Energy page, a personal page devoted to wind energy information and links.

Simple Living TOP

Use Less Stuff Report, bi-monthly on-line webzine, lots of details, practicalities.

Disaster Response TOP

They ask their mothers, "Where is the cereal?" -- in vain, as they faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers' arms. Lamentations 2:12

Church World Service Disaster & Emergency Response the relief arm of the National Council of Church of Christ (USA).

Situation Reports, from Volunteers in Technological Assistance, an announce-only listserv with daily reports on crisis/emergency/disaster situations worldwide. This is the easiest way I have found to access detailed information about world emergencies (no web site to check, the emails come automatically, every day). Includes both natural disasters and complex emergencies caused by social crises/war/politics, etc.

Frugality TOP

The Frugal Life, asks the question: are we living to work or working to live? Lots of resources, offers an email newsletter.

Frugal Moms, "live better for less," free email newsletters and discussion lists, book reviews holiday idea base, "the frugal kitchen", kids information, stuff for beginners.

The 20th century homemaker, conservative Christian site with a lot of practical details on frugal and simple household management.

Wacky Uses, alternative uses for common household products. Did you know you could use jello to style your hair? Mostly mentions brand names, but generics could be used, saving even more money.

How to feed your family and thriving on thrift stores, advice from a person who has been helping families feed themselves for less since the early 1990s.


Miscellaneous TOP

The Dead Media Project, no it's not an archive for fans of the Grateful Dead, rather, it is a compendium of information (and a project to collect more) about "dead media" -- such as that mimeograph machine in the back closet, or the old thermo-fax copiers, or the written ideographs of the Mayans and the quipu knotted cords of the Incas. A fascinating page I stumbled on while searching for information on a "gelatin hectographic duplicator".

Service Learning, information on integrating curriculum with community/volunteer service, that contributes to the common good while helping the student learn important lessons.

Pioneer life in days gone by, a personal page with reports on what life was like in pioneer days.

Food Security TOP

City Seeds, educates the public regarding the advantages of sustainable energy and food production systems in cities.

Building partnership to achieve food security: an NGO consultation held in Washington DC, June 1999, report and proceedings.

Cities of the developing world learn to feed themselves, a Scientific American article, the urban poor in the developing countries spend 60 to 90% of their income on food. As a result, governments and NGO's are encouraging urban agriculture. In China, cities grow most of their own vegetables, 67% of the families in Dar es Salaam are raising food. Yields from urban agriculture tend to be several times that of conventional crop land. Women in a cooperative in Bogota, Colombia that grows hydroponic vegetables earn three times as much as their husbands.

Agriculture in a Megalopolis, a report on farming in Los Angeles.

Garbage and Waste TOP

Waste-Line, local Ottawa (Canada) site promoting the 3 R's -- reduce, reuse, recycle.