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129 links this issue!

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 Special focus this issue: Compost Miscellaneous
Spirituality Preparedness Nuggets Original Justpeace Simple Living Page
Food Security Garbage and Waste Better Times: the Webzine, Vol. 1 # 1, August 28, 1999
HOME BETTER TIMES: The Cookbook and Almanac of Useful Information for Poor People Better Times: the Webzine Vol. II # 1, February 20, 2000

++++++ Having made a move last year, we've been making new garden space this year. Thus far the black-eyed peas, squash, tomatoes, habanero peppers, pumpkins, corn, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pole beans are doing quite fine. We also have six buckets of potatoes growing, and one semi-hydroponics tomato plant in a bucket (which is doing better than the tomatoes planted in the ground). The cabbage and broccoli will be up soon, and we have spearmint, peppermint, catnip, and lemon balm in the flower beds. We use the Jeavons biointensive double-digging organic method, and did two, 3' X 21', and one, 3' X 15'. We have a fourth bed waiting on topsoil; the soil there was very hard, and we could loosen it only about 6 inches. So we used an old water bed frame to make side walls, and are filling it with topsoil for a salad garden. We're staggering our plantings so that we aren't suddenly overwhelmed. It may sound like we're spending a lot of time, but our "secret" is to do a little work, every day, early in the morning while it is still cool.

++++++++ All of our compost has come from our own piles, started last year, which are mostly stuff from our property (grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps, some shredded newspaper), although I have brought some "worm food" home from my job (mostly kitchen scraps and flowers). We added compost worms, and they seem to be thriving and multiplying.

++++++++ Growing at least some of our own food is essential, we believe, to building the civilization of love. We've become a materialistic, consumerist culture, and think nothing of taking food from hungry people in third world countries so we can have green salad in January. We didn't get into this trap overnight, and we won't get out overnight, but every garden planted and organically cultivated is a step in the right direction.

+++++++ "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

Pike Place Market. What has 9 acres, 9 million annual visitors, 100 farmers, 150 craftspeople, 300 commercial businesspeople, and 50 performers? Pike Place Market in Seattle. It's also home to a number of senior citizens. Read this beautiful and informative site and find out about this important public market, and then ask yourself if your city doesn't need such a place of economic opportunity.

American Farmland Trust is working to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote farming practices that lead to a healthier environment. In particular, see the Farmland Information Library, big piles of information, very big piles. Excellent online resource. See also Web resources for small farms.

Farmland Fund of PCC Natural Markets, an 8 store chain of markets in the Puget Sound, Washington area. Their Farmland Fund is a non-profit organization that raises money to buy threatened land and put it into organic food production.

A Guide to North American Fairs, dates, links, vendors, in particular see their History of Fairs, which notes an early fair, hosted by King Ahaseurus of Persia, as recorded in the book of Esther in the Bible.

Solar baking under the Sonoran Sun, a group of women in Sonora, Mexico, start a bakery using a solar oven.

The Mondragon Cooperatives of Spain, English home page. The Mondragon cooperatives consist of 120 different enterprises, more than 40,000 worker owners. See Mondragon: A better way to go to work? in the June 2000 Oklahoma City Catholic Worker.

Ithaca Hours Online, access to information on starting up a local currency system to support your local economy. Yes, it's legal, no it's not counterfeiting (you aren't issuing US dollars, you are creating a local alternative currency).

San Diego Women's Bean Project, a small business providing homeless and low-income women with economic opportunity.

Environment TOP

US Global Climate Change Information Office, government site offering a lot of access to climate issues. In particular, see Consequences, their on-line publication on the effects of climate change on human populations.

Unwelcome Neighbors: Civil Rights and the Environment, a series from the Times-Picayune (Louisiana) News. The plain truth is: poor neighborhoods tend to have polluting industrial neighbors, negatively impacting all who live there.

The Fraying Web of Life, on-line summary (in html and pdf formats) of a report to be released in September 2000 by the UN Development Program, the World Bank (!!!!), and the World Resources Institute. In the last century: + half of the worlds wetlands were lost, + forest habitat is being lost at the rate of 130 square kilometers per year, + soil degradation has affected 2/3rds of the world's agricultural lands (in the last 50 years!). World Resources 2000-2001

Housing TOP

Sustainable Home Ownership Initiative of the National Consumer Law Center, one of the nation's leading experts on low-income consumer issues. The Home Ownership Initiative researches and exposes predatory lending practices typically found in low income areas, and helps people understand their rights and options.

Timber Framers Guild, timber framing is a centuries old construction technique using large beams (8" x 8" or larger).

National Affordable Housing Network, has plans for affordable houses suitable for construction by volunteers, homeowners, or contractors, featuring R-40 walls and R-60 insulation in the attic, high performance heating systems (annual heating cost of one of these homes in Duluth, Minnesota was only $128!) Construction is explained and sequenced so that it is easy for untrained people to be guided in the work.

Straw Locator, do you need 500 straw bales to build your dream house? Or do you have a field full of straw bales to sell? This is a clearinghouse for people looking to buy straw bales, people with bales to sell, and people who will haul them around.

The Eco Design Experience, 6 week course offered in Arizona in conjunction with the San Francisco Institute of Architecture on designing ecologically sound dwellings. Courses combine construction and class work for an effective presentation. Director is Dr. Phil Hawes, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and the architect for Biosphere 2. The class syllabus seems very comprehensive.

The Co-housing Network, a type of collaborative housing featuring private dwellings surrounding one or more larger common buildings. A good on-line library of articles on the subject, access, connections, there may be one forming in your area. Adaptable to a variety of "intentions" in starting such a community.

Cob Web II, great access to cob building resources. Great pictures, look what you can make with mud, straw, and stones.

Cob Works, instruction, accommodation, construction. Visit this beautiful location on Mayne Island in British Columbia and discover the beauty of cob construction. Site has nice explanations with beautiful pictures of the many creative possibilities using cob construction.

Gypsy Farm, a natural building resource center. Follow the adventures of the Newberry family as they construct a "super-adobe" home in Georgia, a technique based on Nader Kalili's work at Cal-Earth.

New Zealand Ecovillages and Community Housing project, teaching low income people skills to construct affordable housing, providing land and resources for such projects, and initiating eco-villages.

Day Creek, access to cordwood building information, has on-line forums relating to alternative house building and construction techniques. Build a house for $12/square foot, a cord wood house in Wisconsin. Day Creek Journal, follow the Mason family as they build their own cordwood home.

Family TOP

16 rules about choosing which debt to pay first, many families are heavily indebted, and sometimes financial circumstances limit people's ability to pay such debts. These rules help to prioritize debt so that the most important bills are paid first.

La Leche League, world's foremost authorities on breast-feeding.

Parenting Humor, family stress test, what planet are you from, name that famous mom quiz, great family humor.

The benefits of gardening with kids, teach the kids about life, science, and share quality time.

Growing TOP

Ecology Action, if you buy or read only one book on organic gardening, it should be "How to grow more vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries and other crops than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine," published by Ecology Action. This explains the biointensive method of organic gardening, developed by John Jeavons, and is derived from the work of Alan Chadwick, whose work was based on the methods of the French market gardeners of a century ago (they managed to raise lettuce 9 months a year around Paris). What is the biointensive food-raising method? Double-dug raised beds, companion planting, intensive planting, composting, a whole gardening method. They have an on-going demonstration project in California where the methods are continually tested and data is collected. They anticipate raising an equivalent of 300 bushels of wheat per acre (they are closing in fast on this goal, note that most dry land wheat farmers in Oklahoma achieve annual yields of 30 to 40 bushels per acre).

Sustainable Agriculture, from the Virtual World Wide Web Library, one of the best directories on the web (not the largest or the most comprehensive, but the sites are high quality). 25 categories of info relating to sustainable agriculture.

Agriculture, from the Virtual WWW Library, access to all things agricultural.

Save money - grow your own herbs, a short but thorough essay on the cultivation of herbs.

Oklahoma Draft Horse and Mule Association, newsletters, links to breeders.

Wild Ones Natural Landscaping Handbook, subtitled, How to naturally landscape without aggravating neighbors and city officials. Creating a water garden, planting a prairie, creating a woodland.

Companion Planting, a great guide to companion planting as a way to control insect pests in the garden.

Vegetable Companion Chart, besides insect control, many vegetables benefit by growing "in company" with others. This is a guide to increasing yield and quality through companion planting. It also indicates which plants are "bad companions" and should not be planted in close proximity.

Home Gardening, on-line free encyclopedia.


The Compost Page, organic gardening begins with composting. Instructions, resources, what you need to know.

Making and using compost, from the University of Missouri Extension Department.

Garden Compost, from the extension department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Wood and Wire Three Bin Turning Compost Bin, from the Extension Department of the University of Arkansas, plans for making compost on the fast track.

Composting Resources, from Texas A&M Extension, including resources for larger scale composting in commercial operations.

Composting with worms, worm casings are a very high quality fertilizer, and adding compost worms (a/k/a red wigglers) to your compost pile makes a high quality end product. A very comprehensive on-line handbook.

Rot Web, lots of info, including a how-to page for beginners.

Worm Digest, everything you ever needed to know about vermicomposting (composting with worms).

Compost Resource Page, includes an on-line forum, and many articles. (Add some links from this page to the special focus section.)

Home Composting Forum, general info, troubleshooting, education, and archives.

Natural fertilizers for the home garden, suggestions from the government of Nova Scotia on boosting nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Energy and Transportation TOP

The full costs of the car, from Car-free Ottawa, an accounting of the real costs of auto ownership, including the externalities our economic system allows us to avoid.

Solar Energy International, renewable energy education and sustainable development. Among other activities, they offer on-line classes in designing a PV (photo-voltaic) energy system .Why choose renewables?

Do it yourself automotive LPG conversion, convert your car to run on propane or methane. Complete on-line text of the book.

Steve's Renewable Energy Musings, a discussion and educational resource for do-it-yourself home built off-grid energy production. Wood gas, bio diesel, hydro, steam, hydrogen, methane, wind, alcohol, photo-voltaics. Tutorial on off-grid and renewable energy, a quick overview of the basics.

Green Energy News, covering clean, renewable, and efficient energy for transportation, home, and business.

Preserving and Processing TOP

Beer and Brewing, from the Virtual World Wide Web Library, high quality access to home brewing. Thank God for yeast, without them we wouldn't have beer or cheese or bread, and how can we have civilization without beer, cheese and bread?

Anthony's Root Beer Barrel, make your own, information and links.

The Soda Fountain, history, links, recipes for making your own soft drinks and other soda fountain classics (syrups, ice cream, the original formula for Coca-cola.

Recipe for Root Beer, the All-American Classic.

Beer at Home, recipes, instructions, equipment, and supplies for making beer and soft drinks at home.

Ketel's Root Beer Worship Center, recipes and instructions on brewing your own root beer.

Beer and Home Brewing, from, with its usual thoroughness, offers comprehensive access.

Cooking and Eating TOP

Top ten most requested recipes, from the vegetarian page, non-crockpot recipes. Vegetable lasagna, stuffed portabello mushrooms, bello burgers, Thai noodles, who needs hamburger?

Top ten most requested crockpot recipes, also from the vegetarian page. Vegetarian enchilada casserole, bean and cornbread casserole, all-day mac and cheese, rice/corn/spinach casserole (you could do these in a solar cooker!). Yum.

The Dinner Co-op Page. What's a dinner co-op? People who get together and cook and eat together. This page has recipes (including a downloadable cookbook), and over 3000 links. Cooking is rotated on a 3 week schedule, and costs are shared. This program was designed originally by grad students, but can be adapted for many different situations.

Sun ovens are wonderful!, the basics of solar cooking with pictures and links. With recipes.

Liven up your iced tea! Great ideas and recipes for something a little more creative than plain ice tea with white sugar.

Thrifty Meals, from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, click on the link to download in adobe acrobat format.

Community (whole systems) TOP

Visions for Rural Kentucky, by Wendell Berry, in Whole Earth Magazine (I have been reading this magazine since it was Co-evolution Quarterly in the 1970s).

The Farm, founded in 1971 on 1700 acres (a little more than 2.5 square miles, in Summertown, Tennessee. Now they have a school offering immersion experiences at their Eco-Village Training Center including natural building techniques (strawbale, cob, post and beam framing), solar electricity installation, permaculture. Students are a mix of people who pay tuition and people from disadvantaged populations attending via a social justice scholarship (most of whom come from the surrounding 8 state area). See also the Global Village/Institute for Appropriate Technology, chartered in 1974, to research environmentally friendly new technologies.

Global Ecovillage Network, linking ecovillages and related projects. Global Ecovillage Network Newsletter, downloadable in PDF, 44 pages, reporting news about sustainable communities throughout the world. What is an eco-village? With guided tour. Try their Community Sustainability Assessment Audit .

Colombia's Model City, established in the 1970s on Colombia's "llanos" (think plains), Gaviotas is a model eco-village that is working for its people and generating new ideas, and new applications of old ideas, to benefit the common good everywhere.

Utopia rises out of the Colombian plains, transcript of a 15 minute NPR story about Gaviotas. To get to Gaviotas takes a 16 hour journey over a rutted dirt road. It was deliberately built in a place where it was thought that nobody could live, and it is an attempt to fashion a new model of tropical living based on indigenous models, rather than those imported from the North. Check out their water pump which is also a kid's see saw, using the energy of children playing to pump water.

Sustainable community action network, a San Diego non-profit working towards a locally sustainable community through dialogue and education.

Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, Egyptian site, organization building capacities in the direction of sustainable development. On-line newsletters.

Estonian Sustainable Development Database, On-line library of materials (in both English and Estonian), primarily targeted at non-profits and government planners.

Green Power Hong Kong, hundreds of articles about green power issues in Hong Kong, China, and throughout the world, in Chinese, has a summary page in English.

Findhorn Ecovillage Page, the Findhorn intentional community was founded in 1962 in Scotland. This is one of the better ecovillage sites, and does a good job explaining the basics of renewable energy, sustainable economics, local food production (they farm 25 acres which supplies about half the food of the 312 residents).

People Centered Development Forum, an international alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to creating just and sustainable human societies through voluntary action. Life After Capitalism. See also When corporations rule the world, which shows how our corporate economy betrays the free market and violates freedom.

Sustainable Living News, online publication, information about hands-on workshops, Worms eat my underwear, delightful story about worm composting. Very interesting articles, published 3 times each year.

Center for the New American Dream, in the last 50 years, Americans have used more resources than all of the people who have ever lived on this planet since God created us. Comprehensive access to information helping people and organizations reduce consumption.

Spirituality TOP

A Vision of Peace and Worship, from the Society of St. John, a "narrative of a Catholic City for our times." The Catholic City: One body in Christ, by Tom Storck, from their on-line library. This article discusses the challenges that the traditional American attitudes of individualism and Puritanism pose for such a community.

Freedom from the love of money, a short but thought provoking essay based on Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have."

Crafting and Making TOP

How a chain saw works, from the How Stuff Works website, a comprehensive look at chain saws.

The Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting, from the Texas Water Development Board, downloadable in Adobe Acrobat pdf format. Just about everything you need to know.

Harvesting rainwater, access, sources, building code/public health issues.

Simple Living TOP

Alternatives for Simple Living, non-profit organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly. Whose birthday is it anyway? Christmas 2000 campaign.

Affluenza, test your consumption quotient and find out if you have affluenza. Tips for simplifying your life, ten ideas. This is a delightful site from PBS based on their show of the same name.

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

Relief Web, from the UN, access to complete humanitarian crises.

Federal Emergency Management Agency, bottom line, natural disasters have caused increasing amounts of damage and loss of human life during the 1990s. The prognosis is: things are going to get worse. Access to disaster mitigation and response information.

Frugality TOP

Create a picnic kit and you'll be ready for affordable fun on the spur of the moment!

Beginning Frugality, where to start? This is a good place. A page at the Frugal Mom's site featured last month. 15 ideas for cutting your grocery bill. I like them all, but I really like the first one: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

The Great Change: Becoming a One Income Family, learn from the experiences of others, avoid pitfalls, ideas about what works and what doesn't, how to avoid stress.

Counting the Cost: Your guide to abundant living without abundant spending, site of a print newsletter, but it also has an on-line library of articles from the newsletter.

Frugal Living at, we've featured this link before, but it is so good we're mentioning it again. Lots of resources, great articles and links. I can't believe it's a plastic bag! It's amazing what you can do with a plastic bag and a crochet hook. One Income Living, resources for families living on one income.


Miscellaneous TOP

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension, one of the fundamental influences in my life via 4-H. Lots of access to resources, publications. See Pete's Electronic Archive and Resource Library, for on-line publications.

Food Security TOP

Factory Farm Project, comprehensive access to the issues involved with factory farms and CAFO (confined animal feeding operations). Facts and Data, 30% of agriculture subsidies go to the largest 2% of farms, and 80% of US agriculture subsidies go to the largest 30% of farms.

Sustainable Farming Connection, very comprehensive site, lots of info and links

Food First, from the Institute for Food and Development Policy, tracking food security issues around the world. Ten reasons why biotechnology will not ensure food security, protect the environment, or reduce poverty in the developing world. On the benefits of small farms. See also 12 myths about hunger. Bottom line: there's enough food produced under current conditions to provide everybody with 4.3 pounds of food a day -- 2.5 pounds of grains/beans/nuts, a pound of fruits and vegetables, and a pound of milk, meat, and eggs, enough food to make most of us fat.

Garbage and Waste TOP

The state of garbage in America, from Biocycle magazine, part 1 of a two part report on municipal solid waste. Last year the US produced 1.47 TONS of municipal garbage per person, up from 1.41 TONS the previous year.

The Living Water Garden, located in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, this is a six acre water park that includes a natural water purification system, recreation facilities, and an environmental education center. The Fu-Nan river flows through the city, 30 years ago, 56 different kinds of fish lived in its waters, now it is so polluted nothing lives there. This park is a prototype that can help cleanse the river.

Home use of gray water, article discusses pros and cons of recycling your own gray water (wash water) for uses such as toilet flushing and plant irrigation.