Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bright Green and Proud

Most of the tools we use here were developed originally for the third world. Which makes for a good fit since Humboldt county never quite joined the other two worlds entirely. Other areas are working on developing personal rapid transit and we have been decades without a bus service to maternity care.

I mean even villages n the middle of India have a bus right?

During the mad rush of technological savagery called "privatization" we became an outpost, a place you could only reach by direct pilrimage. The laymidwives bear the brunt of the disconnection. No traditional maternity care means they have no local doctor to work under directly. You can read it in the tense drawn lines on their faces. It doesn't mean that there are no babies being born in the hills.

Laura has been pregnant before, her ten year old son holds her bag while she waits in the Blue House for the new Grameen signal. One of the reasons we recently constructed the CBE structure is because we get a better pointer in this spot, its flat,close to the road, and its easy to fence it off and just load in a bunch of keyhole gardens and water features.

The CBE houses are a mixture of high tech and low tech, shared spaces and dense private quarters. The model is based on the 8,000 year old Persian house, with two stories and slightly angled roofs accessible for food processing and water storage. They are gated and locked down compounds with heavy doors which once opened reveal a charming courtyard and a view to the gardens.

Downstairs there are small kitchens on the south side of the building, and across the courtyard is a reception area and comm station. The signal extended beyond the comfortable rooms into the garden area, and even at the other end there was the first bones of a partially open garden study arching up. All around the edge of the new garden there were small groups of people sitting quietly together in the shade of a few Alder trees we kept as a green border. The building is rough, and yet lived in comfortably by its new inhabitants. Personal items were mostly laptops and phones, a few rugs maybe and a lot of instruments everywhere... mostly in cases tucked under beds. The comm room was a recording studio in its other night life.

The fountain in the courtyard was subtly connected to the wind tunnels that were still being constructed on the roof. A small solar pump moved the water so it could either help to cool the rooms, or heat them as needed. The valve systems simply switched the system to run through a heat sink once the outside conditions were cooler allowing the floors to quickly heat up.

The walls are thick and most of the time we have the windows cracked open a little.

Right now it was allowing Laura too talk to a doctor in Eureka. Vital signs and blood chemistry can all be monitored easily in this somewhat primitive setting. It seems primitive until one of other women comes in bearing a tray with nettle tea, dried apricots, figs and almonds.

The room was bathed in a soft blue glow, mostly because of the thin film monitors on the wall showing us the real time activity in several of our fishery projects tanks. A large thin film screen worked in mid level light with the ambient texture of a movie screen and a regular size image that can show a full body. The quality of the image was better today with the new satellite provider. The signal was choppy but steady. It is strange to me that we had to resort to a Bangladeshi outfit however moments like this confirmed my decision. Really being able to talk to a doctor is important. The touchscreen table helps with conferencing also, Laura sat and looked at educational materials with her young son and her Douala, as well as one of the midwives.

Collaboration across disciplines has always been a passion of mine. Bright Green superstructing allows all sorts of innovative thinkers to work together to create a fast paced iterative process that creates environmentally sensitive sophisticated and inexpensive technology to face all five threats.

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