December 14, 2014: Online Work Bee

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  • Check in
  • Review WWWs
  • Daily Practice/Metrics
  • Weekly event logistics
  • Review Agenda
  • Recode (
  • SolSeed Village/Business
  • Project work
    • Brandon: more signs for the creed
    • Brandon: Solstice
    • Brandon: Gaia’s Heartbeat experiment
    • Eric: Work on blog entry on Utopia
    • Eric: Work on Business Requirements Document of My Life
    • Eric: Rotate the Duck Weed and Record its progress
    • Eric: Update the Finance Spreadsheet
    • Ben: More space blog research
    • Ben: Writing a profile for
  • Evaluation

Check-in (gratinews)

  • Eric … I'm grateful that I could help a fellow dog-walker today by convincing her dog to let me take a dead pigeon out of its mouth.
  • Ben … I had a really odd day. I was going to go to the world builders meetup. But it was moved and I ended up in downtown Bellevue and I met people dressed up in Star Trek costumes and it turned out there was a Star Trek con in town. So I got to see some awesome talks.
  • Brandon … Ben’s book is wonderful and I can’t wait for the next installment

WW(W)s from last time

Organize the WWWs by person and then due date. We’ll start checking in on topical community protocol and meditation for each mini-period between workbees.

Holacracy founder Brian Robertson says these are bad:

  • Ben ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Ben ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben … finish sheet music for Psalm of Solstice … by next call
  • Ben … create user page on … by next call
  • Ben … figure out what food to bring for the Solstice party … by next Friday (I have an idea but am not sure it will work)
  • Brandon ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Eric ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Eric ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Eric … order parachutes for rockets … by next call
  • Eric … read last attempt at Village documents including Vision Workshop and SolSeedVillage#Governance Draft … by next call


  • Ben ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Ben ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben … send Brandon the Psalm of Solstice sheet music … by tonight
  • Ben … create user page on … by next call
  • Ben … figure out what food to bring for the Solstice party … by Friday
  • Brandon ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Brandon … send out an email requesting folks bring some food to share … by Sunday
  • Brandon … post to Facebook the “reason for the season” … by next week
  • Eric ... follow your topical community protocol for this period ... ongoing
  • Eric ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Eric … order parachutes for rockets … by next call
  • Eric … read last attempt at Village documents including Vision Workshop and SolSeedVillage#Governance Draft … by next call

Daily Practice (from Sunday to Sunday)

2014-12-8 to 2014-12-14: 38+10+26=74 checkmarks

Metrics (from Sunday to Sunday)

0 … articles published (blog, etc)
1 … net signups to the newsletter for the week (97 total)
0 … conversants from signup (people we are talking or emailing with)
0 … bios added to the wiki by conversants
3 … articles added to the
2+1+2=5 … topical community touches
74 … daily practice checkmarks for the week

Weekly Events Logistics


Service rotation: Eric, Shelley, Brandon, Ben
  • December 20 Service: 9:00 AM PDT, 12:00 EST (Shelley) (Ben will be out at a climate activist meeting)
  • December 21 Work-Bee: canceled due to Solstice


  • December 18 Work-Bee: 6:30 PM PST, 21:30 EST


Ben points out that this group, which Molly is working with, grew out of an ecovillage and is now looking for monthly donors to help expand their efforts to legalize green practices beyond Oregon

  • Brandon and Eric think it's cool, but the Sanders' finances are stretched thin (although Brandon is looking at getting a regular job soon)
  • Ben suggests we look at the SolSeed finances spreadsheet, which we haven't done in too long
  • Eric says we probably can't donate monthly at this point
  • Ben wonders whether he should raise his monthly contribution rate

Brandon: Ben often calls for us to focus, and I feel a lot of resonance with that … this is a shiny new thing in our path … we need to either spend real energy, e.g. each editing once a day for a month, or let it languish

  • Eric already added a new Daily Practice for it; Brandon and Ben will do the same

SolSeed Village/Business

White Hat (providing neutral information about the ideas)

  • ++++ 3D Printing of living trees

Print long living wood beams tapered at both ends (one end printed as root the other as trunk) from tree stem cells or cellulose matrix (seeing as wood isn’t all living in a living tree) and then print cambium and bark etc onto the outside. Include the printing of branch buds on the trunk end and rootlet buds on the root end. The newly printed tree would have to be supported in terms of nutrients and needs and then hardened off (printed tissue is known to be initially very soft) but then could be dropped into a drill hole and as the branch and root buds grew, an adult tree could be planted very easily. Mass produced this could allow reforestation to be almost instantaneous (compared to planting seedlings). The feedstock would come from stem cell cultures from a lot of different trees (to prevent creating a monoculture) and grown in a vat. We would need to research how existing early-stage human tissue printing techniques would apply to plants, and how fast stem cells could be grown compared with cells in a normal growing tree.

  • +++ Lighter than air stratospheric habitats

See -- the basic idea, originated by Buckminster Fuller, is to make a geodesic bubble big enough to float just because the air inside is a little warmer than outside, and put a city inside the bubble. We would want to start much smaller-scale, maybe beginning with a tethered balloon big enough for a mouse to live inside with a supply of food and water for a day or two. A major research question is what materials would be best for the surface of the bubble, as well as for the geodesic struts.

  • +++ High frontier style game

Ben's idea: Players would grow an ecosystem in a space colony (probably inside a hollow asteroid), starting with bacteria and working their way up, with the goal of either making the colony human-habitable or providing habitat for endangered species from Earth. The idea would be to promote both space colonization and ecological thinking. Could conceivably be cross-branded with Kim Stanley Robinson's novel 2312.

  • +++ Earthrise Graphic Design (serving both space advocacy and environmental groups)

A major problem for SolSeed is how polarized the environmentalist and space enthusiast communities are, with many members of each group having extremely negative views about the other. The theory behind Earthrise Graphic Design is that such ideological differences probably can't be resolved with words, but maybe images with emotional impact can help (the Apollo 8 Earthrise photograph being a premier example). Ben has taken several graphic-design courses, and Brandon and Eric have at least done some amateur graphics work, so we have a starting point toward becoming skilled enough to attract customers. (Also, nonprofits generally have lower standards than most other graphic-design customers, given their limited budgets.)

  • +++ Teaching technology camps/workshops

We would need an event space to at least rent on a regular basis. The first time we could probably rent the Epicodus space during their next internship month. The Epicodus space is located downtown with several dozen 27” iMacs for pairing or working through the seminar. This is something that we have reasonable skills to do. It would allow us to earn money from the enterprise by offering content of interest to them (e.g., Mastering Docker). It would allow us to empower the disenfranchised by offering free beginning programming classes to the underprivileged. It could also give us a space we could use to hold services and other events.

  • +++ Biosphere 3

Biosphere 2 is probably the most ambitious experiment to date in creating closed, self-sustaining ecosystems. It's widely perceived as a failure, due to both ecological and sociological breakdowns that happened during the main 2-year mission in 1991-1993, but the University of Arizona continues to do research there, although it hasn't been sealed off from the outside air for many years. If the SolSeed Movement can develop our skills at creating CELSS's (see below), we may eventually have a credible chance to build something ambitious enough to qualify as a successor to Biosphere 2. It would have to be a large enclosed chamber where humans could live for extended periods, with one or more ecosystems inside that effectively transform the humans' waste products back into food, clean water, and oxygen in sufficient quantities to keep them alive.

  • +++ Museum of Big Time

Michael Dowd and other proponents of religious naturalism view the development of a "deep time" or "big time" perspective, one that encompasses an understanding of the universe's billions-of-years-long history, as important for spiritual growth in a non-theistic context. SolSeed shares this view and has already developed a Cosmic Calendar that expands on Carl Sagan's concept for teaching deep history by extending it into the future as well. With our gradually developing skills at presenting these ideas in words and images, we may be able to create a prospectus for a museum exhibit, perhaps to be displayed first in the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry's Changing Exhibits Hall, if and when we can get it funded.

  • ++ Kindred mapping FB app

If we only allow Kindred to be added to your map through inviting them to use the app, this has the potential to have a viral coefficient greater than 1. There are several support tickets requesting this functionality from Facebook indicating that groups are interested in the feature (although may not be willing to pay for it). It’s unclear how to monetize the traffic even if we did build interest. We would use the app to create visibility for our kindred groups and perhaps discover other kindred (dogfood).

  • ++ Implement JP Aerospace’s airship to orbit (test aspects of it)

This would be risky from the following standpoints: 1) will it even work? 2) are there intermediate businesses from which we can derive sustainable income? If we made things that are cool to look at, it would raise our profile within the space enthusiast community. Stages 1 and 2 of the JP Aerospace concept, zeppelins that travel between the surface and a high-altitude balloon platform, are certainly feasible and may be worth doing even if stage 3, the airship that actually achieves orbit, never works; after all, launching an ordinary rocket from that platform would save a lot of fuel due to the reduced air resistance. It might also one day be a viable base station for a space elevator or some other advanced space-launch technology.

  • ++ Large scale consensus for governance issues, especially generation of legal codes

Brandon has successfully done this for groups up to 100 in size and has been paid to do this for one enterprisey customer indicating that we can both make it work and get paid to do it. It has the potential to improve on current forms of democracy … especially with respect to polarization.

  • + Closed Circle Humanure Transport (linking people with composting toilets to people with organic farms)

When humans consume food, some of the atoms involved end up in our waste. In order to ensure a continuing food supply without degrading the environment, we need to return those atoms to the food-growing process. Sewage is too toxic for this purpose, but composting toilets probably produce an output that can safely be used to grow food for human consumption (certainly some gardeners are using it that way already). Although composting toilets aren't currently commonplace, there might be enough of them in environmentally conscious cities like Portland for a business model that literally pays people for their composted poop, using part of the proceeds from selling it to organic farmers. Some of the proceeds would also be needed for operating a truck or van capable of moving the compost from the toilets to the farms. We have contacts (Mathew and Molly) with expertise in composting toilets, which could help us get started and avoid pitfalls.

  • + CELSS

Closed Ecological Life-Support Systems used to be an active area of NASA research, but most funding for such projects in the U.S. has dried up, although some interesting work is still ongoing here and there (details needed). Starting from our existing duckweed experiments, the SolSeed Movement could contribute to this field relatively cheaply and, if we can prove our ability to run tightly controlled experiments, possibly get some research grant money for more ambitious projects.

  • + Food-producing Green Roofs/Walls (high in the watershed!)

A business which simply installed standard green walls and roofs and then creates a CSA like relationship between citizens living nearby (or even in the building) and farmers who would use that "land" to grow food to sell. The added benefit to the city is that the amount of storm water that has to be processed is much less when people have green roofs and the citizens have easy access to a 100 meter diet!

  • + Nonprofit that raises money from the ultra-wealthy by providing a version of the SolSeed vision that appeals specifically to them

This would be a website with four main sections. The frontpage would feature at least three visualizations of a bright future of "sustainable luxury," e.g. high-tech telecommuting from a lawn chair on a large green roof with a beautiful view, where your kids can play and you get fresh strawberries. A second page would cite the work of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the New Climate Economy Report to show a practical way forward to that future, "led by business for profit." A third page would cite people like Jared Diamond to explain why an alternative future, where the rich elites build enclaves or space stations just for themselves and let the rest of civilization collapse, is not going to work. Finally we'd quote Elon Musk and other spaceflight thought leaders on what "the next great adventure" could look like if we first ensure that there's a sustainable Earth-based civilization to support it. Most of the money we would raise would be redistributed to established groups like RMI, the Climate Reality Project, and the Planetary Society.

  • + Comet/Asteroid surface simulators

In order to test systems for robotic probes to Comets and Asteroids a dedicated simulator would be useful. We could build a large vacuum chamber with typical comet/asteroid temperatures and lighting (very cold, slightly dim) and rough icy surfaces, and allow space agencies to test components in the environment. By making the surfaces nearly vertical, a robot tethered to the ceiling of the simulator would have zero gravitation force attracting it to the surface of the comet. A slightly tilted surface would allow for microgravity. We could also allow “tourists” to do low pressure extreme cold rock climbing in space suits (who knows, it might catch on or it might be good for people to practice climbing really tall peaks on Earth (like Everest)).

  • + Space station simulator (a rotating space station so there is gravity but instead of the room you're in rotating the whole view outside the windows rotates.)

This is a straightforward tourism idea. People would pay to spend some time inside the simulator. The idea would be to simulate a space station that had artificial gravity due to its rotation. However because we are here on Earth the station would actually have gravity. So the tourists enter a room (perhaps after a ride that simulates a rocket ride to low Earth orbit). The room can be a bit of a space museum or it can be a dinner/theatre event. Looking out the windows, an IMAX camera would project a view of low Earth orbit onto a screen surrounding the simulator so that the rotation of the station is simulated by rotating the view outside.

  • + Micro-interplanetary probes (pushing miniaturization)

This idea is based on the idea that the delta-V of a rocket is inversely proportional to the mass of its payload, especially if you use enough stages. Could we build a probe with a mass of only a few grams that could be launched with a really small rocket?… Obviously it would need a large dish but that could be made from really light materials that expand once in vacuum. Computers are already so small that it could probably have more computing power than Voyageur for less than a gram. A single camera could be built that was tiny (like a cell phone camera. We would probably only get a single flyby of an object with simple pictures taken and not much other science but it would still be heady stuff!

  • + Genetically engineered trees for arctic climates

Plants can’t grow on ice for three reasons, they can’t get minerals; they currently need liquid water; their metabolisms go into hibernation below certain temperatures. However, for some plants, the lowest temperature that they can metabolize at is below 0 degrees C. Genetically engineering such plants to produce salt in order to liquify ice and then reabsorb both the melt water and the salt would allow them to access liquid water with their roots dug into ice. Genetically engineering plants that create a network of roots to share resources over large distances (perhaps using funguses which already create single organism networks the size of forests) would allow localized mineral sources (e.g. rocky outcrops) to be exploited by these plants and used over large areas. Growing a forest across the antarctic ice sheet would absorb so much carbon as to actually reverse a couple of decades of CO2 emissions.

  • + Continue Dr. Mautner’s experiments

Dr. Mautner designed simple experiments to test the idea that plants can grow on Cometary or Asteroid materials. Using information coming back from new probes (like Rosetta-Philae and Dawn) we could create artificial Comet/Asteroid soil approximations and then experiment with growing plants on them.

  • Web design business (playing to our core skills)

We have some experience in this area. People regularly get paid to do this kind of work. It would improve our web design skills that we could then use to improve our own sites. This kind of consulting work tends to be all consuming … some consultancies lament not having time to develop their own products to break out of the hourly work for pay business. Notable counter examples include Zurb (although do they get paid for foundation and their other products?) and 37signals (now basecamp).

  • Living Geodesic trees (grafting) (see also organic architecture and botany buildings)

This idea is to grow circles of trees, train their branches and graft them together at carefully calculated intervals to form a geodesic dome. Then new circles can be grown concentrically around the first to create nested domes linked by living branch struts. Floors, walls and ceilings could be hung from the branches to create living spaces inside the domes. Eventually neighbouring domes could be grafted together to create a living city. The strength of the interconnected domes would make this city virtually impervious to wind storms, by grafting branches of fruit and nut trees to the domes, food could grown by the buildings themselves. The city would be beautiful beyond measure. I for one would love to live there.

Blue Hat (talking process)

  • Yellow hat dot voting (9 votes each, plus 3 among the narrowed down choices, plus we can bring back one that got eliminated)
  • White hat (provide objective information about the ideas)
  • Yellow hat evaluation of selected ideas
  • Black hat (critique ideas we don't like)
  • Think of it as a cycle so we don't feel pressured to be exhaustive at each step


  • Brandon … this SolSeed business brainstorming has been really helpful … I find myself getting excited about different business ideas than I would have expected
  • Ben … I am looking forward to the Solstice and it will be an interesting newsletter.
  • Eric … I’m glad I didn’t have to move any dead pigeons from anybody’s mouth during this. And it was nice to feel like we got a step done on the SolSeed business.
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