Call For Questions: Urban Sustainability

Energy & Sustainability
Call For Questions: Urban Sustainability

Scott Kellogg, founder of Austin’s Rhizome Collective, just released a cutting-edge book on urban sustainability. Rust, short for Radical Urban Sustainability Toolbox, is a how-to guide for reducing your footprint and improving your quality of life without having to move into the boondocks.

He’s agreed to spend some time speaking with me, and I’d like your help coming up with meaningful questions. Check out the intro to his book, and comment below with any questions you’d like me to ask. I’ll speak with Scott and share his answers with y’all. Please comment by Tuesday 8/26, and look for a post with Scott’s responses later this week!

8 thoughts on “Call For Questions: Urban Sustainability

  1. RDAC says:

    Ok, man, I barely made it through that introduction. It’s a real ‘reboot the world’ type of writ, with all the normal evils…big corporations, urban sprawl, and even a conspiracy or two.

    As an average Joe who sometimes works for the corporate machine, I love to feel like I’m the root of all evil within the first three pages of whatever I’m reading. Don’t you?

    Anyways, enough with the sarcasm. I’ll take one for the team here and mention a few questions:

    1) Even when change is sudden, governments are slow to act. Instead of what we could do if everything went south, what approach can we take to talk to civic leaders about sustainability now?

    2) Two factors you failed to mention in your concept for autonomous development were designing for efficiency and longevity. How would you go about incorporating those into your windmill example?

    My thought would be that if a source for carbon fiber blades (or another material, hypothetical) could be located/donated towards construction of the given project and they increased efficiency and output tenfold, why would the source matter? If they required little to no service for the life of the project and could easily be replaced by other local materials to go beyond the service life, what would be the issue?

    3) One thing you made mention of made a lot of sense: planning. Planning really is the problem, and the key to turning things around. With most cities being poorly designed for expansion and development, what are some small ways that larger cities can start on the path to sustainability? Are there any good examples that city planners can look to? If not larger cities, what can smaller cities and suburbs do to reduce their environmental impact?

    From my experience, city planners will give new methods a chance if they can be shown to lessen environmental impact and can be done reasonably.

    4) Anyone can stand back and pitch the big picture, but it’s harder to show the path of execution. What are some ways that the common DIY’r can start to make the leap to sustainability in their own environment / their own lives?

    I have some more, but that would be a great start.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I live in northeast part of Arkansas, United States, and our farm towns are dying. I moved from a town of 5,000 to a town of 700 just to be closer to where I work in a city of 60,000. The people with Depression-era skills of smokehouses, victory gardens, and the like are dying off; how do you show people that agriculture is not the same as permaculture?

  3. SomeoneKnows says:

    One thing we all need is a way of keeping food and medicines cooled or frozen. Root cellars provide an almost forgotten way to store foods but in an urban area it’s not always practical to build one.

    In the 1920’s electric refrigerators won out over ammonia absorption refrigerators primarily because of the big money put into advertising by well funded companies. The absorption style refrigerators couldn’t compete.

    Today, refrigerators used in typical recreational vehicles and kerosene refrigerators used by Amish are based on the absorption technology. Very few companies build these refrigerators and are not particularly user-friendly toward individuals making home repairs. The gases are under pressure and the ammonia can be lethal without proper handling.

    How are you addressing the universal need for refrigeration when electricty may not be available? Are you aware of any open-source efforts to provide plans for do-it-yourself methods to build refrigeration systems?

  4. SomeoneKnows says:

    When looking to the future sometimes we should look at the past. As with refrigeration system technologies sometimes great potential becomes abandoned because of public perception, costs of resources at the time and hazards. One technology that seems to be gaining attention is steam energy. Water and heat provide an incredible power source.

    As with the refrigeration comments, I’m interested in open-source technology for building steam powered equipment. I believe that sustainability should include the ability to build the tools and systems you need.

    Are you working to capture waste heat from other systems and appliances at your facility? Do you see steam power playing a role in your facility as a power source for generating electricity, mechanical power to operate tools and machinery, distillation of safe drinking water or heating living spaces?

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Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (, stop killing your garden (, and live in an off-grid shipping container (

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