How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre,
and Peace on Earth

Learning the Art of Living, with Solar-Dynamic Bio-Benign Design

Revealing the Truth
about How We Can Provide Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Transportation, Food, Solid Waste and Wastewater Management
in Ways that Reduce Pollution and Depletion by 80% or more,
and also Reduce Cost of Living and Improve Quality of Life.

by Anna Edey

Trailblazer Press 1998, ISBN 0-9662349-0-1.  224 pages, 155 color photographs + other illustrations.
Price:$35. See below for quantity discounts.
RFD 1 Box 582, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568   Tel: (508) 693-3341, Fax: (508) 693-2228,


Solviva Home Page  |  Solviva Book  |  Reviews & Comments
Important Quotes  | 
Designs & Consulting
  Wastewater  | Greyburg or Greendale, and other Proposals
Book 2 - Choosing for Our Lives  |  Yarn & Sweaters
  Recommended Reading & Documentaries



Table of Contents  ||  Introduction  ||  Some current realities   ||  A visit to Solviva
How I got on the path of seeking better ways to live... ||  Wastewater Management
Greyburg or Greendale: where would you rather live?

"In Our Every Deliberation, We Must Consider the Impact of Our Decisions on the next Seven Generations" From the Great Law of the Iroquois Nation


Where Would You Rather Live?


In this section you will find a comparison between two hypothetical cities, describing the difference between conventional "hard path" ways of living and the solar-dynamic, bio-benign "soft path" ways. The cities have the same climate conditions, and both have populations of around 2 million.
The first city is Greyberg, and you will recognize many of its methods of providing heating and cooling, wastewater and solid waste management, food, electricity, and transportation, because these are indeed the methods that prevail today in most towns or cities in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world.
The second city is Greendale, and although the residents there have the same needs as the residents in Greyberg or any other city, the methods by which these needs are satisfied and the resulting quality of life and cost of living are very different.

First let us visit Greyberg.
This city is located near the ocean, around a lagoon, in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. However, the mountains are rarely visible because of smog, much like Los Angeles. The smog is created by emissions from the tailpipes of cars and the chimneys of homes, schools and industry.

The city of Greyburg: dirty ... polluted air and water ... expensive
depressed ... insecure ...dirty beaches ... no fishing
inconvenient ... congested.

The city is heated primarily by oil, over one billion gallons of oil annually (an average of 500 gallons per person per year, which includes a share of public buildings and businesses), at a price which is about the same as it was in 1996. (For simplification let me say $1 a gallon, less than bottled water!) This totals over $1 billion per year. Burning this oil causes almost 10 million tons of co2 emissions per year. (Almost 20 pounds of co2 is produced by burning one gallon of oil, even with clean-burning furnaces and engines.) Many have installed woodstoves in order to reduce heating bills, but, due to serious air pollution, their use is banned many days each winter. The heating costs for the school district alone amount to over $30 million per year. Little is left in the school budget for "luxuries" such as arts, trips and new equipment.

In the bitter cold winter of 1999 Greyberg was severely impacted for several months because of yet another oil embargo. As in 1973-74 and 1979, prices skyrocketed, gas pumps were empty and people froze. This oil crisis resulted in the United States again going to war in the Middle East to secure continuing and ever-increasing access to the oil supplies. The oil came back, but this war was far more devastating than the one in 1991.

Just outside Greyburg: a major oilspill that killed thousands of birds, fish, seal and dolphins, and destroyed recreation and fishing for many years.

The oil crisis and war resulted in lifting the preexisting ban against oil drilling off the coast and in the wilderness beyond the mountains. Oil spills ruined the fishing industry, and oil washed up on the beaches, severely impacting the tourist industry. The wilderness and mountains, which had previously provided a haven for fishing, skiing and hiking, were devastated by trucking roads, pipelines and drilling towers. In an attempt to improve the economics of the town, the ban on clear-cutting forests was lifted. Driving along the road, the forest still looks grand, but just behind this facade stretches mile after many mile of denuded hills and valleys, deeply scarred by erosion ruts, debris-filled streams running yellow, red and brown among them. The few forest areas that are still intact suffer from air pollution due to acid rain.

Several million pounds of nitrogen annually leach into the groundwater from the city's sewage treatment facilities and the thousands of on-site underground septic systems around the outskirts of the city. The nitrate level in the drinking water has been rising steadily to the point that it threatens public health because it reduces the blood's oxygen exchange capacity, and many pay dearly for bottled water imported from distant springs.
The groundwater is also being contaminated with oil leaking from underground tanks, as well as hundreds of different chemical effluents from the various local industries.
The lagoon, previously rich in fish, clams, scallops and oysters, has been closed to fishing and swimming due to contamination. This contamination is caused primarily by the nitrogen leaching from sewage and septage systems via the groundwater, which in turn causes massive algae growth that suffocates the aquatic flora and fauna and putrifies and oozes up to the surface, periodically causing vile odors that envelop much of the city.
These algae infestations were first blamed on ducks, geese and other water birds and runoff from roads, lawns and farms, but now it is understood that the primary cause is the effluent from the conventional sewage and septic systems.
Not only are these polluting, expensive conventional wastewater management systems allowed, but they are legally required. Requests for permission to install various alternative technologies have been delayed and obstructed in numerous ways, while millions of dollars have been spent on team after team of engineers who have proposed ever more complex conventional technologies. Greyberg recently spent over $500 million for rebuilding the old sewage treatment facility to reduce nitrogen contamination and odors, and also to extend the sewer pipes to include most of the areas that previously had on-site septic systems.

Greyberg has three public recreation centers with Olympic-size swimming pools, built before the city fell on hard times. They are heated entirely with oil. During the oil embargoes and war they were closed for an extended period, but are now open again, with an annual heating bill of over $400,000. The pool water is sanitized with the usual chlorine, bromine and other toxic chemicals. This, along with the city's air and water pollution, is considered a major reason for the ever-increasing rate of allergies and asthma.

Supermarkets carry food from far distant places, most of it heavily laden with residues of many different toxic chemicals. Some food is produced locally in summer, none in the winter.

Public transportation, consisting of smelly, noisy diesel buses, is inconvenient, slow and unreliable. The few bike paths do not lead to where people want to go. Consequently, cars are needed to get to work, schools, shopping and recreation. Pollution and traffic are a nightmare.

The city does some recycling, but since methods of collection and processing are inconvenient, it has never amounted to more than 20 percent. Two million tons a year of solid wastes go to the incinerator, at $100 per ton, or $200 million a year. Citizens are alarmed that the prevailing winds bring back to the city emissions from the smokestacks of this incinerator, containing dioxin and other toxins, which are then breathed in by the people and stored in their bodies. On the advice of health officials, many mothers are sadly opting to feed their babies formula instead of their own contaminated breast milk. Of course, since the city drinking water contains high levels of nitrate, the formula has to be made with bottled water.
The city's electricity is generated partly by an oil-powered plant in the outskirts and partly by a nuclear power plant located across the mountains. This nuclear plant is located close to an earthquake fault, and radioactive wastes have been leaking into groundwater that is flowing toward the city's water supply.

The leadership of Greyberg is strictly opposed to any of the so-called alternative solutions. Any proposals that contain words such as solar, organic, bio-benign, harmonious, sustainable, renewable or alternative are rejected without even being seriously considered. Most people believe what conventional engineers and architects are stating, that such systems are too costly, unreliable and inconvenient. The few people who make proposals along those lines are labeled "impractical, unrealistic idealists". Whether it has to do with heating and cooling, wastewater or solid waste management, or transportation, when proposals are considered, the leaders choose costly, polluting, resource-consuming, business-as-usual methods, because, as they say, "we know it works".

Not surprisingly, Greyberg, once rated among the most beautiful and livable cities in the United States, is now low on the list. The quality of life, water and air is among the worst, while the cost of living, taxes, and health problems are among the highest.
This tale about Greyberg is all too familiar as it in truth describes the conditions in so many cities and towns in the United States. Most people do not know any other ways to live and are thus resigned to an ever-increasing cost of living and a gradual reduction in the quality of life.

Now let us visit the other city in our tale, Greendale.
This city has the same climate as Greyberg and also about 2 million inhabitants. It too is located close to the ocean around a lagoon and is surrounded by mountains. But there the similarities end. The first noticeable difference is the clean air. The breathtaking view of distant snow-covered peaks, unobscured by smog, can be enjoyed even from the city center.

The city of GREENDALE: clean ... green ... economical
fun ... wholesome ... convenient ... secure ... intelligent.

One reason for the clean air is the excellent public transportation system. Bright yellow buses shuttle back and forth every few minutes, topped with flags color-coded by route. All buses are electric, powered by batteries. At the end of each route are banks of solar photovoltaic panels that recharge the batteries. Other generators, powered by methane from the local wastewater treatment facility and wood chips from the construction industry and wastewater-fed energy forest, provide backup charging power. As the buses come
in, their spent batteries are exchanged for fully charged ones, which takes only a few minutes.

Photovoltaic panels are manufactured in one of Greendale's many thriving factory complexes at the outskirts of the city. Batteries are manufactured at another factory, and, when finally exhausted, they are collected, disassembled andremanufactured. As with all other manufacturing in the city, any reusable or highly toxic chemicals are first removed from the wastewater, and then the wastewater is purified through Biocarbon filters and used for irrigating the city's extensive parks and landscaping.

Because of the excellent public transportation system, private car use is much reduced, and most cars and trucks are electric. Municipal parking lots are roofed over with banks of photovoltaic panels, and people put money in meters to recharge their car batteries while they are at work. The meters work even when the sun is not shining, because electricity is assured by backup sources.

Innercity of Greendale. Public transportation, cars and trucks are all run by solar-powered batteries.
All buildings have comprehensive solar-dynamic bio-benign designs, which provide heating, cooling, electricity, food and clean wastewater, as well as comfort and joy.

Another reason for the clean air is that about 80 percent of the heating and cooling of the houses and other buildings is provided by the sun. The leadership in the city of Greendale found out about truly comprehensive solar-dynamic design in 1998 and proceeded to apply it to a new school addition. It quickly proved to be effective, reliable and cost-saving, and soon the city went all out to retrofit every school and other municipal building. This was found to be cost-effective immediately because the resulting savings were greater than the cost of financing the changes. It did not take long for the population as a whole to follow suit, and soon most of Greendale's buildings, old and new, were retrofitted to be heated and cooled primarily by solar power.

Backup heat is provided by clean-burning stoves and furnaces fueled with wood and low-grade wastepaper, and because the city is not producing the normal amounts of pollution caused by burning millions of gallons of fuel oil and gasoline, the air quality is not threatened by these emissions. Most of the wood fuel is wood chips, which are stored in hoppers and loaded into stoves and furnaces by thermostatically controlled augers. The wood chips are produced from rapidly growing shrub willows in energy forests, which are fertilized and irrigated by the effluent from the nearby wastewater treatment plant. Thus, the nutrients in the wastewater is utilized for making fuel, which purifies the wastewater in a most thorough and cost-effective way, protecting the economy, environment, fishing industry and public health.

Less than half of the city is serviced by the preexisting centralized sewage treatment plant. This plant was fully upgraded with Biocarbon filters at a cost of about 80 percent less than conventional technologies. And it costs about 90 percent less to operate, partly because the expenses are offset by the income from the resulting popular compost product, Greendale Black Gold, as well as from energy forest wood chip fuel which provides the backup heat for the city and methane for electricity production.

The people of Greendale avoided the enormous expense of expanding sewage pipelines, because on?site septic systems were instead upgraded with individual Biocarbon filter systems. By choosing these systems for upgrading wastewater management systems, instead of going with the conventional sewage, septage and septic systems that were chosen by Greyberg, the citizens of Greendale have saved some $200 million, and the groundwater and the lagoon are kept pristine.

A few years ago Greendale opted not to buy into a long-term contract with a planned new $5 billion nuclear power plant across the mountains. Instead the city invested in "negawatt" energy conservation, such as leasing out super-efficient appliances and light bulbs. This resulted in a 60 percent reduction in electricity consumption, thereby eliminating the need for increased generation.

Greendale has many Super-Power Playgrounds where people of all ages go to have fun and get fit. Swings, merry-go-rounds, see-saws, and various exercise equipment and runways all generate electricity, as do photovoltaic panels,
Each Super-Power Playground generates about 30,000 kwh/year.

Greendale also invited manufacturers of photovoltaic panels to set up operations in an abandoned pesticide factory. Calculations made it clear that it would be less costly in the long run, and far safer, to provide electricity by solar power instead of nuclear.
The Greendale electric company scoped out thousands of small sites within the city limits - rooftops, walls, fences and embankments with good solar exposure - and installed PV panels.
Far more electricity is produced than is needed when the sun is shining, and the excess solar electricity is used to generate waterpower:
pumping water into towers and releasing it
through generators when there is no sun.
Backup electricity is provided by the preexisting oil-powered plant, which was retrofitted to also burn wood chips and methane. This has proven to be cleaner, more reliable andless costly, and consumes 90 percent less oil. To everyone's great relief, the plan to build a nuclear power plant across the mountain was canceled when Greendale, along with other cities, refused to join the contract.

One of hundreds of indoor swimmingpools in the city of Greendale. This one is on the ground floor in one of the apartment buildings. Electricity is generated as people use various exercise equipment both in the pool and next to it.

Greendale, like Greyberg, also has recreational facilities with Olympic swimming pools. In fact, after the three preexisting facilities were retrofitted with solar-dynamic, bio-benign design, they became so popular and were so economical to operate, that several more were built. These facilities have not only one large pool each, but also two smaller, warmer pools, one for babies and toddlers and another for the elderly and handicapped. There are also several hot tubs set at different comfort levels. All the water is purified through Biocarbon filters, ozonation and UV lights. Exercise equipment is connected to generators that produce electricity.

Unlike Greyberg, which imports almost all its food from far away, Greendale produces a great deal of its food right within its city limits, even in winter. There are many small farms in the outskirts, most
no larger than an acre or two. None of the farms
use pesticides or other toxic substances, and each is a thriving business that provides local employment.
Some of the farms specialize in outdoor seasonal crops such as carrots, onions, cabbage and squash, as well as berries and fruits. Others specialize in salad greens and herbs, growing them year-round in greenhouses and extending the production outdoors in spring, summer and fall.

One of the many greenhouses in Greendale. They produce fish, eggs, meat, vegetables and herbs year-round, without any heating fuel or cooling fans, and without any toxic pesticide. And the animal wastes do not cause water pollution.

The greenhouses are entirely energy-self-sufficient, heated primarily by the sun, with additional heat provided by the chickens, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cows, or horses who live in separate quarters within the insulated greenhouses. The animals are raised in spacious freedom with access to each other, the outdoors and fresh greens, without any of the usual chemicals. They are far happier and healthier than on conventional factory farms. They provide food, fiber and compost fertilizer, as well as carbon dioxide which doubles the greenhouse productivity in winter. Most of the meat that is consumed by the residents and visitors in Greendale is thus produced locally year-round.
Unlike Greyberg, where the school system offers education that to some extent seems irrelevant to living reality, Greendale offers true preparation for good living. The school system wasthe first to adopt the new solar-dynamic, bio-benign design principles. All schools have solargreen walls that provide heating and cooling, food, bedding plants and tree seedlings. The plants purify the air for the schools and provide wholesome salads for the cafeteria, with excess to sell.
The schools were also the first places to set up solid waste management systems that resulted in 90 percent recycling. These systems have been adopted by the entire city, saving the residents some $100 million a year.

Students of all ages are also participating in the local farming, manufacturing, building and business, and as they get into high school and college many students earn money working after school. Thus many students are well prepared to enter the work force as productive members of the community. Most end up staying in Greendale, because it is clearly the best place to live.
The people of Greendale could have chosen to follow conventional methods, laws, rules and regulations, as Greyberg did. But they realized that such systems violate the laws of Nature and cause stress, waste and pollution, and spiraling costs. Instead, Greendale chose to comply with the laws of Nature by using bio-benign processes for dealing with wastes, to recycle everything, to produce food and fuel locally, and to use the abundant energy provided by the sun (even though this is 50 percent less than is available in an area like Arizona).

As a result, Greendale is now rated as the most desirable city in the U.S. The air, water and food are pure, the environment and surrounding wilderness pristine. There is full employment, and the standard of living as well as the physical and mental health of the residents are the best in the country.

Consequently, crime and social disorder are the lowest anywhere. Money goes around and around in the city, instead of being bled off to far distant places to pay for imported food and energy supplies. The city is exceptionally beautiful, with parks and plantings expanding every year. Arts and culture are rich and varied and available to all.
The wild mountains and the clean beaches, as well as the many innovative solar-dynamic, bio-benign methods, draw visitors from all around the world. Needless to say, people who live here want to stay, and many more want to move here. There is tremendous pressure to expand, and there is some room for expansion up into the foothills of the mountains. This is being done with carefully controlled planning and true public participation, in order to maintain the exhilarating, prosperous, clean and peaceful quality of life that has been attained. The development expertise is available right within the city and is in fact one of the main export items of the city.

Greendale has become a lighthouse that shines bright and clear, a guide to help both large cities and small communities across the country and the world to make livable homes out of their ailing societies.




Let us never forget:

We Have a Choice.

Let us never forget:

In Our Every Deliberation,
We Must Consider
the Impact of Our Decisions
on the Next Seven Generations.







The Solviva designs, as well as many other designs developed around the world, have demonstrated that our needs for heating, cooling, food, electricity, transportation, wastewater and solid waste management can be fulfilled in ways that are far more reliable and secure, and are far less costly, polluting, wasteful and harmful than conventional methods. It is now time for us to be bold, to get up and do what needs to be done to protect ourselves and our planet, for now and for the future.
In this section I present proposals for the creation of "lighthouses" out in the "real world". If just one of each of these proposals were to be properly and fully installed, well managed, and thoroughly monitored and documented in order to prove the advantages, I believe that individuals, communities, cities and nations will then follow the lead. After all, why would any reasonable person prefer a system that is more costly, and causes more pollution and waste? We could thus see, within a decade or two, the 80 percent reduction in pollution and resource depletion that I outlined in the introduction.
Some people will consider these proposals hopelessly idealistic and unrealistic. In the "real world" perhaps they are, because unfortunately some people are mired in skepticism, pessimism, inertia, and an inexplicable terror of speaking up in favor of proposals they know in their hearts would probably turn out to be just as wonderful as they sound, but that cut against the grain of "business as usual". But I know one thing for certain: from a practical standpoint these proposals are all both achievable and cost-effective.



A Proposal to Transform the White House into a Lighthouse
to Guide the Whole World toward Sustainable Peace, Health and Plenty

Throughout the 19th century there were extensive greenhouses on both the east and the west ends of the White House. At that time, greenhouses attached to city buildings and mansions were prevalent all through the northern United States and Europe. These greenhouses provided the buildings with substantial amounts of solar heat, which on sunny days offered a respite from the constant stoking of wood and coal heating stoves. In addition, these greenhouses produced fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables during the cold season before the days of long-distance transportation.
By the end of the century, plans to expand the White House showed that the old greenhouses were to be replaced with new ones elegantly incorporated into the architectural design. But by early 1900, as central oil heating became available, all White House greenhouses were torn down and additions made to the east and west ends of the main building without greenhouses or solar heating.

I propose that the White House provide leadership by demonstrating contemporary techniques for sustainable living by reinstating those greenhouses. The current White House complex has a long facade that faces due south. I am not proposing changes to the familiar look of the main central White House building, treasured as a national symbol. However, the long east and west wings on either side have no strong architectural or historical significance and are eminently suitable for solar-dynamic retrofitting. This proposal calls for restoring the historical greenhouses by retrofitting these wings with the best in solargreen design. This could reduce the heating fuel requirements of the entire White House complex by 70 to 80 percent. This can be done elegantly and without adding to the summer cooling load. Flowers, greens and vegetables can be grown as a model of nontoxic, high-yield indoor agriculture, also demonstrating how plants freshen the air with oxygen and negative ions and remove the carbon dioxide and infectious organisms emitted by people, as well as the toxic gases emitted by computers, carpets, paint and cleaning compounds.

In addition, this proposal calls for installing photovoltaic panels, interfaced with the grid, unobtrusively mounted on the roofs, to generate as much electricity as the White House consumes.
All wastewater would be cleaned through Biocarbon filters and dispersed through underground irrigation pipes to benefit the landscaping. This would reduce water consumption by some 15 percent and contribution to the city sewage system by 100 percent.

I propose that the Army Corps of Engineers or another military entity be employed to turn this dream into reality. With the training, skills, efficiency, and organization characteristic of the military, temporary encampment right on the spacious White House grounds, and superb planning and project management, a comprehensive solar-dynamic, bio-benign retrofit could be accomplished in a month or two. What better way could there be for the military to promote national security and peace around the world?

Imagine approaching the White House from the south, with the new elegant solargreen retrofits enhancing the east and west wings. Leaders from around the world meet with the President around the table under the dappled shade of fragrant jasmine, nasturtium and ferns, in a rooftop greenhouse above the Cabinet Room in the West Wing. School children tour the White House, meandering through the vibrant greenhouse gardens and rainforest landscapes in mid-winter, as a guide explains the benefits of these new designs and how they can be adapted to small and large buildings anywhere in the world. Imagine the inspiration and vision for a better future that will blossom within any person who encounters this reality.



That PROTECTS Our Economy, Health, Environment, and Resources,

Public schools are community centers which are financed by taxes, and are therefore excellent places to apply innovative designs and technologies that offer better methods for heating, cooling and air purification, for food production, and for sewage and solid waste management. Not only does this offer communities a chance to save money and resources and prevent pollution, but it also offers opportunities for students, teachers, parents, and the community at large to learn important skills for good living. The time has come to add a few more "R's" to the curriculum: Recycling, Reuse, Resource Recovery and Restoration, Retrofitting, and perhaps most important, Responsibility, Respect and Reverence for Earth, life and coming generations.

Unfortunately, schools are being built and expanded in thousands of communities across the nation, including the Martha's Vineyard (my home community) with little or no regard for the needs of tomorrow, or even today. This is a tragedy. Over the last few years, five different schools on the Vineyard have been doubled or tripled in size. In the early stages of the planning for each one, I presented solar-dynamic, bio-benign proposals, which were repeatedly ignored and rejected by the architects who claimed that solar is neither affordable nor practical. This in spite of the fact that both my home and the Solviva greenhouse were available as eloquent proof.

Because of continued lobbying, some of the schools did get some very small attempts at solar, but my input was refused. As a result, these attempts are very costly and unsuccessful. Due to the architects' lack of knowledge and experience in comprehensive and efficient solar design, these token attempts actually consume more energy than they provide, thus perpetuating the impression that solar design is impractical and expensive. I am tempted here to express my frustration by writing pages about the extraordinarily expensive, impractical, wasteful, polluting, unattractive, unhealthy systems these architects installed. The schools now have ventilation, heating, cooling, lighting, and wastewater management systems that would never have been built if committee members had considered the real impact for both now and the future. Perhaps if architects were rewarded for cutting costs for both construction and operation, rather than earning a fixed percentage of the total cost of construction, they would have provided a more economical, practical and energy-efficient plan.

These five Vineyard school projects could have been built to consume 80 percent less energy, reducing depletion of oil by some 200,000 gallons per year, reducing annual co2 pollution of our atmosphere by 4 million pounds, and reducing the tax burden in our community by wee over $200,000 per year.

Comprehensive solar-dynamic design could have been installed, complemented with multi-fueled, clean-burning, automatic furnaces, fueled primarily by wood chips from planted energy forests and deadwood from the adjacent State Forest, plus shredded low-grade wastepaper, with oil only as an occasional backup. Solar-dynamic design could have provided not only these savings, but also a strong sense of security for the whole community, stemming from the knowledge that these schools would never be threatened with closures due to scarcity and crippling cost of oil caused by future oil embargoes, wars or terrorism (certain to occur again and again). Also, the community would gain a strong sense of well-being by minimizing negative impact on economy, environment and resources, thereby protecting future generations.

My proposal for a good school design has south-, southeast- and southwest-facing walls and roofs that provide solar heating and cooling, with long-term solar heat stored in slab foundations, and ducts and fans distributing the heat as needed. Some of these walls double as greenhouses, with vegetation ranging from salad greens, vegetables, tomatoes and herbs to tropical flowers and vines. A brief period each week is enough to provide the opportunity for students to learn how to grow organic food and ornamental plants year?round. It also enriches the curriculum for art, sciences and vocational education. Students can gain experience in business and marketing by selling the produce, raising money for school trips and other "nonessential" expenditures. As a fringe benefit, the school population benefits from cleaner air, great places to study and hang out during breaks, and fresh organic salads every day, all of which improve the health and energy (and therefore the performance) of the entire school population.
Stale air from the classrooms is purified as it flows through these greenhouses, because plants have an extraordinary capacity for absorbing not only the co2 and infectious germs emitted by people, but also other air pollution, such as formaldehyde and other outgassing from carpeting, plastics and various cleaning compounds. Fresh air is also brought in from outside, warmed as it passes through the solar walls and roofs. These are capable of warming the air even on cloudy days.

Flush toilets and sinks drain into odor-free aerobic composting chambers. Here the solids decompose into superior compost, while the liquid, about 4,000 gallons per day for a 700-student school, drains through the compost chambers and into a pump chamber. Float valve-controlled pumps periodically pulse 200 gallons to a series of Brownfilters, housed in a small building. From there the odor-free effluent is pumped to perforated pipes laid in landscape-enhancing Greenfilter beds. This wastewater system costs 25 to 50 percent less than conventional septic systems, causes 90 percent less nitrogen pollution, and produces holly, Christmas trees, cedar posts, bamboo stakes, wood chips for heating, and valuable compost.

The food wastes and lowest-grade paper wastes turn into compost for the greenhouses and landscaping. The high-grade waste paper is recycled, as are bottles, cans and all plastics. All toxic wastes are kept separated and less than 10 percent of the solid wastes remain as trash, which can be safely landfilled on-island.

If a community such as the Vineyard, with a year-round population of about 14,000, had schools like this, taxpayers could save not only $200,000 in energy bills, but also many thousands on food that can be grown instead of bought, and many thousands on sewage and solid waste management, while at the same time improve health and education - and safeguard our future. This is not just a pie-in-the-sky dream, as many would think. This is practical and cost-effective today. It is of course best to build the solar-dynamic, bio-benign design right to start with, but it is also possible to retrofit almost any existing building, no matter how inefficiently designed and built.



This is a proposal for an Ecommunity Center for Martha's Vineyard, to be built adjacent to the high school, easily accessible by the entire community. The project is to be a model, to be followed by other cities and communities around the nation and the world. Heating, cooling, electricity, pool sanitation, and wastewater management will be of optimum solar-dynamic, bio-benign design, and both construction and maintenance will be at record-low cost. This Ecommunity Center will demonstrate the feasability of constructing buildings that cause 90 percent less depletion of energy resources, cause 90 percent less pollution of air and water, and improve public health, the economy, and national security.

The plan is to complete construction within 90 days of groundbreaking, at 40 percent less cost than normal. The major reason for the speedy construction and the reduction in cost is that the military will provide the key work crew. It seems reasonable to request that a small part of military training time be spent building for peace instead of preparing for war, helping to create municipal infrastructure, in community after community, that reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil and other resources, thereby improving national security and the economy. Since the crew's time and support is already paid for by tax dollars, the cost to the communities would be minimal.

In addition, local builders and tradespeople will be employed, at 10 percent less than normal rates, and materials will be bought through local dealers at a 10 percent discount. Free family memberships will be given as compensation for these discounts. Construction will be further augmented with regular and frequent Amish-style barnraising events, culminating in fun-and-fund-raising dinners.

A budget of $3 million is set for the cost of turnkey completion of the project and first year operating costs. Funds for the project will be generated from federal, state and municipal sources, local and national charitable organizations, and prepaid memberships.
The entire community is invited to participate in the planning process, including school children. A location is chosen where the planning process can evolve continuously over a period of two months. A basic plan is first presented, with models, architectural drawings and floor plans. Soon ideas from anyone wishing to contribute fill the walls. Classes from elementary schools and the high school, as well as various civic groups, come in to learn about the design concepts and add their own ideas. The pros and cons of all the various ideas are discussed, and those ideas that improve upon the basic plans are adapted and incorporated into the rapidly developing designs.

A proposal and petition is prepared by a group consisting of influential members of the community, outlining the plan and stating the many advantages of such a project. This is signed by most people in the community and endorsed by city, county and state politicians, as well as business, health and education professionals. This proposal is sent to the President, the Senate, the Congress, the Secretaries of State, Armed Forces, Health and Human Services, Environment, and Energy, requesting funding and participation by the military. Before the start of construction all materials for the entire project are assembled, catalogued and organized in the order they will be needed. On day one, June 21, a platoon of military personnel arrive and set up, on one of the large playing fields adjacent to the building site, their tents and other support structures, including a very large tent with tables and chairs for community dinners. On that same day a team of bulldozers and backhoes from several local construction companies dig the hole for the foundation and swimming pools. At 6 p.m. a couple of thousand people gather, at $10 a head, for the groundbreaking celebration and dinner, food provided at discount prices by the local markets, restaurants, and farms, prepared by the students and culinary arts department of the high school.

Over the next 30 days the military platoon work shoulder to shoulder with local builders and tradespeople with unprecedented efficiency, augmented by a steady stream of volunteers of all ages. A crew of well-coordinated supervisors keep everyone continually occupied. There is work even for children and people lacking construction skills, picking up and organizing nails, screws and wood scraps. Three nights a week there are community dinners, with celebration and progress reports, which raise both funds and spirits.

In one month the building and all its components have been completed, including the photovoltaic panels and paving-block parking lot. The progress has been recorded by video crews from near and far. CNN and other major networks have aired it around the nation and the world, along with requests for donations to a fund to help other communities start similar projects. Now, they are again on hand for the celebration of the completion of the first stage of construction and the emotional farewell to the military personnel.
During the next 60 days the final details are completed, including the interior rainforest landscaping and the salad garden, and local artists and children cover some of the walls with murals.
On September 21, 90 days after groundbreaking, the Ecommunity Center is open for business, on schedule and within budget, ready to greatly enhance the joy, health and education of everyone.

I now invite you to visit this center, visualizing it with me. Driving up to the parking lot, we see first of all that it looks more like a park, with shade trees between the rows of cars. Instead of asphalt it is paved with hollow blocks filled with topsoil, mosses and low grasses which absorb and digest the various pollutants that leak from parked cars, thereby protecting the groundwater. Along the south side of the parking lot is a bank of photovoltaic panels which produce as much electricity as the center consumes. Excess power is sent backward into the electric company grid when the sun is shining, and the center receives power from the electric company when there is no sun.

The building is attractive, like an immense barn. Every square foot of south-facing wall and roof is receptive to the power of the sun. Most of the south wall is super-insulated glass through which we see the beautiful indoor gardens. The south-facing roof looks much like the standard metal roofs of Idaho or Vermont. But here the dark brown metal roofing is topped with long-lasting, super-transparent plastic glazing, which transforms it into a comprehensive solar roof that not only heats and cools the building, but also heats the water for the pools and showers.

We enter through the east doors into the spacious entry hall, welcomed by the fragrant warmth and beauty of the sun streaming through a flowering rainforest landscape. Water trickles down pebble-filled troughs and moss-covered ledges, into a stream and a shallow pond surrounded by ferns and water plants. Children are draped over the railing of the wide bridge, watching fish dart among the rocks. Similar landscapes are integrated throughout the whole building, and all are part of the wastewater purification system.

In the cafe located in the southeast corner of the building you can choose a table in the sun or the shade. The menu, all organic, offers delicious meals (including hamburgers and hot dogs made with local organic beef and chicken), snacks, desserts, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices, as well as salads grown in the greenhouse that stretches along the south wall of the building. You can also buy food to take out.

Sign-in is by the office that opens to the entry hall, and in here are several monitors on which the entire building, including the pool areas, are displayed. This minimizes the number of lifeguards that are required. Close to the office is a well-equipped, supervised playroom for children whose parents are swimming or exercising.
In the northeast corner of the building are the dressing rooms. These contain the usual showers and lockers, but the antiseptic look of the tile walls is softened by more rainforest landscaping along the windows. The path to the pool area leads through a fern-lined corridor with motion-activated warm showers. Thus everyone is cleansed before entering the pool area.
The pool room is huge, warm and sunny. Speakers carry sounds that vary from wind, waves and songbirds, to Mozart or rock and roll. Three different pool areas are separated by walls of rainforest plants that not only provide beauty and air purification but also tone down the happy but loud voices of the swimmers.

In the foreground of the pool,women are using pulleys that generate electricity. At the far end of the pool 6 people are soaking in hot water. In the background several people are using various electricity-generating exercise machines, while along the south wall people are tending the abundant garden.

The two smaller pools, 20 by 30 feet, are located along the south side greenhouse. One of these pools slopes like a beach into shallow water. Here toddlers, all wearing float vests, cavort in the nice warm water, dangle and plop down from grab bars, slither down little slides, giggle under fountains, and tumble on a variety of soft plastic play equipment on the deck around the pool. Some of the parents are in the water with their children, while others keep a close watch from lounge chairs around the pool. The floor, here as in the whole building, is laid wall-to-wall with firm foam mats to prevent injuries. Because this pool gets more contaminated due to diapers, the water has its own Biocarbon purification system to avoid burdening the main system.

The second pool, also warm, slopes to a depth of 5 feet and offers wheelchair access. Here older people, and others whowould rather not be among the rambunctious crowds in the large pool, are floating or swimming laps in peace and quiet. Handicapped people are enjoying the freedom and exercise afforded by floating in water. People are basking in
the sun in lounge chairs, surrounded by banks of flowering plants. The third pool is Olympic size, with a movable partition to enable multiple uses. On this day the largest part of the pool is occupied by teenagers training for a swim competition. In the smaller section of the big pool another team is perfecting their water ballet. Yet another team is practicing dives from three different levels of boards. The tallest board is up on the mezzanine that surrounds the large pool. At the other end of the mezzanine is a long winding slide that leads into the pool.
Main access to the mezzanine is via a ramp that winds along the interior walls of the building. This ramp continues up to the smaller third floor and provides wheelchair access to the entire building. The ramp also doubles as a running track. People can clock in miles by running up, around and down this track.

The mezzanine floor is open over the large pool, and the sides are angled to create seating for spectators. Also on the mezzanine floor are two spacious rooms. One is filled with a great variety of gym equipment, most of which is connected to generators. Thus people are producing electricity while they pump away on weight or rowing machines, Stairmasters or bicycles. Users insert their membership cards into each machine, which records the amounts of watts generated and earns credits toward facility fees. On an average day this room can generate 100 kilowatt-hours, over 36,000 kwh (36 megawatts) per year.
Another room is for gymnastics, aerobics, dance, yoga, tai chi and other fitness classes.
The ramp continues to a smaller third floor which has Jacuzzis and saunas, as well as several small rooms for different forms of therapeutic massage and treatment.

Maintenance equipment is located on the first floor along the north wall. Here pumps drive the wastewater from toilets and showers through Biocarbon filters which render the wastewater clean and odor-free. The pool water is filtered and then purified by ultraviolet radiation and ozonation, rather than toxic chemicals. The purified pool water is heated in pipes laid within the solar roof when the sun is shining and at other times through pipes within the furnace. This is a clean-burning furnace, fueled by chipped wood and wastepaper fed by thermostatically controlled augers, which provides the backup heat for the whole center.

This Ecommunity Center offers true recreation for the whole community year-round. Families, children, teenagers, elderly, single people and married come here to socialize and have fun, to relax and get fit, and to eat good food. Because its warmth and cleanliness are maintained without burning the many thousands of gallons of oil normally required, without using chlorine or other toxic chemicals, and without causing water pollution, it is also a place of great inspiration where everyone can learn how to live in wonderful ways that save money and protect Earth's environment and resources.



This is a proposal for a business center that offers delicious and wholesome food at reasonable prices, as well as entertainment, education and culture, for all ages, in a delightful atmosphere and beautiful setting, good food for body, mind and spirit.

I invite you to come along on a guided tour of this Solviva Restaurant and Sanctuary, yet another dream of what is possible to achieve. It occupies an area 200 by 130 feet, less than two thirds of an acre, which includes a restaurant, gallery, store, farm, offices, and parking for 40 cars, two delivery trucks, plus bicycles.

Imagine a very cold, sunny day. We approach along the south fence, topped with photovoltaic panels which generate as much electricity as is required by the whole complex. We turn right along the west fence, and as we enter the gate, a rooster crows. The landscape of gardens, trees, benches and paths is now under a blanket of snow. The main building is at the north end of the property, toward the left, but we first follow the path to the right, toward the sound of the rooster. We cross a little bridge over a pond and brook. Fish swim in the water, which is kept from freezing because it is agitated by a small windmill and warmed by solar panels.

Here at the south end of the property is a mini-farm, with a couple of happy ewes and their newborn lambs, a burro, and a flock of hens and the rooster, all munching grain, hay and fresh greens. On the west side of this mini-farm is a small energy-self-sufficient greenhouse/barn. A waterwall separates the animals from the plant section, where a continuous supply of fresh sprouts for the animals, as well as salad greens and herbs for the restaurant are produced. The farm is supervised, so while parents linger in the restaurant, children can play with the animals or on the adjacent jungle gym.
We head back past the snow-covered gardens, then across a wide deck covered with a clear roof and an arbor draped with bare grapevines.

As we step into the main building through the double airlock entryway, we are embraced by the comforting solar warmth and the enchanting fragrance of fresh baked bread, flowers, and living earth. To our left the sun is streaming in along the whole south wall through the vibrant greens and herbs that fill the raised beds and hanging growtubes. A profusion of flowers and vines cascades from ledges.

Overlooking the indoor garden is the dining room with 24 tables. Here oiled wood and yellow and warm earthtones provide a comfortable and cozy atmosphere. The walls provide space for art exhibits. Near the entryway is a massive heating stove built into the brick wall. On days when there is no sun to keep the place warm, this stove does the job by heating up the brick wall and the whole building. The fuel is wastepaper briquettes and wood.

Right in front of the entryway is a reception desk and checkout counter. To the right of this is the store. The first wall of the store, right by the entryway, is dedicated to the display of information about solar-dynamic, bio-benign design, technology and methods. It explains how this Solviva building works, the heating, cooling, solar electricity, wastewater purification, nontoxic pest management. It shows designs of homes before and after Solviva retrofitting, and Solviva solargreen home designs of different sizes, as well as community centers, schools, and businesses. There is information about how much they cost to build, how much money and resources they save, and how much less pollution they cause compared with standard buildings. Here people can begin to dream and plan how they can lower their cost of living and improve their quality of life, and how they can learn to live in ways that have a positive instead of negative impact on Earth and the future.

The store offers a select choice of clean/green light/right products, such as energy-efficient light bulbs, recycled paper products, clothes and dry goods made from organically grown fibers, nontoxic body care and household products. Catalogues offer the best energy-efficient refrigerators and other appliances, as well as solar electric panels and equipment. There are books and magazines, cards and calendars on related subjects. This store also offers handcrafted goods by local artisans. In one corner is a loom, and a woman is weaving a shawl of soft angora wool yarn. Beautiful hand-dyed skeins of the same yarn, as well as sweaters, hats, blankets and shawls fill shelves close by.

A nearby counter opens to the kitchen, which offers takeout food: dinners, soups, quiche, breads, sandwiches, salads, herbs, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, jams, jellies, sauces, dressings and condiments, and luscious desserts. All foods are grown and made from ingredients that are free of any pesticides or other harmful substances. Good food, good for you. Some of the food is grown on the premises, and most of the rest, including meat, comes from organic farms near by: bioregionalism in action.

In one corner of the dining room is a raised stage area and a piano. Several evenings each week there are various cultural events, such as a string quartet, a jazz combo, a singer and guitar, poetry or story telling, a play, a movie, or a slide presentation. Sometimes the center tables are cleared away to make room for dancing. On weekend afternoons there may be a puppet show or play for children. And every couple of weeks there is an opening event for the art gallery.

In summer the gardens are bursting with a profusion of flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Private seating areas are tucked away here and there among the shrubbery and flower beds. The large deck along the south wall of the building holds another 24 tables and a juice and salad bar. It is cool under a canopy of flowering and fruiting vines and protected from rain by a clear roof. The second floor of the building contains the offices of several health professionals. On the third floor are apartments for the caretakers of the farm and the indoor and outdoor gardens.

All wastewater, including toilets, drains into Biocarbon wastewater purification filters. The cleaned water circulates through the canals and pond in the garden and is used for irrigating the ornamental landscaping. The parking area causes no groundwater pollution because it is paved with hollow blocks, topsoil and grass.

All solid wastes are recycled. Some of the food wastes are fed to the animals, the rest are composted and fed to the ornamental landscaping. The paper wastes are shredded and briquetted and used as fuel in the massive heating stove, with comprehensive smoke filtration to prevent harmful emissions. The glass is crushed and stored. The corrugated paper, metals and plastics are separated, compacted, baled and stored. Periodically they are trucked off to the highest bidder.
The entire Solviva Sanctuary complex causes no discharge of toxins or nutrients. It serves as a model to demonstrate how any existing building or new construction could be equally nonpolluting.



Municipal solid wastes (MSW) consist of some 20 different categories: food wastes, leaf/yard wastes, clear glass, colored glass, five to six different categories of plastics, tin cans, aluminum, newspaper, magazines, cardboard and corrugated paper, plus large and small household items, appliances, construction wastes. At least 90 percent of these wastes are either compostables, recyclable or reusable, less than 10 percent is neither.

This ........ or ........ This
We have a choice

Most recycling systems are excessively complicated, requiring households and other waste generators to separate their recyclables into too many different categories, but in this system only five categories are required:
1. "RECYCLABLES and SMALL REUSABLES" (about 50 percent of the waste stream): all clean paper, plastics (every molecule of plastic is recyclable again and again), glass and metal, plus books, clothes, toys, small household items and tools and so forth, all commingled in one container. Cans and jars need to be washed, but need not be crushed as this gets done at the separation center. There is no need to remove paper from every single tin can because it is not required by the tin reclaiming company.
2. "COMPOSTABLES" (about 40 percent of the waste stream): compostable wastes, such as all food wastes (including bones and fat), dirty paper (including paper napkins, plates and cups), diapers, and leaf and yard wastes, small compostable construction wastes (including wood and Sheetrock) all in one container.
3. "TRASH" (5 to 10 percent of the waste stream): whatever is truly unrecyclable, uncompostable or unreusable. This would include items such as the container of rotten food from the back of the fridge that you don't want todeal with, the mixed-material containers consisting of unseparable plastic, metal and paper (these will eventually be outlawed), dirty plastic, broken china.
4. "HAZARDOUS" (less than 1 percent of the waste stream): batteries,
pesticides, paints, thinners, smoke detectors, flea collars and so forth. It would be against the law, enforced by stiff fines, to put any toxic wastes into any of the other waste categories.
5. "LARGE REUSABLES" (not normally included as a percentage of the household waste stream): furniture, appliances, bath tubs, mattresses, rugs, construction materials, electronics, and so forth.

Bags or cans of categories 1, 2, 3 and 4 are put out at the curb and are picked up in a compartmented truck. The contents are checked and weighed on a computerized scale, and each household or business is billed accordingly. A small fee is charged for categories 1, 2 and 4, a much larger fee is charged for No.3. A reminder note is left in case of inaccurate separation. There are various attractive and fun economic incentives for good separation, fines only for serious infractions. Such a collection system can be put in place even in urban high-rise buildings.
Those who do not have pickup service take their wastes to one of several drop-off centers, or to the main Waste Management Center, where a similar procedure of checking, weighing and charging is in place.

At the main Waste Management Center are several large buildings, warm in winter and cool in summer because of the solar-dynamic design. One is for the separation, processing and storing of the No.1 category, the RECYCLABLES and SMALL REUSABLES. At one end of this building all these clean commingled recyclable wastes and reusables are unloaded: the newspapers, magazines and junk mail, the plastic and cardboard milk containers, the cereal and pasta boxes, all categories of glass, plastic and metal, cans, bottles, jars, boxes, bags, foil and film, books, toys, tools, clothes, small appliances. It all goes together up a conveyor belt to the second-floor level.
Up on the second floor it is pleasant and clean. Sun pours in through the south window wall, flanked with boxes of flowering plants. The air is fresh and dust-free because it recirculates through Biocarbon filters.
A manager oversees and instructs a crew of people, more in summer, fewer in winter, who work here at good wages. Some work full-time, while others are part-time. Thus mothers and high school students, artists and writers, elderly and handicapped can sign up to fit their own schedules and abilities, gaining an opportunity to earn money and work constructively and collaboratively with others.
They work at different stations along the branching conveyor belts that advance as needed (some of the stations are wheelchair-accessible), and each person is responsible for pulling out one of 15 to 20 different categories. The separated wastes fall off the ends of their respective branches of conveyor belts and into chutes that send them down below to waiting compactors, shredders, crushers or carts. From there they go, in bales and hoppers, by conveyors or handtrucks, to protected storage to await shipping to various industries that buy the materials and remake them into new products. The re-usables go straight to the Community Reuse Building.

A second building is for the category No.2, COMPOSTABLES. Here a small well-trained crew converts the compostable solid wastes, plus septic tank pump-outs, into valuable compost.
Trucks and Dumpsters holding the food and dirty paper, diapers, leaves and yard wastes, plus trucks loaded with the lowest grade construction wastes such as woodscraps and bits of Sheetrock (nails are okay), enter the building and dump down onto a paved floor. The loads are bulldozed into mixed piles and are covered with compost, which immediately eliminates any odors.

The bulldozer pushes a well-balanced recipe of the mixed compostables toward a conveyor belt which shunts the mix into a big tub grinder. The mix comes out the lower end in pieces no bigger than two inches, and is then conveyed up into one of several composting drums. Standard 10-cubic-yard cement mixer drums (used ones with a few holes are fine) would be ideal and economical, mounted in series for simultaneous power turning. About 8 cubic yards of the ground-up compostables goes into the composting drum, which already contains about 1 cubic yard of live active compost, like yeast, left in the drum from the previous batch.

Incoming septic tank pump-out trucks empty their loads into closed tanks equipped with Biocarbon filter odor control, and, as needed, this septage, including the sludge, is pumped into the composting drum with the ground-up solid wastes, to add beneficial nutrients and moisture, which speed up decomposition. I know from experience that about 70 percent moisture is ideal for earthworms and other aerobic composting organisms. The whole batch spends four to five days in the chamber, and with frequent turning the temperature rapidly rises. It can easily reach 170 degrees F, but is kept below 110 degrees, ideal for rapid decomposition, but not so hot that it kills earthworms and other decomposers.

Then this coarse compost, free of unpleasant odors, is poured out of the drums and laid out in long windrows about 4 feet high and 6 feet wide. The first five rows are laid within the building, which is equipped with Biocarbon odor-control air filters to guarantee odor-free operation. Each row within the building, as well as the many rows outside, are turned over weekly. All the rows are thus advancing about 6 feet weekly, toward the final processing point. Over a period of two to three months, with the help of resident earthworms and beneficial microorganisms, this becomes a soft, fine-textured compost, with the fragrance of rich soil.

The compost is then triple-screened and tested for nutrients, toxins and pathogens. Compost that is to be used for vegetable production is placed on a conveyor belt that goes through a solar-heated tunnel which reaches pasteurizing temperatures. Thus any remaining harmful pathogens are destroyed. The compost is sold in bags or by the truckload, all tested and certified for nutrients, pathogens and toxins.

The coarse material that does not go through the screening process is brought back to the beginning of the cycle, rich in composting organisms, and is used as cover material to eliminate odors of incoming wastes, and thus goes around the cycle again for further breakdown. There will be a certain amount of noncompostable materials, such as plastic from diapers. The plastics will have been shredded in the grinder, but do not decompose. They will be screened out and recycled as lowest-grade plastic, ground up and melted, and made into all kinds of consumer goods, including plastic lumber.
The community of Martha's Vineyard, with a year-round population of about 14,000, swelling to 90,000 in summer, could produce around 8,000 tons of compost per year, which would be highly beneficial for Vineyard gardens and landscapes. Sold at or below current market value of good compost, it could have a market value of about $1 million. This, together with dumping fees, would more than cover the cost of capitalization and operation. This money would recirculate within our community instead of being bled off?island to pay for incineration, septage and sludge treatment, and for imported humus and compost. The income from the sale of compost and the fees for dumping the organic wastes and the septage (which could both be lower than current rates) could make such an operation a profitable business.

There are Dumpsters or trailers for dumping category No.3, the TRASH. This remainder will amount to less than 10 percent of the waste stream, and because it will contain no toxic materials, it can be safely landfilled on the island, thus eliminating the need for trucking off-island.

Category No.4, HAZARDOUS WASTES, goes into a secure, fireproof concrete and steel building with leakproof floor. The building contains rows of steel shelves, bins and drums for storing the sorted and indexed toxic wastes. Here leftover paints, screened and mixed into pleasing colors, screened thinners, and anything else useful, can be picked up at low cost. All toxic materials are closely monitored and safely stored. Some gets shipped off, but only if a dependable, safe, nonpolluting processing facility can be found.

Category No.5, REUSABLES, are kept well organized in yet another area for community exchange. Here is another large building with shelves, tables and bins for sorting and organizing clothes, blankets, curtains, furniture, books, appliances, electronics, tools and gadgets, sewing and hobby stuff. Children's books, toys, furniture and clothes are in an enclosed area in one corner of the building, which also opens onto an enclosed outdoor area. Here children can safely play while parents browse.
An area adjacent to this building is available for weekend flea markets. Unsold items can be left at the Reuse Center.
Also adjacent is an expansive outdoor area, some of it under roof, for all kinds of reusable construction materials, well organized. Unseparated loads are weighed and charged fees sufficient to cover the salaries of the staff required to do the separation and organizing. No charge is levied on properly separated and placed stuff. Categories include: reusable lumber, kindling wood, particle board and plywood, Sheetrock, insulation, doors and windows, stoves, refrigerators, bathtubs and sinks, and so forth. There is no more requirement for time-consuming and wasteful breakup of lumber into pieces less than 4 feet long, no more need to pay $100 per ton or more to ship and tip at the off-island incinerator, no more wasting thousands of dollars' worth of reusable building materials, no more expensive trucking of reusable appliances, bathtubs and sinks off-island for disposal.

This same system of collection and processing can be set up in cities and communities across the nation and would result in about 90 percent recycling, preventing needless pollution of air and water, destruction and depletion of trees, oil, aluminum, tin, and so forth. It would also create many jobs and improve the economy. And it would even make life more convenient and fun.



When I was a child growing up in Sweden I could get anywhere I wanted to go via buses, trams, trolleys or trains. They were frequent, well coordinated and on-time, and because they were mostly electric, they were clean and quiet. Public transportation was much used because very few people had cars.

In Curitiba, Brazil, the city's dynamic mayor, Jamie Lerner, decided something had to be done about the miserable congestion and pollution caused by thousands of cars and buses. With skillful planning and amazingly fast implementation, he created what is probably the most efficient urban transportation system in the world. One of the most important keys to its success is the loading system. People pay at automatic stiles as they enter loading shelters at every bus stop, much like subways. Thus, the buses progress very rapidly. The system is affordable and much used, and has drastically reduced traffic congestion and pollution. This system is described in detail in Bill McKibben's excellent book, HOPE, Human and Wild.

The following is a proposal for a public transportation system for Martha's Vineyard, adaptable to any other community. This system has been developed through many years of research, as well as contemplating what kind of public transportation system would make me choose not to use my car.
The system consists of three main components:
1. Electric vans to run every 5 to 20 minutes, or as frequently as demand dictates, in several connecting loops that cover most of the island. Battery recharge terminals, powered primarily by banks of photovoltaic panels, to be located at the various island landfill sites, which also happen to emit methane gas that can be burned to supplement the solar power (this would also help prevent global warming).
2. Turnoff-pickup spots to be located approximately every quarter to half mile, each with a small shelter with maps and a change machine. The charge is $1, less for the young, the old and those with special needs.
3. As an auxiliary to the vehicles that are dedicated specifically for public transportation, there will be a system whereby anyone can apply to become a permitted pickup vehicle. Thus, Jane Doe can have her vehicle approved, registered and clearly marked as being available to pick up riders. You might call it a licensed hitchhiking system. Jane Doe sees a person signaling at a turnoff, and, if she wants to, swings in to pick up. She gets a dollar per ride, more if she is willing to go out of her way.

If such a transporation system were in place, I would often choose not to use my own car, but would instead prefer to walk down the neighborhood driveway and then to the nearest pickup-turnoff. This system also calls for narrow walking paths meandering through the woods and fields along the roadside. Sometimes I would even prefer to walk a mile or more before stopping for pickup.
I believe that such a public transportation system would be cost-effective for users. It would be convenient because there would be many pickup locations and frequent pickups. It would significantly reduce downtown traffic congestion, and I wouldn't be surprised if closer scrutiny would reveal that it could also be a break-even, or better, regional municipal service, perhaps even a profitable private business.

Let us never forget:
We Have a Choice.

Let us never forget:
In Our Every Deliberation,
We Must Consider the Impact of Our Decisions on the Next Seven Generations

Please click any of the links below to view a chapter of the Solviva book:

Table of Contents
Some current realities
A visit to Solviva
How I got on the path of seeking better ways to live...
Wastewater Management
Greyburg or Greendale: where would you rather live?


How to contact Anna Edey, Solviva, Trailblazer Press:
18 Solviva Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
Tel: (508) 693-3341- - Cell phone: (774) 563-0898 - - Fax: (508) 693-2228
e-mail:, website:

AND, as of January 2014, at Blog/Website: