Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Nature's Alchemy will take good care of you!

When I was a young adult, there was a wonderful and slightly mysterious place in the middle of the woods on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, called the New Alchemy Institute. And one of the slightly magical buildings they had on their grounds was a greenhouse unlike any greenhouse you've probably ever been in. It's a greenhouse where dirty water (sewage) goes in one end, and clean water for drinking and anything else, comes out the other end. And in the middle there is a wh*** lot of life!

Plants, fish, organic soil, and algae are all working together as a team to remove the toxins from your water, and make it clean and shiny for you. And they do it voluntarily, for free. You just need to make sure they have whatever resources they need to do their job, of course.

(And the New Alchemy "magicians" are not just brilliant at coming up with solutions to use nature to clean water, but John Todd from the New Alchemy Institute, also was also the winner of the very first Buckminster Fuller Challenge a couple of years ago, for his project to use the soil to clean the air and reverse environmental degregdation caused by coal mining in the Appalacian Mountains of the Eastern US.)

John Todd and some of his cohorts can now be found at Ocean Arks International.
His innovative design business is found at John Todd Ecological Design
A teaching curriculum book for his water treatment technique is called The ECO Machine
A magazine article on the water treatment process with lots of pretty pictures is at Inhabitat.com
And general information on the New Alchemy Institute, including a lot of old publications, is available at the Green Center.
(And that tiny photo at the top of this post is the actual greenhouse that was at the NAI when I visited so long ago, and is from a website called Marshome.org that seems to be down at the moment.)

And this kind of knowledge is valuable no matter where you live, because even most wealthy nations have toxic water, filled with industrial waste (that can't be filtered out with chemical treatment), debatable chemical additives (like chlorine), and, increasingly, pharmaceutical drugs. So finding ways to use rainwater and clean greywater, and even "blackwater" (sewage) in your own neighborhood is clearly a really good idea!

Views: 59

Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on March 25, 2010 at 11:23pm
Thanks for the update on what John Todd of the New Alchemy Institute is doing now! I never got to see one of their 'arcs' but I was a member for many years, and I had their book.
Comment by Daniel LaLiberte on March 27, 2010 at 1:33am
I got a chance to see the New Alchemy Institute, around 1978 I think. I'd forgotten the name until you mentioned it. Sad to hear they are no longer an institute, though their info lives on and the people are still active.
Comment by Massive Attack on March 30, 2010 at 3:06pm
, excellentAh yes a form of aquaculture it sounds like


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