Drought of 2018 or how I joined politics

Completely wet summer of 2017 and completely dry summer of 2018 prove the reality of climate change. In order to grow something we had to intensively water the crops and cover them with plastic film. Plastic film is against my principles, but I must admit that it helps to prevent moisture to evaporate away from the soil. I know that mulch works in similar way, but it is far more work.

I am quite convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, in particular – use of fossil fuels and materials made of crude oil, including plastic. We must use more and more technology to deal with climate change consequences which is like trying to stop the fire by blowing on it. And only human activity can stop climate change. By activity I also mean social activity. It is nice that some hipsters move to the country to radically change their impact on environment, but there is little effect of such a small number of lonely individuals on small properties surrounded by deserts of industrial farming and deforestration.

That’s why I decided that it is necessary to speak in public on ecology. So I decided to join a political party Progressives http://www.progresivie.lv, which represents a social democrat and young green movement in the country founded in 2017. I even managed to become a political candidate for parliament elections this year. I was aware that my chances of getting a seat in the parliament were too little, but I felt that I must act somehow, anyhow. We gathered ~20000 votes, which is ~2,5% of all votes, not bad, but not enough to reach the 5 % barrier in order to gain places in parliament. That means no ecological thought in Latvian parliament until 2022. I had 320 pluses (when people mark for priority within a list of candidates), and this is far more than a lonely forest creature like me expected.

United Nations promise us climate catastrophe after 12 years unless we start significant action now in 2018. But there will be no significant action in Latvia for one third of this time.

So who won and how people voted? Leaders always were promoscow party “Unison/Agreement” (Soglasiye or Tsentr Soglasiya, they prefer to translate their name as Harmony, which in my opinion is incorrect russian-english translation), they get the most votes. Fortunately this year they got one seat less than before, because of some separatism resulting in creation of another Russian party which did not manage the 5% but still chopped of ~3 % of votes. Second and third places were taken by two “anticorruption” parties – emotional demagogues http://www.KPV.LV and more pragmatic conservatives http://www.konservativie.lv. The rest of the votes went to different branches of soviet communist party which collapsed in 90’s but still managed to rule the country until today by pretending to be liberals. Only ~54% of population participated in elections in 2018.

How did I participate?

Joining a political party nowadays can be done online. This is good and I wish that we could vote online one day, too.

First, I developed ideas and published them on my facebook page, I introduced progressives party logo on my facebook profile picture. Second, organic bread campaign. Third, 5% barrier campaign.
My main ideas that I want to introduce to the government are better opportunities for ecological individuals, free public transport, change of farming practices to organic with goal 100% bio-certified, that is all farming lands in Latvia, better opportunities for people to manage their waste.

What can be done for better opportunities for ecological individuals? I though, for this an eco-NGO incubator would be necessary – a place, government institution with set of building and some land, that would help individuals to come together and cross the bureaucracy barriers – tax management, bookkeeping and application writing to receive a support from government programmes and other funds. Eco-NGO examples are independent school founder parents NGO and the resulting independent schools with emphasis on nature education, direct buying group, vegan food farming and food storage, natural materials and traditional crafts, recycling and repair center and free shop, tools library and more. So I spread over social networks an idea that such eco-NGO incubator agency is necessary.

Free public transport. It already is reality in Estonia. Only thing is, that it is limited to Tallinn city and some regions, and only to registered citizens of respective regions. I think that there are no schemes necessary that discriminate people. We need to get people off the cars, so nationwide free public transport is necessary. And it is not only about removing expensive e-tickets systems, control, discount and finance management, but also improving bus routes.

100% organic farming. We need to stop using toxic pesticides. There is no more time to discuss, research and prove how destructive industrial farming is. In October two famous young Latvians died of cancer – Valters Frīdenbergs and Toms Lipskis. Crowd-funding websites are full of calls to help people gather huge sums of money for cancer treatment. 30 year olds die of cancer, this is reality, but youth and cancer does not go together. There is a reason why cancer develops and it can be prevented. If farming machinery offers many opportunities for plowing and cultivating the land, then it should not be necessary to use herbicides in 21st century. The problem is that farmers are farming large areas today and especially in climate change conditions it becomes difficult to work with land on time. It is necessary to introduce free organic farming higher education and give young people opportunities to start the farms. Government should take over bankrupted farms instead of letting the banks to take the land. Then land of the farms should be separated in smaller areas, small enough to manage without pesticides, and give these areas to young farmers. Another problem is lack of plant varieties with good taste, because nowadays farms trend to produce larger fruits with bigger yields. More support is necessary for breeding institutes and seed banks in order to restore old breeds. No more support should be granted for large farms and pesticide use. I presented this idea by offering organic bread from http://www.cesumaize.lv to the people and explaining the situation, that mostly farmers choose to grow grain with higher yield but less taste, so called animal feed grain. Such grain cannot make a good bread. Only few farmers specialize on bread grain varieties and government should indicate on products what variety of the grain is used for food or what variety of cows or other animals is used for milk, eggs and other animal products. People did not care about politics as much as where can they buy this bread.

Better opportunity for people to manage waste. This is important topic outside of the city where people choose to burn their trash or dump it in the nature. Some of my neighbours confessed that their relatives in towns bring trash to the country, i.e., furniture, construction waste and fabric, to be burnt on a fireplace. People in the country do not know the difference of natural and synthetic fabrics and burn both without realizing that synthetic fabrics, i.e. polyester, polyamide, acrilic fabrics are producing dioxines and furanes if burnt in low temperatures. Many people do so with plastic package. Government should provide a place where people can bring their trash to be given away mostly for free and this trash must be managed for recycling instead of burning or burying. I especially think that a good start would be giving more recylcling opportunities for ecology individuals that wish to sort their trash. There are also many individuals that collect trash on everyday basis by plogging and they should be granted opportunity to give this trash away for free.

Elections are over. What now?
Now we continue a campaign. I’m still posting “smart” comments on facebook posts. After elections progressives party received a new wave of entrance applications. Many people did not know of progressives on election day. And I must develop my farm and use it to give opportunities to people. During “bread campaign” people asked me if I am baking. So for next elections I must bake myself instead of ordering from far away. And people want bread baked in bread oven heated by firewood, not electricity. Besides bread baking I must develop permaculture garden. People do not believe in words anymore, they believe in what you can produce. I bought 2000W electric cultivator to speed up my work with land, and I found out about seeds of geographically local vegetable breeds sold in Estonia with mark “Eesti sort”, german handplow made by FHS Friedrichstal, a gift by Betuwe Wereldwijd , has very much improved gardening by enabling easy forming of high beds, and there is significant help from wwoofers, so I must be able to grow more next year. I still hope to acquire more land to expand pastures for the sheep and horses. I had to give up the cows. It was not the right breed and also not the right time to take them, however a new experience is never a shame.

As a conclusion I will tell a story. After elections, when I already voted for myself, huh, I stopped by at second hand shop to see if there is some old stuff. I usually have a good eye for ecological garments, which is a rarity, but yes, this time there was Earth Collection jacket for sale. A light color. Previously I wore a black jacket of the same brand. So I decided to buy this light color jacket to change the mood. For a more light colored future. Good luck to you everyone! The change to a better world lies in the change of our own selves.

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Kandidēju 13.Saeimas vēlēšanās. Mani priekšlikumi partijas “Progresīvie” vides programmas īstenošanai.

Cienījamie Latvijas Republikas pilsoņi! Esmu nolēmis piedalīties Saeimas vēlēšanās, lai gūtu iespēju cīnīties par iedzīvotāju interesēm bioloģiski audzētas vietējas veģetārās pārtikas jomā, atkritumu un dabas piesārņojuma mazināšanas, ekokopienu, alternatīvo skolu, amatniecības, tradicionālās (senas) kultūras un bezmaksas sabiedriskā transporta jomās. Esmu vairāk aprakstījis savas ieceres iepriekšējos paziņojumos zemāk šajā lapā. Ja Jums šīs idejas šķiet saistošas, lūdzu, nobalsojiet Saeimas vēlēšanās par partiju Progresīvie. Ja Jūs vēlaties, lai tieši es pārstāvu šīs idejas, kā arī partijas programmā ietvertās, tad par mani ir iespējams nobalsot Vidzemes vēlēšanu apgabalā. Novēlu, lai Jūsu lēmums rada Latvijā labas pārmaiņas.

 

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PAR AIZLIEGUMU LIETOT PESTICĪDUS APDZĪVOTO LAUKU MĀJU TUVUMĀ

Šobrīd gatavoju šādu iniciatīvu portālā manabalss.lv. Iniciatīva ir reģistrēta, bet vēl nav publicēta un tās tekstu ir iespējams precizēt. Lūdzu, ja jums ir idejas, kā to uzlabot, vai esat pamanījuši kādu nepilnību, rakstiet man. Šī iniciatīva man personīgi nepieciešama, jo jau 6 gadus manā dzīvesvidē nonāk pesticīdi un tagad arī mani bērni tiek tam pakļauti. Es vienkārši gribu kaut nelielā mērā pasargāt savus mazos un attālināt miglošanu prom par vienu kilometru no mūsu mājas sienām. Redzu soctīklos, ka arī citi iedzīvotāji ir sašutuši par miglošanu. Mani šobrīd interesētu viedoklis, vai būtu nepieciešams papildināt tekstu ar grozījuma projektu likumā “Par piesārņojumu” (tur ir jēdziens Īpaši jūtīgas teritorijas, bet pagaidām tas attiecas tikai uz nitrātiem).

Iepriekš paldies! Zemāk ir iniciatīvas teksts:


PAR AIZLIEGUMU LIETOT PESTICĪDUS APDZĪVOTO LAUKU MĀJU TUVUMĀ
Iniciatīva tiks iesniegta Latvijas Republikas Saeimā

Ko un kādēļ vēlies mainīt?

Lai pasargātu laukos dzīvojošo personu veselību ir jāaizliedz lietot pesticīdus viņu dzīvesvietu tuvumā. Nosacītais kompromisa attālums būtu 1 kilometrs, kas ļaus ievērojami samazināt kaitīgo vielu ieelpošanas risku, kā arī to nonākšanu dzeramajā ūdenī un uz piemājas dārzu kultūrām.

Piedāvātais risinājums?

Aizsargjoslu likums ir jāpapildina ar normu, kas aizliedz lietot pesticīdus 1 km rādiusā ap vietu, kur kaut vienai personai ir deklarēta dzīvesvieta. Lauku atbalsta dienesta Elektroniskajā pieteikšanās sistēmā ir jāveic uzlabojumi, kas ļaus lauksaimniekiem redzēt platības (apļus) ap deklarētām dzīvesvietām. Datu iegūšanai varētu izmantot Iedzīvotāju reģistra datus. Valsts augu aizsardzības dienests, Lauku atbalsta dienests, Valsts vides dienests un paši iedzīvotāji seko līdzi likuma izpildei no lauksaimnieku puses.

Kāds būs ieguvums?

Samazināsies riski, ko personu veselībai var radīt pesticīdi un to atliekvielas. Samazināsies grūtniecības anomāliju skaits laukos dzīvojošām sievietēm. Netiks pasliktināta laukos dzimušo bērnu ģenētika jeb samazināsies pesticīdu ietekme uz laukos dzīvojošo jauno vecāku dzimumšūnām. Samazināsies diskomforts un stress, ko rada dzīvesvietu tuvumā lietotiem pesticīdiem raksturīgā “dedzinātas plastmasas” smaka, kas mēdz saglabāties pat līdz trim nedēļām no miglošanas brīža. Uzlabosies bioloģiski sertificētas produkcijas kvalitāte, ja to ražo maza saimniecība, kas ir intensīvo lauksaimniecību platību ieskauta.

Iniciatīvas kopsavilkums

Lai pasargātu laukos dzīvojošo personu veselību, ir jāaizliedz lietot pesticīdus 1 km rādiusā ap viņu dzīvesvietām. Lauksaimniekus par deklarētām dzīvesvietām un aizliegumu ir jāinformē ar LAD EPS.

Iniciatīvas aicinājums

Noteiksim aizsargjoslu ar aizliegumu lietot pesticīdus kaimiņu laukos ap savām sētām un dzimtas mājvietām!

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Review on head flashlight Yarky Luch LH-150A “Shahter” and DP-LED789

Farm with animals in regions closer to poles requires artificial light. Last winter I used mobile phone led, that was better than usual flashlights. This winter I decided that I want even more, so I bought a head flashlights with accus.

First I bought LH-150A in internet. I bought it accidentally, because if I knew that it was Yarky Luch russian design/made in china, I wouldn’t order. Internet shop did not have it displayed correctly. I could return it but postal expenses are more than the price of an item. I also skipped the part that accu is outside of torch and it is lead instead of lithium ion, which makes it very uncumfortable and ineffective. The weakest point is a connector to accu – it moves and the light blinks and goes off. I managed to fasten it with some rubber, but it did not solve the problem completely. I had Yarky Luch simple rechargeable lithium ion flashlight before, but it did not last, so I would suggest to buy their products only if you don’t need to use flashlight often. I need a led torch every day that is why I had to try another one.

Next one that I got was chinese DP LED-789. It was just what I needed – built in LiIon accu, long lasting and intensive light, but when colder weather came, then one of wires got detached because of temperature change while I was adjusting an angle of the light. So I had to take unlucky Yarky Luch again, but on the next day it had the same problem. This defect appeared only three months after I bought these lamps. Luckily I can do some soldering and Yarky Luch was easy to fix, as it always is with russian design things. DP was built more complicated and I didn’t know where exactly the wire had to be attached. I was just putting the wire here and there, getting smoke and sparks, until I had a contact, so I soldered it there, now it works again.

I must conclude, that I do not suggest to buy Yarky Luch LH-150A “Shahter” and DP-LED789. They might be cheap, but it is a wasted money, because they will not last. Here are some pictures and I hope this information helps you to avoid unsuccessful shopping.

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Mani priekšlikumi Skola2030

https://www.skola2030.lv/apspriesana

Iesniedzu šādus priekšlikumus (sk.zemāk). Noteikti iesniegšu vēl citus, bet vēlāk. Dokumentu pakete tur ir diezgan apjomīga un teksts ne vienmēr konkrēts.

Sadaļā tikumi papildināt ar vērtību – vide. Jo vērtība “daba” attiecas tikai uz vidi ārpus apdzīvotas vietas, taču ir svarīga arī vide mājās, apģērbs, ēdiens, elektromagnētiskā vide (starojumi no elektroierīcēm) u.t.t.. Tikumus papildināt ar “taupība – vērīga attieksme pret dabas un finanšu resursiem un izpratne par to, ka pārlieku izšķērdība noved pie priekšlaicīga resursu trūkuma kā arī dabas piesārņojuma”.

1.6.1. Mācīšanās iedziļinoties
Teikumu “Mācīšanās iedziļinoties pieejas īstenošanai skolā ir izveidota atbilstoša mācību vide –” papildināt ar šādu vides aprakstu: “nodrošina skolēnu atbilstoši tā interesēm ar iespēju iepazīties ar darbarīkiem, darba iekārtām, mūzikas instrumentiem un tml. kā arī tos lietot un lietošanas prasmes attīstīt individuālā darbā savā personīgajā mācību vietā/stūrītī.

Rindkopā “Lai mācību procesā skolēnam dotu iespēju iedziļināties, skolu darbā nepieciešams mainīt uzsvarus:” attiecīgos teikumus (sakrīt pirmie vārdi) iesaku izteikt šādi:
– no gatavu zināšanu nodošanas un atprasīšanas uz zināšanu iegūšanu atbilstoši situācijai izmantojot informācijas avotus (drukātas enciklopēdijas, vārdnīcas un grāmatas un elektroniskās datubāzes, audioerakstus, foto, video un cita veida datus) un iegūto zināšanu tulītēju analīzi un praktisku pielietošanu reālai dzīvei atbilstoša rezultāta sasniegšanai.
– no frontāla procesa uz individuālu darbu ar katru skolēnu, kā arī veicināt skolēnu mācību darba grupu veidošanos.
– no primāri summatīvās vērtēšanas uz līdzdalības mācību procesā vērtēšanu un intereses vērtēšanu uz attiecīgo priekšmetu vai moduli.

Rindkopu
“Skolēna mācīšanās rezultāts ir patiesa izpratne un lietpratība tad, ja skolotājs:”
papildināt ar šādu punktu:
– izzina un novērtē skolēna intereses un vajadzības un attiecīgi pielāgo mācību saturu, procesu un vidi.
– izzina skolēna ģimenes apstākļus, vidi, ģimenes locekļu nodarbošanos, intereses, reliģisko piederību un cenšas pielāgot mācību saturu, lai skolēns tiktu integrēts ģimenes dzīvē.
– cenšas paplašināt skolēna interešu loku, sniedzot viņam informāciju (video, foto, stāsti, ekskursijas) par pēc iespējas vairāk dzīves jomām.
– mācās pats, paralēli darbam skolā strādājot attiecīgam mācību priekšmetam atbilstošā profesijā.

3.4. Skolēnu sasniegumu vērtēšana pamatizglītībā
Lieliska ir ideja par summatīvās vērtēšanas daļēju aizstāšanu ar formatīvo. Mans redzējums par formatīvo vērtēšanu ir šāds: vērtēt vēlams vienīgi skolnieka līdzdalības pakāpi mācību stundā, tas ir, vai skolnieks pilda dotos uzdevumus vai nē, vai izrāda pašiniciatīvu informācijas meklēšanā, vai skolēnam rodas idejas un jautājumi saistībā ar mācību vielu, vai skolēns izvēlas darboties ar attiecīgo mācību saturu arī ārpus stundām. Bez līdzdalības tiek vērtētas arī skolnieka intereses un attiecīgi tiek plānots mācību darbs. Diagnosticējošo vērtēšanu es neatbalstu. Uzskatu, ka labs pedagogs var neformāli bez īpašas diagnosticēšanas redzēt, kas notiek ar bērnu.

4. IZGLĪTĪBAS SATURA PLĀNOŠANAS PRINCIPI VIDĒJĀ IZGLĪTĪBĀ
Man ir ne visai saprotama iecere likt skolēnam izvēlēties priekšmetu apgūšanu pamatlīmenī, optimālajā un augstākajā līmenī. Ja skolēnam vidējās izglītības laikā mainās intereses, vai, kā tas visbiežāk notiek, pēc augstskolas pirmā kursa, tad nevajadzētu radīt situāciju, ka skolēns ir apguvis pamatlīmenī kādu priekšmetu, kas ir nepieciešams augstākajā līmenī, lai varētu iestāties citā, ar jaunu interesi saistītā augstskolas fakultātē. Vērtīgāk būtu visus priekšmetus pasniegt vienā līmenī, skolēnam atļaujot izvēlēties, kurš priekšmets ir galvenais, bet kuri ir tam pakārtoti. Šada pieeja gan prasītu ciešu sadarbību starp skolotājiem, kā arī krietni lielāku nodrošinājumu ar mācību līzekļiem (mācību grāmatām, piemēram, angļu valoda matemātikas profilkursam).

4.2. Individualizētas skolēna programmas nosacījumi vidējā
izglītībā
Iecere, ka “Skolēns 10. klasē izvēlas, kurus priekšmetus apgūs tikai pamatlīmenī, bet kurus – optimālajā vai augstākajā līmenī, ievērojot šādus nosacījumus.” ir laba, bet vērtīgāka būtu šāda iecere: “Skolēns 10.klasē izvēlas, kuri priekšmeti ir vadošie (augstākajā līmenī) un kuri ir pakārtoti vadošo priekšmetu mācību saturam (pamat un optimālajā līmenī). Ievērojot skolēna izvēli pakārtoto priekšmetu skolotāji izvēlas tādus mācību materiālus un uzdevumus, kas veicina vadošo priekšmetu satura apgūšanu. Piemēram, ja vadošais ir angļu valoda, bet matemātika nav vadošais, tad matemātikā tiek doti uzdevumi angļu valodā. Otrādi, ja matemātika ir vadošais, bet angļu valoda ir pakārtots, tad angļu valodas stundās tiek doti ar matemātiku saistītie teksti.

Ceru, ka izmaiņas izglītības sistēmā sāks notikt ātrak par 2030.gadu.

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Why to create ecovillage and ecocommunity?

I previously published a call to create an ecocommunity by commonly purchasing land in Alūksne area, Latvia and dividing it among participants according to contribution. One of acquaintances responded with a question “Why would anyone buy land just because you live in that area?

I would like to rephrase this question:

Why is it necessary for ecological individuals to live close to each other?

The answer to this question is simple – united we stand, divided we fall. Ecovillage is necessary for members of ecocommunity to join forces in reaching common goals. Imagine two situations. First situation is divided ecocommunity where its’ members own 20 hectares each and are located 20 km from each other. Second situation is ecocommunity where all members and their land pieces are united in a larger piece of land with average distance of only 1 km among homes.

Creating a large ecologically clean and biodiverse area – ecosystem.
My family owns 70 hectares of land. That is more than average in the country. However it is not enough to protect from the rest of consumerist-industrial world. These 70 hectares are surrounded by thousands of hectares sprayed with toxic chemicals and thousands of hectares of clear-cut forest areas. My drinking water is most likely polluted with herbicides and other agrochemicals and there is not so much of scenery left to look at. Bypassing cars are dropping trash at the road, not just accident cigarette packages, but bags full of different package. Overall situation is depressive no matter how ecological I am. But if I lived at least on the edge of a large ecovillage, then at least in one direction I could look and see something beautiful. There is a certification rule, that organic farmer may not harvest up to 10 meters away from the border of his land and land of his intensive neighbour. Organic beekeeping requires that bees do not collect honey from fields of intensive agriculture. Latvian beekeepers have discovered that bees can fly 7 km to intensive rapeseed producers plantations and collect nectar from there. That means, organic beekeeping is only possible in the middle of a 10 square kilometers ecovillage. Such a large ecovillage would have only forests with selective cuts or even more – only fallen trees would be taken. And of course, no pesticides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilizers and zero waste policy excluding possibility of plastic bags and bottles flying around. Members of ecocommunity can be sure that the groundwater is safe and honey does not contain traces of agrochemicals.

Visiting each other.
To drive, or not to drive. That is the question. And believe me, if ecovillage manages to expand up to 10 square kilometers, some members will still choose to drive these at least 10 km from one edge of the village to another. 10 km bicycleride will take 40 minutes for average person with a load. Now imagine there is no ecovillage and you must drive 20 km to visit your closest econeighbour or 200 to your furthest. You may ask, why do we need to visit each other?

Helping each other.
This is why members of ecocommunity must visit each other even if they are not close friends. Need help to build a barn from logs or lift a heavy stone? On Saturday or even Sunday community will come together as volunteers to help those in need.

Cooperation in production.
Imagine ten small farmers with their grain fields. Everyone needs a grain harvester, grain storage, a mill, maybe even a bakery and a car to deliver bread to town. That would be quite a budget. But they could actually put their finances together, attract some support from European or national government and obtain all those things and share them. Second example. Ten farmers, everyone has five cows. All together 50 cows. But all of them can share one machine to make cream and butter. They can even have one common milk cooling tank if they sell milk to a company outside of ecovillage. The best example would be with garment produciton. Everyone could grow their own hemp on their own fields, but threshing the seeds, extracting the fibre and further processing could be organized in one workroom. And of course industrial hemp growers permit could be obtained one for all (in Latvia any kind of hemp is forbidden to grown unless special administrative procedure is passed that proves hemp doesn’t produce THC).

Trade and exchange of goods.
Would you like to have your share in ecoshop where you could not only sell, but also buy? Not a problem if there is a large ecovillage! Everyone puts his share of money, or land, building or work to set up a warehouse and marketplace. You just bring your goods to your corner and leave a pricelist and box for money. And of course anyone could serve community hours (i.e. 5 hours a week) as a shopkeeper.

Organic canteen.
One reason to live in ecocommunity is opportunity to create an ecological canteen. You would like to eat organic, but would prefer to concentrate on your work instead of shopping and food preparation? It is very important if you are an artist painting Mona Lisa or engineer in the middle of discovery of a new source of energy. Then you can contribute your finances or work in to organic canteen, where you can come and eat food prepared by professional cook from ingredients obtained in ecovillages’ warehouse.

Interaction with society.
If you have a candle, you put it on the table, not under it. Be the light of the world! As separated ecoactivists we are just esoterics and crazy fanatics in the eyes of consumerist society. They just don’t understand what are we doing and why. Because they don’t notice our small corners. If united, then any person can visit all the ecofreaks at once and see what an outstanding social system and ecosystem can be created. Society will see that we are not a sect, but quite opposite, we are open to the world and we want to make contribution to everyone’s welfare. Then the world might understand the difference between consumerist lifestyle and permaculture and notice benefits. And permaculture design can only be well observed if applied on large scale. Some species require large spaces to exist. People will see the nature in the hands of ecocommunity, that it is diverse, it is not overwhelmed by concrete, plastic and household chemistry. Nature can interact with people. Visitors will question their old values and habits then, and maybe join us or start another ecovillage somewhere, where there is still opportunity to buy land.

Starting an NGO.
Having NGO is especially good to organize common property. It will enable ecocommunity to buy common land that will be used for common facilities, i.e. alternative school, repair cafe, warehouse, natural reserve, sanctuary and so on. NGO is an opportunity to manage donations and volunteers. NGO can serve as a medium between individuals of ecocommunity and society. NGO is expensive to use and difficult to manage if it’s participants are separated by large distances.

Influence on decision making and support from local government.
Divided ecocommunity is not sharing one local government. They are spread among many administrative regions and they are incapable to influence any of them as a group.  Instead of being many unnoticed minorities in many administrative regions ecological people could be an organized interested group in one region. United ecocommunity can make a difference. They can even assign a representative to participate in municipal elections and with enough extra votes, which in case of Alūksne region is at least 150, ecocommunity can have their representative as a deputy of local government.

Alternative school.
Ecocommunity will have children. Ecological lifestyle, zero waste and permaculture principles usually are not included into public education. Public schools require vaccinations which are often not accepted by ecological families due to health risks posed by aluminum or quicksilver. Public schools in Latvia are mostly teaching encyclopedic information and very little skills. Public schools usually do not offer vegetarian food, and if they do, they do it by excluding meat from the dish without replacing it i.e. with beans or peas. Public schools rarely offer organic food to children, and if they do, then it is usually only potatoes, carrots, beetroot and apples. Public schools usually are built without use of ecological materials. Buildings are insulated with plastic, including plastic windows, resulting in little ventilation. Public schools will be most likely located far away from country home. Living in ecovillage gives it’s participants an opportunity to create their own school and solve these issues. Support from government is necessary to pay salary to teachers thus providing jobs for members of ecocommunity. To receive such support it is necessary to politically act as an organized group.

Lifelong learning center.
A place where adults can teach and learn. Most likely it will be integrated into alternative school. After graduating Alternative secondary school and entering a university, students can return on Saturdays where their former teachers will assist them in university matters like diploma paper or other type of scientific research. And of course graduates can always assist their former teachers in teaching of next generations. In other words, in ecocommunity you don’t really quit school after graduation. School is a community development center.

Zero waste center, Sustainable renovation center, Repair cafe.
Another warehouse where everyone can keep their unnecessary stuff and where everyone can search for free stuff. A place where there are containers for trash that can and cannot be recycled.

Library of books, tools and seeds.
This could be a good beginning for an alternative school. A library, where everyone could come and fetch some permaculture books, borrow a sewing machine, drill, welding tools, soldering iron or angle grinder etc. And a library where everyone could share and take seeds of carefully selected plant breeds.

Public transportation.
A common car that belongs to ecocommunity NGO. If you don’t want to own a car but you would like to borrow one time to time. A discussion group in internet could help organize people to drive together. Actually there can also be a trailer, a bus, a truck and a motorbike.

Creating religious parishes.
Usually people decide to be ecological because of respect towards the One who created this world and life on it. I suspect that significant part of ecocommunity might turn out to be religious and they might want to worship or pray together. This is another opportunity that is given by ecocommunity and cannot be exercised somewhere on a small oasis in the middle of GMO wheat desert.

Craftsmen center.
Ecocommunity is not only about growing organic food and tree hugging in a group. There are many crafts, that will be necessary to replace industrial design. Ecovillage will require blacksmith, carpenter, potter, weaver, tailor, shoemaker, baker and other types of craftsmen, most likely more than one from each. Besides warehouse for food, there could be a storage and sales room for what craftsmen produce.

Observatory.
There will not be excessive artificial lights in ecovillage. And the air will be cleaner. That means stargazing will be better possible than anywhere else. One of the facilities most likely integrated into alternative school will be observatory, where you can come and use a telescope in order to see if it is the right time for you to plant one crop or another.

Horse-riding trail

Statistics show, that modern world has much more horses than in the past, when they were the only mean of land transport, besides oxen, camels, donkeys and mules of course. In spite of that we do not see horses on the roads, except for Amish country in Ohio, United States, where there is even a special lane on the street. Hard surface is not the best for horses even with horseshoes, so you will not see a galloping Amish horserider there and anywhere else. Even country roads nowadays are suited for heavy vehicles, but stones on the surface is not the best option for animals. Horseriding trail requires sandy surface. If ecovillage has a lot of horse lovers, they might agree to join their properties with a horse riding trail. It will give opportunity to gallop and enjoy nature both for ecocommunity members and visitors. And visitors there will be, because there is lot of opportunities to horseride circles or inside a box, but there is actually almost no horseriding trails or parks where you could ride tens of kilometers without disturbing anyone and without being disturbed.

There are of course more reasons for ecology people to shorten distances between each other and cooperate. Please, comment if you know more. We are a new nation emerging out of a globalized world. Share this article if you can.

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Review on EBH341U Makita trimmer

I use Makita EBH341U trimmer (35cc 4-stroke engine), produced in 2014, to cut grass
and make hay 3 years since 2015, every year about 250 hours (25 hectares or about 50
acres), from end of May until beginning of October, so let me present you a review on
this tool. This review will not contain information about use of plastic strings as
cutting tools, because I don’t use them for “zero waste” ecology reasons. My cutting
height is about 10 cm above the ground to protect young rare plants, to avoid stones
and uneven ground and to exclude lower parts of plants in the hay. I was cutting
grass two seasons with 30 cm blade and one season with 35 cm blade. My climate is of
Baltic Sea Region, location – Latvia. Price of Makita ebh341u is up to 350 EUR.

Makita EBH431 trimmer has a standard use and a “lifehack” use, which significantly
improves it’s performance over users safety and canceling the warranty, which is not
valid for most important parts of the trimmer anyway. Standard use is 30 cm star
blade with blade guard. Lifehack use is removing the plastic blade guard, because
blade guard also serves as a mulching tool. Mulching requires extra power from your
trimmer, so if you remove blade guard, then this power is released, which means
trimmer cuts grass easier, with less engine rounds per minute and grass almost never
is stuck between the blade and the trimmer. More power and no blade guard means you
can afford a 35 cm blade (usually used on) to be installed instead of 30 cm blade.
Changing blades from 30 cm to 35 cm will double the work speed and increase power
that is applied towards grass, which is very important in beginning of autumn.

Trimmers with 4 stroke engines vs 2 stroke engines.
People say, that 4-stroke engines are more quiet compare to 2 stroke. I would rather
say that the noise of 4-stroke engine is of lower timbre than 2-stroke. But it is
still very loud and protective earphones are very necessary. 4-stroke engine of
course keeps the engine oil inside compare with 2-stroke, which is polluting the air,
therefore I must say that machines with 2-stroke engines should be given to museums
or to a scrap metal collectors. During these 3 years of very intensive use I never
experienced drop of oil level in the engine and that is a good indicator of quality.

Standard use (30 cm blade):
– inject gear grease after every 30 hours (3 hectares), run-in (first time when you
must discard engine oil, faster than usual) of engine is 5 hours.
– change motor oil 60 ml every 5 hectares.
– fuel consumption in July and August – 6 liters of gasoline per hectare.
– fuel tank 0,6 liters lasts from 45 minutes on high RPM up to 1 hour and 30 minutes
with low RPM, i.e. in the middle of June (northern hemisphere).

Lifehack use (35 cm blade and no blade guard)
– inject gear grease after every 30 hours (5 hectares),
– change motor oil 60 ml every 50 hours (10 hectares). I did not use 35 cm blade for
run-in of engine and maybe it is a good idea to use 30 cm blade with first 5 hours (5
or 6 fuel tanks) of work with trimmer.
– fuel consumption in June and July – 3 liters of gasoline per hectare.
– fuel tank 0,6 liters lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour. 35 cm blade is heavier and
consumes more fuel even with small RPM.

Damages during 3 years that I had:
1. Hip guard is rubbing the shaft surface. I solved the problem by attaching used
rubber, i.e. bicycle tire inner tubes in places of rubbing. It is also nice now to
transport trimmer by bicycle, because rubber is helping to put trimmer on bicycle
handle.

2. Handle broke after two years of use, but it’s construction gives opportunity to
fix the problem on site. The cracked place had to be put right in the middle of the
fastening bolt. No replacement was necessary and I keep on using the same handle ever
since, though I am more careful and do not allow myself very sharp moves in the
massive grass.

3. Mice chewed on gasoline hose. One night I left the trimmer in bushes and next
morning I discovered that mice made a hole in one of the hoses. It was possible to
fix the issue by cutting away the hose and pulling it a bit out of the gas tank. It
did not affect the working time because the gasoline hose is long. No replacement was
necessary.

4. Gear/head case should be inspected and cleaned from sand and grass. Otherwise sand
will ruin it and it will start to catch more and more grass until it will be
impossible to work. I had to order a new gear case for 70 EUR. I still use the old
one in June and July, when grass is soft and does not trend to wind around the gear
case. I also used the old gear case with the 20 cm saw blade to cut brush.

5.Star blade. If you plant to use trimmer also in August and September, you must
understand, that grass gets harder and harder with each day after summer solstice.
Usually cutting grass does not require sharpening the blade until the end of July
(northern hemisphere). Starting from August blade will require sharpening after every
4 engine tanks. I use 115 mm angle grinder to sharpen the blade. Instruction manual
says that you must do the sharpening at a specialized workshop – forget about it, it
is cheaper to sharpen yourself and get yourself a new blade as soon as it starts to
shrink in diameter. If you meet the big stone, see if you have vibrations afterwards
– if yes, then the blade is misshaped and needs to be replaced.

6. Strap belt hook got broken after 3 years of intensive use. I replaced it with a
usual medium size karabiner.

Other suggestions and notes:
I suggest you to own an extra new blade and compare it with the one that you use and
sharpen. As soon as the blade gets too small, then it will consume more time and fuel
to cut the grass. When I bought a trimmer, it was not supplied with 35 cm blade and
gear grease. Fortunately it was supplied with engine oil in 120 ml container, just
enough for run-in 5 hours and next 50 hours. So you might need extra engine oil. It
was not supplied with any ear and eye protection, so if you don’t have a helmet with
earphones and face net, then you will need it. These are things that you can order at
once together with Makita EBH341U trimmer. If you remove blade guard, splitters will
definitely fly at you, so you will need to put the trousers over the boots and wear
clothing that protects you from splitters and stones. Leather jacket will ease the
strap belt pressure on your shoulders. It is very important to regulate the strap
belt so that it is easy for you to swing the trimmer. For me keeping the straps as
tight as possible is the best solution. Spark plug is excellent – I still use the
original and never had to replace it during 3 years (750 hours). I am not the most
careful user and you must take into account that I met many objects with a blade,
even big unmovable stones, nevertheless trimmer still works fine. Vibrations – yes,
there are vibrations, especially I can feel them on the small rounds, and dotted
gloves help a bit.

In conclusion I must say that I am very happy to own Makita EBH341U trimmer and it is
a great helper in a small farm capable to replace a tractor. To be honest, it
actually saved my farm from bankruptcy. However I look forward to the new generation
of more ecological trimmers powered by electricity, not gasoline.

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