Joel draws on a deep well of experience (as an energy auditor, sustainable transport consultant, environmental educator among other things) which he combines with a rare knack for explaining technical issues in a clear and engaging way that cuts straight to the heart of matters. Joel has just finished owner-building his permaculture-designed property and strawbale house which features impressive passive cooling, heating lighting and water strategies, rocket stoves for heating and cooking, and a beautiful curved roofline that follows the path of the winter sun. When he’s not doing these things, Joel makes sculptures of steel and wood, runs cider workshops, is a cooker of food, an avid gardener, radio DJ and musician. Phew.
Tim has come a long way since his days as a diesel fitter mechanic and now spends his time between Australia and New Zealand as a semi-professional pyromaniac and mad scientist teaching people how to burn stuff and make really cool machines and devices for low carbon living. He currently teaches appropriate technology in Australia through courses on this website as well as the Koanga Institute in New Zealand.
He has previously been farm manager for the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, power station operator/mechanic, adventure guide and professional turtle wrestler. His rocket stove and char making powered hot water systems, ovens and cookers reflect his passion for elegant simple and durable combustion technologies, other projects include gravity powered water pumps, solar thermal cookers and dryers, pedal powered washing machines, cargo bikes, hovercraft, wooden boats and aquaponics to name a few. When he is not tinkering he can be found on Macleay island off the coast of Queensland Australia where he and his family live and are currently in the process of building a rammed earth house (with maybe a little sailing thrown in).
Dan Palmer and Adam Grubb
Very Edible Gardens (VEG) is a permaculture design, education and gardening company in Melbourne, Australia directed by Dan Palmer and Adam Grubb (pictured above with co-founder Nathan Edwards). We are using our networks and course facilitation skills to help Joel and Tim and our other collaborators share their passion, knowledge and skills. In addition to Alt-Tech Workshops we also run a small Wicking Beds business.
Our Approach / Philosophy
In addition to having fun sharing info and running workshops on alternative technology, we also want to inject more of the following flavours into the larger alternative technology movement:
- Though we’ll use the word while it is in currency, we’d like to see the term alternative eventually give way to appropriate. We believe the technologies we share need to be mainstream, not alternative or fringe, and they need to be appropriate in the sense of deeply relevant and suited to a given culture, climate and landscape. In other words – we are about appropriate technology solutions arising in context as opposed to being driven by images such as something someone saw in a magazine.
- We stress the general approach to making good decisions about appropriate technology rather than any specific technology – the fine art of navigating the technology solution space in a way appropriate for you. Part of this is learning how to use tools well so that you can do what needs to be done when it comes up including system troubleshooting and maintenance.
- We are about robust solid systems that work day on day, year after year – not novelty items that either fall apart a few weeks after the demonstration or that are used thrice a year (such as is the fate of many a pizza oven)
- We want to capture and share the sheer excitement of creating your own technology solutions and having a lot of fun!