I, too, have felt the need to question the direction that technology is taking us – to take a stand against the ever-increasing use of machines (especially of robotics) that are designed to remove humans from creative and productive work.
I am “off the grid” in my shop and could, with enough solar panels and batteries, have all the power tools that most grid-tied shops enjoy. However, I feel strongly that without a change from our present growth-above-all mandate, we cannot reach a sustainable balance on earth, no matter how many wind generators or photovoltaic cells are employed. As right as it seems to embrace “green energy,” a field of solar panels is not as beautiful as a field of daisies, and a horizon of wind generators can never rival that of maples and evergreens. To be truly sustainable, our switch to renewable energy must be accompanied by a reduction in the energy we use at the present time.
The intermediate technology employed in my shop is part of my search for techniques and technologies that reduce fossil fuel use, yet still allow me to turn out a product that is competitive in the marketplace. It will be better still if that technology also improves my work environment or enables me to have a closer bond with tools and materials.
–Harry Bryan, excerpt from “Intermediate Technology in the Shop: Inspiration from E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful” in Issue Eight