Health and the Future of Factor e

Molly and I built a hand washing station and I put together a shower Factor e Farm. This post is an analysis of the sanitation issues rooted in geography, infrastructure, and human use following Christopher Alexander’s guidelines for design analysis.

All of Factor E Farm’s housing, work, and animal facilities have been constructed in the site’s flood plain among major runoff channels. The building zone was chosen for quick delivery and easy access by car rather than drainage. Development has continued under assumptions that the site is only temporary and that a whole new Solar Village will be built to replace the original site. This assumption depends on the tools and techniques under development.

Let’s look at the site:
runoff at factor e farm
At Factor e Farm, people, machines, and runoff share the same paths. There is a period of about 3 weeks in the spring and about 3 weeks in the fall when the walkways turn into mud. Factor e spreads straw on these paths to make them more easily walkable. The mud paths arise because the site is under construction.human traffic at factor e
The toilet contains a bucket for both urine and feces that is regularly emptied into a standard compost pile exposed to the elements.
waste and mud at factor e
The well is sited uphill of the waste runoff area. It is not dug below bedrock. Factor e did not test its own well, but a well on the same veins of water on the next-door property is safe to drink and free of agricultural runoff.

I am concerned that the conditions of Factor e’s present will get in the way of its future, and none of these dreams will be realized.


  1. Geoff

    In the third & second worlds lack of adequate sanitation is a very great issue, and one that I would have thought would be high up on the list of priorities to be tackled as a part of the Factor E project. Indeed, can any living arrangement be considered civilised if it does not encompass this most basic element of living?

    Further to that, our society’s greatest failing is lack of consideration for the environment. Part of social transformation would seem to be re-orienting priorities to ensure that the most valuable elements are placed foremost. By not caring for sanitation we’re not caring for the environment, therefore existing civilisation with it’s failings is being recreated, rather than new/modern civilisation being developed.

    If the aim of the project is to “transcend survival and evolve to freedom”, and to create a replicable global village, I for one would expect that priorities would be water, food and sanitation. Water and food seem to be covered, but from this post it seems sanitation is lacking.

    I’m not sure being a true fan gives any weight to my preferences, but I would hope that the resistance to improving conditions in this area would be reconsidered. An investment now in adequate *replicable* sanitation facilities would be of great value to many communities, and would be something they can reproduce with minimal investment in a short space of time, unlike a CEB press or LifeTrac.

    From personal experience, my family dislikes spending too long at our vacant block due to lack of useable facilities, so we achieve less than we possibly could. I’m sure the active volunteers there would become more numerous if essential facilities were improved, and that in turn would lead to greater and more rapid success on all the other projects.

    Whilst the end results of this project are of great importance, never forget that the journey is of immense value, as much as the destination.

  2. Richard Schulte

    Matthew- I will join you this summer in these efforts. We can source materials and raise a few hundred dollars if need be. I have been wanting to redesign the bathrooms and composting facilities for some time. They should have three large bins towards the front of the property, or off to the side away from runoff. They can take in large amounts of compostables and get a good operation going for gardens and orchards, maybe some biointensive beds? Dare i say?

    I liked your ideas for composting toilets, as well. I would be willing to source materials for that here in columbia and bring them out if necessary. It would so be worth it. I can probably find two steel drums if I had enough forenotice.

    Also, this and many other major problems could be solved by digging a few well placed swales on the hill. Im thinking 3 crosscutting, in the form of switchbacks. This is after looking at detailed hyrdologic maps of the property. I would be willing to measure this out and plan the project, though it would necessitate equipment rentals or a lot of use out of the lifetrac bucket to accomplish. As well, it would necessitate a large, well organized team of volunteers and some bulk seeds to plant out the edges to prevent erosion. However, it would be indispensible in building up groundwater resources through soaking, hampering the erosion of valuable topsoil by trapping sediment, and slowing down the speed of the non-point runoff as well.

    Also, a large, 1/2 acre or 1 acre pond about 30-50m above the garden would be magnificient and could have a very ecological overflow system to prevent further erosion. This would provide irrigation for the orchard and raised beds, as well as create a microclimate in time with enough established, healthy trees.

    As well, the goats need to be moved up the hill and rotated on a regular basis with mobile fencing during appropriate seasons. They should be kept to the east side of the property away from runoff towards living facilities whenever possible. Possibly a system could be set up with a fenced channel to channel them back towards a shed for the night, where the mobile fencing would always tangent this channel. This would make it easier to take them in but still allow them to move around through the meadows and not create runoff problems.

    Matthew – contact me at Richard dot J dot Schulte at gmail dot com.

  3. Kiashu

    Guys! Come on, sort your shit out – literally!

    As Geoff noted, if you want a truly useful model for an ecovillage, sanitation is one of the FIRST things you must address. People can do an awful lot without manufactures, they can’t do anything without clean drinking water, food and health.

    The whole project is about open source ecology. Part of ecology is that it’s a cycle; what’s waste for one thing is food for another thing. So that’s the approach you need to take with human waste – make it food for other things.

    There have been lots of approaches to this, but the simplest has been to separate faeces and urine, the urine can go directly onto compost or gardens as it’s sterile, the faeces need to be in a covered drum or pit with holes for gas venting but not allowing insects in, and “cook” for about 12 months to kill the harmful bacteria and allow breakdown of the materials.

    The resulting sludge can then be buried in new garden beds.

    Or you can achieve much the same thing with a “longdrop”, an outhouse built over a pit about 4’x4’x20′ deep, a bucket of ash from the fire next to the long drop to toss in afterwards, and after 12 months you move the outhouse ten feet away and fill in the hole, another year later and you can garden on that spot.

    Even if there were no health issues, you must consider reputation and the future of the project. If people show up to take a look and it all stinks of shit, that is not going to encourage people to invest time, money and creativity into the project.

    Really, sort this out immediately. It’s not difficult.

  4. Toby

    Molly and I proposed to improve sanitation at Factor E Farm with current resources and funding by building sanitary kitchen facilities and proper composting toilets. This proposal was rejected as a costly and time-consuming distraction…

    Regardless of Marcin’s ultimate perspective on this particular issue, there will be other occasions when visiting contributors want to pursue projects that are important but not in line with his priorities. Perhaps per-project funding would help, using that chip-in system, or the one where $ is only collected if a specified commitment total is reached. Although I’m already a True Fan, I would consider making modest additional contributions to projects that seem vital to continuity.

  5. Tom L

    I’m glad that these issues are being discussed. I found The Humanure Handbook by Joseph C. Jenkins to be very informative (and entertaining too). It is available for free online here: (is there an “information resources” page where I could add this?)

    Chapter 6 details composting toilets.

    Here’s a quote, “Homemade low temperature composting toilets offer a method of composting humanure that is attractive to persons wanting a low-maintenance, low-cost, fairly passive approach to excrement recycling. Any effort which constructively returns organic refuse to the soil without polluting water or the environment certainly demands a high level of commendation.”

    A world class research center for decentralization technologies needs to have certain basic infrastructure. That includes sanitation infrastructure.

    I am a True fan but would chip-in additional funds to a “sanitation” chip-in widget that went to building a proper composting toilet (especially if well documented and open sourced). So get the widget up and I will chip-in.

    I look forward to seeing how the ever-present mud and drainage issues are worked out on site too.

  6. mimarob

    Hmm yes, a fairly decent compost is just two or more wooden boxes, preferably with watertight bottom (PVC or like), so the watery stuff does not leak out.

    Separating number one and two could be done with a front bowl (large enough to cater for both male and female anatomy 🙂 and a hose going out to a collecting bucket. Remember its really the urine that stinks, putting the feces in the wooden box, adding some sawdust makes it virtually smell free. This can also be used for food left-overs.

    If the box becomes to dry a small amount (but not all) of the urine could be added. Poke it with a stick now and then to mix it.

    When the box is full, fill the next one and after 8 months (if in the growth season) the content should be safe to use for fertilizing.

    Urine mixed with 90% or more water makes it also a nice smell-free fertilizer.

    I use this system in my weekend get-away, but I actually bought a ready-made box (about $150) at a nearby ecology center. I even treated my self to the luxury of bio-degradable plastic bags to put in the can itself. Makes it a lot easier and nicer to empty 🙂

  7. Lost Chief

    I think swales is a big problem for the project. If you make swales you can rid yourself of the mud problem. If you move the location of the compost bin to the outer edge of the property you wont smell it all over.

    How much would it cost to rent a machine that could do all the swales in a day or 2? Im not sure of the cost in your state. Seattle is pricey..

    And making a 1 acre pond would go a long way in providing food & water year round.

  8. Geoff

    Is there enough slope over the block to accommodate swales? Does anyone there have a topo map of the place so those of us playing along at home can get an idea?

    I’ll echo Toby & Tom L above on their call for a chip-in to get this vital part of the enterprise sorted out…

  9. Lost Chief

    at minimum you could dig channels to direct the water flow to the lower corner of the property. I just had to do this with my brothers yard. His downstairs floods due to a backyard that did not drain properly. Just dug a couple 8″ ditches in key spots to direct the water off the area.

    Looking at the pictures i think you could use the life track with the small dig bucket and make channels for the water to at minimal drian away so its not all mud..

    And i think i could maybe scrape up 20 bucks to send you guys next week to help with a toilet. Thats bad news.

  10. Lucas

    Guys, you need a balloon + webcam so others will help with swale design. 😉

  11. Marcin

    Allow me to clarify. There is no resistance to improving conditions, and I find Matthew’s comment on such resistance quite inaccurate. I DO have resistance to not doing proper planning.

    With that said, I agree that the issues are a trivial issue to solve, and we’re solving them one by one. Complexities of the project make it seem that we come up with irrational solutions – but that’s only if you don’t really understand what’s going on here.

    Our general approach is that whoever sees an issue arise fixes it. As our standards increase, we decided to do less experimenting on the basic infrastructure, and get professional assistance involved. We are not interested in pursuing half-baked, temporary solutions. We’ve tested those as was needed. So for all you that have responded on whatever particular points – please propose a concrete plan and budget – show up at our doorstep or tell us who will do the work – and we can move forward. But until we can do something right, our strategy is not to prioritize it BEFORE the GVCS development process – which is aimed directly at addressing all the infrastructure issues.

    I will discuss the infrastructure issues and how we plan addressing them – by utilizing the GVCS technologies – in more detail in a dedicated post to clear up the points raised in this post. Forthcoming today (April 17).

  12. Mathew

    I wouldn’t call any of the suggestions in this post half-baked sanitation ideas- Kiashu even gave dimensions on a long drop.

    Your response gets to the heart of my criticism, which is a decision making process dependent upon a single master plan, where basic human needs will only be met in an uncertain future.

    I look forward to hearing you address the specific points of criticism rather than denigrating your critics.

    Personally, if I were searching for a definition of half-baked, then living in septic conditions and using power tools without a first aid kit would definitely fit the bill.

  13. […] will explain our planned infrastructure in response to questions raised two posts ago. We should start by saying that we eat our own dog food with respect to the Global Village […]

  14. Richard

    extremely detailed hydrological, topical releif and other type maps of missouri can be found at

  15. anon

    “Governance and decision-making is based on creation. The creator controls their creation, ie., has authority.”

    This decision-making approach seems to be part of the problem, rudimentary as it is.

  16. Lost Chief

    There i one thing i think Marcin is missing. How the hell are you supposed to get people to come help you build when they have to risk death to do it? Ok maybe not death i was joking but seriously we came up with reasonable help for this problem and you take it as more of a personal attack or something.

    What you should be able to see and should be thankful for is that a few of us stepped up and offered cash so you can at minimal buy a simple compost toilet. As far as the swales i though what we were supposed to do to help this project is to add our feedback to try and solve any problems that arise.

    Since this post got the most replies you may want to think that it may be a real issue for anyone planning on helping, investing or visiting to help. Its not a big problem to fix. Its not something that should take you guys that are already at the farm a max of 2 days to fix. If this will make it that much safer, cleaner and less smelly for people who plan on a visit to help this summer why are you so but hurt about it :+)

    Yes the original post was a little harsh in my view but it was an honest view from someone who it clearly bothered and with that you should think that many others who may come cisit may get the same feeling. Just take our help roll with it and get this small problem fixed is my openion.

    Or maybe you just like walking in human crap mud on your land? That does not sound like a good idea to me. And it does not sound like a project people who arent there should plan and come fix for you it sounds like a problem the farm owner should have started with first. A proper working restroom is the # 1 thing to me on any land. Without it your asking for problems.

    Like i said i can muster up a few bucks even tho im on the road right now and really need my money for emergencies. But this is a bad thing waiting to happen. Think of how easy it will be to get people to your farm if you have a E-COLI outbreak or something.

    I hope you dont take this as an attack because its not. But i do always speak my mind and say it how i feel it so if thats a problem for you i will make note..

    I cant speak for everyone but i respect what your doing and want to see it through but if your going to fight simple fixes that you can do in a day or 2 that will make it a safe sanitary place for people to come help this is going to take much longer than your planning in my view..

  17. Mathew


    On Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 12:40 PM, Marcin Jakubowski wrote:


    I found the tone of your last blog post rather jejune. I would appreciate if you corrected some of the tone, like “Marcin rejected my beautiful proposal” and etc. We want solutions, but I don’t find your complaining tone to be useful, and I think it distorts the message of what we are about. So get a grip on yourself. It’s embarrasing to the project to hear your personal issues intertwined with a program that is much bigger than any of us can yet imagine. We are not your average place, and things happen like they do for a reason. If you want to come here, you’d have to change your attitude from ‘Mathew’s little world’ to a greater picture. If you can’t do that or don’t understand what I mean, then you don’t belong here.

    I don’t want to be spending time going through this type off stuff- we’re too busy creating solutions that come from deep consideration. I want to see realistic proposals and explicit ways to achieve them. I’d rather you focus on making productive propositions rather than moaning about the 1000 ways that a project can mess up. There are many failures, and only a few ways to do something right. We want to focus on the solutions.


  18. Lost Chief


    I dont see where mathew stated about a BEAUTIFUL PROPOSAL! If your referring to personal conversations you may want to put that in your message because its not making you look good.

    Secondly i take it as a personal shot to me when you state (a program that is much bigger than any of us can yet imagine)

    I personally understand fully what this project can do for the world BUT let me make it clear. Your not the only person on earth trying to do this. There are many people glabally working on very similar projects so dont think your the only person on earh who has good ideas and a hope for a positive sustainable future!

    As the LEADER of this project (you are the leader or driving force to all of this am i correct?) Your going to need to be able to take peoples views in stride because there will be many things people disagree with and are you going to get upset every time someone questions your decision making?

    And you speak of being too busy working on solutions to deal with this when this is a post about a problem and in search of a solution. Like i stated earlier YES his post was a little edgy but as a life long self employed business man who has managed many many projects let me say that this is nothing. There will be much worse fallouts over even more serious issues. Thats the way the world works.

    Why not everyone relax a bit.

    Marcin.. People clearly agree with mathew that there needs to be proper waste management. Its not like anyone is asking you to take a month away from your big dream to handle this. Its a tiny issue that can be fixed quickly. Hell in the time we have spent talking about it you could have moved the compost bins down flow from all living areas.

    Mathew.. You didnt have to challange Marcins view of not fixing this problem and make it kind of personal. You could have posted your message without that part and simply put it out there that we need to make up a plan to deal with this issue asap and that if there is a few people who visit the site that would pitch in to help you get the materials to at minimum move the compost.

    Now can we all get back to being one big happy family whos trying to save the world? If you were all on the west coast i would bust out the peace pipe and force you to hug :+)

  19. Kiashu

    Marcin writes,

    “I DO have resistance to not doing proper planning.”

    If your plan doesn’t begin with basic human needs such as sanitation, it’s not properly planned.

    Marcin continues,

    “We are not interested in pursuing half-baked, temporary solutions.”

    And yet that’s exactly what you have for sanitation right now.

    Keynes once said, “it is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong”, and it’s an old saying that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Both sayings tell us about the same thing: as humans, we’re tempted to put off doing things until we can perfect them. As a result we never do them at all.

  20. Michael Koch

    As a visitor to FactorE several times and outside observer for the last couple years, there seems to be ONE fundamental flaw to what is occurring at the “world class research center”…the ability to take criticism.

    Marcin — as a past academic, I assume this is something you dealt with regularly. If not, it is very unfortunate as it I believe it is hugely important to the development process, both intellectually and and from a management perspective. Being able to respect dissenting views from your peers is key to any open source model and to a projects success. Unless it is embraced, failure will occur as the support group will ‘jump ship’. I want to see Factor E succeed, but not at the health and well being of those participating

    Let the ego go…it will make a world of difference.

    Michael Koch
    from #cofes09

  21. Marcin

    Mike, great point. Critique is absolutely essential to the success of any open source project. That’s why we publish early and often – and you know enough about project to be able to critique it to the point that you claim that ‘we don’t take critique’. No, I don’t have or had problems taking critique. I think honest critique is missing in much of today’s society. I do have problems with uninformed critique, however.

    While you see it as inability to take critique, I look at it as the inability of the critic to accept our absolutely non-standard, out-of-box, pure passion and creation way of doing things. We’re not your average Joe, so to understand why we respond as we do, you have to throw our all your preconceptions, norms, or industry standards. Then create from scratch.

    THAT I believe is the key to success if you want a fundamental change. I am aware that I rebut most criticism – but do you and others REALLY understand our approach? Here are just a few points that should clarify some of our approach. I preface this by saying that most of this is documented if you study our work and writings more carefully, but it is not written down in any one place. Here is a start:

    1. We eat our own dogfood, in the business sense.
    2. We deliberately get into rough conditions to understand FULLY what it means to develop something from the ground up, and to provide a fire in our pants that gets us to solutions. Necessity is the mother of all invention.
    3. We do not believe in compensation for alienation (aka, work or job in the typical sense)
    4. We believe that one’s highest goal is to become an integrated human (see our wiki)
    5. There’s no power greater than creation
    6. We operate beyond ego.
    7. We are focused on a goal, and we are not confusing focus with impatience or brashness
    8. We don’t believe that one has to make ANY compromise in their life, as long as they are honest to themselves and others
    9. We believe in a peer-to-peer reality, where we help each other reach our full potential, instead of preying on the weak
    10. The most important present need for society is to create the means of providing physical needs for everybody. Some call this post-scarcity. Human evolution is predicated upon this, as in Maslow’s pyramid. We believe in an extension of Maslow’s pyramid where the possibilities expand once someone reaches self-actualization.


    1. We resuse to drink polluted tap water (chlorine)
    2. We recycle waste
    3. We build our own environment.
    4. We build our technology in a bootstrapping way.

    Then on the political level, these are some heavy topics:

    1. We do not support war tax
    2. We do not favor forced redistribution of capital via grants, subsidies, and other government welfare programs
    3. We favor self-governance (a much greater topic that can be covered here)
    4. We favor total personal accountabiliy (ie, we don’t favor ‘limited liability’ or ‘murder without consequence’
    5. We don’t believe in commerce, but instead, in private, free enterprise (a much longer discussion)
    6. We believe in governance with absolute voluntary interaction (no coercion, or oppression of a minority by a majority.
    7. We don’t believe in the State taking responsibility for individuals, becuase of the inherent conflict of interest

    Please add to this list – as far as other assumptions that underlie our work – that we may be missing. It is important to expose operating assumptions to thers, so they can see where you’re coming from.

    If you consider all these principles, then you should be in a good position to PREDICT how I will receive your criticism. You may call it rejection of criticism. I call it following a set of principles.

    Please show me an example of any critique that I rebutted that is inconsistent with this.

    On the ego front, I am very aware of the role of ego. I think that I’ve reached a point (by daily meditation) where I operate beyond ego (in practical terms) – thus allowing me to work on the Big Picture – or at least what my ego informs me that the Big Picture is;) This lack of ego is what allows me to make decisions that others may find cruel, unfeeling, brash, misdirected, or otherwise inappropriate. One should not confuse such forward-motion, focus, and direction with megalomania, insecurity, or impatience. My focus is not driven by various insecurities, at least not any that I am aware of.

    Open Source critique welcome.

  22. Marcin

    FYI, I have edited Mathew’s article mercilessly, according to principles of open source hacking. I eliminated: (1),false and inaccurate statements resulting from Mathew’s partial/incomplete/secondhand/or academic understanding of the situation, (2) critiques that appeared to be personal attacks, (3) any opinions not based on fact, and (4), and changed the tone from negative to neutral obervation of facts in other cases. I am asking Mathew to edit the above corrections and resubmit them if he would like. I have further limited his access to the blog, requesting him to submit any further posts to review prior to posting.

  23. Michael Koch

    By limiting Matthew’s access, this in itself is not consistent with Open Source ideals…

  24. Lost Chief

    Marcin youve made this much worse than needed now. Now youve dug yourself a huge hole in my eyes and taken a big link out of the chain of respect i was building for you and your project.

    This is sad and i do feel this is about EGO. How you can avoid dealing with such simple fixes is beyond me. You havent responded to anything anyone has said in this page besides Mathew and we all seem to support him in general.

    So i guess since most of the people willing to put time effort and input into this project disagree with you this still doesnt open your eye to stop and think MAYBE you should just move the stupid compost bins right now today. All you have to do is move them to the downslope edge of your property so the runoff wont be in the path of people and will hopefully flow away from the well water area.

    Thats the simple right now fix to make the people who want to help you along feel like this is a project thats actually open to solid advice.

    If you dont think anyone on this page has given you any reasonable fixes to this problem i dont know whats wrong. People clearly dont want to see this project fail but we also should clearly understand how hard its going to be to get quality help and work on projects when people have to walk through toxic mud. (if this is truly the case and should be by the detailed maps)

    Im really still shocked at your standing. And i will say this. If you had done the same thing to me and edited my blog without giving me the option to do so first i would be removing myself from this project in full. That is over the line in my view.

    You want to save the world but you dont want to deal with this small issue that is an urgent health issue and im not sure about MO but you could and would get shut down in most places in the west coast for having your property setup that way.

    Read from top to bottom of this page Marcin and see how many people support Mathew.. Then as a LEADER you should take a second to listen to the supporters of your project.

    You have skipped past and not responded to all the help we have offered and chosen to keep it a personal issue instead of the simple issue of dealing with the waste treatment. You have made this what it is more than Mathew.

    If this original post i read the other day that started all this was edited before it was posted the first time and there was something i didnt see that set you off maybe you should stop trying to be FOX NEWS and put it up so we can understand why you have chosen to be this way.

    Why not at minimal say THANK YOU to the people who have offered out hard earned cash and a few hours of our time thinking of solutions to this issue instead of keeping your person issue with Mathew going?

    If your not willing to support people wanting to fix problems YOU MAY NOT THINK ARE PROBLEMS BUT EVERYONE ELSE CLEARLY DOES you may want to think of finding a person to manage this project that is not so empotionally involved in its direction so this project can keep on a steady path and skip past road blocks like this.

    Marcin just chill out and back off a bit. We are trying to help this project along. Give us all some respect and reply to the help we have offered and help us help you fix this issue. It wont make you look worse for saying my-bad! It will actually show the lack of ECO you spoke of and this will move right along with good vibes as soon as you do that.

    If you choose to stay the path of editing Mathew and keeping this personal you may loose much of the support you currently have. If that matters or not we will see. This didnt even need to be anywhere close to this big of a problem. It makes me sad. As a leader of so many projects in my life from managing Concerts regurlarly with 2-5,000 people with a work crew of 20-40 people i have found myself in your same position many times.

    I have also learned that sometimes my EGO gets in my own way like its doing for you right now and that when i start hearing many people voicing up i now know to quickly take a step back and do something that puts my mind at ease first then i think about the problem and find a solution somewhere in the middle.

    Ok i know im not a college person and i type like crap but i have had a life of dealing with so many thousands and thousands of people that i have seen this go down countless times.

    This can be over right now Marcin without you losing face but your on the edge of showing people your not that willing to work as a group.

  25. Jeremy

    I haven’t been online in a couple days while fixing my computer so I haven’t seen this. Marcin’s actions are unacceptable. We’ll be talking about it tomorrow. Thank you for your wisdom and support Lost Chief!

  26. Kiashu

    As others have said, editing people’s articles without permission and restricting their access to things is definitely NOT “open source”.

    So either revert the article and restore the access, or change the project title from “open source” to “Marcin’s Pet Project.” Either is fine, but it’s best to be honest about things.

  27. Sepp


    although I have no direct knowledge of your project (in the sense of having visited) I support your ideas and I also do agree with the people who commented on this post. The issue is not a difficult one to resolve but it does have great importance.

    You have already lost one of your closest allies and collaborators over just this issue (hygiene of the place and reasonable comfort)


    … and you are in danger of losing more.

    Yes, it’s macho to save the world and it feels good. But it doesn’t feel less good if some of the basic human body issues are well in hand like human waste recycling and proper drainage of the place.

    And it *will* feel less good if those basic hygiene issues start preventing all but the most tough pioneer spirits from participating in your dream.

    Just my two cents.

  28. Edward

    It is largely Marcin’s single-minded attitude that has allowed the project to come as far as it has, but that attitude isn’t ideal in every situation.

    There is a whole art and science to PR, and it must be handled delicately. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough funds to just hire people to do that for us.

    In any event, there are certain concessions that must be made for image, privacy, and comfort as Jeremy mentioned in another post.

    You have a lot of good heads thinking about this stuff… and to be quite honest I think Matthew was doing some great systems-level analysis of the farm.

    Hopefully the project can move forward with some of these criticisms in mind, even if those who offered them are no longer with the project.

    Matthew’s post generated at least one offer for someone to come help fix the run-off problem. Thus, it turned out to be constructive criticism that may indeed generate concrete results.

    There is no such thing as bad press. It seems that the more provocative posts actually generate quite a lot of attention. If something is indeed out of line, I think it will quickly be called out as such. There is no need to censor anything as sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  29. Nick

    Been offline for a while, looks like OSE got into some “heavy shit”.

    I feel the urgency wich Marcin seems to be acting from, i also feel the basic lack of human dignity others are pointing out at Factor e.

    All i got to say is there is defintely a way to adress both. Just be kind and respectful to each other as its sorted out.

  30. Jeff

    Hi, sorry to jump in the conversation out of nowhere, but why hasn’t anybody said: okay, we’ll get a first aid kit.


  31. Lost Chief

    Because first aid and s simple proper restroom that or compast that handles waste properly are like 12th in line so once the CEB/SAWMILL/TROLL BRIDGE is finished then they will think about getting that out of the way… hahahaha

    Ok joking aside. Im still confused as to why Marcin or someone hasnt taken up the offers of cash to get this problem solved.

    Im over it now. If i change my mind and choose to try stopping in to move some parts of the project forward i gues i will be glad i have a Motorhome. I will have to take my own waste with me. This will for sure cut my time much shorter at factore.

    If they are going to want people to seriously some and put in weeks of hard labor and mental work they are going to need to at minimum provide what this is all about or the quality of work people put in will we half or less of what they could.

    Hell you guys could go buy a small TV TRAILER on for probably $200. You would then have a proper size kitchen and a working restroom that you could go dump the tanks at a place or at minimum be able to dump the waste out of the runoff path.

    Again or they could easily move the compost bins and make sure the flow is away from the runoff.

    Hope you guys get this solved because i know how people work and this is really going to keep this project a 2 man job.

  32. Lost Chief

    Man it sucks using a new Keyboard. Sorry for the hard read :+)

  33. Jeremy

    We’ll be putting up a chipin for a first aid kit, and we’re changing the compost bin area. We got some supplies for a new toilet yesterday and will be building it soon.

    Our CEB kitchen is coming together with the hot steam shower and sink with hot water ready to use today.

    Could we find someone to search nearby craigslists for stuff for us? Maybe put that on the volunteer page of how people can contribute? Maybe a subforum on it on the forums?

  34. Lost Chief

    You know if you build an outhouse with room for the standard size flip open lid trash bin you should only have to switch it out every 4-6 months. If you buy 2 of the trash cans once one is close to full you can switch them out. Put the full one out in the sun and it will break down into compost by the time the other is full.

    Watch the video Permacultue In Practive on my myspace profile because they did this.

    Many other permaculture videos there to watch.

  35. Lost Chief

    Good Job Jeremy!

    Are you going to post a new spot for the chipin first aid or how will we find it because to be honest i get lost in the layout of this website hahahah

    Again good job on an upgrade that should help productivity this summer.

  36. Jeremy

    Good idea Lost Chief! We’ll check it out for our more permanent toilet.

    Any ideas on how I could make things easier to navigate the site?

    I made a forum thread to discuss the first aid kit:

    I’ll add the chipin on a blog post, and in the forum thread.

  37. Geoff

    Jeremy, I feel some of what Lost Chief is talking about WRT getting lost on the site.

    It seems that an attempt has been made to unify the top level menus across the site but the homepage of each of those menus is a different place (the homepage of the subsection) rather than being one common place to start from. eg contrast the “Home Page” for, and that of the weblog, and “Main Page” for

    If you make sure each of these places appears as a menu item, and choose one of them as the singular home, I think that would clear up some navigational confusion. “Home” needs to be a comfortable and familiar place where you can go back no matter how lost you get and dive on in again. The two sites need a single home page, even if it doesn’t have all of the updates/latest happenings, though that would be the ideal.

  38. Lost Chief

    Geoff got it. One homepage with links on the LEFT even if there is 100 of them down the side we can get to anything quickly because thats how most websites flow. One homepage that can direct you to any of the ongoing projects and future ones on the list. Have a way to tell what projects are in motion or need funding right now ect ect.

    I feel this will bring in more average people who your going to need small funding from and hands at the farm to get some of the land projects moving along.

    Also like i stated on some other post you may want to try looking for single investment for single projects until you get more true fans.Depending on the project your going to have something in the end that can usually make people money so investment is verry possible..

  39. Lost Chief

    OOPS wrong link hahahah Can someone delete that last one please?

    Here is your free press. An i also posted a Blog in thier forums a couple months ago that you guys may want to dring to the top with a comment.


  40. Marcin

    I apologize for deleting Mathew’s post, and here are the corrections that I made with explanations. Please see

    for further discussion.

    1. “But rushed building in an inopportune location and the decision-making process leading there are major impediments to realizing this dream.”

    Decision process was sound at the time. Location for buildings was selected in dry summer weather, prior to our knowledge that there are erosion and runoff problems on the land. The decision making process leading to said designs was mine and Brittany’s. As we are expanding now to many people, we need to evolve our decision processes.

    2. “Slogging through the mud takes significant effort, exacerbating the difficulty of performing simple chores like feeding the goats hay and retrieving tools and materials from the work space and shed.”

    I agree on the difficulty of walking in mud. We lay down straw to make walking easy – it works very well. It should be put into perspective that this condition exists because the site is still under construction. It is temporary.

    3. “No effort is made to contain the waste or bring it to sterilizing temperatures, and the runoff places it directly in the path of heaviest human traffic.”

    The waste is in compost bins. The compost bins are NOT in the path of the uphill runoff, they are above that. Sterilizing temperatures are not the only way to make compost safe – time will do it as well.

    4. “My visit occurred during a period of nightly freezing, but the smell of human waste was still palpable on-site, owing to the proximity of housing and work space to unconfined waste runoff.”

    The smell happens right after the composting toilet is emptied. It lasts for a short time, and is a rare disturbance. It just happened that we emptied the compost for our visitors, only to offend them with its stench.

    5. “The mud is ever-present, unavoidable, and waste-contaminated.”

    Mud is present primarily because of construction. It lasts for a total of about 3 weeks in the spring. It is avoidable by spreading straw down. It does not have human waste, but I did notice some runoff from the goat pen. We will divert the offending stream by a trench going into the forest about 200 feet up the hill.

    6. ‘It attaches itself to clothes and falls off boots in the living spaces.’


    7. “It therefore draws from a potentially contaminated supply.”

    Not true. The well is uphill from your mentioned runoff, and it is capped to prevent seepage from around the well tube. Moreover, the first runoff diagram is inaccurate. The water drainage at the bottom of the diagram does not go to the left and right like shown in the bottom of the first diagram, but goes straight down instead.

    8. “While there is rainwater for drinking, there is not enough rainwater for cleaning.”

    Not true. There is 7,000 gallons of rainwater that we can catch per year based on 35 inches of precipitation, off our 1000 sq ft greenhouse. That allows for a use of almost 20 gallons per day.

    9. “All cleaning of clothes and dishes is performed with potentially contaminated water.”

    Not true. It’s true if you use tap water, which is contaminated with chlorine in most places.

    10. “For these reasons the potential for human disease transmission is high. If a parasite or water-borne disease were introduced on-site, there would be little chance of ever getting rid of it.”

    Our drinking water comes from rainwater catchment off the greenhouse. There is zero risk of contamination from above sources.

    11. “Additionally, there is no first aid kit on site and no provision for even the most basic emergency care. After sustaining a minor cut on my hand, Marcin had to search for rubbing alcohol, and I provided my own band-aid. In the septic environment of Factor E Farm, any sizable injury may become needlessly life-threatening.”

    Very distorted. We rarely used the kit – we are very safe in our operations. The kit was buried under some stuff in the cordwood vestibule – I just didn’t know where it is because Brittany put it there. We never needed to use the kit since Brittany left.

    12. “Marcin and Jeremy seem certain that their perfect ecovillage is right around the corner, and show little interest in fixing the problems of the present or addressing their place within the current landscape. Molly and I proposed to improve sanitation at Factor E Farm with current resources and funding by building sanitary kitchen facilities and proper composting toilets. This proposal was rejected as a costly and time-consuming distraction from realizing the dream of autonomous small-scale manufacturing. Only with this world-changing technology in hand are Marcin and Jeremy willing to address human concerns of safety.”

    Not true. First, the composting toilet is fine.

    Since there seems to be major misconception surrounding our composting toilet, allow me to quote the exact technique that we use from the Humanure Handbook:

    “How it works is a model of simplicity. One begins by depositing one’s organic refuse (feces and urine) into a plastic bucket, clay urn, or other non-corrodible waterproof receptacle with about a five gallon (20 liter) capacity. Food scraps may be collected in a separate receptacle, but can also be deposited into the toilet receptacle. A five gallon capacity is recommended because a larger size would be too heavy to carry when full. If five gallons is still too heavy for someone to carry, it can be emptied when half-full.

    The contents of the toilet are kept covered with a clean, organic cover material such as rotted sawdust, peat moss, leaf mould, rice hulls, or grass clippings, in order to prevent odors, absorb urine, and eliminate any fly nuisance. Urine is deposited into the same receptacle, and as the liquid surface rises, more cover material is added so that a clean layer of organic material covers the toilet contents at all times.

    A lid is kept on the toilet receptacle when not in use. The lid need not be air-tight, and a standard, hinged toilet seat is quite suitable. The lid does not necessarily prevent odor from escaping, and it does not necessarily prevent flies from gaining access to the toilet contents. Instead, the cover material does. The cover material acts as an organic lid or a “biofilter”; the physical lid (toilet seat) is used primarily for convenience and aesthetics.”

    We use sawdust to bury our gold.

    The only issue is privacy for that toilet, where people can walk in on someone with their pants down. We addressed this by building another toilet. The issue of compost pile location has been addressed by moving a compost bin to an out-of-way location.

    Regarding being open to improvements, I need to see a plan, budget, and implementation plan – not to mention demonstrated skill to execute. There are just too many people offering suggestions for doing things without having a plan, without knowing who will pay for it, who will do it, or without putting that plan into context of Factor e Farm or its long-term mission. These are armchair suggestions. I was particularly not excited because of dissatisfying performance on the shower. The shower was started without considering that we did not have an available water source or heat source. Both had to be retrofitted. Then, the shower leaked, the curtain fell apart after a few uses, so now we dismantled it and installed an insulated steam shower cubicle inside the utility area. The real issue here is ability to perform, and as project leader, I was not willing to risk a second project based on the first project performance.

    Other than such issues, we are totally eager to get help.

    13. “At Factor E the present is viewed as a short path to run through on the way to a fantastic future. But if you don’t look where you’re going, you might trip, fall, and never make it. Without dreams we cannot envision a better future, but without a clear view of the present, we threaten even our dreams.”

    The real issue here is lack of resources, not our ignorance of present conditions. Help us by volunteering here based on a mutually-agreed proposal, until we get on our feet with CEB press production and other funding sources. Subscribe to be a True Fan.

    14. “The first rule of rescue work is to not become a victim. Don’t place yourself or anyone else in unnecessary danger while trying to save others. The same rule applies to saving the world.”

    I think that our track record of safety over the last 2 years speaks for itself. We are very aware of the dangers, and I can tell you hundreds of ways that one can die on a farm. I think about these things as fundamental aspects of the design – given the risks associated with resilient living.

  41. Ben

    It took J and I about 15 minutes to solve the problem. I explained what hot compost is, and how an aerobic burn kills all human pathogens. Perhaps if you spent a bit of time on this you would find yourself better informed.

    For my part, if you stop in, your ‘contributions’ would be greatly appreciated.

  42. Ben

    Sorry- noticed a ‘first aid kit’ issue. How’s your knowledge of anatomy? If you do not know how to apply direct or venal pressure to stop bleeding, no first aid kit in the world will stop that person from bleeding to death before you get them to a hospital.

    Safety is no accident.

  43. Ben

    Sorry, one last note. Obviously much more time was spent in analysis of this issue than it took to physically solve it.

    I have done much work in the field often in extremely difficult conditions. This is a cakewalk by comparison to some places I have been.

    It was said that there was a sanitation problem. Only one question, and my litmus test: Has anyone come down with dysentary? If the answer to that is no, there is no sanitation problem. May not look great, but no real pathogen problem. BTW, drinking rainwater from a puddle never exposed to human waste is a GREAT way to come down with amoebic dysentary.

    Sorry, but get up out of your armchair and spend some time in the third world. Then talk.

  44. Lost Chief

    I like your passion Ben…

    Now im not the only one speaking thier mind..

    Whew i was getting worried for a minute that i was the only rough edged person in this gooup hahahah


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *