A library for the end of the world | Humboldt NOW


Lonny Grafman is just getting to the point where he considers himself an author. The Cal Poly Humboldt instructor in environmental resource engineering has published work in peer-reviewed journals and online, but he’s still adjusting to his new role as a book author.

catch the rain, originally released as part of a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2018, offers testimonials, a program and techniques for harvesting rainwater. Its sequel, To catch the sunteaches its readers to design and build solar photovoltaic systems. To catch the sun came out in 2021. Both books made several Amazon “hot lists.”

“I was inspired by Octavia Butler, a speculative fiction writer who wrote some amazing books,” Grafman says. “She wrote this series, parable of the sower and Parable of the Talents, about a realistic dystopian future in which she walks from Los Angeles to Humboldt County. Before going for a walk, she reads all her father’s books in his library to understand how to survive. I wanted to write the books that I wanted to see in his library.

Both books are available for free digital download, but proceeds from the sale of hard copies go to support the Appropedia Foundation, an open-source database for people around the world to share renewable technology projects.

To catch the sun was written in collaboration with Joshua Pearce, Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University in Canada. Pearce is a prolific academic author ranked in the top 0.1% on Academia.edu, and is known to some of his colleagues as “Dr. Solaire.” Grafman says his collaboration with Pearce allowed him to combine his co-author’s academic approach with his own “how to make things happen,” the practicality.

“Once people started reaching out to share projects they’ve done using catch the rainI was hooked!” Grafman says of writing a second book. “The more resources a community can capture and create on its own, the more power and resilience it has. I want to be part of it. .

Grafman’s work takes him to communities around the world, and he says one of the most popular sections of his books are the stories drawn from those communities, from working with an elementary school to set up a storage tank for Rainwater in the Dominican Republic at work in India on a solar panel that uses a metal shield to protect the solar panels from stray stones thrown at monkeys. The books also include a math and science curriculum for a variety of grade levels and a craft section with project designs that can be adapted as needed.

“The books are very agnostic about the types of materials you build with, depending on the community and country you’re in,” says Grafman. “So for gutters, for example, you have components like metal versus bamboo versus PVC.”

Grafman adds that he felt very drawn to working with communities so that they could meet their own needs, but he recognized that there were only a limited number of systems on which he could. work itself in a given year. This gave him a strong impetus to write the books, which have been translated into several languages, to put more knowledge into the hands of people who want it.

“People who have money might talk about residual income,” he says. “I want to hear about the residual impact.”

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