Community Technology

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Book: Karl Hess, Community Technology (New York, Cambridge, Hagerstown, Philadelphia, San Francisco, London, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Sydney: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979


Cited by Kevin Carson [1]:

(from pp. 96-98)

"Karl Hess also discussed community workshops--or as he called them, "Shared Machine Shops"--in Community Technology.

- The machine shop should have enough basic tools, both hand and power, to make the building of demonstration models or test facilities a practical and everyday activity.... [T]he shop might be... stocked with cast-off industrial tools, with tools bought from government surplus through the local school system... Work can, of course, be done as well in home shops or in commercial shops of people who like the community technology approach.... Thinking of such a shared workshop in an inner city, you can think of its use... for the maintenance of appliances and other household goods whose replacement might represent a real economic burden in the neighborhood.... ...The machine shop could regularly redesign cast-off items into useful ones. Discarded refrigerators, for instance, suggest an infinity of new uses, from fish tanks, after removing doors, to numerous small parts as each discarded one is stripped for its components, which include small compressors, copper tubing, heat transfer arrays, and so on. The same goes for washing machines....

Hess linked his idea for a shared machine shop to another idea, "[s]imilar in spirit," the Shared Warehouse:

- The shared warehouse... should collect a trove of bits and pieces of building materials.... There always seems to be a bundle of wood at the end of any project that is too good to burn, too junky to sell, and too insignificant to store. Put a lot of those bundles together and the picture changes to more and more practical possibilities of building materials for the public space. Spare parts are fair game for the community warehouse. Thus it can serve as a parts cabinet for the community technology experimenter.... A problem common to many communities is the plight of more resources leaving than coming back in.... The shared work space and the shared warehouse space involve a community in taking a first look at this problem at a homely and nonideological level."