Before the lights go out on the last New Yorker issue of 2013, one more of several articles we found worth the read, and relevant to our common themes of interest–community-building, innovation, environmentalism, farming, etc.–on this blog, even if we tend to incremental change rather than the radicalism on display here:
Marcin Jakubowski, the owner of a small farm in northwestern Missouri, is an agrarian romantic for high-tech times. A forty-one-year-old Polish-American, he has spent the past five years building industrial machines from scratch, in a demonstration of radical self-sufficiency that he intends as a model for human society everywhere. He believes that freedom and prosperity lie within the reach of anyone willing to return to the land and make the tools necessary to erect civilization on top of it. His project, the Global Village Construction Set, has attracted a following, but among the obstacles he has faced is a dearth of skilled acolytes: the people who show up at his farm typically display more enthusiasm for his ideas than expertise with a lathe or a band saw.
Until quite recently, living at the farm, thirty weed-choked acres off a gravel road, has required forgoing amenities like bathrooms and kitchens and running water, and maintaining a stoic disregard for the weather, which can be brutally cold or brutally hot. The property, called Factor e Farm—a geek’s pun, e being the mathematical constant—has only intermittently produced food, and, apart from a small grocery in nearby Maysville (pop. 1,000), the closest supermarket is fifteen miles away. Such conditions are a matter of indifference for Jakubowski: he can subsist with equal pleasure on mugs of Serious Mass, a weight-gain supplement, or on the occasional rabbit.
He holds a Ph.D. in fusion physics, and has the kind of obsessive temperament often associated with scientists. His habitual attire is a pair of khakis and a blue button-down, which suits him just as well for digging up a buried sewage line on the farm as for giving a presentation in Washington, D.C. Tucked under one arm or in his backpack is, invariably, a ream of white paper bound with corrugated cardboard and a couple of industrial staples: his journal. Jakubowski has kept a diary since he was ten, and in thirty years has scarcely missed a day. He is currently on Volume 21; these days, the pages are filled not with accounts of his dreams but with mechanical drawings and pasted-in business cards. Each morning, he completes two hours of yoga and meditation, even if he must get up at 4 a.m. “He likes things to be scheduled,” his fiancée, Catarina Mota, a forty-year-old scholar of open-source technology, says. “I’ll say, ‘I want to go buy some bread.’ He’ll say, ‘What time?’ ” . . .
Read the whole article here (subscription required).