We bring nonindustrial subsistence technology to (over)developed societies. We exist at the nexus of ancient, ethnographic, and modern subsistence. We aim to 1) identify ancient and contemporary nonindustrial technologies appropriate for use in modern, small-scale, self-sustaining infrastructure; 2) create do-it-yourself, resource-light solutions to sustainability problems; 3) provide our findings to the public for free use; and 4) create platforms to share information related to sustainability, especially solutions derived from ancient or ethnographic sources. We prize simple solutions over complex ones and eschew needless complication.

Contact Information

11927 West State Road 59
Evansville, Wisconsin 53536
(located in the historic village of Cooksville)

608-886-9LTI (584)



This is the beginning of a long process and the term “staff” here is aspirational. In time, we hope to recruit on-site staff to increase the amount and quality of work being put out by the institute. Stay tuned.

Founder, Director — Scott A. J. Johnson

Scott has been carrying out research into low tech since tried to build a catapult in 6th grade. He is a jack of all trades, but a master of none, including carpentry, gardening, electric, plumbing, beekeeping, brewing, butchery, baking, and more. His interest in past technologies led to a Ph.D. in anthropology (Tulane University, 2012), focusing on archaeology. He’s taught at universities across the US and Canada and led international field projects funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society. He is also the author of several books (Translating Maya Hieroglyphs, Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail?). Today, he works at the Low Technology Institute and lives in the historic village of Cooksville, Wisconsin (just south of Madison), with his wife, kid, and dog. He enjoys a good cup of tea, aikido, running, and books.


Our board is volunteer, and made up of Kelly Larson (President), Barry Larson (Vice President), Paula Hamvas (Treasurer), and Scott Johnson (Secretary). We are currently recruiting board members. If interested in learning more, please contact the secretary.

Recruiting Volunteers

We are looking for volunteers to lend their experience to the institute’s project. Have you been carrying out experiments on nonindustrial technology? Are you interested in helping to staff and organize the Bulletin and/or Low Technology Journal? Let us know: lowtechnistitute@gmail.com.


We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of our contributors. To find out how you can join in, please get in touch.


Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He has been a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and is author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog called Resource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.


Holly Dressel is a well-known Canadian author, filmmaker, speaker, and researcher. She has written four books, three national best-sellers with environmentalist and television host David Suzuki, and a heavily researched tome on the Canadian health care system. She has written and researched mass-audience documentary film for many broadcasters, including the CBC and the National Geographic; she taught for six years at the McGill University School of the Environment; and is a sought-after conference speaker on environmental issues, human health, and alternative economics. She works closely with several international NGOs and native groups. She is currently on the boards of E-Tech International, which helps indigenous communities deal with mining, and of the Low Technology Institute. Using the state of the world as her excuse, Dressel is unfashionably private and far too serious for her own good.

Andrew documenting plant, taking voucher Samguda

Andrew Flachs is an environmental anthropologist working to understand alternative farming practices around the world.  He earned his PhD in anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and currently works in Germany, where he studies biotechnology and organic agriculture in India.  His scientific writing, photography, and writing for National Geographic can be found at: www.andrewflachs.com.  A firm believer in doing too much, Andrew is an avid cyclist, cook, and musician whose work has been featured on the NPR tiny desk concert contest.

Me with chicken

Brian Kaller worked as a newspaper and magazine editor in the American heartland before moving his family to a homestead in Ireland. When not working at a day job to pay the bills, he writes for magazines like The American Conservative, First Things, The Dallas Morning News, Grit, Front Porch Republic, Resilience.org and Mother Earth News. He blogs at “Restoring Mayberry,” at http://restoringmayberry.blogspot.ie, and he keeps telling himself that book will be finished someday.


Grant McCall received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Iowa in 2006. He is the Executive Director of the Center for Human-Environmental Research and an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University. McCall is the author of four books and over thirty peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His interests include all aspects of human hunter-gatherer life, past and present. McCall has conducted archaeological research on early modern human populations in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in Namibia, for more than 15 years. He has also conducted ethnographic research among the Ju/’hoansi hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari Desert. McCall’s interests and expertise include prehistoric human technologies, human behavioral ecology, prehistoric art, the identification of animal bone remains, geoarchaeology, and statistical methods. McCall is also currently the editor of the journal Lithic Technology.


Eric McGlynn lives in Columbia County, Wisconsin, with his wife and three daughters. His education and work experience is completely unrelated to green living. However, small scale sustainability, gardening, and poultry are pursuits he is passionate about. Eric’s family jokes that he is a gentleman farmer who likely missed his calling. Eric’s approach to sustainability is to create projects that are inexpensive, efficient, and environmentally sound.


Matt Miles is a writer, poet, maker, permaculturist, and ambivalent web developer. His writings have appeared both in print and on the weekly blog of The Dark Mountain Project. Among other topics, Matt is interested in the breakdown of complex societies and their relationships with technology. He currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina with Tasha Greer. Together they run the reLuxe Ranch, a small whole systems farmstead on which they attempt to live sustainably while experimenting with appropriate technologies and raising pigs, ducks, chickens and dairy goats. They occasionally blog about their experiences at www.the-way-back.com. Matt enjoys rock climbing, running, fermenting, growing food, building things, and spending time in the natural world, either directly or vicariously through the written word.


Fred Sutherland has worked for five years as an interpreter/living-history performer at Historic Fort Snelling near St. Paul, Minnesota. He has a background in historical archaeology and recently completed his Ph.D. in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology from Michigan Technological University. He continues to practice blacksmithing and open-hearth cooking whenever possible. Fred lives in Minneapolis with his accomplished wife (also with training in archaeology) and his devoted dog. In his limited free time, he enjoys Olympic-style fencing, cooking, and playing board games with friends.


Effie J. Truchon has a passionate love for the natural world that started in her childhood and has followed her through life. She seeks to better understand Mother Nature through research, education, and life experience. Effie commands a diverse set of skills, from writing, editing, and performing music to event planning, industrial machine operations, and, of course, permaculture design and consultation. For fun, Effie enjoys the outdoors, hiking, swimming, fishing, and canoing. She is an avid preparer and preserver of foods, which she prefers to share with friends and family. She enjoys reading and hearing stories and learning new skills. She volunteers with the annual Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence and is applying her skills and know-how towards building a permaculture homestead cooperatively with her family in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She lives in West Allis, WI, and can be reached at permaculturedesignsbyeffie@yahoo.com.