The Low Technology Institute can provide staff to present, lead discussions, run workshops, or other engagements within the scope of our mission. All of our programming is centered around the idea that we should begin to adapt our lives now to deal with the loss of fossil fuels in the future.
Presentations and Discussions
Presentations are typically delivered as a lecture with time for questions during and at the end. Many of these can be turned into a discussion format if participants want to read material ahead of time. Both discussions and presentations can be tailored to the audience and focus of your constituents.
Fees, honoraria, stipends, or mileage are gladly accepted and vary depending on the host organization. We have no minimum per se for charitable, nonprofit, or community organizations, but we do appreciate any financial support that can be provided, especially if a new topic is requested.
Click on any of the below titles to see the description.
It Takes a Village: What Is The Low Technology Institute?
Sometimes it feels like we’re stumbling from one disaster to the next across our globalized world. We barely can keep up with the problems we’re facing today, yet a looming crisis is foreseeable, inescapable, and will affect every person on this planet. Our mission at the Low Technology Institute is to prepare our households and communities to survive without fossil fuels in the next quarter century. By 2050, we will have used up all of our accessible oil, which will cause a cascade of economic and social crises. Coupled with climate change, these challenges must be met, and we have little time to lose.
In this presentation, we’ll talk about the historical and modern basis of the institute’s mission as well as its practical, DIY solutions that anyone can implement to future-proof their lives (as well as weather unforeseen disruptions along the way).
A discussion includes background reading and completing a resilience self-audit.
Potatoes Will Save Humanity: Best Ways to Grow an Underappreciated Staple Crop
Potatoes are easy to grow, store and prepare. They grow in poor soils, but provide complete nutrition. After covering the biology and history of this plant, we will share what we learned in our study with Wisconsin growers about the best ways to grow this ideal staple for a future with more local food.
In this presentation we trace the domestication, history, spread, and growing of potatoes.
A discussion includes background reading and season appropriate potato-related hands-on components (planting, eating, etc.).
Foodmageddon: Lessons Learned From Growing All Our Own Food During a Global Crisis
As COVID-19 began, we challenged ourselves to feed ourselves for a year from what we could grow or gather from our neighborhood. Our goal was to discover the strengths and weaknesses in our local food web. Learn from our mistakes and successes when thinking about your own food garden.
The presentation walks through our year and lessons learned.
A discussion includes background reading and challenge to design one’s own resilience garden.
Vermicompost: Learn to Keep a Small Worm Farm to Make Compost
Worms turn kitchen scraps into the best compost: worm castings. In this demonstration, you’ll learn about the different types of worm farms, how to keep the worms, and how to solve common problems.
This can be presented with or without a live demonstration of worm farming.
Collective Hubris: The Collapse of Ancient (and Modern) Complex Societies
Ancient and modern societies suffer from a delusion that their way of life is the pinnacle of human achievement. This hubris blinds them from seeing their world change around them. Without understanding how these new conditions will undermine their previously successful strategies, societies have, and will, collapse.
In this presentation we explore this idea, drawing on examples from across the ancient world before discussing our own time’s problems.
A discussion would include background reading and a challenge to bring in examples of preindustrial methods or technology worth reviving.
Breeding Stronger Bees: Our Efforts to Encourage Mite-Tolerant Honeybees
Bees face many challenges today, from insecticides and monocrops to diseases and parasites, but the biggest threat is a mite called Varroa destructor. We’ve been working to use artificial selection to breed bees tolerant of this endemic mite. We can discuss theory, method, and results.
A presentation walks through the conception and study thus far as well as an assessment of ways forward.
A discussion includes background reading and data gathered from the crowd (best among beekeepers).
We all understand the benefits of bees in our gardens and environment. In this demonstration, you’ll learn how to start planning to add honeybees to your garden. We’ll cover basic bee biology, practical and legal considerations, and how to set up and install your first hive, as well as resources for further learning.
Carbon Gardening: Best Crops to Grow to Reduce Carbon Footprint
In this presentation, we will discuss the carbon footprint of industrially grown crops and how we can help cut down on emissions by growing the most carbon-intensive plants in our own gardens. We will start with crops with short shelf life that are difficult to harvest with machines before moving on to other plants and growing methods.
A discussion version would include background reading and a self-audit of participants’ gardens and eating habits.
Gardening Through History: The Original Social Safety Net
Gardening has been an essential part of every civilization since permanent settlements began 10,000 years ago, but for the first time in history, we have become disconnected from our own food production. In this seminar, we’ll look at the role of gardening in plant domestication, cities, and large-scale societies including the Romans, Mayas, Medieval Europeans, and today’s industrial society (among others).
A discussion would include background reading and challenge to find information on one’s ancestors’ gardening methods and/or preindustrial methods that may need to be revived.