Athens' Own Interns

Jul 082019

Jacob Faller


My desire for life to flourish is the Quality of Life most evident in my Vision, which I have copied below to emphasize its importance. It is the future towards which I aim.

People treat each other as equals, and respect all life as having inherent value in its existence and sentience, beyond being just a resource. Because of this, all life is considered when making decisions that could help or harm. People are happy and help other life grow and to function better. People are free to be and express themselves. Life is visibly happy and robust, be it smiling, strong people, luscious Redwood forests, or 85 year old blue whales. All kinds of life have their needs met; food, water, shelter, clean air, and habitat; additionally for humans, education and interpersonal relationships. People are reconnected with themselves and others. Those who had seen themselves separate from nature have reconnected and realized their oneness. All of this brings nature together to work as a flourishing system; life is able to withstand, recover, and grow from disturbance or natural disaster.

May 242019

3/22/2019 by SOFB

Last week I had noticed a distinct noise while driving the Ford Ranger for deliveries in Athens. Similar to a squeaky belt, but more metallic and harsh, the sound was coming from something that was rotating, but I couldn’t determine where from. I pulled over and called AAA to get a tow back to the house.

Earlier, I has driven a short distance with the parking break engaged, so it was suspected that something in the break assembly had broke. This had potential to lead to the break pads being eroded, and was a major reason why we decided to tow the truck. After removing the break assemblies and determining this wasn’t the cause, Con moved to the differential, which allows the outer wheel to rotate faster than the inner wheel while turning. He had known there was an issue with it for some time. Wear on the end of each axle from the bearings and a soaked left break indicated an oil leak, and the high leakage rate indicated low oil in the differential. After removing the cover of the differential he discovered that it was indeed dry. None of these symptoms, however, indicated the noise I had heard while driving.

After lubricating the axles, axle bearings, and differential, and reassembling them, Con started the Ranger and turned the wheel, only to hear the same problematic noise. With the knowledge that turning the wheel turns the drift shaft, he removed the drive shaft and found that its rear u-joint bearings also had no lubrication. Lo and behold, the source was revealed!

We are currently in the process of ordering new bearing assemblies for the u-joint; the current ones have too much wear from lack of lubrication. We tried and failed to buff out the wear on the bearing housings. If we take away too much metal, the diameter changes and the bearings will not fit snugly inside.

Two important lessons have arisen from this experience, the first being to be attentive to a vehicle while driving, especially if you do not have the skill base to determine if it’s safe to drive with or fix whatever problem may arise. The second lesson is to monitor a situation even if you think you’ve solved the problem. Con could’ve stopped after the differential and not bothered to check on the noise before signing off on the Ranger; but, he was thinking holistically, with foresight, and discovered what is now suspected to be the source of the noise I heard. By monitoring a known symptom, he was able to find its source before any more damage was caused.

May 242019

4/9/2019 by SOFB

Q. What resilience skills do I want to work on? For this question, it’s important to think of resilience beyond basic survival. Athens’ Own defines resilience as “positive adaptation to perceived difficulty.” You’ve just lost your job of 10 years as an accountant, and can’t find another in this field. What do you do? Maybe you apply your hobby of cooking and find a job as an assistant chef. You overcome a difficulty through your diverse skill set.

A. Species identification; foraging and wilderness cooking; photography; knowledge of car mechanics; systems thinking; solar power system familiarity; dietary/nutritional familiarity

Q. Which of the Four Agreements do I most want to work toward?

A. Trying my best. My absolute best effort, every time.

Q. Which of the rest of the Worker Readiness Certification do I most want to work toward?

A. My initial response was that I wanted to be more creative, but now I think I would benefit most from being highly organized.

Q. What “hat” at a business table do I want? This question comes from Con’s concept that a business should have positions (hats) for history, communication, environment, etc. He believes only one hat should be for “business”, the rest to help maintain a business as socially and environmentally engaged and responsible. Community resilience cannot be achieved through businesses motivated by profit. Each person that comes into Athens’ Own has the opportunity to wear the hat that they want, if they demonstrate the appropriate skills to do so.

A. I expressed interest in having a journalist position, which Con stated would fall under the communication hat. I see the concept of journalism as a combination of research and communication. What appeals to me most about journalism is spreading truth through honest reporting, and invoking empathy by sharing stories about adversity, overcoming it, and working towards a better future for the whole of life.

Q. What skill(s) do I possess that I could carry out reliably without assistance? E.g., If Athens’ Own needed my skills, or were to lend me to an organization for use of my skills, how would I be of use?

A. Research/writing, whether scientific or social; basic cooking; photography

May 242019



*See the end of this log for terminology used*

In February, one of our two dollies had a tire bulging out the side; the bead had been cut by the rim. We use this dolly to transport large loads of firewood inside the house, among other things. While searching for a new tire assembly (instead of replacing the entire dolly), we let some air out of the tube to decrease its pressure and the amount of strain on the tube and tire. I was later was informed by Con that the tire had been cut by from being improperly installed by hand, and was not cut be the rim.

In order to look for a new wheel assembly, we needed several measurements: axle diameter; length from outer edge of one side of cart to inner edge of split pin on same side of cart (split pins hold wheels on axle) divided by 2 (equaling max width of each new hub, including width for 2 washers per wheel and space for wheel so its not flush against cart); overall tire height; and tire width and rim size from tire label. Tire dimensions are generally labeled as “height/width – rim size”, but do not always include rim size. Labeled height is not the overall height, but from the inner edge (against the hub) to outer edge (touching the ground) of the tire.

A lesson I learned through this process was to ask “what is the basic function of this part, and what does it need to complete this function?” before any work is done. If any of the dimensions we measured were not met by the new wheel assembly, the dolly would not be able to function efficiently, or at all. If the new hubs were too wide, they could sit flush against the cart and split pins. At best, they’d create increased friction and wear, at worst they’d be too tight and the wheel wouldn’t rotate. If the new tires were too short, the tray would drag on the ground.

Each tire assembly was replaced individually; while doing the first, we left the old tire on the other side to help balance the cart. The axle was wiped of any grease/oil and dirt before replacing each, and re-oiled afterward.


wheel – circular metal piece onto which a tire is fitted

tire – rubber covering that is inflated or surrounds an inflated inner tube and is placed around a wheel to form a flexible contact with the ground

bead – edge of tire that sits on wheel

rim – outer edge of wheel that holds tire

tube – inflated, fits inside tire

hub – attaches wheel assembly to axle

axle – rod passing though center of wheel

Feb 222019



The Athens’ Own Intern Handbook compiles many of the ideas presented throughout this intern website, whether through information AO has provided, or through intern logs. It is the essential guide for interns to follow while working with Athens’ Own, but also contains principles that can help anyone towards their goals. Below is a summary of the handbook:

Guiding principles and procedures include a tailored experience, an interns maintenance of running work logs (for reflection, communication, and progress reporting), mutual learning, a desire for “life-long learning”, adherence to established AO communication systems, open discussion, experiential learning, and development of a personal holistic goal (search the web for Allan Savory and Holistic Management for further info).

Athens’ Own goals for interns are to “awaken”/increase systems thinking, community involvement, networking, and community resilience.

Internship learning objectives include an increased sense of purpose through resilience, holistic and systems thinking, informed decision-making, adaptive strategies through holistic management, incident command systems, the Worker Readiness Certification, and resilience theories/practices.

Athens’ Own expects interns to do their best, enthusiastically participate, improve themselves through “life-long learning”, be humble, respectful, eager, and adhere to established AO communication procedures.

Athens’ Own promises to create a tailored experience, integrate an interns goals with that of Athens’ Own, provide hands-on learning, develop new skills/ideas, certify an intern as a high quality worker through the Worker Readiness Certification and one-on-one mentorship, and increase an intern’s resilience. [End of handbook summary]

An Athens’ Own internship is a mutual learning arrangement, which requires a mutual agreement. Athens’ Own promises to work tirelessly to help interns reach their holistic goals; but, this requires an absolute dedication by the intern to commit to doing their best at achieving the above stated principles and procedures. What are you passionate about? What drives you? What are your skills, your talents? You can work towards all of these with Athens’ Own, while also working to identify and improve your weaknesses along the way. If this sounds like an exciting experience for you, and you are willing to commit to these principles and procedures, the first step of the process of application is to scour and for information.

For anyone thinking of applying to work with Athens’ Own, if you could do anything right now, and you had no obstacles in your way, what would you do? Athens’ Own can be the force to help you overcome the obstacles that are in the way of your goals.

Feb 092019



Beginning a new way of life is always an adventure. It can be exciting and it can be difficult, but it’s always an adventure. Coming from a suburban lifestyle, as a recent environmental science college graduate without a job in my field of study, I was excited to have the experience to learn more sustainability practices and live off-grid. Broadwell Hill Learning Center is located in Stewart, Ohio, and I’ve been living here since November, working alongside Con Faller and his business, Athens’ Own.

Part of the holistic goal of Athens’ Own is to build community resilience. In order to do that, one must be adaptable. In order to be adaptable, one must be open to new ideas. I will admit that adapting to life here has not been easy for me, but it has been a learning experience. I came into this opportunity knowing I would have to change how I live and operate, but I did not understand the degree to which I would need to do so.

Every day, every decision involves the constant consideration of its effects, something I think many of us are not used to. Initially, I was not fully open to this thought process, though I did try. It also involves a lot of continual practice, and is a gradual process. It has been one of many new ideas necessary to learn for life out here, off-grid, and necessary for me to form my own holistic goal. The development of this and many new ideas requires a constant openness and willingness to adopt them into my own life. Without doing so, I would be unable to adapt to this new situation, and miss out on a huge opportunity to increase my own resilience through Athens’ Own.

My time with Athens’ Own and Broadwell Hill has been an adventure thus far, and I know it will continue to be one. Using every day to learn is an opportunity we all have, but it is up to each of us to seize that opportunity. The first step is being open to new ideas. Sometimes they manifest in considering simple, yet complex thoughts; insignificant, yet meaningful actions: what if I didn’t have a thermostat I could just turn up if I was cold?

Sep 262017


Recently, Constantine and I discussed the idea of independence. The main question behind the discussion was “What does independence mean to you?”. This log entry is a reflection on that discussion.

Well before the discussion, I had ideas about independence, I believed it was important to me. I specifically included it in my holistic goal stating “I want to be independent”.

What did I mean by “be independent” though? When I was creating my holistic goal, I was thinking about my life to that point and what had shaped it, mainly what I had allowed to shape it. I was thinking of my dependence on others, especially financially, and socially. I want to be better equipped to provide for myself and to be more resilient; I want my ship to be ready for the storms ahead and I want to be ready to captain the ship alone if need be, that is what independence means to me.

Con brought up the idea that independence might manifest as freedom from the need of something, I agreed with him and drew parallels to the Buddhist concept of non-attachment. Independence in truest form would freedom from the need of anything. I do not think I will be transcending in this lifetime.

I plan to keep “I want to be independent” in my holistic goal, and focus some of my behaviors and systems on increasing financial and social independence; I think chapter 8 in Ann Adams “At Home With Holistic Management” could definitely help with the financial aspect.

Moving forward, I will continue to think about what independence means to me, and what aspects of independence I am dependent on.

Sep 152017

Written 9/15/17

In this log I am reflecting on my experience so far with Chapter 8, “outfitting your ship: financial planning” from Ann Adams At Home with Holistic Management.

As the title of chapter 8 highlights, the chapter is about financial planning in the context of holistic management (hm).

Holistic financial planning makes sense to me for a number of reasons, the main one is that it is holistic goal (hg) oriented. Because of the orientation towards one’s hg, one has increased personal buy-in in hm financial planning because they can clearly see that the financial planning will help them in achieving their goals, not only financially, but socially, and environmentally.

hm financial planning is about continuous progress towards one’s holistic goal through breaking past paradigms and fostering innovation for the future. The chapter also focuses on the importance of balancing income and expenses to generate profit, with an emphasis on planning income before expenses.

I look forward to better understanding the concepts in chapter 8 by applying them to my own finances and I am interested to find out what my planning will reveal to me about my current situation, and my future.

Sep 112017

Workday Outline

Day: Monday       Date: 9/11/17



Time slot: 0830-1045      

Activity: Check-in


Paul and Kathy (PR and KJ) participated in a meeting covering a wide range of topics discussing personal and group goals, qualities of life, and behaviors and systems.


A recognition that a prepared agenda would be helpful to bring to Monday morning check-in meetings to help keep on track with identified goals and projects and stay within time constraints; the prepared agenda would be based off followups from the previous Monday’s events, running project updates, and feedback on bWh related work activities. Another result is that PR recognizes the importance of development of conversation redirection skills.


Time slot: 1045-1100

Activity: Break




Time slot: 1100-1400   

Activity: GIS Project update, dialog on running tasks, dialog on shared goals for AO, bWh, PR and KJ


PR and KJ discussed the bWh GIS Project by itself but also as it related keeping to other running projects and a need to improve task management and accountability.


PR agreed to clarify how he saw his role as part of the bWh mapping project, either in a leadership position as project co-manager or as a project technician in a more applied role.



Time slot: 1400-1600

Activity: Preparations for rain from Hurricane Irma


PR brought in household items as well as tools before rain. PR also transferred invasive plant matter from golf cart trailer to burn pile located near the the north-west cornerof the forest opening along the driveway.


Preparations were made for incoming rain.





  • bwH sub-log topic has been covered by KJ and addressed for now
  • PBW info. has been recorded and will be sent to KJ for entry in bWh manual
  • PR contacted Athens Hocking Recycling about coated milk cartons and gave KJ update. Issue is still being pursued.
Sep 072017

Thursday 9/7/27


Morning – 0800-1130


  • Finishing yesterday’s bWh delivery (transporting gasoline and distilled water to appropriate locations)
  • Log writing and posting (based off yesterdays events)
  • Meeting with Con (C) about delegation to bWh to contribute to work party focused on invasive plant management
    • PR delegated to bWh, Kathy (K) is incident commander.

Lunch – 1130-1200


  • Meeting with K to discuss my role in invasive plant management event
    • PR to clarify specifics of delegation to bWh w/C
    • PR to be educated on brush cutter operation
    • PR to be familiarized with manageable unit of the day (stilt grass management area)
    • PR to begin bWh mapping project, using the stilt grass management area as a warm-up

  Afternoon – 1200-1630


  • Check-in w/ C and K about my delegation to bWh for the day
  • Way-point collection with GPS following K to establish boundary of stilt grass management area
  • Verification of Stilt Grass identification ability
  • Brush cutter education (Brush cutter was not used, neither K not I could get it started)
  • Compost (helped collect and dump compost, loaded trailer with hay for compost bin)
  • Garden work (pulling invasive grasses)



bWh mapping project: I was weary of starting the mapping project as I felt I was relatively unclear of what K was looking for. Based off further explanation and a walk-through, K helped me to better understand the concept of the project and the specific area that was mapped today.

I will follow up with K next Monday on thoughts for going forward with the project.

CommunicationsI felt that communications between myself and K, and between myself and C went fairly well today. There were a couple issues, such as when C brought up the topic of my delegation to bWh. In this exchange, I did not get enough information to be able to clearly explain the details of the delegation to K, which then required a second meeting with C for clarification.