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
 

3/12/2019

by SOFB

*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.

Terminology:

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
 

by SOFB

2/22/2019

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 athensown.biz and interns.athensown.net 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
 

by SOFB

2/9/2019

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?