12 Degrees of Freedom

Look to see what needs to be done
That no one else is doing
And do it

Bucky Fuller

1. In the late 70s Jack Powers and I were hired to supervise a group of teens who had summer jobs at the Christian Herter Center - a public-private environmental arts center in Brighton, MA. Originally charged with building a brick barbecue, the director asked if we could find a way to provide water to the community garden that was located on the grounds.
3.  We had no budget to speak of and no way of knowing if digging a well even made sense.  So Jack and I invited a local dowser to come and speak to the kids about his art. The center was located on the banks of the Charles River, so we figured our odds were pretty good. The dowsing activity was used as a way to engage the kids, who at first, weren't exactly excited by our idea.

Dare To Be Naive: Christian Herter Community Well

Do we really have 12 degrees of freedom at every decision point?  Probably.  The most obvious options that spring to mind are those that track most closely with conventional wisdom.  That only makes sense.

More options emerge when we take advantage of our intuition, imagination and the synergy of the collective wisdom of a variety of people representing the full spectrum of perspectives.

The further the options take us from our comfort zones of time and space (far from equilibrium), the less likely they will be taken into serious consideration. 

That does not make them less viable.

This section offers lessons learned from my own and other's experiences.

4. One of the young women, Gina, really got into dowsing. She took it seriously and set out to find the site for our well.  Incredibly she found a pocket of fresh water.
2. We discussed and weighed a number of options with the team of kids.  There were no nearby sources of city water.  The one building on the grounds was too far to run hoses from. 

We decided to explore the possibility of digging a well although neither Jack or I hadn't a clue how to do that.
The Christian Herter Community Garden
5. Adele Seronde, the President of the Center, was so moved by level of enthusiasm everyone had for the effort that she provided funds to buy the wellhead and sections of well pipe that I picked up at a local hardware store in Cambridge (!) and lugged them back to the Herter Center on a bus. We each took turns digging the well hole with a hand auger.
6. Poet and founder of Stone Soup Poets, Jack Powers pitched in. 
7. I know there's water in there somewhere.
8. Subtle adjustments were sometimes necessary.
9.  Relaxing after a job well done.  Note the WBZ tower behind the truck and compare with the last photo below of the erected sailwing windmill.
10. Years later. Gary Hirshberg and Scott Stokoe of the New Alchemy Institute heard about our project and installed a sailwing windmill to replace the hand pump we had installed to pull the water from the well.New Alchemy has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Grants Program.
11 Time to put our feet up and admire our work!
The process begins by following Bucky's advice to: "See what needs to be done that no one else is doing and do it!"

Walking through the Design Science Planning Process should guide you towards the Degrees of Freedom relevant to the task at hand.  You have to be willing to consider the "improbable" even the seemingly "impossible".  In this case, the notion of digging a well in the city on state-owned land, much less dowsing to find the right spot, might never have found their way onto the radar screen of many planners using conventional decision-making tools and methodologies.  The idea of erecting a wind turbine to pump the water didn't occur to any of us until the New Alchemists brought that option to the table.

Wind energy would become a recurring theme in my life.