EcoEng Newsletter No. 11, October 2005

Don't alienate aliens

Content No. 11/05
Title page / Index
From the editors
Faces: H.v.Bohemen
Review: EE Book
Overview, Etnier
Kirk et al.
Composting (ch. 4)
Fecal composting
Policy Finl, Mattila
Desert infrastruct.
Writers' Fund
Ecosan Durban 05
Good bye T. Rohrer
Various issues:
Joe's Corner
Mailing list
By our correspondent Dave Digdeeper

Joe Swamp, in his mid-forties, once wanted to build a house in his wetland. The opinionated monster he is, he decided that it needed to be an all-ecological, sustainable, socially respectful undertaking. He did a lot of research, using the most advanced IT tools available in his swamp, printed out carefully everything he could get a hold of and collected it nicely in a huge folder made from willow bark.

With this folder he went to a local bank in a nearby city. For almost the first time he had to take a public bus in plain daylight, in order to be there during opening hours. Since it was around carnival time, people had fun looking at him and admired what they thought was a perfectly made disguise. Joe went with it and before long he was the star in the suburban bus line, until he had to get out downtown.

It was a bit harder for him to get into the bank building, but finally he managed to get to a counter, behind it an intimidated, confused young bank clerk.

"Good morning", Joe roared. "I need a credit for a house I want to build". "Good morning, Sir", the bank clerk answered. "Would you mind taking off your mask?"

"Yes I would", said Joe, "I have no other face. You have to take me as I am." "A-are you telling me you really look like this?" the bank clerk asked. "Are we talking about my looks or about my credit?" Joe barked, leaning over the counter.

"Excuse me, Sir, wait a second". Even more intimidated, the clerk pressed an emergency button on his desk. In less than 30 seconds a grim looking private security officer stood right next to Joe. "So, who is making trouble here?" he asked. "Your employee", Joe responded, "I need a credit and he does not want to talk with me". "The man does not want to take off his mask", the clerk said.

The security officer who had just gone through a de-escalation training looked at Joe sharply and then all the sudden said: "Would you like a coffee?" "Yes, please", Joe responded happily, "with water lily leaves, please". "Would cream and sugar also do?" "If you have no other...", Joe mumbled.

When the security officer returned with the coffee, he asked Joe: "So why did you come to our bank?" "Well, I saw all these ads out there, saying 'Need a car? Want to build a house? We'll pave the way for you. Low longterm credits for anyone'. So here I am. I want to build a house".

"What do you need it for?" the officer said, smilingly. "You look like a swamp beast, you could easily just live in a swamp. There are dozens of swamps outside the city. Living is free there, no charges, no taxes, no rents, no credits needed, no hazzle with banks, or public transporation, or unwanted mailings, or unfriendly grocery store employees. Why in the world don't you just go and live there?"

"Because I do", Joe grumbled and looked sharply at the officer, "I want something different. I want a house of my own, with a roof, a solar panel on it, a regular wood stove in it, running water, a kitchen, a bathroom, a room for my guests, a porch to sit on in the evening and do some fishing. I am sick of all these nights under dripping willow trees, do you understand." But neither the security officer nor the young clerk were able to understand who was standing in front of them.

When I met Joe the day after, he was already in the newspapers, and the police was looking for a "man disguised as swamp monster" who had "emptied a cup of hot coffee on the lap of a bank clerk" and had angrily smashed an entrance door, yelling "I want a credit, am I not anyone?" Even though the fuzzy images of the observation cameras were published everywhere, and in spite of a heated discussion on morals in times of carnival afterwards, Joe was never spotted. He still lives in his old swamp.

© 2005, International Ecological Engineering Society, Wolhusen, Switzerland