While the LifeTrac project may free rural communities from dependence on specific, for-profit tractor manufacturers, it will not free them from dependency (and the associated side effects) on distant manufactures of engines, smelters of metals, or producers of tires. While this may be an improvement, it’s a Pyrrhic victory at best, as it will only transfer to locus of their dependency-derived problems, and will not actually bolster their resiliency to external shock or their ability to extract themselves from the growth-related problems that come from lack of localized self-sufficiency.
One example of rhizome platform design already in action is the Cinva Ram (hat tip to BrianT). The Cinva Ram is a low-tech, low cost, but highly effective manual press for creating mud bricks out of a variety of locally-sourced materials. A team of four people can make as many as 500 bricks a day with this device, and it can be easily assembled at the community level using open-source plans. Other examples, just in the building materials arena, include advances in rammed earth construction, experiments in papercrete construction, etc.
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