HOW’S THAT WORKING FOR YOU?

Marcin Jakubowski is an impressive person.  Thirty years ago at the age of ten with his family from Poland he arrived in the USA.  He later graduated with honors from Princeton and then completed a doctoral degree in nuclear fusion physics at the University of Wisconsin.  Jakubowski strikes me as the kind of person who could accomplish almost anything he desires.

A twist occurred in his life.  Several years ago he decided the academic life was not for him, but he became very interested in applying his talents to the creation of self-sufficient communities.  Thus was birthed “Factor e Farm.”  It is located about an hour north of Kansas City, Missouri, in a rural area near Maysville.  Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Ashlee Vance explains Jakubowski’s vision for his new mission (“The Post-Apocalypse Survival Machine Nerd Farm” 11/5/12–11/11/12, pp. 64–70):

“Jakubowski has named the place Factor e Farm, though the goal isn’t just the cultivation of crops.  Rather, it’s to create a completely self-sufficient community that produces not only its own food, but also energy, tools, and raw materials for making those tools.  Jakubowski’s ultimate purpose is both to live off the grid and to teach others—whether out of choice or necessity—how to do so too.” (p. 66)

I think Jakubowski presents an interesting and hopefully productive concept.  I don’t mean to criticize him.  He was one of the speakers at the 2011 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference.  Nevertheless, if he isn’t getting enough help and resources, he will have a hard road ahead!  And the sort of folks who do come to help him only add to the “hippy” or “commune” atmosphere, as Vance observes:

“By August 2012, there were 14 to 20 people staying on the farm at any one time, though it looked less like a farm than an unhygienic encampment for overeducated misfits.” (p. 67)

Upon her tour of the farm, Vance discovered 400 fruit trees not producing any significant quantity of fruit, a rundown greenhouse growing only weeds, and a warning from one of the working guests to not drink the water (“seriously”).  Vance’s descriptions are rather unappetizing:

“Bedrooms line one side of the building and a kitchen and bathrooms take up most of the other.  Between them is a common area with a table, couches, and open buckets of rotting waste that, in the historic Midwestern heat wave of 2012, produce a sweet, gag-inducing stench that sticks to the lining of the nostrils.  In the kitchen, strips of flypaper, covered in dead bugs, dangle from the ceiling.  House chore schedules posted on the walls are largely ignored.” (p. 68)

Isn’t this just the place you’d love to spend your summer vacation?  Oh, well—I can’t fault Jakubowski for his passion.  Eventually, he even intends to extract his own metals from the clay soil, construct a minisemiconductor fabrication plant, and build his own computers and robots.

Wow!  All I can do is ask, “How’s that working for you?”  Well, if he can do all he plans to do, more power to him!





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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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