This sanctuary concept started out as a humble plan for an inexpensive, self-sustainable home for my wife and me. It then evolved into a home with some cats, then a home with more cats, then a home with many cats, until finally it became a small cat sanctuary.
If I had the financial means, I would build the facility myself. My wife and I would run it on our own while I conduct experiments and develop the cat-specific systems. I would then slowly add more and more space in preparation for whatever or whoever GOD might bring. If eventually others grew dedicated to the cause, our facility could expand into a median sized sanctuary, then a large sanctuary, and one day, possibly, many sanctuaries all designed around this low-overhead concept and each dedicated to a particular special need. (I dislike arbitrary limits, so I tend to plan big just in case.)
For many years this sanctuary concept has been an ever-changing, ongoing, casual mental-project. The more that I happen to learn or discover, the more it evolves. In other words, because of so many unknowns, it is not a single fixed-design concept. It is instead an interconnected collection of categories of design considerations (potential worthy-design-options). This collection has been gathered and manipulated over the years in an attempt to fulfill an ever-evolving list of requirements based on a challenging set of criteria born out of what some might consider a rather peculiar design philosophy.
Each design consideration is associated with it’s own list of as yet unanswered technical questions (one of the mountains I referred to earlier in part 2). As one-by-one these technical questions get answered, the design considerations in each category will rise and fall in preferability until eventually one consideration will prove itself to be the most viable, feasible, cost effective, appropriate, etc.
For me, this has been a fun mental-project, like playing a very long, casual game of chess. Up to now, I have not aggressively pursued answers to all those technical questions – except for a few here and there out of my own curiosity and I’ve often come up short. Since I lack the necessary detailed knowledge in each technical area and don’t have the space or money for experimentation, attempting to answer this mountain of questions myself would be a time-consuming, inefficient, haphazard process – like learning how to form and operate a corporation on my own. This is why I will always seize upon opportunities to tap into the experience and wisdom of acknowledged experts in various technical disciplines. I’m always looking for friendly technical advice.
This sanctuary concept was formed around a simple spiritual philosophy: “Keep it humble and pure.” I believe in all forms of responsibility, frugality and good stewardship, not just with my own financial and personal resources, but with this entire planet and what it has to offer. And for me, this simple philosophy represents well that aspect of myself and more —
The engineer in me will always favor function over form when it comes to this sanctuary concept. I don’t mind what each system looks like so long as it functions, for as long as possible, with simplicity, efficiently enough to suit projected needs and is easy to access and repair. Longevity, simplicity, accessibility and maintainability are how I define the concept of purity from an engineering perspective.
From a spiritual perspective, my concept of purity for this project is a bit more complicated. Purity for me involves avoiding the consequences of evil. God said that the love of money is the root of all evil. So in every way possible, I try to steer clear of anything that represents a love of money over that of GOD and His children. To avoid the effects of the love of money, I ask the question “what’s the catch?” Then, I avoid the catch. It’s that simple.
Purity also involves avoiding spiritually poor choices – such as taking shortcuts out of impatience, laziness or carelessness, or favoring design considerations purely out of vanity, pride or selfishness – and instead, laboring perpetually in support of the good, which in this case means creating a stable, safe and peaceful environment that promotes health, healing and contentment.
Whenever my two concepts of purity (engineering and spiritual) come in conflict, I will always try to seek a resolution through GOD’s perspective. In matters of safety for example, I will humbly accept increased costs and reduced simplicity and accessability. I learned that lesson with both Daisy and Simon. (see part I)
The humble side of my philosophy involves patience and a willingness to toil for long periods performing tasks others would avoid – the dirty jobs. GOD has provided me with a technical mind and time in abundance. It’s money I don’t often have. So, I will compensate by spending my time toiling patiently in humble ways to accomplish my goals, like when I gleaned materials from those construction dumpsters and built cat-furniture. I believe this humble willingness pleases GOD.
(1) Try to avoid environmentally hazardous or artificial materials that off-gas.
(2) Try to minimize the use of cellulose. (wood/paper/plant fiber – things that rot or burn)
(3) Utilize an effective combination of passive solar techniques to achieve a zero energy design.
(4) Adopt sufficient solar power technologies and recycling techniques to achieve a nearly non-polluting, total green (zero carbon footprint) operation.
(5) Attempt to approach self-sufficient (zero overhead) operation. (This will never be completely zero because of periodic maintenance/replacement costs, veterinary medical costs, insurance and government taxes/fees.)
(6) Create a facility that, in every way possible, watches out for the cats automatically, like a guardian, and promotes healthy activity and interaction.
(7) Design a facility that is expandable to meet future space requirements.
(8 – Part A) Avoid where possible material items that involve any unscrupulous method to increase/force/perpetuate profit, such as those that:
- are designed for built-in/planned obsolescence/depreciation/failure
- contain deliberate/unnecessary non-standard/customized/hard-to-find/unreplaceable parts
- are deliberately not serviceable or repairable
- are made with inappropriate/unnecessary artificial/poor-quality materials
- are deliberately constructed poorly using sub-par manufacturing techniques
That now all-too-common complaint “they sure don’t make them like they used to” is a direct result of the kind of love-of-money attitude that I feel a great responsibility to defend against. Lovers of money do not have my sanctuary’s best interest at heart, and so I do not care to be at their mercy. I would rather keep out the unpleasant consequences of their choices, and thus prevent future disappointment, frustration, headaches and forced financial expenditures.
I’m willing to patiently seek out those rare, quality items-of-the-past or take the time to design my own systems out of plentiful, common materials and even glean abundant materials which society might generally consider worthless junk. (For example, the cat furniture which I built out of discarded construction materials is of higher quality and value than anything I could have bought.)
(8 – Part B) Avoid where possible material items that are designed for any alternate, profitable purposes, such as those that:
- are designed for ease of shipping and storage solely for the manufacturer/merchant’s sake, not for the buyer’s
- are overly complicated with unneeded options, added to appeal to the widest market
- have a fancy/vain/superficial form-over-function design
- are designed for overly quick/convenient use
Material items in this category are typically not appropriate permanent solutions. The alternate purposes for their design often interfere with their overall functional quality, maintainability, longevity and simplicity.
(8 – Summary Discussion) The net result of this last criterion (Part A & B) will most likely be a sanctuary facility containing many unusual looking systems that would seem more at home in Thomas Edison’s workshop or in a university laboratory where all essential components are clearly visible for teaching purposes. For example, instead of seeing a couple of expensive, self-contained, electric-powered, commercial freeze dryers with their many breakable parts and pricey maintenance contract, you might find instead many large, evacuated, clear-glass bell-jars sitting on shelves in a simple solar-powered walk-in freezer.
Attempting to meet this challenging set of eight criteria has provided me with many years of mental amusement. I often get lost in thought about it. But inevitably, I reach a point where I am blocked by all those still-unanswered technical questions.
The following is a partial list of the technical areas pertaining to the most currently preferable design considerations. As questions are answered and considerations change, obviously so will this list.
If you the reader, or someone you know, is an expert in any of these areas and would like to help, I sure would appreciate it.
- Mining and Minerals Engineering
- Sandstone Prospecting and Quarrying
- Passive-Solar Roof Design
- Natural Convection Airflow Design
- Structural Engineering
- Glazing – Broad Spectrum UV Coatings
- Roof-mounted Solar Cell Technologies and System Components
- Multi-functional Solar Collector Design (possibly)
- Solar-(Stirling or Steam)-Electric Generator Systems Design (possibly)
- Fuel-Cell Technology, Electrolysis and Gas Storage (possibly)
- Ozone Production for Water Purification (Good or bad?)
- Air Liquification & Fractional Distillation Micro-System Design
- Freeze Drying
- Chicken Farming (Animal Husbandry)
- Aquiculture (Fish Farming)
- Vermiculture (Worm Farming)
- Aerobic Composting Techniques/Teas/Inoculates
- Self-watering Wick-Pot/Barrel Design
- Plant Pollination Techniques (mason bees, etc.)
- Solar Glass Furnace Design (possibly)