Yesterday was a great talk with author, researcher, and talented artist Azby Brown who wrote the book "Just Enough" in 2010. So many of the topics are still very relevant today, even more than 10 years later. Azby spent many years studying the Edo period in Japan's history and offered up so many insights into the success and innovation during that Edo-Jidai era.

It was a period in Japanese history when they were able to innovate with low-tech solutions to environmental problems that made their lives more sustainable. During that period, they looked to local solutions to recover from environmental destruction. Many parallels to our current situation we are facing on a global scale.

There are so many great philosophies and examples we talked about from innovative farming techniques, a value system for human waste and the multiple positive knock-on effects of Sento public bath houses. I have put jump titles below, so you can jump to topics you are interested in hearing about.

Azby Brown is also a talented illustrator artist and the video features his drawings of the main concepts described in the book. I'd love to hear your comments and questions from our discussion.

Azby's Official Website: | Listen to the Audio Podcast Version

  • 00:00

  • 01:18 Story of writing "Just Enough"

  • 03:00 Sustainability + Edo Period Research

  • 04:40 Focus on Connections between people-planet-profits

  • 06:00 Indigenous cultures farming similarities worldwide

  • 06:30 Cascading Farm Design - Nature's Flow

  • 07:25 Meaning of "Just Enough"

  • 08:00 Avoiding excess + living life undisturbed by the unnecessary 09:45 Shifting perceptions of necessary

  • 10:23 Lack of personal freedoms, but good social bonds

  • 11:52 Governance

  • 12:35 Tanaka Yuko-sensei's Edo-period research

  • 14:15 Wealth + Power Gap - not economically sustainable

  • 15:00 Doing simply & beautifully - not doing without

  • 16:00 Solutions from within Japan

  • 16:30 Multiform solution

  • 17:16 Sento Public Bath example

  • 19:50 Sento: dealing with issues of water+energy+hygene+social+economic in combination

  • 25:00 Refining ideas over time - reassess and improve

  • 26:00 Gyosui - naturally heating water from the sun for tea and baths

  • 27:00 Toilet: Reusing and creating value from human waste

  • 30:00 Economic value of human waste

  • 32:40 Drawings by Azby

  • 33:20 Research thanks to efforts of many others

  • 34:00 Site visits, research materials of others, museum information, talking with experts 35:00 Inspired by Eric Sloane

  • 36:30 Manuals with illustrations from the government to communities

  • 37:00 Government commissioned researchers to publish books on agriculture

  • 37:45 Waka- aural culture of passing on useful information

  • 39:00 Important farming + irrigation + nature (watersheds) knowledge

  • 42:30 Irrigation channels still exist from Edo-era

  • 43:40 Full use of all byproducts of rice

  • 47:00 Straw as important building material with fermented clay

  • 48:20 Kamado efficient cooking system

  • 50:00 Kamado oven use possibilities in Zambia 50:58 Appropriate technology is not always the most high-tech 52:00 YUI cooperative labor practices

  • 55:21 Susowake - Distribution of Excess to others in the community

  • 57:00 Local currency idea

  • 57:57 Long-term use of buildings and reuse of materials should be brought back

  • 58:30 Buildings are our stories and shared identity

  • 59:20 Azby's next talk (1/28/2021) on traditional Japanese carpentry and architecture #azbybrown #edoperiod #sustainability