Lonny Grafman is getting to the point where he considers himself an author. Cal Poly Humboldt’s instructor of Environmental Resource Engineering has posted work in peer-reviewed journals and online, but is still adapting to his new role as a book writer.
To catch the rain, originally released as part of a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2018, features testimonials, resumes, and techniques for rainwater harvesting. His retinue, For sunbathingteaches its readers to design and build solar photovoltaic systems. For sunbathing was released in 2021. Both books created several Amazon “hot lists”.
“I was inspired by Octavia Butler, a speculative fiction author who has written fantastic books,” says Grafman. “She wrote this series, Parable of the Sower And Parable of the talents, about a realistic dystopian future where he walks from Los Angeles to Humboldt County. Before taking the walk, he reads all of his father’s books in his library to figure out how to survive. I wanted to write the books I wanted to be on his bookshelf ”.
Both books are available as free digital downloads, but proceeds from the sale of hard copies go to support the Appropedia Foundation, an open source database that allows people around the world to share renewable technology projects.
For sunbathing was written in collaboration with Joshua Pearce, professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Queen’s University in Canada. Pearce is a prolific academic author ranked in the top 0.1% on Academia.edu, and is known by some of his colleagues as “Dr. Solar. “Grafman says that collaboration with Pearce allowed him to combine his co-author’s academic approach with his” how to make things happen, “practicality.
“Once people started getting in touch to share the projects they have made using To catch the rainI’ve been hooked! “Says Grafman of writing a second book.” The more resources a community can acquire and create on its own, the more power and resilience the community has. I want to be a part of it. “
Grafman’s work takes him to communities around the world, and he says one of the most popular sections of his books are the stories drawn from those communities, from working with an elementary school to installing a rainwater tank in the Dominican Republic working in India on a solar panel that uses a metal shield to protect the solar panels from stray rocks thrown at monkeys. The books also include a math and science curriculum for a variety of school levels and a DIY section with projects that can be scaled as needed.
“Books are very agnostic about the types of materials you’re building with, depending on the community and the country you might be in,” says Grafman. “So for gutters, for example, you have components like metal vs bamboo vs PVC.”
Grafman adds that he felt a strong call to work with communities so they can meet their own needs, but acknowledged that there were only so many systems he could work on himself in any given year. This was a strong impetus for him to write the books, which have been translated into multiple languages, to put more knowledge in the hands of people who want it.
“People with money could talk about residual income,” he says. “I want to know about the residual impact”.