Wisner Resources

Wisner Resources: Burning Answers


Erica Wisner is a public education specialist, team coordinator, crisis manager, and volunteer fire fighter.
Ernie Wisner is a retired sea captain, fire fighter, botanist, fisherman, and hands-on problem solver.

Wisner Resources offers a wide range of books, videos, hands-on trainings and training curriculum materials, and private consultation for those interested in thoughtful, practical, creative and time-tested solutions to common problems. 
We travel internationally in season, and regionally in the Pacific/Montane West.  When we're at home, we live in the Okanogan Highlands, on the first mountain south of Lake Osoyoos.

Team Wisner: Affiliates, partners, and service providers

Burning Questions  .'.  Burning Solutions

If you've attended one of our fire trainings (or almost anyone else's), you've likely seen instructors use a list of "Burning Questions."  These collaborative, poster-sized notepads let the group collect any questions that occur to anyone, at any time, during the training or outside of class hours.  The trainer uses the list to address every question, not in the order received, but in the order that the expert instructor considers most effective.  Some questions will naturally "answer themselves" during the planned course or project.  Other questions may wait until the end, when the whole group is ready for extra details like advanced topics, alternatives, or local-knowledge specifics.  (I've never seen a question refused, but I have seen them answered with "talk to me privately.")

There are a lot of "burning questions" in the world today.  Some are old questions, with a lot of time already invested in proven solutions.  The oldest questions, like how to handle water and fire, go back to the pre-historic beginnings of humankind.  There are a lot of solutions that have been tried, with proven results (for good or for ill).  It would take many lifetimes to learn them all, let alone replicate the path through trial and errors.  New possibilities are still emerging with industrial inventions - old problems can have new solutions, which in turn create new problems to resolve.

There are also many new and urgent questions, relating to unprecedented changes in human populations and experience.  Finding appropriate answers requires creative pattern-recognition and real-time innovation.  Some of these answers will not be known within our lifetimes; it definitely keeps an "expert" humble trying to help solve problems at this scale.

As we transition into an unknown future, we may not always have access to an expert instructor to stack and answer our questions in a sensible order.  But we have a lot of intelligent collaborators.  Thanks to world-class mentors, colleagues, and innovators, we have been shown more than our fair share of excellent solutions. 

Sharing these solutions, and collaborating with our peers and communities to develop more of them, that's our mission.

Services for Hire: A rough guide to the value of our time

- Projects, Your Way: $10,000+  (For experimental, conventional, or fantasy projects, please consider hiring a local contractor or artist-in-residence.)
- Projects, Our Way: $3,000+    (If your goals match our priorities and expertise, our services become more efficient, with greater value for money.)
- Projects, Lead/Train Your Crew: $600-1000 per day + expenses
- Public Events and Custom Coursework: $300-1000 per half-day + expenses  (minimum $150, public events, private classes, custom presentations. For your events, see "Arrange a Workshop" page)
- Private Consulting/Tech Support: $150/hour     ($90/hour for flexible clients, $450 non-refundable deposit for project consulting / site visits)
- Participate in a scheduled course: $25-$500 depending on course details, see Upcoming Workshops page
- Self-Study Resources: $3-50 per book, plan, video, or online course
- Free Info: Try www.Permies.com, or YouTube, then ask us if needed. 
We routinely give up to 10 minutes free by phone or email.  To go beyond that, please purchase a 1-hour consultation.

Engaging our Services:
Please send your deposit via PayPal: PayPal.me/EWisner
Checks or money orders can be made to: Erica K Wisner, Wisner Resources.  Email us at questions@ErnieAndErica.info, or call our home office at 509-556-2054, if you need our postal address.
For most projects, we require a non-refundable deposit of 1/3 the project value, or $300 for new project consulting. 
If for any reason we are unable to accept your project, we will refund the balance of your deposit.

Counter-Offers and Public Charity Work:
First, please enjoy our extensive free, public advice archives at www.permies.com, or come see us at one of our affiliates such as www.GreenOkanogan.org, www.7fires.org, ErnieAndErica, Mt. Hull Volunteer Fire District, etc. 
We do volunteer our time with select organizations, including offering trainings in our local community through the volunteer fire service, schools, and not-for-profit groups.
However, we are not able to take our show on the road without support.

As our time and mission allows, we do consider reasonable counter-offers. 
Please describe what services you need, what you are able to pay, and what alternative you might offer, such as bartering services, support, or charitable donation receipts.  Email your request to:
questions at ErnieAndErica.info.

If you would like to support our existing volunteer/charity work, please consider making an unrestricted donation earmarked "Wisner" to:
Seven Fires, www.7fires.org - PayPal to dir@7fires.org, or see website for other contact info.  Seven Fires supports our Living Legacy project, and logistics/scholarships for traveling events, traditional cultures, and First Nations/tribes.
Mt. Hull Fire Hall - OCFPD12@gmail.com - please contact before donating.  Mt. Hull Fire District is Erica's "home team" where we live.
Spirit of Grace - www.motaspirit.org - our home-away-from-home in Beaverton, Oregon, a good place for care packages and creative, inclusive spiritual community.
www.Permies.com - Purchase a premium membership by buying "PIE" slices, then give pie to Erica Wisner for care and feeding of online minions.

Expertise and Priorities:

Tech Support: We favor solid-state, old-school, natural, and non-toxic solutions where possible. Pre-industrial and traditional methods offer valuable insights for a post-industrial future. 
We also favor smart use of high tech to enhance our communications, durable infrastructure, team coordination, modeling and data processing, for well-researched and effective solutions. 
We do not favor permanent solutions to temporary problems, and we are wary of self-propagating experiments (whether GMO genes, Internet memes, or institutionalization of public interest).

Examples of Wisner-Friendly Tech:
- Community-based Design, Placemaking, Permaculture Design

People Support: We do not believe that even the most well-intentioned law can prevent the past (or prevent the future).  "There oughtta be a law" is usually an emotional, not rational, response to unpleasant surprises. 
We do believe that groups of people bringing together diverse experience, knowledge, and skills for the highest good may produce better solutions than even the most brilliant individual.  

Hands-On Trainings / Experiential Education (learning by doing)
- Earthen masonry heaters and cob ovens
- Boat building: traditional skin-on-frame and other Arctic and Pacific Rim styles

Team Facilitation: volunteer, professional, home-school families; mixed-skill and mixed-age teams
A few of our past partners/employers:
OMSI, City Repair Project, Spirit of Grace, TrackersEarth, AHS Masque Society, 8Shields.com, 7fires.org. 

Paper Wizardry: If it involves paper or sheet goods, Erica makes a lovely artist-in-residence.
- Instructional Writing / Editing / Illustration
- Custom Paper Patterns / Stencils / Tin-smiths' Templates
- "Paperwork" - nobody's favorite, but we get it done.  Office help is often on our "Wants" list.

Problems we currently consider high-priority:

The Long Emergency:
As described in books like "Powerdown" and "The Long Emergency," the 'civilized' world is in a transition from high-energy, high-tech, and largely unsustainable industrial practices, through a bottleneck of depleted natural resources, toward a future that may look very different from either the past or the present. 
Change is always unsettling, but it doesn't have to be tragic.  If it's going to happen anyway, let's do it with purpose
   Our main approach in this transition is to support a "living library" of practical skills, good tech both ancient and modern, and conventional and alternative approaches, to help communities and organizations find their own best path toward a livable future.  We are actively involved in on-the-ground support for disaster relief, economic hardship, and practical experiments in alternative technology.
Work Examples:
 - Presentations: Rocket Mass Heaters; "Rocket Mass Heaters: Site Specific Design"
 - Building LifeBoats (literally): Sail and Human Powered Transport: Low-Cost, High-Capacity, Owner-Built Boats
 - Off-Grid Solutions for Heating and Cooling: Ancient "Refrigerators," "Freezers," and Heat - "The Nature of Power"
 - The Living Legacy Project

Public Safety and Resilient Communities:
Fire, Flood, and Climate Change
The industrialized world relies on expensive testing, equipment, and response teams to manage fire safety and climate-scale environmental disasters.  While we personally love being heroes, and find other people's disasters much more interesting than our own routine problems, we acknowledge that disaster response can be an expensive and dangerous approach to predictable problems.  Where the problems are preventable, prevention is the high road.  We support well-researched, practical, and cost-effective solutions to improve public safety, educate the public and train local talent, and work together for resilient communities.
 - Permaculture Design: Fire Resistant Landscaping
 - Permitting Non-Suicidal Wood Burning Stoves: The Rocket Mass Heater Builders' Guide
 - Incident Response Training: Erica is a qualified wildland fire fighter FFT2, EVIP trainer under the Washington State Fire Chiefs' system, and is working toward additional qualifications. 
Ernie's past quals included HazMat, space-to-space and wildland fire fighting, and a host of maritime quals including unlimited tonnage masters' license, cold-water survival, advanced first aid / WFR, and others.

The Good Life:   Science and Art for the Real World

Mark Lakeman used to say, "The easiest way to challenge the status quo, is to have more fun than they do."

This is an amazing time to be on the planet, with unparalleled opportunities. 

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Our future certainly looks magical - so many elements that seem straight out of fairy tales, comic books, or the ancient legendary battles of the gods.
How do we make the most of these epic opportunities, and prevent even more epic catastrophes?
What Ellen Swallow Richards called "oecology" or the science of right living, what became Home Economics, what Herb Bernstein called Muddling Through, and what Joseph Lstiburek calls "knowing your high school physics" with regard to Building Science, are all aspects of this same goal: to apply the most rigorous, experience-tested, and truest knowledge to the problems of everyday life. 

As an artist or as a scientist, we use both eyes to keep perspective on our work.  We need to see both raw reality, and visionary intention, at the same time.  Like most skills worth learning, this creative tension is challenging at first, and gets easier with practice. Hobbies and traditional crafts make great practice ground for creative problem-solving.

We have cherry-picked our favorite creative skills to produce short-format classes that are fun, challenging, satisfying, creative, and practical.  They combine self-expression with hands-on skills that satisfy at a deep level.  If you know how to learn, how to reach that state of creative problem-solving sometimes called "flow," and how to persist in imperfect practice until you reach your goals -  These are core skills from which all other skills can grow.

These creative topics can be very popular with leisure groups, families, schools and libraries.



Last Word of Thanks:

Mentors, Colleagues, and Collaborators: Where Research and Experience Come Together
We could not be who we are without the people who raised us.

CDRI (www.cdri.com)
Hampshire College (www.hampshire.edu)
OMSI (www.omsi.edu)
Illahee Society
The City Repair Project (www.cityrepair.org)
8Shields (www.8shields.org)
TrackersEarth (www.trackersearth.com)
PSU (e.g. School of Social Work)
Wheaton Labs (www.richsoil.com)
Seven Fires (www.7fires.org)
MiKu Valley Permaculture
The Endeavour Center
NIFC Wildlands Fire Refreshers: (https://www.nifc.gov/wfstar/)