Gallery: INTERVIEW: Sustainability Advisor Lonny Grafman on the Waterpo...


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If you live in New York City, you may soon have the chance to check out the Waterpod, an incredible self-reliant eco-habitat, exhibition, and living space designed to showcase sustainable grassroots technology. The Waterpod just launched this Saturday, and it will now dock for public viewing at various locations in Manhattan’s five boroughs. We had the chance to conduct an exclusive interview with Lonny Grafman, the project’s sustainability advisor, about this floating model of self-sufficiency.

Inhabitat: How did you get involved in the Waterpod project?

Lonny: A colleague of mine at Appropedia called me at 11 PM one evening and said, “Hey, there’s this project you really need to work on.” He handed the phone to the Waterpod’s visionary, Mary Mattingly, we hit it off, and started talking about the project. My official role is sustainability advisor, so I look at how systems integrate together. My role has also been to coordinate volunteers and fix problems, but there is also a lead designer and a lead builder.

Inhabitat: What technologies have you been working on?

Lonny: Physically, I’ve been working on everything. My students [at Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering Department designed 11 projects for the Waterpod, and we sent them out here to New York… including rainwater catchment and filtration systems, bicycle power, wind power, hydroponics, a composting toilet, and a chicken coop. We had 11 teams of three or four students each, and each team met with Waterpod workers at least once per week via Skype and email. They’re sophomores in college, but this is still all sophomore-level stuff. Now that we’re here at the barge, the projects are going through many different iterations, but some projects, like the bike power one, are ready to install.

Why is there a chicken coop on the Waterpod?

Lonny: Four or five chickens will be living on deck, eating food scraps, and providing eggs for food. We’re also looking at ways to convert chicken waste into hydroponic solutions.


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  1. Crosby September 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    At the moment I discovered the web for exactly this sort of information. Be grateful for to your posting that seek needs to end now. You wrote the posting in a clear way. With this, I added your websites as one of my personal favorites! Cheers!

  2. Lonny June 24, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Wow Sacred,

    Thanks for the kind comment. This project is a very community project. The artistic visionary Mary Mattingly and everyone involved has empowered others to help co-create the Waterpod… and that process is still going on!


  3. sacred June 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Projects like these give us hope and models for sustainability – which we need more now than ever-new ways of doing and being .

    Lonny is awesome:- he is a visionary with the brains, heart and brawn to lead the way to a bright future.

    Lonny-you rock!!

  4. nicolette June 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I remember a while back, there was a theory that in a few decades, human beings start living in self sustaining pods so that we can adopt a larger population. The waterpod looks like the beginning of this new wave of modern living.

    The interview seems to suggest that it will be built as ships, or part of a ship, that moves from port to port. So is this hinting that it could soon be integrated into even cruise ships?

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