Random Photos, Thoughts & a Video

My wife Tami is a shutterbug.  Since she keeps a photographic record of our lives, she inspired me to throw up some photos here.  This became Tami’s “glamor shot” for Industrial Evolution–my first book to include photographs.

IMG00200I receive random photos from around the world, and I thought I would put them up here.
This from my nephew in London: “Facing out and everything–nice work!”

DSC_0029Quail Ridge Books 2008.  My picture made the bathroom wall of this venerable institution.  Nice.

DSC_0144At a meeting of the E.F. Schumacher Society in Great Barrington, MA. Small is Possible hails from Schumacher’s tradition. This is the home to his library of books and letters. It was a remarkable place in the country, with an amazing internship program. Beside me, my son Zafer seems unimpressed by yet another reading… I found Schumacher’s library to be a fascinating and relaxing place that was populated by curious and intriguing people.

aussieMy friend Tarus was doing a consulting gig in Australia. I rent office space from him to store books. While he’s away I’m going to slip another thousand books into his room…

DSC_0172The sons took over the studio of WHYY after an interview I did for A Chef’s Table. We blasted through 25 radio interviews in the summer of 2008, adding a nice stressful dimension to our usual travels.

topsailWe dropped in on Quartermoon Books on Topsail Island during our annual stay there. Despite the idea that Small is Possible is aimed at local economy, biodiesel follows us wherever we go. Touring the book in the summer of 2008 was a fascinating ride. Wherever I went to discuss locally economy, I was greeted by people who wanted to talk about food vs. fuel and asking me to explain how biofuels are not evil.


For Biodiesel Power, Leif, Rachel and I ran around North Carolina having readings in conjunction with “Co-op” conversations, hoping to inspire grassroots biodiesel efforts in neighboring communities.

We did this in Boone, which now has a biodiesel consumer coop, and we did it in Wilmington, at Cape Fear Biofuels, when they were going strong.  North Carolina’s pattern of commercial biodiesel development is clearly modeled on the thinking of Piedmont Biofuels, as outlined in Biodiesel Power and Energy Blog.  When you look at a map of biodiesel production in the United States you see that North Carolina’s industry is characterized by a series of small scale producers, rather than 100 million gallon monster plants.

DSC00437Tami and I had a fabulous trip to Malaprops in Asheville during our Biodiesel Power adventure.  It was a severely truncated tour because the book came out just as we were opening our biodiesel plant.  Bad timing.  Lesson learned.

LyleBelow is the “glamor shot” that Tami arranged to be taken by John Rosenthal. When she was a waitress in college she used to wait on his table occasionally, and she has never broken her infatuation with him.

It’s the “author” shot for Biodiesel Power, and what it taught me was that no one cares if you have an artful glamor photo of yourself on your book jacket.  Just grab a digital camera and smile.

I think people do care about “blurbs,” however.

When you watch people “shop” for books, they automatically turn to the back cover for inspection.  I do the same thing.  If I recognize the name of a “blurber” on a back jacket, I’m more inclined to buy the book.
I buy more books than I can read.It’s a problem I have. Nowadays publishers send me books to review and to write blurbs for, which means I am buried in books.

DSC_0045Small is Possible was picked up by Whole Foods.  They are a big supporter of The Abundance Foundation where Tami works, so yes, I did a “signing shift” in a grocery store.

It was a little bizarre sitting in a grocery store, ready to sign books for shoppers, but that’s OK.  I’m glad Whole Foods is carrying the book.

DSC_0002We also ran down to Wilmington to do a fundraiser for Cape Fear Biofuels.  They vanished, but Piedmont eventually opened a dispenser in Wilmington out of respect for their efforts…


My editor at New Society lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia. I like to tease her about her idyllic life–mostly because I am jealous of anyone who gets to sit around and read for a living.

I should say I was embarrassed by their release of The Better World Shopping guide, prompting this photo…

smallfront One time when I was away from the plant, we received an order for some biodiesel from the Obama people. They wanted some fuel for the inauguration. That request ignited our imagination and someone (I think it was Moya) decided that Barack needed a copy of Small is Possible, and that it would be best if everyone around signed it. So a copy of the book was shipped to D.C. with the fuel. They also sent a Piedmont jigsaw puzzlefor Barack’s girls, and a T.S. Designs Biodiesel t-shirt for his wife. Thoughtful group.

timsign I was in Canada at the time, so I received the story via email and blog posts, but one of my favorite photos was the inscription by Tim, who is a perennial Intern at Piedmont Biofuels.

Tim’s inscription is on page 41 and it reads, “Thank you for reading this far. We know your time is extremely valuable,” and it is signed “Tim Angert.”

As I recall, Tim left our project in North Carolina and went home to Pennyslvania to vote. At the time it was a swing state.

A fantastic and fun, inspiring community “Green Carpet” gala event at the Plant, Pittsboro.

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"Lyle Estill tells the amazing story of how a biofuel company became, among other things, a worm ranch, a garlic farm, a housing coop, and a foundation. In short, Industrial Evolution reveals how a vibrant business created a resilient community, able to ride out the credit crunch, Depression 2.0, and whatever else is thrown at the folks at Piedmont Biofuels."
Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer