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Cob in the Village

Remember that tune: “It’s a cool , cool summer….” ? Ok…it’s not cool but cruel in the original version but everybody got the tune anyway, right?
Well it still comes up in my head when I think about last week’s “Cob in the Village” workshop.
A joyful bunch of people got together and learned to build with cob.
With Summer being hesitant to say the least (thus the tune) we spent the week creating the Bath house at the Art Studio: a two room building that will have a bucket compost toilet in one space and a shower and sink in the other. On the exterior is another sink serving the toilet and anyone needing a handwash.
All Waste water will be directed by underground piping to the berry bushes on the slope below the building. A solar water heater will provide hot water in summer and a propane heater serves in colder months.
During our time together we talked about tips and techniques around cob, foundations, roofs, finishing and design ideas.
I watched how everyone gained such confidence in working with the material in just a few days and feel reassured about the empowering quality of this way of building.
And then there was another altered disco tune: “It’s raining cob, haleluja, it’s raining cob…”
With that I invite you to have a look at the slideshow:

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good rhythm


Giving people the space to learn and practice hands on skills is one of the central things at our village.
Last week interns were engaged in many tasks- and as leader of the building program I don’t get to fully observe what the garden team is up to. However, there they were on a sunny afternoon cutting the tall grass on a hillside with scythes.
There’s something about the rhythmic swinging movement that has an old fashioned appeal to me. It takes a while to find that rhythm, and once established the effort becomes easier. I tried and have to admit that I’ll need a lot more practice!

Meanwhile the Natural Building Skillbuilders were working on the Bathhouse: after laying most of the stone foundation the previous week we put in plumbing pipes and floors- or floor bases. The little building is set on a slope and we are stepping the floor levels to match that. This way our composting toilet will be accessed from a lower path on the West side, the shower and washing space has its own doorway from the East. The south wall will include some solar hot water system. Stay tuned for more on that.

Finally on Saturday a Wedding: We celebrated with our friends and danced until late last night to the tunes of the Ecclestons. Some good rhythms there for all to play!

 

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coming and going


“Comings and goings “ is a regular agenda item in our weekly community meeting: this week Chris, Kate and little Fergus left after being here for almost six months. Everybody deals with parting in a different way- some are able to express their feelings right there in the moment, for others the “missing” of the person doesn’t begin until after they’re gone. Here we sing a song as farewell:

“while you are away
from your people we do pray
that in your searching you will find
balance in your heart and mind “

Spending a few months together we get used to the place/ role someone takes on in the web of community. Chris spent a lot of time building and fixing things and I will miss his confidence as builder. Kate inspired me to start running again this spring- thank you!

And Fergus, being the youngest child on site, gave us all the chance to be silly and to remember how quickly children grow. In the time here he learned to walk and is now speaking his first words.

I wonder how the fact that we have so many people coming in and out affects the children. What does Fergus think now? Here a toddler is surrounded by people outside the family: older children and adults who give attention and interact with him. It is safe here for parents to give their child a larger range of movement- there are many eyes on the children.

So Kate, Chris and Fergus: we wish you well on your journey and hope to see you again soon!

Today is the second big day of arrivals: Welcome skillbuilders! The tent village fills up and we start our “permaculturalization” tomorrow morning.

And Friday and Saturday were the final days of the Small Straw Bale workshop: Friday was spent doing a lot of filling: with light clay, cob and straw.
On Saturday we applied the “bodycoat” and everyone got muddy! Have a look:

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changing the clock

Today is the first day of daylight savings time for this year. This switch of the clock is a reminder to me of (hu)man’s artificial ways of relating to life and nature.
I happily am in the position of waking up with the morning light most of the time. There’s a built in response in our bodies that wakes us at daybreak if we’re exposed to the light. In my experience I’m happiest if I follow that first natural wake-up call and actually get up.
On Sundays, however, I will allow myself to stay in bed and go for another round of dreams.
When I finally got up this morning, the day was in full swing. We had planned a clothing swap for the morning where we could offer up things we no longer use to others in our village. I scored some magazines which I plan to use for a vision board exercise with my group this summer.
There’s an unspoken agreement here at play on Sundays: we claim this day as personal time or family time. Living in community teaches everyone to give space, we know that the busy summer season will soon be here when the village fills up with students, interns and visitors. So for now we enjoy the luxury of quiet times.
Having said that there’s still things to do: the Credit Union, our central composting toilet in the garden is my care responsibility this week. So I clean, refill, and replace what’s needed. Someone has installed a magazine holder for toilet reading material. A toddler’s toilet seat has also been added recently.
Mike is out in the new garden area preparing for his special potato plot- I’ll write about that when I learn more.
I hear the dog barking and go out to meet two visitors I’m expecting. These folks called to come and talk about natural houses and hoped to actually go inside one. Yes! This is where that can happen! I take them for a walk to the Healing Sanctuary, our hybrid cob and straw-bale building. I’m watching their eyes light up as they walk through the sculpted space. We discuss the differences between the materials, how the process works and when they can come and learn. We move on to spend the rest of our visiting time in the Art Studio where I live. Made of cob and light clay, this building is full of fun details. My visitors chat for a while and leave with the statement:”I want to live in a house like this”. Yes I am very blessed to live here.

As this Sunday settles into a rainy afternoon I will go back to my book “The secret teachings of plants” which also has me thinking about our very limited ways of describing nature – just like the changed clock.