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:

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!


“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:

Three days and thirteen people and we have a little building. At the end of a workshop I have few words- feeling the satisfaction of the richness of working together and seeing results:

We all look forward to continuing the workshop next Friday for the Body coat!

The fact that today we celebrate Mothers day stimulated a conversation about families over pancakes this morning.
When I asked one of the interns about his parent’s age he said “mid fifties” and I realized: that’s me- almost. My mother talked about that too: “I think of you as 25 still…” just as I think of her as 40-something.
Aging sneaks up on you- by now I’m supposed to be all grown up and have life figured out. But the reality is: I keep learning: about myself and the world, always changing and creating, and I still wonder “what am I going to do with my life?”
Looking back the path is pretty obvious but looking ahead there are choices to be made, obstacles to overcome and many unknowns. Being in relationship with my partner influences my choices as does my relationship to this community.
When recently the women held a crone ceremony for me I felt the call to move into the role of an elder. Who are my models for this?

In community we get to see all the stages of life and have relationships with all generations. That makes for good conversations around the fire or the dinner table and offers much inspiration to me. It reminds me of other perspectives and needs, and challenges my habits!

And to wrap up for today a link to some further reading:
One of our interns this year just published an article about permaculture in Urban gardening magazine. Congratulations Javan!

PS. :Monday morning and someone just sent this Mother’s day you tube link that I’d like to share with you: