Thursday, May 8, 2008

Off the Tradmill More

This will finish up my postings about the Off the Treadmill workshop. The first photo is the courtyard which is on the other end of the garden wall from the Myrtle and overlooks the garden (second photo). The third photo is looking out the large window in the Myrtle onto the garden. Linda is working on a discussion chart, Sarah, Ianto's apprentice gardener, is next; Todd and Kei Chi are seated also. In the photo of the outdoor kitchen, Ken is chatting with Ryan, the cook for this workwhop. Sarah and Ryan are married and are staying at the Boggs Homestead as part of a work/study/apprentice program. They were on loan to the NASNB for the workshop. Ryan is a photographer and did a great job as a first time cook. The last photo is Linda's kitchen inside of Laughing House.

As I said in the first post, I've given this workshop quite a bit of thought. There must be zillions of folks out there who have been exploring the ideas of self-sufficiency, permaculture, off the grid, etc, but up till now I haven’t examined my life with respect to those concepts and I would say that Ken and I stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb at the talk sessions. Ianto Evans, the man who was running them, is a Welsh man who has lived in the states for a long time. He states right up front that his reason for living here is to undermine the consumerism that is driven by (mostly) the US. His way of doing that relates to his field of study, architecture, but is very removed from formal concepts. He believes that people should not be living in houses that 1) make them sell their souls to banks; 2) are made of semi or outright poisonous materials; 3)require heating, ie, houses don’t feel the cold; 4) have gobs of unused right angle corner space; and 5) don’t embody the magic to make the inhabitants feel joy. He probably had a few more reasons to justify his belief in cob building but those are the first that I think of. We talked about family, food, housing, community, and money. I felt very attuned to lots of things he was saying, like making and doing so much for yourself. His gardening skills were amazing but that was covered rather sketchily. The houses were little oases of magic, even the ones that were in process, which was probably over 50% since the site is a school for cob building and people need to be able to experience all phases of the work.

On May 17, Todd, Kei Chi and I are headed back to learn the bare bones skills to build one of these cob cottages.

Off the Treadmill Other Structures

The first two photos are the washing station, which has the shower behind it, and the passive solar water heating system. Be sure to click on the water heating system. It is brilliant: just black hoses full of water being heated by the sun helped out by the glass in front of them.

The next two are the garden wall which runs from the courtyard (next post) to the Myrtle library. The closeup is the gate to the garden. As I understand it, all of the mass of the garden wall stores and holds heat to warm the garden soil.

The last photo, which should have been the first, is the troll bridge that we crossed over to get from where we parked the car up to the first of the cob buildings.

I neglected to take a picture of what I considered to be the most amazing auxillary structures: the outdoor composting toilets. Kei Chi said using the toilets was kind of like when we take the doggies to the potty box. They were sort of open outhouses facing out into the woods and surprisingly had no odor.

Off The Treadmill Buildings

We had come prepared to camp: two tents, sleeping bags and whatever other paraphernalia we could fit in the little car. As it turned out it was an extremely wet weekend, raining all of the way down and most of the rest of the weekend.
Linda and Ianto, who live and teach at the North American School of Natural Building offered to let us stay in some of the cob buildings. Being a teaching facility, many of the structures are in progress.
The first photo is the Meadow House where our gang stayed. As you can see it has no doors, but the windows are in place. Our sleeping bags were partly on a couch and partly on straw bales - very comfy especially compared to the very wet ground where our tents would have gone up.
The second photo is the Dawn cottage (facing east, of course) and Mary stayed there. On the other side facing west is the Dusk cottage, where Sally and Andy, stayed. It took me a while to understand that there were two cottages rather than one with two doors.
There are two shots of Laughing House (Ianto and Linda"s house) as well as a shot of Linda's kitchen in another post. Most of Laughing house is done but the downstairs sitting room is in progress: Linda had just finished building the couch/bench and was experimenting with a new cob mixture that contained styrofoam pellets.
The last photo is the back of the library (the Myrtle) and the very large window is the one visible in the participant post. Most of our sessions were held with all of us seated on the heated bench in the Myrtle. There were always ten to twelve of us in a small (square foot wise) space that seemed quite roomy.

Off the Treadmill Participants

I've been musing and musing about this, but since Todd, Kei Chi and I are going back to Oregon in about a week and a half, I decided it was time to get these photos up and let y"all see what I'd been up to.
The first photo is our gang Ken, Todd and Kei Chi. Next is The Ravin' which I originally thought was The Raven but it was explained that his "nickname" is derived from his style of online blogging. After that are Sally and Andy who travelled to the workshop from New Jersey. They also visited Washington and California on their journey. Next is Mary. She lives very near to us as it turns out and is also returning to Oregon in May for the cob building workshop. And last but not least is Bozidar posing with Todd. Bozidar is from Croatia and was returning there to open a retreat with his family as soon as this Off the Treadmill workshop was over.
We got to know all of these people fairly well as a lot of our time was spent exploring the reasons we were there and what we hoped to achieve from the experience.