Thursday, March 02, 2006

This page illustrates some of the building projects I'm working on (playing with!) at DM, as explorations of joy and offerings to the happiness of everyone. My goal in implementing these efforts is to discover what the least amount of infrastructure will offer the most comfort and grace, using the least amount of "produced" materials from off-site. But I think this page more importantly shows a lot of the joy of the people here, who are also wishing for the same happinesses. They are amazing. Here is a cactus fruit used to dye lintels in the mud hut behind Jamyang.

Here we are at the lama yurt building the first State Approved Thermophillic Composting Toilet System, for evaluation over the next two years (see Building the Perfect Retreat Cottage class information from Winter Term 2006 for details). After evaluation and demonstration of successful pathogen elimination, we'll build more of these zero tech units throughout the project.

Bert and Aaron using a digging bar and pick ax to get through the rock. Hmmm. Not a lot of progress was made over many hours of this effort.

Here we go with the first trial on the jackhammer. If it goes well here, we may purchase one for other projects on this rocky land (and we did).

Our previous two days' of digging effort by hand yielded a depth of about two inches. (We have a secret feeling a lot of Diamond Mountain is like this...)

The lime or gypsum based stone matrix was thick. We never reached the other side of it.

Here's the rock matrix through which we had to dig down three feet.

Here's the rubble created by the jackhammer efforts. It was quite amazing

Hey, man, it has to be THIS deep! Looks like we're a little shallow.

Dang, we'll need to build up more to create the 3' depth we promised the State.

Man in action! Yeah!

Are we there yet?

Measure, level, saw, mix, dig: they did it all.

So Andy and Martine's daughters, Lily and Sylvy, Future Women Construction Workers of Canada (FWCWC), were at the job site most days. What a treat.





Wenchi and Andy had a great system going for transferring wet concrete down into the hole

Bert measures carefully as Daniel, Sylvy and Kat amuse themselves always quite well

Andy, Daniel and Wenchi make another batch of concrete.

Yes, it was a lot of shared work effort with the girls. We absolutely loved having them on the job site. Good work, Dad!


We have currently completed the framing for this building, and will get more pictures to you soon.

Here we are at the Three Jewels Library in Bowie, making an 850sf sealed mud floor. Maria finishes shoveling the last of 17 yards of clay and earth that we moved into the building by hand. Thanks to Michael, Luke, Eli, Grail and Zeleigh as well who helped with the bulk of this effort.

Working with earth cultivates a village based work ethic that brings folks together. Its low tech, with an easily assimilated skill set, and everyone always has FUN. I think Guy and Ven Phil would agree it was fun.

Here's Robin

Here comes Ben

Here comes Christine

Here comes Erica

Here comes Laurie

The first 6" of mud cracked like a river bed, then we filled with a thinner slip and smoothed again. The final finish was four coats of a soybased sealer.

Well, here's a method. Everyone had their own idea of the best way to mix the mud, and we tried them all. This is one of the best parts of working with earth: everyone is an expert in no time at all.

Physiologically, working in the mud is healing and stimulates creativity. Ben is the proof in the pudding

What is Guy thinking? He probably can't believe he's in the company of so many crazy women. Erica is having a hoot. Christine, what happened to your shirt? Yes, that's Tibetan grafitti written with mud on the wall. The first verses of the Heart Sutra were written in Sanskrit with mud on the wall as well.

A quiet moment for Erica reflecting on what she's gotten up to her elbows in

I can't even tell you everything that happened with this lot in the mud

Ben offered a lot of assistance on this project over a couple of weeks.

In conclusion, building with earth is totally fun and offers plenty of room for silliness,as Prem and Belen proved every day on the job.

Back to Diamond Mountain, to the very back of the property, Carl and Ruth carry provisions up the foot path to the retreat hut site. We feel as tho', indeed, we are in exotic far away lands

This cistern is of the style built over a hundred years ago in this region, and will hold close to nine hundred gallons of caught rain water. It blends into the mountainscape beautifully.

Carl adds a lot of energy to the mixing efforts

Zack even joins in as pebble-tech finisher on the acqueduct leading from the catchment pond to the cistern

Will mixes lime putty while Kendra, as usual, feeds the gang: Guy, Benjamin and Ritesh

This trio has been thrilling at building in remote areas without vehicular traffic. Kat feels like she's in a movie, spending 4-5 days a week since school's been out, walking up and down a rugged trail, up to 13 miles a day with her pals. The horse and mule enjoy being with the humans and have generated much good karma serving in this way. They've memorized the Heart Sutra with Kat, and done lots of purification with many, many Vajrasattvas.

Chris and Robert grew up with Grail and Zeleigh on the San Pedro River two valleys west from here. They have been pick axing and digging for three weeks now, and with the help of Rose's great food, are still smiling.

Rusty has been known by some of our Diamond Mountain folks for longer than Kat has known him. He's young at heart and so happy to be a part of the days in this beauty.

Horses and wind share the same primary quality of motion. They are excellent examples of the perfection of joyous effort as they move through rugged terrain, up a 150-year old or more stone cut trail carrying 100-200 pounds each of water, sand, cement and lime. This is not heavy for them. So Kat can load, move and unload 300 pounds a trip with the help of these compassionate, happy and kind beings.

This cistern now needs a top and inflow and outflow filters. We'll get to these items during March.

Manny and Rose are making a beautiful catchment pond, 850sf, that will collect 900 gallons of water with only 1.5 inches of rain. The water travels down this slope for storage and ultimate usage from the cistern for drinking, cooking and bathing.