I don't know this dogs name, but we have seen him at the park for the last three years. His owner doesn't speak much english besides "pee pee" and "caca", but she is a really nice woman.
To open our Homesteader Gathering this year water guru Brad Lancaster gave a talk on mesquite and discovering your place. I've heard several of Brad's talks, this one was new. He began by asking us to consider our place on earth, what it had been and what it is now and he left us with a question. What are we doing with it? It was powerful to be tied to our respective positions. We each stand on top a story that includes the original condition of the land followed by a near century of development that in most places deposited pavement over earth and sent water running away from the ground where it is needed. Brad led us through the effects of these developments and showed clear and concrete ways to engineer what's been done into a better form that includes curb cutting, community projects that celebrate local foods and medicines, and ways to manage our own slab and invite the return of bug and bird alike. Brad is always a dynamic speaker and tireless social engineer. In his home city of Tucson he's introduced new ordinances and laws.
Guests live together at Holy Scrap for a long weekend, cook and clean for one another, teach workshops and give presentations off laptops that at night we beam on the wall with a projector. There's hikes, yoga, medicinal plant walks, hot springs soaks and moderated talks on topics fundamental to our lives like economy and our relationship to it. Guests range from rural folk to city dwellers.
This year's workshops and presentations included: mesquite milling, harvesting water, knife sharpening, working a loom, spinning wool, reviving dead batteries, coffee roasting, home manufacturing, PV solar, DIY household products, urban livestock, sand casting aluminum, 3-D printing, illicit aspects of homesteading, cooking in a dutch oven, sun oven cooking, natural wine making, building furniture with a CNC (shop bot), making bio fuel, and home building/modification. * note: not all our presenters have URLs to link to.
Something special happens when people live, cook, clean and create together, when they teach one another, when nothing is for sale and there is no where to go. This context leads to a relaxed familial environment in which profound and meaningful conversations naturally arise. Our group found themselves remapping their context in the world. We all live individual lives and it is easy to forget the way those lives interlock and link up with the life of the world community. Sharing how we solve problems and innovate living it becomes easy to see that wherever one is their efforts are relevant. Someone living a life in rural isolation void of a monetary economy has something to offer the city bound who designs open source kits meant to aid city dwellers in growing food. This weekend the drop spindle met the CNC; the corporate gig met the simple farmer, each person a reflection in a faceted world. When shared intentions meet a variety of contexts it becomes quite clear that this world is being recreated through every form. A diverse age range makes it clearer still that different energies have their time. One may move from the front line to a more covert hidden position. Angst and anxiousness play their part as does achievement and contentedness. This group was in agreement that adaptation and change are key modes in this age and considered if social engineering is a modern artistic medium.
I hope that the following posts give a glimpse of the formula so that those who wish to can copy it. It goes something like this: choose great people with specific skills who are aligned with sharing (open source, gift economy); ask each to arrange a 30 minute workshop or talk on an area they are excited about that pertains to creating a post consumer life. Invite them to come together for a few days at a single location where they can camp. Create a schedule that allows each an opportunity to cook and then clean for the rest. Mix in nature and contemplation: plant walks, hikes, yoga. And most of all enjoy!
I mounted two fiberglass ladders to the side of our tool shed. It's nice to get them off the ground and out of the way. Drilling through the shipping container wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but making enough room on the other side to tighten the nuts was no easy task. I should have used rivets.
Two of our water catchment tanks are exposed to the west setting sun. This is a big deal in our region as anything facing west gets cooked throughout the summer. We were late on getting a piece of metal in place to protect the tanks, but we finally did it.
We turned off our water heater last winter and decided to just go without one. We shower using the hot spring water so having a water heater in the house seemed unnecessary. The big drawback was not having warm water for dish washing. We decided to try out a 2 gallon ($150) on demand natural gas water heater to replace our 30 gallon tank. I'm curious to see what our natural gas bill looks like once we install this.
We have made huge progress cleaning up our property and garden areas over the last month. What is our secret for getting all this work done? We run off to the local coffee shop almost daily for snacks and iced toddy.
The plastic cover for our right rear tail light fell off the other day. Rather than make any significant investment we just glued back in place. As usual I used too much gorilla glue and later had to remove a trail of foamy mess.
A contractor friend taught me a neat trick for cleaning white sheet rocked walls. You need a pine/green cleaner (non toxic one's do exist) and a rough sponge (often green). Spray a bit of pine cleaner on the sponge and scrub. Wala!
Small photos = before and after
NOTE: the brand in this photo is not one of the non toxic brands. Whole Foods has one and there are others, look around.