Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A glimpse into Dancing Rabbit.

Hey everyone! As promised, I've uploaded some pictures. A big THANK YOU to John Caldwell, who helped me with the computer gear I forgot at home.

1. My Humble Abode

I sleep in a two-person tent sheltered by an additional tarp tied to surrounding foliage. It's pretty swanky. The whole system has managed to weather a few significant thunderstorms and although the gusty winds cause some serious shakin', the floor and all my belongings have remained completely dry. The log on the left-hand side of the picture is serving as kind of violin bridge, wedged into the ground and supporting the majority of the tarp. I don't do much more than sleep and store my stuff in the tent.

2. My Project

Ted, Sarah, and Aurelia currently live in a two-room house with a small greenhouse. The house is made of recycled lumber insulated by blown cellulose and recycled shredded blue jeans. You can see the top of the house's four solar panels peeking over the roof. Their kitchen is another building entirely (see next photo). Aurelia is getting bigger (today is her FOURTH birthday) and the folks have decided to slap on a pretty big addition. I arrived with most of the foundation already in place. The beams that you see in this photo are part of the work I've accomplished with Ted and another work-exchanger, Sean. The process is slowed significantly by the hard osage wood and our recent lack of solar energy. We should be back on track soon.

3. Ironweed Kitchen

In my previous entry, I explained how the village is divided up into several eating cooperatives. I eat at "Ironweed Kitchen." This building showcases many of the ecological building techniques that Dancing Rabbit residents often employ. Firstly, you can see that four solar panels on the south-facing roof. The southern wall has the most windows and is further sheltered by a translucent tool shed. This shed doubles as a temperature shield during the extreme months. The walls are made of cob, a combination of clay, sand, and straw sealed in cob plaster, all of which was excavated from Dancing Rabbit Property. The walls are also very thick (up to 16 inches) in order to provide the building thermal mass. This allows the building to adjust slowly to changes in temperature. Therefore, when it's a punishing 90 degrees outside, the inside of the building is warming up relatively slowly from the cool evening. While it's no air conditioning, the air is certainly "conditioned" and done so for next to free! Notice also the rain barrel. All water in this facility is provided by the clouds. Our drinking water is filtered, but our dish water is basically rain water and is powered by good, ole' fashion gravity.

4. Brand New Wall!

I spent this afternoon finishing this wall on Ted and Sarah's balcony. The wall is made of cob and decorated with empty glass bottles. Besides looking really cool, the bottles also let light in through the thick wall. Cob is pretty amazing stuff. I actually extracted the clay for this cob and mixed it with sand and straw using my own two feet. The hairy looking stuff is straw that will be plastered over at a later date. Cob serves as both structural support and insulation, and will protect a building from moisture if sealed thoroughly. My hat, by the way, is hanging on a bottle sticking out of the wall.

5. The Common House

One of the first buildings you see when driving into the village is a large, salmon-colored building called the Common House. This serves as an all-community gathering place and is used for meetings, musical performances, movie-watching, cooking, dining, houses an excellent and comfy library, internet access (the building I'm currently sitting in), showering, and laundry. It's a lot of stuff in one building. Of course, all this activity requires ENERGY, which is provided by an enormous solar array. The energy level is constantly monitored and displayed in a green-to-red color code (not unlike the homeland security terror alerts). It's been sunny, so we've been on "green" for the past few days. Long term plans for the community involve constructing an even larger common house to the north. But for now, this building seems to be serving the village pretty well.

6. Ziggy and April's House.

This house was too cool not to show in the blog. It's a circular cob home with a living roof. Ziggy built the home about a year ago and apparently it's been featured in many ecological building websites in the web. And yes, that's Ziggy taking a break from a hard day's work. His garden is in the foreground.

More pictures to follow!

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