Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The hardest 400 seconds of my life - Pecha Kucha

Public speaking.  I've always been terrified of it.  Most of the time my face, uncontrollably, lights up like a radish anytime I find myself speaking to any large group.  But about 6 months ago I sent the board a 'proposal' to let me speak at one of the future Pecha Kucha Charleston events.  I made my story sound real good and promised to have people in mud on stage...real entertaining stuff!  This event has gotten to be 'quite the rage' here in Charleston, with the latest event selling out in just 30 MIN!!!  400 PEOPLE!!!  Being that this particular Pecha Kucha was a special, all-female line-up, I felt particular honored to be asked to participate.

 And so, about a week prior to the event, reality hit like a ton of rocks in the bottom of my stomach. 'Why had I asked to do this?!'  No backing out now.  So I got to work....thinking...typing....meditating....wait I should write in a notebook.....ok, back to the laptop....did I mention that not only is public speaking my nightmare, but I'm also not really fond of writing. Writing papers has always seemed so tortuous to me.

Finally after agonizing over this horrible task, I sat down and just channeled out what I was thinking. I tried to not worry about grammar and spelling, but to just let it flow....relaxed, like talking with friends.
And I told my story. About MUD. About how mud came into my life. And why. And what it means.

My first pass totaled 11 min long. Shit.
This has to be how long? 6 min. and 40 sec?!
How in the world am I going to edit out HALF of this?!  It's all good stuff!

Luckily I have very patient and helpful friends and family, who each took a pass at it and scratched and re-worded things here and there....my helpful editors.

I chiseled and chopped away.  Timed myself on each paragraph over and over and over (thank you IPhone).
I read aloud.  My dog, Boney, was the forced audience time and time again, day after day.
I stacked 3 stools up in my Living Room and pretended it to be a lectern.
I video taped myself and watched it, which is extremely embarrassing!
I rehearsed for my buddies.

And then it was time.
I started my day with an Acupuncture Treatment at Charleston Community Acupuncture.
Then I drank calming teas and Kava.
Neurotic. Yes. However, it got me through the day....calm....clear headed...and ready to take on one of the biggest challenges of my life thus far.

So here it is kids....the hardest 6 min. & 40 sec. of my life..
Pecha Kucha Charleston 13 - Ladies Night!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Community-Build Project - Get Involved!!!

Yup folks, that's right....there's going to be another Community-Build project this Spring!!!!  We'll be building another clay pizza oven, this time at the Awendaw Green location!!!  There's nothing much better than wood-fired pizza to enjoy along side the free Barn Jams on Wednesday nights!  
Come out and participate! 
Mix mud with your neighbor!
Learn about Natural Building and how you can build your very own back-yard clay oven!!!
            Check out http://www.lowcountrynaturalbuilding.com/what-is-natural-building/upcoming-workshops/  if interested in participating.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Natural Building in Nicaragua - A Photo Montage

My latest adventure consisted of an amazingly rich and educational stay in Nicaragua for 2.5 weeks. This was my first experience in Central America...and what I'm considering to be the first of many more to come.  Nicaragua popped into my vision this past Fall when I saw a post on Facebook from a non-profit operating in Nicaragua, called Grupo Fenix.  This group is doing AMAZING things in the rural mountains of northern Nicaragua, in a small village called Sabana Grande.  This particular area of Nicaragua was heavily affected by the Sandinista/Contra Civil War and by the resulting land mines which were left behind.  This region has serious deforestation issues as well; being that the majority of people in the area cook with wood-fired stoves, Grupo Fenix has helped to define technology which promotes affordable solar cookers!   Since Grupo Fenix is busy with so many wonderful programs, they need a classroom, or a meeting center which can be used to host events and meetings. This space can also be used by the community for their own events.  Of course, it only makes sense to build this classroom using local, indigenous materials which are affordable and accessible to the people of this region.
And so this is how I came to be involved with Natural Building in Nicaragua!
Me and my Nica Family: Simone, Reana, Arely, & Eddie

To check out what Susan Kinne (Director of Grupo Fenix) has been doing in Nicaragua, visit this short OWN video clip.

This building workshop was led by Liz Johndrow and one of the major efforts of the workshop was to really involve the women of Sabana Grande to be the builders, with the help of a few handy, local men.  This was the first time for many of these women to step away from their role as cook and family provider and work with their hands to build (but of course, these amazing women were still up at 5am every morning slapping tortillas and home by 5pm to start dinner!). 

A handful of Natural Building techniques were employed in the workshop; we focused on using several of the indigenous Nicaraguan techniques, such as adobe and tequezal.  But we also constructed with several other techniques to show the many ways of different Natural Building methods you can use depending on the materials you have on hand.  The majority of the materials we used in all methods listed below are: local earth dug up (clay sand mixture), sand from a local river, straw, horse manure, a local cactus called Pitaya, water, local pine needles, and locally harvested bamboo.

Listed below are the methods you will see in the pictures below. Feel free to comment or contact me for more info on any of these methods!:
- Adobe
- Cob
- Wattle - Daub
- Chorizo
- Maya Cyclone
- "ClayStraw Weave"
- Tequezal
- Wine Bottle Work
- Earthen Plaster
- Earthen Floor Sample
- Clay Paint
- Lime Plaster with Fresco

I feel that the best way to showcase what we built is to load a 'slideshow' of pictures to be viewed all at one. If you scroll fast it reads kind of like a movie (but if you scroll too fast you'll get dizy).
There is still a lot of work left (plasters, floor, roof), but here's to 8 days of fun work! :-) 

The Building Crew!