Friday, October 23, 2009

Third day of vault building

On the third day at the site, we made some significant progress on the vault. Two more workers arrived: a mother/daughter team who had worked as roofers, Judy and Carly.

Our crew is predominantly women, but our teachers are two young men, Stevan and Sandro. Sandro collects vintage Volkswagons:
The blue Volkswagon truck brought the adobes from Ojinaga to the site.

We talked a lot about the fact that this workshop is made up almost entirely of women: a young architect from Boston, Eugenia; a landscape architecture student from Oregon, Lee Ann; a developer from California, Deborah; another builder from Greece, Gina; a homesteader from Georgia, Kay; a would-be adobe home-owner, Leslie; and me, writer, photographer, and farmer. There is also a man here, Brian, who is making a documentary about Hassan Fathy, and a film-maker couple, Claudine and Tom. Carly and Judy were here for two days. Here is Kay's hand in a picture that shows clearly how the adobes are laid on top of the wall at an angle to form the vault. The bottom adobe has been cut in half and trimmed at an angle to fit the bottom of the wall, so that the next adobe will overlap the previous join.

This is the first Adobe Alliance workshop that has been almost all women, and there's no one answer as to why this is so, but perhaps this sign on the back of Sandro's car might offer a clue:

Adobe is earth-friendly, affordable, and hands-on. Women with little construction experience can build houses for themselves with it. It probably helps also that Simone Swan and Jesusita Jimenez have been at the forefront of adobe education now for ten years.

Two years ago when Tom and I visited Simone at her house, she was getting ready for an adobe workshop. I helped Jesusita and a friend build the most scenic privy in the world. The solar pump for the well can't pump fast enough for many flushes a day inside the house. But who cares when there's a view like this from the privy:

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