Hands down, my favorite practical element of the program so far is working on the mud domes in the new Bustan neighborhood. I am glad the domes weren’t done and ready for us to move into when we arrived, because working on these little houses has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.
This week we worked on the domes in two groups. I was in one dome with three other people and each of us worked on a different section inside. The dome in the forefront is the one I was working in:
There’s still a lot of work to be done, which I think is super exciting. For example, the ceiling still needs to be completely covered. In this photo you can see the straw bale construction, and the dome’s geodesic frame:
We didn’t mix mud in plastic bins, by hand, for this project. Mike taught us how to use the cement mixer so we could produce a lot of mud quickly. In this photo you can see the cement mixer and behind it the (1) pool of clay and (2) pile of sand---two of the major components in making the mud:
I worked on covering the pipe alongside the bottom of the dome:
The pipe is now covered by the strip of mud (the wet part) that I added. This took a couple hours and was very fun!
Working on the domes is especially meaningful after our many theoretical classes about natural building. We do with our hands what our discussions and lectures demand. In this way, the Green Apprenticeship is very different from my experience thus far in academia. Learning and doing are inseparable here.
There were a few moments that stood out to me when we were working on the domes. They all stood out for the same, simple reason: silence! There is something remarkable about reaching that point when everyone working with his or her own bucket of mud on a certain section of the dome becomes totally engulfed in that activity. There is no need to converse. Everyone is simply working! When I first noticed that quietness I could feel it in my whole body...the attention I was paying to my work, and the connection between that kind of total immersion and personal discovery. Those silences were few and tiny...but when they arrived I knew what they meant and I knew their placement in the hours of work and I could feel the waves of them coming and going. Do you know what I mean? How silence can mean much more than silence?
Best group of mud people!!!
Amit, Adam, Neta, Yaara, Ohad, me, Efrat, Maya, Deedee, Katie