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-> Watch out... stand back...
by "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
-> 2
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<duckchow@...>

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:42:31 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: Watch out... stand back...

Hey folks -

Pretty quiet around here lately, which I'm about to shatter with a giant
gong. I'm taking the liberty of forwarding TEN, yes TEN, messages from the
CREST strawbale email list. They're sequential, and named "1" through "10".

Some of you follow that list, I know, so you can just delete these, or
read them again. I'd ask that you read them, though, if you haven't
already. Particularly #8.

Like so much of Judy and Matts' work, and David Eisenberg's, and Steve
MacDonald's and Kelly Lerner's and Frank Meyer's in Mongolia and China, and
Harald Wedig's wonderful project for the homeless children in Romania, and
so many others, this series of posts really typifies for me what strawbale
is all about. It's got virtually NOTHING to do with bales of straw.

I'm hopelessly behind in keeping up with the CREST list, let alone my
personal email, but am glad that I popped in on this thread.

Message #10 has nothing to do with the preceding nine... I just thought it
was riotously funny. Thanks Rene!




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I must Create a System
or be enslav'd by another Man's.
- William Blake, Jerusalem


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:44:03 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 2

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 22:24:29 -0700
To: strawbale@...
From: Athena &Bill Steen <absteen@...>
Subject: Re: To Bill & Rob re the Steen's Work in Mexico
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

This phase of our work in Obregon is connected to Save the Children only in
the sense that they are endorsing it and providing organizational support
whenever or however we need it. They are also supplying the straw bales for
the houses that are being built. Their direct involvement with this
community comes through sponsorship of children and the like, but not with
the actual construction. In this case, this project began largely as a
result of the women of Xochilt asking us and the family of brothers and
sisters that we work with for help. Once underway, we attempted to let Save
the Children absorb the project, but due to other existing projects and
responsibilities, this one slowed to a halt under the weight of lots of
red-tape etc. Consequently, after talking with the women of the group, the
family that we have worked with, we decided that it would be a lot more
direct and efficient to take the project on by ourselves and work with the
idea of setting those involved with the project up so that they can
eventually carry on by themselves.

For that reason we are running this project through the non-profit
organization we are a part of called "The Canelo Project". It is tax-exempt
and can take donations directly without having to go through Save the
Children. The address is below in the signature.

Doing it this way makes the whole operation very direct, concise, with
money going directly to the project. It saves steps and the whole thing
moves a lot more quickly. In addition, since we rapidly spend more than
what we have available, Athena and I scramble to collect last minute
additional funds to keep everything moving along.

Thanks to Rob for posting this one. Its always hard to ask for money,
actually I had forgotten that what I had sent him was a copy of a proposal
that we have been sending around to potential funding sources. So what you
are reading is a copy of that letter. We have a nice hard copy version
complete with lots of color photos.

For those of you who might remember, when this whole project started last
Easter, we posted a request for funds that was well received. As a result
of those contributions, there are now four 1 room houses in various stages
of completion and a group of women that are equipped with the basic tools
they need and a tremendous spirit to carry them along. When I say "various
stages of completion", it means that some of these buildings are mostly
lacking the finish plasters. The main focus of our work in February/early
March will be bringing these structures to completion and building another
structure.

This project has truly been one of the most amazing things we have been
involved in. The houses are by no means spectacular, but the spirit that
comes to the building process and what happens to and between all those
participating in the construction of these houses is truly amazing. This
January we had a group of about 15 that included people from China, Alaska,
reforming architects from Utah, and elsewhere around the U.S. working
alongside about 20 women and children from Obregon. The resulting
friendships and meaningful interactions taking place between people who
would never meet otherwise was a marvel to behold. And as our friend from
Alaska commented, "Good Night! I've never eaten so many different things in
my entire life as I have here in the course of 1 week".

A quick description of these little buildings with some of the costs:

- -7 meters by 4.5 meters.

- - foundations of recycled concrete pieces mortared together with soil
cement - 2 courses approximately 8 to 10 inches in height.

- - floors, laid like flagstone, also of recycled concrete. Cement and lime
used for the foundation, floors and tie-downs - $50

- - load bearing, roof tie-downs are from locally available 1/4" metal rod,
bent and shaped to form.

- - exoskeleton or exterior pins of carrizo (bamboo like reed).

- - pre-compression of walls achieved with nylon cargo straps, rated at 4,500
lbs.

- - tie downs are polyester cord straps, locally available through packaging
outlets.

- - shed roof, 14 inches of slope from front to back, 2x6 rafters with 4x4
roof plates/bearing assemblies - $170.

- - roof decking of carrizo.

- - 2 doors and 1 operable window, 1 fixed window, metal/locally made - $150.

- - approximately 2 to 3 inches of straw/clay plaster on the walls with a
lighter mix - approx 5 to 6 inches thick on the roof.

- - a finish plaster of lime, prepared from quicklime covers the walls and
roof. Quicklime to be turned into putty costs us $35 ton and we figure that
it should cover two buildings

- - the wall plaster starts at the top of the foundation, continues up the
wall, up and over the parapets, covers the roof and ends at flashing at the
ends of the rafters. There are no seams and joints present in this except
where the plaster meets the foundation, doors and windows.

- - interior furniture - beds, closets, bookshelves and the like are built
from varying combos of straw/clay blocks, carrizo and clay.

For those of you reading, thanks for your interest and your help.

Bill (Beel to some)


Athena and Bill Steen
The Canelo Project
HC1 Box 324
Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611
(520)455-5548
(520)455-9360 FAX
absteen@...
http://www.deatech.com/canelo


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:44:40 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 1

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 18:48:36 -0500 (EST)
From: (email address removed)(Robert W. Tom)
To: strawbale@...
Subject: Houses Building People: The Steen's Work in Mexico
Reply-To: rob_tom@...
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Hola, Aloha and Ahoy BaleHeads;

Sometime last fall, Beel e-mailed an early draft of the following story
with express instructions to not distribute it. (He knows I'm a
blabbermouth eh ?).

Okay. So fine. I didn't.

Then, around Christmas, he sent me a hard copy of the story and included
some gorgeous colour photos of the people and project and then disappeared
(presumably to Mexico).

Upon reading the updated story, I (as you probably will be ) was moved by
an urge to make Beel & Athena's work in Cuidad de Obregon more widely known
... but recalling Beel's previous request, restrained that urge.

Now that Beel's back, he tells me that he doesn't have any objections to my
sharing it with you (oy yoy yoy !) and that he was hesitant to post it
himself because he didn't feel that it would be of interest.

Seelly Beel eh ?

====================== SCANNED MATERIAL =========================

Houses Building People
Our Work in Mexico

After the writing of our book "The Straw Bale House," 6 years ago, we were
invited by Save the Children of Cuidad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, to help
develop a low-cost building system using one of their over-abundant waste
products, straw.

Birthplace of the Green Revolution of modern agriculture, Cuidad Obregon is
surrounded by over a million acres of cultivated wheat. Almost all the
wheat grown in Mexico comes out of this fertile valley. Every spring after
the wheat is harvested, the remaining stalks are burned thickening the
skies with black smoke.

The poorer people, who typically live on the outer edge of town, adjacent
the fields, suffer with complaints of lung and respiratory problems.

Comfortable and affordable housing is almost non-existent in most of
Mexico. What is available are miles of multi-rowed, small (400-600 sq. ft.)
non-insulated and poorly constructed concrete block houses for $20,000,
often referred to by the locals as "pigeon coops." Those who can't afford
one of these live in shacks made of cardboard, old metal sheets, or worse,
black laminated tarpaper. In the intensity of the extreme summer heat,
these shelters not only offer zero relief, but often add to the sweltering
misery.

The focus of our work in Mexico has been to find a realistic and low cost
alternative way of creating comfortable and decent housing. By combining
straw with clay, bamboo and other local, natural materials we are
developing highly insulative buildings that resist the climatic extremes of
the Sonoran Desert.

We have worked alongside our fellow Mexican workers in creative exchange
and experimentation, in and out of failure and success. Through all there
has grown a mutual respect and friendship. Late night discussions over
tortillas and beans followed by cups of sweet black coffee, our children
playing together in the background, have given birth to simple resolutions
of what often seemed like unsolvable problems.

One of the biggest obstacles we faced while building houses for and with
the poor, was their inherent distrust of the materials we were using. These
natural materials were not cement, which to many is the ultimate symbol of
stability, permanency and wealth. Every time we'd turn our backs, the
earthen plasters or floors would be covered over with cement.

We needed a building that was looked upon as official and for the "rich"
where we were allowed the freedom and control to work these materials in a
way that demonstrated their full potential. Upon entering, we wanted people
to exclaim, "Wow how beautiful, I want one.

Thanks to Save the Children of Sonora, we got our chance as we began work
and collaboration on a 5000-sq. ft. office building. All the exterior walls
were straw bales with structural concrete columns. The interior walls were
made from straw-clay blocks. It follows a classic courtyard design with a
beautiful palm-thatched portal. Largely designed while in process, the
building's aesthetics directly reflects the natural materials used and the
many hands that touched it.

Women did much of the finishing details with children helping. Bookshelves
and seating were made from bamboo, clay and straw. Walls and murals were
painted with richly colored clays mixed with wheat paste. Vaulted and domed
roofs were constructed from bamboo, straw and clay, covered with a thin
shell of concrete. Poured concrete floors were scored and stained to look
like tiles or flagstone. Each room demonstrated how these basic materials
combined to form a rustic elegance. The building has seemed to inspire many
to look beyond their limiting circumstances and to see new possibilities.

This spring during the finishing phases of the office building, we had the
opportunity to be part of an exciting project grown out of the enthusiasm
and determination of a group of 15 women who decided that they wanted to
improve their lives. They were from a rural area called Xochitl ("flower")
on the outskirts of Obregon, where they lived in marginal shacks of scraps
without water or electricity. Their distance from the city and lack of
nearby access to public transport made their lives even more difficult.

They contacted Save the Children because they were not able to qualify for
the city's new straw bale housing program due to lack of titles to their
land. Determined to build their own houses they asked Save the Children if
they could supply them with bales.

After consulting with director, Jorge Valenzuela, we met with them to
notify them that they could have all the bales they needed. They looked
pleased, but replied, "How are we going to build? We don't know how. Maybe
if you helped us build one, we could all learn."

Teodoro and Emiliano, who had been ready for their Easter vacation, looked
at us and we looked at them. We knew there was no choice. The women quickly
decided amongst themselves who of them was to receive the first house - the
one most in need. Chosen was a young woman, with four small children, whose
husband was in prison, and who had no other family in the area.

We began the next day, Monday afternoon, collecting pieces of broken
concrete from the sides of the road to use in the foundation and floor.
Wednesday, the foundation was built and dirt screened, to be used later for
plasters and the roof. Thursday the bale walls went up and plastering
begun. Friday, the carrizo straw and clay roof was started, as plastering
continued. By Saturday, most of the roof was finished and broken pieces of
concrete were laid like flagstone to make a floor. Sunday was Easter, a day
of rest.

The following week, with vacation over, we could only be there at the end
of the day to show and instruct them what to do next. Emiliano and
Teodoro's two 12-year-old boys were hired for $5 each to supervise and help
finish the roof. In the evenings of the following days, we helped build a
bed, closet and seating using straw/clay blocks, carrizo, mud, and dirt fill.

Over the next few months, working hard with only occasional assistance, the
women completed the structures of another three houses. They plan to build
as many as fifteen.

All are one room (300 sq. ft,) small and simple, but a major improvement
over what they have. Through requests to friends and others interested in
straw bale building, we were able to raise the money needed to purchase the
building materials.

Noting the success of the women's effort, the city of Obregon offered to
provide the help and funds to construct additional buildings. However, as
is often the case with government backed projects, everything slowed and
over the last nine months all work came to an abrupt halt. The last
proposal of the city had more than tripled the projected costs of materials
and labor.

In November, the women sent us a letter asking help in restarting their
building program. Having shared their tremendous enthusiasm and
hard-working dedication, we found their request impossible to refuse.

In response, we are forming a housing project called Casas que Cantan
(Houses that Sing) that would help Xochitl and other low-income
communities. Casas que Cantan would be a joint effort between The Canelo
Project and the Lopez family, whom we have been intimately working with the
last 6 years.

This project would be designed to help groups of people with little
resources to build their own homes-together. These communities would have
to be willing to commit their time, labor and creativity in order to
receive assistance.

Casas que Cantan would assist in the teaching, supervision, delivery of
materials, initial funds for building materials and tools. Funds donated
specifically for building materials (approx. $500 per house) would be paid
back by the individual families, interest free, to a community organized
fund or bank that will recycle the money for future houses or other
community projects. Contact with a broad range of people and cultures would
expose the communities being assisted to many related and appropriate
low-tech technologies such as; permaculture, simple solar systems, bamboo
production, classic lime and earthen finishes, etc., which could eventually
lead to other community-sufficiency projects.

In Cd. Obregon and surrounding areas a great amount of interest and demand
has developed for straw bale housing. Outside of the Lopez family there are
very few people that know how to construct these structures. People
participating in the project Casas que Cantan would naturally be developing
skills as they learned, that would be useful not only in the construction
of their own homes but also provide them a means for future employment.

Unlike many large organizations that can be burdened by high administrative
costs and weighted down by bureaucracy, Casas que Cantan would require low
start up and operating costs. Small in nature, it would be able to respond
quickly to the needs at hand and be fine-tuned to the projects needed. A
way of building could evolve, in small steps, one house at a time, built
with care, simplicity and beauty. We would approach building as an activity
rather than an innate product, strengthening community and group spirit.

Casas que Cantan could have far-reaching effects bringing immediate relief
and hope to families in need, whose lives often seem little more than an
endless struggle against overwhelming odds. With this promise of change,
mutual learning and working together we are asking for help and support.

Bill and Athena Steen

=================== End of Scanned Material =====================


A thought came to mind after reading this. In the above story, Beel
mentions that a $500 loan is sufficient to build a home in the Casas que
Cantan (Houses That Sing) project.

Last time I heard, we had over 300 subscribers on this List. (You know
where I'm going with this right ?)

A measly twenty bucks (that's one dollar for each of your fingers and toes,
for those Californians who are arithmetically-challenged) from each
listmember would create a loan fund that would be enough to build 12 homes.
Kewl.

Anyone out there willing to do the organising to get this done ?

- ---------- * ----------
Rob_Tom @ ncf.ca
Kanata, Ontario, Canada



----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:45:19 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 3

Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:36:16 -0500 (EST)
From: (email address removed)(Robert W. Tom)
To: strawbale@...
Subject: MooseHugger Challenge re: Casa que Cantan]
Cc: KimThomp@...
Reply-To: rob_tom@...
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Gu-e-e-e-ess what guys (and guyettes) ?

It's Friday and from the looks of things, once again the MooseHuggers have
raised the SB bar another notch.

I haven't done the arithmetic yet but I think the funding for La Casa
Moosehugger (aka Bullwinkle Lodge) is in place.

Furthermore, knowing Kim, she'll probably get enough to build a Rocky (the
flying squirrel) Lodge too.

(Maybe you Murricans and Euro-peein's will get the funding for your casas
together by the time Kim gets Rocky Lodge flying ?)

- --

Rob (What me gloat ?) Tom


================= Begin forwarded message =================

From: (email address removed)(Kim Thompson)
To: (email address removed)("Robert W. Tom")
Subject: Re: Casa que Cantan
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 02:16:23 -0400 (AST)

Hi Rob

Thanks for sending this. I have untold respect for the work the Steens are
doing and will try to support it through a couple of little initiatives
here. Having Bill's letter is what was needed.

Unfortunately I can't reasonably copy the email (my new computer is in the
shop til ....) could you Fax me the letter and I will go from there.

[snip]

How does a herd of moosehuggers strike you??

(don't say hard)

ciao

Kim



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And life is what we make it,
always has been, always will be.
- Grandma Moses


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:45:39 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 4

Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 21:57:31 -0800
From: sandia <lost-echo@...>
Reply-To: lost-echo@...
Organization: lost echo ranch
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.06 (Macintosh; I; PPC)
To: "strawbale@..." <strawbale@...>
Subject: Science.. and our (Family) idea for Casas...
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Meanwhile, the TV has been central to a number of family disputes of late,
and so I explained that while we are rich enough to squabble over Xena vs.
Bullmania vs. PGA Golf, some people could build themselves a house for just
what we spend on cable. We voted 4 to 1, turn it off for a year, and
contribute the $50+/ mo. to the Casas project. (Ahhh, the peaceful sound of
pages turning, and with a bit of crayon scribbling in the background....)
- --
Sandia Schley
Lost Echo Ranch
Centrally Located
(Middle of Nowhere)



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And life is what we make it,
always has been, always will be.
- Grandma Moses


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:46:38 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 5

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 19:29:47 -0500 (EST)
From: (email address removed)(Robert W. Tom)
To: strawbale@...
Subject: re: Casas que Cantan (the Limey Initiative)
Reply-To: rob_tom@...
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Hello Beneficent Ones;

I forget what "SHIRT" translates to in EarthSpeak, but I'm pretty sure that
it refers to the fund-raising challenge to get 12 homes built in Cuidad de
Obregon and it looks like the Limeys are well on their way (see appended
note below) to coming in second, behind the MooseHuggers of course.

And on that note, I am pleased to announce that I received a cheque for
$100 in today's mail from the Patron Saint of SB, Don Fugler (huzZAH !!)...
the first one to arrive I might note, showing the way for many more.


================= Begin forwarded message =================

From: (email address removed)(Mark Bigland-Pritchard)
Subject: Re: Pretanicans for SHIRT
Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 11:33:06 +0000

New development:
(1) At the British/Irish meeting yesterday (of which you will receive
minutes pretty well as soon as I do), there was a lot of support for SHIRT,
though not any money upfront on the spot. However, two women have taken
away info on the Singing Houses to do their own bit of fundraising in their
own local networks; so although we'll be somewhat later than the Canadians
with the dosh I'm confident that the dosh will be forthcoming.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but
the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.
- Benjamin Franklin


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:46:56 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 6

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 20:43:06 -0500 (EST)
From: (email address removed)(Robert W. Tom)
To: strawbale@...
Subject: FWD: [habibg@...: Casa Moose]
Cc: habibg@...
Reply-To: rob_tom@...
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Holy Jis, that Habib shoor ees one heck of a guy eh ? (And he tells a
pretty good story too (appended below))

BTW, Rob Jolly's cheque arrived in the mail today too and I have pledges
from BCJohn Salmen, WatJohn Straube, Regan Warner, (Don Fugler's has
already arrived), Linda Chapman, MeatHook (aka Norbert Senf), Michel
Bergeron, Kim Thompson's going to bring in a herd from the East.

I can almost SEE La Casa MooseHugger rising in the distance.
ThengyallverraVERRAmuch.

================= Begin forwarded message =================

From: (email address removed)(Habib John Gonzalez)
To: (email address removed)("Tom, Rob")
Subject: Casa Moose
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 14:55:50 -0800

Oi, Stronzo:

While flying the old Cessna up the west coast of Mexico about 15 years ago,
I asked two gas jockeys in Manzanillo what the noise was in the palmettos.
"Oh, they're little deer. Tonight we will bring a little light and a little
gun and get that little deer. Do you have deer in Canada?"

"Yes, it's the biggest deer in the world. A thousand kilos, bigger than a
horse, black, ugly with a huge nose and a huge bell of fat below his
throat, a mountain of fat and muscle above his shoulders...." The two are
standing there with their mouths open, trying to visualize this monster.
"Horns that are 30 kilos each and in the fall he screams for love...!!!!"
"Ahhh," they agreed, "this Canadian deer is muy macho, he screams, yes, muy
macho." Go figger.

A cheque for $50.00US is in the mail to Bill at Canelo for Casa Moose.

adelante siempre adelante (ever onward,eh?),

Sr. Habib del Moose Gritando
- --
==Please note new address==
Sustainable Works
C-2, Gordon Road
Nelson, British Columbia, Canada V1L 3E3
ph/fax: 250/352-3731
***********************************************************************
"Better the kindness of imperfection, than perfection without kindness"



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The injuries we do and those we suffer are
seldom weighed in the same scales.
- Aesop, Fables


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:47:29 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 7

Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 14:49:02 +1000
From: Huff and Puff Constructions <huffnpuff@...>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.02 (Win95; I)
To: strawbale@...
Subject: Re: Casas que Cantan (the rest of the colonies)
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

The Colony of Strawbalia is thinking long and hard about this one, we would
love to help The Steens for they have given much to our cause down under in
straw bale.

We are but colonials and we think that we need to look in our back yard
first and at the plight of our original caretakers who have been very hard
done by in the past. Where do we begin? Mexico or those who live here in
hot boxes? T'is a hard question for us to answer, we so much admire the
work done by Athena and Bill and soon we will be able to tell them in person.

Maybe we can do both and maybe we can help both. I heard of 'retired'
Aboriginal Elders being built tin houses in Coober Pedy South Australia
where temps go to 45 degrees C plus in the shade, most of the locals
actually live underground in Coober Pedy (Opal Mining Town) but in our
wisdom we build the Aboriginals concrete and tin sweat boxes. I have now a
good contact for Coober Pedy, who attended our workshop in Whyalla and I
hope to be able to go to Coober Pedy and meet the local Elders and ask them
what they want from shelter.

We admire your motivation for Casas que Cantan and maybe our contribution
could be to start something similar here on the same lines but call it
Gunyahs for Gondwanna. I do not want to upset anyone with the name but
Gunyah is shelter and Gondwanna was this big beautiful land before Invasion
Day 26/1/1788. Anyhow we will see you in Tucson and at CASBA so we can get
a better feel for what you are doing.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you want to waste your time,
scatter millet and pick it up again.
- graffiti from Pompeii, 79 A.D.


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:47:49 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 8

Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 12:39:02 -0700
To: strawbale@...
From: Athena &Bill Steen <absteen@...>
Subject: Re: Casas que Cantan (the rest of the colonies)
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

One of the first things I think about upon seeing a request like Rob's is
that the similar and far worse conditions exist everywhere around the
world. I know for a fact that there are people all over the world with
plights far worse than what we are dealing with. There are no end to the
places and people that are in need of help. It is endless to say the least.
So immediately I ask myself, why send money for this little community in
Mexico where the people suffer hardship, but clearly are not destitute. I
really think about it when I stop to consider the plight of communities of
farm workers nearby where the housing is far worse, infant death and
sickness common and the needs far greater.

I don't think I have any clear answers, but I can talk about why we are
involved in this project. We started working with this group because they
came to us and asked for help. We saw that there were people amongst them
who wanted to better their life and were willing to work. Seeing that we
were in a position to help and could respond to their needs, we said yes.
Instead of thinking long term, we thought of building 1 house and nothing
more. Athena and I knew we could scrap together enough to buy what was
needed and so with materials in hand and lots of eager hands we all got
together and did it. We didn't stop to think about anything beyond the
immediate set of circumstances. As we watched this entire process we
clearly saw that labor and enthusiasm wasn't lacking, only the funds. From
that point, it didn't take much imagination to realize that it didn't take
but a handful of small donations to secure what was needed to build another
and another and another. The price to the American pocket was insignificant
for what it could buy. Most people spend $25 to $50 without ever thinking
much about.

What I am saying is that we didn't give a whole lot of thought to what we
are doing. We didn't plan it, look for funding (formal) or consider the
larger scope of the world's problems - we just did it. Others (Rob T.)
apparently liked it well enough to invite others to participate financially
and here we are with folks like yourself wondering if you ought not to be
doing something similar closer to home. I would say that the answer is
obvious and if circumstances are permitting, by all means have at it. I
think one of the beautiful functions Rob's invite serves is to realize how
little it takes to effect other people's lives and how much power we have
collectively. How magnificent it would be if people had to stop sending
contributions to Mexico because they were doing similar work closer to home
and wanted to spend the money there instead. I would love to face the type
of conflict that put me in the position of finding it difficult to
contribute to all the requests that had come my way from others who had
decided to do the same as you. What if all the funds being contributed
right now to this little community in Mexico dried up because others
decided to spend that money closer to home. What if Sandia Schley and
family from the Middle of Nowhere, who offered to give up cable TV and
contribute $50 a month, could no longer do so because they discovered a way
to spend that money on a project not far from home. Wow, those are the
kinds of problems I would like to have more of. But for now, I can make a
financial contribution to any projects you start in Australia and I trust
fully that if monies are diverted away from Mexico, other funds will come
from another source.

It seems that the beauty of something like this little exchange that has
been going on is that it makes us stop for a moment and realize that the
world is a little larger than the one where we spend our daily lives and
that it is possible to affect the lives of others in a positive way. The
options are many, we just don't spend much time thinking about it. We tend
to be creatures of habit and our worlds tend to become quite narrow.
Projects like Xochilt become opportunities for people like architect Wayne
Bingham from Salt Lake City, who contributed what was needed for the house
we built in January to step out of his office and spend 10 days in Mexico
helping design and build the structure he paid for. He now has seen and
eaten things he would have never dreamed of and I can assure you that his
perception of the world is larger than it was before. I know for certain
that he left wondering if the average North American really needed 800
square feet of living space per family member.

As for us, we are getting as much out of this project as anyone. I don't
think we ever really stop and think that we are helping or doing good for
someone. There is really a very strong sense of being part of an effort
where all are working together for something a little bigger than each
person involved. One of the most important aspects of this whole process is
that it has become a means for developing a building system that hopefully
one day will provide simple inexpensive housing for people of the region
without having to resort to concrete. Its a low-risk and inexpensive
research project that brings people together and builds people and
community in the process. New skills are being learned and people have some
element of hope where before there was little. Instead of being paralyzed
by their inability to be competent consumers in the marketplace of goods
and services, they are discovering an alternate world of creativity and
possibility. If I remember correctly, those are a lot of the reasons I
began building with straw bales in the first place.

Bill

Athena and Bill Steen
The Canelo Project
HC1 Box 324
Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611
(520)455-5548
(520)455-9360 FAX
absteen@...
http://www.deatech.com/canelo



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Men regard it as their right to return evil for
evil - and, if they cannot, feel they have lost
their liberty.
- Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:48:23 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 9

Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 15:35:57 +1000
From: Huff and Puff Constructions <huffnpuff@...>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.02 (Win95; I)
To: Athena &Bill Steen <absteen@...>
CC: strawbale@..., rob_tom@...
Subject: Re: Casas que Cantan (the rest of the colonies)
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Well this morning will go down in my memory as the day that focused the
rest of my straw bale life, I expect to have a sustainable coffin something
like sheaves of wheat and clay. Your emails that I received this morning
(Sunday), now late afternoon, have got me thinking and thinking. I cannot
get over how crystal clear all this has become in a flash.

Your eloquence has once again inspired me, much like the day I met Bill
Mollison. Bill has been crook lately something to do with his ticker, or
was it to do with his new American wife. Apparently Bill has given up
smoking and is living in his beloved Tasmania and taking things easy.

What a beautiful name Houses that Sing or Houses that Sing Around the
World. Translated in Spanish? {Casas que Cantan..................}. Rob you
have started something which I am sure will gather momentum provided we
handle it right. We can do both and even though our back yard is very
important, as you are more than aware, there are countries that do not have
the welfare net that we in Australia are so fortunate in having.

My motivation is not to interfere in other countries affairs but to help
the very poor in those countries that do not have welfare. My 'home',
Kenya, would have to have some of the worst cases of shanty towns that
could be imagined. Would it be possible for Houses that Sing Around the
World to stop off in Kenya? I think so. For it to happen we need to become
modern day Robin Hoods or in our case Ned Kellys.

We have a momentum gathering apace here for a new fashionable look in
housing, and as it happens rendered straw bale is the look "To Die For
Darlings" as they say in Pitt Street or is it Oxford Street? Therefore we
(Architects, Engineers and Builders) need to charge like wounded buffalos
for this new fashion statement in housing. The profits go to those in need
in Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and so on. I would like to sponsor Kenya,
sounds crazy, but as you say Bill, just get up and do it.

Therefore we need to look at how we can make it work for us. Already I have
had a reply from Dave Hodgkin and he is on to two projects, one in Tennant
Creek and the other in Darwin, not much straw up there unless it comes from
the Ord River in WA. So I hope that Dave will get back to us with more
details. By the way Dave is a fount of knowledge and I hope that he becomes
active on this list.

My whole perception has changed today thanks to you straw bale people. I
now look at the 4 beams that we are using (recycled) but costly, some $400
each for the Games Room at Galston and suddenly they become four Houses
That Sing Right Around the World. (Nearly got STRAW as an acronym) Crazy?

So to say thanks is not enough but that is all I can do for now, remember
it takes fifteen years to become an overnight success and you coves are
well down the track to success, if we can make it global, where it is
needed, then we can all make a difference. In conclusion I have taken on
board some advice given to me by Job Ebenezer, the Indian gentleman from
India, who told me that any idea or project that we take on in the
developing world will only succeed if we, who are promoting the idea, uses
and in this case live in the same idea/house that we are promoting. I think
that applies to our own back yard as well.

[The foundations for stage 1 at Galston = 30 Houses That Sing, I am slowly
going nuts]

All the best Straw Wolf

Back in a week off to work.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Clean air smells funny.


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:48:42 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 9

Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 15:35:57 +1000
From: Huff and Puff Constructions <huffnpuff@...>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.02 (Win95; I)
To: Athena &Bill Steen <absteen@...>
CC: strawbale@..., rob_tom@...
Subject: Re: Casas que Cantan (the rest of the colonies)
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

Well this morning will go down in my memory as the day that focused the
rest of my straw bale life, I expect to have a sustainable coffin something
like sheaves of wheat and clay. Your emails that I received this morning
(Sunday), now late afternoon, have got me thinking and thinking. I cannot
get over how crystal clear all this has become in a flash.

Your eloquence has once again inspired me, much like the day I met Bill
Mollison. Bill has been crook lately something to do with his ticker, or
was it to do with his new American wife. Apparently Bill has given up
smoking and is living in his beloved Tasmania and taking things easy.

What a beautiful name Houses that Sing or Houses that Sing Around the
World. Translated in Spanish? {Casas que Cantan..................}. Rob you
have started something which I am sure will gather momentum provided we
handle it right. We can do both and even though our back yard is very
important, as you are more than aware, there are countries that do not have
the welfare net that we in Australia are so fortunate in having.

My motivation is not to interfere in other countries affairs but to help
the very poor in those countries that do not have welfare. My 'home',
Kenya, would have to have some of the worst cases of shanty towns that
could be imagined. Would it be possible for Houses that Sing Around the
World to stop off in Kenya? I think so. For it to happen we need to become
modern day Robin Hoods or in our case Ned Kellys.

We have a momentum gathering apace here for a new fashionable look in
housing, and as it happens rendered straw bale is the look "To Die For
Darlings" as they say in Pitt Street or is it Oxford Street? Therefore we
(Architects, Engineers and Builders) need to charge like wounded buffalos
for this new fashion statement in housing. The profits go to those in need
in Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and so on. I would like to sponsor Kenya,
sounds crazy, but as you say Bill, just get up and do it.

Therefore we need to look at how we can make it work for us. Already I have
had a reply from Dave Hodgkin and he is on to two projects, one in Tennant
Creek and the other in Darwin, not much straw up there unless it comes from
the Ord River in WA. So I hope that Dave will get back to us with more
details. By the way Dave is a fount of knowledge and I hope that he becomes
active on this list.

My whole perception has changed today thanks to you straw bale people. I
now look at the 4 beams that we are using (recycled) but costly, some $400
each for the Games Room at Galston and suddenly they become four Houses
That Sing Right Around the World. (Nearly got STRAW as an acronym) Crazy?

So to say thanks is not enough but that is all I can do for now, remember
it takes fifteen years to become an overnight success and you coves are
well down the track to success, if we can make it global, where it is
needed, then we can all make a difference. In conclusion I have taken on
board some advice given to me by Job Ebenezer, the Indian gentleman from
India, who told me that any idea or project that we take on in the
developing world will only succeed if we, who are promoting the idea, uses
and in this case live in the same idea/house that we are promoting. I think
that applies to our own back yard as well.

[The foundations for stage 1 at Galston = 30 Houses That Sing, I am slowly
going nuts]

All the best Straw Wolf

Back in a week off to work.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
I'm off the clock and on my own time, dig?
Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko)
<duckchow@...>
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Clean air smells funny.


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 7 Feb 1999 04:53:32 -0600
From: "Mark Piepkorn (f.k.a. M J Epko [R.I.P.])"
<duckchow@...>
Subject: 10

From: "Rene Dalmeijer" <rened@...>
To: "crest" <strawbale@...>
Subject: I am not taking samples to CASBA
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 00:05:45 +0100
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.5
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3110.3
Sender: owner-strawbale@...

What is wrong with my millennium proof bales?

I posted a message some time ago on the list and until now nobody has
placed an order. Why is this?

You have to take Y2K seriously. Just imagine what a loss of face you will
incur when your SB house collapses at the turn of the century. Especially
buildings made in the Nebraska style are in serious danger.

Besides the obvious advantages of having certified millennium proof bales,
these bales are square..and metric. (on special request we will start up a
production line for non metric bales) We are all thumbs anyway.

If I do not receive serious responses to my posting this time, I only
received sarcastic mails the last time, I am seriously considering not take
samples of these excellent bales to CASBA. I might even decide not to come
to CASBA myself. Actually I am seriously thinking of changing over to
underground FC. The following there seems to be much more receptive to my
ideas.

****************************************************************************
Square bales International B.V. i.o.
Incorporating Subterranean FC

The only bales that need no over hangs!
****************************************************************************


----------------------------------------------------------------------

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