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Re: GSBN:ISBBC 004



Hello Lars!

First off, thank you for and congratulations on your work so far on the 04 event. I sorely regretted missing the Australia conference, and I hope not to make that mistake again.

2 points-

1- You included no dates, which leads me to assume you haven't decided yet. Is there a particlar month that you are leaning toward?

2- I have been thinking for some time about the link between the natural building movement and the preservation movement. Whenever I attend a preservation training on some technique (lime plaster, let's say) I always find that these people, with their well developed sense of both history and materials, feel a strong affinity for what we are doing. It is philosophically similar to how people built before "better living through chemistry"- we are attempting to make high quality buildings from relatively elemental materials. By looking at old buildings I have received a valuable education in design and construction details that have been tested by time, and by taking occasional preservation courses I have learned how to use some materials well. (You aren't going to find classes on lime plaster at Home Despot, eh?)

Preservationists also have things to learn from us- the massive amount of experimentation going on in the natural building world is in part a reaching back- to rediscover lost materials and techniques. And preservationists are notoriously foolish when it comes to issues like insulation, etc- historically accurate doors that don't come close to sealing, or thinking that if a cavity wall were not insulated at the outset, it shouldn't be now. I see this as a mild insult to the intelligence of the original bulders- they'd have used an appropriate insulation if they had thought of it, or had the right materials at hand.

But this is just quasi-technical stuff. What I'm really interested in is that preservation, over the last 30 years in much of the developed world, has been an enormously successful movement. (Not so in the developing world- I can't tell you how painful it is to see 400 year old brick or stone buildings (and the exquisitely human spaces between them) being demolished en masse in Beijing, to make way for the glass anywhere that will announce to the world, via the 2008 Olympics, that China is now a modern country.) The success of preservation in the West is partly because people enjoy a physical connection to their history, and partly because many of the buildings conserved have been grand. But I am sure that it is also because, after a generation or two, people realized that chemistry might be useful for more practical living, but that "better" is much harder to define. And old buildings (and here we can add new, natural buildings) have a feel and beauty and timelessness and life to them that you don't find in the developer's model home.

OK, sorry about the position paper. The point is that you must have alot of great old buildings, large and small, wood, masonry, and otherwise, within a reasonable distance of this conference site. (Those seaweed roofs come to mind!) I think a tour of historical buildings would be splendid, as would some conference sessions describing in detail how they were designed and built. In my idealized world you would find a preservation group who was willing to organize that part of things, and that would be useful for future working relationships. Leading, of course, to new natural buildings which become, in the slow, sweet flow of time, candidates for historical preservation.

Thanks again, and also in advance, for all your work on this!

Paul
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Paul Lacinski
GreenSpace Collaborative
Sidehill Farm
PO Box 107
463 Mail Street
Ashfield, MA 01330 USA
01-413-628-3800