Update to Website 28 Oct 2015
Since the website was updated Feb 2014, heres whats new:
Good internet access
We apologize to those who have had a hard time reaching us by phone. Over the last year we have changed internet providers 3 times, for service trials of months, each time with new phone numbers. We have changed ISP again, and have obtained a permanent ooma internet phone number that will no longer change. That number is 520 812 5984, and the website should be finally updated with it. Often we are too busy outdoors to answer the phone, email is best. The new ISP dish got hit by lightening, and we lost a computer, some GFIs, and some LED lights. We need a new computer, always looking for bigger screens.
Eathbag bedroom project
Collaborating architect Robert Gay has completed changes to a arced/curved earthbag bedroom design per Pima County flood district, we decided to move the project to a different part of the property. We anticipate obtaining a building permit this fall, and ongoing workshops related to earthbag building to commence winter. Several new people arrived dedicated to help fund, build, and potentially habitate in what can become a innovative ring shelter/house as earthen bedrooms are added. We estimate about $5000 to build the first 200ft2 bedroom. Of which perhaps 1/3 will be fees? Once approved we will put the design on the website for use by donation. We need a new concrete mixer.
Boneyard project area
Boneyard Cleanup progresses,, a huge dumpster full of rubbish left here in spring. We are considering that the dumpster can be an annual neighborhood cleanup event. Trailers full of metal and other recycle have moved on. We have organized & consolidated the sprawling areas of project materials. Tools and hardware have been organized and sorted, so the workshops are much more functional. We also have now dedicated an area for making geodesic dome frames. Bearing parts for the healing-light apparatus of the harmonic chapel were fabricated and installed at Harmony&Health, and we also now have a section dedicated to the creation of musical instruments for a recycled gamelon/music program at H&H. Wild bee hives were a problem this year, and were removed with some difficulty. We need help with cleanup, organizing, and diesel repair.
A replacement water tank of ferrocement for the community well water
storage continues to proceed, and we have ongoing workdays Tuesdays to
progress this. Final layers of mesh will go on this fall, and we anticipate
plastering sometime winter. The existing 5000 gallon steel tank is rusted
with holes since it's installation year 2000. (Interestingly a bottom
hole/leak is penetrated with root(s), and the tank contains a huge root
ball which looks like a giant brain). Replacement tanks of steel and
plastic run about $1/gallon. Steel tanks are rated at 15 years service,
Plastic black poly tanks at 25 years. Our ferrocement tank should be good
for 100 years, and we estimate materials cost in the range of $3000 for our
14,000 gallon tank. There is a lot of labor in tying the mesh.
I have had requests to build these tanks for others. There is a potential
livelihood here... A plastic 10,000 gallon tank at a cost of $10,000 could
be replaced with a tank costing $2500 of locally purchased materials, and
$7500 labor. Labor earnings cycle into the local economy, vs. a plastic
tank supports a dealer and corporate doing elsewhere.
Rainwater catchment from the roof of the main building progresses slowly,
some foundational work is moving ahead on a 3000gal ferrocement cistern
buried below ground. This may or may not be ready for next summers rainy
season depending on other projects/priorities. We estimate that our 2000ft2
roof can capture 1200 gal./inch of rainfall. In the meantime, plants near
gutter outflows are very happy.
We need rolls of chicken wire, hardware cloth, and other steel mesh. in
We signed an agreement with Solar City who mounted 5000 watts of grid tie PV power on the main building roof. This offsets about $35 a month so far. We are looking for more PV capacity, and seek donations of PV panels, 6-10kw inverters, charge controllers, batteries, etc. We are finally starting to prep some old trailers donated to be a platform for a mobile PV power plant with enough capacity to operate any of the community wells. Some solar cooker projects languish awaiting volunteers with welding skills. Work on a solar water still has progressed. We need more welding equipment.
We have outfitted a small area of the boneyard workshop to make dome struts. Community members have been active in experimenting with domes of various sizes. There is an ongoing R&D plan to experiment with covers, insulation, etc. We may startup a “cottage industry” of geo-tents, maybe a cooperative community venture, and are presently thinking about a coop where expertise and tools are available to members to make-yer-own-dome. We need a new air compressor.
The gardens have been moderately productive with help from some hard working dedicated volunteers. Munching critters who burrow, or find a way around fencing continue to be problematic. We have also had some problems with grubs chewing roots of peppers and tomatoes this season, (as an unexpected consequence of bird netting), and will deploy nematodes next season. Experiments continue with gardening strategies of various fortification. Various watering, composting, soil building, etc. strategies have been employed. There is talk again of recapitulating a community sprout house. We have involvement with the farmers markets in our shared booth on Thursdays. Our chickens continue to be very happy. Swales under trees have each become uniquely lush as mini-gardens over time. many have been seeded with native seed to increase the diversity. We continue to dance with some bermuda grass infestations (in horse manure), and buffel grass showed up having rapidly colonized the roads and washes in every direction.
Native Seed/Barn Area
Fall planting is finished, our area of native seed cultivation is expanding
dramatically. We may add beehives with the native plants/flowers,
specializing for example in chia honey.
We provide seed, plant propagation expertise, and collaborate on
rewilding/native food forestation in the local area. We have several new
neighbors who are educators or helping developing education resources on
We continue to support our local Bhakti festival held at Harmony and
Health, boneyard workshop, tools, materials, plant resources and
recycling, trash hauling, etc. for the local community.
Over the last 18 months, people of all ages from many parts of the world
have cycled through here...they come in search of knowledge, experience,
community, family, creative space, etc. They are inspiring to us, and by
their reports we have inspired them. Thank You all!
Non-profit Laboratory for Sustainability