Notes from the Field: Sustainable Housing Solutions

By Jon Becker, TWP Board President

August 8th, 2011: Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

We arrived yesterday at about 5:30, thought we might be driving through a tornado in the last few miles.  We’re all in one piece.  We were able to go to the local fairgrounds for the final day of the annual Oglala Lakota gathering.  We saw unbelievable costume regalia, dancing, drumming, and song.  We were all moved and honored to be able to experience this.

Today’s action –  the foundation has been completed – earth bags laid up four courses high and tamped down into place.  Roof framing, using recycled plywood I-beams, completed, plywood roof sheathing underway, close to done.  Very interesting and diverse crew.  About a dozen from Re-Member non-profit located across the road that does a variety of service projects.  Re-Member staff

and visitors (from assorted Midwest locations, including a couple bicycling across the country) are here.  About six visitors from Northern Cheyenne reservation, who recently did solar air heater training and installations with Henry, are here, very eager to be helping out.  Two travelers from North Carolina have come.  Seven TWP staff, board, and friends are working, along with Henry’s sons Cyrus and Avery, and a few grandchildren.  Dave Kaplan and Lindsay Herrara of Fort Collins are doing remarkable experimentation and testing to determine the optimum “recipe” for stucco made from local clay which we’ll use to create a weatherproof exterior surface on top of the straw.   You can really feel the space now – a 24′ diameter circle, lots of natural (often local and recycled) materials, and good clean human energy going into it.  Nobody’s gotten hurt!  We’re having fun.  Please don’t rain on us (too hard).

You can help us finish this project by making a donation online! Click here to support sustainable straw bale homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to developing sustainable community-based conservation solutions.

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