Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sustainable Building, day 2

Today the day was about how much theory differs from reality, about Murphy's law and about how you get Norman stressed.

We went to Kalisada to follow the construction of the waste water management system of Lynda's and Glen's house. The drill was not working properly, the glue pistol was not working properly, there were missing parts without which the septic tank could not waterproof, the slope of the pipes leading to the septic tank was not enough, the septic tank was not high enough so the vegetated leach field had to get a bit deeper, the ground water was constantly filling the bottom of the septic tank pit, at one point it started to rain.

We were all bombarding Norman with questions and suggestions while he was trying to organise and give instructions to the working crew and give us the course of the day.

By the time the rainbow came out, Norman was a nervous wreck. Well, I am exaggerating a bit, but I think that today we finally managed to exhaust out guru, who seemed inexhaustible.

Apart from the practical, hands-on part of the session, which was really interesting, we talked about building in areas prone to earthquakes, like Bali and how we brace our buildings, about protection of houses against fire by planting fireproofing trees close to the buildings, and even about protection from volcano eruptions (!). I found this really exotic but Norm did not go into a lot of detail. Maybe we'll have a chance to get him to talk to us about it some more!

I have to say that we are very good students, indeed! We actually thought about the 'Windows to the world' school in Buanasari in our little spare time and came up with quite interesting ideas.

  • Make 'living' huts and mazes by real trees and plants, for children to hide and play in.
  • Make a vegetable garden.
  • Introduce animals, like rabbits or ducks.
  • Stabilize the land (does this ring a bell?).
  • Let more sunlight reach the garden by cutting some tree branches
  • Make a pleasant, colourful compost pit and rubbish bin area.
  • Plant more beautiful and appropriate plants for a school garden, that would attract butterflies, birds and other animals.
  • Make a kind of fitness or adventure path, so that the kids get some exercise.

We concluded that any feasible project for this school should have a small budget, be easily maintained and be carried out in a short time by some volunteers.This could very well be the first project of the 'Permaculture in action' team.

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