Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change

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Money shots December 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 8:36 pm

We’ve done a lot so far and my world is sort of reeling.  I just got a bunch of pictures chronicling the journey so far and wanted to share my favorites.

[some of the hardest workers, ever.  they built a three story tower in the hottest part of the day on the playa at burning man.  yeah, i kind of love them.]

i’ve hijacked this post of Sara’ so we can get this picture loaded into the brighter planet posting of our grant please vote for us ?  Paxus


and the early polls show… December 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 3:22 am

That support at East Wind–the host community for VIS–is strong and enthusiastic.  We spent a little more than a week at the community, holding open meetings to create a dialogue between festival organizers and community members.  We distributed surveys with the aim of understanding how the festival can coexist with community needs and culture.  Some of the tricky parts to figure out were:

  • How EW would contribute labor to the project. Would we do the unprecedented and create labor budgets or let the project self police the amount of time we were taking from the community?  East Winders are split–some feel comfortable creating a controlled labor budget and others would prefer we post the labor shifts weekly for the project and let people sign up.
  • How to handle VIS staff living at the community before seed camp. Originally we were thinking we’d have one organizer on site beginning in January and that that person would apply for membership at EW.  But it turns out the preferred arrangement is that any VIS staff staying at the community for significant amounts of time would act as a working guest: contributing to the EW labor needs and staying in housing separate from the member rooms.
  • Should East Wind contribute metal shop resources, lumber and saw mill resources to the project. There was no consensus in the 16 early polls we received, but it seemed that generally East Winders were feeling generous with these community resources.

And there is much to be learned, discussed, discovered about how our vision and the host community’s desires will balance.  But the general feeling is enthusiastic and both groups look forward to pulling together to pull off this festival in the trees!  We’re just working out the details.


First Things First December 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 9:20 pm
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As we went thru the magic meadow land it became increasingly apparent that we needed to be starting work well before seed camp in April.  Pilgrim will accompany Sara going out in January and on today’s conference call we discussed the first things we want to and need to build on the site:

  1. Catchment System.  We need to set up a water system on site, hopefully using some of the billboard tarps we have learned how to rescue before they hit the landfill.  We should be able to string together several tarps which feed into a tank.  My favorite idea thrown out around this was to use an African inspired kid driven merry go round to pump water up to a higher elevation having captured it lower down with the tarps so they don’t get blow around.
  2. Salvage Storage Shed.  We hope to combine this with East Wind’s need for a wood storage/drying barn, perhaps near the saw mill.  Combining our fortunes with that of the storage of dry lumber is good for both the community and the festival.
  3. Brush Clearing.  This is what really drove it all – we need to be cutting and pulling from the site a tremendous volume of brush before we can start mapping zip lines.  I am hoping we can feed this brush into a …
  4. Chipper/Shredder which is steam fired.  One of the members at East Wind is big into steam power and excited to work on the project–we hope we can work on designs together!
  5. Map making and master planning.  We want to take a topographical map of the site and overlay the more important tree clusters so that we have a visualization of the site for planning.  It is important for the planners at East Wind and even more important to share with master tree house and pirate ship builders off site who want to work on the project from afar.

There’s a lot to be done in order to get the building process off the ground and into the trees, but that’s why we’re pulling in our top construction honcho three months ahead of time!  Any thoughts or suggestions on how to make any of these things happen are much appreciated–especially some of the more confounding: like steam powered chippers or catchment systems.


Magic Meadow December 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 6:21 am

Zeke took Sara and Paxus on a land walk near the Magic Juju Berries Meadow (tho Sara says this spelling is in doubt).  This is adjacent to the site for the Villages in the Sky Ozarks festival in 2010.  There are lots of good trees for tree houses, but what the site is really well suited for is zip lines.  There is a canyon which heads down to the State park–run by the Army Corps of Engineers for the big damn they run.

It also did not take long on the site to realize that we needed Pilgrim and we needed him soon.  Fortunately, the worlds fastest volunteer carpenter was persuaded  to at least delay going to Ecuador to build an eco-village and instead come back in January with Sara to wear out some chain saw blades.  Sara prefers machetes, we wont compare productivity.

The first meeting between VIS organizers and East Winders went quite well.  The project is generally supported and people are interested in helping.  There was some contention in the mtg about if we should build an amphitheater (which will likely delay that part of the project to 2011 or beyond) and there was a concern about the event getting too big (over 250 people).  We will be designing a survey to gather information about what East Winders would like to see at the Magic Meadow.

Tomorrow we go to Springfield to meet with Bliss (formerly of East Wind) to talk about organizing in the biggest city in the region.

Trees taht look vaguely like the trees near the magic meadow


Steam Engines and Nut Butters December 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 2:04 am
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Part of the Villages in the Sky organizing team (Sara, Paxus and Bean) journeyed from Twin Oaks to East Wind to discuss the festival with the host community.  So far East Wind has been quite supportive of the project and we are hoping to build stronger relations with them than we did with Acorn during the Testival.

We just produced another fingerbook (small handbook) which goes over the central issues which we are discussing here.  These include the use of the EW saw mill and metal shop for tree house construction (the metal shop is useful for the construction of artificial limbs for trees).  We are also negotiating what fraction of revenues the project makes (ticket prices and grant income) goes to East Wind.  We have actually proposed that East Wind receive some of these funds, in exchange for their generous loaning of what looks like it will be 40 acres of land for the festival itself.

Also in the fingerbook we have floated some of the more radical ideas for Villages in the Sky which relate to what happens to the site after the event is finished, but before the 2011 festival happens on the same site.  One proposal is that we open a commercial zip line/giant play structure space.  Another is that the tree house village be the site of a new pod for the community.  And while the word “process” is something of a swear here, there would have to be quite some community discussion for either of these and especially the second to actually manifest.

If you are curious about Paxus’s thoughts on the difference between these two sister income sharing communities, you can check out this blog entry.