Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change

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April Fools Party and Progress April 4, 2010

Filed under: build up camp,Project Personalities,Salvage — villagesinthesky @ 4:56 pm
(Sara and Paxus) It is late after a long day and we are preparing to go to sleep in the back of the Subaru on the couch cushions which Deborah brought up.  She also brought up a dozen cheery East Winders for a sing along and some beers after a beautiful warm day.  We had said we wanted to have a party after our first full day of seed camp and then we kind of forgot about it.  One of the nice things about having a community as a neighbor is that you can whip up a party pretty quickly.
Today is April Fools and an appropriate start date for such an unlikely project.  And over the post couple of days a lot has come together.
  • we have nearly finished the demo of the yellow house and salvage of siding and 2 by boards (lots of de-nailing).
  • Teo built us the cutest little comptoil outhouse from a giant peanut sack
  • Jason and Shiloh banged out some nice benches (photos to come)
  • Sara and Shiloh and others completed the root cellar
  • zeke brought in some shelving for the kitchen
  • Ish and Matthew put a bunch of rocks in the potholes, which desperately needed attention.
Pilgrim and Paxus discussed volunteers and how to keep them happy.  Pilgrim wanted them to be on the site during the daylight hours and taking off to the river or other events after the day was over.  Paxus took a more summer camp perspective, thinking that volunteers needed to be happy and able to run off to adventures during the day some days.
We will fight and we will discuss and we will make sure that we’re creating an experience that is the best parts of work on a short timeline and play on a big scale.  That’s what we’re all about.  And we’ll take care of each other.  It’s a culture more than a festival, that we’re creating, and if we can’t go swimming at the end of the day, in the middle of the day, at the beginning of the day, then what’s the point?
Yellow House Frame
Yellow House Gone

And so it begins March 31, 2010

Filed under: build up camp,getting involved — villagesinthesky @ 1:04 pm

(Sara) All of this excitement and I haven’t even had a chance to write about it.  As we promised, seed camp begins officially on April 1st.  But tomorrow, tomorrow we’ll have an influx of folks from the east coast coming to kick us off right.  Our agreement with the community is that all of our volunteers stay on the site, that we feed them from our pockets.  Sounds simple enough, but prepping a site without any infrastructure for living on has proven more stressful than expected.

And all the last minute details are being hammered out today and tomorrow morning.  We’re getting help building composting toilets, fixing up an old shack to house folks, running to the grocery store to get a couple of days worth of food, doing dishes that haven’t been done since Burning Man in August, going to board meetings to make agreements with the community.  It’s a rush job and there’s a lot of folks working it here in Missouri.  And by tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be ready.

Someone elses barn raising

And then it will begin.  We’ll be starting with a bang, a party to set the tone for our balance of work and play.  Then we’ll go to work, with pole barn raisings and the first zip line going up.  It will be maddening and chaotic the whole time, but, like everything else we’ve done so far, it will be magical and I am certain that, in the end, I will be pleased and proud.  And we’ll have one hell of a festival.

If you’re interested in coming out anytime in April and May to help with seed camp, drop us a note at  The more, the merrier.  Really.


Tent Up March 26, 2010

Filed under: build up camp — paxus @ 5:26 am

(paxus)  So we know that it is an ambitious project.  We know we have to be resourceful and scrappy.  One of the many nice presents from our host East Wind is the circus tent which was deployed quite effectively at burning man.  Which was put up on the festival site quite recently.

Zeke, Pilgrim, Taeo and Yo put up the Circus Tent

It will serve as the kitchen and materials storage space and wet weather shop for Seed Camp which is starting in a few days.  About ten people will come out from Twin Oaks to help with construction for the start of Seed Camp which is fittingly set for April Fools day.

The Villages in the Sky organizers and our East Wind advisers (Zeke, Deborah and Quinn) have been wrestling with issues like can we accommodate the dogs of people who want to help?  Can we bring 17 year olds who want to come ans swing hammers (looks like we can in the case of Ayden Rain who will be with his legal guardian Mosha).

If your interested in coming out to help, drop us a line and we will figure out how to get you to the Ozarks.


Namaste March 10, 2010

Filed under: build up camp,sustainable communities — villagesinthesky @ 8:06 am

Playing/working, learning, creating!

We are people coordinating towards creating tree houses to house a festival that teaches techniques for creating sustainable communities and hosts primitive skill shares

burning brush and blazing trails  in preparation for creating zip lines and TREE HOUSES!…

more to come!


They might be Architects* March 2, 2010

Filed under: build up camp,Project Personalities — paxus @ 5:49 am

(paxus) It was my mother who suggested i contact Al Ross from the architects firm of Flansburgh Associates, which is the firm my father founded.  Al built a tree house in his back yard and perhaps more significantly, also built a mock pirate ship by cleverly twisting plywood.  Al agreed to consult with us for the cost of a couple of airplane tickets to Missouri which the project was more than happy to pay for.

Sara hates possed pictures, so the above one with Al and Joe Marshell (also from Flansburgh Associates) myself and Sara is not quite as bad as the team shot which wont make it to the website, but is in Will’s Photos. he architects were generous with their time and clever with their advice.  We will have some of their drawings up in a few days, but for me the interesting thing abou their approach was they moved away from rectangular elements (which dominate the Acorn tree houses) and have shifted to triangles. Including a set of triangles which goes up to the main elevated dance floor.  The early computer aided drawings were light in design and took full advantage ofthe billboard tarps we are planning ot use as roofing.  We asked them to come up with stuff which was visually dramatic so that participants of the event would feel like they are part of something extraordinary.  They have succeeded famously.  My dad would be proud.

* My brother is in a rock band called “They Might be Giants”, when my fathers architectural firm was changing it’s name after he departed the firm there was a brain storming session on what the new name might be.  One name that never had a serious chance, but was my favorite as “They might be architects”


Burn and Thorns March 1, 2010

Filed under: build up camp — paxus @ 8:39 pm

(paxus) We burned the festival grounds today.  It was a controlled burn of course and Zeke was the honcho, which marked his return to the project after a much missed absence.  I could not help but think as I watched my fellow communards rack fire that these would be perfect images for part of the “This is VIS”  slide show.

Quinn at Controled Burn

Quinn at VIS Festival Site

I’ve never seen a controlled burn before, much less helped make one happen.  It was strange watching the flames slowly creep across the grass.  There were a couple of exciting moments, but  the highly competent crew held It all in place.

I am not much of an outdoorsy type.  So me cutting thorns with a huge set of clippers is unusual to say the least.

Pilgrim was a virtuoso with the chain saw.  I told Will that people think I love Pilgrim because he can build anything in a hurry, but it is really because he can prune without pausing.  I am convinced Pilgrims green thumb will be as important as his hammer swing.


And the good news is… January 27, 2010

Filed under: build up camp,Fundraising,Project Personalities — paxus @ 4:53 am

That my boys are taking care of me, too.  I always say that one of my favorite parts of this project is getting to play with “the boys.”  They are wonderful.  Real boys, you know, work hard, play hard, build things with their hands and all of them are a couple of decades older than me.  We decided months ago that I’m the little sister who’s had to assume all maternal responsibilities because our mother is in rehab.  And trust me, it explains a lot about “the boys” and our unique relationship.

Tonight I got a call in the middle of a Smash Brothers tournament from Pilgrim—our site manager and tree house building master.  We’d been sifting through community politics together earlier in the night and I’d shown signs of mild exasperation (ok, maybe more than mild).  He was calling me with “not great news, but good.”  He’d been talking to one of the East Wind “boys,” Kris, who is a local expert in steam engines.  All along we’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate steam into the project; Kris refuses to use steam for electricity, too inefficient, but tonight he agreed to put together a steam exhibit for the festival.  He also provided us with a much cheaper solution to energy generation out on the site during build up camp by offering a diesel engine we can convert—all we need is a battery.

Some of the other good news is that East Wind might have two starter solar panels we can use on the site, every day we’re finding another potential long term VIS volunteer to come out in February to help with our massive site preparation, and we had a really great development and fundraising call today.

“I wanted to call and give you some good news, some hope.  Something good right before you go to bed,” Pilgrim told me.  And as we wished each other sweet dreams and hung up I was close to tears.  This is a big project and wading through community politics, trying to raise money, trying to keep everyone happy and trying to find enough volunteer help for Pilgrim himself is a bit crazy making.  And sometimes I feel like I’m doing it all alone out here.  But that’s just the egomaniac in me, and the team I’m working with reminds me in the simplest and most profound ways that we are a strong team.  It seems almost impossible, but with this group of misfit toys, I know we can make almost anything happen.  Prove me wrong, come and join us in June and tell me we’ve failed.  I dare you!