Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change

Just another weblog

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.


The New Plan March 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 1:05 am

(paxus) Sara and i were arguing about being “realistic” there are lots of things we don’t know about the project.  How many volunteers we will have? where money will come from after our small seed funding?  Can we promote this very remote event with any success?  Sara did not know that the word “realistic” has been used as a club against many of my ideas.

What we ended up agreeing on (instead of realism) is sequencing.  That we dont know how much we will get done, but by choosing the order of the construction we will set our own internal priorities.  There is a growing group of project advisers from inside East Wind who are working with Sara and Pilgrim on the ground.  Yesterday evening they were brilliant and came up with a plan that Sara told me about on the phone.

The essence of it is to ditch the bunkhouse for workers right now, we dont need it in the very short term (most volunteers can camp), it is not directly supporting the tree house construction.  And as Sara points out it is a good building to do later when we have a stronger need and when we have more skilled folks on the site to help, since it will be the base of operations for future festivals and likely the most utilized structure we build.

So instead we are starting with the pole barn and the first zip line.  Then cisterns and more zip lines and other tree house platforms.

Architects proposal for tree house and zip line platform


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.


Is tucker with y’all? March 14, 2010

Filed under: Fundraising,Project Personalities — Sara Tansey @ 1:51 pm

(Sara)  Wow.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind in the last couple of weeks.  Last Saturday we had a birthday and a board meeting: Paxus’s birthday and a VIS board meeting in DC.  Now, I’ve been to a number of board meetings and even organized and facilitated a few in my short time, but never one quite like last weekend’s.

Arrow, one of our festival experienced board members, brought along his wife Teagan (who we love and are happy to have as an extra, unofficial board member), his 13yr old daughter Felix, his baby daughter Teah and their dog Tucker.  And they all came to the meeting.  And it was wonderful.

I think it was when Teagan walked back into the meeting room and asked if Tucker was with us and I had to tell her that Pax had taken him for a quick walk, because he seemed to need it, that I remembered how unconventional and delightful this project is.  There were times in the meeting when Pax had to take over, because I was distracted by baby Teah, or moments when Felix jumped in to keep notes or get us back on track.  Moments that fit into the flow of the meeting so well, that didn’t distract from the very important things we were discussing, but added and enriched our discussion and decision making.

We talked for hours about fundraising and networking and priorities for the next couple of months.  Everyone was engaged, excited, contributing in critical ways and the momentum it has catalysed is much appreciated.  And we finished the board meeting with a chaotic dinner hosted by Heather, another board member, at her house blocks from our meeting site.  She’d invited friends interested in the project, Arrow and Teagan had invited members from a local intentional community and other board members invited local friends and allies.  And outside of a quick blurb about the project and some questions, we let the night unfold organically.  The kids from the closeby community delighted in the swing hanging in Heather’s living room, allies and close friends mingled to discover new friendships and exchange phone numbers, the rooms were packed full of bodies and noise and it was the perfect opportunity to connect, relax and celebrate the different ways we’re all working towards this new world we’re building.

My favorite moment was a conversation between Tim and Res, a conversation about how to design functioning wooden gears for turbines and such.  I was trying to follow but at one point they exchanged few words and most of the verbal communication became unnecessary because they knew what the other was thinking.  It was sort of like watching a tennis match between two incredible minds.

And now I’m back at East Wind for less than twenty four hours and already I’ve been in three meetings of varying formality to discuss different pieces of the project.  And tomorrow is our big vote here on the lease and proposed terms of agreement.  Things aren’t slowing down and won’t until after the festival.  And we still need a ton of people to manifest this madness.  So find us, write us, let us know how you want to get involved.  If nothing else, it’s a wonderful ride!


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!


Board Gift March 6, 2010

Filed under: Fundraising,Project Personalities — paxus @ 6:00 pm

Arrow just gave us the solar panels which has been used for Biotour and his old offices in Manhatten.

A wild man kicks in to the cause


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”