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community building | sustainability

Help us Build a Cob Building

A natural building, made of cob, is going up in N Portland and needs some volunteers to help it along. The building is going to be a garden and tool house for the children at the Trillium Charter School and a message to the community that natural building is an alternative to current building methods. This is not only a chance to help put up another natural building in Portland but also a hands on learning experience in working with cob.
I had never heard of cob until I first moved to Portland and still didn't understand what it really was all about until working with it for the first time on this project. First let me define cob. Cob is a building material made of sand, straw and dirt with high clay content. All materials can be found for free which makes building with it very cost effective. It is mixed on a tarp with a little water and your feet to mash it altogether. Then when ready it is thrown on to the foundation and formed into walls. When dry the cob is just about as hard and sturdy as concrete. The cob is mixed in several batches and is a very hands on process, not to mention dirty. When I helped mix my first batch of cob I thought it to be quite strange. But I had a shocking thought come to me while doing this. I couldn't remember the last time I got my feet really dirty. This was shocking to me because I realized that living in the city could really put you in a sterile environment void of natural experiences. Over all I would say that the cob experience has been by far very educational and a bit of a workout. You use some muscles that don't always get such a workout. Oh and how can I forget that I have had so much fun helping construct this building and getting to know the people involved. The reward will be seeing this project finished and saying, "I helped build that".
The building, which is being built in a lot right across the street from the Trillium Charter School, has a foundation and the walls have started going up. The only thing missing is a steady stream of volunteers to help the one natural builder that is over seeing the project. It requires no experience to help just time and maybe some clothes you don't mind getting dirty. Work is usually being done at the site everyday from 10 am till an underdetermined time. For more info and to make sure someone is there when you want to come help, e-mail  roundfeet@hotmail.com . To check out the worksite and maybe see a little bit of work in progress, go to the corner of N Williams and NE Thompson. Hope to see you all there.
img 11.Jun.2003 13:15

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