Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 13 - Bring on the Bohio (Sustainable Building)

Monday we began our unit on sustainable building. The culmination of our education on building skills, practices, and materials will be the complete construction of a "Bohio." I've mentioned this a little before when we were preparing the land by digging the swale. The land has been leveled and cleared and we are ready to learn by doing.

What the hell is a Bohio anyway?

The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean were the Taino Indians. The Taino people lived in bohio homes, a round wooden structure with a tall pitched roof of thatch palm or grasses. The word "hammock" comes from the Taino word 'hamaca' as they had very little furniture and slept in woven hammocks. We will recreate this structure in a 20 x 20 building made of hard wood, bamboo walls, an earthen floor, and a palm roof. The bamboo we have growing in abundance and the thatch palm we are gathering from places on the island that have thatch palms on their property. Because the palm requires a lot of maintenance and pruning no one has turned down our offer to trade services.

Day 1 - We outlined the circle that will be the outer wall, dug the post holes for the 8 support beams, and stood the poles using tamped earth to secure them. At the end of the day we had all eight six-foot poles standing along the circumference of the circle, aligned with the 20-foot octagonal center post. It was a hard day of work, but at the end we could look at this special place we had created and forward to seeing this project to a lasting conclusion.

This building project has me even more determined to build my own place someday. The principles and tools I'm learning here are putting me on the path to being able to do that.

Marshall, who is a student here focusing on sustainable building is working hard with John Vining, our master carpenter. As we get closer to final project time I'm excited to see what they do. It's very refreshing to be surrounded by this type of enthusiasm along with the principle of completion. I've seen entirely too many unfinished projects.

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