I found many interesting details (some very small) in this video … not just about Persimmons but also about nature, humans, evolution, Japanese culture …
Once in a while I get a question about the house that was to be built at Bhudeva … and also about what happened to updates on the blog … I thought to answer in a short post.
Construction of a new house hasn’t started at Bhudeva.
Me & We
One reason is that the “we” that we were is not the “we” that we are. There have been major life changes and transformations in and around Bhudeva. I don’t want to get into that yet because it touches intimately not just on my life but also on the lives of others. Personally it has been a surprising, sometimes pleasant, sometimes demanding journey … and it is ongoing. To meet that journey in a good way I have made it a priority to care for myself and my well-being (physicall, emotionally, energetically and spiritually).
I have turned most of my attention inward, where I have been able to find and sustain (sometimes with a lot of effort) a sense of center and stability. This affected many things, including my writing. I have written very little both on my personal site and here at Bhudeva. I am now starting to feel a desire to write again … but that has not translated yet into actual writing (this post being an exception). I am treating this desire with delicate care, allowing it to become and mature … not pushing it, not making any demands of myself, not setting any expectations.
Another reason is money … this is another expansive subject of reflection for me … but for now I can say that when it comes to money I would like two conditions to exist for a house build to begin:
- The first is an initial sum of money that can be comfortably dedicated to construction.
- The second is a steady flow of money which can be directed towards the building project.
However, I believe that even if the money was available right now, construction still wouldn’t start because in my mind and heart creating a house is intimately related to me and “we” … and it will take more time for there to be “clarity” about who “we” are and what that says about a house and living at Bhudeva.
Technically speaking I feel that I have found most of the information needed to build a suitable and efficient house for the climate conditions here at Bhudeva. However, until recently I have not found a good way to design a house – to give it good shape. This is something that has been on my mind for 4 or 5 years now … and I felt that any choices I made when thinking about the shape of a house were arbitrary … intellectual exercises. Some configurations felt like reasonable solutions to getting all the desired functions of a house in place. But how can I tell that a design is Good … that it will create a pleasant house to live in?
I have been living with this particular question for 2 or 3 years now. I have been looking for some knowledge that could guide me. During the summer of 2015 I discovered a fascinating work titled “The Nature of Order” by an architect named Christopher Alexander. It is a 4 volume work spanning ~2000 pages. It is touching me deeply, nourishing me spiritually and answering a lot of questions I had about designing a house. Reading it has been a regular part of my mornings for the past half year. I am in the 3rd book and I have been publishing some quotes that have inspired me as I am going through the book. I have been tempted to start thinking about the new house numerous times during my reading, but I have decided to wait until I finish all 4 books.
Another piece of wisdom I’ve encountered for self-builders is that you will get things right on the 3rd house. It takes at least two construction projects to make some necessary learning mistakes, so that when you get to the 3rd house you can do it right. This has been my experience with rocket stoves and I have been trying to apply this wisdom to construction:
- Two years ago I built a wood-shed.
- Last year I built a sheltered terrace (wooden deck, an overhead roof, an outdoor kitchen ..) attached to the house (maybe I will publish post with a bit of information about this build).
- This year there are plans to build a cellar with some of the building technologies that will be used in the future house.
- There are also plans to renovate and transform the old summer kitchen into a living space .. this will be an opportunity to play with and apply some of the ideas I’ve learned from “The Nature or Order”.
How To Build
I have a lot to say about how to approach construction projects (maybe any project) based on my experiences in recent years at Bhudeva and amplified by what I have been reading in the “The Nature of Order”. I don’t know when and how I will be able to express what is moving inside me. For now I will say this. If you want to create a house that is vibrating with life then the process of creating that house needs to also vibrate with life. What kind of house will be created by a construction process that is painful, stressful, insecure, difficult …? My personal efforts are therefore directed at how to create conditions for a construction process that will be spacious, pleasant, inspiring, loving … I believe these conditions needs to be established before a single earthbag is filled with earth.
For me this is not about building walls … it is about creating a home.
Solid evidence on illegal logging in Romania:
I’ve gotten used to doing things on my own here at Bhudeva … it’s the way things have been for quite some time. I have learned to adjust my aims according to what I alone am able to execute. I plan construction projects in such a way that I can create and bring all the elements into place on my own.
However there has been, even if a slight, opportunity for this to change … there are two pairs of helping hands which are occassionaly here and passionate about helping. I also share with Andreea things I am planning to do and sometimes she has inputs which I want to incorporate. But I am not adapted to being helped. I am not practiced at communicating what I am thinking or what I am doing.
This has resulted in a recurring scenario where one of the few people who are involved send me an idea … but late in the process … when other things have already been set in motion or put in place which would need to be changed to make room for the new idea. Though the ideas are given with good intentions and I want to include them in my work … the fact that they arrive late usually leads to frustration or confusion … “why didn’t you say so earlier?” kind of situations. There are numerous reasons for this … but one of them is my lack of communication.
With that in mind I’ve decided to try something new. I’d like to practice being more open in communicating my plans and activities. I’d like to invite feedback earlier in the process. I’d also like for the feedback to be collaborative … so that everyone who may be involved can know what is going on and give input in time.
I’ve created the Make space for that purpose. In it, I (and others in this small group) can publish thoughts, ideas, plans, etc … and comment on what others publish. Whenever something is published everyone else in the group gets an email notification so they can, if they wish, keep track of what is happening. I’ve prescribed this kind of solution for other groups I’ve been involved with … and now that an opportunity has presented itself I’ve decided to give it a try here at home.
Lovely short video … hint … those lines between the trees are not strings or ropes!
the village is in a low spot and we are in a valley so it can take some time for the fog to lift … sometimes until noon … until then I need to either run on faith (or drive up and out of the village) to know that the sun is indeed shining.
I’ve started preparations for replacing our first rocket stove with a newer, better built, better functioning rocket stove.
I am planning the new build for this coming weekend and have decided to offer this build as a mini-workshop on rocket stoves.
We will be building a rocket stove with a small mass attached to it (not a full bench as in the complete rocket mass heater design). It will be an opportunity to learn what were the limitations of the previous design (and why they were introduced in the first place) and the considerations that went into the new design. We will be building a typical rocket core with an attached brick chamber with some cob to add more mass and bring it altogether. It is a tight design that will fill a tight space.
You will have an opportunity to:
- Learn about rocket stove design.
- Participate in all stages of construction.
- Meet the materials and the tools involved.
- Spend some time at and learn about Bhudeva
All within the settings and limitations of a traditional Romanian village house.
The build/workshop will take place on August 23-34 (Saturday & Sunday). There are 5 places for participants. Sleeping will be in tents (there is plenty of space). We will be doing everything together: working, cooking, cleaning. The price of the workshop is 450 Ron.
If you are interested, please fill out this form:
I decided to go to Rosia Montana by car. It isn’t too far from Cluj (~130km) and I had passengers with me to pass the time in conversation.
Arriving at Rosia Montana is mostly uneventful. We were suddenly there – another Romanian village. The main and most noticeable change are the brainwashing banners hung by the gold mining company describing the benefits to the locals.
The event is organized and operated by volunteers. This was my first time attending such an event and I was really impressed. There is a headquarters area where there is a large campground and kitchen that feeds over 300 people (volunteers and guests) 3 times a day (though food is not cooked on rocket stoves but on very wasteful fires).
From what I understood the event was originally entertainment-based (mostly music concerts) that was intended to draw youth to the place. It seems to be maturing to something more purposeful with plenty of sessions on many social subjects (mostly flavored with activism). Activities take place in many locations.
I felt welcome but not belonging. The food was really good and offered me plenty of support given how outside-my-element I was.
The rocket stove session drew quite an audience and I can only hope that many more small cooking rocket stoves are now built and working.
The first Yoga session drew a small group ~10 people. The second was much larger ~30 people. Both were held in an unsupportive space: outdoors, on a rugged hilltop, in the sun, with plenty of sound from all over the place. The second session, out of respect for those who attended the first, was faster – enabling the newcomers to sort-of catch up and then to move on. It was, for me, a magical session. People were attentive and put in good effort. When it was over I felt that the practice had isolated the hilltop from the surrounding busy-ness and transformed it into an island of peace.
I can say much more about the event, the place, the people … but I don’t feel like doing it and don’t feel it is valuable. But I do want to make a note of something about the overall karma.
I have great respect for the people who make this event possible. It takes huge commitment and tons of work to make it happen. Yet I have my doubts about the long-term effects of confrontational attitude that dominates the event.
The most poignant example in my mind is the smoking. People there smoke a lot and its young people – they are aware and know what smoking does – and yet they smoke … a lot. They smoke openly in the faces of non-smokers and they do so everywhere. And I wondered why do they think that it is OK for them to destroy their (and others’)lungs and that it is NOT OK for the mining company to want to destroy a mountain (interestingly: the lung destruction is already happening while the mountain is still unharmed). In my mind there a difference mostly in scale. Both represent an attitude of destruction towards nature.
It is easier and satisfying to turn against an outside enemy then to look inside. But I believe that actions motivated by such perceptions have limited effect and are likely to have undesired consequences.
I wondered quite a bit about taking action with the gold-mining company rather than against it. I realize it sounds like a futile effort but I believe that in the long term it may be a valuable one. I believe that the “us and them” mentality is wrong (incomplete, misinformed, immature, etc.). I believe that for both individual and social growth there needs to be continued movement toward a “we” mentality. I am cofident that moving in that direction will take a very different kind of effort (then the kind required to produce the event) and cause an expansion of awareness. Maybe pursuing a connection with the gold mining company will cause many of the young people involved to quit smoking? who knows.
Since my visit to Rosia Montana there have been large and peaceful protests in Romania. It seems that the movement (which has many fronts) has been successful (at least temporarily) in stalling the daft destructive (on so many levels) act of gold-mining (despite a threatened undergound hunger strike by a whopping 33 miners who, of course, support mining).
An interesting and rare historical perspective on Rosia Montana.