This post has a kilt in it

The days are just packed

That’s how my time has felt since arriving in Portland. I realized today that the one thing I didn’t account for in looking ahead to these ten days: the need to get some sleep! Thankfully, a nice power nap today has put me back on my feet, and the keyboard beneath my fingers once more.

There are general thoughts I want to share from these days about the notion of community design and village building, but first, I feel like y’all need to experience what’s been between my toes these past few days. That’s right: you’re about to get a tour through the process of making earthen plaster. Caution: this post gets squishy from here on out.


Step 1: Sand (1.5 Buckets)


Step 2: Clay (1 Bucket)


Step 3: Fibrous Material (1 Bucket of – brace yourself! – clean* horse manure)


Step 4: Just add water, and stomp!


*So, step 3. I know. It sounds pretty gross. But it was a great learning experience! From what I gathered speaking with one of the “mud girls” (a society of female professional natural builders), the horse manure had undergone a process to remove all of the gnarly bacteria, but which still retained all of the enzymes and other natural materials that help to create a stronger resistance to rain. While almost any fibrous material can be used for earthen building (the standard being straw), it sounded like manure was chosen because of the organic materials it contained and the density of its fibrous content. This was particularly important given that the earthen plaster I was making/stomping on was intended as an outer coating to seal off the more sand heavy cob interior.

Walled in

All in all, I would definitely recommend this process of earthen plaster and cob making for anyone interested in teaching natural building with kids. It’s amazing that mud, intelligently applied, can be turned into structures for housing, cooking and more. And seriously – it’s just a ton of fun to play in the stuff!

Ton of fun

Ah well, I’ve already gotten pretty far down in this post, and feel like it may be best to leave the musings on community building for a concluding post, wrapping up my time in Portland at the VBC. Until then, if anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday next year, it’s this:


Yep, it’s a utilikilt. And I’m pretty sure, somehow, some way, I’m going to have to get one. Fashionable, no?


Puts a whole new spin on the tune, “Whatcha got under yer kilt yer kilt?” (a sawzall?)

Like a double rainbow through sporadic downpour,

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