Documenting Change @ RE-aRT

ATEN Success Story

Change Studies at KD’s Backyard Gardens

There is a curiosity-inspiring little community growing in the fenced-in yard next to 11th St.’s Victory Grill.  Between that historic venue and the nearby trailer eateries which buffer old East 11th from the monstrously modern new orange-balconied development, is Kenny Dorham’s backyard, a fantastic place to take in some blues or soul music, tend to some plots, or to have a healthy garden-to-plate meal with kind new friends.

I made a post on the Austin Time Exchange Network a few months back, offering my services as a photographer to do a time-lapse sequence of a project or place.  Kesten Broughton, proprietor of SunFarmKitchens, a (partially) solar-powered food trailer, has been spearheading the community garden projects and hosting Fambly Dinner once a week, and he took me up on the offer.  So far I have been out there 3 times, and it has been a good learning experience for me to observe the changes and try and figure out the best way to capture it on camera.  Some of the work-in-progress below:

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sunflowers, 5/7/12

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sunflowers, 5/16/12

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sunflowers, 6/21/12

—    _____  —   _______ —  ______ —

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center garden, 5/7/12

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center garden, 5/16/12

 

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center garden, 6/21/12

—    _____  —   _______ —  ______ —

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haybed, 5/7/12

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haybed, 5/16/12

 

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haybed-turned-food, 6/21/12

 

—    _____  —   _______ —  ______ —

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mural side, 5/7/12

 

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mural side, 5/16/12

 

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mural side, 6/21/12

—    _____  —   _______ —  ______ —

This last time I was there, there was a lot of stuff growing all around, so I have a lot of extra pictures which do not show an evolution. See those and more at http://www.flickr.com/photos/70127061@N07/sets/

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Improvisational Architecture

The long saga of the bottles has gotten exciting again!

And this is an ATEN success story.

I posted a request on the network for help building a bottle wall, including one “expert” in some form of construction to consult with me before the build day.  A member forwarded the post to his nephew, concrete builder Paul Adam, who was interested in the project and in the idea of ATEN and contacted me.  He ended up coming over and answering all my questions and more, as well as moving a bunch of heavy rocks into the shape of a foundation.  In return, I am telling everyone I know to call him if they need fine concrete work done (hardscape, hearth, shower, etc.)!

Two other ATEN members volunteered to help with the build, and one brought along an extra helper, so we were set!  Throughout the day, I was reminded of one important reason why I like to collaborate — because it is more likely that the right questions will be asked.  For example, I would have totally forgotten to document the process if Diane hadn’t reminded me!  I emphasized at the beginning that this was an experiment, so as a result, everyone’s full brain was engaged, thinking of how to make this structure a success.

Mike, Charlotte, and Diane.

We worked from 11 to 4 with a lunch break in the middle.

3 parts sand, one part Portland cement, one part lime + enough water to make it like smooth peanut butter!

Slopping the mortar on the wall (with gloves!) was surprisingly fun. The texture reminded Charlotte of cookie dough.

This picture is before I smoothed the surfaces and wiped clean all the bottles at 10:13pm.

The wall/bench is currently half-way done.  We decided to stop for it to dry before adding more weight.  I also decided to add some wire mesh into the next mortar layer and in the sides, to reinforce the strength.  Finish day will be Feb. 4th.

**BACK STORY**

I’m not sure when my neighbors started saving bottles for me, but it back was in 2010.

A few large parties plus the regular flow of consumption yielded a handsome collection before too long, and Then…

We had enough where it became time to figure out how to clean those labels off.

The internet do-it-yourself-ers said, “for sure, use Oxiclean”!

So we soaked them in warm buckets, peeled and scrubbed with rubber gloves, rinsed in the kiddee pool.  It’s so fun being outside!  Weston observed, and emptied more bottles; Fernando took pictures:

The start of 2011 brought unemployment to Chad.  For 3 1/2 months, he had extra time on his hands, so he clocked in to work at the recycling center.  The repetitive chore was transforming our pile into a sorted, clean collection, and probably helping with his sanity, too.

When Chad went back to work, the bottle-cleaning factory pretty much shut down, but we already had quite a stockpile of usable bottles.  They sat and waited…

**  THANKS **

I would like to thank Bunny White for encouraging me to do something with the bottles “Now!”  Also of course to all the helpers who worked on this project: Chad, Paul, Charlotte, Mike, Diane, and Katarina.  Thanks to my neighbors, Josh, Johnny, Weston, Christina, and all their friends, for donating bottles!  For inspiration, I would like to thank Scott Webel from the Museum of Ephemerata, Susan Maynard of Spunky Monkey Ranch (now Further Farm), The Orange Show and Beer can House in Houston, Vince Hanneman of the Cathedral of Junk, the Buddhist temple-builders in Thailand, Earthship-makers, and all the folks who posted information on the internet for me to find out how easy this is.  This project is also completed in the honor of someone who designs and builds with light in mind: my brother-in-law, architect Brett Rhode.


Time Exchange works! & E.A.S.T. is gonna be great.

paths

before -- after

I met a new Austin Time Exchange buddy today and cleared some paths in her living labyrinth!  Wow, it is amazing.  Smells so good, like lemon trees, geraniums, roses, and life.

passion

Passionfruit. Mary's son, Sequoia, told me the right way to eat a passionfruit: open it up and chew the juice out of the seeds! This one isn't ripe yet, though.

You’ll have to check her out (Mary Kraemer – Rosa Milagrosa) during E.A.S.T. in 2 weeks!

Also, for those in Austin, TOMORROW -and every 2nd Sunday- there is a social orientation to ATEN (Austin Time Exchange Network) with potluck to follow!  If you want to get involved and start trading work hours with other Austinites, come out to Soma Vida (on Rosewood) at 5pm!

And speaking of E.A.S.T., definitely keep an eye on the Co-Lab schedule, for there is going to be a very special week of Happenings there.  >heart<