The post from /Monday was spurred by a flyer-to-email communication with someone who was advertising free consultations for “outdoor room” projects. I saw her flyer at El Chilito on Day 2 of Junk-a-Thon, and felt immediately drawn to both the photograph, which was of human and plant people enjoying an outdoor shower, and to the text: someone offering design + build services “for people who like to live outside”. Yes! Outdoor rooms! That’s so it! I went home and started looking at “my yard”, thinking thinking.
It took a little while to actually contact her due to a problem with my email account, but that was probably good to have the time to percolate my ideas, leading to writing the outline I posted to this blog. The person on the other end of the flyer, Patrice Mallard, came by on Thursday/Jupiter Day. Getting a professional’s perspective on what I’ve been plotting and pondering is an immense help.
So, she came today, and off the bat offered some important information: 1st, “greywater systems” are NOT legal according to CODE (unless, unless, unless, and she would not want to get officially involved in anything like that). Oh yeah. Well, she pointed out some important reasons: Detergent is the #1 pollutant in our water, which as city water systems go, is apparently ranked #10 in the country. Now that could be coming from car washes,,, (where did THEY get through that loophole?), or who knows what else, but also: some people are washing their clothes outside and putting the sudsy H2O on the ground. Now you could say, “But I only use biodegradable soap!” and that is true, but is your neighbor going to use biodegradable? Are they going to try and “go eco” after your example, but without going to all the same precautious ends to make sure it IS actually “green”?
Hmm. Okay. Well, and the rainwater I could collect off the roof is going to be no better or worse for plants than what currently is feeding my garden of eden, but I better not water any edible plants with it. (Yech! Asphalt shingles.)
So then we walked around back:
Yes, it is blazin hot out here. There is no attractive shade, no refuge. The tents are just covering STUFF.
So then I talked more about my basic studio needs and she started verbally sketching a vision.
And I filled in my handy cork-map with her proposal, which I think is very reasonable and probably the most practical solution I should shoot for.
I know you can’t really read what it says on there, but the important thing to know is that I am going to be calling upon my friends’ help soon, especially those who can help me acquire some POSTS (I need 16 – 8′ or taller) and who have experience with framing / porch-building. (You know who you are!) AND, I’ll need a few people who have some old, repressed anger to get out to wield pick-axes on a bit of old parking lot. And, we’re going to MOVE the old shed! (And magically transform it into a PLAYHOUSE.)
In return for your assistance and moral support, I will assure our on-the-job comfort with frosty towels and vats of lemon-honey-water, followed by hose-downs and a super meal that will fill you to your boots.
Oh yeah, I’m also going to need various truck-rides at different points. Picking up palettes, posts, tin, concrete, salvage 2x4s, and CACTI. Taxi truckers, I will pay the gas $.
Alright, that’s the update! Course set, steer straight!
Basically, my proposal is this, flexible to variations, and happily responded to, YES or NO:
Collaborate with me on this project to make “my backyard” (which is semi-“public”, in that it is not fenced in and has hosted numerous public gatherings so far) a lively, beautiful, quirky, KID-PROOF sanctuary/destination, with more happy PLANTS, private areas, and functional attributes.
Some of the challenges I am currently facing are:
1-Storage decay & insecurity.
2-Unclear boundary of workspace.
3-Extremely rocky and glass-filled dirt.
4-Unpleasant ground-cover with too many burrs!
My hopes for the space are to:
1) “Fix” my current storage space system to store: items for specific events, tools and materials for specific outdoor projects, and Art. Storage must be secure and dry. (I am working on this part now).
2) Area immediately surrounding storage => an organized studio. Stuff for my own projects needs to be secured/locked, and additional shelves for future students/co-workers should also be considered.
3) Create a raised sink (+ greywater processing and irrigation system) for use during outside events or workshops or studio time. This structure will bring some life in the form of some irrigated plants — perhaps vines or kitchen herbs.
4) Create a few comfortable and fun places around the area (a swing, benches, some mosaic, collaborative public sculptures, puppet theater stage, etc.! (This is where I am extra-open to outside ideas and inspirations!)
5) Replace the current ground-cover with one that is hypo-allergenic and softer.
6) Overall, to Increase peaceful play, promote creative work, provide an enjoyable experience for out-of-doors gatherings,and to be AMAZING.
I KNOW that I need help with this, and I FEEL that it is a project that many people could get excited about, depending on their degree of investment. I know that people need to feel that a project is beneficial to them in order to invest any amount of time or energy into it. I see this as beneficial to many because of the number of potential uses the space can have: a learning space (“The Austin Cooperative Free School“, if you need a name for it), a work space (for outdoor crafts), a place for community puppet theater, more artsy swap meets, collaborations with other friend-organizations, etc. To wrap it up as “conceptual art” I may refer to it as the Recycling Center, where rescued materials are cared for, traded, and crafted. In addition, the environment itself is a slowly evolving work of art (indeed, A Living Space). Artistic/professional collaborators may use the space to showcase their work, to create an example of their skill that will be seen by many people, even while each part is a thoughtful contribution to the community.
There is some food for thought. Bon appetit!