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!
[After-thought/Edit: Constant struggling with organization –> a personal thing we all wrestle with in various ways, with varying degrees of success/failure and emotion. It looks like I can make an art project out of this.]
— = — = — = —
“Need help with project scheduling, untangling threads,
computer stuff like scanning and posting, taking dictation like a real new-fangled secretary,
Flag-making; uniform closet help, Municipal Club and other club members. But that’s outside. Let’s just nail this office helper bit first.
Okay, u-mm, done.
I just put a lot of time+energy into a big fun group project: The Teeny-Tiny Diorama-rama ZOO, at Co-Lab. It turned out really well; I’ll have some photos and video up here pretty soon!
Also in the works: Interviews #1 and #2. I am bringing interviews to this website as a way to share with people some current examples of projects and approaches which are inspiring, educational, and “evolutionary”. To that end, you will see and read about the various beautiful DIY outdoor projects that Scott and Jen Webel have undertaken in the transformative stewardship of their yard. Then, a conversation with the acupuncturists at Neighborhood Acupuncture Project, who are part of the movement to make acupuncture accessible to all through community-style treatment. Evolution!
Even more going on: Junk-a-Thon #6 is right around the corner — June 13th & 14th! And I shore do want to start working on a puppet show soon. And bicycle choreography. Woo-hoo, summer!
If I were on the Community Improvements “task force”, there would be:
– outdoor municipal joys (cement-works, interactive, sculpture, events)
At the top of my list of projects are: “The Movable Fence” (get the kids to make mazes, corral dogs/people) – AND – an outdoor sink! that works (connected to hose, to wall) and can encourage art projects and plant irrigation
[And the summer puppet show is really happening. summ months.
I’m writing short scripts/scenarios. ((CASTING CALL))
maybe will need to workshop summa these _____.
Basically, In case you are wondering about the School>> we are in a building infrastructure stage. Art must flourish~ relationships be watered~ compost taken care of lovingly, … materials put to good use. There are a lot of people living here now, including some recent arrivals and their various regular visitors.,, so, sometimes punctuation gets flipped, and we go on and try to catch up on chores. But conversation does get made, there is a new puppy, and now it’s getting hot so the AC’s are on and loud. And those Cats! It has been announced: A Puppet Show!
+ you will soon see a FREE IDEAS (for a free school) section of the website
- Open-call Art Show at the Laundromat
- SUPER SETTINGS! – consulting and installation
- news and interviews (and science) internet TV show (group project w/ San Marcos folks)
- Commitment Cafe — part of the free school; kind of a paradoxical combo of words; we want people to experience the positive feelings associated with accomplishing a goal — to that end, we champion (carry a flag for) i.e. encourage flexible structure of the buddy system or committee type, placed in a comfortable context.
- Make Rert give birth to an educational Video company (ex: Molly’s “How To Brush a Dog”)
- no more art; just “[Absurd] Crafts”
- a show of only Really Long Things
- getting serious about dance by forming a group with some musicians (female would be a welcome change) to get together in a dance studio (or other well-lit setting) to play and shoot video from fun angles.
- Reviving… THE MONTHLY COMMUNITY PUPPET SHOW! a Variety show for the E X T E N D E D Family. For example, in one part, you tell the news.
So! Anyone wanna get started on anything? I have questions barring the way on some of these, so help me if you can: 1) I am stubbornly obsessed lately with thoughts of “masonry”, building with rocks, cinder blocks, mortar mix, mud. Maybe good walls make for good neighbors, maybe also a maze or puppet theater would be best, but really I need some advice. Come to my back yard and stand in it with me. Many people have already been there during Junk-a-thon… but the rest of the days, I want to spend more time out there, but I ccan’t stop thinking of
big stones and where to place them.
It may be that it is just fine the way it is. So my need to create, to domesticate, might be an imposition.
But then again, I do have instinct. This is one, this weird rock part of it. And then the bringing people together for hand-made entertainment and sharing- that too. I think I like it.
It’s hard to know how to communicate all this sometimes, and when I am not communicating, the things in my head don’t seem quite real. (and they stay in my head). But I think they are; they’re not premonitions, just urges.
This morning I went to an “oculo- and cosmetic surgeon” because my optometrist insisted that sebaceous cell carcinoma be ruled out as an explanation for my inflamed eyelid gland. I knew however, that this $120 consultation would only lead to a prescription for an even more expensive, not necessarily necessary, procedure, which it did, and which I can’t afford. (I’m going to see what acupuncture can do.) But the woman working reception was very warm. As I was sitting down she scanned my paperwork, and she asked if I was a writer. Because, “With two middle names, you ought to be a writer!” Well, thanks! Maybe I will.
Some recent highlights: YESTERDAY: An adventurous day with my twin nieces in Imaginationland. Then the Night Viking lasagna family dinner was nice.
MONDAY: School without walls had a hand-sewing class that went very well. We all made tiny heart pillows, except for Marina, who made a football. / Before that I modeled more vintage clothing for Leah’s Threadhunter business… / After that, got a little more balanced internally at The Neighborhood Acupuncture Project clinic. / Then the O.P.E.R.A. House got together to make a crazy flyer for our upcoming May project (at Co-Lab): Teeny Tiny Diorama-rama Zoo. It’s an open-call show for dioramas, but we are going to make a zoo installation as context for the entries. Dioramas due opening night: May 23rd! / Finally, watched The Devil and Daniel Johnston and slept.
Tonight, Night Viking is playing our first show since January 28th! Show starts 9:30 at the Chaindrive. The opening act, Sunday Papers, is reminiscent of Elliott Smith, in a good way. We’re 2nd and we are really revved up! After us is The Smiling Knights and Bridge Farmers, whom I have not seen, and probably won’t since I have to get up early tomorrow…
(with Time Tunnel)
Come see the Amazing Feet, whiskers–
No, really. If you wanna just get out of the house, rifle through some garage sale items, vintage clothes, comic books, ART, fortune eggs, puppet kits, unique stencil-covered wearable objects… and/or converse with neighborly types + iguana-dog-cats, crawl through a tunnel into the land of the future, enter other mystical portals, etc., we’ll be here. Probably’ll have goodies to eat, on the grill, as well. Bring your ham or pemmican, currency or other goods to trade.* 10am-7pm, Saturday and Sunday. Rain or Shine!
*If you are BARTER inclined, I know that I for one (Amanda), could certainly use: flower pots/planters, cinder blocks, mortar, rocks, plants, soil, etc. Chad mainly needs currency and/or publishing connections, since he is about to get a bunch of teeth pulled; but, he might trade for some awesome old magazines or picture books. I’m not too sure about the druthers of Lori, Leah and Kevin, who are bringing stuff to sell, but if you are totally broke and have nothing to trade, you can still come and just enjoy the festivities and weird landscape!
2608B Rogers Ave. – right across from Campbell Elementary School –