Notes from Windward: #66

Better expectations:

What it means to be building a sustainable community

toasting the future with a glass of home-brewed ale

       What does it mean to build a sustainable life at Windward? Windward is a work in progress. Once everything is up and running work will be about maintenance of systems and the actual running of them. We are however not quite at this stage yet, and this fact has led to some miscommunications and unfulfilled expectations. This being the case I believe it is important to mention what we have been building here and what building entails. During my time here work has been divided into a few projects.

      The first project I worked on, and one that has made great progress is vermadise. This year we have built a small shed at one end, in addition to beginning to get the entire worm compost system up and running, including the purchase and the maintenance of rabbits. Much of the work here has been the pouring of concrete, the construction of walls, and framing and installing of the metal roof, with carpentry work yet to be done for the installation of a door and shelving in the new shed.

Jacki handles the wheelbarrow while I rake cement into the form

      We have also been working on the construction of the intern yurts, which will allow for nice comfortable housing for future generations of interns. This has involved much cutting of wood, insulation, and now metal for the roofing.

      In addition we have spent time maintaining the garden and sheep. This has involved lots of weeding, movement of dirt and mulch, and the construction of the sheep loafing pen. The pen construction especially eats up large amounts of time in the process of digging holes for posts and stringing wire.

Thats me holding the big wire cutter

      I have also been working, when I can find time, on the barrelponics system we hope to have up and running this summer. This has thus far involved a lot of cutting of barrels and PVC piping, gluing of PVC subassemblies and the construction of the wooden support structure, and there is still much final (and not so final assembly) yet to do.

      Recently we have also been working tarring and finishing up the back side of the kitchen, as well as trying to improve the performance of our summer showers.

Jillian and I applying sealant to the north side of the dining hall

      What I am hoping these descriptions of current projects demonstrate is that Windward is in a stage of resource construction. Many of its life support systems have been brought up and running (i.e. water and septic systems, housing, the communal kitchen, gardens etc ...). Much of our time now is spent constructing future resources, and that this construction involves the lifting of hammers, shovels, and the movement of concrete and materials.

      This might seem like a very boring time, as energy is divided among maintenance of current systems and the physical construction of new systems. But if you take a step back and realize that the wood shop was not functional a year ago, nor was vermadise, or the yurt, or the grazing pens for the sheep, and that these things are permanent, operating additions to Windward's sustainability it can be very exciting.

trimming the rafters before backfilling more
of the north side of the dining hall

      It is easy to think that these systems merely need to be envisioned to be created, and among our young generation it is an all too common flaw. So I hope that those who come to Windward will expect the dynamic mixed bag of old temporary systems and shelters, and new permanent, much more sustainable systems and shelters which we are striving for and that they'll be willing to lift a hammer to help bring us closer to our goals.


Notes From Windward
      Index - Vol. 66