I just finished listening to an episode of the Permaculture podcast that was mostly a speech from a young guy named Eric Puro. He spoke of how hour lived in a tent in the woods in Oregon and how he learned all these Natural Building methods. He talked how the different wood pieces would fit together. Of building with cob, or thatch or heat treated bamboo gives a more spiritual experience to the structure. (He did not say that exactly but I think he would agree). He would probably look at my efforts with the computers, and plans, and love of all things concrete and say “Man, you just don’t get it”
My response would be “Welcome to the Club”. For me, Eric is not talking about anything magical. He is just talking about craftsmanship and the love of creation. He is only using different materials in his construction and that is fine. Just because stuff comes from a Big Box Store does not mean it is the only way to build something or that it is even the best.
Eric is completely right on the sterile nature of our current society. Our world has become so prepackaged and everything is now just a commodity to be sold. People are now drones that scurry back and forth from work to home. No one knows their neighbors and we all live in fear.
The podcast was about how we can all be builders and I agree. The act of building something can be so empowering. This is why we give building blocks to kids. Lincoln Logs will never go out of business.
However, I disagree only items dug up from the property it is being built on counts for emotional development. The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance talks of how the Buddha can be found in the heart of an engine as well as in the lotus blossom. I feel the same way. I have stared in awe at the reinforcing steel tied together for a bridge support. Dozens of hours were spent by the Rod Busters carefully positioning heavy steel bars into exact positions. A true work of art that will be forever entombed in concrete.
I feel it is not the materials that a building is made from but the tools that are used to build it that makes the difference. Hand tools make the user slowdown and think what is going on. Experience the act of creating something from many parts. I can make ten cuts with my circular saw in the time it takes to make one with a handsaw and there is no comparison between a nail gun and a hammer. None. Power tools are certainly faster and often do a better job but that emotional connection to the work seems to be lost. No one I know is talking about it.
I think Eric and I are just coming at this from two different directions. After a long talk and a couple adult beverages, I hope he would agree.
Then again, maybe I don’t get it.