Saturday, October 8, 2011

Controversy generated by the artwork o the commnity bench.

How the commnity created a work of inadvertant art!

Building the bench using earthbag building techniques.

When building the community bench, I wanted to use a method which was sustainable, and easy. I also wanted to use local materials, preferably onsite. After what seemed like copious amounts of research and networking, I decided to use a method called earthbag building. It is basically filling sand bags, (polypropylene), with a combination of sand and cement. Then you stack them, using barbed wire as a kind of velcro to keep them in place. The whole thing is then covered with a wire mesh and mortar and cement. It sounds easy but it is a lot of hard work and requires lots of people to help out.

We found the sand in Granite Creek right in the park. We hauled over fifty wheelbarrow loads of sand up from the creek and mixed it with Portland cement to get the right mixture to fill the sand bags. Then we stacked them like bricks, using barbed wire to hold the bags in place with each other.

Most of the materials, like the cement, (thank you Drake Cement and Lucho), the wire, tiles, (thank you Prescott Flooring and Arizona Tile) and tools were donated or loan to us for this project. It was truly a community effort.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creation and inspiration of the Community Bench

Here is a picture of the almost completed bench. We still need to fill in the open spaces between the designs and sand and grout the bench.
Detail of the community bench with the chess board. Many people worked on the mozaic.

I went to Nepal about one year ago to study sustainable development with students from Prescott College. While there I observed people gathering around benches built around trees. They were resting, visiting and picnicking, or sometimes gathering together to talk and plan actions about social and environmental issues.

In Nepal, the chautari is a synbol of connection of people with each other and nature. They were built by people as a gift to their village and to travelers. I thought people in the United States could use more connection and feeling between themselves, and so the idea of a community gathering place was born.

I got permission from the Prescott Parks and Recreation Department to build this community gathering place in Granite Creek Park, a lcoal park in Prescott, Arizona. We found a very nice maple tree, with a deep root system. It was perfect for the project!