A big thanks to everyone who has been part of the Under Collective Construction two weeks (during minus temperatures with water levels rising).
We started from scratch, allowing the two weeks to evolve organically, without knowing exactly who we would meet or what to expect. Involvement has existed on many levels – from long distance contributions on the blog, receiving donations and resources locally, visits, discussions, tips, skills and experience sharing, onsite construction and experimentation, ideas and imaginings, physical labour and all the nitty gritty that goes with it.
A bio-diverse power station has been constructed, stoves invented, we’ve cooked off-grid, shared food and stimulating conversation and now a social place is beginning to emerge. For sure, there have been hiccups and frustrations – but thats a vital part of working out a shared vision. All in all a highly positive charge has been generated throughout the two weeks. We hope this energy will continue to spark and grow!
This informs the plan of action we are currently working on for the coming months at Gunpowder Park until the end of March 2009.
In the next week we will be posting up a more detailed Energy Cafe aims and objectives ‘vision’, and proposed calendar of work schedule, focused activities and events.
We will be back ‘outdoors’ on the Energy Cafe site from Wednesday 17th December.
If you would like to get in touch please call: (07791246022 or 07947367463) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 7th December
Its the last day of our two week Under Collective Construction ‘kick start event’. A lot has happened. We’re having a cook up and the weather is perfect. Like summer on ice.
Nigel gets the ‘found on the street, abandoned barbeque’ started for roasting chestnuts on charcoal…
…before working with Martin to construct a tent pole structure, in anticipation of that canvas we desperately need!
Its starting to feel like we are more able to host and serve:
tea and coffee,
vegetable stew on the sun stove,
veg skewers on the barbeque and
hot potatoes from the millstone bonfire
washed down with a glass of something from the ‘bar’,
and with music emanating from the bicycle power station (Shaun made a ‘secure box’ for it today), relax in our ad hoc set up complete with palette platform and hand made table!
Passer by guests today, included Frank, Sonia and their well dressed lurcher.
and from more further afield, Man, Benjamin and Rob, cruised through the icy waters of the Lee Navigation
stopping at Enfield Lock
to join us for a sunset supper.
A chance for us all to reflect on the past two weeks and the issues raised, to discuss the theme of common land: past and present and to make future plans for Energy Cafe… there’s still a lot to do.
Saturday 6th December (and first thing Sunday morning)
On their way for a walk across the park, Collete and Dave and their dog Ruby dropped off some surplus boards and a half full gas bottle from their garden. They encourage us to contact local stores such as Wicks who may have damaged stock that they could do with getting rid of. Dave runs a local football club, and we look forward to meeting his team at Energy Cafe in the near future!
Back at the Field Station, plans for the next day are discussed;
Energy Cafe needs some furniture….most essential is a kitchen table to use for the late lunch Sunday cook up. Ella spends the night hours making the table top out of floorboards and 2by2.
and then first thing in the morning…
Nigel arrives and within a short time, the table legs are attached
and to ensure full stability, side panels added.
kitchen table is now ready for use.
Friday 5th December
At last! The arrival of a truck load of 100 good quality palettes
plus over a ton of loose planks.
Generously donated and delivered by PR Pallets (Southern) LTD, based in Waltham Abbey.
One, Two, Three, PULL!” using pure ‘muscle power’, It took the lunch hour to offload the palettes…
Darren supervised the team ; Energy Cafe crew, Park Rangers, LANS staff and Delivery guys .
“we could make a palette city!’
Finally we have plenty of fuel for wood burning stoves and fires,
enough wood for building structures,
and Energy Cafe furniture,
planks for roofing…
palettes to make ‘desire paths’ and walkways throughout the site to protect against the wet ground
and most urgently a…
solid, raised platform around the trailer .
Thursday 4th December
Inspired by his visit to Energy Cafe last week, Andrew returned today with his fantastic invention: a Swirl Stove.
Made from a customised flue, the stove ignites with a micro amount of electricity from a battery.
Andrew added sawdust pellets and a drop of parafin to get it going.
The flame spins in a smokeless swirl…
How long will it take to boil water in the storm kettle?
Just three minutes and one handful of pellets!
The wood chippings that Andrew donated burn just as well. A great advantage of this stove is that: “it could continuously produce char from dried tree surgery waste…and still do your cooking.” It did a great fried egg!
“This is: The Boy Scouts Guide to Making Willow Charcoal in the Swirl Stove”
You will need: willow branches and a tin can with lid.
Chop willow branches into even lengths…
…so they fit into the tin can with the lid closed.
Fill the can with lengths of a similar width and close the lid.
Place can in Swirl Stove…
…bury with fuel (sawdust pellets or wood chips), put the kettle on and wait…
…for 40 minutes. Remove can with tongs and let it cool.
Hey presto! Beautiful sticks of charcoal for sketching with.
Monday 1st December
Breakfast at Energy Cafe
A morning of willow coppicing…
enough to make a bender…(takes a few hours)
step one: find a dry and sheltered spot
step two: make a platform out of palettes
step three: bend willow to form the basic dome structure
step four: tie together using hemp string
coppice more willow if needed
finally: a sturdy structure.
next step: to find canvas and suitable ways to insulate and keep out the draft.
Bender building accompanied by peddle powered Ipod tunes.
And Fiona’s delicious home made sour dough ‘croissants’ with tea.
A walk in the night to collect cut branches for firewood.
Energy Cafe received a special food parcel from Sue and Dave. A beautiful, magical box of surprises…
potato mascots, gold trimmed onions, delicious home made chutney
seeds for the future…and other delicacies…
An email from Fiona
We met briefly last Saturday. After I left you, I walked down the Lee Valley to Walthamstow, so the cafe is now ‘connected’ to my space. As it turns out, I do live just within your 6-mile radius as the crow flies.
I am very interested in your project. Common space … I was nearly prevented from crossing the Waterworks Golf Course, on my way to Hackney Marsh two weeks ago, because of electric cable works.
On Walthamstow Marsh, workers were saying – ‘we’ll have to cut this lot back soon’ of the very vegetation I was studying for a painting.
Path and road closures around the Stratford Destruction Site, no information on how to continue your journey (no joke when you are travelling by foot).
Food, and local food. Absolutely. Sharing. absolutely.
I offered you two water barrels suitable for collecting water for gardening
A sour dough culture for bread-making. I also have some spare gardening tools.
I expressed an interest in helping build a bread oven, Shall I start researching this?
and would also be interested in making bread on site …
I expressed an interest in foraging – wild food. and mentioned Plants for a Future. They appear to exist still, their web site is at http://www.pfaf.org/index.php
Some of Epping Forest is in your 6 miles. http://www.field-studies-council.org/eppingforest/leisurelearning.aspx They put on courses in identifying edible fungi.
HDRA (Now Garden Organic) hold the Heritage Seed Library – http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/hsl/index.php and might be willing to share seeds with a project like yours.
HDRA have a long history of involvement in community growing, and local food sourcing.
Hope to see you tomorrow.
Sunday 30th November
A more leisurely day in the rain and the cold.
Max said he would like to come back to make a drum.
Making tea in Mongolia.
See more on Greg’s blog: http://informalarchitectures.blogspot.com/
Ok its freezing – we need to make a bonfire. The obvious spot is in the middle of the millstones – a natural gathering place. Nick ectort with all his expertise and experience, gets it going. We’d been waiting for the right moment. Making it directly on the land, allows the ashes to fertilise the soil.
nothing better than fire baked potatoes…
We watch the flames. Lots of questions as we explore the wider issues in good company.
And attempt to get back to basics.