Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our first day.

"Try to stay on the paths. We have rattle snakes here, so watch your steps", was one of the first things that Shannon told us when we arrived to Manderson, a very small town on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It has a store ("Pinky's") and a post office. It is also very close to a Wounded Knee, a historical site with the mass grave of slaughtered Lakota men, women and children, and a museum that tells a story of those events.
The first day we came our Captain was sick. He slept through the day and tried to get better so we could build a swing set for the children here. The rest of us were free to roam around, watch, learn, and make new friends.

The cob house that is being built on the 2 1/2 acres plot here is for Gerald, Raven's grand father. Raven is a cute two year old half Lakota girl who hopefully will be spending a lot of time with her grandfather on the reservation. Shannon's vision for the cob project is to help improve Gerald's quality of life and set a model for the rest of the people on the reservation to encourage them to strive for better in their lives. As the reservation is in so much need of a good example and positive energy, I hope this project will bring some changes into the community. I hope the Lakota Nation will be able to put all what had been done to them in the past behind and move on with building a strong community and helping each other, reviving and preserving their unique culture, and passing on a good vibe to the future generations. As any big road starts with a small step, this building project symbolizes this first step.
There is a team of 9 interns that came to work on building the cob house. There is an intern from Croatia and an intern from Denmark. In addition, our European background adds to the international team of volunteers as well.

The workshop will be running till the end of August, and if everything goes according to the plan, Gerald will be able to move in in October and spend the winter on the place that is spiritually uplifting and soul curing.

We had an opportunity to watch the guys put the final layer of "plaster". A combination of silt, clay, straw and water was what they were putting with their bare hands on the outside and inside walls. This construction is labor intense and very low budget, and it was great to see creativity at work.
On the second day Mirek was feeling better, and it was our turn to put our artistic and creative juices into overdrive. We had no idea what kind of materials would be available to build a play area here. There were five 6X6s, some 4x4s, some boards and logs. Shannon got a used green slide, a baby swing and a plastic house that would be painted looking like a mustang and then added on to the swing. Mirek needed some help to lift the heavy beams up and move the frame around. Adam, Raven's father, and a few interns, would lend a helping hand.

Chain saw that we took with us and some other tools came in handy. As Mirek was putting the frame together we came up with a great idea to make the swing set look like a Fort on one side and a Tee Pee on the other, symbolizing an attempt for a harmonies co-existence of the two cultures.


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