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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mitsak

Open letter to Greta Thumberg

Hey Greta, I love your work. Great speech! Its great to see students striking around the world as a result of your work. Good onya. Some local students from a performing arts school who have been participating in the strikes here are creating their own version of a mud mixing dance that doubles as a practical and fun solution to climate change. These students are planning to share this "game changing" knowledge at an environmental conference in November that thousands of youth will be attending. The students are presenting a real solution to several problems including climate change in their own unique way that adults would be unable to match. It involves digging up earth from under the ground and churning it up with bare feet stomping to live music ensembles into a homogenous mixture so that it can be used in construction. All the facts have been gathered to show the world how youth can use this dance to literally dance away at least half of the pollution that causes climate change. Yes half. Actually more than half if you add up all the flow on effects. (more on that maths later) And it can happen right now. Everything we need to begin is right here, right now. No scientists are talking about this solution that is literally directly always under our feet and so these youth will be taking it upon themselves to use music and dance as an activator of knowledge to show their own community a real solution. Whereas the cliched scientist is a nerdy adult squinting through a microscope in a sterile room wearing a stiff white uniform, scratching their heads, our scientists are young, lithe and smiling and dressed in colourful costumes, acting out roles, and transmitting their knowledge outdoors through music, dance and teamwork with their faces covered in velvety smooth clay cracking in the sun. The mud mixing dance is the chosen way to shine the light on earthen masonry - an environmentally friendly construction art and science that has largely been lost within the modern mainstream world and replaced by concrete, steel, plastic and wood which are not environmentally sustainable any more. Sun dried earthen masonry is an ancient technology responsible for building all of the world's oldest and most continuously inhabited structures and settlements including those that are more than 2,000 years old. Shining examples exist on all continents so we have the proof right here, right now. Earthen masonry does not rust, burn, rot or crack beyond repair like concrete, steel, wood and plastic. With proper maintenance, it lasts and lasts and lasts with no cost to the environment. And humans are creatures of buildings. We like buildings. We used them to gather in, give birth in, cook in, eat in, entertain ourselves in, sleep in, procreate in, protect ourselves from the weather in and hide our secrets in. Lets face it, buildings are here to stay. Even insects make their own buildings to live in. We love our buildings and buildings are not the problem. The problem is that we have forgotten how to build them properly. Modern urban humans' buildings are unnecessarily toxic, dangerous and expensive. They are environmentally, financially and socially costly. But they dont need to be. Look at these pictures below. All of these structures were made without any need for plastic, steel, wood or concrete. They were built using the same ancient recipes that our ancestors used for millennia before we started polluting on such a grand scale. The same recipes promoted by the barefoot mud mixing dance. Our modern building and construction industry says that using earthen masonry is too labor intensive and it takes too long for the earthen mixtures to dry properly and that makes it too expensive for anyone to afford and thats why its not available. But students who care about the world will tell you that if we use the barefeet of many people dancing to mix the mud, then that argument is irrelevant and if we consider that the completed structures will last for a thousand years with no cost to the environment then what is a an extra couple days or weeks or months of drying time?

Sun dried earthen masonry construction can provide all the beauty and aesthetics that shelter promises.

Modern cob home made using sun dried earthen masonry mixtures

The central mosque of the mud brick city of Djenne Mali which is at least 2,000 years old. 38,000 people live here in these zero carbon buildings and their youth host a yearly celebration open to the general public - to learn and get a feel for the magical mud recipes. All the ancient knowledge is here and available. Its just a matter of when we want to accept it and use it.

Earthen masonry is a zero carbon construction technology that the whole modern mainstream world is sleeping on - especially our most educated and wealthy. The wealthier the county, the less likelihood there is of finding someone that knows about or practices earthen masonry. Even within the poorest people of the richest countries, the knowledge is very scarce. In America there are only a hand full of people living in earthen masonry dwellings. These include a few thousand original "Americans" that inhabit their 1,000 year old 5 storey high ancestral dwellings in Taos New Mexico, a few hundred super rich folks like Will and Jada Smith who live in modern "adobe" homes in California and surrounds, and the others are those scattered around the fringes of society USA that are part of the DIY "cob" revival. 99% of Americans including all the climate change scientists, all the engineering professors, all the architecture professors and CEO's of construction companies, and all the grass roots community organisers do not know about earthen masonry technology, let alone the 1,000 year old structures that stand as a testament to this technology within their own national borders. And there's an equivalent story is just about every country.

1,000 year old home settlement of Taos New Mexico USA. By the time they reach their teen years all residents know how to make these recipes from sun dried earth mixtures. To the rest of Americans they are unknown.

Will Smith and Jade Pinkett Smith's adobe style mansion in California

The irony of it all is that all around the world, there are millions of simple villagers who know about these recipes and their knowledge is not being utilised. So that's where the dance comes in. Its performed as a public spectacle in highly visible locations to showcase and transmit the knowledge instantly to many modern urbanites, the ones who are least likely to come across this information. The ones who are from the countries causing the most pollution per capita. The audiences of these dances can join in and everyone can get a feel for the recipe at the same time to spread the knowledge. In this model, the purpose of music and dance is elevated beyond just entertainment and taken out of the music halls and out onto the streets. Modern construction accounts for close to half of the world's pollution and 90% of the world's old growth forests have been destroyed to create the timber used for building modern homes. And if you add up all the extra costs of modern construction, that come from the effort required for paying for modern structures, then the environmental cost of construction is much higher and the relevance of the mud mixing dances become much greater. The environmental impact of this is huge. Add it up. Most people now have to work for 30 or 40 years just to pay back the bank the money they borrowed for their house. This most often means buying a car for commuting to work each day over that time, or using public transport. And 95% of all modern transportation is used for commuters commuting to work to earn what they need to pay for rent or mortgage for their shelter buildings. Tied to this is the fact that all these commuters need to eat and so food is transported great distances to feed them. Then there's the clothes that we have to buy and wear and clean in order to get and maintain our job. Do you see where I'm going with this?So here it is, here's the solution. The world's best building material is always directly under our feet and all we need to do to realise its potential for saving the world is soak it in water to turn it soft and then dance on it. And youth are best positioned to do this. Youth have the energy to dance and the minds that are able to seamlessly blend construction with education and cultural arts. They have the capacity for excitement that can ignite the change that is necessary to make it happen. Youth have been responsible for most of the positive changes in the world over the last thousand years and especially the last couple hundred years and so just like these earthen masonry structures still standing after hundreds of years, it makes sense that it is you and the youth that I am writing to.

700 year old "cob" home in Devon UK with thatched roof made of reeds.

artists impression of the musical mud stomping dance used to mix up the mud mixtures used for earthen masonry. As you can see this is possible anywhere. In an urban setting excavation companies can be contacted to deliver the subsoil at no cost as they are most often paid to dig it up and transport it far away.

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