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An all ages festive summer event is taking place one afternoon around the creation of a beautiful hand sculpted earthen structure. What started previously as a wood fired appliance with furniture is becoming shaped into a cosy sleeping pod structure. There are drummers drumming, a music ensemble playing along, and a group of barefoot mud mixing performers, rhythmically stomping mud with their bare feet to churn the mud mixtures in a synchronised manner. An audience is there witnessing and affirming the spectacle. The mud mixtures are then formed into blobs and passed rhythmically from the mud pit to where they are formed into bricks and walls for the purpose of building the structure. Woven into the event are: ceremonial food sharing and mud activities for relaxation, rejuvenation and becoming one with the mud building materials via the senses. This event and the structure being built is part of a festive earthen mud masonry building culture that a team of people has been trained to cultivate in the spirit of an old fashioned cultural community event. This event and the completed structure are representations of their teamwork and the unity they have fostered. 

How is this vision realised?

The vision starts with a team sitting around a table building a small scale model while learning the earthen mud masonry formulas, materials, elements, methods and steps for building a life sized structure and also the considerations and approach for involving others through the events. This process takes about an hour a day over five days to allow for drying time in between each stage. 

The Mud Fun way advocates for a youth leadership component that is especially relevant once things leave the classroom and enter into the real world to build the life sized structure. The contents of this manual are based on twenty years experience with over 20,000 participants - mostly young people and their families, and also lots of passion filled research of various earth building traditions around the world.

 

Founder's Acknowledgement.

I acknowledge that there is an Aboriginal First Nations mud shelter construction history that is indigenous to the people of these lands and I pay my respects. I also recognise the inherent sovereignty in the land and identify with the land's innate sense of generosity and abundance, giving us ample quantities of everything we need, especially in relation to the work I do. 

I acknowledge that while there are no physical examples of these original structures there are sketches with written descriptions that are over 200 years old, and stories to keep the dream of the knowledge alive 

I acknowledge there is a mud shelter creation history that is native to all continents, and that there are many millions of great high performing cosy examples for us to draw upon to rekindle this knowledge. These examples include many of the world's longest continuously inhabited settlements built long ago using an all-inclusive festive community approach.   . 

I acknowledge that where such examples exist, shelter creation is practised as a festive form of community self-expression and heritage and the luxury of inhabiting these earthen mud masonry structures is freely available to all who live there and to do so without debt.  On the other hand, in the industrialised consumer world, shelter has been commercialised into a consumer product and is synonymous with debt and earthen mud masonry is a rare, premium artisan product that is not visible or financially available to most. 

I acknowledge there is a traditional mud shelter creation blueprint in the DNA of all of us. It’s instinctual and obvious in children who are our proof. All we need to do is rekindle our innate knowledge, and it starts coming back to us.

Why would we want to rekindle this knowledge?  

Shelter is an intrinsic part of who we are; it is at the root of our potential power, health, wealth, freedom and happiness, and mud building can realise this potential directly, and in a big way.

Shelter is the lynch-pin of the global, industrial, financial system that largely determines everyone’s fate. Taking shelter creation back into your own hands allows us to regain the enormous power that we have given away. On this aspect, I recently discovered something like a mind blowing revelation. I always knew that shelter creation was powerful but I didn’t realise just how big this power could be measured in financial terms. It’s notable that in order to reveal the potency and power of something as simple as hand sculpting your own shelter it takes something as big and weighty as the realities and mathematics of high level global finance.  For more information on my “discovery” read the sections on “power-bank-power” in this manual.

The high performance qualities of a traditional mud dwelling and the benefits it provides to the inhabitants should be known and experienced by all. It is equally important to understand how liberating the creation process can be.

Hand-sculpting your own solid, high performing cosy shelter using an abundant material that is buried directly beneath our feet, is deeply satisfying, empowering, and pleasing to the soul.

Mud is a material that lends itself to fun, playful, self-directed, independent, artistic inquiry which enables us to take the power of shelter creation directly into our own hands. With just a little guidance everything falls into place along the way intuitively.

When we let go of modern industry mindsets we can easily go directly to creating the fundamental pleasure of “the cosiness factor” inherent in traditional shelter.  

I pay my respects to the people of Kolombungara Island in the Solomon Islands who showed me what festive shelter construction looks like, also to Becky Bee, my first earthen mud masonry teacher and to the people of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico USA who showed me their ancient settlement of cosy adobe mud masonry dwellings all nestled together in the mountains. Also to the many people of Atlanta and the African American community of the USA who shared with me the community-organising legacy of the American Civil Rights movement that they carry within. I also pay my respects to the many children I have worked with who have shown me what mud fun and play looks like and enabled me to hold onto the mud fun vision for so long and led me to arrive at the simplicity of the mud sleeping pod. I also pay my respects to my parents for raising me in a small tight knit community. 

A festive earthen building culture blends traditional earthen masonry construction with the festive cultural arts. In the places around the world where traditional earthen masonry flourishes, and superior high performing structures are plenty, there is a festive community approach to construction which provides everyone with many benefits. Fun productive events engage participants and in food music and building, giving them a strong sense of teamwork and ownership in the structure being built and also a general belonging to place. This is what we do.This approach empowers us to deliver a superior quality of social experiences and physical structures that draw on our heritage.

Structures: We train your team to get your project underway and deliver structures that are embedded with the ancient traditions which makes them high-performing, aesthetically pleasing, and one-of-a-kind.  Some parts of the walls are very thick, much thicker than modern walls and full of curves, irregularities and sculptural elements.

 

Engaging the community: We train your team to learn the fundamentals of traditional cultural earthen masonry and the values, strategies and roles and responsibilities for engaging the community.

 

Education: We train you and your team to extract all the educational opportunities from your project.
 

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