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Day 5

Hey y’all, Rachel here! It is truly hard to believe that we have already completed our fifth day of working on our house (it’s really an auxiliary multi-use recreational building, but we’ve come to colloquially refer to it as our house). Already, so much work has been done on this building! From Monday night when we staked out the four corners for the first time to today, laying and cementing stacked cinderblocks on top of our concreted trench, we have put in so much labor and are seeing so much progress.

Today, members of the Foundation Team (who have been working incredibly hard this week) leveled what will be our floors, inserted the anchor bolts that will eventually hold our straw walls into place, and began to stack cinderblocks on the concreted trench. The straw and adobe that will make up our walls need to be kept a little bit off the ground to avoid getting wet! So yes, finally, we are building aboveground! Meanwhile, the Wall Team (shoutout to Wendy and Tegwyn) worked on calculations for some of the wooden structures (window bucks, door bucks, and box beams) and got a team together to start ripping, cutting and nailing the wood into place! For the rest of us, today meant hand-mixing concrete (R.I.P. Joe’s cement mixer — one of our stronger team members cracked it with a mallet yesterday) and filling in a lot of cinderblocks. Regardless, we are beginning to get into a rhythm and jive as a team as we learn how each of us works and how best to communicate with one another. It is as much of a house-building learning experience as it is a teamwork learning experience. 

Our days are quite long around here! We rise ‘n’ shine with the sun and have to be at breakfast at 7 am sharp. By 7:30, gloves, hard hats and goggles are coming on (don’t worry, the dining staff were kind enough to start sending us up to the work site with a big canister of coffee) and people are getting into position. At 11:30 we are heading back down the steps toward the dining hall for lunch, and then get back to work. After dinner (6:00-7:00) we usually meet as a group to go over the day and the plans for tomorrow. Admittedly, tonight we are a little short-staffed as some of our beloved crew has taken off for birthdays, graduations, and ultimate frisbee tournaments, but we’ll be excited to have them back soon. 

It’s easy to get into the zone around here. You’re heaving 60 lb bags of concrete into the cylinder, hosing and mixing, pushing the wheelbarrow, shoveling and troweling, and repeating. You get into a rhythm and sort of forget, for a second, what you’re doing. And then all of a sudden, you remember: oh yeah. We’re building a frickin’ house. 

Things are moving fast. It’s amazing what 23 Wolverines, a professor and a graduate student can put together. On top of that, there is not a single licensed architect in our group (well, Wendy will be someday, but until then, nope!). Not to mention, there are eighteen women building this house. I think that’s pretty cool. 

We are looking forward to the return of our friends, the Sunday off, and to get these walls up as soon as possible.

Thanks for following along! xx

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