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Building Essentials 101

After having spent a week up at our site building our straw bale frat house/meditation & wellness center (the purpose has yet to be decided), it takes a whole lot to make a project like this run smoothly and cohesively. Here, I give to you a thorough list of many of the essential items and practices you will need if you ever find yourself building a structure out of straw, or if you’re just looking to be a more handy person, this list is here for YOU!

  1. Hard Hat
    Yes, Hard Hats is number one on the list – specifically Customized hard hats. More specifically, customized with googly eyes. When these arrived to us during one of our classes, I remember feeling so much more legit and thinking to myself, “Yes Zoe, this is it. You are freaking building a house this spring. You are badass.” Other than the fact that it solidified the fact that we indeed were building a house in the following months, the hard hat is definitely one of the most important safety items we have up here with us. Here is me with my Hard Hat staying safe and having a great time AND looking swaggie.

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2. Boots
What you wear on your feet is basically just as important as what you wear on your head, so investing in a good sturdy pair of shoes for a job where you will be performing long hours standing and working really hard around somewhat dangerous materials is super important. Many of the folks up here wear hiking boots, some have invested in steel-toed boots, and some wear running shoes or more supportive tennis shoes. Wearing the right boots up on the site will save your feet from degrading in the long run, and the rest of your body will feel 100x better with the right pair of shoes!!

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3. All Carhartt Everything
Carhartt makes some beautiful, sturdy clothing that probably will last you your lifetime. I’m not kidding, I look at these clothes like how Drake looks at Rihanna, how Garfield looks at Lasagna, how Trump looks at Putin, ok ok I am done. But seriously his company is no joke when it comes to working clothes. Their pants are super nice with extra material where pants usually wear down, and don’t even get me started on their overalls. Just do yourself a favor, click this link, and fall in love with clothes that’ll love you back. http://www.carhartt.com. Here are the overalls that stole my heart.

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4. Rosemary Burts Bees Hand Salve
This stuff is the stuff!! Keep it in your back pocket, keep it in your front pocket, keep it somewhere handy at all times because I am telling you this will SAVE your skin. Working all day out in the cold Northern Michigan spring, mixing concrete and mud and forcing our hands to perform tasks until they’re raw, everyone has come to really appreciate the beauty that is Hand Salve. Burts Bees Rosemary Hand Salve, as pictured below, happens to be one of the many hand salves floating around the worksite, and in my opinion smells the best! Here are some pictures of other types of salves that are real lifesavers on the worksite. Trust me, treat your hands to some salve!

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5. Chapstick
Another skin necessity! On our worksite at least three times a day, we all communally share a chapstick and save eachothers lips from uncomfortable chapping. Some of our favorites include (but we are always open to experiment!!) Sun Bums – the coconut flavor, Burts Bees Peppermint, Burts Bees Acai Berry, and a Sangria Flavored Balm!

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6. Bugspray
This has become a recent necessity due to the weather recently increasing a few degrees. At a balmy 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, the amount of black flies has increased exponentially. If you find yourself working in the woods or somewhere near water, make sure to stock up on some bug-sprays — preferably deet free!! Deet is harmful to the environment, and harmful to your body so treat yourself and your planet right and invest in low-deet, or no-deet formulas of bug repellant.

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7. Coffee
No explanation needed. Coffee is love, coffee is life. Here is a picture of a Thermos that is similar to our professor and coffee lover Joe Trumpey:

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8. The Love Library & it’s Contents (The Tool Crib)
It should go without saying that we would not be able to build this structure without easy organized access to tools. Everything from hand shovels, hammers and levels, to power tools that rip through thick cherry wood and metal threading-rods reside up on our building site, never too far from reach, and are used every single day. Some of the tools that we keep extremely close at hand include hammers, drills, screws, nuts, washers, vice-grips, ratchet-wrenches, shovels, rakes, hand trowels, levels, clamps, rubber-palmed gloves, tape measurers, etc. At the very least, get yourself a tool box if you ever wish to become more proficient in building and constructing!!

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9. Bob Ross T-Shirt
This t-shirt has become integral to our team. It symbolizes the unity we as a group have, and Bob Ross brings up morale tenfold. Here is our very own Lian Wardrop rocking the lovely shirt:

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10. Joe Trumpey
If you are ever so lucky to find yourself a Joe Trumpey, consider yourself set. Building this house would be impossible without a leader and professor like Joe. His expertise on and experience with Green Building is amazing, and his patience, dedication, and willingness to take on the task of this project, with 23 student amateur builders, is incredible, and I feel so grateful every day that I am here that he made this opportunity possible. Get yourself a Joe Trumpey!!!

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11.  Nightly Meetings By The Fire, A Great Team, and a Busch Lite
When building a structure for 9 hours, a day 6 days a week, you will find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, but nothing beats our daily meetings at the camp fire by the lake. Bundled in our clean-ish clothes we haven’t yet soiled with clay or adobe or sand, gathered around the glowing flames, our little team feels so close and comforting, and at each of the meetings I look at our group and feel warm thinking about how cool and intelligent the people surrounding me are. Recognizing all of the things we are doing up here, acknowledging each person’s contributions, and being there for one another is essential to the success of this project, and I love this group from the bottom of my little-boy carhartt sized heart.

Post by Zoe Kaufman

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