Insulated Rammed Earth Construction in Colombia

The buildings in La Guajira, especially housing, present structural and thermal comfort problems due to the current construction materials and the underutilization of available resources in the area. Insu-ram is a system of assemblable clay blocks inspired by the cells in the elytra, or hardened wing covers, of certain beetles that allow internal air flow to circulate. Insu-ram cools and insulates a space from external heat without the use of machines and incorporates local biodegradable materials, such as rammed earth, clay, and manure to eliminate the concept of waste. The external pattern of the block generates a micro-shading effect and reduces the solar contact surface. It can be produced locally, at a low cost, is easy to replicate, and helps to solve the housing deficit in the area, while offering a way to build thermally comfortable houses in a fast, cheap, and efficient way.

Bogotá, Colombia

From Rouanna Garden

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Jay Brabant – West Coast Masks and Totem Poles

Jay works with wood, metal, shell and paper. His primary medium is red and yellow cedar, along with alder and spruce. Jay has been trained in the Kwakwaka‘wakw style but he often works in classical Nuxalk or Bella Coola, Tlingit and Haida styles. He has been taught the traditional/proper shapes and form — lines that define historical properties and stories of the pieces with respect and dignity in great detail. He primarily carves original Northwest Coast Indian Art and is occasionally commissioned for art pieces of historic master works. He has traveled extensively to visit museums and study older pieces.

From Godfrey Stephens

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Account of My Last Trip to Europe

I got into publishing in the ‘60s when I was building domes and people started writing me from all over the USA, asking for the math.

I started responding, then realized I was writing the same letter over and over. Why not print up something? Would save me from repeating myself.

A little later I got hired by Stewart Brand to edit the Shelter part of The Whole Earth Catalog and the printouts turned into book making, and here I am 50+ years later, still writing stuff so I don’t have to repeat myself. A lot of it is “Hey, look what I’ve found out in the world.”

Here’s an account of my last couple of weeks in Europe. PLUS I, ahem, got to the airport 5 hours early and have time on my hands.

Life In Venice (and Switzerland and Florence)

The first 8 days of my trip were fantastic and well-documented on my blog snd Instagram accounts:

Then came the rest of my trip:

Driving in Italy

It was just about the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. After a dream of a trip, with my extraordinary hosts, Lukas and Leopold, I ended up in Florence via train and loved the charming city.

Then I rented a car, a Fiat Panda hybrid — fine little economical car, and headed for Sicily. Italian drivers—man! They drive super fast, and tailgate constantly. You’ll have one a car length behind you going 80 MPH if you don’t get out of the passing lane fast enough. It’s constantly stressful for everyone.

Secondly, it was a huge mistake not to bring my Garmin GPS unit loaded for Italy. Instead I had to use the iPhone, which isn’t nearly as good as the Garmin. Had to hold the phone in left hand so I could shift with right (stick shift). Even tho not as good as the Garmin, it saved my ass continually. I got into congested confusing areas in Sicily repeatedly and it (eventually) guided me out.

Third, the Autostrada has toll booths that are stressful and confusing. You might have 3 cars impatiently waiting behind you while you fumble to pay. Also strange, they have no signs telling you how far it is to cities.

And fourth, there are road tunnels. Italians don’t go over the hills, they bore through them. Must have gone through 50 tunnels on the way to Sicily. A lot of them aren’t well lit, so you are a bit blinded doing in, and a lot of them are curvy and everyone is going 80.

I had a really hard time in Sicily. I must have chosen the wrong area, going south from Messina to Siracusa, very crowded, practically no access to swimming spots … I know Sicily is wonderful, I just did it the wrong way.

Left Sicily last Saturday, ferried across the short stretch of water to the mainland, and drove 14 hours until I finally found a hotel south of Rome. And you know what, I just can’t do that at my age.

By the time I got to Rome, I was flatlining and spent most of three days resting, as well as totally stressing about getting out of Italy to my flight home from London. I missed out going to cool places (and visiting friends) in one of the greatest cities in the world.


It was a fabulous trip until I got behind the wheel of a car. Dumbass!
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