Cordwood Arch in North Carolina

Hi, Lloyd!

Thanks for the books and blog! Such an inspiration over the years. I wanted to share with you this cordwood masonry arch I built in the spring of 2017. It’s at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, functioning as the entrance to a woodland playground area. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I thought you might appreciate it.

I’ve been fortunate to work on a few really cool projects at the museum over the years, including this arch and a series of interconnected treehouses, hideaway woods. The arch is about 24′ long by 10′ high.

The arch is built on a stone foundation. The cordwood is a mixture of southern pines and eastern red cedar. I used a lime and sand mortar with a smidge of Portland and pigment. The arch itself was no doubt the trickiest part. I did some math and made a full-scale drawing on a huge piece of cardboard to confirm that the angle of the 6×6 timbers was correct in relation to the span. It’s amazing how much the slightest change in angle of the arc components changes the span. One other thing, you can’t tell in the photo, but the arch tapers quite a bit as it rises. This keeps the center of gravity lower, making the structure more stable laterally. I consulted with friend and master stone mason Thea Alvin, about making sure the arch would be structurally sound. The taper was her suggestion.

It was my first cordwood project. Before taking it on, I’ll admit I had mixed feelings about the aesthetics and soundness of cordwood construction. But I ended up really enjoying the process, and found that with the right approach, it can look outstanding.

Thanks for sharing, Lloyd!

Michael McDonough
Rising Earth Natural Building
Troy, NY

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Homeless Oaklanders Built a “Miracle” Village

Article in The Guardian, words and great photos by Gabrielle Canon, Tuesday May 11, 2021

Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a “miracle” village.

Tucked under a highway overpass in West Oakland, just beyond a graveyard of charred cars and dumped debris, lies an unexpected refuge.

There’s a collection of beautiful, small structures built from foraged materials. There’s a hot shower, a fully stocked kitchen and health clinic. There’s a free “store” offering donated items including clothes and books, and a composting toilet. There are stone and gravel paths lined with flowers and vegetable gardens. There’s even an outdoor pizza oven.

The so-called ‘Cob on Wood’ center has arisen in recent months to provide amenities for those living in a nearby homeless encampment, one of the largest in the city. But most importantly, it’s fostering a sense of community and dignity, according to the unhoused and housed residents who came together to build it. They hope their innovative approach will lead to big changes in how the city addresses its growing homeless population.…

Now, roughly five months since they broke ground, a community has coalesced around the space that not only hosts events and workshops but also offers food, hygiene, and skill-sharing to the estimated 300 people who live in nearby encampments.

‘It is working,’ Schusterman says, smiling broadly. ‘This is the vision we had and it is working like a miracle.’

(I’m not showing photos due to copyright considerations.)

From Maui Surfer

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Oklahoma Restaurants Cover Walls with Prepaid Receipts for Anyone Who Needs a Meal

Whoever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch hasn’t been to northeastern Oklahoma.

Several restaurants across a handful of small cities and towns have started covering their walls with meal receipts. Customers are invited to prepay for a meal for someone else and hang the receipt on the wall. Then anyone can come in, grab one, and order some grub, no questions asked.

‘It’s definitely taking a huge leap forward. We’ve had to expand into having two walls — so the entire front of our restaurant at the moment on the inside is covered with tickets,’ Jennifer White told As It Happens host Carol Off.…’…

From blog comment by Lynn Kading

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Homesteading in Alaska, 2020–2021

Hi Lloyd and company,

Greatly enjoyed your book, Small Homes: The Right Size. My wife and I live in a small home on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. We bought the land and the original cabin, which, according to the realtor, had no value: “free firewood.” So we of course did like some of the homeowners in your book, and decided to restore the place.

We added a 14×16 foot room and went from 500 sq. feet to now 830. Added a few outbuildings and now have a lovely place to call home on the edge of the wilderness. Moose, bears, lynx and more in the area.

Hope to make a second addition next year if time allows, so we can have a little more room; my wife would love a larger kitchen, and that should be it. I did all the work, with help from one of my sons and some occasional help from other family members.

If you ever are in Alaska, do stop by and visit.

I’ve attached one shot of the place, original log cabin on the right side and the 2019 addition on the left side. I’ve also attached two photos of our garden.

Keep up the good, inspiring work with your books!

–Ed and Theresa Gonzalez
Ninilchik, Alaska

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