Sunday, November 25, 2012

building with dry-laid natural stone

chilton limestone walk-front yard.

I love things made from natural stone.  There's really no substitute for it and no short cuts to take when building with it.  It's a masochist's medium.  Even building something relatively small with with stone leaves you with a backache and bloody hands.  But it's worth it.

To me it feels like dry-laid natural stone is to hardscape what permaculture is to softscape, or the planted world.  It's a human intervention in the landscape, but one that uses a product of nature, with minimal fabrication.  And the material is re-usable if the maker decides to unmake and create another thing with the same material.  Working with natural stone also pretty much guarantees you won't be using machines since cutting it isn't really practical, at least not often, and the uniqueness of each piece makes placing it with machinery difficult.   So you're doing a lot of lifting, then looking, contemplating, and re-lifting.  It's exhausting and also a little bit zen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

urban resilience: what sandy has shown us

William Livingstone House
from: "The Ruins of Detroit" by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

Hurricane Sandy has been an interesting window into what Americans in a dense urban area will do when deprived of power, water and all of the other things that we take for granted in the early twenty-first North American city.

Fist fights are breaking out in lines at gas stations, as suburbanites wait to fill their cars with hard to find gasoline.  New Yorkers are stranded as the trains stop, crank up generators if they have them, and plan to get them if they don't.