A SPICY POSOLE OF ALL THINGS CANELO. NEWS OF THE CANELO PROJECT AND THE HANDCRAFTED BUILDING MOVEMENT; ATHENA AND BILL STEEN AND THE STEEN FAMILY; TALES AND IMAGERY FROM THE U.S./MEXICAN BORDER; DISPATCHES FROM INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS: LOCAL FOOD AND MUSIC; IDEAS AND PLANS FOR THE POST PETROLEUM AGE.

The Interns of Community Rebuild

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Looking back at our project with Community Rebuilds, it’s obvious that the program would in now ways be the same without the interns. Each project has 8 that have been selected with an application process that involves a Skype interview. I was told that for the house we worked on, there had been 25 applicants. To insure their participation and completion of the 4 month project, they are required to make a $1,000 deposit that will be forfeited if they quit early. read more »

Posted by Bill at 11:26 am in Buildings, How-To, Projects, Southwest, Travel, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Community Rebuilds – Moab, Utah

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We’re back in Utah once again, this time in Moab. If you don’t know Moab this is red rock country. It’s where you find the reality of all those southwest photos of red rocks, great formations, arches, ancient wall arts, ruins. It’s a Mecca for tourists and the outdoor adventure crowd. Not only do your regular sightseeing tourists come through here, there is a dizzying display of mountain bikes, deluxe car racks, kayaks, stuff I can’t even identify. With that gear come the climbers, the highliners, hikers, runners and of course the clothes to go with it all. read more »

Posted by Bill at 5:53 pm in Buildings, Canelo, How-To, Southwest, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

European Teaching Tour – June and early July, 2013

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Over the past year or so I’ve been trying to juggle/understand the process of how one manages the digital world of the internet, social media, blog and writing with the larger, all inclusive world beyond computer.  Luckily I have plenty of things that pull me away from a sedentary desk-oriented life, whether it be our place in the country (endless work) and the kinds of teaching and hands-on projects we get involved doing.

Recently I’ve been giving thought to how to make my blog, the social media such as Facebook and writing/photography fit together so that they are not in competition time-wise.  For example, I love the expediency of Facebook for its ability to make short statements or post images, the feedback is quick and immediate.  I haven’t seen the necessity to use any of the other platforms such as Google+.  The limitation is that it doesn’t reach a lot of folks that my blog does. I do love the blog format for writing, but when things get busy with hands-on projects, there isn’t sufficient time to sit down and write something in depth, especially if I’m working on another writing project as I am now – stories of my last 25 years in northern Sonora.

I’m telling you all this because I’ve just been able to set up my blog so that the posts go directly to our Canelo Project page in Facebook. Today’s post is the test run to see how that works.  Thanks to Anastacia Guitierrez, web and app designer extraordinaire, for having set this up.  Using this approach, my posts should be much shorter than in the past.  Next I’m going to try using the blogging format that is offered as an app with my iPad and how that looks compared to my computer.  That has immediate interest for me in that we’ll be spending the month of June and early July teaching in Europe and I would prefer to only carry my iPad with me.

European Workshop Tour 2013, Germany, Spain (aka Basque country, France.

Therefore, I want to give you our schedule so that if you need a vacation or you are already in Europe and would like to attend one of the workshops, here’s the dates and contact information.  The courses will include Clay Wall Finishes and Techniques – Sculptural wall decoration – Plaster carvings and by popular demand, “easy to build” Clay Ovens

Berlin, Germany – June 3 to June 8, contact Uta Herz “utaherz@t-online.de” <utaherz@t-online.de>

Arbizu, Spain – June 17 – 23, contact Susanna Sureda <susanna@campingarbizu.com>

Bergerac, France – June 30 – July 5, contact Sara Daniels  <saradaniels@hotmail.fr>

Clay baking oven and sculptural clay wall detail.

Posted by Bill at 10:02 am in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Visiting Counter-Culture Icons, Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

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Lloyd Kahn of Shelter Publications and his wife Lesley Creed

Lloyd Kahn is one in many million when it comes to the fascinating people we have met In the course of our lives.  Our friendship with him has been largely built around the books he publishes. His company, Shelter Publications, publishes books that are filled with innovative, outside the box, small, inexpensive, natural, and moveable buildings. In essence, Lloyd is the champion of vernacular, homemade homes, the kind where architects and professional builders are not to be found.  Our work appears in two of them – Homework and Tiny Houses

Lloyd has been involved in publishing since the original Whole Earth Catalog for which he was the shelter editor.  He went on to publishing the ever so popular Domebooks One and 2, followed by the sequel, Refried Domes, in which Lloyd advised people not to build domes, describing the pursuit as “smart, but not wise.”  I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that entire structure was essentially a roof and inevitably, sooner or later roofs leak. read more »

Posted by Bill at 6:28 pm in Buildings, Canelo, IPhoneography, Travel | 16 Comments

The Return of White Sonoran Wheat

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“Molino Harinero” in Oquitoa, Sonora.

“The abandoned flour mills throughout Sonora,” said the Mexican anthropologist Guillermo Nuñez Noriega, “are the equivalents for Sonorans of the pyramids in Central Mexico.” Fulbright Fellow Maribel Alvarez of Tucson pointed out that although this comparison may seem lopsided, given the monumentality of the pyramids, it clearly communicates the central role that wheat has played in Sonoran culture.

By the end of the 19th century, there were close to 60 flour mills operating in Sonora.  Wheat production continued to flourish as a part of Sonoran daily life until multiple factors brought about their demise.  In the mid-1960s when Conasupo, an agency of the Mexican federal government, instituted aggressive regulatory practices that in a very short period of time, that contributed heavily to the closing of the majority of the Sonoran mills. Another factor that cannot be overlooked was the rise in prominence of the the cattle industry, it became more profitable to grow alfalfa and “salvado” for feed. -Other contributing factors included the 1950s drought and loss of water power; the Green Revolution and the switch from wheat to winter export vegetables once dams were put in place; and the buying up of all the mills by GAMAZA or whatever the Pan Bimbo /Wonder Bread company is called.  Today, only ruins of these once prosperous mills remain. read more »

Posted by Bill at 7:43 pm in Food, International, Mexico, Photography - Digital Imaging, Rio Sonora, Southwest | 21 Comments