Thursday, 10 November 2011

Structural Engineering For Hippies And Anarchists



Over the weekend, a remarkable transformation occurred at the #OccupySLC Base Camp in Pioneer Park that I did not want to let pass unremarked upon, despite the hubbub of recent events at #OSLC's second camp.

Due partially to the ad hoc nature of its construction and largely to an unfortunate snowstorm, the Kitchen Tent of the Circle-A Cafe - the anarchist collective that has been feeding everyone at Pioneer Park, itinerant and #Occupant alike, for free since the protests began - collapsed. What has replaced it is fairly extraordinary.

First of all, a quick word about structures at #OccupySLC. A recent feature piece at the Huffington Post about #OccupyWallStreet's plans for the coming New York City winter (and preparations elsewhere) features a piece of wisdom we here on the Wasatch Front have already known for at least two or three weeks; wooden pallets!


Yes, the humble wooden pallet is de rigueur for #Occupations this season. With winter breathing down our gooseflesh-rippled necks here in SLC, winterization is becoming a top priority at both the original Pioneer Park Base Camp and the brand new Gallivan Plaza Camp. I've seen a variety of structural approaches to cold nights and frozen ground, ranging from the sad and small and probably very uncomfortable...


...to the large and organized...


...some carefully reinforced...


...to the just plain crazy.



The new camp at Gallivan Plaza, formerly of 147 S. State Street, is much smaller and more organized than the one at Pioneer Park (so far), but this is to be expected, as it is a second step, and some of the lessons learned from step one proved very valuable (i.e., plan ahead - one larger tent at the second camp actually integrated a hot tub cover into its foundation and was nice and toasty inside last time I checked).

Despite this, the new Kitchen Tent at Pioneer Park is probably the most impressive structural achievement so far - heavy emphasis on "so far," as one enterprising gentleman has plans to deploy a hexayurt he just has lying around apparently.

The design and construction were spearheaded by Jesse Fruhwirth and Joe the Greenhouse Builder. Jesse has a Twitpic of the original sketch and plans:



Joe is currently without a permanent address, and has joined the #Occupy camp. He lent his skills to the construction of the initial design:


Perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps the Universe is trying to tell me something about good citizenship and kale?), I received the following email shortly afterwards:

Saturday: Hoop House ConstructionDate: Saturday, November 12
Address: [Redacted]*
We'll be gathering this Saturday for our first Skills Workshop! Using a pipe bender to precisely bend 10-foot metal conduit tubes, we'll be making metal arches for the frames of winter hoop houses. These can grow lettuce, kale, and other cold-loving plants all winter!
Some form of Jungian universal transmission of knowledge is surely at work here.

* - If you are interested in this workshop, please contact me and I will send you the information.



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