[Here is a press release just put out by Atmos Totnes] When it comes to building houses, which offers the best return to a local economy, concrete blocks or straw bales? Gypsum or clay plasters? Imported timber or local timber? Atmos Totnes today announces the release of a ground-breaking new paper, ‘Can Totnes build itself?’ (a kind of successor to 2009’s ‘Can Totnes and district feed itself?’ study), which looks at the local building materials potentially available for the construction of the Atmos Totnes development.
Here is a great new film from Peterborough about a project called ‘The Green Backyard’, which is developing a Transitioney/permaculturey/community resource/educational type thing in urban Peterborough. Beautiful film, with talking bees and everything. The Transition Companion makes an appearance too near the end… thanks to Daryl Mulvihill, who made it, for letting me know about it.
Let’s start this month’s round-up in the UK, in Cheltenham. Transition Town Cheltenham have been making some gorgeous short films recently. In the last roundup we shared the one about Ken and his allotment. This month, firstly, Ivor, Remi and Leon talk us through the chickens in their garden, and their 8-person cargo bike:
… and secondly, a short film about In Stitches, who held their The Big Knit event at the Global Footsteps Cafe. A beautiful film about the power of knitting to build community:
What might we learn from the construction, between1438 and 1448 of the Hospital of St. John in Sherborne (see above) that might shape the way we think about construction in the 21st century? While the bulk of the building was built using local oolitic limestone, it was dressed with Lias stone from Ham Hill, some 12 miles from the building site. However, in those days, without the internal combustion engine, 12 miles was a long way to carry stone (you try it). The meticulous accounts kept of the project at the time show that the cost of transporting the stone by cart cost more than the stone itself. As Alec Clifton-Taylor says in his seminal ‘The Pattern of English Building’, “it was the great difficulty of transporting heavy materials which led all but the most affluent until the end of the eighteenth century to build with the materials that were most readily available near the site, even when not very durable”.