Thursday, May 27, 2010

Defining a Vision and Building a Dream

The Clay People
On the technical side of things, the kiln building is coming along. We’ve finished digging the hole into the side of the hill which Win spoke about yesterday. Again, we were schooled by Irene and her amazing control and strength with a pick axe. We worked hard at making the floor of this hole level (or as level as it’s going to get!) and then it was time for lunch, which was a very yummy boullion with dumplings. During lunch, it began to rain. And so our very sandy kiln site turned to soupy, slippery mud! Tricia had to run out into the rain once in order to cut a canal for the water to drain out of our hole. Needless to say, it was difficult to work in this mud and it slowed us down but we got on just fine. We managed to build three walls of the kiln about 4 bricks high on the sides and 8 layers of bricks tall on the back wall.
It is difficult to verbalize our final vision--and, I can imagine, difficult to guess from my description—but I will try. The idea is to make the kiln partially in the ground with a barrel arch at ground level (so as to kindle a fire underneath) and a chamber above the arch for the pottery to be top loaded into. The arch will have some holes in it to allow heat through. Figuring out how to build an arch with be the greatest challenge yet. We’ll be tackling that tomorrow!
Just a quick note on our community connections in Morne Sion: Despite the fact that there is a constant string of Creole being spoken around us and despite the fact that we are the only white people for miles and draw a lot of stares—I do not feel out of place, unwanted, or unwelcome. Catty’s community is very cozy and comforting. Everyone is so friendly!!

The Tree Huggers
We started out the morning with a trek across the Balenbouche property to the small farm plot on the north side. Here we met a man named Sox, who farms this area as part of a local co-op. Sox was very excited to tell us about his plots and the types of plants being organically grown there. His produce includes lettuce, lavender, chives, pineapple, okra, mustard, eggplant, basil, cilantro, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers and yams. We were all astonished by how diverse these crops were. After this we drove into town to meet with the director of the co-op, Felix.
At this meeting we learned that the farmer’s co-op of southern Saint Lucia was formed in 1984 in for many purposes, including: to provide an economical buffer to the local subsistence farmers, to help enhance the limited or virtually nonexistent communication between farmers and the markets, and also to provide a much needed dependable form of transportation of goods to the market. We came away feeling much more attuned to the Saint Lucian’s pride for their land, as well as the co-op members’ struggle to promote local farming to current farmers, as well as the youth.
After lunch we met Uta, the director of Balenbouche about her thoughts and ideas for our nature trail project. We gained much insight on her visions for Balenbouche. The woman is a true visionary. We followed her around the property and listened to her avidly explain her visions for different areas. At a particular overlook near the beach, she pictured massage caves with amazing views of the Caribbean, at another she imagined Zen gardens. We truly desire to work our hardest to at least pave the way for such visions to become reality.
Throughout the day we catalogued a particular trail using GPS coordinates and staked out particular spots which we intend to develop into private Oases, places for guests to seek solitude and refection. Meanwhile, Win, Lara, and Eddie began construction on benches for these spots.
Overall, I feel that we have really mapped out our vision for the nature trail here at Balenbouche. Today was not only about our vision, but about the vision of the Saint Lucia co-op members as well.