We had some interesting developments on our wall build yesterday that merit a message to the group. As you know if you have been here to the site, we are building the stemwall for the cob garden wall on our Humboldt Park site with
After noticing, as might be expected, that the paint which is on most of the bricks does not bond with the mortar, we started thinking about how to get the paint off.
After sanding the first brick for about 10 seconds, it occurred to us that the paint may contain lead.
After a quick trip to Home Depot for a lead test, we confirmed that yes, the majority of our porous bricks are painted on one side with lead paint.
The Excellent News: We did NOT stand in the yard for hours with the power sander blowing lead dust
into our yard, the neighbors' yards, the alley, the air, the open windows of the houses on our block....
The Bad News: We already know the bad news. We live in a contaminated environment. Dealing with contamination from the 20st century is going to be one of the main challenges for urban builders and permaculturists of the 21st century.
Coming face to face with this problem in a direct way is part of our reality as urban natural
builders. It is part of what makes us urban household level pioneers in a household scale, DIY, layman effort that must be pioneered, one way or another. Urban builders have to deal with contamination, and sharing information about contamination hazards and where they might present themselves in the course of our projects is one essential function of a group like ours.
I knew there would be a learning curve, even for a project so straightforward as this, and dealing with this issue is part of that learning curve.
These bricks will not used, by the way. We will scavenge other brick, figure out how to responsibly and legally dispose of the ones we have, and go from there.
And finally, a HUGE thank you to those of you who have been here for this process - Martha, Jonathan, Juan, Alin, Simon, Steve, Alice and everyone else... you
ARE this project and without you it would be a difficult and sometimes frustrating process. With you, the challenges are all part of a larger grand plan for a learning community that will take every obstacle and difficulty we encounter and turn that into experience and knowledge as Natural Building becomes more prominent and important in coming decades.
It also has us thinking more seriously about bioremediation, which may end up taking on a more important role in urban building efforts than we had previously considered. We knew it was important for gardening, but all of our goals are
Onwards and upwards, builders!