Next meeting:
March 5, 2006, at the S&L, 6 PM: Permaculture!

For immediate release

(BRATTLEBORO, VT) - An educational presentation introducing the philosophy of permaculture will be given this Sunday. Permaculture is a design system for ecological living that integrates plants, animals, buildings, people, and communities to create productive and beautiful environments. Permaculture has been described as a process to consciously design landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber, and energy.

Our current international production and distribution systems for food, fuel, and market goods seem increasingly precarious due to energy resource, economic, and environmental factors. The interweaving of human and natural systems that permaculture offers can answer many local needs, whether or not disruptions occur.

Appropriate and valuable for all audiences, this event takes place March 5th from 6 to 8 PM in the community room in the basement of the Brattleboro Savings & Loan at 221 Main St., in downtown Brattleboro. Enter in the rear of the building; ring the doorbell to be let in.

The presentation is being cosponsored by the Brattleboro Area Natural-building Group and Post Oil Solutions. For more information, see; email <mudhome [at] netzero [dot] net> or; or phone 802-257-7300 x 104

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BANG and the Post Oil Solutions group have teamed up to arrange an introductory presentation about permaculture given by Jono Neiger of Leverett, MA (Permaculture teacher, ecologist/biologist, NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional, and owner of Ecological Landscape Design and Land Management), and our own Brattleboro eco-engineer, Tad Montgomery (Tad Montgomery & Associates, Ecological Engineering).

David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept with Bill Mollison, has described it as "consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre, and energy for provision of local need." It's a design system for ecological living that integrates plants, animals, buildings, people, and communities for productive and beautiful environments.

Here are some covers from recent copies of Permaculture Magazine to help us understand the sorts of things permaculturists think about:

Sunday, March 5, at 6 PM—make a note on your calendar! Head over to the back door of the Brattleboro Savings & Loan, at 221 Main St., and join us!

The bank wants the outside doors kept locked. Ring the bell at the back door and someone will come up and let you in. Then it's your turn: go up and let the next person in when the bell rings—and ask them to do the same for the person after them. Arriving on time is an act of kindness.

The February meeting was pretty much scuttled by the Blizzard That Never Really Happened. A hardy four of us—smallest meeting ever by a wide margin!— without fear of snow had good, unrestricted, free-flowing conversation touching on intentional community vs unintentional community vs creative neighboring; living in town vs living rural; the sad passing of John Brodie, whose life touched some of us during his short time in Brattleboro; the future of oil; some speculation on the origin of the phrase "when the shit hits the fan"; and pizza.

Anybody want to do some thatching?
From: "j.achenbach" <>
Subject: roof reed for sale
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 20:51:56 -0500

I have about 1,000 bundles of good domestic roof reed-phragmites - cut in Newburyport and ready to sell at $5./b., each good for one square foot of roof. I hope to interest nat build folks with it for thatched roofs on straw and now i've got the last bugs worked out of my harvester i hope to cut much more this winter. I'll be glad to teach what i know about thatching based on the ten or so roofs i've done and i also have a line on baled phrag which may be fun to try building with. I wonder if you might be able to help me get the word out?

jef achenbach
annapolis royal, ns, can

Some goodies from the most recent Activists' Calendar of the Windham Environmental Coalition (coordinator, Marcia Bourne).
February 28, 7:30 pm — Tad Montgomery will give a presentation on peak oil before the Windham Regional Commission at the Cafe Court, Straunch Student Center, Landmark College, River Road, Putney. Info:

March 1 — Even Chevron ads are now saying that inaction is not an option. Change happens when a lot of people do a lot of things a little bit differently. Come to an "Energy Dieters" gathering with Paul Cameron of Brattleboro Climate Protection at 7 - 9 pm in the Melrose Terrace Community Room. Info:

March 13 — Sustainable Living Potluck with VPIRG's Cleanpower Vermont Project. "What is wind power, and what does it do for Vermont?" Bring questions and food at 6:00 pm to Melrose Terrace Community Room. Info:

March 14 — New "Healthy Children - Healthy Planet" Vermont Earth Institute course start-up at 5:30 in the Co-op Community Room. This is a 7 week discussion group. Book of readings is $18. No other cost. Info:

March 25 — Post Oil Solutions hosts a workshop on drying foods with sunlight at All Souls Church. Info:

March 26 — Dartmouth College's Sustainability Coordiator Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity, will describe his satisfying journey from corporate excess to carving out the smallest possible footprint upon the earth. St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Putney Road, 2:00 pm. Free. (Optional donation to Merkel's Global Living Project.) Co-sponsored by Info: postoil@gmail.comPost Oil Solutions and the Vermont Earth Institute.

Erich Krueger from ReNew Building Materials & Salvage gives us a heads-up:
GreenFair: Growing a Green Community
April 8th, 2006, 10am - 5pm
In conjunction with the Better Living Show at Indoor Action, Greenfield MA

  • Exhibition of environmentally friendly goods and services, from "green" construction to massage
  • Energy-saving and alternative fuel products
  • Workshops on energy efficiency, renewables, organic gardening, composting and more
  • Children�s activities
  • Green home displays

FREE strawbale workshop weekend in Chesterfield NH, April 22-23!
For information contact: Helaine,
Architect: Sigi Koko, Down To Earth
Strawbale infill construction is a method where rectangular bales of straw are used to fill in between a standard structural system. In this case, the bales serve primarily as insulation and do not support the structural loads of the building. The result is a building with beautiful thick walls, usually plastered on both sides.

We will begin Saturday morning with an overview of strawbale construction. We will follow with a demonstration of the skills used to shape, resize, and install strawbales into a durable wall system. Everyone will then be invited to get hands-on experience. Sunday will provide ample opportunity to practice what was learned on Saturday, with a full day of hands-on building with strawbales.

  • overview of strawbale construction, including recommended detailing and a copy of a handout written by Down to Earth
  • demonstration of construction methods, including resizing, retying, shaping, pinning, etc.
  • permitting issues and tips
  • hands-on experience of installation techniques

Tad Montgomery, Sarah Machtey, and Mark Piepkorn (all BANG regulars) are on tap to head up a mini-workshop (Sarah, co-teaching cob with Jonah Vitale-Wolff) and informational presentations (Sarah and Mark doing natural building generally, and Tad on peak oil) at the summer NOFA conference. Details eventually.

And dates have been set for the third annual Building With Spirit natural building colloquium near Bath, NY: August 2 - 6. This is the big east coast natural building event, with world-class presenters. Some photos from the previous two convey the flavor. The cost, by May 1st, is $320—per presenter, it's a real bargain. The fee increases to $340 on June 1st, and then to $375 on July 1st; after July 15th, it's full price. 50% deposit is due at registration. Camping and vegetarian food are included. Info about the host organization, the Peaceweavers. No pets, no drugs, no alcohol, no glass bottles, no open fires. The rest of the details are still being worked out, but last year's vitals are available for an idea of what to expect.

Past presenters have included (alphabetically) Janine Bjornson � Larry Brown � Dan Chiras � Joyce Coppinger � Carole Crews � Sam Droege � David Eisenberg � Ianto Evans � Ben Falk � Chris Fox � Pete Fust � Mary Golden � Sarah Highland � Mark Hoberecht � Josh Jackson � Joe Jenkins � Sun Ray Kelly � Tim Owen-Kennedy � Doni Kiffmeyer � Sigi Koko � Paul Lacinski � Mark Lakeman � Satomi Lander � Tom Lander � Sarah Machtey � Frank Meyer � Tony Novelli � Mark Piepkorn � Darren Molnar-Port � Ed Raduazo � Jaki Roy � Rob Roy � Clark Sanders � Ben Simpson � Laura Struempler � David Vail � Catherine Wanek � and more that are escaping my failing memory

Local event calendars that usually have social and environmental stuff of direct or peripheral interest to most natural builder sorts: Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce | Brattleboro Community Television | Brattleboro Food Coop | Brattleboro Memorial Hospital | Brattleboro Museum and Art Center | Brattleboro Reformer | Brooks Memorial Library | Gallery Walk | Hooker Dunham Theater & Gallery | iBrattleboro | | Latchis Theater | ReNew Building Materials & Salvage | Town of Brattleboro | Vermont Chamber of Commerce | Vermont Jazz Center | Vermont Travel Planner

photos by Mark Piepkorn
and Sarah Machtey