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this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
  • Pearl Sutton

getting your own private tour  RSS feed

 
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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We are juggling a lot of things.  And taking a lot of risks.  And arranging a lot of this, that and the other.  

I'm working 80 hours a week.  Jocelyn is working 100 hours a week.   Between the bootcamp, land manager stuff and his own plot, Fred is working 80 hours a week.  And nearly everything we are all working on is time critical and we need to find a way to get it all done.  

And we get contacted a lot by people who would just like to stop by and get free tour.  

The tour takes more than a day.  

I think these folks think that we're sitting around hoping to give people a tour.  

And we've also had a lot of people say that they would like a tour, and that they are not afraid of some hard work.   So they arrange for their whole family to come and work hard for three days in exchange for the personal tour.  Only the arrive late, need to leave early, insist on just getting the tour and leaving.  

So we are trying to set things up so that the tour is offered several times per year - on set dates.   That will probably work for most folks.  But there will be others where their travel plans don't quite line up with that.  

I hope that eventually there could be a resident that loves giving the full tour for whatever price they think is worth it.  And then arrangements can be made with that person.  For now I don't know of anybody.  

Jocelyn told me that she has been telling people "no" but that she wishes there was a way to say "yes".   And I remembered the old business thing about "never say no - just set a price so ridiculously high that if somebody actually says they will pay it, you will be okay with that!"  

Getting your own private, all day tour:  $1000.   Just click on this link to pay.

stuff that's on the tour:  https://permies.com/wiki/62394/permaculture-projects/wheaton-labs-tour

A five hour video of me giving the tour a couple of years ago:  https://permies.com/t/68416/hour-tour-wheaton-labs

We hope in a few years we can have a buffet of options that are much smoother.  We're just not there yet.


Staff note (Jocelyn Campbell):

We have four tours scheduled in 2019 - please click on this post and the one right after it for the dates and details.

 
master steward
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There have been people who say 'oh, I don't need a tour, I just want to stop by, help a bit and hang out.'

We have a thread about that somewhere....though the quick upshot is that just someone 'stopping by' involves hours of time. Sending directions, meeting them when they arrive to show them where to park. Explaining where the water, bathrooms, etc. are. It's not simple.

The tour thread Paul linked to above lists our current tour dates.
 
paul wheaton
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I got one:  people who will stay the night and somehow dodge paying for a bunk because of all the things they will do, including washing their own sheets.   80% of the time they don't wash their own sheets and they leave a big mess that we have clean up.

 
pioneer
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It's too bad someone couldn't do something like come and stay for a week with the agreement that they put in 40 hours of actual work that week, and the rest of the day they could just walk around and help anyone that needs help with something.  The person staying could see and learn lots of cool things, and Wheaton Labs could get some benefit from it, and so could people working on various projects.  I personally would be happy to do all the grunt labor to help someone build a rocket stove or a wofati just for learning the basics on how to do it.  It seems like a win, win, win.  It's too bad there are so many people that don't hold up their end of the bargain and wreck it for everyone else.

Maybe that is an option already and I just don't know about it.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Trace, what you're describing sounds a lot like the bootcamp - more about that here. If they put in the 40 hours of work they even get food staples and starting earning toward a plot of their own! We do require $100 (or the BWB Kickstarter contribution of $100 or more) to get that rolling because there is a LOT to coordinate to make that happen.

We have had people join the bootcamp for just a week as a working vacation and it was great! Just a day or two isn't as helpful, because it takes more than that just to learn where everything is and how we do things.

Imagine a stranger helping you cook a meal in your kitchen and they can't find anything...then multiply that times about 100 or 1000 due to all of our projects, a wonderfully large collection of tools in our huge shop, plus all of the different out buildings, new people, etc.

Though, if folks arrive on a tour date, the fee to join the bootcamp goes down to just $50 - see this post.

 
Trace Oswald
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Trace, what you're describing sounds a lot like the bootcamp - more about that here. If they put in the 40 hours of work they even get food staples and starting earning toward a plot of their own! We do require $100 (or the BWB Kickstarter contribution of $100 or more) to get that rolling because there is a LOT to coordinate to make that happen.

We have had people join the bootcamp for just a week as a working vacation and it was great! Just a day or two isn't as helpful, because it takes more than that just to learn where everything is and how we do things. Imagine a stranger helping you cook a meal in your kitchen and they can't find anything...then multiply that times about 100 or 1000 due to all of our projects, a wonderfully large collection of tools in our huge shop, plus all of the different out buildings, new people, etc.

Though, if folks arrive on a tour date, the fee to join the bootcamp goes down to just $50 - see this post.



Jocelyn, thank you for posting that.  I'll read more about the different programs you offer at the lab.
 
pollinator
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It seems to me that apart from there's no "smell-i-vision" yet, or being able to turn your own head to look at something else (although there must be some panoramic video that you can pan around in as you watch by now...)...that most tours could be handled by a really well produced video. Maybe you charge $5 a view, you lose money in the short term, but maybe not for long, as time spent giving tours is reclaimed.
Maybe it's enough to satisfy most folks curiosity, without the need for them to darken your door.

Then, like you say, run a tour-day/weekend once/twice a year as a paid event, and offer a $uper-high-priced "of course we'll give you a private tour, when are you coming?" option.

The video tour idea could also work for orientations for various aspects of the lab: kitchen, workshop, facilities and daily operations...
Maybe the gapper fee is raised to $200, with $100 as a floor (either payed or waived by KS support) and the second $100 either paid for, or better yet, waived in $25 increments for verified viewing of 4 orientation videos.

Or even a very specific tour video: RMH, tipi, Allerton Abbey, individual ant plot tour... These videos could maybe be Biological Reverse Kickstarter projecst... or Patreon video projects. It could be cool if there were different versions like: an "Overview in Overalls - a tour by Paul" and a "Fred's Eye View" or "Jocelyn would really like to talk about these things instead... tour" or "Ernie and Erica do RMHs at the lab"


 
pollinator
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I lived and worked at Arcosanti for 4 yrs. They used the Frank Loyd Write system of workshop labor.

They charged people to do 5 week workshops to come live and learn. Basically charging people to have the privilege to work for them. To live there you had to complete one of these workshops, and get hired on by one of the departments after you completed the workshop.

For tours they used the workshoppers and residents to give tours during their free time, with a few full time tour guides hired on. Though Arcosanti is not nearly as large as Wheaton Labs, and a tour lasted only about 20-30min.

This workshop system, and having workshop folks as tour guides could be an answer to getting more people for manual labor around the place, and tours available for Wheaton Labs. While the tours might need to be a bit shorter and less involved with this sort of arrangement, it could open up the possibility for more exposure for the place and get people more interested and involved.

Just some thoughts on possibly borrowing other systems that have worked for other places. Both Arcosanti and Taliesin in AZ use this sort of system for decades successfully.
 
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