Paul continues the podcast summary of the PEP 1 event, conversing with Coco, Wheaton Labs new Event Coordinator and Manager of Things.
Paul thinks that a more structured PEP event, with specialized instructors, could probably get people certified to PEP 1 in two weeks but would also incur a substantial fee for the event, probably in the neighborhood of $1,500.00 per ticket and Paul is not sure that people would be willing to pay that kind of money for the curriculum. So there might alternative, like "Woodsy Week", which would focus on woodworking, dropping a tree, whittling spoons, and during the class most people would be able to complete "Sand" level BB's (Badge Bits) and maybe some "Straw" level BB's.
The way PEP is designed is that many things can be done locally, so after doing bits 'n' bobs over a year or two students could get certified up to PEP 2. There was also a discussion about how long it might take people enrolled in the Wheaton "Boot Camp" program to complete their certifications while they are participating as boots.
Paul spends some time discussing the Biological Reverse Kickstarter option for people going through the boot program. The BRK rewards boots for performing tasks that supporters would like to see. Paul points out that after you have been in the boot program for a month you are allowed to pick your own one acre plot that is then available to start developing for their personal homestead.
Paul and Coco then start going over the list of things that were accomplished during the PEP event.
• Paul notices there are a lot of new three log benches. Paul has been attempting to personal vet the work done on all the new benches.
• One of the more popular Badges was Dropping a tree. Students had a real sense of accomplishment when cutting down a tree with a bow saw, then limbing and pealing the tree and stacking it to dry for future projects.
• Creating natural scaffolding across the basecamp hügelkultur bed was also accomplished (check out Coco's photos).
• Carving "ugly" but functional wooden spoons. Paul points out that "ugly" can come in a lot of flavors
• Natural wood signs - Coco gives a "shoutout" to Nancy for creating two for the Labs
• Turns out that PEP could be reclassified as Summer Camp for Adults (probably won't be, but fun to think about)!
One of the days at the PEP event was spent learning tool maintenance and then volunteering at Freecycle in Missoula, MT. Freecycles is a non-profit community Bike Shop. Students attended the BikeWell class, then donated four hours of their time to help build free bicycles for children. After volunteering for four hours students were able to also build a bike for themselves. Paul does spend a little time recapping his "non-profit rant" and expands on how he defines what a non-profit actually should be and how they should be run in order to qualify for the title "non-profit".
Paul and Coco continue with the list of items that were accomplished at the PEP event:
• Foraging led by Fred. Paul and Fred have been trying to establish Stinging Nettles, a plant native to the area, Fred reports that they have successfully started at least one plant in the last several years
• "Watering plants" is a suggested part of the Wheaton experience (sometimes called "Studying the Berm" by Paul). Coco relates that peeing outdoors is one of her least favorite activities. Paul and Coco go in depth discussing the female friendly "tools" that are being experimented with at the labs.
• Rocket Mass heaters was another high point of the event. The BB requires students to light a RMH and keep it burning for an hour. There are many different types of Rocket Mass Heaters at the Lab, including two RMHWater heaters.
• Earthworks was also very popular. Many students were able to build adobe brick frames and then actually create adobe bricks to be used in building projects
• Participation in Community events, including serving a meal to eight or more people, starting with prep, serving and then clean-up.
• As the event progressed, some of the students ended up doing some of the "lighter" BB's, including things like sewing.
Coco and Paul then spend a bit of time explaining how the certification process works. For most of the BB's you have to provide Before, During and after photos of the projects. Staff reviews the request and either certifies the effort or requests additional information or a more detailed project. When enough BB's (Badge Bits) are completed to qualify for a Badge the student provides the links to all of the Bits to staff, staff reviews and certifies the badge if appropriate. Once a student completes 16 Sand Badges they submit the links for all the badges to staff and, when approved, become PEP 1 certified.
Paul and Coco then go over some bits 'n' bobs and talk about some of the things that people didn't complete and some of the more unusual BB's that were completed. Paul does discuss how the basecamp cat, Worf, is generous in sharing the chipmunk shaped bags of organs that are collected after the crunchy head bits are removed. One thing that did make Paul sad is there is a BB for repairing a squeaky door and no students took advantage of that and repaired the squeak in the door at the Fisher Price House. It does appear that many of the shovels on site were sharpened and oiled as part of the event. Clean up after the ATC event went better than normal, which was a pleasant surprise.
Paul and Coco wind up discussing possible future podcasts that will cover the breakdown of what goes into BB's and badges and a little bit about possible options to enhance future PDC and ATC events.
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