In the face of widespread burnout and a world gone crazy, how do we find things to say "yes" to, rather than a resounding "no"?
On North America's West Coast, there's a group of rebel women who ten years ago chose to break free from a rigged economic and social system. They didn't take to the streets to lobby banks and governments to change their ways – they didn't have time for that. They had babies to feed and house. They reckoned that if nobody else was going to change the rules to support basic human needs and respect the biosphere, then we are all free to make our own rules.
They chose action. They decided to teach themselves how to build houses using the most abundant material on earth – mud. They'd learn by building, gathering skills and allies. They'd have fun, sharing whatever they learned with whoever wanted to come along for the ride. The Mudgirls revolution was born.
Part story of rebel women, grassroots self-governance, and community-building, part incendiary political and economic tract, and part practical guide to building natural homes for real people. Mudgirls Manifesto is about respecting the earth, each other, and crafting meaningful lives.
A powerful, positive antidote to troubled times.
The Mudgirls is an all-women's natural building collective from coastal British Columbia. They build houses and offer workshops that empower people to take back the right to provide themselves with shelter. They champion respect for the earth and each other. Find out more at mudgirls.ca.
This book is first off, very well-written. It kept my attention and made me laugh, and there were multiple times I just had to share quotes with my husband. If you're looking to buy one book on how to build natural houses, I wouldn't necessarily pick this one. There are lovely pictures of their builds, but no detailed instructions on how to calculate loads or...well, I don't quite know exactly what you'd need to know to build a house--which pretty much shows you that this book didn't teach much about that! There are some lovely tidbits and tips on how to identify clay and sand in soil, and how to make various plasters and cob mixtures and which ones are the best for various circumstances, and some general tips on how to conceptualize your build so it's not so overwhelming. But, there's not many details.
But, that's okay! Because, that's really not what this book is about! This book is about how The Mudgirls were formed, how they work together, how they build amazing homes, by hand, for people, affordably, teach people in the process, and offer free child care. I love how social justice and fairness is just as important--if not more so--than building a wonderful house. In fact, the building of their beautiful houses is, in itself, an act of social justice. So many people cannot afford a home--especially with all the regulations out there. The Mudgirls have solutions for that, and they are beautiful solutions!
The first solution is for the person who needs a home to become a Mudgirl--a Mudgirl is one who teaches others how to build houses, by making houses. Mudgirls build homes for each other for just the cost of materials.
The other solution is to hire the Mudgirls to hold a work party to build your house. You pay for materials and for the Mudgirl's wages and the wages of a childcare person. That's it. The Mudgirls then teach a bunch of volunteer how to build a house--by building your house! The volunteers only pay for food and a cook. That's it! They get free on-site child care, too, while they learn and build your house. Children stay near their parents, parents learn awesome skills, and someone who couldn't afford a house otherwise, now can afford one. Beautiful.
The houses they build are generally small--small enough that they don't need permits. The Mudgirls do everything on consensus--there is no boss. This may seem impossible, but the book--and the fact that they've been doing this for over 10 years--shows that it IS possible.
This book is a book about equality, about justice, about saving the earth by using natural materials, about cooperation. It's a revolution. A revolution that occurs not in "grand" things, but in things as "simple" and every day as homes and childcare and communication. It's changing the world through the little and big things we do. It shows that, we too, can change the world through our actions.
Not only are the houses that they build inspirational and beautiful, so too are the way they build those houses. I very much recommend this book if you want to be inspired and see how permaculture and natural building can change the world.
As I read this, I could just imagine solution number 2 happening. A family, hiring the mudgirls to build, and learning so much more than building along the way. Every part of their home will have a sweet memory, a fun story, and remind them of new friends.
They know they built using what the earth provides, and harmed as little as possible, teaching themselves and their young ones to cherish our resources. Wow!
The front cover seems a precious catching of the possibilities, thank you so much for sharing your ideas! Look forward to reading about your revolution : )
Thank you for showcasing the Mudgirls and their book. I love how this addresses one of our most elemental questions - that our societies have only unsatisfactory answers to.
I hope it will find the exposure it deserves and it will point many people to building their homes again.