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Article from 13 WMAZ:
The World Help Training Center is a living training center and Micro-Community created to serve the training needs of individuals preparing for sustainability based development projects around the world.

Volunteers spent the day clearing brush and branches from a portion of the site, located on 30 acres of land in Twiggs County.

A handful of volunteers turned out with rakes and brooms ready to do whatever they could on this national day of service. LaRahna Hughes is part of a team of volunteers who plan to build the World Help Training Center, an eco-community where people can learn about alternative energy and growing their own food.
"Wonderful technology that is power, that is off grid, with solar and water and all kinds of things are available to us. It's about finding appropriate technology for this region, for this project, but we think that it can happen," Hughes said.
It's been in the works for years, but organizers didn't have a site until the land in Twiggs County went up for sale at the right price. Now it's a matter of clearing away brush and deciding where to build cabins, a kitchen, a bath house and a greenhouse. Bob Schumacher learned about the project on the Internet. "I got an email from the Obama campaign and then had a lot of different choices for community service on this day and I thought, instead of staying at home, I would come out and help in any way I could," Schumacher said. Volunteer Peter Givens said, "It's not sort of like a traditional holiday to me where you go out and have a picnic or whatever. I think we should do things to try and help each other." The project is a long way from completion, but Hughes says every helping hand brings them closer to their goal. "Whether it's two or three or whether it's 50 or 100, little things get done and if we do enough of those little things, we see change happen," Hughes said.

 
 

While not related they both pose ver interesting stories about how this week is unfolding at WHTC.

On Sunday afternoon, the StuffIt Container lady was to deliver the storage pods out onsite that contain a quite eclectic mix of stuff. Our time was arranged and the first pod was loaded. We parked her truck and the pod at the entrance of the property to survey the potential spots. No one slight problem in sight. The toads had supported the movement of two bui buildings onsite. The buildings had both beem empty and the weather had been consistently dry. On this past sundy there had been several days of rainy and damp weather and there were some obvious signs of it on the road. The left side of the red clay road had been gouged with the rainwater runoff. Btu it looked manageable. So I left her to her delivery business and  drove off only to receive a call before I could reach the interstate saying that the truck was already stuck. I returned and looked at the muddy mess. The truck had slidden to the left, into the gouged trench and was up to th rear axle in mud - blocking the ENTIRE road. Only reverse seemed like an option, but the spinning wheels nor the boards were an effective solution. So having done all we could...we left. I dropped her of at her vehicle and we decided to try removing the stuck truck on Monday morning.

On Monday morning I received a call saying that a truck with chain was no match for the mud and that another wrecker was being called to pull her wrecker out of the mud. We secured a flat, non-muddy space down the road to place the pod.

My confidence was rewarded as I returned to the property later in the morning to find the road clear and passable, albeit with a few more deep gouges from the wrestling match that I can only imagine that was required to free the truck.

So what does that have to do with lost phones? NOTHING! The continuing saga is that upon returning on Monday onsite I managed to lose my phone in the woods. I had no idea where I had lost it, only that the day had been rather quiet and I had not heard it ring. This morning I decided to retrace the path that I had followed with the visitor and dog, Egypt yesterday. And there it was! Under the fallen tree that I had limbo'd under yesterday; a bit moist frm the light sprinkles and fog, but working nonetheless!

This week has definately started with its own excitement. I cant wait for the rest of the week to unfold!

 
 

There are not many things that say wilderness better than a wood fire going! And not much says simple living than a wood burning cook stove.

This week's adventure has included the adoption of a blue and rust colored old fashioned cook stove for WHTC. Naomi Davis of Davis Farms in Roberta Georgia met our heat/cooking need by allowing us to adopt her grandmother's old stove.

With the help of Kim and Jim (driving the tractor to carry the stove) and the generosity of Naomi...we have a wood burning stove out at WHTC. I have committed to cook up something AND grilled cheese sandwiches and have the folks over at Davis Farms over after I get it cleaned up and working.

Thanks Naomi. Thanks Davis Farms! Be sure to check out the video and pictures!

 
 

As the holidays surround us and the weather begins to turn cold (brutally cold on some nights) the "demonstration" on homelessness begins to really sink in. The homelessness awareness event took our focus off of the development aspects of WHTC and focused for a day on the implications. The implications for addressing the issues of homelessness are HUGE! The ability to provide ultra-affordable housing is huge! The implications of providing healthy community structures as the Convertible Community Concept provides has very significant implications when addressing the issue of homelessness. There are so many things to say and I decided that I will share with you some of the "lessons to self" that I gathered from this experience.

Lessons to self:
1. When you are homeless, you can't leave the "demonstration". When it got cold and started raining too hard on Saturday morning, and all the other people left....we could too! We broke camp and went home!
2. A little bit of shelter makes a BIG difference. For our demonstration, budget was a concern (translated: this was a very low budget event). Normally we would have used a building material with at least the rigidity of R-Max insulation boards which give a higher R-value. But the insulation boards we used, while not as rigid or highly insulated provided a definate protection from the at times pounding rain and the chilling wind. When inside you were sheltered from the elements and DRY!
3. A casual event of a short duration only scratches the most remote corner on the problem of homelessness.
4. NOT being homeless provides opportunities to prevent homelessness or at least provide for comforts. I had the luxury of making some phone calls and emails to solicit donations and resources. I garnered financial support and in-kind support. I was able to send emails and receive cash and gift cards to purchase materials. I was able to call and receive access to porta-potties on-site for the event. I was able to solicit free products from Tape Rite, Inc. (http://taperite.thomasnet.com/) because they believed in the work we were doing and showed it with with support. I was able to do all this because of having access to my handy dandy laptop with mobile air card, and my albeit frustrating at times, sprint cell phone - all of which might be a luxury if I were homeless for more than just one day!
5. Many have lost the "inquiring mind" spirit. I would think that a shiny silver, hexagon "thing" in the middle of Poplar Street would garner questions from curious passers-by. Very few stopped to even inquire what the shiny thing was all about.
6. Transportation is a precious commodity if you are homeless. With transportation I could go and tend to whatever needs I had. On Saturday after disassembling the Hexayurt structure in the pouring rain, I was soaked even to the insoles of my shoes. I was able to get in my car and drive to the warmth of a friends house who had graciously made lunch preparations for "after I wasn't homeless anymore." I could put my precious belongings into my vehicle and drive to a place where i could dry off out of my wet, cold garments. Homelessness doesn't provide this option for many.
7. Homelessness is not an issues that generally solicits goodwill and charity from many. Rather it is one that many seem to be able to ignore without guilt or remorse.
8. Homelessness has a stereotypical face. Many don't realize that a large and growing number of homeless look just like me and you. They are families with children, they are people who struggle to make ends meet every day, they are responsible adults that are hardworking and they are innocent children who have not been given a choice about their situation.
9. One last lesson....although there are many more....I have within my power to do more about this issue.

I hope you will take a minute to reflect on my lessons or perhaps garner lessons of your own. Homelessness is an issue that can be quite complicated, but we have the necessary tools to offer real sustainable solutions! One tool is in being able to provide ultra-cheap living structures!

Please check out the pictures from the event.

 
 

Well I am not one that enjoys just part of the story so here is the conclusion of the building moving project. If you followed the youtube videos (more located on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOpenToolbox) you saw 4 brave men, 3 tow trucks, 2 buildings and 1 amazed me! The WHTC site is approximately 15 miles away so the caravan of tow trucks make the trek onsite. I drove up the road about 1/4 mile (well it's probably not that far, but it feels like it), parked and ran back down the road to guide the trucks up. I was met by the tow truck (with nothing in tow). They had come up the road to survey the land. By this time they were shaking their heads. The road is dirt, and about 12 feet wide. We decide to go for broke and send for the first smaller building. After holding our breath, it made it to the top and was deposited. The concern was for the large building. Twelve foot road, 12 foot building. See the problem? Because of the height of the building on top of the truck, there was great concern for the not-too-big but overhanging pine trees that formed a canopy over the road. The decision was made to try to move the building as far up the road as possible without causing damage...BACKWARDS for fear that the  building could not go all they way up, and they didn't want the wrecker stuck with no way out. So backwards we started. About 20 yards up the road we realized we were going to need to do some cutting. We stood there wishing we had a chainsaw. Then I realized, there was an ax in the building. So one brave professional leaped the 6 feet off the ground into the building to retrieve it.

Slowly, slowly, slowly they backed the building up as we cut and dragged trees out of the way. To everyone's surprise we made it to the top of the road with only minor damage. One window screen was torn and one corner of the trim was slightly bent. But success! Two buildings, and an ax are now onsite at WHTC.

Stay tuned for the next project. We will be building hexayurts and drilling a well next! Contact us if you are interested in coming out for the next project or build.

 
 

The WHTC project is indeed a huge undertaking. As you can probably imagine even the phase one plan has many steps and many more twists and turns. Today was indeed an example of this!  Yesterday morning began with a plan to relocate two storage buildings about 15 miles away to the WHTC site. There was a big one and a small one to move. As expected the 2-man team arrived this morning while there was still a chill in the air. After assessing the situation I was alerted to a few problems, some I had anticipated and others I had not. The issues unfolded something like this...:
1. The movers realized I had told them the large building was 20' long when it was really 24' long. The flatbeds are about 16' so the 4' addition was a big deal.
2. The slope was steeper than they movers anticipated and they had to get a completely new plan for gettng the building out
3. The smaller building has metal posts around two sides to prevent it from moving (it too was on a very steep slope). The problems was that the posts were embeded in 16" of concrete and were obstructing the side where the movers were going to attach the building.

Ok so here is how these issues were resolved.
1. The movers raised the price (ouch) by about $200 and called in more help! The called in 2 more trucks and 2 more highly competent men, bringing the move team to 4. They also decided to work with the additional 4 feet of building which mean that approximately 6 feet would be extended beyond the end of the truck bed.
2. The highly competent (translated very brave) men managed to move the building off of the support piers (also known as cinder blocks) and managed to get it loaded (sometimes with three wheels actually on the ground) and after about 4 attempts, they actually got the building and the truck back out to the street in preparation for the move to the final resting place. The 2nd building was just as exciting. Heavy duty chains were attached to the metal poles and then connected to the wrecker truck and pulled out of the ground. The firstpole pulled a hole in the building before we realized that each pole was not only concreted into the ground (approx. 18 inches) but also bolted through to the inside of the metal storage building. After the four poles were removed, another flatbed truck was able to easily hoist the building into place.

Both buildings were on the same steep slope but they managed to remove them safely and other than the light damage to the small building, it was an absolute success.

I will post again to tell your the rest of the story. If this wasn't exciting enough, the delivery onsite brought on challenges that will make you reminisce of childhood stories of Paul Bunyan.

More to come later...

Live life fully today!
--
Live life fully today!
LaRahna

 
 

There are many things to learn about forestry when you begin working with raw land. The WHTC site consists of good 'ol Georgia red clay and the abundance of pine trees. Much of the surrounding land has been for decades pine forests. This site was cleared several decades ago and what is in place currently is naturally seeded pines with a few persimmon and crab apple trees mixed in, a few hardweeds and a lot of vines and a few ornamental plants left from perhaps an old homesite from decades ago. As we begin mapping out the design for the convertible community we will begin working with a timber agent as well to help us market the timber that we will be clearing. I am certain that we will learn much more about timber.

 
 

Having the website up is a huge development. We hope that it will allow you to keep informed of what's going on at the WHTC. We look forward to sharing and growing with you.