Sun and Earth Energy Learn and Create Course Write Up

    Hello to all who took part in the course this summer and thanks for what was an excellent happening. We are very happy with how it went and enjoyed the good vibes both day and night. Here you will find a summary from Paulo  the information and links related to what we learnt some photos ,a review of the  practicals, and a place where you can leave feedback. Hope you find it useful. If anyone has any photos of the evening fires can you send them our way as we don't seem to have many. Tx and we hope you enjoy  
                                                     Everyone who was there                                                                

 Earth & Sun Course, Shipka, 2009 by Paulo Burell

    My ideas for the course were to show people that building ecological homes is possible, sustainable and fun. The course therefore looked at design ideas, ecological materials, how to heat & cool the home, capturing heat from the sun and discussing other renewable forms of energy. To experience all these ideas we also ran some practical workshops on sustainable construction methods and clay / solar ovens designs.
    We talked lots on how old buildings work (without the availabilty of cheap fossil fuel derived energy) through the use of local materials, community help and passive type design that worked with, not against or above, the surrounding environment. We then spoke of how new buildings worked by using abundant and 'dirty' energy whilst converting every pure input resource into waste that caused pollution and contributed to global warming. We spoke lots about sustainability, toxicity, CO2 emissions, climate change, occupant well being, earth structures, hemp and lime insultation, EMF radiation, clay ovens, straw and rammed earth technology.
    The best part for me (and I think everyone) was the construction of a clay oven that was beautifully simple to make and simply beautiful to look at. It showed what a community of people working together could achieve and by the second day we were able to cook some peppers, onions and other food that tasted delicious. The
kids also contributed in making this oven and I think that everyone at some point mixed up some water and clay and added to the construction or artwork on the final oven casing.
    The Solar ovens also worked brilliantly and demonstrated a range of skills - hard work and research from the Permaship crew, innovation and
team work from all the course participants, leadership and design qualities (with some herbal help) from the Sofia crew, ideas for new and funky lighting styles from our tip top chef  Sasho and overall proved that with little materials you can make a simple design capture heat from the most freely available abundant form of energy - the sun. I particularly liked the parabolic array from Stoyan which was superbly engineered and the solar 'hot box' which should be mandatory for all beach trips. The other oven design was lightweight and worked exceptionally well without using many materials and was an example of evolutionary innovation. This oven could be used for trekking or any other outdoor activity.
    The two construction workshops showed how newer ideas can provide an excellent form of insulation and heat store with a low overall carbon footprint by using an age old material - lime - combined with an even older material - hemp. The course experimented with using different mixes to make basic building blocks and I look forward to hearing about the results from Permaship over the next year or so.
    The last workshop looked at Rammed earth and again innovation and spirit was combined to make a solid wall that will eventually become a hammock spot for all passing by the land. The time spent together showed good team work and produced excellent results. If the wall is allowed to dry it should remain for years to come and will surprise the shepherds who pass by with their flocks everytime. It will also hopefully prove that concrete is not the hardest and most robust of all materials over time....
    In between the lectures, workshops and practicals was a mix of socialising, eating the most excellent food (thank you ALL chefs - You know who you are!) and discussing ideas for new buildings, existing buildings and trying to use healthy non toxic materials that make the home a healthy place to be without costing the earth. Time was spent first in Shipka in a beautiful permaculture garden and inside space crafted by Permaship and then on 'the land' nestled between two mountian ranges where camp was made and the days spent learning (and sleeping) with evenings huddled around the fire under the stars... 
    For me the most inspirational moments were spending time with the course participants and friends who proved to be enthusiastic, fun to be around, knowledgable and providers of rather fine Rakia and new ideas combined with a wide knowledge of many interesting topics. I enjoyed talking, listening and learning from you all.  The experience was beautiful and inspirational and I hope next year to return for more. There is much more together that we can achieve!
    Thanks also to Paul & Soph for the concept and thoughts to involve me, thanks to Tania (& Paul again) for providing the space and support for
the course, Steve for the fishing experiences, Trish for the ongoing support and artistic intepretation, Phil & Tina for the coffee and other victuals, Rosi & Vanessa for the help with the kids, Sasho & Rosie & Vendo, Soph, Trish, Steve, Rosi  for the food, EVERYONE! on the Earth & Sun course for being so inspirational, ALL permaship & Sofia crew & friends for providing the Vibe, food and bringing it all together Sava for the ongoing translation services and of course Susannah for everything else and believing we could somehow get to Bulgaria to make it happen and all the kids for being kids and the future of everything we do today. One family!

See you all next time. All the best from Sunny Sunny wales

Paulo xx

Practical 3 :Clay Oven Click to view 
Photos of the course
Links and Further Reading
A blog devoted entirely to hemp and lime
An excellent site containing everything you could want to know including models, instructions and great interactive research 
 By far the most coherent source of information i could find on the web, here you will find a very concise account of Simons experience of  how to build a clay oven.
This is great blog with some great footage illustrating the process of rammed earth wonderfully
an excellent wholistic approach to  housing  
Feedback click to enter