Friday, May 25, 2012

A walk in the sun

On Saturday afternoon, May 19, a few members of the Construction Committee and the board president went for a stroll on the library property to check out possible sites for the library caretaker's cabin and outhouse, and for an outhouse near the Ida Lane Clausen Gazebo. With stakes and flagging tape, the crew located the property lines and appropriate spots for various library outbuildings.

Several small projects are planned for this summer in preparation for next year's major construction:
  • Cabin siting and design: the library will have a part-time caretaker/librarian to look after it in exchange for reduced rent on a cozy cabin in a prime location in the heart of the village of Ester. The site has been chosen, but will need to be prepared and the design determined. Local materials will be an important component of the cabin and its outhouse.
  • Composting outhouses: the composting toilet was a concept popularized and defended by Joseph Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook. He was definitely not the originator of the idea, however (Henry Moule of England, for example, patented the dry earth closet in 1873). Variations on the theme have existed for millennia. The advantage of a composting outhouse is that it actually breaks down the nitrogen/phosphorus component (feces and urine) and the carbon component (sawdust, toilet paper, forest duff, leaf litter, or other source) into true compost (NOT night soil) which may then be used for landscaping purposes and gardening. As Jenkins goes to great lengths to explain, the composted material from these outhouses will be perfectly sanitary after three years of alternately composting and freezing, depending on the season. And they will save the library money on topsoil, and pumping and hauling waste. Here's an example of an ADA accessible outhouse, but a search online will reveal many more. Books on the topic include:
    • The Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems, an Alternative to Sewer and Septic Systems, revised edition, by David del Porto and Carol Steinfeld
    • Holy Sh*t: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, by Gene Logsdon (JTEL collection)
    • The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, 3rd edition, by Joseph Jenkins (JTEL collection)
  • Gazebo repairs and finish work: the Ida Lane gazebo, while mostly complete, still needs gutters and a downspout with water collection, an ADA accessible ramp, window repair and shields (plus the last two stained glass windows put in place), the Ida's Clip Joint sign put up, and the dedication plaque (already designed) created and installed. The gazebo is across from the Ester Post Office, at 501 Village Road (see Google map). Some of this work will happen on Planting Day, June 2.
  • Planting Day gardening & work party: this work party is scheduled for Saturday, June 2, from 11 am to 4 pm (library members will be arriving probably starting around 10 am, so if earlier is better for you, please don't hesitate to come a little early!). This landscaping event will happen in conjunction with gazebo repairs. (Parking is available at the Golden Eagle Saloon up the street.) See also our Facebook event invitation. We are creating a large rhubarb bed in honor of Pat Garner, famed in the village for his rhubarb wine, and a delphinium bed in honor of Ansgar Clausen. Other flower beds and pots will be planted in memory of Ester's denizens and, of course, to beautify the village. If you would like to help with this gardening party, we can use:
    • food and drink for the volunteers
    • flowers and other bedding plants (strawberries, rhubarb, columbine, etc.)
    • horse manure or compost
    • bedding soil
    • gardening tools (don't forget to put your name on them!)
  • Signage and lighting installation: the library and gazebo need lighting and signs so it's clear to library members where the library is! Thomas Hart of Iron Amenities will be creating a roadsign for the library; motion detection lights will be installed in the library and on the porch. 

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