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Pavilion to the People

September 22, 2008

Two years after we decided to build a pavilion, we have done so. At the beginning of Saturday, there was no pavilion and now, there is a pavilion. It’s made of over two tons of interlocking timbers cut from the Yale forest in New Hampshire and lifted by somewhere around 100 inept Yale students and 5 guys with mallets that actually knew what they were doing. It has a nine-foot tall ceiling and by last night’s estimate, can hold precisely one contra-dance.

When I arrived at the farm at 8:15 on a saturday morning there was no pavilion. Not even one. The massive timber structure was willed into being in a single day, in just ten hours (also three years of planning and a tremendous lot of money, but this is how these things go). Whenever anyone who was there on Saturday comes up for pizza on Fridays, they will look up and remember shoving those bents up with their own hands and the hands of thirty other students on either side of them. We were able to start building at 10 in the morning and throw a party under the frame by 8 at night. It was even lit, which required no small amount of stress and smoke.

There are a great many other structures at Yale that are constructed on a semi-regular basis, most of which are objectively more impressive than the one that is currently sitting on top of the farm, though wasn’t Saturday morning. The School of Forestry, for example, is building Kroon Hall down the street, which aims to be the most environmentally friendly building on Yale Campus and has shafts as part of their heating and cooling system so deep that they need to be classified as wells. The renovations to the Kahn building made the front page of the New York Times. The new architecture building, Loria Hall, is fantastically ugly but still rather large.

However this, with the possible exception of myriad cinder block bookshelves, the only structure I know of on campus that was built from the sweat of Yalies. It’s something a lot of us aren’t used to. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve spent 10+ hours on the farm without leaving, and you get a certain kind of tired after a day like that that’s very different from spending the same amount of time analyzing the Byronic hero in the works of Ned Buntline. It’s a complete tired, body mind and spirit, but it’s those days are the few times at Yale that I’ve actually felt like I haven’t wasted my day. You feel absolutely no pressure to keep working, like you’ve earned leisure. You are tired, but there is a god-damn-nine-foot-tall pavilion standing that was in pieces ten hours before.

In the end, we’re still only playing at work. It took time, favors, and a whole lot of money to give us the chance to do the kind of thing we did on Saturday, even to have the farm at all. We aren’t building our shelter, and we aren’t farming our food. But if we can develop a set of eyes that takes the physical world at more than face value, then maybe it’s worth it. Farming made me look at food differently, and now building has made me look at structures differently. Maybe next I should make some pants.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. farmersdaughterct permalink
    September 22, 2008 9:05 pm

    Congratulations on your build! What a great experience it must have been for the Sustainable Food Project members!

  2. October 10, 2008 2:10 am

    So incredible to hear about and to see! I was and am there entirely in spirit but am sad to not be there in the incredible place that is the YSFP Farm and Pavilion!

    Indeed, the more we can build truly sustainable buildings and structures like this, and like the beautiful pizza oven, the more we can think about all of the other structures and buildings around us.

    And, so that you know, the YSFP Friday pizza parties are inspiring both farming and festivities on the opposite side of the world! We’re modelling a campaign of Friday night tree plantations at companies across India to be followed by music and general merriment. Next stop, Friday night rooftop farming!

    Always inspiring and incredible to hear about what is happening at the farm, and I love the blog, I love the flowers, I love the pavilion, and I love all of you!!

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