December 2018 had Upcycle Santa Fe returning to the glorious Utah desert for another workshop on Ubuntu-Blox. There was no better way to end this exciting year than to build and leave behind an Ubuntu-Blox Press with such a motivated community of peoples. We spent one week in Moab fulfilling the promises of a grant which generously afforded this project. Specifically, that grant was the Make A Difference grant from WabiSabi Moab. Together, Upcycle Santa Fe applied for this grant with the Moab based non-profit, The Resiliency Hub. And well, needless to say, we were awarded full funding. Here’s what we did with it!
The first day was spent frequenting local hardware stores and lumber yards, checking the needed items off our list so we could build an Ubuntu-Blox Press from scratch. That same afternoon all the wood was cut and prepped for assembly of the Press the following day.
Day two introduced us to some Moabalonian volunteers. A handful of interested folks came out to our open workshop and assisted us in assembling the Press and final touch-up work like wood-filling and sanding the wooden machine. Because of the diligent help we received from volunteers on the second and third day, by our fourth day in Moab we had a little free time for a quick visit to Arches National Park. In Utah, you’re constantly surrounded by geological wonders. Visiting a National Park in the area is simply the cherry on top. Here at Upcycle Santa Fe, we’re sort of obsessed with the outdoors, and preservation of natural ecosystems; it goes hand-in-hand with our focus on plastic waste. Standing in awe of such natural beauty is always a reminder to keep doing the work and advocating for this gorgeous planet.
After a lovely afternoon at Arches, we returned to our workshop zone to once again invite the community of Moab to come witness the finished Press, and learn how to make Ubuntu-Blox. And, once again, the community of Moab showed up to share time with us, ask many intriguing questions, and to have their non-recyclable plastics upcycled. Within an hour of demonstrating, the community was well on their way to stuffing Ubuntu-Blox bags full of plastic waste, and compressing the bales that would be used to build an outdoor community bench during the following days of the workshop.
A bench build is the exciting third aspect of the grant proposal that was written. Not only was there an interest in supplying the city of Moab with an Ubuntu-Blox Press and teaching how to use it, but we wanted to teach how to build with it, as well. Moab-based community radio station KZMU generously offered a little chunk of their property for Upcycle Santa Fe and the Resiliency Hub to build this bench. The last days of the workshop had us hanging out at KZMU, enjoying the scenery, and talking on the radio!
The outdoor bench was built in a classic format for utilizing Ubuntu-Blox. We started with a rubble and rock base, then stacked the Ubuntu-Blox compressed by the Moab community on top. Next we caged in the Ubuntu-Blox with rebar, which would be covered with a beautiful red cob which had red Utah clay as its base. Because it was so darn cold outside – like highs in the 30s kind of cold – we used a concrete mixer to mix our batches of cob. Also, because it was so darn cold outside, the final layer for the bench which will seal it in from the weather elements will be applied this Spring, along with some warm desert sunshine. The bench you see below is almost finished, but not quite. The decorative, finishing touches will have to wait until the Spring.
It should again be noted the amazing turnout of volunteers at the KZMU bench building site. We were able to start the construction and get to an impressive finishing point in just a single day.
This project was ambitious, to say the least. Building a Press, teaching how to use it, and building a bench with the upcycled materials in a single week was quite the mission to take on, but we accomplished it because of genuine interest and help from the Moab community. Each day we invited volunteers, volunteers showed up. It’s because of this spirit we trust the Moabalonians will utilize Ubuntu technology to its fullest.
KZMU News reporter Molly Marcello conducted a series of interviews with locals and the KZMU staff about Upcycle Santa Fe’s visit, and our collaboration with two Moab based non-profits to make this project happen. Listen below to this lovely synopsis, if reading this article alone wasn’t quite enough for your curious mind.