by Ninette Warner
The “Muddy Buddy Builders” is a program for children and families, that teaches natural building in a fun and accessible way. Here, children can learn how to build small structures with local earthen material, play nature games, increase their relationship with the natural world, and form connections with each other. Kids love playing in the dirt, creating mud pies, and building forts. Through direct participation kids will develop this natural inclination to build with mud. They will learn to create actual model homes and villages, as well as other small structures; play houses, cob ovens, and whatever else the child can imagine. This knowledge is all applicable to real life, they will discover alternate ways of living, and building without using harmful manufactured materials. They can use this experience and knowledge to one day build their own home!
The activities at the Muddy Buddy Builders will strengthen confidence, leadership skills, encourage outdoor play, learn the importance of working together, and living in community. The days will be spent in construction; designing, learning about materials and techniques, preparing cob, building structures, and learning about natural finishes, as well as playing games of cooperation and nature games based on Joseph Cornell’s “Sharing Nature with Children.” Some basic yoga postures will be incorporated to balance our minds, get centered, and stretch out our cob muscles.
In today’s culture there is a huge emphasis on quick fixes, fast paced lives, and an educational system that has little focus on developing one’s creative problem solving, emotional well being, and critical thinking skills. Our children are taught that success is measured by the size of your house or how much money you make in a year. We gauge intelligence with standardized tests that focus primarily on how well one can memorize facts. In a society where our children are bombarded with various forms of technology, advertisements and media, there is a gross disconnect from nature and our place in it. Our world seems to be dominated by Facebook and other social media, and we have forgotten how to truly connect with one another.
I believe that it is of utmost importance that we foster social interaction by encouraging them to interact in a cooperative and overall positive way. Learning and experiencing sustainable living will do just that. Cooperation and interaction with both each other and our environment are inherent principles to sustainable living. Sustainable living is the attempt to reduce our dependency on Earth’s nonrenewable resources by living in community, using permaculture techniques, building with natural, earthen material and reducing our waste. This often means examining our lives and figuring out how to simplify. Building with our hands and with the resources we have available is a great way to learn how many things and how much space we actually need. Life becomes much more satisfying when we live more in tune with nature and with less focus on the material world.