By Eilise Gancarz-Davies, Fall 2020 intern.
I came to Moab expecting something incredible and have been riding that wave since I got here. My curiosity about Community Rebuilds was peaked a few years ago while my close friend was thriving in the internship. She spent hours on the phone gushing to me about the stimulating learning, glorious environment, sparkling friendships and everything else she was basking in under this blazing sun. I was wholly captivated through every minute of each call and every line of her letters.
Before coming to CR, I had been teaching earth science to fourth graders through immersive learning explorations. Much of my time with the kids was spent engaging them in the natural world through all of their senses. Their joy, laughter, and growth taught me that the world as a whole is more stimulating and exciting when we use all of our tools to connect to it.
My senses have been tingling since we arrived in early August and I am continuing to find new and refreshing experiences to revel in. Emerging out of the damp stillness that had been my covid experience back home in Louisiana, I have been completely overwhelmed in the best of ways by the textures, hues, aromas, and tones of this new environment both on and off site.
Through our builds, I’ve learned that earthen plaster is kind of a magical substance. It smells like crushed bark mixed with rain falling in a wheat field and feels like a tacky dough ball filled with straw, that will just as soon marry itself to a wall or your hand as it will promptly face dive off and splatter on the floor. At each stage of plastering, the ingredients become more refined and begin to feel and smell different, though they all start to give off a strong cow dung odor after a day or two. The mixing process is especially thrilling with finish plasters when we get to concoct color combinations using pigments that bring a brilliance to the same materials we’ve been using and appreciating for months. Here we don’t add any straw or shredded paper, and use pre-sifted, super fine sand and clay to get a creamy, buttery spread that we shmear on the walls.