Mudgirls Manifesto houses the future in sustainable optimism

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      People all around this battered planet are trying to imagine a future that doesn’t look like a guntower-lined outlet mall sinking into a tailings pond. But the Mudgirls Natural Building Collective, based here in the south coastal region of B.C., has gone a crucial step further, from imagination to action—intrepid, hammer-swinging action.

      Since the founding of the Mudgirls 10 years ago, the members of the all-women collective have been building homes for each other out of recycled materials and the wood, stone, and clay in the landscape around them.

      They pool resources, think like pioneers, and work from principles of consensus, barter, skill- and confidence-building, knowledge-sharing, and fun—an “applied activism”, as founder Jen Gobby puts it in the illustrated new book Mudgirls Manifesto: Handbuilt Homes, Handcrafted Lives, from New Society Publishers.

      They see their work as a hope-filled reply not just to waste and pollution, but to the “patriarchy, hierarchy, and capitalism” using up our species and environment. “This is the kind of activism,” Gobby writes in the book’s introduction, “that helps change the stories that we tell ourselves and each other about what we’re capable of.”

      The images below, all from Mudgirls Manifesto, will give you a sense of their high-spirited, hand-sculpted, wildly practical work.

      Clare and Alex's load-bearing, off-the-grid cob house.
      Clare Kenny
      Ray and Soozie's cob cabin.
      Auguste Mann
      Interior, Ray and Soozie's cob cabin.
      Auguste Mann
      Adam's cordwood and cob house, Lasqueti Island.
      Post and beam structure made from beach-salvaged timber.
      Custom kitchen built against curving cob walls.
      Molly Murphy
      Inlaid hydroponic pipes under an earthen floor.
      Constructing a wattle and daub wall with fresh willow.
      Brianna Walker
      Molly's house.