Question: I'm building an adobe art gallery, 20'x18'. The bricks are stabilized 7adobe dirt / 1sand / 1/2 cement, and they are very durable bricks. My location is a beautiful tract of land near Big Bend Nat'l Park, with a great view of the park. I've put up one course of adobes, and was thinking about putting on a workshop for putting up walls. How do I go about promoting this project?

Answer: Simone Swan hosts a workshop at her home in Presidio to demonstrate mud plastering. She has a talent for gathering people from great distances. I lack that talent. I do lots of classes on adobe construction but we usually just tackle a short wall and corner or intersection. We mostly spend our time demonstrating the several ways of putting up masonry walls and the fastest methods we know. Then I turn students loose to pursue their own projects. If they are nearby we go visit them as they progress and offer suggestions when appropriate. To get a building built that you own, you begin with students who have a slight if unspoken reserve that they are contributing to someone else's ultimate new worth. If you are 80 years old, widowed, blind or in a wheelchair they are less inclined to think like that. It also helps if there is some expertise to be shared with participants. That expertise usually comes somewhere around the third structure. There are some folks at Blue Rock Station in Ohio who seem unintimidated by their short term experience and have opened their first project to hundreds of children and thousands of adults to demonstrate alternative building systems - . Their website might offer insight into how they attract the multitudes.

Response: Thank you for your suggestion. I do know Simone's buildings. I've had some experience in adobe building, as you may see my work in the picture. A group is good, because its easier with multiple people, and they don't have to work so hard, and can learn so much. The fact that my building is an art gallery, they also will be able to revisit it, and show their friends something they worked on. I followed your web site recommendation to use cement as a mortar between the stabilized blocks. Here you see that I am attempting to get an old adobe look. And I do not plan to plaster over them.

Answer: After reviewing my response with my class, it was suggested that a good old-fashioned barn raising like the Amish, Presbyterians, Spanish, Farmers, Mennonites, Homesteaders, Baptists, Sinners, Seventh Day Adventists, Neighborhood Associations used to do. Actually, the Seventh Day Adventists still do it and people gather from all around to put up a new church. Perhaps Terlinguans would gather around a project for the sake of seeing a neighbor get a structure up.