Adobe building event Sunday, May 2

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 29, 2010 - 07:37:00 PM

If you want to get dirt under your fingernails in a productive cause, there’s an opportunity this weekend. 

It’s “Kassa-The First Annual Urban Adobe Festival”. A organization dedicated to building with natural materials—including Adobe brick—has put together the festive event, which includes food and music, to create a supply of adobe bricks for building projects later in the year. 

The event is sponsored by Vertical Clay, a “natural building company and school” based in the East Bay.  

Sunday’s event is modeled on age-old gatherings in West African villages. “Making adobes is something best done in a group, and a group is happier when there is music”, the organizers say on the Vertical Clay website.  

“The Malinke people know this better than anybody; kassa in their tradition is a ritual, very energetic, interchange between work and music…we are borrowing loosely from their tradition to throw an adobe party! Come help us celebrate.” 

Anyone is welcome to show up, says Sasha Rabin, one of the leaders of Vertical Clay. Children are welcome, and people can come for as short or as long as they wish. The activity is free. It runs from 12 noon to 5 pm on Sunday, May 2. 

The organizers suggest that people wear work clothes—it’s working by hand with clay, after all. Attendees are also encouraged to bring food to share. 

If you’re interested in going, the event is at 2314 Howe Street in Berkeley. Howe is a one block long street, running between Telegraph and Ellsworth in south central Berkeley. It enters the west side of Telegraph just north of Ashby. 

The activities will also connect through the back yard to the large Chevron service station parking lot at the northwest corner of Ashby and Telegraph. 

Vertical Clay does both building projects and teaches hands-on classes in the use of natural building materials—“adobe, cob, earthbag/superadobe, straw-clay, clay wattle, wattle-and-daub, earth and lime plasters, earthen floors, and certain kinds of bamboo and strawbale construction.”  

They’ve worked with the B-Tech Academy at Berkeley High School to build a cob oven. In El Sobrante they’re involved with “Villa Sobrante”, a project that is retrofitting a 1940s house with natural building techniques and experimenting with various construction techniques for outbuildings on the 1/3 acre property.  

Raw materials for the Berkeley event will come from El Sobrante. 

This is the First Annual building event. Will there be more? “Our idea is to continue the event every year in the East Bay at different sites,” Rabin says. 

This Sunday, says Rabin, they hope to construct about 300 building blocks. They’ll be earmarked for construction of a courtyard and garden wall at another site. 

See the Vertical Clay website for more about Sunday’s event, and about classes and on-going activities. 

You can also call (928) 243-2243 for more information, and see the Villa Sobrante blog.