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JOHNSON // 2005
An influential Navajo man, friend of U.S. Senators and the like, and the first Native American to be elected county commissioner, visited the Rosie Joe house site during its construction and asked, after he’d asked about the health of Ken (Ken Sleight, upon whom Edward Abbey had adapted Seldom Seen Smith in the Monkey Wrench gang), as if we Anglos all constantly hung out, “Where are all the Navajos?” I agreed; I’ve always embraced the “teach a man to fish” concept of aid. So Brian Johnson and his family (and extended family of promised professional carpenters and other trades) were selected on that basis. We saw Brian on an occasional basis when he shuffled over in the afternoon in his slippers -- he worked the graveyard shift. A cousin of his showed up for half a day for some supervision, and that was about it.
The kids and their mother, Rebecca, were wonderful, however, and ran from the school bus straight to the site, not passing Go, and they played with us relentlessly. When the earth plastering over straw bales began, the scene became wild with enthusiasm. Some big bad thing blew the house down part way through -- this site was the windiest of them all.
Much was learned: the roof, its trusses and the carport are true innovations, as was cutting up and reattaching cheap plastic snow sleds to chute concrete mixed by hand. The family still waits for power and water - Brian wants old-fangled utility, was disappointed that we used no sheetrock, and hasn’t yet moved his family the couple hundred yards from their dilapidated shack. We scratch our heads, have great civil dialogue, but know not yet what to do.
- Lime and Sand Exterior Plaster Wall
- Straw Bale Wall
- Natural Plaster Interior Wall
- Gabion Cage Car Port