Back in November, I found out from a friend that there was an earthship being built in north-Philadelphia. It turns out that it wasn't exactly an earthship (doesn't follow all the earthship design principles), but an earthship-inspired structure which was being built on a vacant lot to serve as a teaching space for children in the area. If you're unfamiliar, an earthship is a structure built from recycled materials that uses natural systems to light, heat, and insulate the building. Wikipedia has a nice description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship.
Philadelphia has had lots of funding troubles with the public education system recently, and some locals wanted to build a space where they could teach local kids about gardening and self-sufficiency. They were also working on creating a community garden in the lot. It was pretty awesome.
My girlfriend and I got to the site eager to help. We were greeted with smiles, and put to work mixing concrete, and filling it into the gaps between stacked tires. They had already pounded dirt into the tires, and stacked them in a circle to create the foundation for the structure. The wooden frame for the windows and roof was being constructed while we placed the concrete. A lot of the people volunteering were from the local community, and many just came from around the city to volunteer. It was really great seeing people enthusiastic about working towards a common goal of creating a better community, without expecting anything in return. Here's some pictures of the progress made over the winter.
I haven't had a chance to get back to help on any of the work days since then, but I want to give a huge shout out to all who were involved that day (many of whom are still working on this project): Tommy Joshua, Elissa Millman, Greg Alden, Benjamin Schmitt, Matt Bennett, Evgeny Pogorolev, Lana Kaminker, Bonzai Holmes, Dusty Hinz, Maaman Rezaee, Brian Mungavin, and anyone else that was there that may not have met, and anyone who helped out with any of the other work days that I couldn't make it to!
Here's the facebook page for the park where you can find out about future work days, and get involved with this awesome project: https://www.facebook.com/NorthPhillyPeacePark