Newsletter

“And how was it?”

The Open House Days are over and everyone has recovered a bit. The ‘normal camp life’ at The Oak resumes its course. Boy, it takes a lot to organise such an event… But good it was (thanks to the help of many!), which can be seen from this small photo report.

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Robur at The Oak received a large oak disc for its inscription (see logo!)

Casual passers-by, neighbours, family and friends came to visit and enjoyed delicious pancakes …

For children, old and young, it was a paradise – with and without old traditional folk games.

There were all sorts of workshops (yoga, making dream catchers, origami, music, …) and a guided walk in the beautiful surroundings of The Oak.

The volunteers and the campers enjoyed a tasty world cuisine and the connecting Fireplace (where the Spirit of The Oak is the strongest :-)), sometimes with music.

Wood artist Jan van Berkel showed the two beautiful bowls/platters that you can win (see website).
And the continuous presentation in Robur…

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… was only interrupted on Saturday for the highlight of the weekend: a much enjoyed coffee concert by the internationally known violinist of ours, Jenny Spanoghe, who played compositions by Bach, Biber, Van Landeghem and others for an attentive audience of all ages.

Also writer Kirstin Vanlierde contributed (article in Flemish), thanks!

What did the open house days return? Many fine, connecting moments for young and old, a nearly perfect cooperation (organized within a month and a half!), pleasant chaos, neighbours and passers-by who got to know the project (better), and about 550 euros, enough to feed the international volunteers over the next two or three months.

And last but not least, a link (also only in Flemish) to something beautiful, Robur gets another present – because he is worth it!

Who’s next? 😀

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A small crowdfunding stunt?

No, we are not idle, and are eagerly looking for ways to continue to feed the volunteers who come from all over the world, young people who give their time and energy to help grow Robur. We are also very diligently looking for ways to continue to pay for the materials and working hours of the professionals.
Robur and our society are so worth it!

What do you think of this?

!!! For donations of 50 euros (NOT via the King Baudouin Foundation!),
starting on 20 April, 2018:

WIN A PRACTICAL ARTWORK!

THE FIRST 200 PEOPLE MAKING A 50 EURO DONATION CAN WIN A BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE ARTWORK (SHALLOW PLATTER, ALSO POSSIBLE WALL DECORATION) WORTH 250 EUROS, OR A FRUIT BOWL WORTH 200 EUROS.

Jan van Berkel, twee schalen

Artist (+ photos): Jan van Berkel, WoodenArt
The winners will of course be personally informed, and announced via the Facebook group “Robur at The Oak” and via the website.

On 12 May (open house weekend, see Calendar) the wood artist himself will be present, you can then see the platter and bowl, and ask questions!

 

YES, I DONATE 50 EUROS (or more) and may win an artwork!

 

I am sooooo curious who will win this platter and that bowl!

Of course I am very grateful if you spread this announcement far and wide and do a good word for Robur at The Oak…

Robur’s jacket

The past few weeks I have mainly worked on the English website. Many thanks to Vincent Iiyambo from New York and Helen Blow, British in Flanders, for all the help! I would never have succeeded without you.

Furthermore, after a reunion a group of (fomer) members of the former organisation For Mother Earth spontaneously started to organize a new reunion, this time at The Oak and with a lot of activities for the benefit of the project! We are planning an open house weekend (see Calendar)!
Come all, come, come, come! And bring family, friends, neighbors! Show that you love Robur at The Oak!

And another thing: you can now easily support Robur at The Oak by shopping online via Trooper. Through the right page, Robur at The Oak automatically receives a percentage of your purchase, without it costing you a penny extra! More than a hundred companies are bringing that about at Trooper, and there are quite big/well-known ones amongst them. Even trips and amusement parks are there. Take a look!

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On April 3 the new volunteer season started, with the help of some good friends and the happy arrival of the first foreign volunteers: Juan from Colombia and later also Gilda and Lili from Argentina. So mainly Spanish is spoken in the gypsy camp! And my urgent appeal to Worldpackers for chefs has a clear effect, which is very nice. The kitchen and the central Fire Place are the heart of life at The Oak – no Robur without Kitchen and Fire Place!

And then there he came… Faramir, FOG Woodwork, Drawings and More. A real artist! And Aragorn, his brother. Really. They came to shape the hobbit house along with their friends Sam and Rens. What a great week that was! And Robur, he got his jacket! I now let the pictures speak…

 

P1000852 - Overzicht
Overview
P1000861 - Aragorn, Rens, Sam, Faramir - even afstand nemen en KIJKEN
Aragorn, Rens, Sam, Faramir – let’s take a distance and LOOK
P1000903 - De oostkant is grotendeels klaar!
The east side is largely finished!
P1000905 - De aankondiging van het opendeurweekend
The announcement of the open house weekend

And today we took care of the maintenance of the reed.

P1000922 - Gilda en Lili (Argentinië) helpen met het onderhoud van het rietveld
Gilda and Lili (Argentina) helping with the maintenance of the reed

So nice, such a growth leap of Robur!

 

 

 

 

 

Hibernation and subcutaneous bubbling

In the second half of Robur’s hibernation I like to give you a look behind the scenes, because just as with another Oak, everything happens deep inside, in secret, during the outer period of rest. But first some…

… images of what has happened at The Oak since mid-November.

The most important was the installation of the geothermal heat pump. This happened in two phases: drilling the well on 24 November, and the actual placement of the pump a few weeks later, each time in two days.

Drilling for the pipe

Putting in the double pipe

Enter the pipe in the technical room

Placing the heat pump

In mid-December came the first serious winter prick

… and I spent a few days on extra protection against heavy snow, from the tarps over the infrastructure, because some of them had already been damaged.

Fortunately the storms have done no significant damage so far!

And so Robur and The Oak went into hibernation…

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Meanwhile behind the scenes…

… the administration and formalities of the non-profit organisation are updated and followed up, such as the preparation of the General Assembly (bills and budget, state of affairs, prospects, …), the tracking of volunteer platforms and lists of volunteers and sponsors, sorting out possibly interested professionals, etc.
Making an English version of the website, together with a new fundraising video, is the basis of the fundraising campaign that is in full swing, because this year will be the ‘year of truth’: will Robur be completed? My personal savings are now as good as in the project (still a few invoices and it’s finished) and I have no income. Strangely enough, I firmly believe that everything will be there, at the right time, to really make Robur happen! It feels like the whole Universe is conspiring to make that happen. And IF I were going to doubt, something always shows up so I can go on again with good courage!
For example, since February 8 you can find “Robur op Den Eik vzw” at goededoelen.be (only in Belgium’s three official languages: Flemish/Dutch, Walloon/French, and German), a website of the King Baudouin Foundation. Robur at The Oak is now officially recognised as a reliable ‘charity’, where your gift ends up well!
In the meantime, a file has been drawn up in which the non-profit association is applying for a temporary project account with the King Baudouin Foundation. That would mean that donations from € 40 (in Belgium) are tax deductible. But whether Robur at The Oak meets ALL (strict) conditions, we still have to wait and see…

Fingers crossed!

 

Intensly grateful – and surprised

DSC04931 - 2017-10-31, The volunteers in this period

Due to the hustle and bustle in my inside and the outside world I have not posted anything for about two months, so now follows a comprehensive report on the progress at The Oak. From now on, more photos will be processed in this blog, because I want to use this public website for more than the closed Facebook group (where unfortunately a whole album has disappeared due to a mistake, with the only photos left after a computer crash).

How can I feel anything other than grateful for, and surprised by, the past period?  Tell me that once you have read this report!

Young volunteers from everywhere – from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, the USA, Venezuela, Mexico, Saudi Arabia – have volunteered to help build the dream of Robur at The Oak. They gave me more than just their time, energy and work – they were also ‘my children’ (they are all younger than my own children!) And they give me hope for the future of humanity and our planet.

In addition to ensuring sufficient accommodation for so many people – at the beginning of November there were eight helpers at once! – we were mainly occupied with the preparation and laying of the natural coating of the floor (screed), which consisted of sand (partly local, from the heath), lime, tras, water and a mineral additive. Pure and natural!

But before that, the rest of the half tree trunks were placed against the walls, because they would be worked on in the screed, and the company – who would come to install the heat pump already in December, due to a change in the planning! – laid the floor heating. That was nice to see, that system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 30 October we started chapping. That is not quickly done, it took a week. Yet it was so special that we all do that, none of us has ever built, we are learning it in the process… Luckily Wolf Jordan showed us how to do that.

 

 

 

 

In between, we also took time to relax too, for example a day trip to Antwerp, because most of the volunteers had never been to Belgium. And we ate in the neighbouring village of Beerse – traditional real French (actually Belgian) fries from a paper cone! Of course we drank Belgian beer and ate Belgian chocolate. That’s just a must. 🙂

2017-11-03 Belgian fries in Beerse(Photo: Feras Alsaggaf)

After the chapping, gradually a number of helpers left, and those who stayed on helped fill the walls with hempcrete, something that will continue for a long time after the winter. There is still a lot of work to be done there… nice and meditative, because that is very slow, we do everything manually. You are in nature and you work with your hands, at your own pace, on a human scale. That is connection!

 

 

On November 15 the last volunteer left, he had stayed for a while month.

And that is how I am now alone at The Oak for a while. I will stay a bit longer than planned, because we have entered the wet season, and the hempcrete dries too slowly, both the walls and the floor. And as is often the case with (construction) projects that have been delayed, a kind of domino effect has arisen, which is fascinating to see – and gives me the feeling that everything is right and will finally land on its feet. This delay in June, for example, has ensured that more volunteers are needed – with more possibilities for fantastic experiences for many more people (see also previous post); more (external) infrastructure – which can also be used later; and now also the decision to have the heat pump, which I had planned as an option for later, because of the high cost, will have to be placed quickly.
Benefits:
– the floor and walls can dry better with the heat pump that can run very gently all winter;
– the people who are going to use Robur and find the extra care for a rocket mass heater too much (after all, if they have a burn-out, or want to concentrate fully on their creative project, a simple system is better), will have a comfortable life in a fully ecological fashion;
– the space will always be pleasant, even if it has not been rented out for a while;
– the construction of the rocket mass heater (in the form of a workshop!) is less urgent and can be prepared more calmly.
Cons:
– the savings will now be depleted even faster;
– the already installed solar water heater has to go, because the heat pump takes care of both the heating and the hot water, and the two appliances together don’t fit in the technical room… Interested? Or do you know someone with interest? Bidding is possible until 6 December, via 2dehands.be:

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Before I leave The Oak again for a while in his hibernation, much remains to be done. A few things still want finishing before the winter, and I would rather not see the gypsy camp collapse in a severe winter spell of cold weather.

For me, everything just continues in the winter. The non-profit organization will be a year old in February and administratively there will be a few jobs to do that I didn’t have time for. My savings will be used up and I have no income besides of some gifts (which I am eternally grateful for), so the fundraising needs an extra boost. Since I have never done anything like this, all help and tips are welcome!

And so we go into the winter gratefully, to get new energy for the next construction season, because realising a dream takes time; it can go fast, but also grow as slowly and robustly as an Oak…

Fast call!

NEEDED AT THE OAK FROM 9 OCTOBER

– lots of blankets, duvets (also duvet covers), mattresses, sleeping bags, in short, everything you can use for a warm bed and what possibly (temporarily or permanently) can serve as ‘insulation’ for a garden shed – for my volunteers in October-November;

a lot of help from 10th October on, especially that first week: we will then build a garden house: making a foundation, treating the wood, laying the floor, building a house, decorating… and all that in one week…

URGENT REQUEST FOR THE LOAN OF: extra tools, especially electrical screwdrivers and associated bits; three fans and extension cables for the drying of Robur.

IF YOU CAN HELP, PLEASE CONTACT VIA PERSONAL MESSAGE, E-MAIL, SKYPE, … AND ALWAYS THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!

Why Robur grows so slowly …

DSC03773 - 2017-09-04, Floor insulation, hempcrete with sand and trass

These past weeks we have worked very hard to get the floor insulation (15 cm trass hempcrete) ready in time. And thanks to the efforts of many people, that has been achieved in the nick of time! Especially Wolf, Mark and his cool children, Jahkob (14) and Maria (12), Tony, Gaby, and not least João from Brazil made that possible. And it was exciting… because sometimes we were short of an ingredient: after all, there was an amazing amount of material needed for each wall or floor. And it takes a very long time to build a small piece…

Working with hempcrete is as time consuming and labour intensive as it is satisfying. It is actually a beautiful material, with exceptional and mysterious qualities (expert Wolf can tell you about it!). And I feel almost privileged that I can and may use that for the construction of Robur. I am of course very curious about how it will behave when Robur is ready, and available!

In the meantime Plumber Greg has placed the final toilet and the clock in the shower. The toilet is already usable, even if it is not finished yet! Very nice, a real toilet for all those fantastic helpers … and for the reed field – that will gradually get some more food. 🙂

DSC03787 - 2017-09-07 ... and I forgot to take a picture when the toilet was done... Will do that later!

There is still a lot of work for Robur. Completion this year, as I had hoped for in the fundraising film (made in the early spring), is no longer possible.
But that has its reasons … I have found that THANKS to not getting it done during the May-June workshop, Robur at The Oak is much more capable of doing what he is creating himself for! Because, thanks to the enormous backlog, I had to appeal to young, international volunteers, who are always just in time and at the same time gain a unique life experience, while they become part of this wonderful project. Isn’t that healing and connecting? Precisely what Robur is all about.

EAnd it does me a lot of good to experience that.
Because alone you cannot do something like that.
I can continue to trust: Robur at The Oak will always receive the help he needs to be able to manifest himself, while ‘healing’ many. Help from many, for many. Until he is no longer needed! That’s how he wanted it from the beginning – and that’s how it turns out.

With all that, can one but feel lifted, carried and grateful if she is allowed to be ‘hands and feet’ for such a project?

DSC03780 - 2017-09-06, Floor insulation almost done

(See many more photos and videos in the Facebook group Robur at The Oak)