Paul, Jocelyn, Rick, Sam, and the gappers sit down after their thanksgiving meal to chat. First everyone introduces themselves, and then Paul starts by talking about how amazing it is that they got the land and how it directly involved the gift economy. He talks about where he was at a few years ago compared to now and then he speaks about the process of how he actually paid for the land. This involved several people basically funding him and so he is thanking them by asking them what they want to hear a podcast about!
He talks about how thankful he is for all of this happening. They call the people who funded him the jetpack people. The first jetpack person wanted to hear how the project has had a positive effect on the gappers. Jesse talks about how it has really made him appreciate hard work and how it just really teaches about you things about yourself and he has really grown in that space.
Paul talks about how they thought they could get the wofati 10×10 done before the ground froze but the spot where it was going in had tons of rocks. They ended up realizing it is not going to happen so they put that project away for now. They then talk about the Tim challenge which basically consists of a gapper working 100 hours a week being Tim’s assistant and so Jesse describes his experience with that for a bit.
They talk about how they did get the umbrella on wofati 0.7 but it was really cold so the mass is not heated up. The earth was wet and so the lowest temp in the wofati got down to 32 degrees fahrenheit so that was a bit too cold so they moved everyone out of that one and they are going to put a rocket mass heater in it and hopefully get people back in it in a few weeks.
They move back to discussing the gappers experiences and Olenka mentions that being in a place where permaculture is the norm is such an amazing thing. She talks about how not having to worry about constantly defending her values and just be accepted is such a comforting thing. She also talks about living with a rocket mass heater and the symbiosis of living with her heat source in the tipi is a powerful thing. Derek, the other tipi dweller talks about how life in the tipi is amazing and there is no evidence of cow poop in smell or vision and it has made him very aware of and thankful for simple amenities like water because they have to haul it up if they want it.
Next Sophia talks about the spoon she made and how she wanted to actually learn practical skills and feel the cob and instead of just reading about it. She is currently trying to make a bowl for a side project but has to go home to Sweden soon. Paul then talks about PEP1 a little bit and explains how the idea came about and how it works with the badges and the belts within each badge. He says that basically they want it to be a level of richness that will take the average person 3 years. It wouldn’t be something where they would have to come here and do it, you could self certify or ignore it. It would be roughly 300 tasks that a person has completed and then the last two big things for the very end would be to build a wofati by yourself and lived in it for one winter and grow enough food feed four people.
Jocelyn mentions the opportunity for gappers, that they may be able to get some land to play with if they stay for longer than four months. She also notes that Emily and Tony, the previous tipi dwellers, were able to move on with several offers where they could go manage and live just that had to do largely with their time spent at Wheaton Labs.
They switch gears a bit and talk about how hopefully next year they won’t have to fire up the rocket mass heater in the wofati 0.7. They will declare it a success when no fire wood was used for the year. He talks about how keeping the shop clean has been a problem and how they have to keep it strict with the rule of 15 which means that if you leave something out and then you think you’ll just come back and clean it then it impedes on the other 15 people. It is also hard to get everyone to help with household chores when they have been working super hard all day at the labs. Paul talks a bit about the bee hut and how they put straw around it for the winter.
Some of the gappers wanted to emphasize how amazing it is to work in a group like this is, and facing challenges as a group without one of the central leaders ends up being very powerful and effective. They talk about their giant compost pile of dominantly saw dust with a coil going through it that now has a u shaped platform so people can pee on the pile now. They talk about building submarine access road to get soil up to the labs because it is super rocky up there. Also, Paul does mention that whole lab is dry. There is no creek, no spring but they will use permaculture to introduce a creek.
Rick talks about the projects and how people idealize this sort of work. It is not as easy as people think It is a hell of a lot of work to get the most basic things done. When you rent a house it is hard to appreciate the plumbing, the heating, the insulation, all that stuff. They talk about how the big thing people are loving about Wheaton Labs is MEETING PEOPLE and getting to know more people with similar values as themselves. Paul makes a general statement about gappers that they felt a sense of disconnect and then when they came here and they found some very serious substance and it was the connection to life they were looking for.
Jocelyn gets asked a question about how she is coping and she talks about that for a bit and she says how she is learning to take time for herself and trying to transition out of doing accounting.Paul talks about how he is going to introduce water with wells and planting tap rooted trees. One of the Jetpackers asks a question about bees. Paul advises to let some colonies die because they aren’t that strong and to get local bees from a beekeeper who cares about these kinds of principals.
Jesse talks a bit more about how being here speeds up learning a ton compared to trying to learn behind a text book. Then they talk about gapper love and how it shows that thousands of people are loving what they are doing and it shows that they are making a positive impact on people. People thrive on the gappers posts. Rick finishes up by talking about how he is so glad to be living for something he cares about and Paul mentions the bunk room will be empty so if anybody wants to come play in the winter in Montana, that option is available!
Credit: Cassie Langstraat