Going Against the Grain

The ReBuilding Exchange, one of my places of employment, has a DIY fest, called Going Against the Grain, every year.  This past Sunday, a laundry list of hands-on crafters, improvisers, builders, and designers descended on the warehouse, fueled by the folks at New Belgium brewers.  So, like the good little green citizens that we are, we biked over a little after noon, skies threatening overhead.

The amount of bikes there was kind of out of control.
The lady and I, and some good friends, gathered much information on our nascent, studio-apartment-sized experiments in homesteading, home-brewing, bread baking, furniture building, and food growing.  Unfortunately, we don't have room for chickens just yet, but all in due time . . .

Right as we walked in, there was a badass rickshaw contraption by Alex Gartelmann and Jonas Sebura.  

Puts a regular 'ol Harley to shame.

I don't know if it runs . . .
Right next to the rickshaw was another (formerly) mobile seating device by yours truly.

Doubles as a sled.
Next, we got into some beer from the good folks at New Belgium, trying out their new spring seasonal, Shift.  

Tallboys.  Taking me back to 'bama.
In the north warehouse, there were a ton of booths.  We started at Urban Worm Girl, with her home vermiculture kits, keeping the smell and mess neatly contained in little compost bins that can live right on the countertop.  

Also good for extra protein if you don't have space to keep chickens.
Just around the corner, there was a representative from the Chicago School of Shoemaking.  A series of pieces was laid out, illustrating the process from pattern to cut leather to finished boot.  Unfortunately, classes cost $800, but hey, you get a pair of handmade boots and all the studio time you can handle out of it.  

Ready to take on The Man, one boot at a time.
Down the row from there, we ran into a bookmaking workshop, something we've both tackled over the years.  They had a nice little blank book made from old disks.  It was awkward taking pictures with my iPad.  

Mmmmm.  I can smell the anachronism. 
Partying like it's 1999.
Round the bend, we finally got to the chickens, bitey little bastards that they are.  They seemed less than thrilled to be in their cage, poked and leered at, but hey, it's a tough life being the poster chickens for a whole movement.  

Lose a finger and you won't be able to rock that iPad.
Seneca Kern, an old friend of the ReBuilding Exchange was there with his organization, We Farm America.  In addition to a remarkable living banner, he was showing off their ingenious self-watering planters, made sustainably from old nesting five-gallon pails and bamboo.

They sewed pockets of growing medium into canvas, then planted grass.
Add water periodically through the bamboo pipe to fill the bottom bucket, which acts as a reservoir for the top bucket.  Moisture wicks up through to soil to continuously feed the plants.
And then there were bees.  Sweet, delicious bees, trapped in their demonstration hive like a living swarm of the apocalypse.  Much has been written about colony collapse disorder, which threatens North America's main pollinators.  Bringing bees back to the city encourages pollination and fruiting of wild urban trees.

A grim future indeed.
It's like an ant farm, but sting-ier.
There was much more -- bread baking, pickling, canning, homemade soap, bike accessories, woodshop tours -- but damn, sometimes a fella just needs a boss Cuban sandwich to get through the day.  

Food truckin.'