halifaxearthtech: photo by Marlene Thyssen (Water)
Most of Halifax's weather in the autumn comes up the Eastern Seaboard from the Caribbean. Therefore it tends to be warm, low-pressure, and very very wet. Today is one of those, with a "heavy rainfall warning" in effect from Environment Canada.

I ran over to the first pile (well, I drove), to cover it with a tarp and found that the pile's volume has decreased by about a fifth. This could be because of settling, or compaction from the rain water, or it could be because the compost has gotten very hot and is losing volume to CO2. This would be the most desirable scenario. I've put the steel pipe back into the pile that I was using as a temperature probe, so we'll know soon.

The piles at location #2 have turned out to be very poorly situated, as the driveway is in a bit of a hollow and pools with water. I will have to find other places for them on the property and shovel the material there.

There has been a problem with people using enough sawdust. Most seem to think that the buckets are to be used as urinals and the signs are useless. This creates unfair burden of work on volunteers to mix the sawdust after the fact, and doesn't allow enough time for the sawdust to "soak". I'll try having the buckets filled with sawdust ahead of time by volunteers. If that doesn't work the project might have to fold due to a lack of adherence.
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
An interesting day at the camp:
self-organisation of humanure hauling is going quite well. I hear that city waste water treatment and environmental services visited the camp and were pleased with how clean it was. Crime levels have also gone down since the occupation began. In their well-meaning efforts they contributed disposable gloves and clear garbage bags for handling the compost. I've been calling volunteers to say that while this equipment is optional, it is certainly not necessary. On the upshot, city waste water did not go around arresting people or calling them names, or telling anyone else to arrest them. Yet.
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
Day 4 at Occupy NS was kind of epic; where nearly every system and individual had a breakdown, including myself, and I don't even live there! Part of last night was spent in consoling weeping friends. The General Meeting included a special subsection for the airing of grievances.

My grievances were not in fact any more serious than those from the first day. On the bright side, sawdust was being used appropriately and we were no longer carting sloshing buckets of straight-up urine. My one remaining volunteer and I were feeling burnt out, but members from the camp had taken transportation upon themselves. That having been said, I gather at the meeting it was brought up that it was unacceptable that kitchen staff should be taking on this responsibility as well, because of the risk of cross-contamination.

The upshot is that I will no longer be hauling, but will continue to try to secure future composting sites, donating a bike cart to the effort and organizing volunteers. I haven't been down there today yet but I hope that other systems will have been reforged into more sustainable forms, in terms of workability for the protesters.
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Joe Shneid of Louisville Kentucky, from Wikimedia Commons (Pattern)
Whew! I've been too busy to be able to post about this until now. I've slept for twelve hours last night, and spent the past 4 days contacting volunteers, gathering sawdust from some stumps that the city ground up and left in a happy coincidence, going to consensus-based leaderless meetings, and driving around at night in enormous pickups with some beautiful souls, picking up and transforming pallets.

We will probably be able to service 40 people a day. Onsite is a porto-booth made with pallet lumber and tarps. In the booth is a bucket with a seat, toilet paper, and another bucket with sawdust. There are signs explaining what people should do to use the apparatus. Outside the booth are two garbage bags of sawdust, more clean buckets with tight-fitting lids, and a pop bottle of hand sanitizer made with 2L of water and 3/8 tsp of chlorox bleach. I have four volunteers with bicycle carts including myself to show up every day and take filled buckets (with tight fitting lids) to composting sites (of which I have three, so far). At the sites are more (like ten) garbage bags filled with sawdust and carbon medium, which can also be bike-carted to the occupy site.

Police stood by in mild curiosity as we set up the booth and wrote "composting toilet" in marker on the tarp. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I was a bit trepidatius about unleashing this technology on Halifax in such a bold way without more grassroots support being in place first, but the temptation to teach up to 2 or 3 hundred receptive people was just too much for me! At the meetings the chair stumbled over what to call it "the eco-sanitation facilities?" "the eco outhouse?" "What about composting toilet?" I suggested. It made it into the minutes as "eco sanitation composting toilet".

I gave a workshop yesterday on humanure to those interested in the theory and a walkthrough on using it.

No pictures of the facilities yet! Pending! Pending!

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