Our first workshop happened yesterday, and it was well attended for the circumstances (of having so many families heading out of town for their last-weeks-of-school-vacation adventures), with 9 curious and wise people showing up to check out what Binikou has to offer.

Those of us who did show up and stuck around for a while definitely had a lot of fun and learned a few things, too.

I think the kids most enjoyed playing with the human powered blender while we made green smoothies, as they found a very useful way to express their energy!

A couple of participants even teamed up to measure the gearing ratios of the blender’s two different gear options.

And nearly everyone experimented with creating simple, portable structures as models for what we could use as traveling Binikou classrooms. Some were very practical, others were very exciting! None were strong enough to support a large canteloupe, though, because the materials weren’t attached together very strongly. Which let us know that we need something especially strong to attach the materials together if we want to make these structures more stable and useful as shelters (warmth). Or at least we know we need to use something stronger than foam playdough. :-) Ideally, we’d be able to get materials that are not only strong and portable, but that could also be reconfigured into all kinds of different shapes so that whenever we set up the structure on a site, we could let the participants decide whether we needed something practical (for warmth, for example, when it’s cold and/or rainy) or more expressive, for using more of our physical energy and artistic energy.

So, have you got any suggestions for how we could create some kind of giant, life size Tinkertoys or Knex or something which would be structurally sound enough to function as a temporary Binikou shelter and be open to building a variety of different kinds of shapes?

And over in the food category of solutions, the fresh cantaloupe from The Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm (which I picked up at the Union Square Farmer’s Market in the morning just before the workshop) made the most amazing fruit addition to the green smoothies! We added some spinach (also from Drumlin), local chard, and woodsorrel (from our household garden), all blended up with some frozen (non-local) bananas and blueberries.

The kids at the workshop were a little suspicious of the smoothies, which was a surprise to me, as I’d never met a kid who didn’t like smoothies. So now we know that we need to look for even more ways to use fresh greens that will appeal to people who aren’t smoothie fans. In brainstorming ways to get more greens into their diet, one amusing and collaborative suggestion was to make mint jelly donuts (using fresh green mint leaves)!

This was a more casual workshop, as people were showing up all at different times, as they just happened to be at the library and wanted to see what we were up to. Future workshops will hopefully have more of a schedule, so that we can really do some collaboration with everyone there at the same time, with lots of brainstorming and experimenting in teams, with the different roles being well represented.

All in all it was a nice way to kick off Binikou, and I look forward to it getting even better, once we get the website up (after we get the funding money that’s been donated in the Global Giving challenge). With the wiki~encyclopedia of solutions live and ready for contributions, we’ll be really ready for some global action!

Kunchok shows off his fanciful, spaceship inspired structure

Rui made his "globe of the universe" which I'd love to see as a large sculpture!

Yay for greens!  Yay for fresh, local kale!  Yay for heart-shaped wood sorrell!