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Mudgirls Manifesto (PDF)
Handbuilt Homes, Handcrafted Lives
In the face of widespread burnout and a world gone crazy, how do we find things to say "yes" to, rather than a resounding "no"?
On North America's West Coast, there's a group of rebel women who ten years ago chose to break free from a rigged economic and social system. They didn't take to the streets to lobby banks and governments to change their ways — they didn't have time for that. They had babies to feed and house. They reckoned that if nobody else was going to change the rules to support basic human needs and respect the biosphere, then we are all free to make our own rules.
They chose action. They decided to teach themselves how to build houses using the most abundant material on earth — mud. They'd learn by building, gathering skills and allies. They'd have fun, sharing whatever they learned with whoever wanted to come along for the ride. The Mudgirls revolution was born.
Part story of rebel women, grassroots self-governance, and community-building, part incendiary political and economic tract, and part practical guide to building natural homes for real people. Mudgirls Manifesto is about respecting the earth, each other, and crafting meaningful lives.
A powerful, positive antidote to troubled times.
The Mudgirls is an all-women's natural building collective that formed in 2007 in coastal British Columbia. Founded on the principle of self-empowerment, they champion the use of natural, local, and salvaged materials, human-scaled DIY solutions, inclusiveness, support for mothers, care for children, and fun. They build things and offer workshops that empower people to take back the right to provide themselves with shelter. The Mudgirls have collaborated with over 50 clients and more than 600 workshop participants from all over the world, forging alliances and honing the skills to build homes. Find out more at mudgirls.ca.
"We have hit a wall. In the Anthropocene, humanity's collective impact on the biosphere undermines the very things that keep us alive — clean air, water, soil, and biodiversity. We need a revolution away from the corporate-political prioritization of the economy. Mudgirls Manifesto is a glimpse of the way we all have to go — build community with shared values and purpose, learn new skills and have fun doing it, don't be cowed by experts, accept that hard work and healthy bodies go hand-in-hand, and be confident knowing this is what must be done."
"It is easy to forget, especially at the end of the day after trowelling smooth another lumpy wall or sifting yet another wheelbarrow of clay, the larger story behind the screen that keeps one caring, hopeful, and inspired. The Mudgirls Manifesto reminded me of that story — my story, our story; as women, mothers, and sisters we have the power to come together to build a world in which we full-heartedly belong as equals, sculpting every inch of our lives with all the beauty and integrity we so crave — one bale, one bucket of mud at a time."
Athena Steen, co-author, The Straw Bale House
"As a natural builder, I couldn't agree more to the tenets laid out in this book. Community, claiming the right to create our own shelter, the freedom to make our own choices — bring out the "new normal" — all this is very much at the core of the natural building movement. Let's not lose sight of this as natural building materials and techniques inch their way into commercial construction. This book speaks from my heart and clearly re-inspires my work ethics. But there's more: an organizational structure that is at the core inclusive and non-hierarchical and it works! Wonderfully woven and written in an engaged, lively voice, it awakens my passion for working with women's wisdom. Let it sink in — there are many levels of activism at work here. And once you get it … join this revolution. It's better for all of us."
Elke Cole, Mudwoman and natural building consultant
"This is a wonderful and inspiring and heartfelt book by a bunch of women who have taken a good measure of their lives into their own hands. These women are broadcasting their independent philosophy from British Columbia, but it's going to inspire girls and women all over the world. Why not build it myself? Why not use natural materials? Why not now."
Lloyd Kahn, author, Shelter and Builders of the Pacific Coast
"For women wishing they could own a deliciously designed, custom-made dwelling they can actually afford, this is the book for you. For groups wanting to empower themselves with methods that bring joy (and success) to community organizing: ditto. For those of us trying to figure out how to reverse the direction of a society that's become increasingly greedy, techno-restrictive, and oppressive — guess what? It's all here. Incredibly engagingly written, with every contingency addressed — from what to do about the group power-freak to how to make starch paste. Talk about multi-tasking — there has never been a book quite like this. I'm enormously cheered up, and you will be too."
Holly Dressel, co-author with David Suzuki, Good News for a Change, More Good News, and From Naked Ape to Superspecies
"It is so heartening to read the Mudgirls' story in these times of environmental collapse, increasing poverty, and overwhelming confusion. The Mudgirls are making homes that are gentle on the environment, enriching the lives of inhabitants and builders while encouraging community spirit. On top of all that, they are — lucky for us — sharing the experience with us in this upliftingly honest tale. Thank you."
Becky Bee, author, The Cob Builders Handbook
"I am an admirer of the Mudgirls, for their incredible, creative natural building work, and even more their revolutionary village-building and social justice vision. They are full-spectrum builders of what matters most. In fact, I wish that I, too, could be a Mudgirl. For those of you who feel as I do, there is now a book that will help us join the cause. I hope your hands are muddy as you hold this copy of the Mudgirls Manifesto."
Mark Lakeman, co-founder, City Repair and the Village Building Convergence
"Stories inspire us to start our days, to live bigger lives, to build houses, to raise healthy children. Stories are important for our development. Mudgirls Manifesto is full of stories, stories that inspire new ways to live. The stories of free childcare at jobsites were revolutionary and inspiring for me. Not only do the Mudgirls inspire with their stories, they share their technological experience with natural building materials, tools, and client relations. Thank you."
Sukita Reay Crimmel, a Mudgirl in Portland, Oregon, and author, Earthen Floors
"Wow, if only this book was around when I was getting started! As a woman and as a long-time natural builder, this book is invaluable for any woman interested in the craft of Earth-centered building! It is a wonderful testament to what could be, what should be, and hells bells, what will be! They have woven the gritty truth of being a woman builder with how to do it in a supportive and nurturing, exemplary way, all with a much-needed declaration to smashing capitalism! My hope is that this book sparks a revolution of Mudgirls everywhere."
Lydia Doleman, author, Essential Light Straw Clay Construction