Let’s talk about poop, and its potential for weaving relationship.
At Medicine Wheel (the collective house I lived in, during my two months at Earthaven), there are no flush toilets. Instead, there’s a bucket toilet inside the house, another one just outside the house, and a fifty-five-gallon drum toilet (I think the drum is that size – I never actually saw it) out in the garden. Uphill from the house, in the woods, stand a number of wire enclosures in which poop – mixed with sawdust and covered, layer by layer, in straw – becomes humanure. Eventually – after it’s completely broken down and all danger of pathogen-transmission has passed – it’s used as fertilizer.
I’d been aware of humanure for years, by the time I arrived at Medicine Wheel. Zendik Farm in Texas, I’d heard, had a humanure operation; the stewards of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, when I took my Permaculture Design Course there in 2006, were using humanure on their orchard. And, of course, it’s one of those things that comes up, in a theoretical kind of way, in many a discussion of how to reduce one’s footprint (buttprint?). So, when it came time to volunteer for house chores, back in April, I volunteered to become the Poo Czar’s apprentice.
Before taking on this role, I had not had much to do with the Poo Czar; we simply hadn’t clicked. Our first real conversation started with my asking him for a play-by-play of what to expect when I dumped my inaugural poo bucket. After that, we intermittently joked, shared tips, commiserated. One morning, when one of our housemates announced the bucket was full in the midst of my preparations for breakfast, the Poo Czar volunteered to take care of it, saying I shouldn’t have to mix poo-duty with food. For this, I was deeply grateful. Gradually, our poo-bond morphed into friendshit.