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Fred, the Dumpster Diver

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I posted in Craigs List a few weeks ago about finding salvaged, usable materials for the Bitty.  I’ve gotten a few replies, but with life and business, it’s taken me a little while to reply to some.  One response, simply said, “call me”.   Nothing More.

Of course, I have no idea who I am calling, so there is an awkward silence when he picks up.  “Fred”.  “Yes.”

“Um, I’m the one building that tiny house….the one who posted on Craiglist…the one looking for stuff….”

“Oh, yes.  I know of some insulation.  Ductwork insulation” (I’m thinking….I’m really naive about building, but don’t want to sound naive…).  “Oh, yes.  I might be able to use that”,  I say.  Fast forward to later in the conversation when he asks again what exactly I’m building, “a tiny house”.   “What do you need ductwork for?”

“Can’t I just use the insulation?”, I say.  Some of you might find this funny, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly where one uses ductwork insulation.  Please enlighten me gently, if you know.

Yes.  I’m a novice.  I should just be more upfront about it.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  Well, I have a pretty good idea actually, but not so much practical know how to support those ideas YET.  It’s a little scary (and I’m totally UP for it) being a woman builder with little experience, taking on a project like this.  I just don’t want to be talked down to because I don’t know something and that happens all to often to women with things like building or mechanics.  I told my partner I wasn’t sure if I would let men on my volunteer crew (of course, I will…I have too many friends of the male gender that I want to share this experience with…AND, more practically, I want help, all I can get.)

But, I will #1 try to have my voice, be honest about my know how and lack of know how #2 ask people (especially men) with certain know-how to show me, but not “do it for me” #3 be compassionate towards all genders that we’ve learned certain ways of being in the world, and those ways take re-learning or un-learning in order to create different relationships and skills.

So, back to Fred and my phone call.  “Are you a contractor?”  I say.

“No.” pause.  “I’m a recycler”.  Curious.  I work on a massage client who is quite LITERALLY a recycler.  She has a little business that picks up trash, recycling, and compost (which she composts herself) from the mountain communities.  However, I don’t think Fred is quite doing it as a living but as a way of life.

“I see a lot.  All the time”.  He tells me.  Whenever he sees a roll off (dumpster at a building site, I infer), he looks inside.  Or doesn’t need to even look inside, because it’s contents are spilling over.  Just like the dumpster, by Chautaqua.  He saw the glint of the ductwork insulation from afar and went in closer for another look.  “Shame, it won’t be used”, he said.

Fred dumpster dives as a social political act, an act of conscience, an act of preservation of self and earth.  He didn’t say that.  That might be in part my projection, or my tendency to make simple acts that I think are super cool into heroic acts.  Fred is just a normal guy.

So, now Fred, the dumpster diver is on the look out for tiny (and larger) pieces of my bitty house.  What on earth would I do without Craigs List?  Thanks Craig.

(Check out the movie “The Gleaners and I”.  Amazing documentary of using the leftovers…)

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