Sunday, February 28, 2010

conduit pipe!

I am still searching for some way to get the 1" conduit pipe I need donated. In the meantime, I am going to buy enough to make the first prototype with my own money.
Tomorrow I will be picking it up, my friend Jessi is letting me use her car. Yes, car. I'll just strap that shit on the roof. Gotta love ratchet straps.

I am going to be expanding my idea of a three person crew to maybe four so that I can include a Haitian person on the team to act as translator and liason.

I am looking at two orphanages to build domes at :

I am zero-ing in on the organizations I want to link up with.
The website got launched it is here: domes for haiti

I am still looking for space to fabricate the domes with. But I am feeling confidant that it can be done. I am absolutely obsessed with domes right now. I think they are the most amazing structures and there are so many varieties!!!

More earthquakes.... Chile...
Natural disasters are escalating. I am wondering when one is going to hit NYC
I really should put my canoe on the roof in case of flood. Right now it's locked up on the sidewalk in front of my apartment building covered in snow. Not going to do me or anyone alot of good if we get hit with a tsunami, unless i get some scuba diving gear.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I need a truck to move supplies. Who will help me ??

Friday, February 26, 2010

snow blizzard

Brooklyn is covered in white fluffy snow. It's awesome.

I got in a better space about the project yesterday after riding my bike in the snow and speaking with David at 3rd Ward. He had a good idea or two to kick around. I saw Travis and Shira and talking with them really helped too....I find the more people I talk to about it, the more it becomes a solid reality.

I am looking into pricing the project today. I looked at Habitat for Humanity's website and what they are sending as "emergency shelter relief" is ..... well.... you be the judge of it here is the link : Habitat 4 Humanity

If I can't get the conduit pipe for free, but use all volunteer labor and get a space for free, I can still build the domes for less than Habitat for Humanity's little box of duct tape, wire and plastic tarp rescue box. That means I can build semi permanent earthquake and hurricane resistant housing for 50 people for 2,500 bucks. Holy shit.

Why isn't Habitat doing this?

I am looking into utilizing space for fabrication of the covers at a place called the Bushwick Trailer Park. Also I am going to ask Jeremy and Jason at third ward if there is any space for it in any of their buildings....

Duncan canceled our filming today because of the snow.
I'm going to head over to the MTV studios later to bug George about the banners in the windows. They are closing their studios! I am also picking up about 100 pairs of yellow shoes from them. (random factoid)

Greg is almost finished with the website, it needs some tweeking. I have a paypal account on it but have to go to the bank to set up an account to receive the funds with. I already have people who want to contribute.

I am looking into finding a different non profit to serve as an umbrella, one that has more of a history of disaster relief. Any ideas are most welcome.

Thanks for reading this blog. Please feel free to comment

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Yesterday I was feeling totally up and positive about the project. Today I feel down about it.
I called a bunch of hardware stores to ask for donations of electrical conduit pipe and got zero results. Crest Hardware said they were "all Haiti-ed Out" ACE Hardware said no without even hearing one peep from me about what I was looking for donations for. Home Depot = no Lowes = no
A company called me up to offer to fabricate the domes at 2 dollars a foot. At a discount from 3 bucks. Wow, that's big of you, db. Thanks Mitch for giving me the heat welder so we dont have to pay anyone to make the dome covers for us. I am glad I have a gas mask, that shit is toxic.
I priced the conduit pipe today. To build 10 domes the pipe would cost 1,750$ plus tax. That does not include tax or nuts and bolts.
I looked on waste match dot org today, no conduit pipe. Freecycle the same. Build it Green stopped accepting conduit pipe because no one buys it? There must be a vast untapped source for this shit somewhere in NYC!

I need space to use to fabricate the domes in. For about a month.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Tomorrow I am going to go over to 3rd Ward and start to build the prototype with David. Friday I am being interviewed by Duncan at my studio and I am hoping to bring him to 3rd Ward to show him what I am working on. His video footage is going to be instrumental in creating interest in this project. He has agreed to come with me to Haiti as well. If it all goes well, I will come back and make more. Why not?
Also, I named the project "Domes for Haiti" but it could just as easily be "Domes for Sri Lanka" or Anyplace else in the world. I will keep the name as it is in honor of Haiti whose suffering is so huge that it hit me full force in the heart.

Everyone I mention this project too is getting excited about it. I think they are talking to their friends about it.

I am aware that many people want to help alleviate the suffering in Haiti, yet they do not know how to do it. I hope that I can give some people something they can do to actually help. It's totally grass roots.

So, I will have a website soon, but in the meantime, here is the partial wish list for the project:

343 10' sticks of 1" metal conduit pipe
260 bolts & nuts (3/8"x 2") (hex head)
520 flat washers (3/8")
100 5' sticks of rebar, bent in a hook shape to stake the domes down
red and white spray paint

170 yards of 20' wide vinyl
5 yards of 10' wide screen material
10 - 15 grommets per dome = 150 grommets
Bungee cords - 150
vinyl glue

optional: reflective tarps to hang inside ventilation windows in roof for causes of extreme heat ....

web site and shipping!!

I am so excited. This is becoming a reality. I knew this idea had a life of it's own.
I just got confirmation from the director of AFYA foundation that they can and will definitely 100% send the domes to Haiti in their containers. YES. This is what I was waiting for to know that this is going to become a reality. Thank You Danielle.

I bought a website name. It's nothing is there yet, but my friend G.O. said he would design it for me and host it. I am working on the logo right now.

holy shit, i just looked at a bunch of photos from Haiti and I am crying my face off because what I am seeing is so intense.

If I can help even 50 people by providing shelter that would mean so much to me.

heat welder

Who knew that vinyl was so hard to work with? I found out today that the Heat Welder Machine for melting the vinyl together costs like 20 grand or something....

Luckily, I called my old buddy Mitch who I used to work with and he just happens to have a small heat welder he is willing to give to me. It can weld 3ft at a time, the longest strip I will be welding is 8ft, so that should work because he said it is open on both sides. He will deliver it to me next week, so I am hoping that I can find an org that will let me use their space to fabricate the dome covers in. I need a space to have the fabric donations sent to as well.

It's amazing how much work just sending 10 domes to Haiti is proving to be.
Part of me just wants to buy a plane ticket and head down there and help someone else's organization, because it's so much easier. I just really want to do something to help.

It's alot of elements and they are all falling into place, I can see it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Where to begin.....

These domes are going to be pretty easy to make. We just need 343 10' sticks of 1" metal conduit pipe to start with....

I am going to start with making one prototype. A friend at 3rd Ward has said he will help me to figure out the jigs so that the metal struts are totally uniform. I found an online "Dome Calculator" which gives the precise measurements needed and on another website I found detailed instructions on how to build one as well as pdf files which contain patterns for the cover! Hot damn, gotta love the internet.

So far I've found a willing non-profit to serve as an umbrella organization for Domes for Haiti. It's called the Watershed Center. It's a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and environmental sustainability.

I've got my friend, the head carpenter at MTV's studios to promise me the banners that are in the windows when they take them down. I have also spoken to a guy at a scenic company up in Newburgh who liked the idea very much and is going to look into their surplus vinyl situation and get back to me tomorrow. I spoke with the owner of Pacific Domes, an old friend of mine, who encouraged me to do the project and told me that I'd need a "heat welder" because you cant sew vinyl and have it remain waterproof.

I found an organization called AFYA which has a warehouse in Yonkers which is shipping containers of supplies to Haiti every week. A source close to the company told me that they often have extra space in the containers. I think the domes might hitch hike to Haiti.

What else? I started working on the Project Proposal which lists the mission statement, the materials needed, the approximated cost of labor, travel expenses and tools needed.

I have never done anything quite like this before.

I have to thank Duncan, a fellow stage hand who sort of egged me on to do this. He has a video idea that he wants to make about the process from idea to completed project.

Everything begins somewhere.

I started thinking about building domes out of recycled materials one day while at work at the Hudson Theater in mid town Manhattan. I'm a stage hand, more specifically, a lighting person. We are called electricians, but that gets confusing when people ask me to wire up their home. I ain't that kind of electrician, though. It was an install for some corporate talent show and they had these giant vinyl backdrops that I knew were likely candidates for a dumpster after the show was struck. They would be sent back to the scenic company that made them and if they were not re-usable, they'd end up in the dumpster for sure. This is common place. The industry is set up in such a way that there is always a rush to strike the set and get rid of the "garbage" Most of this "garbage" is perfectly good reusable wood, plastic and fabric. However, no one has "time" to recycle it so most of it ends up in the land fill.

Building geodesic domes was on my mind alot because I used to live in one and was thinking about making another one to live in on land in Mexico. I had just returned from spending a month in QR, Mexico, dreaming of sustainable living structures.... But that is another story.

I was hit with one of those "holy shit" moments when I had the realization that there were probably enough vinyl backdrops and billboards in Manhattan to house at least 100,000 people. I imagined all the people in Haiti who lost their homes in the earthquake living in geodesic domes with corporate logos turned into a dada-esque pattern above their heads.

This idea wont leave me alone, so I've decided to make a small version of it happen.

My goal is to fabricate ten portable geodesic domes out of recycled vinyl from the theatrical and television industry and electrical conduit pipe as the frame and send them with a team of 3 people to Haiti to find 10 families who need shelter and teach them how to assemble the domes.

I have every reason to believe that this idea has a life of it's own. I believe that there are other people who will like this idea enough to add their big or small part to see it through to completion.

It's a small idea in the face of am enormous problem. It's small enough to chew on, though. Maybe it will grow over time because I have a suspicion that there maybe more disasters on their way....