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Netonia Yalte

Front view of stackwood house | Roy Yalte and Malcolm Hyatt on water reservoir |

Is there a connection between place and stackwall/cordwood masonry in your mind?

I read this Reader's Digest article, "How to Build Out of Rock," and thought I could probably do this but it would take years. When I flipped over the page from the rock instructions, there was stackwall. I thought anyone can do this. At the time I felt I needed mending and I needed a home. I love renewing and making things from old -- taking chunks of wood that were abandoned and building a home with them felt wonderful. I've been overseas and I've seen people build out of whatever is available. I really think we have such abundance around us and we're sloppy -- we overuse. We all want the finest; lots of money to have everything, and there is waste all around us. I built these two buildings for seven thousand dollars and a year of labor. I didn't want to use more resources, which is what money is. I wanted to be able to build economically. As I get more and more into stackwall I want other people to do this too. I am willing to assist in community building. There's all this "waste wood" laying around in the clear cuts that could be used and stackwall is affordable for folks that don't have a lot of money. They might be able to scrape together for land, but then they don't have anything left over for retail building materials. Stackwall just takes hard labor and a plan.

What are some of the things you've learned in the process; about yourself, or about architecture? Are there lessons -- metaphors?

Building my home was a wonderful sharing experience. People came to visit me. I didn't stop working, but it didn't stop me from visiting because everybody wanted to get their hands in the mud. It made me realize that there is a child in all of us just begging to get out and building this house was an excellent opportunity to do this. Office workers or hippies just loved getting their hands in the mud and getting their creativity in there. It was the first time in my life I learned to accept help readily without feeling guilty or in debt. People wanted to do it and they made it clear to me, they did it willingly, a lot of people helped here.

Simplicity is also a big thing for me. There is a fellow, Cole, that did a stackwall building recently on Maude lsland and he got it more simple than I did and I love it. Even though it is so labor intensive it makes me realize that it is possible for just about anyone to have a home made out of waste wood for a fraction of the expense. It gets you down to the very basics: stackwall even looks like it's growing right out of the earth. Using your body and doing whatever you are capable of doing with very simple tools without being dependent on the bank and the hardware store that's the metaphor. People are talked into the fact that you have to build square and you have to put nails in. There are those that can't free themselves of that notion. The possibilities are unlimited as to what shape you can make with stackwall; you could go circular, you could go any shape. When you feel like adding on you don't have to start a new building you just continue. It was easy for me to do stackwall, it's my love, it's my style.

I've been told that my job was to test the rules and that is what I feel I am doing living on the edge of this society, on the outskirts of town. We don't have to continue on the path that we have been taught as long as it isn't hurting anyone, not ripping anyone off. I think it's my job to spread the word that we have to break some rules before we can make a positive change in our society.


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