Hello Everyone Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy New Year! At last, after periods of intense activity, pandemic restrictions, unexpected challenges and extreme weather here’s how we have been getting on renewing the dome. We started in early Summer with great enthusiasm and, of necessity, working in very small groups to protect our volunteers from covid. Darren Ray and I ran 13 workshop sessions teaching some basic skills followed by practical application repairing triangles that make up the dome. Over 20 volunteers participated ranging in age from young adults to volunteers in their mid 70s. Andy Webster - a co-creator of the dome - joined us for a weekend and together with Darren told the story of how they came to build a geodesic dome, the influence of Buckminster Fuller’s ideas, the creation of Drop City shelters made from recycled materials and the relevance of this today. There was also input on the construction, geometry and physics of the dome - with explanations of hexagons and pentagons refiring long dormant neurons for some or new revelations for others! Discussions about fixing or replacing broken triangles were followed by learning some basic carpentry skills, how to use various hand tools and 3 electric saws. At this stage an added advantage of having very small groups each session shone through - the opportunity to learn and grow in confidence often with 1 to 1 support. Darren was a great mentor - clear, patient and always looking for new ways to demonstrate or explain if someone was not grasping an idea. It was great seeing people of all ages learning and working together - everything from using a hammer drill for the first time to overcoming a fear of electric saws then taking joy in “ripping” wood safely and with purpose. All done geared up with goggles, gloves, ear defenders and masks. We repaired, remade and covered many panels and fitted a frame and recycled door and made some windows. After that the biggest challenge - to make all the joints watertight. Various ideas were explored, some messy, some very laborious and others just plain ineffective in the extremes of weather. There were many joints, some over the top of the 3m high dome, so progress was slow and careful. When Autumn rains and winds started we downed tools and wrapped the dome in tarps to hibernate for the winter. Then came Omicron, more lockdown restrictions and the effect of 2 years of pandemic saw many volunteers had suffered healthwise with covid now spreading and long covid affecting many. The late Winter weather brought massive storms, high winds and oceans of rain. Flying debris tore through a couple of old material covered panels allowing water in making the inside very damp and behind the dome there was standing water - not good. In the end the solution was to make a French drain around the base on the outside as soon as the ground was workable. This was a very difficult job standing in a trench digging gloopy clay often with windy downpours but thanks to the persistent digging efforts of heroes like Nat and Glen, our friend Marianna and her Ukrainian family and other dedicated volunteers it was finally done and appears to work. It did however disrupt the schedule and as planting and sowing time was upon us attention was diverted to those activities and fitted further work as schedules allowed. Despite the intense heat of last summer - often too hot for the work needed - and many volunteers taking overdue holidays - progress continued quietly fixing triangles and testing waterproofing techniques. We consulted the previous users of the dome to find out how they kept it watertight and discovered that actually they hadn’t … they’d just covered it with tarps. With cold, wet and snowy weather predicted before Christmas we decided to do likewise for the time being. The dome was duly wrapped in transparent tarps - many recycled builders’ discards retrieved via skip dives - and it now looks like a giant igloo! This project has been wonderful for bringing people together in difficult times with a common focus, enabling much needed community connection and lifting spirits. Though work has been slower than anticipated due to complex circumstances related to the pandemic we have kept going and met various challenges. In Spring we will restart on the last phase and look forward to using the space as we envisaged. In the meantime, we are exploring ways to enhance the interior space, perhaps painting/decorating the triangles and making seating. It promises to be a creative and fun phase of the project and if anyone wishes to volunteer in the structural and other activities please contact Louise. Carpentry / DIY skills are always needed, artistic and craft skills too but there are many different jobs so do get in touch. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has kindly helped us through funding, donating materials, advice and volunteering on this project. Your patience and continued support is very much valued and appreciated.