When I returned the following day, I received a nametag, a warm breakfast, and a garden assignment. We excavated the thicket of bermuda grass entangling some sage, comfrey, and a patch of lamb’s ear. Turning the soil, we uncovered some river bed rocks to place around the bed. My companion, Stepan from the Czech Republic, overheard the woman in the patch next to ours speaking Czech and struck up conversation. A few patches over, a young woman told her fellow gardener about her positive experience in the new Davis co-op, Cornucopia. A woman named Leslie answered our questions and ran around adding water to the soil to soften it and choreographing the labor. A tractor showed up around lunchtime and turned out the weeds at ten times the pace of the rest of us.
After lunch we held a meeting and divided up into different labor forces. There were upwards of ten skilled carpenters. I joined a crew of landscapers. We hacked away at a thicket of bamboo that sheltered the outermost dome from the eyes of passer-bys. This dome was now the office with an ADA accessible ramp drying in the sunshine. Soon, I made my way over to the sanding station and spent the rest of the day-lit hours smoothing over the faces of two-by-fours for the loft railings. After sunset, I threw a few shovelfuls of dirt on a path to smooth it out in preparation for a layer of concrete.
photo courtesy of Paul Kitagak, Sacramento Bee
When the Mad Cow String Band played in the yurt, the big group of us took turns eating and dancing. A few local musicians played next, followed by a reggae band from Santa Cruz.
The next day followed the same pattern. Photographers and reporters made their way around. A cleaning crew was formed and a mosaic was carefully arranged. I was continually impressed by the organization and the productivity. The garden was hardly recognizable when I went to spread wood chips on the path. There was probably 100 volunteers working through the middle of the day and when it started to sprinkle, the tools were gathered under a tarp and shelters were propped. Most of the volunteers were past residents or residents of other Davis co-ops. Seventeen Berkeley co-opers joined the Domes Community Build—the largest out-of-town contingent.
Some “ex-domies” (past residents of the Domes) silk screened shirts to read “We Saved the Domes,” and crossed their fingers that it would indeed be true. According to an article in Davis Voice, the UC Davis student housing department is considering making an agreement to allow the Domes to remain for five years under third-party management. See the following articles for more on this story:
McCollough, Laura. The Saving of the Domes at Baggins End. Davis Voice. 2 November 2011.
Sangree, Hudson. UC Davis dome housing gets reprieve, rehabilitation. The Sacramento Bee. 8 November 2011.