Josh Hoeks and Ryan Rasmussen

Josh Hoeks and Ryan Rasmussen reminded us in their application that Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.” They also sent a very goofy photograph of themselves wearing matching hand knit sweaters. We are so happy to have hosted Josh and Ryan, with their levity and tenacity. They emboldened the glorious “morals” that prove PLAND is an atmosphere and medium through which the world can be glimpsed and beautified.


Ryan Rasmussen and Josh Hoeks (left to right)

Josh and Ryan constructed and built an incredible solar still before their arrival. Not only does it use sun and gravity to convert rainwater into potable water, it is aesthetically fantastic. Deemed “Princess”, she is pink and green with big blue rubber tires. While Princess works perfectly, she looks very out of place in the desert, and became the keystone to a very productive conversation: what is the aesthetic of function at PLAND? Do things need to be made of local materials? Should technology be camouflaged?

“Princess,” a water filtration attempt

Princess was banished to the edge of the property as The Boys embarked on their grand plan. Often gazing out on the landscape in silence, a sudden flurry of words, ideas, concerns, solutions would well up between the two. Their tans grew darker, their clothes were changed less often, their chins became bearded. They worked hard, often late into the night. By the end, they had performed a task that seemed miraculous: we have a water filtration system that will provide PLAND with drinking water, filter our gray water, water a cactus garden, and actually warm water to do dishes at the new sink. It is full of Willie Wonka style technology, with hand pumps and crazy tubes and funny recycled containers. Best of all, it uses dirt and gravity and sunlight to work.

The cistern filtration system

The conversations around Princess, and The Boys’ immersion in PLAND’s hyper-local aesthetic, led them to use adobe instead of cement, and old barn wood instead of plastic and metal. Tres Piedras has never seen anything like our water system, but somehow, it fits. And it works! We are thrilled and thankful.

In addition to this huge step towards a sustainable infrastructure of PLAND, it was fantastic to see collaboration in action. Josh and Ryan are exemplary practitioners of the communication, patience, and openness that is needed to work so closely together, especially in such unique circumstances. The Boys supported and inspired each other gave each other critical feedback when needed, space when needed, and did more together than any individual could have.

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