Jan 30, 2008


(Note: Halfway through getting the pictures together for this post, I realized that Christine over at Cacophony, another housemate of mine, beat me to it. Oh well - can't get enough of this ramp!)

The Ramp to which I've been frequently alluding is now done, save for the handrail. The project, which has been a major part of my IAP, is one of the best examples I've seen of "can-do" culture, on many levels, and I feel grateful to have been involved.

The Ramp was first proposed some time in late November, when ismith decided to pledge pika. He uses an electric scooter to get around, and the batteries don't winter well, so he couldn't move in until there was some reliable way to get the scooter inside. Or house has 7 entrances, all of which are no where near ground level - so we put on our thinking caps. After much discussion, we decided to go whole-hog and build a 70-foot ramp (5 feet of rise) out of pressure-treated lumber.

Building a 70-foot ramp is a big decision for a little co-op (30 people) that has a very tight budget and is populated by MIT students (always busy!). It's not totally obvious that such a large project can be managed by inexperienced young people, but what I've learned at pika is that there's nothing so motivating as attempting the impossible. We attempt it all the time with our experiment in cooperative living - widely regarded as impossible by those who believe that trust is not a safe philosophy - but even so, it never ceases to amaze me what pikans are capable of. Or more accurately, what people are capable of, if they are part of an environment were "yes we can" is the dominant attitude.

The project was all about people. When it started out, it was about finding a way for our housemate to move in. And then it grew. It became a creative outlet for the considerable design talents of one mechanical engineer, a fun project for an experienced alum who helped us out, and an opportunity to become comfortable with power tools and construction techniques for many. Sure, people got tired and grumpy, and my fingers were freezing most of the time, but that's the reality of doing something significant (in the middle of winter...).

It feels really good to do something that *matters*! And it feels even better to do it with a light heart, with friends, and with an immediate reward - our new housemate.


Stage 1: Drilling holes with this AMAZING DRILL.

Stage 2: Mix concrete to pour in to the holes.

Stage 3: Get a LOT of lumber.

Stage 4: Start putting up weight bearing posts.

Stage 5. Install crossbeams.

Stage 5 continued...

Stage 6: Install joists.

Stage 7: Lay down decking.

Stage 8: Ramp is drivable for the very first time!!

Stage 9: Install guard rails.

Stage 10: Add balusters - and voila!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic job, in 3 weeks of winter - amazing!