Posted on

Instructors Build Walls for Social Distance, July 4 Volunteer Day

Volunteers Build Social Distance Walls

Many thanks to the professional wallers who gave of their time and expertise on the Fourth of July to make it possible for The Stone Trust to safely teach people to build structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing stone walls. Over the years, each of them has supported us in many ways, as founders, board members, professional members, instructors, and friends in walling. A salute to their generous commitment.

Pictured from left to right: Michael Weitzner, Torben Larsen, Ron Neil, Alex Hoffmeier, Dario Colletta, TJ Mora, Amy-Louise Pfeffer (not a professional waller), Brian Post, Kathy Ryder (not a professional waller), and Pete Ryder. Thanks to Carol Zuccala for her help in making the day flow.
Thanks, too, to Fran and Linda Judd of George D. Judd and Sons, LLC and Gregg Adamovich of Semya Stone for making sure we had the stone to build with!

In times that don’t require social distance for health safety, people participating in a 1-Day Introduction to Dry Stone Walling workshop work across a double-faced wall from each other. Each builds one face, together completing a stint 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

Problem 1: In these times, people who don’t know each other can’t work that way.
Problem 2: A person working alone can’t build two faces of our existing workshop walls in one day. They are too big.
Challenge: How can we create a situation where people can learn the principles of building a structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing wall–with enough wall, but not too much–maintaining safe space for health?
Solution 1: Turn 1-day intro workshops into 2-day workshops.  Shift everybody’s schedule! Nope.
Solution 2: Build enough 3-foot by 5-foot stints to accommodate people who are coming to learn without a partner. Yes.

That’s what we did!

Social Distance Wall Site
Social Distance Wall Site

Fortunately, Jared Flynn, who manages the Dummerstone site, is always thinking ahead. He had already prepared the area for future retaining walls. So on July 4th, 9 professional wallers, all certified Stone Trust instructors , gathered to build workshop stints on ground readied by Jared. Two life partners and the Stone Trust Executive Director joined in.

Together we built 8 freestanding walls and got a good start on the 8 retaining wall sections we will need for the retaining wall workshop on July 17. We enjoyed plenty conversation, lots of sunshine (thanks to Theresa for being sure we had tents!), and plenty of liquids. At the end of a satisfying day, we know we’re ready for our July 11 Introduction to Dry Stone Walling, the first workshop since the pandemic shut everything down. With disappointment, several people have had to withdraw due to COVID-19. We are sorry! And we welcome two people from “safe counties” to take their spots.

Anyone running an organization understands the challenges of keeping safe and staying afloat in the current situation. In early April, we had to decide whether to bow out of programming in 2020 or continue to try to teach the many people who want to learn how to build dry stone walls. Our budget projections showed that we needed to offer workshops to ensure that The Stone Trust continues; workshop tuition makes up 60% of our income in a normal year.

We are so fortunate that our many supporters–workshop participants, basic members, professional members, corporate members, board members, instructors, and members of the public who share an appreciation for the art, craft, and tradition of dry stone walling–demonstrate generosity and flexibility. Everyone responds with patient good humor. Thanks to all of you for helping us keep going! Please consider supporting us financially by becoming a member. We welcome your donations, too!

Special thanks to our Operations Manager,×600-1.jpg, a mistress of procurement and fulfillment who creates order and anticipates need, and has been ever patient and able to turn on a dime. The Stone Trust could not run workshops, support members, or ship books and tools without her! Please thank her when you get the chance.

What a challenge all of us face as we figure out how to go on with life while we protect ourselves, protect others, and control community spread! We will do our part to make it possible for you to join us at a workshop in August, September, October, or December. And we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the 21 people challenging themselves on our two Certification Test Days, September 17 and 18!

Again, may all of us across the country observe the practices that protect each of us and those around us, so we can all safely return to free movement. Please stay home when possible, avoid crowds, keep 6 feet of distance, wear a mask, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face. We hope to see you at a workshop soon!


Amy-Louise Pfeffer

Executive Director