After a rather successful and exciting outcome with the wooden spoons, Ms. Oropallo introduced to us to a new project: chicken coops. Already comfortable with working tools, and holding a growing fascination for the class, we found the new project tedious but no less exciting. Our class was divided up into six groups of three or four people who will fight with skill for the best quality and lowest budget. It is now a competition within the class! Ms. Oropallo explained very carefully each of the requirements for our coops; for example, it has to include a window, a door, an outside area, and a place where the  chickens can lay their eggs. The rules are set. Now we begin.

After designing the coops with paper and pencil, writing out all of the dimensions and drawing out the details, each group designed their coop prototype out of cardboard, paper, and glue. Then we wrote out the list of materials needed. On Friday, we put that list to use by going on a field trip to Urban Ore in Berkeley and The Away Station in Fairfax. Both destinations are businesses that take the “stuff” nobody wants in their houses anymore and clean it up, put it on the shelf, and name a price. In other words, it’s “turning trash into treasure” as Mary Lou, the woman who gave us a tour of Urban Ore, had described. Both are accomplishing the same task, but each, in its own way.

Urban Ore was eye-opening when our cars pulled into their parking lot. It’s basically this enormous warehouse filled with all different types of materials, ranging from clothes to plates and silverware to doors to nails! It truly is incredible, the entire idea, but finding materials was a whole separate challenge. Ava’s group mainly worked off of their list of materials for the essentials, as we had less money to spend there and we ended up getting a total of $10.90 in materials. My group bargained over the price of a half-circle window initially costing $40 but had it reduced to $25. For the budget, most of the other groups also had to bargain with the workers, but we eventually got our money’s worth, and off we went to The Away Station.

The Away Station was not at all like Urban Ore. It’s a non-profit business where most materials we looked for were outside, and it is really interesting for us as a MarinSEL student, since we are now learning about sustainable businesses in our seminar class. The Away Station had a lot more wood, and everything was spread out and organized in its own way. Each group was also granted certain materials by the head of the business and every worker there helped us find what we needed.

At the end of the day, we were all tired, but we had successfully gotten materials for our chicken coops, and with a little bit of organizing: we will be ready to build!


By Ava Anderson and Inès Guéneau


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