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La Laiterie, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Friday, 21 November 2008

There are now twelve people living at La Laiterie, our old home-away-from-home in Lausanne, Switzerland. They said things have been going pretty smoothly for the last year or so. A little more than a year ago there was some trouble, and three of them had to go to court, where they were found guilty of squatting, but then allowed to continue. The English fluency wasn’t really there to explain this legal oddity to me, but they said it had something to do with a young, energetic judge, and that it turned out alright, since they are still there (and have been for four years now.)

Much progress has been made since our last visit, two years ago. They have added a composting toilet, one floor above the regular toilet, which is essentially an out-house in a closet, built such that one can shit into a removable bucket. When finished, one scoops out some saw-dust from a container and sprinkles it over the fecal matter to desiccate it somewhat and to keep the smell down. The addition of an air-duct venting up to the roof makes it almost odor-free. When the bucket fills they move it to a composting area in the garden.

Even more exciting and impressive was the addition of solar energy panels on the roof that collect power into a closet full of recycled car and truck batteries. The batteries are used to power a secondary lighting system. Many of the common areas at La Laiterie are now wired with a dual electrical system: a twelve volt system that is enough to power low-wattage fluorescent lights which usually are adequate to illuminate these spaces; and the original 220 volt system that draws from the grid. These lights are used when the batteries run down, which they are apt to do after about three days of dark or rainy weather.

Water is heated by running it through specially black-painted copper tubing inside of long, clear, plexi-vacuum tubes in a roof-mounted panel, maybe 8’ by 10’. The solar water heating and electrical technologies are chiefly due to the efforts of two of the residents who work for a company that installs solar-energy-collecting systems. All of that which they have installed at La Laiterie are recycled materials that they have acquired for free or inexpensively

a power outlet in Lausanne, Switzerland