This blog post was written back in March 2022 by Agatha Zeren, a member of the Tivnu 8 cohort from Newton, MA. She enjoys coding, board games, and papercraft. She interned at Tivnu construction and as a teaching assistant at Alliance High School at Meek, where her background in robotics was a true asset.
I grew up in Massachusetts, so I have a lot of experience with winter. But for some Tivnu 8 participants, our trip to Mt. Hood was their first time experiencing snow. And for that, there could be no better time. The snow was gorgeous, falling through our first two days, and perfect for packing.
After our first evening, with good food and playing and singing together, we got set out on our snowshoeing adventure. We set out from the lodge in the morning, excited for the beautiful weather, and playfully pelting each other with snow balls. Donning our snowshoes, we set out up the trail, shedding layers and passing snowboarders. Eventually we settled on a spot, and tramped out a circle.
As we started, spirits were high: the large packing bins we were using as molds made construction go quickly, and the fresh snow was a joy to work with. Most of all, we were excited to build the next installment in a venerable Tivnu tradition: the Igloo.
Placing the bricks on the walls took everyone’s help. Just to lift the bins of packed snow up to the wall took at least two people. Someone on the inside would join them in positioning the brick, then we would rush to support the brick for both sides at once: one person slapped some loose snow on the wall, and then another packed it into place until the brick was secure. But they needed more snow on the inside — careful, not down their jackets.
No brick was more of a team effort than the final one. Everyone still at the igloo had to be involved. To bring the block over the door, without collapsing it, three pairs of people had to hand it off, and someone inside had to frantically firm up the support of the block, before exiting to safety. Once the block was free of its mold, we all scrambled to fill in the last gaps and temporary footholds, before gathering in the igloo to enjoy the fruits of our day and sledding our gear back down the trail to make it home before dark.
In Tivnu, we spend a lot of our time building: building relationships, building community, and building at construction. While all of these can be enjoyable and meaningful, what makes the Igloo unique is that it is first and foremost fun, not complicated by external responsibility. Packing and stacking snow blocks, and watching a solid structure emerge from the ground, leaves you just the right kind of exhausted at the end of the day. But you don’t make it through the cold day without your friends by your side.