We’re Doni Kiffmeyer and Kaki Hunter!
We created OKOKOK Productions fueled by a passion to inspire healthy solutions to social dilemmas through Performance Art and Natural Building Skills.
We live in Moab, Utah surrounded by spectacular red rock canyons situated between the Colorado River and the La Sal Mountain range in Southeastern Utah.
We met each other when we were cast as the leads in Moab Community Theatre’s production “The Seven Year Itch”. It was love at first itch! During production of the play and romantic hikes in the desert, we discovered many similar interests and values; love of Nature, theater, film and music-making, slow food, river running, community, and building with natural materials.
We camped in the splendor of our fantastic Public Lands, visiting many of the remaining fabulous 800-1200 year old Anasazi structures. We toured 100+ year old adobe dwellings still in use in Moab. We sought to reintroduce earthen building techniques as a viable alternative to conventional stick frame construction for our arid Southwestern climate. We played with making adobe bricks, rammed earth and cob.
Then we discovered Nader Khalili’s work – Sandbag Architecture or Earthbag Building. The concept of building monolithic domes with arch openings really turned us on!
With reject dirt, inexpensive misprint bags and barbed wire, we built our first earthbag walls, plastered over them with a mixture of wild-harvested clay, sand and straw and tossed some dead sod on top for good measure. We were hooked!
We attempted to get a building permit to build an Earthbag house on our property in the historic district of Moab – we were denied. “Too weird to meet code” we were told. So we applied for a permit to build with traditional adobe bricks, surely time tested adobe would be accepted! We were denied again. Our building inspector declared, “I’m afraid of adobe.”
Yet out of frustration creativity was born!
A Dirtbag House For Honey
One summer day we were rafting down the Moab Daily stretch of the Colorado River. We pulled over to check out a film set that had been constructed to replicate a Mexican village for the film “Larger Than Life” starring Bill Murray. The entire “town” was built without a permit. Hmmmm…that’s interesting…building permits are not required for movie sets since their purpose is considered temporary. This compelled us to write the screenplay entitled “Honey’s House”. “Honey’s House” is a story about a single mother’s search for Truth, Justice, and…Affordable dirtbag Housing!
Our heroine, Honey, loses her ranch style home to a tragic fire (intentionally burned to the ground by her suicidal husband, therefore no chance of collecting insurance), forcing herself, her young son and great aunt to seek refuge in a dilapidated trailer park. During a flash flood that threatens to inundate the trailer park, the residents band together stacking sandbags into a mighty wall that deters the rampaging flood water, and in the process…inspire a new way to build that is not only flood resistant but fire proof as well!
One of the residents who helped lead the effort to stack the sandbags is a retired Colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers who had been stationed in the Middle East. Colonel Flagstaff’s passion for ancient monolithic adobe construction and Honey’s desire to provide an affordable home for her family brings them together to design sandbags into monolithic domes, making the best use of cheap materials for building foundation, walls and roof! Inspired by the sturdiness and low cost of such buildings, Honey seeks to convince the local building department to issue her a permit to replace her burnt out stick frame house with earthbag domes. Alas, she too is denied a permit.
While on a river rafting trip (wink wink) Honey discovers that the movie set of a Mexican village built along the banks of the river did not require a permit! Meanwhile, the crummy trailer park Honey and her friends are living in is sold to a greedy developer. Out of inspiration and part desperation Honey and her band of trailer park refugees conspire to make a movie of their own entitled “Revenge of the Bag People!” – based on a post apocalypse Sci-fi, Planet of the Apes spoof. The cast, Honey and friends (dressed in scanty animal skins) discover bundles of sandbags and barbed wire in an abandoned army barracks, from which they construct monolithic earthbag domes (the storyline for the story within the story, get it?)
“Honey’s House” is a playful farce – a film about folks pretending to make a movie to fool the building inspector and with luck convince the status quo that yes bags of dirt are a great way to build houses! It’s an OKOKOK Production ploy to get around a building permit in our little beloved town of Moab, Utah and yes, convince our local building inspector of the integrity of Earthbag domes!
So, you see, we started out as a film production company with a desire to demonstrate and inspire alternative solutions to society’s dilemmas starting with our own! In order to prove the claims our heroine makes in the script and how to budget the film we sought to validate the process by building a small prototype dome in our own backyard – without no stinkin’ permit!
We set about designing the Honey House, pricing and ordering materials and offering the construction process of the dome as an experimental community workshop. We filmed the entire process with both video and still shots. We attracted all sorts of attention with the exception of the building department, heh, heh.
They Called it “Natural Building”
Soon, we were being asked to share our “expertise” with others. That’s when we were invited to our first “Natural Building Colloquium” in Southern New Mexico. We had never heard the term “natural building” or Colloquium but, hey, it sounded like fun! We brought our slide presentation of the Honey House and suddenly we found ourselves cavorting with 150 playful, creative, pro-active people from all over the world sharing their extraordinary natural building techniques, integrating renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, natural wastewater treatment, regenerative farming, passive solar and assorted energy efficient living systems, making music, telling stories, showing fabulous visual presentations…in essence; all the stuff that adds up to inspiring Happy, Healthy, Human Habitats in Harmony with Nature!
After our Honey House presentation, we were invited to the Bahamas to teach our OKOKOK FQSS brand of Earthbag Building on the remote island of Rum Cay – without no stinkin’ permit! We became the characters we had conceived in our “Honey’s House” script.
We were encouraged to share our passion for dirt by giving workshops and eventually authoring our book, Earthbag Building: the Tools, Tricks and Techniques. We embrace all types of natural building with an emphasis on meeting the FQSS stamp of approval: Fun Quick Simple and Solid!
During the last 25 years, we continued to discover and teach practical natural building methods as well as develop performance material for inspiring a Healthy, Happy Humanity in Harmony with Nature. We created the theater productions “Vipassana – The Musical,” and most currently, “Yo Mama ~ Uncanned!”
“Yo Mama ~ Uncanned!” is a one woman performance Kaki wrote inspired by an invisible voice she associated as the spirit of a 16 million ton pile of radioactive dirt abandoned since the 1950’s uranium boom sitting by the banks of the Colorado River just north of Moab, Utah. Kaki surmises that she was able to her Yo Mama’s voice because “I have a thing for dirt!” Read more about Yo Mama here.
“Yo! Ah got sumpin tuh say!” – Yo Mama
We feel ourselves called to inspire Humankind into becoming kind humans…starting with ourselves!
We live with Juanita, the Doggess of Unbridled Joy in Moab, Utah.