Dignity Dwellings

Putting yurts to work during COVID-19

Natalie Spilger thought 2020 was going to be a “coasting year.” Her yurts were transforming what temporary shelter could be: they were spacious, comfortable, and took design and quality more seriously than a yurt really had a right to. She had a solid customer base among Burners and was planning just to take special orders — like, say, “a nook fit for a queen.”

You know the rest of the story. COVID-19 hits, Black Rock City gets canceled, and the future no longer looks so clear.

Still processing what this might mean for her business, Natalie came upon an article in her local newspaper about healthcare workers needing places to stay separate from their families. That’s it! Maybe the yurts had a higher calling this year.

Many phone calls and posts later, along with logistical hustling and financial help from a donor, the yurts were being deployed to people who really needed them. Natalie felt so touched by one couple, a reverend and a doctor, that she wrote up their story (below) for her Website. It’s a short, heartwarming reminder of how even BRC dwellings stepped up to the front line during this long, strange year.

The story of Grace and Charlie and their Burner Yurt, written by Natalie Spilger

On Saturday, April 11th, we received an email from Grace, a reverend of a small Presbyterian congregation. Four days later, she had a 110sf Burner Yurt in her yard in Calabasas, CA.

The email said: “We received word from our hospital that you are offering your yurts for doctors free of charge. This is a godsend, as we were struggling with what to do during this covid crisis as Charlie is a first responder in the ER and ICU and needs to self isolate.” Charlie, Grace’s husband, is an anesthesiologist at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, CA. He is on the team which does all of the COVID calls that the ER cannot handle. And yes, his hospital has COVID patients in the ICU & COVID Ward.

Their concerns are mostly that Charlie “will be exposed to the virus and will increase the chance of passing it on to others.” Grace serves in a congregation that has a lot of elderly people, and while they are gathering remotely during this time, their concern for their community is paramount.

When my team was setting up the yurt (very safely), I learned that Grace and Charlie were also parents of twins and had two older children about 15 months apart, just like my husband and me. I felt like we were connected and their story could easily be mine.

From Grace, “God brings people together in such mysterious ways, and we are so glad to meet you! You will be in our prayers for so many things! We are so thankful for what you are providing for us. This opportunity has already brought us so much peace of mind.”

Grace and Charlie, image provided by Natalie Spilger

Thank you for sharing, Natalie! You can gawk at her yurts right here and here and here:

Photo by Natalie Spilger
Photo by Natalie Spilger
Photo by Natalie Spilger

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