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2012 Blog

Page history last edited by Deanne Bednar 11 years, 4 months ago

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12/4/2012 The Oakland County Permaculture Meetup was attended by me and intern Bee.  The evening featured a seed exchange, Permaculture presentation, socializing & networking.  Held in the Clarkston area.  See the Permaculture Oakland County Meetup on how to join, and info on the meetings which usually  take place on the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 7 - 9p.  Very inspiring. 12/2/2012 OCC Student Tour.  Folks from Dr. Debra Rowe's Renewable Energy Class visited and toured the Strawbale Studio and saw the earth oven, outdoor rocket cook stove, greenhouse, and living roof - and in the main house, saw earth plastered walls & sculptures, earth bench, round pole loft, worm composting, solar cooker, electric dehydrator, bulk food order from Hampshire Farms.  A fun and informative time was had by all.  



11/19/2012  Native fruit tree planting.  Fruit trees need care and attention- from planning enough space and preparing the hole to long after planting. Yesterday we spent the afternoon evaluating the land as planting sites and talked about the best methods for planting to keep the our berry bushes the happiest they can be.   written by Intern, Bee Durham

Here we are clearing the area, pulling out roots and eradicating the bittersweet that is taking over our forest and killing the trees.  We planted 3 paw paw trees, 2 gooseberries and 1 black current bush....as part of our evolving "forest garden".  Bee.  

10-10 & 11-2012  Fermenting & Cheese-making Workshops. Lead by the delightful Ruth Hoyt, and assisted by interns Mariek from France, and Bee from Florida, a wonderful day was had by participants who learned many techniques and took home samples & starters.  

11/19/2012 Natural Cottage Project planning.  The team of 4 instructors are planning 4 workshops for 2013, 2 of which will be at the Strawbale Studio, and 2 in KY at the land of Christina Ott of Barefoot Builder.  We will be teaching timberframing, cob, strawbale, living roof & more.  Updates at strawbalestudio.org and naturalcottageproject.com. 

11/5/2012 Ecovillage Presention at OCC.  Interns Mariek, Bee & I attended a slideshow by a co-founder of
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in MO.  A number of local activist friends were there, and plans were made for Dr. Debra Rowes' Renewable Energy class to come tour the Strawbale Studio.  

10/2012 and 11/2012 Other Intern  Activities included Rumford Fireplace finishing details, Green Roof drainage details, soil & plants.  Jared Bogdonove-Hanna. friend & permaculture instructor came over for a day and taught us how to ready the greenhouse for winter. Together, Jared, interns & I cleared the beds, created a soil amendment with decomposed horse manure. We visited at Pine Meadow Sanctuary Garden (Chris & Jug Tarr's place) , helped clear the garden beds and prepare them for next years growing season & brough home plants for winter growing in our greenhouse: kale, tatsoi, parsley, onions.  

We also constructed a Solar Food Dehydrator out of wood ! 

During August, 2012 the Superhero Bike Tour group of 25 pedaled into the Strawbale Studio to help on the land.  They camped, prepared their own food outdoors and contributed to projects on site: creating a path through the woods, painting 


10/13/2012  Rocket Stove Workshop.  During this event we explored the principles of Rocket Stoves, fired up the Rocket Stove heated bench in the Red Shed, and constructed a new Rocket Stove Cooker outside the main house.  We mocked up a brick Rumford Fireplace a few feet away from our project to keep warm on this cold & off-and-on rainy day...and had a great and satisfying time during the construction !! 


10/19-21/2012 Bioneers Detroit Conference. Strawbale Studio had an interactive exhibit on natural building and sustainable skills outdoors in a large tent. Participants could view books & resources, see a composting toilet & outdoor rumford-style fireplace, and try their hand at sculpting an ecovillage with an earthen mix.  


10/29/2012  This was one of the Monthly Full Moon Potlucks that take place with regularity. This free community event that includes a tour of the buildings, a bonfire and an opportunity to be with good folks and nature. Often there is spontaneous music as well. 


Laura Lutrell writes about and photographs her Internship experiences:   


The Strawbale Studio is the place in Michigan where the 2-week workshop took place that I wrote about building the small cottage. I returned there to work and learn from Deanne Bednar, the coordinator and with her other fall interns from mid August through mid September.

Ernie watching the pocket rocket burn off 
the paint on the can. The paper m√Ęche catches 
some of the heavy metals from the paint


When I arrived, Deanne was preparing for two workshops with Ernie and Erica Wisner.  They came and did a Pocket Rocket workshop in Detroit and a Rocket Mass Heater workshop at the Strawbale Studio.  The Pocket Rocket is more of an emergency heater.  You can build it out of a large can and a couple of stove pipes.  Burning wood in it puts off a tremendous amount of heat and (after the initial burn) will burn a very efficient fire with no visible smoke. 

Ernie with the inside of a rocket mass heater


The Rocket Mass Heater also burns a very clean fire, but it operates differently.  The wood fire is built in an area to the side and the draft of the system pulls the fire into the burn chamber (across the bottom) and up the heat riser (a chimney of soft insulated refractory bricks) in the middle of an external 50-gallon barrel.  The heat from the riser starts radiating out of the barrel at the top and the gasses begin to cool as heat radiates out of the barrel and the gasses drop down the sides.  At the bottom of the barrel, the hot gasses move into a system of stove pipe that is buried in an earthen bench, bed, floor, etc. before exiting out the ceiling, like a regular chimney. The idea is that, in addition to the radiant heat off the barrel, the heat from the fire exhaust heats the mass built around the stove pipe and then that mass holds the heat and slowly radiates it.  Even after the fire has been out for hours, you can sit on the bench and still be warm. It is better to heat a mass than heat air if you want to store the heat and access it over a longer period of time. Genius. Ernie and Erica have provided excellent information and drawings on them here... 

Deanne's Rocket Mass Heater 
(the box on the barrel is an example of cooking on top of the barrel)


Ernie and Erica stayed about a week longer and it was interesting and enjoyable to spend that time learning and hanging out with them.

The earthen plastered door, drying


interior plastered wall


After that, I went to work plastering.  I decided I wanted more experience in this FANTASTIC and beautiful medium.  First, I plastered over the plywood walls of one of Deanne's little cabins.  She had built a rumford fireplace in there and wanted the surrounding walls to look nicer, be less susceptible to catching fire, and create a bit of mass to absorb some of the heat from the fire... earthen plaster does all of those things! I plastered the door, the wall, ceiling, and 2x4s that framed in that section. The plaster was made out of 1/8" sifted earth from the land (which had a combination of clay and sand), a little extra sand, dried and sifted horse manure (for fiber to hold it together), water, and a little wheat paste (white flour and water cooked into a paste). That little section gave me a lot of practice in going around corners, how much pressure to apply, what it takes to make sure the plaster is sticking, and more.  It was fun and I think it looked really good.

Two other interns arrived and we all set to work plastering another coat on the retreat cabin (the little cottage from the workshop).  The strawbales we used were really loose and uneven (apparently due to the drought this year), so this cabin took a lot more coats of plaster to even out the surface than your standard strawbale building...


Later I made 3 panels (on plywood) with earthen plasters and a little kaolin clay (the white part) to experiment with sculpture/relief images... Amazing how artistic you can be.  Your imagination is the only limit.  I didn't finish working on them before I left, but here's the beginnings.               

When the interns arrived, we all went to the Renaissance Festival together. A woman I had met from a Strawbale Studio tour painted my face and we saw some shows. We met some interesting characters too. This man had massive pickle sales...

After the rocket mass heater workshop, we learned so much, that we went back to the one that Deanne built a few years ago and made some modifications. Mainly, the distance between the barrel and the top of the heat riser should be between 2" and 2.5". Since we were adjusting this, we also built a little cob bevel on top of the heat riser so the ashes would fall to the bottom instead of getting caught on top and interrupting the flow of gasses. Then we replaced the earthen sill and seal around the rim of the barrel and voila - improved rocket mass heater!

Cob Tiles in Frames

Earthen Plaster, and Kaolin Plaster
(with different fibers)


Oliver (an intern) and I decided to make floor samples, so we could see a wide variety of applications and what the differences would be.  This turned into a pretty big project.  We made 12 small tiles (after making little wooden frames for them) out of cob (clay, sand, fiber and water) and then applied various finish plasters to them including earthen plaster or kaolin plaster (with white clay and sand), then a thin layer that included an earthen pigment (an "alis").

Look at all the varieties we tried (a small sampling, really)


We included some mica (shiny mineral for strength and prettiness).


We even did a little wet fresco!
(Now I understand how all those Italians I studied made their paintings!)


gravel, lava rock, slip straw, cob


I'm hoping Oliver did the linseed and/or hemp oil coatings (hardening coat) and will let me know how those turned out (that is the last stage of these samples).

Oliver also made a subfloor demonstration model so people can see different ways to build a subfloor below the earthen plaster finish layers.

The biggest project we undertook was working on the Kid's Cottage that Deanne built several years ago.  During the Rocket workshop, Ernie and Erica had the participants make a few changes that would help it run efficiently. Then the other interns and I secured the stove pipes in place, made a small cob wall to separate the floor space from the insulation under the benches, and installed the insulation (a perlite/vermiculite clay slip mixture) and began adding cob that would form the benches. This was a long process with a lot of learning along the way. In the end, we decided we should have just added the perlite and vermiculite without any slip and that is what we did towards the end.
Perlite/Vermiculite Slip Insulation


Small cob wall to separate insulation from floor area


Cob over the insulation to start the bench area


mixing the insulation for the Kid's Cottage


Some other interesting and fun endeavors... 

Milking a goat!


  * I learned to milk goats with one of the neighbors.
Making a Living Roof


  * We built half of a living roof on the wood shed (plants growing in soil on
  a pond liner as the roof!)
  * Found the dimensions to install a metal roof on a future sauna building
  * Replaced some of the thatch roof on the spiral chamber (a tiny building that
  holds the composting toilet)
  * Learned a lot about plants and herbs. There is a huge variety on
  the property there.  I want to learn more about plants!
  * Learned some permaculture principles from a local expert in order to prep   
   the greenhouse for winter growing.

Oliver measuring sauna roof


The greenhouse before


The greenhouse after


* Made a framework for a "Ready-Up" Tent out of poles harvested from the property
* Had a knots and lashing learning evening including: Miller's knot, Trucker's hitch, Tripod lashing, Handle lashing, and Love knots! 
Handle lashing is Great!


* Began sculpting a new turtle earth oven at the Kensington Metro Park. 
sculpting the Earth Oven turtle with fall interns


The beginning of a turtle sculpted on an earth oven


"Rock and Roll" Cob Mixing


 As you can see, a lot went on during that time! 


July 14 - 28, 2012. Natural Cottage Project 2 week workshop at the Strawbale Studio.  A delightful Retreat Cabin - with a timberframe, thatched roof, strawbale walls, Earthen Plasters, Cob Garden Wall with a living roof - was constructed by 30 participants with the help of many intern, 2 cooks  and 4 instructors, including Sarah Highland, timberframer (Highland Artisans), Christina Ott, Natural Builder with a focus on Cob ( Barefoot Builders) and Chris McClellan, Natural Building Networker, builder, book editor.  Worktraders came in 2 weeks early and a week afterward to create the infrastructure for participants - camping grounds, outdoor showers, outdoor eating & wash stations and more. Afterwards they worked on cleaning up the site from all our activities. 


8/24-25/2012  Rocket Stove workshops lead by experts Ernie & Erica Wisner from the west coast were held in Detroit and at the Strawbale Studio.  The Detroit workshop, at Spirit Hope Church and Community Garden featured the construction of many Pocket Rockets, which were taken home by participants.  At the Strawbale Studio the focus was on Rocket Stove principles, and numerous mockups were created in brick by participants.  It was wonderful having the Wisners wisdom and energy !


July 28, 2012.  Rennaisance Festival artists toured the Strawbale Studio & grounds and helped do the infill earthen plasters on the new Retreat Cabin.  Great group ! 


Other Summer 2012 Projects: With the help of Interns, the Kid's Cottage Rocket Stove heated bench was basically completed, and the foundation walls insulated with vermiculite and covered with a cob cap.  The Rumford Fireplace was constructed, using primarily cob, an earthen mix.  It has a metal damper made by Tom Hoyt, a neighbor who forges steel scuptures.  Food gardens were planted with annual crops with the help of Jared Bogdonov-Hanna of Abundant Succession and interns, as well as Emily Eisely. 


6/18 & 19/2012 The Strawbale Studio hosted a natural building activity the the Tall Trees Farm Summer Solstice Festival in White Lake.  We did thatching, wattle & daub, and earth plastering on a Spiral Chamber, composting toilet.  


6/22-24/2012 Green Living Festival in Rochester Michigan - The Strawbale Studio hosted an exhibit and hands-on activities including cooking in the Traveling Turtle Earth Oven, sculpting with earth, and a Strawbale Climbing Pyramid for the kids.  Fun ! 


7/4 - 7/2012 WisconsinThatching Workshop on a Cordwood Chapel at the Kinstone Circle.  Deanne lead the thatching of this structure and guided the process - and the folks from Kinstone collected reed in the previous winter, prepared the frame, and will finish the thatching based on the skills they learned.  


5/12/2012  Permaculture, Plants & Plasters Workshop with Jared Bogdonov-Hannah, Jim McDonald and Deanne.  Together we shared our knowledge of the land from these 3 perspectives.  Hands-on plastering took place, a tour of the land with an eye to edible and medicinal plants -- all in the context of permaculture principles. 


5/10/2012    Calling in the birds ~ synchronicity ?

This morning as I lay by the screen window in the cabin,  I heard some most amazing bird vocalizations ~ rich gliding trills ! Unfamiliar to me, I wondered what bird might be making these lush tones.  I could see a branch in my view in the direction of the songs, and I wished for the bird to land on THAT branch so I could see it.  Within a minute it DID land on that branch, and its partner on another branch, visible from another window.  They sang to each other.  

Catbirds .. medium size and all gray.  They can make up songs as well as copy other bird and animal sounds...to impress their mate. 


5/10/2012  A Strawbale Studio Tour for folks who live in Ecuador

part time.  Helen, Laz & their son Daniel came from Ann Arbor.  She wanted to learn more about how to use earth to sculpt representations of earth/air/fire & water...inside or out, honoring the life-giving elements of this earth.  In the process of sharing with them, I got to learn so much from them .  They live part-time in Ecuador, where their shared home is of all natural building materials.  She is artistic, and skilled at writing and creating essential oils, and Laz plays the flute so beautifully, writes music, makes recordings...all of which they shared with me.  And Daniel, a genius who is interested and knowledgeable in about everything it seems (at 18) ~ filled me in on  a  number of the details about  LED lights that the common person (like me) wouldn't know existed ! And, it turns out we both know Judy Piazza, the drummer and no doubt others in common. 


5/8/2012  Weaving Full Circle

I am on the phone with past intern Dawn who recently arrived at a Buddhist retreat center in VT for a 4 month internship.  Already Dawn is helping build a cob rocket stove for some folks living in a yurt.  Dawn was prepared to work with earth because of her recent visit to the Strawbale Studio where she helped build the Rumford Fireplace. The BuddhistCenter is interested in being more self-reliant and Dawn has invited Debbie Rowe, founding director of the OaklandCommunity College renewable energy program to visit her and share her knowledge with them.  It was Debbie who connected Dawn with the Strawbale Studio...and it was in VT that I first met Deb in 1999...when she was just considering going into the field of energy. Things are weaving full circle. Wonderful !


5/5/ 2012  The Largest Full Moon

What a welcoming energy for the monthly potluck, this Super Moon -- the closest to the earth in 18 years, and 16% brighter than usual.  We had the largest full moon gathering ever on this delightful, warm evening, with its wide energy.  Some lovely music was made around the bonfire...by voices, guitar, flute and even a saxaphone!  What an amazing gathering of folks, and how rich the "go-around" before the shared meal.  


5/5-7/2012 Agripod

The Agripod is a greenhouse design that is like a "living building" !  It's inventor, Richard Nelson and wife Bernadine visit for the 2nd time, this time meeting up with Jeff Buderer who is also an inventor, scientist and sustainability person who has been living at Arcosanti (a living/working/artist community outside Phoenix, designed by Paulo Solari). Along with Linda Ford the 4 of us shared sustainability conversation focused on the development of the Agripod (which also is designed to produce methane and electricity from biomass, grow plants in earth and hydoponically, raise fish, totally recycle all nutrients.  They are now at Greenfire Evolving Ecovillage outside Athens, Ohio, meeting with Dick Hogan who is helping to connect the Agripod idea to local farmers, scientists and interested people. Dick is also interested in co-creating a DIY version of the Agripod on the land there.   Jeff and Linda will return to the Strawbale Studio next week to help finish the Rumford Fireplace in a little cabin. 


May 1, 2012  Wheat Grass, Hawks Wing &  Worm Composting 

The visit from Debbie & Bill Lyman started with a request to get some of my worm composting red worms and tour the site. . They brought along their hand-cranked wheat grass juicer gave an impressive demonstration.  I ran outside and harvested Quack Grass (recommended by raw foods teacher - name alludes me) and we tried that as well. Pretty darn good.  

We toured the Strawbale Studio and ground, finding the mushroom officially called polyporous squamosus (Dyrad's Saddle, Hawks Wing or Pheasants Wing).  We fried it up, wrapped it in a home-made sourdough rye wrap, and YUM !  Debbie has been teaching worm composting classes at Seven Ponds Nature Center since taking a course from Jared Bodgonov-Hanna at the Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center.  


4/28-5/3/2012  Spring Supporters

Wonderful folks have spent some time here, helping to shape this place, creating a model of the world we want !  Dawn Nelson - 3 days helping with the Rumford Fireplace; Emily and Noah -- several days with the Strawbale Studio Garden bed prep and planting of seeds, and Laura and Logan who helped harvest reed along with Ilana and Andrew, as well as helping with the Strawbale Studio exhibit at theHuron Valley Earth Day Festival in Milford, MI.  Logan fired up the Traveling Turtle Earth Oven and baked the cookies Ilana brought. Children explored the cob (earthen) mix Ilana made up...and many people found out more about natural building from local materials ! 


April 28, 2012  Earth Oven Construction Workshop at Kensington Metropark - at the Farm Center.  We built the main structure of the oven -- a base insulating layer, sand mold and oven mud dome to be used by the Farm Center programs.  Several other sessions later in the season completed this turtle oven.  Beautiful. 


April 6, 2012  The Joy of Foraging Class - participants explored plants at the Strawbale Studio land, with a focus on edible wild plants. Lead by Deanne. 



These pictures are of the last few postings.

Can you match them up?


April 2, 2012  "Arlo Xan" & "Challenge Detroit"   

Al and Ali, who make up the band Arlo Xan, based in Flint, MI, came for a visit and interview on natural home building for a report in their environmental class through UM Flint.  As we hung out it the garden, preparing beds for this years "open pollinated and heirloom" (yeah!) plants, we discussed the question "How realistic is it for young people to build their own natural homes?"  This lead to conversation on possibilities of building small strawbale homes on vacant Detroit land, retrofitting existing homes with natural materials to be more energy efficient, mini building codes for tiny buildings, LEED Certification for green building, as well as new challenges: the Passive house which uses zero fossil fuel and a new catagory "Living Buildings" which produce their own energy, food and water purification. During dinner prep Ali read to us about the concerns of fracking .  More on this.


I talked with Amanda Moyer, part of the Detroit Green Map team who is applying for Challenge Detroit program to help out in the city.  It would give her the opportunity to support the Detroit Green Map.  Here is the 1 min. video she made for her application....a delight in itself, focusing on "reuse".  Go Amanda! 


March 30, 2012  Foraged Green Eggs

An early spring here, and lots to find coming up on their own: ox eye daisy, dandelion, yellow dock, winter cress, oregano-gone-wild, perrenial sage, loveage, chives, wild garlic.  A tasty feast chopped up and scrambled into local eggs...with a touch of salt (could use burnt coltsfoot leaves from last season if needed).  On the side a bread whose grain was grown locally, organically, and baked in an oven fired by local  (I would think) wood at Hampshire Farms in Michigan not far from here.     Even the yeast of this sourdough bread has been in the family there for 20 years. 


Local, Organic, Whole:  "L.O.W."   or S.L.O.W.   (Seasonal Local Organic, Whole) or F.L.O.W.S ! (Foraged Local Organic Whole & Seasonal !  Wow ! Wonderful Organic Wilds....I could get carried away with this. )


Carolyn, co-land owner of the adjacent 33 acres comes by for a visit and we talk of her upcoming bee raising endeavors. Will drops by as well, and he will be one one to make the new hives, homes for the future honey-bee pollinators.  It snow/sleets as we talk, even though it has been in the 70's, even 80's over the last few weeks.  ("Strangely warm")  we reflect on how the early warm and heavy cold might kill the fruit buds.  The bees need to be up here to pollinate the fruit and flowers which come in bloom.  If the bees aren't here yet, how much does that affect things getting fertilized? 


Behind all this: prep taxes, check email, phone, prep classes, maintain house & garden, publicity for classes, internships, etc. etc.  These things seems "real", but are rather indirect and unnurturing to me. I am seeking to transition into a more simple, more direct yet deep and meaningful relationship with people and our larger self-- nature.  


March 29, 2012  Can a  year old love greens? 

Ruth brought some folks by for a Tour.  Ruth met Stephanie, homeschooling mom of 5 at the library and the whole family including dad, came by for tour of the strawbale studio buildings and grounds.  The children climbed into the loft, crawled down into the earth pit, tasted the winter greens in the greenhouse with enthusiasm, checked out the swings and loved being outdoors!  It renews my spirit to experience their responsiveness and excitement.  


March 10, 2012  Basics of Earth Plaster & Sculpting - workshop at Jim McDonalds house.  Focus on earth plastering  walk-out basement walls of his herb classroom, adding decorative vines to the walls, and beginning construction of a strawbale earth plastered bench.  Interns and local volunteers assisted in the day along with class participants. 


February 28, 2012  Basics of Round Pole Framing - workshop students learned techniques for making notches and constructed a small project. 


February 14, 2012  Basics of Thatching & Reed Collecting Workshop -  a demonstration was given of thatching techniques on a small frame, we collected reed in a nearby field, and watched several videos on thatching.  


February 7, 2012  Fermenting & Simple Cheese-making Workshop- again taught by Ruth Hoyt, assisted by Deanne,  included sour dough bread, kombucha, keifer and more. 


February 5, 2012  New Interns arrive, and participate in the Full Moon Potluck & Bonfire the next day. 


January 28, 2012  Earth Plaster Workshop at herbalist Jim McDonalds' home.  Along with interns, Deanne lead  the 3rd workshop on this project -- the redoing of a walk-out basement classroom for his herbal classes.  We continued on plastering the walls, doing finishing plasters and sculpting, and a strawbale bench covered with earthen plaster & surrounded by a sculpted tree.  Beautiful.  


January 9, 2012  Fermenting & Simple Cheese-making - again taught by Ruth Hoyt, assisted by Deanne,  included sour dough bread, kombucha, keifer and more. 


January 6, 2012  Such a Great Flow today

Sometimes are so hard, too much -- too much .. .  to do, going on, falling apart.

Then, like now, a golden flow that is so very good and solid and inspiring:

Vanessa, Jacquie and 5 yr old Canyon have arrived, the first interns of the Winter Session !

Already new things are happening: the wood is being split and stacked under the

new wood shelter, conversations are brightly connecting our passionate interest

in the relationship of children and nature, wonderful meals are being co-created

and enjoyed.  Canyon is fooling around in the twig nest structure, exploring the simple

tetter-totter made of a big plank over a round stumpy log. 


       In the meantime, weaving in and out, are the down-the-road neighbors, the

Hoyts.  Ruth comes over at breakfast time to plan the cheese making & fermenting class

we are doing on Monday before the Full Moon Potluck... and Tom is bringing in his

awesome forged steel and rock sculptures to photograph in the ambiance of the

Strawbale Studio.  He is going for a Kick Starter grant to support his art work.


A new person calls, Christina, who wants to join in the intern program on Sunday.

She just heard about it, and is coming from an Americorp program, and is involved

in Earth Day Coalition Cleveland, organizing and planting urban lots with native plants.


I connect, by email, her boss with the organizers of Detroit Bioneers around their common

concerns on the large incinerators which affect both Detroit and Cleveland.


Yesterday Jim Bates offered some used batteries to get the Strawbale Studio solar

electric system up and running again. He gets Bob Pratt, retired from Detroit Edison,

on the phone to brainstorm.  The two of them were responsible for getting the

system, donated by Detroit Edison and First Solar of Toledo, installed in the Strawbale Studio

in 1998.  Wow. 

In the process of this conversation, I hear that our local solar company, Unisolar

in Lake Orion, has had to close many of its plants and laid off 400 workers. It's founder

Stan Ovshinsky had a whole PBS Special done on him and his work.  Can't believe it is

going down after so much outstanding innovative work and heart.


So it goes, the hard news, and the incredibly good flows.. that have such true and simple aim...

to create a relationship with nature that is restorative...to the entire community of life.

I trust, most of the time, that this nature-balancing flow is the new paradigm emerging,

like a butterfly from a caterpillar.  I think we are in the chrysalis now, where the degrading

and rebuilding is happening.  Why not like that?


Jan 1, 2012  Direct Connection:

I am taking a Sabbath today, choosing, for one, to connect with nature directly.  I walk outside, observing. That in itself is meditation.  I imagine ways to co-create with this land, this place. Sculpting a camping space among the rock & trees, Firewood everywhere in various forms, ready to gather up for bonfires.  Trees, dead,to become firewood for someone. I notice that it is still green here, mostly low ground cover, grass, oregano, clover...still green in January, and the weather still mild.


I think that one of the missing links in our relationship to nature is...direct connection.We don't need to be outdoors because everything is purchased ....pre-made. Thus we really have little practical motivation to connect beyond a nice walk or recreation. But in natural times, the walk would have been integrated . . . motivated partly by a search for food, a supply, water, firewood and such. And unfortunately most peoplecan't just walk outside and be in nature. I choose to put those things increasingly back in my life.  I enjoy increasing my relationship with life.  Reminder to myself: all our ancestors were indigenous people.


Indoors now, I am researching the nature of buttermilk - its lively microorganisms that preserve as well as contribute to human health.


I am writing out a quote on a piece of birch bark I collected on another walk..using walnut hull ink and a  quill quickly crafted from a stalk of reed grass.


The quote is Robin Mallor's 2012 prediction: " Hold onto your hat - this year will go fast - many rapid changes

including more collapses - your work will become more relevant than ever and you will have plenty of hands, hearts and minds to help. "


May we be able to help each other in a transition to a life-affirming way of living. 


For me, directly interacting with nature in a "practical way" is motivated by enjoyment ... modeled by my parents, and also motivated concern & awareness.  more




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