Groundwork

Spring hits and the time disappears.
Everything goes into the ground, and grows from there. 
It seems it grows faster than we can keep up with..
But still we push on through the solstice and towards the fall.
We were lucky to stop and enjoy midsummer by making and eating pizza fresh from the fire of a cob oven at our friends Solara and Tayler's.
They have a permaculture design/ implementation business called Hatchet & Seed based out of North Saanich, BC and do many wonderful things aside from hosting pizza parties. 
It was also great to finally meet Ann and Gord Baird of Ecosense.
I have heard about them and their efforts towards sustainable living, and natural building for years, so it was nice to finally connect.
The community of natural building, and permaculture is one of the most inspiring, and refreshing things. 

solstice


Earlier this year we were lucky to be a part of a series on Natural Building called 'Groundwork'  put out by a production company based out of Victoria called The Number along with some funding by Telus.
The series was recently released, and highlights various natural building techniques including Straw bale, Cob, Timber Framing, and Rammed Earth, as well as many wonderful natural builders throughout BC.



If this inspires you, and you want to get some hands on experience and explore the natural building world, we will be hosting a workshop from August 8th - 19th in Metchosin, BC
In partnership with Pacific Ecoscapes, and the Westmont Montessori school!

In the workshop you will gain skills, connections, understanding and the capability to take on your own natural building projects. We will cover both the theory and the practical application of cob, light clay, straw bale, dry stack stone work, roundwood timber framing, living roofs, and more!

The workshop will be offered in 3 options:
1) Full 2 week course covering everything described above - 800$
2) First week course August 8th - 12th covering foundations, roundwood timber framing, and living roofs - 500$
3) Second week course August 15th - 19th covering cob, straw bale, light clay, and natural finishes - 500$

Bring your creativity, curiosity, and questions as we sculpt a one of a kind structure from the ground up!

We are also happy to offer couples, students, and seniors discounts!

You can register or inquire through our contact page

 


 

Mayne

 

There's magic in places.
You just have to open your eyes and look for it.
I've been lucky enough to find and enjoy many magical places.
This one is no exception.
All the while, sheep frolicking, I'm lucky enough to spend time to help maintain the magic of this place.
 

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This two story load bearing cob was built in 1999 by Cobworks (Pat Hennebery, Tracy Calvert, and Elke Cole) as well as Ianto Evans of the Cob Cottage Company, and many workshop participants. 
You can now find it on Airbnb in the care of our good friends Manny, Alexis (Cob Cottage Craft) and their twin boys Theo and Cory. 

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baby lamb
sheep
 

Hair

Years ago a dear friend and I were graced with the opportunity to be taken in by a beautiful Gwitchin family while hitchhiking in the Northwest Territories. 
We were offered a glimpse into their world.
Inside that glimpse there was grief, there was hope, there was love, there was family, there was culture.
Part of all of that was their grandson.
Whom they were intending on raising as much as they could in their traditional cultural way. At least in as much of a way as they could overcome in the world of western culture that had forced it's way into their lives. Their parents lives. Their grandparents lives. 
He was to let his hair grow long. 
He was to be raised by his grandparents. 
He was to care for them when they could no longer care for themselves.
He was to learn the language.
The only time he was to cut his hair was when there was a loss in his family.
A sign of grieving. A sign of loss.

So much culture has been lost. Maybe that's why a short haircut is so common in men. Who may purposefully turn their backs on culture. Who have lost touch with mother earth. To keep up with the times. To be wooed into a life shy of emotions. Short of connections to anything deeper than the skin. To live a life under the spell of gender division, of stereotypes, of discrimination.
A spell I lived much of my life under.
I was raised with a buzz cut. Never reaching out. I was a boy. 
I was a grandson. 
When I got older I let my hair grow long, and I realized more and more the connection I felt to what really mattered, and more and more to how it affected the stereotypes, and discrimination that were placed on me. The distance that came with being different, with being aware. The western culture that I was raised with.
Cut my hair short.
See my grandparents on holidays.
Let them take care of themselves or have a stranger do it.
Speak English.
Cut my hair short.
My Oma passed away this past week. 
She never liked my long hair.
But she did think it was beautiful.
Same colour as her moms.
Auburn.
So I cut it short. After 4 years of growth.
I've had to cut my losses.
Change course. 
Because I realize that there is much to grieve.
There is also much to be grateful for.
Even though I wasn't there to take care of my Oma in her old age.
{That isn't what either of us would have accepted}
I am so grateful for the time that she was here, and for her love.
Despite our differences.
Although I wish for a different culture than what persists. 
I am also grateful for a culture of acceptance, and reconciliation that I have found.
There is still a lot of grace to be grateful for.

 

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I would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to those who have lost a loved one, or to those who have lost their hair as a result of cancer. 
Last year a beautiful young boy named René Antonio Soto Taylor, who left behind a trail of joy, died due to Neuroblastoma. 
This year our friend Pilar's daughter, Tree, entered into the world of childhood cancer. 
There's no end of possibilities to what, and when, life and death might come, but the best strides to take are those of love, and courage, and support. 

Click on the links below to find out more about Tree and René.
Tree
René
 












Nourish

 

Nourishing space is about as comforting as food that nourishes.
I had the pleasure of helping hone the space of Nourish Kitchen and Cafe's new home in James Bay, Victoria, BC.

dreamweavers collective nourish victoria
dreamweavers collective nourish victoria

 

After spending a lot of time at Nourish's first location in Saanich (Also, well worth visiting) nestled into the Gardens of the Horticultural Center of The Pacific, I was very excited at the opportunity to help them shape their new space a little closer to home. 
With bone broth, benny's, endless ferments, elixirs, local meat and produce, and now dinners, there was a lot to inspire creativity, and motivate me in all that I made, and helped make there. 
The top of the list for me was crafting a table, that sits in the center of the dining room in front of a beautiful fireplace. 
I had come upon some beautiful cottonwood slabs shortly before I ended up at Nourish, and it seemed they were meant to belong there. 
The light colour of the wood, and the soft greys and reds fit right in. 

 

dreamweavers collective nourish victoria

I kept the live edge, and the thickness of the slabs, so as not to lose any of the innate beauty of the wood.

dreamweavers collective nourish victoria

From that same tree came a few other slabs that then became a mantel, and light feature for the parlour/ private dining room on the upper floor to help tie the separate spaces together.

Kelly and her friend, Marla, also had a hand in adding beauty to the space with pressed botanicals.

dreamweavers collective nourish victoria
dreamweavers collective nourish victoria

Cafe area bar, shelves, and many other fine touches by Green Island Builders

dreamweavers collective nourish victoria

Everyone involved with Nourish can't help but seem to be affected by being just that. Nourished. The space transformed, became something really beautiful. I built high bar tables for couples, trimmed the fireplace with rustic steel (bathed in the ocean tide to help the patina along), and the comfort seeped in.  

wattle

 

Autumn is approaching, and it seams we're still catching up from the Spring. The seasons are weaving themselves together, the harvest came early, the respite is coming late, and so it only seams fit to post something from the past. 
This Spring we had the pleasure of weaving a wattle wall for a friend using alder saplings, and cuttings from willow, and dogwood. We respectfully harvested crowded alder saplings, and limited our pruning on every plant so as to not take too much from an individual. Saplings and young branches are quite pliable in the spring, and lessen more and more towards winter. Although some species remain workable year round.
Creating a wattle wall is a great intro to basketry, and other more complex forms of weaving, as well as wattle and daub which is a natural building technique used to create quick, thin, earthen walls, whereby you apply cob to a wattle wall form, pressing it into all the space between, and surrounding the wattle. The light and air that filters through a wattle wall or fence, is particularly pleasing. Wattle also makes great garden boundaries and features, and integrates well with climbing plants. 
So, as autumn and winter approach, spring is surely just around the bend, and I strongly encourage you to try to weave some wattle into your next years plans. 

 

morels

 

When the earth get's blackened, and charred, and most life is turned to ash, there lies the Morel in the wait. 
Feeding on change, and taking advantage of the lack of competition, these beauties spring from the earth along with the cycle of rebirth in the burnt forest. 
I had the opportunity to harvest and dry many morels recently, and spent some time trekking through the deep dark woods with friends, and a cloud of mosquitoes bouncing along behind me. Waiting for any second I spent still while harvesting Morels. But it was well worth it.
I've got some ounces or lbs. available as well so feel free to drop us an e-mail if you would like some delicious wild mushrooms in the mail! 

 

 

Oven Workshop | Chilliwack, BC

 

Saturday, May 9 through Sunday, May 10, 2015

10am - 4pm both days

Workshop fee : $ 110

Join us and the Fraser Valley Permaculture Guild as we spend two days getting our hands dirty while learning the basics of cob, and how to build a traditional earthen, wood fired oven. Covering both technique and theory, you will walk away with the confidence to build your own back yard oven! We will also go over various principles of heat, and fire, including rocket stoves (the twist). Bring your curiosity, questions, excitement and work clothes!

** register now, space is limited ** 

purchase tickets here

 

the grit of it

This past fall we had the pleasure of being interviewed and photographed by Sara Hembree of The Grit of It. Sara is an extremely talented photographer who aims to make honest portraits of people and talk with them about their grit.. the beauty in mistakes, the hard times, and the things you learn along way. 

We encourage you to take some time exploring her site and get to know the grit of those she's scratched below the surface of. 

You can read our interview here  | all photos by Sara Hembree 

 

new + once new

 

I'm feeling sick, and staying in, in our new home, on the eve of a new year. 
So I'm reaching out in ways that I can to mark the passing of linear time, on the Gregorian calendar. That being said, the new year also could have passed yesterday, or on the Winter Solstice, or on the end of other calendars that chart the solar, lunar, and many other paths of existence. The ever moving line between the new + once new.
I'm looking forward to what newness brings at each moment. I'm grateful for what was once new. I am grateful for the line between the two. And for the moments when that line blurs and everything feels new + once new all at once. Things change in those moments. You see the future and the past, and you can feel a shift. You become aware of the change, of the blur. 


The new for me right now is home. I remember reading once that one of the hardest things anything can do is move..
We spent the past month uprooting, not necessarily deep roots and we didn't move far, but still with that shift there is always an adjustment to be made. Things change and we have to re-familiarize  ourselves with our surroundings. At first it can be scary, uncomfortable, and challenging, but there is always going to be what is new, and what was once new. 
The ability to move between the two is a gift, and is one of the greatest things in life.. the potential for great change.. that something that was once new can become new once again, and that all things move, becoming new + once new with inspiring resolution.
All the time.








 

finding a way with nature

As Autumn progresses, and the days get shorter I am reminded more and more that it's a blessing to be outside, and to make the most of the light in the world. Even when it's raining, snowing, hailing.
And sometimes when it's sunny it still feels like it's hailing. Not because ice is raining from the sky, but because ice is ruling from above, and the chill of the world can reign down, and be too much. 
The truth is, people can be cruel, people make mistakes, and they tend to take things for granted, and it's nothing new. 
But I'm still grateful, and I'll say it as many times as it takes because gratitude is what keeps me going. It reminds me that even when I go inside there's still an outside, and there's light in the world somewhere. Even at the darkest of times. 
There's thanks to be given even after much has been taken.
I'm grateful for those who stand for change. 
I'm so grateful for all that flows from me to you.
I'm so grateful that you know what this feels like too. 

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Sending love, warmth, shelter, and gratitude.

 

 

running the river redd

Salmon are in the river.
Running it redd.
Bringing life and death and beauty up into the forest. 


As we travel upstream into the seams of Winter, Autumn is blessing us with all the soft flowing waters of transformation. We'll be busy transforming a small area of land on Pender Island throughout these two seasons, looking towards next spring and summers possibilities, and workshops.  More to come on that.

 

The river may change
But the path remains the same 
Water passes time

 

summer gratitude

Today I am feeling grateful. I am grateful for all the beautiful things that summer brings. The splash of the river, the sweetness of berries, the warmth of the sun. 
I am reminded of the light that is all around, and I'm grateful to soak it in.

This summer I have been busy working on personal projects, as well as with Appleford Building Co. in Victoria, BC, who I am also grateful to be a part of. Kelly has been busy photographing the marriages of wonderful couples all over BC and the States as well as delving into personal photo essays and collaborations with many talented artists in our community.  We are feeling so inspired by the season and by the great work of those around us and would like to encourage you to follow our threads. These are folks who have inspired us, and guided us on our journey, and who knows, you might find some inspiration for yourself, your summer, or the future. 

Here is a little visual journey of our summer thus far. 

-B

summer
summer
summer
summer





woodpecker

It's been a busy week. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. 
As the year has reached it's peak, and everything is in full swing, we begin to descend after a moment of weightlessness. Sometimes the fall can be a scary thing, but as long as we remember to put our energy in the right direction we'll be able to use the momentum of the fall to bring us back up to the peak.
I don't want to get too much into feeling down about the politics of pipelines, and the ways people have been mistreating the earth and each other, but i do want to tell you the story of the woodpecker. 

photo - Isis Kameko Velkova-Andrus

photo - Isis Kameko Velkova-Andrus

Deep in the woodpecker

There lies a drum

It beats red and blood and bone and feather

It's mind is brazen and set

And so is the stage

It's body is cut into a thousand strands

It's hallux digs in

It's tail is exacting

Deep in the woods

A drumming is heard

And it sounds red and blood and bone and feather

A woodpecker is hunting and carving

And performing

It's telling a story

How trees are holy in more ways than one

It's making a living

It's beating a drum

cob in the suburbs

Most cob structures we see are built in remote areas where the owners have lots of land and privacy. This oven however, was built in the suburbs on a small lot in a quaint neighborhood. Everyone who passed walking their dog or going for a jog had to stop and see what we were up to. And we loved it!  We want cob to be accessible and of interest to everyone. How amazing would it be if natural homes were included in building code?! Portland has now approved of light straw clay as an insulator and we are hoping more cities will follow suit. Change is happening! 

Here are some photos from cob in the suburbs!

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cob workshop

we had a great turnout for our cob workshop this past weekend in errington, bc! from children to adults, experienced cob builders to novice mud stompers, we had the full spectrum. in one day, we were able to complete most of the cob oven, covered theory on cob ovens, homes and other fire techniques and had plenty of time to make new friends and build community. we will be doing the finishing plaster on the oven next weekend so if you are interested in that, come on by! below are some photos from the day, thanks to all who attended the workshop! 


to the sea

we had the pleasure of building a natural staircase from the top of a cliff right to the beach. not a bad view to work from!  we used repurposed wood along with driftwood and beached logs found on site. we always try to emulate the landscape into what we are building and I feel that these stairs truly blend right in.  

 

wooly friends

We are so lucky to have so many friends who live in such beautiful places. We are even luckier that they welcome us into their homes and lives. We recently spent some time on Mayne Island with our friends Alexis, Manny and their twin boys, Corey and Theo.  They have a beautiful cob house on their property that we stayed in. It was the prefect little get way for us! Alexis is an amazing fiber artist and I had the privilege of photographing some of her work. Bryce even took some shots too! (he's getting to be quite the photographer) 

You can see more of Alexis's work here

 

into the desert

There is no denying that I love the desert. Something about the heat... yes, that unrelenting heat paired with the vastly open landscape of monotonous color that inspires me and brings me to a total state of calm.

For Christmas, my family set out to Joshua Tree, CA to explore the unique landscape and have a little adventure. We also took a little detour to revisit the place Bryce and I met - Salvation Mountain. 

 

hello

Why, hello there. Thanks for checking out our site and blog. We are really excited to share with you in our journey of natural building, farming, crafting, food making, community building and altogether good life living!

Heres a little visual journey of who we are and what we've been up to.