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Be sure to check back regularly to see just what chips have been falling in our "slow studio".

Our Planet’s Largest Living Tree - a poem

by: Sheila Taylor

General Sherman


General Sherman?
General Sherman?
Who in the world is he?
The General is by volume earth’s largest living tree!
Is this an American General?
Where do this General stay?
Why yes this is an American General who lives in the USA!
How big is the General?
Does he really deserve this rank?
He’s about 300 feet tall and can withstand the hit of a tank!
Okay this General is tall, and a tank?
Is he that sound?
Yes indeed he is, this General is over 100 feet round!
Can you tell me more about him, where can I see his bark?
He stands in a Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.
A few years ago he lost a branch that was over 8 feet long.
That did not change his status, he still stands just as strong.
If you can come out to see him, you would not believe what you see!
It is amazing to stand gazing at earth’s largest living tree!

​Artisan Works at Kew Gardens

 

David Nash @ Kew Gardens
by Dana Stoll

For the first time in over a decade, wood artist David Nash can be found “mining” sustainably sourced wood at his quarry in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. World renowned for their research and conservation efforts, Kew Gardens seems the perfect backdrop to host an exhibit by the prolific sculptor. It is a deeply-embedded concern for the environment and for the appreciation of nature that unites the two and resonates in everything they do. Nash’s own method is environmentally-minded and in alignment with RWF’s “Respect the Tree” philosophy. In his wood quarry at Kew, Nash mines trees made available naturally through storms or disease. One tree, for instance, was killed by an infestation of beetles. Signs posted all around the exhibit inform the visitor that these trees have reached the end of their natural life, they were not harvested for the sake of art. Utilizing wood that has been sustainably sourced is an integral part of Nash’s creative method, and his long career working with this medium has enabled him to gain a special appreciation of trees. 
As an artisan, Nash does not impose his will upon the wood; rather, he views the sculpting process as a synergistic collaboration between the tree and the artisan – one in which he listens to the wood, and lets it speak. In viewing Nash’s sculptures strewn throughout the glasshouse gardens of the Temperate House, it was the imperfections of the wood – the cracks, the warping, the knots – that speak the strongest. Nestled in and among the plants and trees, Nash’s natural art, in the splendor of its flawed beauty, is enhanced by the contrast with the perfection of nature itself.

Artisan Works at Kew Gardens

 

A Tree Talks

The Talking Tree

The Talking Tree

by Richard Harris

Everybody has an opinion on Nature. But what about Nature’s opinion?
EOS magazine decided to give Nature the means to talk.
A 100 year old tree, living on the edge of Brussels, was hooked up to a fine dust meter, ozone meter, light meter, weather station  webcam and microphone. This equipment constantly measures the tree’s living circumstances. And translates this information into human language. Then, the tree lets the world know how he feels. Follow the life of the talking tree via YouTube, Flickr and Soundcloud. And friend him on Facebook.

Click here to go to the tree's blog.
Click here to see a "making of" video.

A Tree Talks

Greener Streets - Brussels

by Richard Harris

The pedestrian only area around the historical core of Brussels has just been doubled in size. The actual core had been pedestrian only for years and a nearby shopping area was also. Now they have been joined so that the whole network of medieval streets is now off limits to vehicles.

The work took many months to the intense frustration of the local merchants, the shoppers and the tourists. To celebrate the completion the city threw a daylong party and even invited extraterrestrials. Now, the Unesco World Heritage site that is the Grand' Place and its surroundings is a pedestrian's paradise.

Greener Streets - Brussels

The Responsible Company, a how to guide for responsible businesses

by Kiersen Nichols

In a time of environmental and economic crisis Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley have created a light of practicality, clarity, and hope with their new book “The Responsible Company”. The seasoned mountain man and Patagonia founder Yvon along with company vice president Vincent took the stage at the Yale Center for business to speak about facing the limits of the economy and maintaining a thriving business while being cognizant of environmental factors. Together, the two brought forth the overall message of simplicity, quality, and knowledge.

  • The duo explained the book as a ‘how to’ guide for responsible businesses. This idea came from a grassroots creation called Napa Green which outlined actions of sustainability wineries and vineyards could be taking.  These actions manifested in a checklist; should a grower or producer meet a given percentage of sustainable requirements they receive a Napa Green certification. “The Responsible Company” comes with a similar checklist for companies and businesses.  This checklist reminds companies of the actions they can be taking and also ignites an interest in finding more ways to be environmentally conscious.  With this comes the understanding of not just the product itself, but what the product produces.  The two men emphasized the waste products of production; how much water is used, where that water came from, etc.  Knowing these things are what makes for a responsible business.

Surviving in an economic downturn while remaining kind to the environment is not as hard as one would think, according to Yvon.  During a recession people are less frivolous, they want practical products that are functional and made to last.  Yvon stated that he believed that any trouble in business or question in business can be answered by increasing the quality of the product.  

In the United States the production line has been completely removed.  There is little knowledge of where and how products are produced.  Yvon expressed adoration for small scale, labor intensive work that employs more people in meaningful jobs.  By doing this one not only creates a better product but they help the economy.  

The simplest answer, he says, is normally the correct one, and right now most companies involved in large scale production are overly complicated.  Vincent Stanley added that large scale production requires less knowledge and less effort; it also requires less jobs and a more poorly created product.  

Mr. Stanley pointed out that in the future, for a business to survive with the ecological limitations we will face or exceed, the manager must have a better understanding of his/her operation, more knowledge about his trade.  This idea was relayed back from an environmentalist side - that businesses need to learn from nature rather than actively acting against it.  Nature loves diversity, hates mono culture  and that is how a successful business must be run - without conglomeration.

The conversations of business and conservation were nothing short of philosophical.  It is amazing what Patagonia has been able to achieve through taking risks and being vigilant.  Care for quality and ethical treatment has led to an inspirational and successful company.   

In the end Yvon admitted that running a responsible company can be “a pain in the ass”; however, it is the business owners duty to the consumer and the environment to ensure that sustainable and healthy practices are followed.

The Responsible Company, a how to guide for responsible businesses

The Major Oak In Nottingham

The Major Oak in Nottingham

The Major Oak in Nottingham

by Janine Pounder

The Major Oak

In Nottingham, we don’t just have tales of ethical outlaws, but deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest sits the Major Oak, the oldest and I dare say, the most famous tree in the UK. Steeped in legend, the notorious hiding place of Robin Hood is thought to be over 800 years old. Along with this feat, the Major Oak has also been credited as the largest tree in Britain weighing a staggering 23 tons; with a girth of 33 feet its branches expand 92 feet.

Also known as Quercus Robur, an English or pedunculate oak, its species nurtures the greatest biodiversity of insects than any other plant in Britain, and certainly has an impressive mass.

Originally named the ‘Cockpen Tree’, it was used to hold game birds for cock fighting under the branches. It was renamed in 1790 by Major Hayman Rook, a local antiquarian. Rook wrote a book cataloguing all the oak trees of Sherwood. The tree was titled ‘The Major’s Oak’ before its evolution to its recent name of ‘The Major Oak’.

Whether or not Robin Hood did live inside the trunk will always be an area of debate, but one certainty is that the Major Oak is naturally hollowed by fungi which has slowly eaten away at the bark. Since 1908, conservation measures have been enforced to preserve what has been voted ‘Britain’s favourite tree’ by the National Tree Council. Because of its gargantuan structure the tree has to be supported by wooden beams.

Sherwood Forest is thought to have begun its life some 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, and despite much of the forest being felled during the medieval period, much of it has been preserved, giving visitors an insight into what England would have looked like before its landscape was altered by farming. Alongside its award-winning tenant, Sherwood Forest has recently been named a National Nature Reserve by English Nature, an organisation dedicated to conservation and the enhancement of biodiversity.

The forest houses over 1,000 ancient oaks and, being home to rare beetles, bats, fungi and birds, is recognised as an area of scientific interest. This year, the Olympic torch passed through Sherwood and visited the Major Oak as part of its 8,000 mile relay through England. The interest the tree generated in the national media drives home the historical and cultural significance of green spaces, and sends a clear message of how important environmental preservation is to our communities.

When asked to name examples of cultural or historical significance, most people tend to think of man-made structures such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or Big Ben in London.

However, the natural world can provide us with a richer insight into history than any structure created of brick and mortar. A hub of conservation and education, the Major Oak and its surrounding forest are just one of many locations around the world that are important to preserve not just for the environment, but our respective heritage.

References:
Sherwood Forest
Major Oak 
Major Oak History 
Related Link

I have images of the Major Oak, which have been taken by photographer Breixo Marino. He has granted me permission to use his images. Thanks

The Major Oak In Nottingham

Talking Trees and Dendrochronology

by Ericka Michal

When I was a kid in rural Washington State, I grew up on the property my father was raised on.  I heard the stories from my grandparents about how when my father, the seventh of eight children, was a toddler he used to like running off and trying to hide, so they put a red hat on him to be able to spot him on the hundred acres of old-growth timber.  

My grandparents came from Slovakia, and were a team in every aspect of the word.  When they cut the firewood or lumber, my grandmother and grandfather worked the crosscut saw together—split, stacked, and hauled the finished product to its designated spot.  

My dad bought twenty of the hundred acres and the house from his parents, and we had a routine every year as I was growing up: to venture to the swamp and cull the widow-makers and snags for firewood that coming winter.  Dad would warm up his Stihl chainsaw after carefully filing the chain to sharpen its teeth, and tell us all to stand back with our safety goggles in place.

Sawdust would fly; the buzz of the chainsaw would fill your ears, and then cut out just before the telling crack of the tree falling.  We had the joy of calling “Timber!” as the tree was going down, and resting on the stump as dad came back from checking on the fallen tree.  It was one of those times that my dad informed me I was sitting on a map of the tree’s life.

I quickly hopped up and looked around me.  He pointed at the tree stump, and at the tree’s freshly cut log end.  “Those rings tell you how old a tree is, and what kind of life or environment has happened while it grew.”  We counted the rings of the trees after that every year and dendrochronology was a word I became familiar with at seven years of age.  

Now, as an anthropology major in college, I have learned more about dendrochronology, and that even the Viking ships that are unearthed, are able to be dated by the tree rings within the slabs or logs on their ships, along with the knowledge of where the tree was likely harvested from and the weather or climate conditions the tree had endured up to the time of its harvest.  

People often say, “if trees could talk...” Well, they do.  Every tree is unique and has a story to tell, which is why I enjoy looking at the furniture Robin Wade makes, and deciphering what the tree went through before I was able to enjoy its wood in my table, chair, bench, or counter-top.  I wonder who sat under its branches many years ago, had their first kiss, shot a bear or deer to feed the family.

Because trees do talk; trees do talk, try listening for yourself.

See Tree-ring.

Talking Trees and Dendrochronology

Seaside Sustainable Living Tour

by Brendan Thompson

On Sunday September 9th, the California central coast city of Seaside held its third annual Sustainable Living Tour. Previous tours had focused on sustainably designed homes but this year the focus was more on DIY home improvements made by owners, showing that almost anyone can reduce their living costs and increase their contributions to improving the environment and local community.

The self-guided tour began with registration at the Seaside Garden Center, which specializes in drought-resistant and native plants. The Garden Center also sells various composts and soils for planting as well as tools and equipment. This year the Garden Center also hosted a talk by Jimmy Rogers of Kellogg Garden Products, during which he discussed soil health and beneficial mycorrhiza.

Pictures:

   0101 – The tour kicks off at the Seaside Garden Center

   0102 – A sampling of some of the Seaside Garden Center's native and hardy plants

At the tour's first home, Tom Hughes and Cathy Rivera showcased a variety of sustainable projects throughout a large backyard – an array of vegetable gardens are pollinated by bees from the ten hives spaced around the property. These vegetable gardens are constructed from Hardieplank siding, whose product is strong, cost-effective, and eliminates some of the warping issues that wood can have. The vegetables are grown in mushroom compost, which is weed-resistant and free except for hauling costs from Salinas Mushroom Inc. or Global Mushrooms. Tomatoes are grown along the south facing wall to take advantage of seasonal sun in this mostly foggy climate. A 3,000 gallon catchment tank captures rainwater from the second floor gutters, and a storage system is under construction that will store up to 5,000 gallons. Almond and fruit trees are watered using greywater diverted from the laundry and bathtub using a branched drain system popularized by Art Ludwig.

Pictures:

   0201 – Several of the 10 beehives spaced throughout the backyard

   0202 – A rainwater catchment and storage basin is under construction

Home two featured a greenhouse and several catchment tanks, one of which is situated beneath a deck to save space. Walkways made from broken shipping pallets curve from the front yard into the gently sloping backyard and allow easy access to the many vegetable gardens. Recycled gallon milk jars are used as watering cans. The backyard was originally completely neglected and the present owner Marty Davis is currently about halfway through her planting and building process, covering the bare dirt with wood chippings and installing gopher-proof planter boxes.

Pictures:

   0301 – Walkways are made from broken shipping pallets
   0302 – A rainwater catchment tank is housed underneath a deck


At the third home visitors were greeted with creations by a kindred spirit to our own Robin Wade: woodworking artist Michael Wildgoose creates custom furniture from salvaged wood and he also showed tour participants the homemade shed studio in his backyard. Michael found most of the materials for the shed and his pieces – benches, cabinets, doors and more – by exploring local salvage yards, Monterey Regional Waste Management District's Last Chance Mercantile, Habitat for Humanity's Re Store and Randattzo Enterprises. Since the shed studio is 120 square feet, Michael actually didn't need a permit to build it according to Seaside's building codes. However, it provides plenty of room for a small library, furniture and a work desk. The distinctive slanting cylindrical designs in Michael's furniture are either bamboo or tamarisk, a.k.a. salt cedar.

Pictures:

   0401 – Michael Wildgoose creates distinctive furniture with reclaimed materials

   0402 – A shed studio in the backyard designed and built by the homeowner

At the tour's fourth home, nestled atop one of Seaside's tallest hills, a tiered garden of succulents and drought-resistant plants frames a spectacular view of Monterey Bay. Louise and Peter Berry enlisted the help of landscape designer Helen Garcia to arrange their plantings, and they set up fruit trees and herb/vegetable gardens just outside their kitchen door. Small gazebos, shade structures and a fire pit made partly from recycled truck parts are spaced comfortably throughout the lush backyard, helping residents and visitors to sink into a relaxation almost immediately. A whimsical sun sculpture adorns a large homemade compost box. During the tour the owners made some of their many plants available for sale, with proceeds going to Sustainable Seaside.

Pictures:

   0501 - Succulents and hardy plants frame a spectacular view of Monterey Bay

   0502 – A compost bin decorated with a sun sculpture

The fifth home showcased full-scale sustainable construction as well as gardening. Multitalented landscape and architectural designer Tracy Parker has completely renovated a dilapidated house to serve as her own home and studio. Outside, a rainwater flows under a reclaimed redwood deck into a permeable stone basin which feeds native plants and fruit trees. Inside, white walls  and a high entryway with south-facing clerestory windows contribute to a welcome cooling effect during the hot summer months. Tracy also created much of the furniture inside and outside the house. She plans to implement a Rainwater HOG catchment system , an innovative modular design that can be stacked in compact spaces and even between joists or beams in buildings and can be used for thermal mass.

Pictures:

   0601 – South-facing clerestory windows make the most of seasonal sun

   0602 -     The designer/homeowner's attention to detail is evident in the structure

At the tour's sixth home, Mary Pat O'Rourke and carpenter Don Basseri make extensive use of rainwater catchment. Two 1,500 gallon tanks serve the backyard and one in the front yard takes care of fruit trees. A network of pipes connects the three pipes to the roof, and a simple switch in the front yard allows control over the water's distribution. The backyard tanks are supported by a wooden enclosure which features two sculptural fountains. The fountains were found at local gardening stores, but the water they are fed with is all captured by the system.

Pictures:

   0701 – 1,500 gallon tanks store rainwater and parse it out to the surrounding plants

   0702 – The tanks have more than enough water left over to feed two decorative fountains

The tour's seventh and final home played host to several speakers throughout the day – I only caught the tail end of a talk on healthy eating but did manage to hear and see the home's owner, Susan Ragsdale-Cronin, give a demonstration of 'hot' vs. 'cold' composting – hot composting involves weekly turning, whereas cold composting is left alone – the cold method takes longer but provides richer fertilizer. Susan mentioned that a lot of coffee shops will give away their extra grounds, and placing cut-up potatoes in a top layer of compost is a good way to tell when the compost is ready; when the potatoes have grown, the compost is done. Susan then showed the tour participants around her extensive backyard, home to chickens and a wide variety of plants, many of which are 'volunteers' – a stray seed takes hold and she simply lets it grow. Many of the plants are fed with greywater from hand washing her dishes, and she pointed out that a clothes dryer can use more energy than a refrigerator so she dries clothes on the line.

Pictures:

   0801 – The homeowner demonstrates the difference between 'hot' and 'cold' composting

   0802 – The extensive and beautiful backyard is largely fed with greywater    

This year's tour provided a glimpse into some of the simple and cost-effective ways ordinary people can green their homes or even apartments, and next year I hope to revisit some of these homes and see how they progress!

Seaside Sustainable Living Tour

​Romania’s Letea Forest

by Robert-Phillip Bazoiu

Romania is proud to call Letea Forest its oldest natural reservation - and it has a good reason to being the only forest in Europe where lianas grow. The flowers lend the area a genuine subtropical aspect. As if lianas in Eastern Europe weren’t peculiar enough, Romania's Letea Forest impresses its visitors even more with all its vegetation growing on sand. The combination of the sound of galloping wild horses, rare tropical plants, and sandy terrain all make for a truly extraordinary sight. Found in the equally astounding Danube Delta, Romania's Letea Forest is home to a wide variety of trees such as the Narrow-Leafed Ash, Silver Lime, White Poplar, Black Poplar, and the English Oak, all of them growing bent over and contorted as they follow the water’s course within the soil. Some of these trees have enjoyed the forest’s sands for as much as seven hundred years, more than enough time for wild vines to weave themselves into intricate patterns along their branches. Scattered throughout Romania's Letea Forest one can find wooden benches, crafted from the remains of fallen trees, so one can stare in awe at this seemingly timeless display of trees and sand dunes while catching one’s breath. At the end of the day, one realizes that Romania's Letea Forest stands out as a forest in a niche of its own, far away from more commonplace landscapes and closer to something more surreal, something that serves to remind, nature itself is oft times unconventional.

Explaining why the trees there are bent over.

Seeing as this is my first written blog post I'd be happy with receiving as much feedback as possible. Thanks!


Romania’s Letea Forest

Romanias Letea Forest

Romanias Letea Forest

Sustainable Practices of Martha's Vineyard

Transient

by Katalin Soni

If you have never been to Martha’s Vineyard, add it to your to-do list. If you have never heard of Martha’s Vineyard, you are in for a treat. The following is a brief overview of life on the Island and will help explain why this place is so special to so many. 

Farms. Lots of farms. Big farms (like Morning Glory) and small farms (like one of the twenty front-yard farm stands you pass when driving on a single winding road.) On the Vineyard, growing local produce is a way of life. The Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ market draws crowds from all corners of the island to sell, buy, and be merry together. With live music and a playground adjacent to the market, the community celebrates fresh produce, baked goods, and small-scale businesses.

In addition to the farmers’ markets, the Vineyard hosts a plethora of artisan fairs and flea markets at which you can purchase antiques, handmade beach-inspired jewelry, fine photography, alpaca-wool products (yes, there is an alpaca farm on the island) and countless other lovely items. At Featherstone Center for the Arts, there are weekly art classes for the public. These classes cover painting, pottery, silk screening, drawing, and much more.

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and International Film Festival provide audiences with unique and moving films that are hand-plucked by a passionate, diverse staff. At the end of each film there is a Q & A session featuring someone who was directly involved in the film making process.

The island has a variety of scenery that could please even the most scrupulous traveler. With charming lighthouses, fishing villages, rolling pastures with flowers, horses, and sheep, and enough shades of green to make your head spin, the Vineyard is rightfully a desirable vacation destination. On the west side of the island at Menemsha Beach, hordes of people gather to watch spectacular sunsets with cups of fresh clam chowder in hand. Each beach has a different personality and different perks. At State Beach, you will often find bio luminescence sparkling at night, creating a second starry sky in the water. At South Beach, the shore extends as far as the eye can see in either direction- a vast stretch of salty solitude. At Great Rock Bight, rocks are smooth, shiny and as colorful as Skittles.

On the Vineyard, beach barbecues and fishing adventures are not saved solely for the weekend; each day is beautiful and deserves to be enjoyed. People share their skills and are always willing to cooperate with each other. The land is pure and bountiful, and the island natives are keen to keep it that way. Many islanders respect the natural ebb and flow of time and nature, primarily eating fruits and vegetables that are in season. While the island is heavily populated during the hot summer months, crowds disappear almost immediately after Labor Day weekend. However, Island fun does not stop with falling temperatures. During autumn and winter, the people of Martha’s Vineyard get together for hearty potlucks and lively contra dances. 

While the Island is generally a picturesque escape from reality, Martha’s Vineyard has its own problems and controversies like any other community. That being said, this place is truly magical and has a great deal to offer for people of all ages.

Sustainable Practices of Martha’s Vineyard

Do you respect wood?

by Hande Ergun

During one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, we hear Julia Louis-Dreyfus ask and reask the question 'Do you respect wood?', accusing Larry David of leaving a beverage ring on her antique wooden coffee table, asking that he pay for its repair. When everyone chooses to believe her, he devotes himself to finding the real culprit to clear his name for the rest of the episode.

Embellishment for the sake of humor may be inevitable, but it is no exaggeration to say that wooden objects and furniture have an important place in a lot of people's lives. I am sure that there are some people for whom even a simple wooden salad bowl or a wooden rocking chair conjures up some lovely memories of childhood.

I personally have plenty of those memories. My grandmother was fond of wooden furniture, had good taste and had many of them custom-made. Among them were stands with mirrors, nesting tables, coffee tables, arm chairs, chests and bed frames. Yes, they were really pretty and, I think, they carried a sense warmth, especially sitting on carpets which covered every room - as all Turkish homes.

Now I retrospectively realize that my brother and I also used to see them as toys. We used to climb some of those tables if there was nobody around, play and then fall asleep underneath the 8 person mahogany oval dining table, or take out each piece of the nesting tables and then carefully stack them back together. My grandmother, aunt, and mother already had all kinds of preemptive wood protection methods set up. Each of the nesting tables had place mats on them, the French Bergere wingback chairs had small embroidered cloths on the arms.

What Robin Wade brings into people's lives with his craft, especially with custom furniture, is also exactly this; contributing in something that will become a part of their memories and continue living with them. I can now understand and appreciate why my grandmother had  furniture made and why she was proud to have them.


Do you respect wood?

Custom Made Desks

Custom is our specialty at Robin Wade Furniture

Custom is our specialty at Robin Wade Furniture

by Rachel Bergstrand

Feeling a lack of stimulation at work? The problem might be your surroundings—but don’t worry; Robin Wade Furniture has the solution. Each piece of Robin Wade furniture is as unique as the tree it came from. Every item comes embedded with its own individual history, providing the customer with the inspiration needed to power through the work day. Clients who submit a custom order will find they become a participant in Robin’s vision. In the off chance that two customers choose the same exact design, the unique grain of each slab of wood sets each piece apart from its brethren. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult not to get excited to sit down at your desk and get to work knowing that your desk was designed with you in mind.

Custom Made Desks

Custom Desk - in process

Custom Desk - in process

Celebrating Mother Nature’s Unique Creations

by Laura Evans

While researching Robin Wade Furniture, I came across the phrase, “celebrates Mother Nature’s unique creations…”  At first I wasn’t sure why this phrase made an impact on me, but I realized that the phrase combines nature and creativity, which in essence is the purpose of Robin Wade Furniture, and most sustainable furniture. The phrase shows a beautiful representation of what naturally torn down trees should be used for.


Sustainability is defined as a long-term maintenance of responsibility, and responsible management of resource use. Sustainable furniture allows for Mother Nature’s beauty to be a part of every home, but also shows that we are doing our job towards protecting the earth. As Robin notes, it “gives nature a voice and a personality in your home”, and allows you to leave all the hard work to him!

Celebrating Mother Nature’s Unique Creations

MSU Showing delivery yesterday

Wednesday local intern James Thigpen and I delivered a trailer (half) full of various pieces of our work for a showing that began today at the Mississippi State College of Architecture.  The work seemed to be warmly received.  Even by the student's that carried these monsters up the stairs.  James mentioned how interesting it was watching the architecture students approaching each of the pieces of nature's slab / art / furniture.  

Interesting how architects seem to get my work better than any other segment that I've been able to pin down.  I might be able to add architecture students to this group.

I'm hoping to get back for the reception in a couple of weeks.

Mississippi State University School of architecture setup for a showing that begins Thursday.

Mississippi State University School of architecture setup for a showing that begins Thursday.

Martha Stewart likes RWF!!!!!?

Just found out yesterday that we were nominated to Martha Stewart's American Made Contest.  Already have a link on the MS site and have received a few votes.  If you like RWF, we need your help.  You can vote once per day for the next two weeks.  Please vote for us!!!  Voting is on the Martha Stewart Site

Click on link photo below will get you straight to the MS site.  Just scroll down, to find our listing, for the Audience choice awards.

American Made - Martha Stewart

American Made - Martha Stewart

Veggie Thursdays!

by Richard Harris, Brussels

The open air market on Saint-Gilles church square has been operating for centuries starting when Saint-Gilles was a small village on a hillside overlooking Brussels. The fields around the village are where people first started cultivating Brussels sprouts over 600 years ago taking advantage of the many natural springs that flowed down the hill. Now Saint-Gilles is one of the 19 boroughs that make up Brussels and it's a lively mix of different ethnicities and nationalities living in handsome Art Nouveau and Art Deco neighborhoods. As well as the age-old Sunday morning market there are morning markets four other days a week, though they tend to offer more dry goods than food. The Sunday morning market is the classic food market with everything from a fishmonger to a guy who sells nothing but potatoes. In between there are fowl merchants, butchers, vegetable stands, fruit stands, cold cuts and cheese stands, olive sellers, bakers, wine merchants etc.  Last year a gourmet/organic  evening market was created on Thursday evenings and it's a big success with quite a few prepared food stands and organic beer and wine merchants. The whole square becomes one big café terrace filled with animated conversations as everyone relaxes after a day's work.

EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternatives) is a Belgian organization which promotes vegetarian eating through a number of different actions - information stands, conferences, cooking classes, their website, and special events. They promote Veggie Thursdays to get people to eat vegetarian at least one day a week. As they tell it, if a person has one meatless day per week that person will eat 250 less animals during his/her lifetime. And since it takes 22 pounds of grain and 4,000 gallons of water to produce 2 pounds of beef and also since livestock raising contributes one fifth of greenhouse gasses, everyone doing a meatless day will help appreciably to lower the world's carbon footprint. Which brings us to today's event. EVA decided to take advantage of the popularity of the Saint-Gilles Thursday evening market and set up what they claim is the longest vegetarian table ever in Belgium for a Veggie Afternoon/Evening.
The food was phenomenal and everyone had a fabulous time.

Veggie Thursdays in Brussels

Veggie Thursdays in Brussels

open air market on Saint-Gilles church square

open air market on Saint-Gilles church square

Ben Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

I want to fill my life and my films with wild, brave, good-hearted people. Whatever amount of chaos and disaster that leads to doesn't matter, because you're going through it with the people you love, and in the end, no matter what, the movies come out wild, brave, and good-hearted.  Ben Zeitlin

Sounds like a pretty good furniture company mantra to me.  It's not showing here yet, but I can't wait..  Cannes and Sundance love it.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to.  Let me know if it's showing anywhere around here.

Ben Zeitlin

Ben Zeitlin

The Greenest Event - Johannesburg

I just ran across this video of the Greenest Event which was held earlier this month in Johannesburg.  What an amazing meeting of environmental minds - in South Africa.

the Regenerative House

the regenerative house - portland

the regenerative house - portland

by Brendan Thompson, Pacific Grove California

In Portland, Oregon I had the pleasure of helping Scott Howard and his capable crew build an earth bag house. Scott has been a creative builder for most of his life, and is dedicated to bringing more ecological and affordable housing into existence. In 2002 he founded Earthen Hand Natural Building  to educate people through hands-on construction workshops. Over the past decade the Earthen Hand team has traveled to Thailand, Jamaica, Mali, and Puerto Rico, teaching and learning from the locals.


Scott's latest project is the Regenerative House, a modular open-source design that is extremely cost effective, easy to build and environmentally friendly. The philosophy behind the Regenerative House aligns with that of the Living Building Challenge, a competition which recently won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge “...the highest possible level of environmental performance, envisioning a built environment that is fully integrated with its ecosystem. It pushes the building industry to re-imagine business as usual, and it transforms building occupants from passive consumers into active stewards of increasingly scarce resources.”


The Earthen hand team held a building workshop July 14-31, to create a prototype of this groundbreaking blend of ancient and modern technique. The building will be sited at the Wirikutu Peace Fellowship in southern Colorado, future site of a Shambala Buddhist retreat and ecovillage.


The home achieves its remarkable self-sufficiency through a variety of technologies. Here are some of the most innovative:  Hiperadobe: A plastic mesh bag, rather than a traditional closed-weave sack, encases small earthbags. This method uses less plastic and allows individual bags to pack together more tightly without the aid of barbed wire.


Ancient Nubian vault shape roofing: A curved roof structure follows the inverted shape of a chain hanging from each end (similar to a parabola). This technique allows for incredibly strong structural support without using much wood or any temporary formwork. First used in ancient Egypt, the technique was revitalized by the 20th-century Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy.
Earth berm around house: Depending on climate and soil types, the grading that slopes up to cradle the sides and rear of the building may have slightly different contours, but the overall effect is a passive heating and cooling mass that keeps the building warm in cool weather and cool in warm weather. In the 'urban' version of the designs, buttresses can be used instead of soil.
Myco-insulation and mycofiltration: Grown insulation comes in the form of mycelium (the 'root' structure for mushrooms) mixed with agricultural byproducts, then formed into any shape. These materials can be returned to nature after use, and careful drying during the formation process ensures that moisture and mold never become an issue. A mycelium mat and bucket system is also used to filter rainwater and reduce bacteria.


Vertical gardens and edible landscaping: Making the most of compact spacing for vegetation, many food needs can be addressed with just a few steps outside instead of a trip to the supermarket.  Solar heat storage using vegetable oil: In addition to the solar electricity and energy-efficient LED lights, solar heat can be passively stored in a tank of vegetable oil in the home. The sun energy is captured by small capillary tubes just inside the windows that only block harmful rays. These tubes all lead to the central storage tank

Earthen Hand is currently raising funds for construction of the Regenerative House and will be keeping video and photo records in order to create a documentary of the process. They currently have a time-lapse video of construction on an earlier version of the Regenerative House on their funding proposal page. For more information, to see the video or to donate, please click here.

the Regenerative House