Kylie, one of the longtime crew around here, does a really cool thing with her summer vacation. She spends a week near Bath, NY at the Peace Weavers' Thunder Mountain Retreat Sanctuary.
She goes to their Natural Building Colloquium and pitches in to build a sustainable building. In past years, she has worked on the guest cabin, retreat cabin and ceremonial building.
As part of the experience, they explore building with things like cob, strawbale, cordwood...all sorts of stuff that doesn't immediately come to my mind when I think about construction. With any luck, it won't be too long before we all know about it the same way that we know about Energy Star appliances.
She also learned all about "living roofs". A living roof is like a rooftop garden but it goes a little further than that. Plants are selected that won't need much care/energy. They don't need to be watered etc. These roofs provide insulation to their building so they keep things cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Kylie's been back less than a month and has already talked to our landlord about taking a section of the roof here and transforming it. If it works the way it should, she'll extend it to cover the whole thing!
Along with all the hard work, there is an amazing sense of community at the retreat. Like Kylie, many of the participants spend their vacations there year after year. She always comes back completely energized with tales of good fun and great people.
This year she returned with stories of one person in particular. Lucky guy is getting his own pair of Jaywalkers knit from our Shepherd Sock in a color that Becca surprised Kylie with just before she left. We call it John Deere and there were only two skeins ever dyed.
At the risk of getting preach-y I have to give Kylie an enormous amount of credit for living the principles espoused at the colloquium. It would be far too easy to come back from the retreat, pat yourself and the back and return to all the habits that make life easier. But she hasn't done that. Among other things she rides her bike to work twelve months a year, regardless of the weather. And she's been doing it for years. No because it's hip and trendy but because she thinks it's right. Brava!