My relationship with natural building started in 1996 when I took a 3-week course from the Cob Cottage Company on the West coast. It was a life-shaping experience in living and building with others, filled with the use of natural materials harvested from the land, food from the garden, bread from the earth oven, evening music, and camping. I came back to Michigan with the advice of my teacher, Ianto, to build with strawbales in this cold climate. I met up with Fran Lee who lived on rural land outside Oxford with her brother and sister-in-law, and together we set out to create a structure that feels like a hug. Inspired by the books Places for the Soul by Christopher Day and Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, we set out on a journey that came to include Carolyn Koch, Gregie Mathews, volunteers, and experts as we practiced the ways of stone, wood, reed, straw bale, and earth. Strawbale Studio became the work of many hands and a labor of love created with much time and perseverance. A small building is a good place to start!
If you’re from Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti, babywearing is delightfully ubiquitous, and so I’ll assume you’re on board with the idea of combining backpacks and babies. Come along on a fantastic hike around our babywearing culture in this mecca for babywearing folks and activities. Babywearing, or carrying babies in slings on your body instead of in strollers, has had a resurgence in popularity in the last decade, as attachment parenting has gone mainstream. According to Allison Valerio of Ann Arbor Babywearers, which meets in Ypsilanti, the last four years in particular has seen an explosion of new babywearing gear on the market, aimed at parents looking for more choices for baby gear even up into toddler-sized baby slings.
There are few places left in our area where we can find natural gems that are virtually unknown yet created for the public’s use and enjoyment. Michigan State University owned and operated Hidden Lake Gardens is just one of those spots in Southeast Michigan within a short and scenic forty-five-minute drive from Ann Arbor.