Repair. Regrow. Rewild
In 2022, when the reckless cruelty of war in Ukraine left hundreds of thousands of my compatriots without homes, I knew I had to learn how to build, repair, and grow things.
Homes so beautiful people would want to rebuild their lives in them and, against all odds, persevere. Neighborhoods that connect people instead of separating them. Gardens that give people a place to recharge and support their self-sufficiency.
Since then, I've been on a journey to learn more about vernacular architecture, natural building, permaculture, and the timeless way of building shared by cultures as different as the Bessarabia of my childhood with its lime-washed, thick-walled cob homes wearing giant thatched roofs, Southern Appalachia with its breezy dogtrot cabins, and rural Japan with houses that weave darkness and light into one remarkable whole.
The Timeless Way of Building
The timeless way of building matters not only when your homeland is ravaged by war. In Texas and all over the U.S., the built environment is no longer shaped by us, who inhabit it, but by deadening commercial development that destroys beauty and offers a surrogate of comfort and abundance while isolating us from one another. And it's hard not to feel helpless about one's ability to change things, as we no longer learn how to design and build houses for ourselves.
Christopher Alexander's Timeless Way of Building and Pattern Language insist on everyone's ability to learn and use the language that gives us the power to create spaces that bring people joy and comfort, making them some of the most important books I've read.
They are also best to read together with others, so ideas can be shared and discussed, new patterns can be discovered, and observations about our environment can be shared, as there's no way to repair one's built environment in isolation from others.
I want to invite others to join me in reading the book series together and meet in person every couple of weeks to share thoughts and ideas about the specific patterns and how we could apply them in our homes, neighborhoods, and towns to repair what is broken, disjointed, or does not bring us joy.
If you would like to join, please send me a note in this brief form, so I can arrange a time that works for the group and bake us something sweet.