Michael Henry Comes to OUR Ecovillage

Michael Henry Comes to OUR Ecovillage

April 6, 2011 Natural Building 0

I’ve got some writers block… which is what happens when I sit and chit chat with a writer about his creative process and the challenges of waiting for the work to pour out, rather than trying to birth it prematurely. All this, immediately after I make a messy stack of notes about what I intended to be writing about, which is Mike Henry’s book, yet untitled, that focuses on sustainability in the context of Natural Building.

Michael HenryThe book is a narrative of Mike’s exploration into the evolution of the Natural Building movement in colder climates, which brought him here, to OUR door. And true to ecovillage style, he had 3 interviews lined up before he could get even get his lunch onto his plate. I couldn’t help myself…

Mike’s first book, Ontario’s Old Growth Forests, is an encyclopedic account of the various old growth forests and trees in Ontario. He covers the various regions, species along with a historical account of the forests, including maps, photos and essays written by experts.  His intentions for this book are slightly different, in that he is not exposing every minute detail of Natural Building.  His desire with the narrative approach is to appeal to people who have a vague interest in Natural Building and provide them with a pictorial tour of different building styles across northern North America accompanied by their contributions to sustainability in the field.

In this attempt to take the discussion further than the fact that everything we do in our modern industrial world is tied to the fossil fuel industry, Mike looks at how Sustainable Building has evolved since the 1970’s in both rural and urban settings.  He brings in the stories of various structures, such as the Saskatchewan Conservation House and the Mill Creek House as well as stories of Natural Building liniages including the Tiny House and passive solar movements and Net Zero housing. He conducts interviews with folks like Jay Schafer, Elke Cole, Rob Dumont, Peter Amerongen, and Conrad Nobert, to name a few, giving the reader an experience of how the question of sustainability is woven into every style of natural and green building.  He discusses the various focuses with regards to sustainability as we move into colder climates and how the techniques and materials used in the buildings shift and change with the regions of Canada: Cob on the west coast, Straw Bale in more southern areas of the midwest, to double stud walls filled with cellulose in the northern prairies.

Of course, the question of the sustainability of writing such a book came up for him, traveling and touring about North America. It turns out that early in the books genesis, he came across this question of how, and eventually began to plan his journey with the use of a veggie powered vehicle for short distances and the train for longer ones.  An undoubtedly more romantic way to write a book! The book itself will hopefully grace our library in 2012.


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