We are a family living in the Gulf Islands of BC, following a path that leads us within our values of a natural lifestyle- living as much as we can in partnership with the earth and all of her inhabitants.  We are stewards of 3 acres of land, on which we have completed building the first half of a strawbale/timberframe home, and are currently half way through the building of the second phase.  Throughout the years we have also been  working on developing the garden to grow our own food and to create natural habitat.  For many years we homeschooled our children, and although they are both teenagers now, I have left the homeschooling posts on this blog as I believe the experience we had was positively valuable to the continuing of their education here on the islands.

While I have begun a small weaving business, selling through Etsy as well as at local fairs and galleries, my husband Colin has been our main financial backbone with his own business building furniture, fences, gates, signs and sculptures~ and whatever else people want out of hand split red cedar which he salvages from beaches around Vancouver island.  His artistry with western red cedar has been beautifully developed in the last 20 years. www.thujawoodart.com

Building with us is my mother, Margaret (Nana).  Her super support role involves sharing time with the kids as well as baking and making meals for us while we work.  We value the extended family commitment, and are grateful that it works for us and for her to enter into such an agreement.  The first house we have built is designed as the future 590 square foot suite for Nana, plus a 295 square foot art studio.  We completed building a 400 square foot cob work shop for Colin, and are currently  half way into the second phase of the strawbale house, which adds three bedrooms and a separate living space for our family.  We moved into the bedrooms in February of 2020, and are continuing to build the final level in the next year.

We are sorrounded by a wonderful community of family and friends, and while life is not always easy on a small island with inflated property values, we are putting forward the work of our hearts and finding beautiful responses coming back to us.  Colin and I both grew up on the west coast, and feel deeply connected to the land and the ocean, and we are grateful to see our own children build their connections in a similar way.  So as we settle down in our cozy strawbale home we have created with our own hands, we hope that the inspired energies that have helped guide and propel us forwards will carry through us and back into the greater world to inspire and propel others.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. daniel stark
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 17:07:00

    so very inspiring- I have some Japanese plastering books here-unreal!! also check out Christopher Alexanders books ” PHENOMENON OF LIFE” series from library- you might like….been a while since I have blogged, should add to it


  2. Heather Grant
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 04:38:56

    Lovely blog! I just discovered it.


  3. Kate Sadler (@ktsadler)
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 13:32:24

    You are all so talented! Could I use one of your photos in a poster I’m putting together for some research I’ve been doing about natural permeable plasters buffering extreme humidity levels in bathrooms? The one with clay wall and window – p1150044.jpg It would really help me out. Kate x


    • inspirationalvillage
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 06:52:20

      Hello Kate, I am delighted that you are interested in using one of my photos for a poster. Go ahead. You seem so enthusiastic about the natural building world! Here is another good link here in BC, they have used a natural plaster technique from Morrocco I believe that is waterproof lime plaster for the shower, called Tadelakt. http://ecosenseliving.wordpress.com/.
      Cheers! Wendi


  4. Gary
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 13:01:53

    Now this is how to live!! Perfect lifestyle for me. Glad to find this site and like-minded people. Gary, Hilton,South Africa


  5. sculptingearth
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 12:30:22

    Thanks Wendi for visiting my blog! I have looked briefly at your blog but am waiting for some free time to read it more extensively. It does indeed sound like we share a lot of common values and interests. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. It has been quite an inspiring, rich, and wonderful journey for me so far. Sometimes I want that day to come when I will be ready to settle down but I have a feeling I will be a traveling, wandering soul for some time yet. Perhaps I will come visit your island one day!
    Warmly, Miwa


  6. Danielle
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 22:00:34

    I love what you are doing. I have two small children and my husband and I are contemplating island life. I would like to be in touch if possible to learn more about Pender. We are hoping to go back there soon to look at some land!


    • inspirationalvillage
      Feb 05, 2013 @ 00:37:07

      Hello Danielle! You are welcome to let me know when you might be here on Pender, and I will try to answer any questions you have about island life. It is a truly unique environment to live, and we have never sought to leave after 9 years, but there are limitations that need to be considered and worked around. I hope to hear from you! Wendi.


  7. Joe
    Mar 04, 2013 @ 23:37:21

    Hi Wendi, what a beautiful site, thanks.
    Great to meet you and Colin on Pender, hope to see you again soon.


  8. Jonathan
    Sep 18, 2015 @ 21:48:07

    Hi! My name is Jonathan, an aspiring emergent learning / homeschooling father along with my wife to our three year old son.

    My family and I are looking into different home-schooling/emergent learning communities in BC, both to learn from and possibly to one day move to, and I found your contact information online.

    We would like to get to meet some homeschooling communities on Saltspring, if possible, either on the 28th or 29th when we will be coming through the Gulf Islands. We hope to learn as much as possible about your experiences, but could also share our experiences from Norway.

    If you are interested in meeting on either of those days, or know anybody else who may be interested, please let us know and we can begin planning our trip over!


    • inspirationalvillage
      Sep 19, 2015 @ 02:14:13

      Hello Jonathan,
      Although we are close to Salt Spring Island, we haven’t had very much cross over opportunities with the homeschooling community there. Our group from Pender did a few hikes with the home learners that are registered through the Salt Spring elementary school, and thus had a facilitator who helped with resources and learning plans. I had the sense that there wasn’t much organized, regular activities, however there may well be a community of homeschoolers getting together who are registered elsewhere. Our program on Pender was created many years ago with a focus on a parent planned weekly activity with a facilitator who was hired through the Pender school. I am not sure how many independent, community homeschool groups there are otherwise on the Gulf Islands. My two children have recently enrolled in a new Ecological program offered through the Pender school and so we are not involved in the Spring Leaves program this year. However, our 7 years of homeschooling was amazing and I am sure I could offer some points of discussion. If you would like to meet with the Spring Leaves group, we have always welcomed visitors on activity days and you would just need to contact Julie Johnston, the resource facilitator for Spring Leaves, (her website is Greenheart Education on my “village” links of the blog) and she can fill you in on upcoming activities. They usually meet on wednesdays, which appears to be neither the 28th or 29th. I am sorry that I have no lead for you on Salt Spring. The Phoenix school over there has some hybrid homeschool and regular student classes and could be a good place to inquire about. https://saltspringldp.wordpress.com/
      I am happy to meet with you on either of those days if you are still interested in Pender.


  9. Linda
    Jul 18, 2020 @ 03:19:20

    This is amazing and so inspiring! Love everything that’s been posted here. Just found this recently. Would it be okay to ask how much did the land cost? I currently live in Vancouver. As you know, it’s impossible to think of retiring in this city. I really want to be connected with nature and learn more about nature. Do you know of any community that I can eventually relocate to when I am about to retire? Any information would be much appreciated. Once again, everything on this blog is truly marvelous 🙂


    • inspirationalvillage
      Jul 22, 2020 @ 16:53:07

      Hello Linda,
      Thanks for your positive comments! We purchased this three acre piece in 2008 for 300,000. It was completely raw except for the septic and a garden shed and an old trailer.
      The islands certainly provide great communities, each of the southern gulf islands have their own feel and population size, as do the more northern islands, as far as a housing community goes there is a co-housing complex in Courtney area called Creekside Commons. I don’t know much about it other than that it is very beautiful. We have friends living in the Cowichan Valley and they love the community there.
      I think there are lots of pockets of community all over the Islands, it would just take some exploring!


  10. Coupe
    Feb 10, 2023 @ 06:30:18

    Hi, Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures of your home. It feels warm and really grounding.
    It is very inspiring. I am on Salt Spring and have been willing to make plaster on one of our wall. Would you have a place to recommend to find the clay? I have only found an American company on the Internet. I would love to find a place on Vancouver Island where I could go and see the different colours and textures.
    Wishing you time to enjoy the beauty of your work!


    • inspirationalvillage
      Feb 10, 2023 @ 17:30:18

      Hello Sylvie,
      All the plaster I have done is created using a recipe from scratch that includes not only the clay, but also lime, sand, paper pulp, chopped straw, rice flour, and water. The clay is kaolin clay purchased from a pottery supply store in Victoria. The colours I use are either clay based pigments from the same pottery store or concrete pigments. I usually make colour samples to determine the amount of pigment for the desired colour, custom for each job. American Clay is the only product I know of that can be purchased and applied straight from the bag. I guess what I am saying is, there is no place to see examples specifically for earthen plaster unless you are visiting homes.
      It’s a beautiful way to finish walls and I wish it were more readily available. I have heard good thinghs about the American Clay product other than it is expensive and comes form the US. I believe the Mud Girls over there on Salt Spring would be knowledgable on final clay plasters and could help with supplies perhaps.
      Thanks for inquiring!


      • Sylvie
        Feb 11, 2023 @ 07:17:52

        Many thanks Wendi for your response, I feel even more inspired to start experimenting!

      • Sylvie
        Apr 27, 2023 @ 18:02:04

        Thanks to your inspiration, I have started making paint with sand, pigments, lime, and clay. The result is almost great, just a bit too sandy. I am using a 30/50 sand from Lane Mountain, that’s a bit too coarse. I have been looking around for a more fine sand, but without luck so far. Would you have a resource for fine sand, I would love to hear!

  11. inspirationalvillage
    May 05, 2023 @ 18:06:48

    Hello Sylvie, your experiments sound wonderful! We used masonry sand for our final plaster, purchased from Butler Bros. on the Saanich Peninsula. I am not sure if this sand would be fine enough for paint. I have also had experience with micca, the very fine mineral flecks that are shiny, but I have no idea where it may have come from.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: