What originally inspired you to become a Watershed Artisan? And what continues to inspire you as a renowned Watershed Artisan who has done international restoration work?
I didn’t originally set out to be an artisan in the field of land restoration. First I was simply drawn in by the need to heal the degraded land I saw everywhere. As I gained more experience, I came to understand that the structures and treatments that I was building had to stand the test of time, or nature would simply push them out of the way. My background in art always gave me an appreciation for craftsmanship and aesthetics, that come out in most of what I do naturally, it’s part of who I am. Restoration work taught me that craftsmanship meant the difference between necessary repairs or worse after every flood, or a well built structure that needed maybe just some small tweaks. I began to see that the structures that work the best really had their own sense of beauty, especially when they are artfully blended into the surrounding landscape. I’ve learned to smooth out edges because in this line of work, the edges of structures often become points of failure. That smoothing really enhanced the beauty and functionality of what I was doing and I now understand that the two are inextricably linked. If it’s not beautiful, it probably won’t last.
Unexpected things emerge from that beauty, and that inspires me. People respond to the beauty. For example when I help someone make something that they didn’t have any idea of how to and it comes out looking beautiful and they get to feel that pride of healing and of craft, I am extremely gratified that I can share that sense of accomplishment, it’s very inspiring.
With the Land Restoration Training being held here at Quail Springs this October, what unique opportunities does this land offer the students who take the training?
The land restoration training at Quail Springs provides a very unique opportunity to be involved in a long term restoration project that will become part of the identity of the community of folks that live there. The watershed surrounding Quail Springs has been degraded over time, but the activities of the farm are an excellent attempt to turn that tide and make the land productive again. In my opinion, the next step is to directly tie the healing of the land into all of the great farming and natural building that is already happening at Quail Springs. It’s a natural evolution that is at it’s early stages. That is the exciting opportunity for students. This class will provide opportunities for students to make meaningful contributions to the health and resilience of Quail Springs, this class isn’t just theory, it’s about putting all of these pieces together and coming up with a solution that becomes part of the Quail Springs community. Hopefully many students will have similar opportunities in the future or even on their own land. It helps to see what the process looks like and to be part of weighing all of the possibilities. It’s a unique opportunity for me as well to be able to form a long-term relationship with a landscape and a community that is committed to setting a beneficial example.