The CHURCH Institute

Simply put, the CHURCH Institute was named on a couple of key points, besides the fact that it actually is inside a re-purposed church.

While most people identify the word "church" with a denomination, the meaning of "church" comes from the Greek word meaning "an assembly of people".

Of course, there is always an opportunity for some level of theological debate,  suffice to say the interpretation and practical meaning of this "CHURCH" deals with the joining of people that seek and promote qualities inherent to our relationship with one another and to this planet regardless of any denomination.

As an opener – this site will be promoting a number of  ”in-motion” practices currently being explored and implemented on our small rural location.  Each of the concepts being explored is being designed with the idea of being easy, adaptable and practical in today's living environment.

As they evolve, they will be documented and shared through a combination of ways such as hands-on workshops, group demonstrations and over the web.

It is important to also note that some of these concepts will be developed further in the hopes to provide financial support to the institute, its goals, and those actively participating.  We try to accomplish this in two way, reselling and consulting.

Tangible items suitable for resale are produced via "Natural Ingenuity" a brand that allows for a proving ground of sorts in the consumer space.  These products are not produced in the idea of mass production but in a market space that benefits from the lack of availability.  Additionally, Natural Ingenuity promotes many of the Institutes ideals through minimal use of specialty packaging and the use of bulk packing with re-purposed materials when feasible.

Vocational Services are our one of primary interests in the consulting side of what we develop.   Many of the products developed are designed and built with what we call "low impact industry".  Wood pins, glue, milk paint are all parts of this design standard.  Providing these types of assembly procedures create a backdrop to developing programming to a number of different organizations.

The various things that are being done relate to:

Water & Nature Conservation (they do go hand in hand)

  • Natural Wildlife Garden – conserves water, bolsters native plant life and serves host for a number of wildlife and insects like butterflies.  We are even a nationally recognized Wildlife Garden recognized by the National Wildlife Foundation.
  • Rain Water Harvesting – one of our most ambitious project currently that was recently awarded a sustainable grant award - excavation is set to begin this spring 2012, with a workshop, and walking tour in the late summer.
  • Native Landscaping - local plants have the hardiness to stave off many pests and invasive plants.  Through years of marketing and conformity by industry, we have almost lost the idea of what a healthy landscape means.  We will work to divorce ourselves from the "CHEM" lawn idealism damaging our waterways, and promote many of the Best Practices of contemporary conservation efforts.

Local Home Grown Food

  • Container Gardening & Micro Farming – focus on water issues related to container gardening and the effective use of Micro-Gardening in both rural and urban settings.  This project started with our own Solid Cedar Growbox as a primary component to a terraced planting system.
  • Elevated Garden Beds - why do we need to get on our hands and knees?
  • Kitchen Garden – currently in its final stages of design, we are playing with the somewhat often conceived window herb garden with a twist towards hydroponic efficiencies.
  • Sourcing local food is becoming easier – we plan on hosting and suggesting different sites that offer local food.

Food Preservation

  • Relishes, Jams, pickling, and a host of other “pioneer” technology are highly useful today – it is not a step back but a jump forward when you learn that simple can be the best.
  • Dehydration - dehydrated vegetables and meats not only preserve the nutrients but store amazingly well - working on a solar window box version.  
  • Root Cellar - with all the hubbub of making things last - this simple and economical way of storing certain vegetables make a food budget go longer.

Alternative Energy

  • Passive Solar – old school 70′s style – thermal mass efficiencies make for the most stable and sustainable (we will be exploring some of them)
  • Geo-Thermal – the ground is full of it (50 degrees in as little as 10 feet round here).  50 degrees is a good deal warmer than 10 degrees in the dead of winter.
  • Low Flow micro-turbine Electrical Generation – Alaska is one of the leading States doing work in this field, we try and see what works down here.
  • High Mass Generators – not perpetual motion but rather a more efficient motor leveraging any wasted energy it can (highly theoretical and it has a touch of Star Trek by the sound of it!)

Sustainable Design Standards

  • Design focus on low impact manufacturing - little to no electricity used, raw material handling, limited prep work, production kitting.
  • Re-purposed material, natural sustainable woods and materials, and local supply sources
  • Second Tier Considerations - we actively practice conservation from a producer aspect.  Common sense plays a large part of understanding that the more "packaging" built around a product means more going to the dump.  Packaging for packaging sake also means more cost and overhead which is passed on to the consumer.  If we are to design low impact products for people, we need to start at one of the largest waste generating components of a "competitive" market space.

All in all, we continue to discover different ways this works benefits others around us - the question will always come down to balance.

A Private Institute?

Private to the point that all of our operations are solely funded with private money, time, energy, sweat and assets.

The work that is being done here is meant to be shared with others, outline best practices, explore new technology and bring back that old fashioned idea that PEOPLE not corporations can do things intuitively using (sadly) common sense.

Anyway, as we learn new things, we will share new things!