The culmination of this project comes from a variety of occurrences and tensions within me. I’ve not been able to hire a “traditional” contractor for several years for my property. They never call me back! I kept wondering why. Every time I would go to buy a trailer, some force would sabotage my efforts. Every time I thought to approach the bank for a “traditional” mortgage, I’d feel sick.
It is so clear to me now. Like being hit over the head with a chunk of hardened hempcrete. The truth is that every time I approached a “traditional” builder and asked to participate in the build, I felt a profound reticence. I could feel the divide between what I wanted in the way of an “artistic,” natural home filled with river stone accents and coloured bottle mosaics open like a gaping maw. The truth is that I was not-so-subconsciously sabotaging the whole fucking thing.
It wasn’t until I attended the Womyn’s Summit in Grande Digue, NB for natural birth workers that the big answer smacked me harder than hardened block of hempcrete. I had just finished delivering my two workshops (one entirely unexpected and the other mostly unprepared for) that I was all soft and juicy to receive the wisdom that side wangled my whole life’s trajectory.
I was headed to the kybo as I had to go like a woman in her 4th trimester, when I heard the words of a beautiful, young husky voice, full of enthusiasm rake my ears, “There is nothing like building your own home to give you the fullest feeling of satisfaction imaginable!” My head ripped around on her axis to view the originator, Kate Versava, talking to a group of fellow birth workers over a picnic bench peppered with books on natural home building.
I ran like a crazed woman on a mission to the loo and hurried back for the rest of her talk. I was so enthralled with Kate’s description of how she built her own hempcrete home with her partner, Noel, that I was both swooning with delight and crying with relief at the same time. My enthusiasm hitting many peaks during her talk.
Prior, I’d been stymied with regards to the right foundation and wall materials in order to have the maximum insulation value without using toxic materials. I had been looking at sono tubes and decking, however, the raised platform would need to be insulated. Sheep’s wool or denim in a floor could more easily take on the damp of the earth and vapour barriers defeat the whole purpose of having a breathable floor and shell. Also, wood rots in about 40 years in our ocean climate.
Hempcrete made from a combination of hemp hurd or shiv combined with lime, a little natural clay and water is the answer! This is how Kate has built her home in Nova Scotia. It forms a hard, breathable, heat loving (in the Summer), cold resisting (in the Winter with an R factor above 30). It won’t rot with damp ocean foggy soaked weather, mice and rats will never make it a home and it a sustainable by-product of the growing (legal) hemp food industry.
Like in Heilkunst Medicine, where I’ve been mentored by knowledge workers who’ve taught me the answers to treat every chronic disease, I’m not used to the feeling of being thwarted by nature. The frustrating part, for me, was knowing that the answers were out there, but I’d not turned over the right straw bale to unearth what those were until “the Kate phenomenon” occurred at The Summit.
During Kate’s talk, she encouraged me to perhaps organize a work-shop build on my own home on our recently procured 2 acres. I lit up like a Yoni Tree (whatever that might be) and I was suddenly hearing the voices of about 10 fellow birth workers shout, “Can I participate?” and “Yes, I’d love to come!” and “I so want to learn natural building too!” Something was birthed like a kernel at my core.
After Kate’s talk, and pictures of her build had been subsumed in my belly, I attended the Keynote speaker (Sister Morningstar’s) keynote presentation. I’d had the pleasure of having her attend both my ad hoc presentations earlier that day. When I entered the ginormous handcrafted yurt to sit down with the sunlight streaming through the dome, she asked me in front of 35 Moms (aka Birthworkers), if I’d wholly support her through her talk as a “native elder” and “wisdom bearer” with her by ensuring her medical statements were accurate.
I was surprised by this. This woman, in her 60’s is a Missouri native elder who has been attending “untouched births” with women for decades felt much my senior. I felt myself quietly bow my head in acquiescence after letting her know that I couldn’t possibly be of use to her. She called on me again and I realized in that moment that there was nothing else for me to do but sit down, hush and listen up.
However, when the “Great Mother” is at work, you don’t interrupt the flow with a stupid tirade from the false ego. The next moment hit me square in the pit of my loins. It was the moment in Sister’s presentation when she rose up her wee body to assume the example of a “She-Bear,” rocking violently back and forth, yelling as an example of her client, “I will birth this baby naturally, I will birth this baby naturally, I will birth this baby naturally!” She was imitating a Momma who’d previously has a C-section.
On the drive home, all of the impressions from the conference started to infuse into my etheric body, circumnavigating my whole history. I felt a re-visioning process occurring deep in my loins. After about an hour of this processing, out popped a concept, “She-Bear Construction.” My very own naturally built hempcrete home would be an artistic rendering, built by women for a woman; me. I felt the sensual act of mixing the compound and pouring the hempcrete into the mould in the wall and the satisfaction of tamping it down as the walls rose hour by hour from the ground to the roof line.
In my imagination, it was already done! Holy fuck, this was going to happen, the portal was open, the plumb-line a clear trajectory forward. I excitedly raced home to research myself silly. Buzzing in my mind was the project management categories, Kickstarter campaigns, movies to shoot, website to build, key players determined, fundraising ideas, where to source the hemp shiv locally, marketing, etc., etc., etc.
Home-births can be the most rewarding, life altering event imaginable, and as a newly inscribed native elder written in sun-streamings, I will take on my new role great aplomb, enthusiasm and the sweetest feminine humility while receiving monumental support and grace from a whole variety of unnamed sources to be sussed out. As Sister Morningstar says, “to allow a mother to birth in grace, learn how to knit!” Even in a footling birth, let the mother hold the toes of her baby as she allows the babe to come forth into the world naturally.
My own home building adventure has felt like a breach footling of great pain and suffering destined for a C-section up until now. All I had to do was let go and allow her to come through me without all the machinations while holding onto her foot. Now, I can finally let go my limited fears around succumbing to patriarchal tools I though I needed, limitations, victimization, self-hatred, pushing, striving and what felt like the inevitable scalpel in home building. I needed the ceremony of healthy, powerful women to hold me through the process of letting letting go, “I will birth this baby naturally!”
We will do it for ourselves and we will show other women how to do it too! We will form a collective:
Natural, Affordable Homes Built For Women By Women. We’re a group of Maritime Canada birth-workers, healers, naturo-therapists and physicians who’ve formed a collective in order to help teach building practices for natural, breathable homes out of hempcrete and straw bail. We feel that every woman, and her partner, should have a healthy, beautiful, sustainable home of her own in beautiful surroundings to live in and also raise her family in if she so chooses.