Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bark Eater Studios

My big project for this year is to bootstrap a facility for hosting seminars for a dozen or so people and perhaps a couple of small rental units for artists, writers, solitude seekers, and the like. I've written up the bulk of the concept at my BarkEaterStudios wiki. Trying to concentrate the bootstrap process into weeks as opposed to years is my greatest planning challenge at the moment.

As the bulk of the construction materials are on-site, the overhead for construction is minimal. Freecycle could be the source for such things as nails, screws, roofing, windows and doors, so the actual construction costs would be quite minimal. Structures will be solar and snow friendly, be of frame construction, and could incorporate stone; all local, sustainable materials. The non-technical aspects of the project weigh greater on my mind.

Left to my own devices, the project would take years to bootstrap. I am not a carpenter, although I have helped with numerous carpentry projects, so I'm not totally clueless, but having extra hands, backs, and brains would turn a long-term task into something that could take a matter of a couple weeks.

Finding a few extra folks to help, while the snow is still on the ground and there is time to plan, is my current task. Finding volunteers and potential partners seems daunting to me, but I realize it could be a most rewarding aspect. I'm not quite sure if such organizations as,, and are suited toward this currently non-organization, tho I could be wrong. As described in the wiki, the facility would provide conference or seminar space for about a dozen participants and would focus on such fields as art, fitness, music, nature, spirituality, sustainability, and technology, as well as others of a compatible, symbiotic nature. The construction crew should have similar interests and vision.

Trading a couple weeks of labor for food and shelter may or may not be equitable, nor would long-term partnership in the finished project. Usage of the completed facilities and future camping access would be available to the bootstrap team, and arrangements could probably be made for each to attend seminars at a free or reduced rate.

The facility would create the potential for a small, seasonal, paid support staff, but such positions would require extra research and planning. Since the facility will be on my family's property, partners will be preferred over employees. The bootstrap facility would be quite small, but there is a potential for extra facilities and opportunities. Once the base facility is able to financially support itself, a duplicate facility could be built, as well as a few rental cabins. Ideas for additional facilities are plenty, more ideas are welcome.

The legal aspects of the project are still up in the air. Organizing an NPO to use the facility would probably a good idea. The greater art/craft studio facility concept has commercial aspects that may require a different/separate approach, unless the NPO is structured creatively enough. Brainstorming and legal advice will need to come into play before anything is set in stone.

Finding a romantic interest and life partner during the whole process would be a wonderful bonus! :)


happyseaurchin said...

hey hey
and i went and spent all my monies going east

i have nothing left
can't go west for a while
but that sounds like a real opportunity

if i get the funds
i would love to visit
and help out in any manner possible...

if you are thinking of making it happen this year
are there any particular threshold periods?
when you need a bunch of people together all at one time...?


Jeff Archambeault said...

Thanks for the comment happyseaurchin!

The work begins when the snow melts, and the length of the tail will be determined by how many helpers I can recruit. I'm thinking that a crew of 4-6 could accomplish the tasks involved, in a matter of a couple weeks.

Harvesting lumber for the construction will take a bit longer, but I'm hoping that I can manage to get a jump start on that as soon as the mud dries. Finding a couple potential locations will happen during mud season, tho.

Squintz said...

Do you know about and You should check them out as NYC is much like what you want to do and hackerspaces is a place for you to promote your own club if you want to create one.

Jeff Archambeault said...

Actually, I am familiar with those Squintz, and would love to visit nycresistor one of these days.

Although this project may evolve into something like that, or may host an event related to it, the initial facility will not have electrical power without using generators. Workshops and such will eventually be constructed, for woodworking at first, but that's not my focus for this year.

The major factor against technology-related topics at the site is the lack of good broadband. Hopefully that will change, but being a rural location, topics will naturally follow the environment.