Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From HB Summer 09
More VSOP (visible signs of progress) weekends leading up to big build 1. Mike, Malcolm and Kevin with big help from Eric and small help from erected two large posts for the deck. It was a lot of muscle, geometry & no doubt a little luck, but the posts are in. We used logs for these, since they are too long to go through the mill.
Malcolm laid out a disc golf course, and made several great tonals. The course is made up of tonals that take you on a pleasant tour of the lower Halkett Heights landscape. Malcolm is an avid disc
From HB Summer 09
golfer who's played courses all over the Pacific Northwest and even in Costa Rica, so it's great to have his expertise. I feel so guilty we didnt' even get to play the whole course before we left. Come back soon Malcolm, we'll make it up to you we promise!
Not too much to report in the wildlife department but Maddy's little tomatoes are loving the sun and turning orange.
The receipt for our grocery bill for the first big build was longer than kevin's arm, and we're not done yet. The windows have made it over to the island and up the hill without breaking which we're taking as an omen that it's going to be a great week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Well one house got built this past weekend

From HB Summer 09
Last weekend featured our youngest builders so far of the summer of 09. Cute, and efficient too. While the rest of us worked on beams and scaffolding, they managed to construct a whole house!
Highlights and accomplishments:
  • Completion of modern and roomy house for birds, complete with windows and interior design
  • Scaffolding & other prep for the 15 person family build coming up at the end of July
  • Our first tri-lingual building day with a wonderful visit from Pat and her friends from Switzerland (German) and Annie & the boys from Quebec. So cool!
  • First swim of the year for Sonja
  • Old tent platform moved to nicer location
  • Near completion of 1st 'beam bench.'
Alas, it was not all good news. Our fridge continues to be a little fritzy and my previous theory about over-heating doesn't seem to be it. And we're confident it's not a 'not enough electricity' (for want of the technical term) issue since it doesn't only happen when we're there and charging batteries, opening the fridge etc. A lot of people have expressed interest in the idea of running a regular fridge off solar, so if you're one one of them, I promise we'll post the solution. When we find it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why can you have a house there but something for the enjoyment of others can't be placed there?

This evening I got an interesting comment in response to my Save Halkett and more signs post, and I couldn't sleep until I finished my response:

Anonymous said...
Why can you have a house there but something for the enjoyment of others can't be placed there?

Dear Anonymous
This is such a great question, and I'm glad this comment is giving me a reason/chance to talk more about it.

When the Artificial Reef Society proposal first came up, I was actually excited about the idea of an exciting eco development in our little bay. But even after I did some research on artificial reefs, and decided there was no way I could believe that sinking a warship in that bay was going to benefit the environment, I had to ask myself, do I just care about this because I'm building a cabin there?

The truth is, Anonymous, I am, in every sense of the word, invested in the future of Halkett Bay. But I don't think that it's OK to dump what is essentially government surplus into our oceans, and pretend it's about ecological improvement. Not at Halkett Bay or anywhere else for that matter. And I don't think it's OK when government officials tell you something is a done deal even before the final consulting processes are complete. You shouldn't either.

The more I delve into this issue, the more dismayed I am by how this process has been conducted, and how individuals and communities are having to fight against the kind of greenwashing which artificial reef societies and government agencies have used to justify dumping potentially hazardous materials into our oceans, not just in Halkett Bay but in many other locations as well.

The Georgia Strait Alliance, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy Society have all questioned the usefulness of artificial reefs for anything more than tourism diving destinations, and challenged their overall benefit to the environment. When we asked for long-term studies demonstrating the safety of these projects, we were told none were available. Would you want to take a risk like that with your land, your ocean? Because it is your land, your ocean, that we're talking about. We're just your neighbours. This is a provincial park, and these are federally governed waters. Under B.C. law, marine protected areas are "dedicated to the preservation of their natural environments." Is sinking a 371-foot warship with enough explosives to kill nearby seals in keeping with these goals? (for more info check out

As for our cabin, there are a few things that separate it from the Annapolis. It's smaller for one, a lot smaller. It isn't right in the middle of a publicly used park. It's being built on an old clearcut site, and we're working hard to keep our footprint as small as possible. But we're not trying to pass ourselves off as a benefit to the environment either (although the mice in the solar power tower might disagree!) It isn't covered in anti-fouling paint. It might fall down, but it will never irreparably harm the marine life in this small bay. And if there was any chance of that happening, I certainly hope you would speak out against it.

Anyhow, that's my own personal take on things. But you know I have an interest in preserving Halkett Bay the way it is. So I urge you to read about what some of the conservation organizations have said about artificial reefs. Read some of the things that have gone wrong. Think about how you want public land and protected marine habitats to be managed and preserved, and ask yourself if you think this project really serves those interests.

sincerely yours,
sonja l.
Information on potential seal deaths:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The drawbridge deck

The very first lowering of the drawbridge deck. Due to a technical glitch, I lost the very first raising of the drawbridge, but I did capture the first lowering. In its final form, there will be some kind of mechanical means of lowering the bridge/deck, not those two burly men we see in the video.

The idea for a drawbridge deck came about after an extended discussion about mouse traps. Mice are a real problem in the winter. We decided rather than spend our time trying to figure out how to kill the mice, we'd try and keep them out instead. And thus the drawbridge deck was born. The second phase will be to wrap the posts with a foot wide piece of sheet metal, to keep them from crawling up.

For now though, we needed a wider deck/bridge to safely accomodate Big Build #1 coming at the end of the month.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Safety committee chairman injures finger

You can tell Kevin's just recently whacked his finger when he starts off our weekly update email with "First off I want to remind everyone the theme of this year is safety, just it case anyone forgot. " Just who might that be Kevin?
The finger is on the mend, and he doesn't think he'll lose the fingernail (but I'm willing to take bets...)
Lots of little things to finish up before Big Build #1 featuring a crew of no fewer than 14 siblings, parents, cousins headed up the hill to build that cabin! We are so excited and grateful for their help & think the week should be absolutely amazing.
This weekend I'll play catch-up with the camera and get some pictures of the top of the power tower railing, Maddy's composting/sawdust toilet (yet to be tested...), the new mini hotwater heater & some new improvements to the kitchen shack and the power tower and of course the new deck on the westside, replacing the old ramp.

a blog about 1 cabin and 7 ideas

local / logical / lots of uses / long lasting / low impact / low cost /loveable

Big thanks to everyone!

Help Gambier Island

Gambier Island is facing numerous environmental threats at the moment when we are seeing a rebirth of wildlife. Wolves, whales, owls and more, all around us we see evidence of an eco-system on the rebound. But that resurgence is threatened by plans to allow clear-cutting, develop LNG plants, sink warships.