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The Sustainable Living Arts School RIP

October 22, 2013

The Sustainable Living Arts School was founded by Robin Wheeler and offered weekend workshops on growing and preserving food, medicines, natural building and other ‘traditional’ skills in and around Robert’s Creek, BC as well as hands-on learning parties in kitchens and backyards around Vancouver, BC .

The  city school was inspired by Robin’s work and Andrew Rushmere’s Free Folk School, created for his Master’s in Environmental Education at SFU (Fermenting the Free Folk School: tending a culture of place-based ecological learning and living“. Both Robin and Andrew (who is now with UBC Farm) provided me with inspiration, mentorship and collegiality throughout my curating, teaching and learning experiments.

Robin died in 2012. The Sustainable Living Arts lost a champion but she seeded good ideas, grand experiments, crazy projects and wild abundance in gardens, kitchens and garages all over.

Robin also founded the One Straw Society, was active in creating a mentorship project to share the hands-on skills she feared we were losing just as we needed them most, ran her edible landscape nursery and herb shop, wrote books and offered friendship and guidance to innumerable people who found the path to her door, talked with her on the phone or corresponded with her. When she died  I searched my inbox and there were 1000’s of conversation threads with her.

The legacy I treasure most is her plants from her gardens. I asked her once what her favourite form of medicine was. I was thinking something like, tea or tincture? She paused and said “living and growing with the plants”. It’s true for me too and I’m glad to be still propagating and sharing what she nurtured

I still love learning parties.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Margit Boronkay permalink
    November 10, 2013 2:52 am

    Kiera, I still like the idea of a sock-mending event, perhaps incorporated with some other handwork, but I think it would be best held in a public facility. I live near Mt. Pleasant Community Centre & Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House, so those would be convenient for me. This way we could have more people. What do you think of the idea? People would only need to bring: – a sock with a hole – a mending needle – a needle threader – mending wool/cotton

    Thanks, Margit

  2. November 12, 2013 4:46 pm

    Sounds like a great idea Margit and I encourage you to give it a try. I always wanted to do some mending parties.

    I haven’t been organizing as SLAS for a few years and no longer live in Vancouver but Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses were always really supportive.

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