Innovating regenerative products, building a legacy brand – Marty and Chris McCurry.
In 1990, just before the “green building” field came together, this married team would rise as business partners working to lift the sourcing, procurement, and manufacturing of forest products in the Appalachians into full integration with living systems in service of regenerative development. Their work centers on implementing a living-systems manufacturing and product design process. Marty is the original designer and creator of bark wall coverings. The process Marty innovated re-claims a forest waste product – the bark of trees – using ethical harvesting practices and environmentally sound manufacturing methods. Chris created the process of whole-building that ensures the proceeds from these investments are supporting a human-nature connection to build whole-communities. The benefits of this work include superior quality products, a circular economy, and the realization of exponential value to the social, ecological, financial and human qualities of projects, our ecosystem, and the larger community.
With an unwavering drive for the perfection of whole-design, patterns from nature-inspired the products and processes and honest craftsmanship became the unwavering method upon which Marty and Chris built the Bark House brand. But what fuels the brand’s continual progress was a legacy spirit, shared between makers and clients.
The concept was to showcase local products and culture in a way that enables local people to see the true value in what they have and who they are. For eight thousand years, the region’s culture had sustained a relationship of respect and caring between humans and nature, and as a result, both had thrived. Over the last century, however, the culture had steadily deteriorated under the forces of extractive modernization and industry. To change the trajectory of a people that seemed literally set in stone, this business would have to connect to an energy source well beyond that of providing products and services. It would have to create a system, true to a shared vocation. This vocation embraces understanding the walls that hold us together and set us free.
The Appalachian region has a special sense of place. Walls of ancient mountains shrouded in mist with cascading streams hold the promise of refuge and revitalization. This regenerative attribute infuses the land and the forests in this place. It is within the RAW™ (Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste) materials used in Bark House product making. History recorded regional business practices that were extractive to both people and place. The Bark House was called to align co-operatively with natural systems and create a business whose aim is to be regenerative. To rebuild whole-communities in this place and in the places where BH products would adorn requires sharing a far-reaching strategy. It requires understanding the nature of a living legacy.
The system of Whole-Building mobilizes investment to improve the health and vitality of communities and nature. This practice views building as an opportunity to engage the essential capacity of all stakeholders (architects, builders, community, designers, distributors, manufacturers, owners) to participate in communal, economic and environmental enrichment as an integral function of creating a built-environment. The aim of whole-building is to re-align a co-operative human-nature relationship.
"Quality is not a goal here… It’s a way of life."