A Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge is the exact initiative that our state needs to be behind in the face of the dire consequences of climate-systems disruption.
The Buckminster Fuller Institute launches various challenges that encourage creators of whole-systems to succinctly communicate their potential, and I routinely take advantage of these exercises. I was finishing up my response to the most recent challenge when an email stating that government organizations scheduled to hold a listening session in Mitchell County had been diverted to Ocracoke Island in response to the devastation of hurricane Dorian. I highlighted sections that directly speak to the responsibility of manufacturing in light of the climate crisis and shared the information with local and state leaders. We all have the capacity to do something about climate change.
The essence of this idea responds to climate-system-disruption with regenerative manufacturing. It grounds the emerging field of Regenerative Development through the formation of a Regenerative Source Guild. The initiative enacts the power of a regenerative supply-chain with right-fit/right-time benefits to humans + nature.
This initiative is unconventional, creative and credible with third-party verified aspects. Through earning the world’s first and only Cradle to Cradle PLATINUM level certification, Bark House has proven that MANUFACTURING is possible in the circular economy. Because we followed wisdom found in nature, we are demonstrating that manufacturing can approach a regenerative scale. Ours has been an unconventional approach because over the last 30 years we define ROI not by the resources we amass, but in relation to every single organism that we touch – as nature does. A company of our size should not have the resources to accomplish what larger companies have found impossible through conventional methodologies – to create benefits for air, water, soil, and people. We aim to share these methods with other nature-based businesses and grow the benefits and support the reversal of climate change.
We are developing a regenerative supply chain that accounts for stakeholders at every level in the process. This includes families who own small farms and will see their land enhanced through mixed-use timbering and permaculture, 2-3 person eco-logging crews who select-cut micro parcels in a a way that respects living forests, nature-based businesses (service and product makers) who demand and invest in a regenerative supply chain and who enact regenerative manufacturing practices, supportive organizations and institutions, and it includes clients in the emerging field of regenerative development. Bark House is a nodal participant in this process, as we intimately interact with all levels identified. A loss of voice is a critical aspect, evident in every level noted and more poignant because we are in Appalachia where a pervasive (and invasive) set of challenges exists. The sub-set that is most disenfranchised and most vulnerable to the loss of voice is the loggers.
A perversion of human understanding occurred when the dominating force of human over nature became possible during the Industrial Revolution. The power of piece-milled assembly lines housed in looming factories and subsequent financial return seduced the world into a vicious economy of taking and a personalized identity of consumerism. But today, Nature stands defiant in response to perverse methodologies, and her disruptions through climate-system change are increasing. Business was the driving force for a misalignment of human interest. Business can become a force to be regenerative.
If the voice of these loggers spoke truth for all the stakeholders of the guild, we would, at last, hear the wisdom of balance found within human+nature and realize they held most tight to this promise in sacrifice and wait for our humanity to return. They (most evidently) and we also cannot physiologically or spiritually be separated from nature. We cannot harm nature without harm done to ourselves. Logging practices can be ecologically based, the strategy of trees upheld and honored through the manufacturing process and this beauty enlivened through regenerative development. This restores our essence in harmony and creates a circle of connection that our soul longs for. Economic opportunity and manufacturing is the catalyst to regeneration, not a tool of extraction.
There are many risks in a paradigm shift. One is in stakeholders abandoning the framework methodology before the potential is realized. The risk is that stakeholders many become too excited to wait to act at the appropriate time or too tethered to old patterns that they disengage. The safety net in doing this within a group is that the dynamic of group-brain actually lessens the blow as the field for the paradigm shift grows. It is critical that regenerative practitioners understand the risk and the dynamic creating it. To do so, it is helpful to view a model that informs us about this process and can be applied in micro to macro scales. Kazimierz Dąbrowski’s human development positive-disintegration model provides this insight. Dabrowski heralds the integral role of psychological discomfort in human development and theorizes about why some choose to go through it. The trailblazers of change must be equipped to transcend this state in order to realize the potential on the other side of it. Another risk is fear in the face of something so unrecognized or unknown. This is another reason that the process can seem slow to those who are excited to do something. Realizing the potential of living systems does not often occur overnight. But when stakeholders see the magnanimity of demonstrated benefits, they realize the process is worth the investment.
One beauty of a living systems model is that as new nutrients or the lack of nutrients occurs – the framework allows shifts in responses to support continued growth. At this time, an implementation strategy is in play and looks like this: Bark House created fertile soil with all stakeholder groups through years of trust-building and creating demonstrated benefits for human+nature. We aim to share these benefits on a larger scale through the formation of a Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge. Various stakeholder groups will meet individually and work together with Regenesis Group to build a supportive field for the RSGBR. Core stakeholders will emerge and continue to actively participate in the guild. Stakeholder groups include Forestry and Economic Organizations, educational institutions, small logger groups, landowners, nature-based business owners, and clients. Organizations and institutions with the mission to support forest initiatives will receive front-line data as to how to fulfill their missions. Landowners will receive multi-strategy land management plans that include perma-culture, under-canopy crops, bird sanctuaries, and micro-parcel timber plans. Small loggers will receive needed support for their craft and further training in eco-logging practices. Nature-based businesses (service providers and product makers) will commit to supporting a regenerative source and changing manufacturing strategies to themselves participate in this regenerative process. Consumers will be informed along a journey to themselves becoming regenerates. In this strategy, every voice matters.
STAKEHOLDER GROUP: Forestry and Economic Organizations; Educational Institutions
PROJECT PHASE I
Begin The Story of Place with Regenesis Group & Bark House. One in-person kick-off and final event with on-line meetings to gather the history, geography and cultural mapping data of this place. Experience working with regenerative frameworks will be gained. $
New insights and clearer understanding of Appalachia, stakeholder groups and regenerative process. This process will result in invested participants identifying a financial means to support the logger and small business phase I projects.
STAKEHOLDER GROUP: Landowners
PROJECT PHASE I
At this point, landowners and Bark House will work with the local ForestHer and SFI initiative to learn about forest management strategies and opportunities. In-kind contribution.
A database of landowners who are interested in land management strategies will be enhanced.
STAKEHOLDER GROUP: Small Logger Groups
PROJECT PHASE I
Will meet in small in-person groups with Regenesis & Bark House to identify the strengths and constraints of logging in the Blue Ridge. The Story of Place will be appreciated and enhanced with their perspectives. A regenerative framework will be introduced. $$
The feedback from this group will result in a POWER Grant request to support the identified needs of this group to grow in their capacity as eco-loggers.
STAKEHOLDER GROUP: Nature-Based Business Owners
PROJECT PHASE I
Will complete the Regenerative Practitioner Series with Regenesis Group & Bark House. One in-person kick-off and final event with on-line meetings will be enhanced with the prior work on The Story of Place. The project will evolve the potential for the Regenerative Source Guild.
Stakeholder groups will be clarified, businesses will grasp the benefits of a regenerative supply chain and manufacturing practices. $
See Project Phase II
STAKEHOLDER GROUP: Clients
PROJECT PHASE I
At this point, Bark House clients will continue to be educated about the benefits and potential of regenerative manufacturing. In-kind contribution.
Consumers will begin to redefine their investment in terms of capacity to be regenerative versus extractive. Bark House clients include Google, Nike, Louboutin – other recognized brands and company owners.
PROJECT PHASE II
Invested stakeholders from each group will continue to participate in the core operation of the Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge.
This diverse stakeholder group will work collaboratively toward the creation of new potential for this region.
Organizations and Institutions will receive clear goals in regenerative development from the stakeholder group. Landowners will receive land-management plans to supply materials. Small logging crews will grow in their capacity as eco-loggers and receive embrace in their community. Nature-based businesses will support and benefit from a regenerative supply chain and embrace regenerative manufacturing practices. Clients will have a viable and verified option in support of regenerative benefits for planet and people.
At scale, this group will benefit the local people and a global community as well as the local environment and the planet in the following ways. Materials and products will sequester and hold carbon to improve the air. Water quality will be monitored at the watershed level and see continued improvements. The soil will be enriched and natural products will become a future nutrient stream versus a source of contamination. This work will stand as a demonstration model for other systems such as education, healthcare, and government to integrate a whole, living-system process for the benefit of all life. No longer identifying themselves as consumers, individuals can embrace their generative-role in union with human+nature. Benefits will continue to grow exponentially.
To develop current and new nature-based businesses that flourish as they benefit farms, forests, and families within the Blue Ridge region of North Carolina.
Successfully operating in the Blue Ridge Mountains for 30-years, Bark House has the unique perspective of having created an entirely new type of business inspired by nature in the mountains of rural North Carolina. The work we do connects Regenerative Development to Regenerative Source. A nature-based business guild will be enhanced to respond to this question: what work honors this ecosystem (place and people in it) and how do we enact, support and grow a generative workforce around nature-based businesses? In the context of widening political divides, growing economic inequalities, and a disrupted climate system, we join many to call on every Business, Designer, Individual, and Organization to imagine places in which we can generously live together. One of these places is the Blue Ridge Region of North Carolina.
This work and the thinking behind the work cannot be done for us by any central authority. We must all become able to observe carefully and think collectively about the specific living systems in which we live and work. This will require re-patterning much of the thinking and behavior that an external-industrial-society has tried over the years to place upon us. Appalachian people are known to “go against the grain” as we do not work in assembly-line type business structures. We are naturally developed for this living-systems engagement. Rather than take a single idea and scale it, each guild participant will master the art of developing business systems that fit precisely with their contexts—as nature has. To do this requires an evolved concept of ‘value’: rather than measuring success by the level of accumulation of a single resource, we will define our value in relation to each and every living organism that we touch—as (Bark House and) nature does.
Individual voices, small and large businesses, designers from multiple disciplines, organizations, government entities, trees, rocks, rivers, and animals of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Region along with world-class Architects and world-wide students have been considered in or contributed to a peripherally formed Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge. We will explore how Bark House has benefited from this engagement and the extraordinary benefits that this company is creating for entire eco-systems. The elements of growing, sourcing, harvesting, manufacturing, and selling are interwoven into one business system that follows patterns learned in nature and are all generatively aimed. Further, we will explore the purpose and the benefits that an engaged Regenerative Source Guild creates for other businesses and communities. If not already involved, we invite you to participate. If involved, we invite you to deepen the engagement.
Bark House has been working with one of the most disenfranchised populations in the Appalachians. Farming, tourism, other nature-based sectors have gleaned public attention and support. There have been real benefits to these sectors because of that and because they are now working together. But small scale loggers (who supply raw material to Bark House and who are an important contributor to the logging industry) have not had any organizational support – they have not gleaned any benefits from public sentiment either. This group has not gone the way of big logging and they continue to create forest benefits because of this. This group cannot physiologically or spiritually separate from the land, and have been further pushed out of bounds or left behind. Through our work and furthering that work in this Guild, we aim to change that.
Nature-based business owners (such as Bark House) struggle to connect all aspects of a healthy business system in this area. Business resources are limited or ill-fitted to the nature-based-business. Building trust in the region and accessing landowners who desire to cultivate a source of products on their land is currently daunting if not impossible for most. Accessing a trained, cohesive workforce is challenging. Through our work and furthering that work in this Guild, we aim to change that.
Organizations charged with supporting economic prosperity in Appalachia often struggle to understand the culture of the local people, their priorities and methods of working together. Through our work and furthering that work in this Guild, we aim to change that.
Inspired by the patterns and systems in nature and with a desire to create whole, pure products that honor and support the development of the people and land of the Blue Ridge Region and the climate-system; thirty years have passed since the founding of Bark House. Because the founders started out young and naive, self-development was inevitable, but it is also an ongoing commitment. Thus begins their story.
Bark House is working to strengthen the Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge to honor and support the essence of the Appalachian forests and the people working within them.
Bark House supports a forest management strategy that focuses on micro-parcel tree harvests and respects the diversity of living forests. Comprised of approximately 20-acre tracts, the land is owned by individuals who care about it and their community. Nurtured for generations, these stewards want to keep the land healthy and intact for the future. Forest-management plans are implemented that support biodiversity so that select cutting is practiced. Only Bark House trains loggers across five states in the proper procurement of bark from felled trees for use in wall coverings. This strategy is designed to support loggers with deep reverence to nature to stay connected to it in their work. Two to three-person logging crews with lighter equipment are engaged and maintain better soil stabilization. Bark House monitors forest inventory growth-to-removal and watershed reports, verifying sustainability and environmental health in our region. Only Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste (RAW™) is purchased at Bark House.
A Circular-Manufacturing-Economy that benefits people and nature has been proven possible by Bark House, and verified by third party certifications.
It is rare to find a beautiful wall finish that is manufactured in an equally beautiful way, but such is the case with Bark House Wall Coverings. The rough texture invites you to touch the surface, and when you do – you know that you have found something that is pure, something that deserves to be honored. Recipient of the world’s first and only Cradle to Cradle PLATINUM product certification, company co-founders, Marty and Chris McCurry, designed and created products and processes that are recognized worldwide. Their work is aimed to honor the strategy of the bark material itself, every person who touches the products and the land where the material is sourced. Designer and creator of the first manufactured bark wall coverings, Marty specified every detail down to the thickness and length of the material so that the strategy of bark as a protective covering for a tree is fully realized for a building, and quality is assured. Tree growth sequesters carbon, and Bark House designed manufacturing to use less carbon than that which is held. Marty engineered one-of-a-kind kilns to efficiently circulate air-flow through the stacks of material and a moisture content monitoring protocol that assures consistency of the product. Chris added solar power to manufacturing. Both combined ensure that more carbon is held in the product than the sum of all of its manufacturing, all the way back to the first person who touched it. No water is used in direct manufacturing, conserving this most important resource. A chain of custody process verifies the source of the product and that the log has a disposition so that only Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste (RAW™) is purchased. This strategy yields loggers two times the pay of a log for reclaimed-waste bark and that sixty percent of Bark House income is invested directly back to the local community.
Client investment in places we can live together completes the circle to create a legacy with benefit to all life for all time.
Architectural Record Product of the Year, B Corp Best For The World Company, Buckminster Fuller Catalyst Company, Regenerative Company, and over 250 important media features- these accolades only begin to reflect the value of the wall covering products and business processes created at Bark House. This company has earned its reputation as the preferred brand for well-known tech, fashion and hospitality industries as well as and discerning homeowners. A living legacy has reached from forests to cities, from homes to commercial spaces as people are reconnecting to pure nature. You are invited to learn more about the distinctive Bark House difference, as you create your Living Legacy project – one with benefit for all life for all time, built-in.
The Regenesis Group is a world leader in providing deeply effective ecological system solutions and illuminating new understanding of how living systems can inform the mission of each client and project: linking Nature, the Community, Governance, Buildings, and Operations as an integral living system.
Regenerative Development begins with the premise that all human activities have the potential to feed new life, health and wealth into the myriad ecological and social systems that they touch. The key to doing so is to understand the unique socio-ecological context that this work aims to impact, rather than applying generic, one-size-fits-all thinking to our work. In this way, regenerative development re-centers a place’s unique ecological identity as the foundational enabler of the health and future prosperity of our human communities (Regenesis Group).
The co-founders of Bark House have participated in whole-living-systems work for over thirty years. Chris started her career as a registered nurse, practicing whole-health-community-care. Marty designed and created pure products and pure manufacturing methods. For many years, both have been tending relationships with the aim of forming a Regenerative Source Guild.
In regenerative systems work, you look for what is known as nodal participants. These participants uniquely engage at key levels, if not all levels of the work. Bark House is a nodal participant in this process, connecting landowners, loggers, businesses and organizations together in a scope of work that is unique and regenerative for our place. Chris is a graduate of Phase I of The Regenerative Practitioner Series through Regenesis. The work of Bark House has not been limited to their company alone. One example of an impossible engagement that was accomplished under her leadership is the building of the Spruce Pine Central Park and the improvements to the Main Street Organization. Already experienced in generatively working with every sector noted, and practicing whole-living-systems-process-development, Bark House is uniquely positioned to integrate all levels of this work-collective.
Bark House will benefit as a collective of businesses and organizations working together will lighten the load of single responsibility for such an enormous system that Bark House is already engaged in. Area guild participants will provide third-party verification strategies that one-size, distant certifications could not. We will be able to meet our mission goal to honor the eco-system of our place. We will be able to respond to the question of our formation: how can cutting a tree save the planet and heal people; and how can this process be carried out honorably.
The purpose of this work is the deepening and expansion of a Regenerative Source Guild of the Blue Ridge.
We aim to align three groups of stakeholders around the unique principles, relationships, and strategies capable of transforming the health of this socio-ecological system, in a way that builds community, organizational, and individual capability and inspired commitment, so that Guild Participants and the people of this place will be able to activate a way of living that can become a model throughout the region (and world) for the way humans inhabit and care for the land and each other – and prosper.
Two important stakeholder groups include organizations that will both participate in and support this process and small loggers who will both participate in and benefit from it. A third, core group of nature-based business owners will develop their nature-based businesses that flourish and expand generative workforces. All working together will benefit farms, forests, and families developing within the Blue Ridge region of North Carolina.
Blue Ridge loggers, farmers, and families know that their ecosystem is completely unique in its working and in the way it shapes the life of the human community that forms in response to it. The complex interface between these human systems and ecological systems will be accounted for, understood and navigated uniquely in this unique place. This individualizing-value-system is how the people and culture of this area seek to thrive and is the methodology that will be followed.
The benefits are: increased understanding of how rural Appalachia seeks to work – and how that system is productive, increased process and business efficiency, better front-end planning strategies so that long term results are realized and continue to evolve, lower project costs, retention and development of businesses and employees, increasing and enhancing a generative workforce, more positive community relationships, deeply meaningful and developmental organizational design, benefits to the planet with businesses engaged to reverse climate change, and, at the most fundamental level, a healing of the relationship (and interrelationships) between the human systems and the ecological systems of this place.
Bark House products are carbon sinks. Products from other regenerative nature-based businesses will be as well.
Blue Ridge loggers, farmers and families know that their ecosystem is completely unique in its working and in the way it shapes the life of the human community that forms in response to it. The complex interface between these human systems and ecological systems will be accounted for, understood and navigated uniquely in this unique place. This individualizing-value-system is how the people and culture of this area seek to thrive.
The Regenerative Practitioner series introduces the core concepts and frameworks that define the practice of regenerative development, a process and methodology for harmonizing human activities with the continuing evolution of life on our planet, even as we continue to develop our potential as humans. A core of nature-based business leaders will be coached through this series and will encourage follow-on participation, thus growing local practitioners. They will enlist a broad range of different disciplines and community sectors–public and private, nonprofit and for-profit–to come together to engage in deep and sustained co-learning around how to practice the art of regeneration in this place.
The environment will benefit as loggers, farmers and families grow in their capacity as ecologists of their place. Many Bark House products are carbon neutral as we have created a system that accounts for and minimizes all of the carbon produced in our manufacturing, starting with the first person who touches the raw material in the forest. New products developed by guild members will become a sink for embodied carbon as well. Bark House uses zero water in direct manufacturing and we do stream improvements. Guild work will focus further upstream, on area water-sheds. Bark House products biodegrade to build clean soil; and micro-parcel, select cut logging with lighter equipment protects soil so that restoration occurs quicker. Guild work will see soil quality monitored throughout the business-cycle process using an Ecological Balance Sheet.
Business leaders seeking to benefit others, sometimes called benefit corporations will benefit themselves as their work occurs collectively, in alignment to their core values and in a way that is congruous with natural-living-systems process. These practitioners will create a generative source of raw materials and a work-force to serve the growing field of regenerative development.
Colleges and Universities will benefit as programs are expanded to teach students a new set of best-land-management practices and students are engaged in place-based internships.
Just as we can take the approach of developing the health and well-being of our businesses and employees, we also can participate in a developmental relationship with the living systems of our community and its unique environment.
The information that is gleaned from the process will offer all stakeholders invaluable insights into how their community works, how to serve it better and how to position their business within the whole system to create shared mutual benefits.
Organizations with a mission to develop the Blue Ridge Region will be supportive of these activities. Some will choose to participate in the Regenesis process of Story Of Place. Meetings will occur once weekly via on-line meetings with one final project and in-person meeting.
May occur simultaneously or at a later date.
Small 2-3 person loggers, who are uniquely positioned to connect business leaders to land-owners will be supported in developing as forest ecologists, gaining important ecological and business skills, and long-overdue support. Regenesis Group will coach loggers on an independent and collective basis in tandem with Bark House. These meetings will occur in person.
A max of 25 participants is allowed.
With a desire to join the guild, and having at least two years in operation, a core group of nature-based business owners (service providers and product makers) will engage with Regenesis Group on the development of this guild through a Regenerative Practitioner Series. These business leaders will develop all aspects of a supply chain as they work in support of farmers who want to manage their land regeneratively, loggers who want to work generatively in forests, and families who want to develop within this ecosystem.
These activities will culminate in a work-plan and potential grant request.
"Quality is not a goal here… It’s a way of life."