Straw Bale House Building Learning Opportunity


You are getting this message because at one time you said you might be interested in helping us with straw bale house construction, or at least we think you did.

We are building a straw bale house on our 5.5-acre property just outside Winlaw, BC.  We are planning the straw bale/plastering component of house construction for July 2011, and we need volunteer helpers.  We are looking for generous friends who are willing to work all day on our property in the beautiful Slocan Valley in exchange for:
·         On-site camping and free food
·         An opportunity to experience this interesting building technique under the guidance of Habib John Gonzales, an expert straw bale builder.  See for more information about Habib.
·         A pleasant work environment, companionship, and evening revelry.  (We hope.)

We will need a work crew of 8 for each of two 6-day periods – a 6-person construction crew, and 2 people for support tasks, such as food preparation and errands.  Our current plan is:

July 11 through approximately July 16 – Straw bale wall raising Tasks include installing exterior stucco mesh, carrying and stacking bales, retying partial bales to custom lengths, stuffing gaps, trimming the walls, installing interior stucco mesh and sewing mesh in place, masking framing lumber that will not be plastered, and otherwise preparing for plastering.

July 20 through approximately July 26 (with Sunday off) – Plastering Tasks include setting up scaffolding and tarps, mixing plaster, misting the walls, applying plaster (two or three coats), and cleaning equipment.

Both phases require at least some big strong people for the heavy work.

We will supply a tool belt, work gloves, rubber gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, sunscreen, and most tools.  It would be helpful if volunteers could bring a hammer.  Please label any tools you bring.  If you cannot bring a hammer, that’s okay – we’ll have extras on hand.

Volunteer workers are invited to set up tents on our property.  Amenities include good drinking water, an outhouse, and sun-warmed water for handwashing.  Food is provided; we will cook and eat together.  Dietary restrictions will be accommodated, but we will need advance notice.  There is swimming in the Slocan River, a 10- to 15-minute walk from the property.  We hope to have an outdoor shower set up by then, but in any case, hot showers are available at Karibu Park, a 10-minute drive from the property.  There are also non-camping options, such as rental cabins at Karibu Park and several nearby Bed and Breakfasts.

Please let us know if you might be interested in helping out.  We will be sending out more messages as plans progress.  If you don’t want to get any more e-mail messages about this, please let us know and we’ll take you off the list.

Habib is using our house site as a venue for a 5-day workshop on commercial methods in straw bale construction during the week of July 4th.  The course is intended mainly for design professionals and owner builders.  Participants do not need building experience, but should have a serious interest in learning theory and technique.  If you are interested in the workshop, contact Habib at .

Susan K. Stevenson R.P.Bio
Silvifauna Research
101 Burden St.
Prince George BC  V2M 2G8

phone:  (250) 564-5695  fax:  (250) 562-8419

CYM Sessions need Youth Workers

Message about CYM Youth Programme

Programming for the Youth Program at CYM sessions this summer is under way. We have many folks who have already committed to sharing their gifts with the Young Friends of our Meeting. There are still two openings for week-long leaders of the two age groups 4-7 and 8-12. For those who take responsibility for these groups throughout the week, your room and board expenses will be covered.

We also need more volunteers to help out with planned activities. Stories, sports, arts & crafts, etc.  If you can share your gifts with our youth, please let Ellen Helmuth, YP Coordinator know (by sending me a note and I will forward it to her).

Yonge Street Half Yearly Meeting

The first weekend of June was Yonge Street Half Yearly Meeting, bringing together Yonge Street, Toronto, Hamilton and Simcoe Muskoka Meetings. Held at Camp NeeKauNis, this year was the biggest turn out they’ve had in a while with over 60 people of all ages present. There were lots of opportunities to hang out in informal groups, to listen as people shared people’s experiences of living their Quakerism, visiting over meals, and joyful moments of discovery with toddlers!

It was lovely to hear the State of Society reports during the Business sessions and I felt warmly welcomed by all. Meeting for worship Sunday morning was held on First Hill over looking Sturgeon Bay, with the sounds of nature, delighted small children and occasionally the highway.

YAFs were involved in lots of Camp upkeep and maintenance; putting in the dock at the beach, mowing the grass, building fires to keep the buildings warm as well as participating in inter-generational games, talent night and programming. I spent a couple hours talking with a few younger and older Friends-of-NeeKauNis who are passionate about seeing camp become more accessible to Friends from across Canada. It was an inspiring conversation and distracted me enough that they trounced my team at Euchre.

The waterfront at Camp NeeKauNis provided ample opportunities for getting ones feet wet, discovering wildlife (the crowd is looking at a huge turtle), sitting in contemplative silence and just getting out and going for a walk when the weather would allow it.

Unfortunately I missed hearing John and Diana Lampen speak and lead a workshop on Making Friends with Conflict. They are Quaker Peace educators and writers. For twenty years, they worked with emotionally disturbed adolescent boys at Shotton Hall School. Later they moved to Derry in Northern Ireland, where they worked in the communities with young people seeking reconciliation. Currently, Diana and John Lampen run the Hope Project, a small training and consultancy agency based in Stourbridge, England, which works for peace in partnership with local organizations in Britain, Belarus, Bosnia, Croatia, Uganda, and Ukraine.

I left the weekend feeling grounded, motivated by the group energy and conversations I had and excited at the connections I had made. A project I am feeling strongly about supporting is taking the opportunity to work with OAFs (Older Adult Friends) to capture their experiences of being Young Friends, their hopes for the future of Quakerism and tidbits of their spiritual journeys to share with Younger (Adult) Friends.

Youth Secretary Job Description

I figure the best way to be transparent and intentional is to share and remind both myself and the community what my role and responsibilities are as the Youth Secretary. I also want to remind friends that I am starting from scratch; that the position is brand new, and that there is a huge learning curve, both for me, my employment committee, the CYM office and committees involved, as well as for our whole community. Please have patience with yourselves, others and me as we journey together to create, support and nurture a more inter-generational, spiritually grounded and dynamic community in Canadian Yearly Meeting.

Canadian Yearly Meeting Youth Secretary Job Description.

Key Responsibilities:

1.  Spiritual Vitality

  • Give guidance, support and resources to YF/YAFs, as they develop their identities as Quakers.
  • Provide connections to those who can offer spiritual, emotional and practical support.
  • Promote spiritual enrichment to Friends across Canada.
  • Foster partnerships for learning and fellowship, especially with the Quaker Education Program Coordinator (QEPC).
  • Work with the QEPC to build connections with our Elders across the country, especially while visiting within a region.
  • Create, and model the importance of, practical and spiritual mentoring by developing relationships between the YS, seasoned Friends, and the QEPC.

2.  Communication Resource

  • Be a connector!  Build connections and help Friends maintain them within CYM, CYFYM, in the Americas and worldwide.
  • Facilitate inter-generational connections to help us to know one another better, including our elders and children.
  • Plan and initiate visitation for YF/YAFs across Canada.
  • Coordinate YF/YAF gatherings, worship and events.
  • Find and reach out to isolated YF/YAFs.
  • Help develop a system to bridge relationships between Eastern, Central, and Western YF/YAFs, using tools including web-based social media.
  • Introduce and share information about Camp NeeKauNis and the Canadian and Half-Yearly Meeting sessions across Canada with YF/YAF and NeeKauNis attendees.
  • Attend CYM  and as way opens, attend Half-Yearly meetings and other Quaker gatherings.  Be aware of environmental consideration as discernment and plans evolve.

3.  Information Resource

  • Share information and resources and create learning opportunities about Quaker ways.
  • Make important documents from CYM and around the world available for YF/YAFs to access.
  • Ensure that information from CYM business meeting, including agendas and summaries, is available daily to Young Friends throughout CYM in session.
  • Notify the Young Friends community of resources, grants, money, events and opportunities available to them.
  • Help familiarize YFs/YAFs appointed to Yearly Meeting committees  with their responsibilities and goals for their service period, and the terms of reference and work of their committees.

Western Half Yearly Meeting

One week into the Youth Secretary position, I had the privilege of attending Western Half Yearly Meeting in Sorrento, BC. Before hand I spent a day visiting some Young Adult Friends (YAFs) who were not going to be there, out on Mayne Island and in Vancouver. It was a fabulous opportunity to see some YAFs on the West Coast and experience just how frustrating it must be for many Friends to get from where they are living to where there are other Friends or Meetings; though as someone who doesn’t get to go on many ferry rides, I found them quite soothing if a bit constraining.

My drive up to Sorrento with 3 Friends from Vancouver Monthly Meeting was full of good conversation and insights as we drove further and further up into the mountains. I love hearing about how different Meetings function and what activities they do which make them unique. The Strawberry Social that Vancouver Monthly Meeting holds sounds super engaging and fun!

WHYM provided me with the great opportunity to meet with a number of Young Friends, YAFs and Friends of all ages, with whom I had engaging conversation about ideas and hopes for what the position of Youth Secretary might provide to Canadian Yearly Meeting and Quakers across Canada.

Introductions were done by family groups, which gave me a better understanding of the connections and relationships within the community. It was also remarkable the number of children 5 and under! I loved listening to the sounds of them finding joy together in the centre of our worship. I think I am better able to understand the need for “critical mass” gatherings of Friends. So many of us are isolated Friends in one way or another, even if we are geographically near other Quakers.

I hadn’t initially understood why it was so important that Western Half Yearly be held over a long weekend, but as I met people and discovered the distances that they traveled to get there, it made much more sense. Western Half Yearly Meeting serves such a large geographical distance that it wouldn’t be realistic to expect people to come if it were only a day or overnight gathering.

I was especially taken with one YAF’s button “Love is a Verb”. I think it is vitally important to Quakers as we live our Faith that we not forget the action part. I am interested in how I can do this more in my own life.

Western Half Yearly Meeting was full of many inter-generational activities. Balancing is a huge part of the Gathering, and for those of you interested in making balancing a part of your gatherings, please check out the Resources for Meetings page where I have posted the Stevenson’s guide to Balancing.

Young Friend activities included doing a work project at the Sorrento Centre’s farm. It is becoming an annual event where the Quaker’s help them plant over 500 tomato plants each spring! There was also a bonfire down at the beach with marshmallows and hotdogs which was great fun despite the sprinklings of rain. And the family night had fabulous intergenerational participation and tons of talent! I hope to post some recordings of these talented presentations soon!

Call for Images

Muck BootsThe Youth Secretary is looking for images of Canadian Y(A)Fs and inter-generational Quaker activities to use for publicity and on the website. Especially looking for photos from Yearly Meeting or Half Yearly Meeting sessions, Meeting events, retreats, gatherings, workshops and camps!

When possible, please send large, good quality files with an email releasing them to be used on the website and in publicity. You will be contacted before they are used.

Thanks so much!

First Youth Secretary for CYM!

Katrina McQuailIt is with great pleasure that the Youth Secretary Committee announces the appointment of Katrina McQuail as CYM Youth Secretary. Her position will take effect May 9, 2011.

Katrina is a member of Kitchener Area MM and grew up in the Lucknow Worship Group. She now lives in Guelph, ON where there is a lively YF presence. She has had considerable experience working with youth within Friends General Conference. She coordinates the High School program at FGC’s Annual Gathering, serves on the Executive Committee and also serves on the Transforming Sub-Committee (previously Youth Ministries Committee).

Katrina has been involved in organizing retreats for YF at Camp Neekaunis for many years and attended the World Gathering of YF as a CYM representative in 2005. She has attended CYM sessions whenever possible and has served the YF community there as a recording clerk, program person, listener and representative to HMAC. She is a 2006 Business and Non Profit Management (minor in French) graduate of Earlham College where she interacted with Friends from the FUM and EFI traditions from both Indiana and Western YMs. After graduating she worked as assistant to the President of the College. Katrina also served on the Editorial Board for the Quaker Youth publication Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices.

Though Katrina is involved and passionate about Quakerism and Quaker youth, her interests are diverse and eclectic. She is also excited about social justice, community, and all aspects of food. Katrina has worked in higher education, as an organic farmer, as a cook, and with social change organizations, governments and businesses. With a focused interest in sustainability and building stronger communities, she keeps herself busy by volunteering, traveling, running youth programs, cooking, baking, and helping on her family’s farm. When she can find the time, she likes activities from scuba diving to quilting and she is rarely found without a cup of tea. For the past two years Katrina has been working the land and caring for the animals with her parents on their farm near Lake Huron.

The position of Youth Secretary (YS) was first envisaged by the Consultation and Renewal working group (CnR) and a committee of adult Friends and Young Friends nominated by Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting ( CYFYM) has worked on the vision and eventual job description for this position. They saw the key responsibilities as being Spiritual Vitality, a Communication Resource and an Information Resource; all aspects which Katrina is well able and qualified to fill.  The committee also saw the role of support from Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups as being vital to the success of this position.

Katrina is enthusiastic about connecting with YFs & YAFs across the country and having  a strong relationship with CYFYM. She sees keeping YFs engaged and feeling supported by their spiritual community as a way of ensuring the future of the Religious Society of Friends in Canada, while also nurturing YFs’ individual growth and development. She invites Friends of all ages to get in touch with thoughts, ideas and hopes for ways in which she can best serve the community.