Restoration Art Forms

June 9, 2010

The students at the Lagunitas School took part in an interdisciplinary process of ecological restoration, natural dye making, and weaving this year.  To source our raw materials we ventured into the restoration site that exists just outside the student’s classroom.  We planted, tended, dyed and wove…

This is a group of second and third grade students from the Waldorf Inpsired classroom.  Their older brothers and sisters planted native plants over the last two years within an area of compacted soil, and poor drainage–with an intention to improve natural habitat for insects, amphibians, and birds.  The restoration site is now cared for by the younger students who are able, due to the maturity of some of the species–harvest for natural dyes.

We brought the dye pot out into the garden, and put our coyote brush trimmings right into the vat.  The students asked the plant’s permission prior to taking any leaves or twigs.  We likened our harvesting regime to giving the coyote brush a ‘hair-cut’.

After dyeing our yarns in coyote brush yellow, and toyon orange, we began the process of weaving our medicine pouches.  Using a simple cardboard loom, and a unique warping style– the children wove in the round.

Up close, you can see the beautiful transition of the weaving moving from coffeeberry green, toyon orange, and coyote brush yellow.  The weaving will be turned inside out once the woven pocket is removed from the cardboard frame.  This way, all the loose ends will be on the inside of the piece.

This curriculum is well designed for the activity and energy level of this age group.  Whenever the handwork is done, students go outside to put elderberries in the ground!  Good for them…. good for the ecosystem.  I am always looking for mutually beneficial outcomes.. the mottos are ‘challenges are opportunities… find the best place for everyone’s skill… direct energy where it becomes most useful.’

It is quite beautiful to see what happens when human energy is focused on constructing healthy ecosystems, rather than destructing those systems.  Although we were designing a restoration site initially to learn about native plants and ethnobotany…we soon realized that this restoration site, was creating outcomes far beyond our initial hopes.  In the third year of planting, for the first time, a tree frog was found within the restoration garden.  While there used to be many of these frogs in the area, most had disappeared.  This frog was found right in the middle of a soap root and coffeeberry planting!  It seems that this little restored zone has now become useful habitat.

We are in the process now of trying to understand how we did what we did– and attempt to keep doing it!  We are adding more components to our curriculum as of this year.. and will continue to expand our knowledge of all the members (present and future) of this ecosystem, with the intent to continuously invite more species to our bio-diverse party.

One Response to “Restoration Art Forms”

  1. Andrew Fynn Says:

    I love that the tree frog came back, tree frog!

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