Our objective is to live a reasonable life where our home is an extension of nature; where the systems incorporate bio-mimicry for both function and beauty. All systems work with nature to create a space that is safe and provide for our needs sustainably without compromising the needs of future generations to enjoy the same level of comfort. Our home will exhibit a practical example of sustainability both locally and globally showcasing luxurious simplicity. We plan on sharing this with others through our actions and education programs to challenge our culture’s desire for a consumer economy. Our home achieves these objectives by incorporating sustainability and research with solar PV and wind power, grid intertie, solar thermal heating, rain water harvesting from a living roof, composting toilet, grey water re-use, passive solar design, and all within North America’s first code approved seismically engineered load bearing insulated cob residence.
Our vision for Eco-Sense is multi-layered. It includes family, community, and the environment. Ultimately all are interconnected in living a "reasonable life". And to us a "reasonable life" relies on living respectfully within nature and avoids the "bigger, better, faster, more" mindset that defines overdeveloped countries like our own.
For family, we want our children to learn the tools and skills to develop a more biocentric view of self where they understand their role in nature, and feel included not isolated. We want our children to have their sense of self-origin from their place on earth and in community; not their stuff on earth.
For community, we see ourselves as active members whether it is the neighbourhood, the natural building community, or our friends.
Our vision for the environment is to live sustainably and share what we have learned with others to help inspire positive change. We believe the energy for change comes from focusing on exciting possibilities and not on the problems. Solutions can be found through creating new visions where individual contentment, social justice, community/family values, and our life-supporting environment are all seen as one cohesive concept.
We welcome you here!
Ann and Gord Baird
Gord was raised the youngest of five children, where he spent many hours playing in a semi-rural area of Victoria. As a teenager he was introduced to canoeing and kayaking and became hooked on exploring his spectacular West coast surroundings. Originally drawn to a business degree, Gord corrected his course and instead graduated Simon Fraser University with a Bachelors degree in experimental psychology. Rather than continue with a Masters degree Gord fell into the family auto body repair business. It was here that he practiced valuing and balancing ethics and the environment with profit.
When his first marriage ended, he took on the challenge of being a single dad only to discover that the status quo tended to play down the importance of the family in lieu of generating wealth. Seeking more time with his children, he sold his shares in the family business and began management consulting. Once again Gord discovered that "a reasonable life" was not fully achievable. Instead he gained an increased awareness of our culture's insatiable selfishness and manufactured sense of need. This pushed him to the next level.
In search for a women who didn't have to wear makeup, could carry her own kayak and clean her own fish, Gord met Ann. Finally he found someone who could complete his picture of "a reasonable life". Within six months Ann and Gord were married and a year later they purchased the Eco-Sense property.
Today Gord uses his hands creatively in building everything from homes, gardens, and jewellery. He maintains that his greatest challenge is to live and lead by example, to teach his children that it is OK to step away from a culture marketing self-importance and consumerism.
Ann grew up in Port Moody and completed her BSc in Biology at Simon Fraser University in 1990. As a child she always had a passion for nature and felt most comfortable outside. Ann worked in her field of study for five years primarily performing research with living systems including parasitic insects, forestry, microbiology, and respiratory medicine.
With the help of her first husband, two successful computer businesses were started. During this eight-year period Ann became a competent financial manger. Her amiable divorce led her to escape the city. She moved to a boat access only property on tiny Wise Island and built an off-the-grid home. It was here where she learned first hand about resource use, composting toilets, grey water reuse, electrical, plumbing and carpentry.
During this time Ann developed a passion for sustainable living and became increasingly concerned with how our "civilized society" treated the earth and each other. She eventually re-entered the workforce as the financial manager for the Salt Spring Island organic food co-op where she developed a strong social conscience and learned about the importance of local food.
In the spring of 2005 Ann and Gord were married on the beach at Wise Island. Ann became step mom to two incredible nature-loving children. Ann's interests include ecology, sustainable living, ranting, and exploring natural areas by kayak.
…Bob and Lynn for helping us tamp concrete
…Jimmy for his endless supply of buckets – THANKS AGAIN!
…Valerie and Stephan at iD2 Communications for doing a fabulous job on the Wise Island web site
…Garth at VanIsle Water for helping choose pumps and giving us a great deal
…Dan at Lloyd-el Ceramics for helping us find pigments for natural plasters AND for the van full all the set up clay no longer suitable for pottery
…All those COB OVENS that we have inspired others to build after seeing ours.
…Jimmy for lots more BUCKETS. Absolutely invaluable – THANKS
…Valerie for sharing her knowledge and love of NATIVE PLANTS and donating the first plants (rescued from blasting sites) for our living roof.
…Cindy and Bill for all their ongoing support, friendship, and help
…Neville for used building materials such as doors, electrical, glass etc.
…Michael and Joy for ready mix, veggies from their garden, and a beautiful card thanking us for inspiring.
…David and Joyce our neighbors for bringing so many wonderful veggies from their garden as well as all the fur from “Kip” their dog – We are using this fur as the fibre for a natural plaster.
…Janet (another neighbor) for Eggs and cider and feathers and horse manure and lots of encouragement and support for our project.
…Ryan and Christie at Café Fantastico for donating all the organic coffee for the 7 day workshop
…Lifestyles Market for donating gift certificates to buy organic food for the cob workshop participants
…Janet for her many hours of help with organizing the food for the cob workshop and making all the yummy sandwiches
…The McMinn’s for the donation of organic Highland beef for our cob workshop celebration BBQ
…The Italian bakery for the wonderful bread donations for the workshop
…Elke for her ongoing help and sharing of her experience and knowledge
…all the workshop participants for all your enthusiasm and energy – A fabulous group of people to spend the week with
…Kimberly and Neville for some used 2x6’s, an old door, some cedar deck material, and lots of good advice
…Cindy for her very generous offer to draw up our house plans and work with the engineer.
…David for the loan of the small tractor. We have moved logs, clay, sand, and lots of rocks. Thanks for saving our backs!
…Jimmy for all the buckets, water tanks, and barrels. Invaluable for moving clay, soil, plants, bird seed, dog food, etc.
…Tony from Western Grator for his input and patience for the blast that was able to save the natural contours and established vegetation of our land.
…Todd and Jill for some wood from their dismantled shed.
…Pattie for being as enthusiastic as us about our project and giving us great publicity in the Goldstream Gazette.
…Brian and Leanne for the window
…All of our new neighbors for their warm welcome.
…Bill for his old woodstove, a whole van full of used 1x8’s, shower bottom, sinks, plywood bits, flashing, etc.
…Rick for his weekend of work chain sawing and moving rocks and various other heavy things.