Ripples, Striding into 2016

The Ripples’ journey has been only two things consistently:  unpredictable and rewarding.  Well, maybe three:  I’ll add “challenging” to the mix.  We’ve been looking for land for five years and hashing out the contours of this life project for so long that, when things actually start to come together, to feel tangible and possible, taking a step back to survey how far we’ve come is astonishing… and humbling.  The generosity of some members of our community, their casually sweet and giving natures, makes correcting our many missteps and scaling the mountains of effort justifiable, and deeply satisfying.  It reminds us of why this work is so worthwhile.  For the time you’ve taken to watch or support our journey, we offer our deep thanks.

Moving toward our future.

Moving toward our future.

We accomplished some wonderful (at least for us) things in 2015.  Amanda completed her Master Naturalist certification, and continues to broaden her understanding of Arkansas’s flora and fauna (all in preparation to effectively conserve the land we eventually call home).  I redesigned our website to provide a decidedly circular, cleaner experience, which will more effectively host our “educational center” (still haven’t settled on a sufficiently descriptive name for it).   We built an FAQ page that we feel begins to more and more effectively address the question “so what are you all actually doing?”  And, most powerfully of all, we moved out to the historic Johnson Pear Farm, where we are learning many of the day-to-day details of stewarding country land.

Our presence here is not yet legally set in stone; only the goodwill of an amazing person currently gives us this opportunity.  If for some reason we had to find a new home for Ripples, we would undoubtedly be so much richer than before.  The openness of our host has given us a rare opportunity to save and learn so very much.  No matter what happens in the future, every day we can spend here is a gift.  It does sound a bit weird to say, that, for example–figuring out how to deal with drug traffickers (and, in some cases, meth makers), vandalism, flood waters, local-to-local communication challenges, and a culture that does not necessarily understand what we’re trying to accomplish–is a gift.  But we have chosen a path of, shall we say, optimal resistance; some of the changes we believe in are uncomfortable and inconvenient to pursue.  Only by immersing ourselves in the daily challenges this path presents can we find the best way forward.  In this way, we are truly blessed.

Our camera reveals the moving beauty of dew.

Our camera reveals the moving beauty of dew.

That’s not to say it’s all “challenges.”  I think, as a technically focused individual, I’m often stating challenges with a sort of strange, subdued passion that baffles many.  This land is gorgeous, its history deep and awe-inspiring.  I can’t even recount all of the squeals of delight I’ve shared with Amanda over chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and our first Hispid Cotton Rat (which Amanda courageously rescued from a cat’s maw).  Just a few of the wonders that have lifted me:  Countless dew-dense webs built atop low-cut grasses, alive with rainbow light; dozens of birds vying for seed; thousands of ladybugs and Japanese beetles bursting to life and invading the house (wreathing us like swarming cloaks) on warm Autumn days; and thoughtful moments beside massive stones near Kessler Mountain’s “peak,” pondering my weight in the world amid hundred-plus-ton, ancient stone sentinels.  These natural marvels instill our journey–chock full of computers, planning, and ideas–with a calm, soaring wonder.

While we are able to hold these gifts in our hands, minds, and hearts, we intend to learn as passionately as possible.  Our plans this year are lofty, but the challenge excites and inspires us.  This year, we will strive to:

  • Begin fleshing out the “educational center” with materials we feel we’ve optimized enough to post
  • Complete our building plan, which will be designed to eventually be posted online
  • Begin building in May or June 2016 (assuming all factors come together)
  • Refine our online presence, and improve our communication; some of these plans may include using Twitter to tweet our movements and discoveries on the land, improving visibility, visitor accountability (especially in the case of drug-related situations), and keying all who choose to follow us in that venue into the daily experience of living on the land
  • Building on the above, we intend to blog a lot more often.  I intend to actually have a consistent voice here, posting about building processes, many of our tangible choices (like satellite internet, tool choices, resource sources, etc.), and more.  Amanda will also give her voice broader wing.

We hope you will continue to journey with us in whatever way you feel inspired to.  If you ever have any questions about what we’re doing or why, we deeply encourage you ask them, in the comments, via email, on our Facebook page, or of us in person.  Your questions help us refine our message, and to understand what meanings and perspectives we still need to nurture.

Welcome to a new year with Ripples.  2016, let’s do this.  Bring on that house.


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Amin Ullah Kakar

Great work! Many Congratulations to Amanda for being Master Naturalist! Congratulations to all the Team for your achievements! Wish you best of LUCK for 2016; happy new year! 🙂


Thanks for the kind words, Amin! We wish you the best, as well!

Amanda Bancroft

Thanks Amin! Missing our great conversations, and looking forward to hosting more of those conversations in the future years after our conservation cottage is built. May 2016 bring you joy!


Kudos on all your progress and the Naturalist training. I can’t wait to see your home. blessings, Brad

Rick Jones

The Hendersons, a young couple in West Fork, AR, have built a largely sustainable house themselves. Organic beds and an orchard. I should introduce them to you.


Yes, we would love to meet them! Northwest Arkansas and surrounding areas are home to a couple of earthships, an earthbag house or two, a cob house, a couple straw bale homes and other hybrid sustainable homes.

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