Bark House founders wanted to increase the vitality of the Appalachian Region that they call home. This would require creating livelihoods for people born of a gentle culture that revered nature. The work had to honor ancient traditions and values of the whole-community, something that local people could take pride in. Growing its viability would require a non-traditional business system that was regenerative and offered non-displaceable products and services. These products and services would need to be highly responsible, relevant and revered to reach outside an economically challenged region and resonate with clients who saw value in the nature of a living legacy. Stakeholder capacity for evolution would need to be increased through the Whole-Building system.
The concept was to showcase local products and culture in a way that enables local people to see the true value in what they have and who they are. For eight thousand years, the region’s culture had sustained a relationship of respect and caring between humans and nature, and as a result, both had thrived. Over the last century however, the culture had steadily deteriorated under the forces of extractive modernization and industry. To change the trajectory of a people that seemed literally set in stone, this business would have to connect to an energy source well beyond that of providing products and services. It would have to create a system, true to a shared vocation. This vocation embraces understanding the walls that hold us together and set us free.
The Appalachian region has a special sense of place. Walls of ancient mountains shrouded in mist with cascading streams hold the promise of refuge and revitalization. This regenerative attribute infuses the land and the forests in this place. It is within the RAW™ (Reclaimed Appalachian Wood Waste) materials used in Bark House product making. History recorded regional business practices that were extractive to both people and place. The Bark House was called to align co-operatively with natural systems and create a business whose aim is to be regenerative. To rebuild whole-communities in this place and in the places where Bark House products would adorn requires sharing a far-reaching strategy. It requires understanding the nature of a living legacy.
The system of Whole-Building mobilizes investment to improve the health and vitality of communities and nature. This practice views building as an opportunity to engage the essential capacity of all stakeholders (architects, builders, community, designers, distributors, manufacturers, owners) to participate in communal, economic and environmental enrichment as an integral function of creating a built-environment. The aim of whole-building is to re-align a co-operative human-nature relationship.