My sister and her husband have started a new business. I’ll let her explain:
We Built a Wall….
Not all walls are built to keep things in our out. For years now I have wanted a green wall. Also for years, I have been fascinated by systems of all kinds, how they work in both nature and our social economy and why we don’t care more about so many of the broken systems we have constructed. When the world stopped in March 2020, those two preoccupations joined hands and now my husband and I are the proud proprietors of a living aquaponics wall which has sparked a new life trajectory in our humble home.
Let me explain. About 3 years ago, I worked for a small non-profit which encouraged young people to become advocates for our over-burdened planet. As I researched how to encourage this type of passion in elementary and middle school students, I went down the rabbit hole of systems thinking — also known as sustainability, circle economy, biomimicry, and more — for which nature is the perfect illustration. What is an ecosystem if not various systems relying on each other to either thrive or perish. This experience led me to further examine my own daily choices in life. How much trash do I create? How can I grow more food? What types of materials am I wearing or putting in my home and what is their impact on the environment?
While I’m still far from having practical solutions to these and many other quandaries I have about my footprint on this planet, the living wall was a small victory in creating a system that works, is not a burden to maintain, and brings much joy into our home. Many times people decide to be more “green” only to realize the upkeep is much more work than they had envisioned. In order for a system to thrive, it has to be beneficial to all involved or else parts of the system will start to break down and eventually fail.
At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband had a few weeks on his hands and decided it was finally time to oblige my request to build a living wall in our living room. We watched videos (thank you Gardening Australia and Kieran Richardt for the inspo!), made sketches, ordered felt and pumps, called my nephew for fish advice and then my husband got to work constructing. When the final product came together, we were both pretty impressed — it worked! Don’t get me wrong, this was a process. But it was a process that both of us enjoyed immensely.
MANY trips to the nursery and farmers market ensued, trying to figure out the right plants, the best configurations. An irrigation issue plagued us for months until we swapped out drippers for bubblers (such an important piece of information which most likely makes no sense to you, and really, why would it). A Sunday night fish massacre that shook everyone up (my husband tried to make his own rocks for the tank…won’t ever do that again!), The good news, only three fish met their demise, one jumping out of the tank about 3 feet and lying lifeless on the floor in the morning when we came down for breakfast. Devastating, but we rebounded.
Lighting. We need more. This piece has become a work of art so the lighting must be as well. That will take a while longer, but art, like life, is a work in progress. The day we went to the fish store and the water test was perfect we both felt like proud parents. The system actually works!
This wall has been a gift to us in another way. Since my husband came to the States a few years ago, he has not found the kind of fulfilling work that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. He works, yes, but this wall, this makes his hands happy and suffuses him with a joy that I have not seen in him since he left his home. You can’t overstate the lift you get from putting something meaningful out into the world; for the first time in three years, my husband is starting to feel the satisfaction he had with the work he did in his home country, the satisfaction that comes with a job well done.
Before the pandemic, everyone was moving so fast on autopilot. Then we all had to stop and we realized that autopilot was not going to get us to our destination. I see this wall as so many things. An art piece, an educational tool, an instrument to inspire mindfulness and meditation, an air purifier for our home, and now, a way for my husband and I to collaborate professionally. The wall has reordered our systems, our thinking, our hearts. Our journey is just beginning.
by Stacey Lazos
Check out the start of a their new adventure on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/OutsideInChatt?ref=search_shop_redirect
pam lazos 8.23.20