We Built a Wall

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

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in aquaponics, renewable, Sustainability, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, water, water conservation, water purification, water quality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to We Built a Wall

  1. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – well your sister and husband seem to have taken a great change in life … and one that will satisfy your BIL – these types of life-styles will be so appropriate for so many of us in the future. Wonderful they’re sharing the project happily together – excellent.

    I came across these in a big way when a retail store in Regent Street in London – one of our main central London shopping areas had a wall in their new store in 2009 – I wrote about it as I was so impressed … and since I’ve seen quite a few spring up in places.

    They always catch my attention if I see something or notice a write up … underground stations not in use – turned into living areas … aquaponics and hydroponics are wonderful ideas … and are catching on. They even oxygenated the river Thames to help rejuvinate it …

    Fascinating subject … and I congratulate them on their enterprise … good luck to them too – and thank you for highlighting for us … I hope you’ll keep us up to date as their new project develops and expands. Take care and I hope all safe and well … all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      You have always been ahead of the curve, Hilary! I had no idea about the Thames. Did it work? What’s the issue? Too much algae from nutrient runoff? We have that same issue in the Chesapeake Bay.

      My sis and her husband are talking about making small ones for people who don’t have the space or want the responsibility for an entire wall and instead can use a desk or something. I’m excited to see the end result. Thanks for coming by. 💕

      Like

  2. First of all, your photos of the wall are BEAUTIFUL. Perfect compositions and color balance, Friend! As for work, I know just what you mean. Our families can be motivators of love, but there is still that need for fulfillment through challenging and growing our personal passions. Teaching’s okay, it’s nice to do, but my real love is writing. Bo doesn’t mind working for the USPS, but his real passion is classic cinema and writing about it. My grandfather never found joy in his paying jobs, but he loved to build and create in his basement shop. I know there’s a lot of talk about “being paid to do what you love,” but there’s something to be said for having the job that pays and being able to do what you love *on your own terms.* Anyway, I be a’ramblin’ now. 🙂 I hope you are well and keeping in touch with your lovely kiddos. The boys finally start school tomorrow (virtually), but I’m hoping for good changes soon. xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Omigoodness! That is really wonderful. I have always admired these! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Resa says:

    Amazing! I adore your living wall!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Schaub says:

    This is amazing Pam – and with the Etsy site, and showcasing what they have done on their living wall, they are sure to be busy with orders. I can only imagine all the work that went into it. The fish are happy – forget the one that went over and out … label it a malcontent. Years ago, I had a couple of gouramis (a/k/a “kissing fish”) and one chased the other out of the bowl. My mom was horrified to find it on the floor. No fish fan, she was not going to pick it up, but when I came home from school, I was tasked with scooping it up – it wiggled after all those hours. Hope they enjoy their wall – it will keep them very relaxed and serene.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a creative approach to solving a problem. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Susan Scott says:

    Wow this is A for Amazing Art! So wonderful to see Pam a million kudos to your sis and b-i-l. I’ll check out the links. I’m loving planting things for spring in the garden – also made a large space with cacti skies and succulents. Lots of small stones. Some big ones. Some other artifacts in that space too. One day I’ll put up a photo! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ally Bean says:

    This is cool. Your wall is a stunner. I love your goldfish photos. Those little guys make me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mick Canning says:

    And did you get Mexico to pay for it?

    But, seriously, it looks fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pam, thanks for sharing your sister’s and brother-in-law’s story of building a living aquaponics wall. Amazing and beautiful! Over the past ten years, my son has helped me–with pots, plants, garden soil, and other supplies–to create beautiful succulent gardens in several plots of our apartment complex. My neighbors and a number of visitors have all expressed delight in the transformation of our courtyard. The plots demand regular care that I find enjoying. Gardening has also been therapeutic during these times of anxiety and uncertainty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      So cool, Rosaliene! Are you a master gardener? I dream of growing a fabulous garden someday, but we don’t have much sun where we live (in the woods) so the aquaponics could solve that problem. The wall is beautiful and when you have the meditative quality of the fish it takes it to a whole new level. I can’t wait to see where they go with this. Good luck beautifying your neighborhood!😘

      Liked by 1 person

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Rosaliene…your garden sounds delightful. What a gift to your neighbors. Kudos!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, my friend, you have certainly NOT been idle xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Ah, not me, Shey, but my sis and bro-in-law. So happy they’re getting this off the ground. Truly works of art! 🖼

      Like

      • I was remembering how you had a blog where they made the most wonderful things from reclaimed wood and driftwood and they are amazing. Like your good self. I had just come back from a few days away and it had been hectic.But this is really good to see.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos says:

        Always good to see you, Lady Shey. You’re memory’s a good one. They are still making the reclaimed wood and all will go in the Etsy shop eventually, but they are starting slow and figuring out all the logistics first before they put up a bunch of inventory without haven’t yet figured out how to ship it. So much to learn, eh?🤪🥰

        Like

      • I know. It is not easy. I mean my mr keeps going, why don’t you sell your driftwood pieces and I say no and that is why. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos says:

        My friend had a tree fall in her yard and she’s taken the roots and put epoxy on them and they are like sculptures now — so very cool. Art is nature/nature is art. 🖼 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree. I like to pick up old driftwood off the shores and make wee houses and pictures with it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Pam Lazos says:

        Fairy houses! My kids made them all the time growing up!!❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fisherman’s cottages big and small, cos the Ferry is classed as an historic fishing village and the bit at the front by the sea is indeed a network of old cottages.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos says:

        Sounds like a place out of a historical romance novel, Shey! 🥰 Had it been continuously inhabited?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Further along what is known as the Stannergate here as does the bit across the river at Tentsmuir goes back to prehistoric times. Then there was a castle built here, more a fortification and eventually it was a fishing village. This was before the whaling and merchant city of very nearby Dundee was ..I hesitate to say transformed by jute… more that in a matter of weeks it was swamped by refugees from the Irish famine ( talking big numbers here in a town ill equipped to deal with them. ) Then?? The people up the chain who made their money on that one, quickly decanted to what is still called the Ferry and built numerous fancy –ancy mansions up the hill from these cottages, creating what was once known as the richest square mile in Europe. What is interesting is despite all the ‘new builds’ and the many years that have passed and how–forget the richest square mile, in terms of postcode, it sure became the snobbiest that way. BUT the basic layout of that bit with the old cottages still sits cheek by jowl with all these now flatted old mansions. .

        Liked by 2 people

      • Pam Lazos says:

        That’s a story waiting to happen. Throw in a bit of romance and voila!😘🤓😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • yeah . I guess there is. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Stacey says:

      Thank you Ms. Shey. You have an amazing memory! And I think you two have really said it all.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. cindy knoke says:

    Lovely & my kind of wall!

    Liked by 1 person

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