hummingbird flying towards water drops
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Do What You Can

Earlier today we presented to hundreds at the Global Tiny House Conference. Our talk, “Macro Forces, Market Trends, and #WorkFromHomestead”, offered an overview of the factors motivating us to start and build Big Calm Tiny Homesteads and the importance of attracting likeminded people to its vision.

We looked at how negative macro forces like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and widespread mental health woes are changing people’s behaviours. And we also looked at how positive market trends like the tiny house movement, the shift to remote work, a rural renaissance, and the rise of regenerative are emerging opportunities. These are all summarized in more detail here.

circular chart of macro forces and market trends for Big Calm investors

As the grandfather of permaculture, Bill Mollison, once said, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

One of permaculture’s other wise mantras: “Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have.” Which recalls the Story of the Hummingbird…

One day a devastating fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands area was suddenly engulfed by a raging wildfire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream, they turned to watch the fire. They felt discouraged and powerless.


They bemoaned the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire–except for one little hummingbird.


The littlest of creatures decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went directly into the forest and sprinkled them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again.


All the other animals watched in disbelief. Some even tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother,it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”


And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?”


And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

And that’s what we’re doing; we’re doing what we can. To acknowledge the forces we can’t control and recognize the trends we can harness – to create something special by supporting people who are eco-minded, improving self-reliance and food security, building a collaborative/supportive local community, and have fun doing it!

Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

overhead photo of a red SUV driving on a windy country road at dusk

Setting Forth

The day after tomorrow, we will be moving from Calgary to a rental in Silverton (until the Shangri-loft is complete). I find myself thinking about all the things I’ll miss in Calgary.

What I’ll miss most, obviously, is being close to my friends and family. My friends have been a wonderful support throughout the years, and it’s hard to leave them. But, many of them are thinking of moving on to new chapters in their own lives that would scatter some of them across the country. And my in-laws won’t be a mere 1.5 hours away anymore. Fortunately, COVID-19 has prepared us for limited face-to-face time, and has gotten us used to virtual gatherings, which, thankfully, can continue at any distance.

What else will I miss? The convenience of having a variety of goods and services available within walking distance. The luxury of putting in an online order and having it arrive within a day or two. Takeout.

Nothing worth doing comes without a sacrifice, though. So, if being somewhat isolated, surrounded by nature, with the opportunity to join and/or develop a new community and the potential to be self-reliant means living without the conveniences of living in a city, so be it.

Now I’m going to order a pizza.

Photo by Christopher Rusev on Unsplash

sunny morning view of a homestead driveway and paddock

We Found It!

Last summer, my husband and I went on our second road trip across B.C. to look at properties. We knew we wanted to get closer to nature and become more self-reliant, but didn’t have many plans beyond that. The goal of the trip was to decide where in B.C. we wanted to move.

We fell in love with the Slocan Valley. It’s perfectly situated between our beloved Nelson and the up-and-coming Nakusp we just discovered, with beautiful views and the most down-to-earth people (though we found those throughout our travels).

One of the properties we saw, near Winlaw, really stood out to my husband. He saw its potential immediately: it’s unzoned, has two water sources, and a cleared area that could be used for a variety of purposes. I was skeptical as the main residence, a cabin, needed some work, but he couldn’t shake the desire to pursue it. Fortunately, it was still on the market when we decided to act.

The pandemic had a major impact on my outlook: it eliminated all of my doubts. It wasn’t until I witnessed the faltering supply chains that I realized how vulnerable we were. It was then that I saw the property, and it’s potential to make us more self-reliant, as a lifeline. The pandemic made me see the need and permaculture made me see the way.

We are set to close at the end of the month. I know there is a ton of work to do to get the property to where we want it to be. I also know it will be harder than I think. But, for us, it’s the only option.

illustration of a cartoon peering into a dark doorway

Down is the New Up

How profoundly the world has changed.

Looking back at Big Calm’s pre-pandemic posts instills mixed emotions. On one hand, the expressed dissatisfaction with what can be termed the “old normal” is overwhelmingly passe. On the other, the pandemic has underscored the false sense of security many of us have had all our lives.

The pandemic has, amongst other things, demonstrated that our supply chains are extremely fragile. First, there was a toilet paper shortage, now it’s PPE and disinfectants. We are fortunate that our food supply chains have not yet been affected, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be, especially considering what’s going on south of the border.

The pandemic also has revealed the extreme complexity of global systems. It’s the butterfly effect on steroids. The “old normal” was riddled with uncertainty, and the pandemic has increased that uncertainty by orders of magnitude. The “new normal” is a misnomer of epic proportions, especially if the pandemic is the metaphorical butterfly.

This uncertainty though, has made me certain about at least one thing: a major life change is in order. Taking responsibility for my future basic needs has never made more sense than it does now.