Jan 012015

By Rachel Davey

An informational sign about the treatment plant created by Peter Joyes.

An informational sign about the treatment plant created by Peter Joyes.

On your next visit to The Haven, you will see a new septic treatment plant on the edge of the forest opposite the Raven building. The need for this major new piece of infrastructure came from the discovery phase of the Facilities Masterplan. In the process of finding out everything we needed to know about the Haven property, we undertook an in depth study of our waste water system.

We all know that The Haven is a place where you can come and deal with your sh*t. It’s also vitally important that we effectively deal with literal sh*t as The Haven (and Gabriola) has never had a municipal sewerage system. We have many septic fields of different ages and types. The study revealed that two of them were coming to the end of their lifespan, and were now in the setback from the ocean. We undertook this project in order to solve these two problems by consolidating a number of systems into one and replacing the failing fields. In addition, we wanted to honour one of Ben and Jock’s original guiding principles for The Haven, namely to preserve as many trees as possible and “operate with love, integrity and respect for … our environment” (from The Haven’s mission statement).

The work was undertaken through December, for the most part using local businesses, as is our preference. It is now complete, and we are very happy to announce that it is:

  • Environmentally friendly: waste water is treated and then used to irrigate the forest (see below for more information on this.
  • Tree friendly: we did not have to remove a single tree to put this system in place.
  • Cost effective: it’s easier and cheaper to maintain than our old systems.

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of Scott Poole, Laurie Kelley and family. They provided financial support that covered nearly 90% of the cost of the project. They have been instrumental in providing guidance and inspiration for so many innovations at The Haven, including the organic garden. In keeping with The Haven’s  tradition of using names of birds, we will name this important new piece of our infrastructure after their family’s favourite bird: it will be called the Hummingbird Septic Treatment Plant. For the next few months the system will be settling, so that area of the property will be closed off, and you are most welcome to check it out the next time you are walking around Crystal Lane.

From top of Raven

The view of the treatment plant from the top of the Raven building

For those of you who are interested, here is some more information about the system that we used. It is a Quality Bio-Rock system and very environmentally friendly.

The Quality Bio-Rock unit is a passive attached media system that uses no mechanical or electrical parts (except for the very small pump to move the effluent from one chamber to a different tank after treatment, specific and custom to this unit). It utilizes natural venting for air flow and exchange. It is this air exchange that allows the aerobic bacteria living on the media to ‘do its stuff’ and clean up the filtered raw sewage to near drinking-water standards. Since there are no actual parts in the treatment plant the maintenance requirements are minimal: no blowers or aerators to change or fix, and no contaminated media to replace. The system functions as a two stage treatment system. Initially the raw sewage enters a primary tank to provide separation and the breakdown of organic solids (Primary Treatment). The sewage then passes through an effluent filter before discharging into the Bio-Rock unit which incorporates the well proven aerobic digestion process (Secondary Treatment).

In traditional activated sludge systems, aerators and/or agitators pump air 12-24 hours per day to provide enough oxygen, so that a limited range of organisms can survive to break down the waste. The Bio-Rock units work without any electrical or mechanical aerators: they simply require natural air draft for aeration. In a mechanical system machinery works hard and is energy-intensive with a high carbon footprint. Activated sludge is using excessive amounts of fossil fuels in the form of electricity for operating and sludge digestion. The Bio-Rock units have a very low carbon footprint. In Europe, the Bio-rock system is used to drain directly into watercourses and lakes.

Nov 052012

The accompanying drawing and calligraphy was created by Peter Joyes during Ellery Littleton’s  writing program From Memory to Memoir.  Peter was a participant in the program and says, “What a wonderful way to spend a weekend.  I was touched by how close to the surface my stories are, particularly the ones I had ‘forgotten.’  It was an amazing experience.”

Peter has made a living as an artist for several decades even though he has not had any formal training.  “I invented what I do,” he says.  “My passion is in participating in the delight and joy that my work can create.  I like to see myself as a ‘merchant of delight.’”

Peter has been involved with The Haven since he first did a workshop with Ben and Jock in 1978.  His delightful quirky drawings and signs are often on view in the main lodge, usually announcing the kitchen’s menu for the day.  “From attending Haven workshops, I found the courage to do my artwork in public,” Peter comments.  “I love the people, the ideas, the conversations, the friends, the food, the laughs and the life energy that goes on there.”

The many aspects of Peter’s colourful multi-faceted artwork can be seen on his website, Graphic Magic.

Ellery Littleton’s next writing workshops at The Haven in 2013 include The Spirit Journal (May 24-26) and From Memory to Memoir (Nov 1-3).

Dec 102011

By Peter Joyes. Peter’s Harmonograph in The Haven’s Games Room has entertained and fascinated children and adults for many years.

I built this double pendulum drawing machine from parts gleaned from the Haven maintenance shop. My wife was involved in a Living Alive Phase program and I was looking after our toddler daughter Linnea. Each day we toured a triangular circuit from the shop to the play area, then to the games room and back to the shop. I would pick up pieces from one area and take them to the next, gradually building the machine. Since seeing such a machine in my high school science fair in 1954, I have been fascinated by harmonograph machines and the amazing, unique 
pictures that anyone can create – without skill or batteries. But there’s more than what you see.

How it works
The Haven Harmonograph machine uses two pendulums. One large one swinging above a smaller one. Its pictures depict the interference pattern caused by the smaller pendulum as it interacts with the larger pendulum. The design of this machine was created and patented in 1964 by its inventor Edward Lias. It is safe and simple to operate. You cannot make two pictures the same. The size, shape, line, color and rotation of your picture can easily be adjusted by children or adults to produce an infinite variety of pictures.

Though it is set up to draw triangular pictures, the most appealing and interesting pictures are made when the machine is slightly out of tune. As you swing the main pendulum with your hand, you can feel the 1-2-3 rhythm of its swing, but slight (yet adjustable) imperfections will cause the pictures to rotate and change shape as the motion slows down.

It is these imperfections which make people, conversations, ideas, astronomy, the world (and your picture) more interesting.

A smaller force is creating its own unique shape and beauty as it interacts with a larger force. Edward Lias used to suggest that the shape of a rose is a function of its rhythmic movement, that such rhythm patterns are present everywhere in nature, they are heard often in music, and can be detected within the sounds and movements made by babies with their mothers.

It seems as magic to me as I watch the drawings unfold. As soon as I let go (of the pendulum), it is as though the pen knows exactly where it is going to go. As soon as the pen touches the paper, at some level, the whole structure of the machine knows exactly what to do. It has no choice but to trace its own rhythmic movement with the pen line as evidence of its gradual slowing. Similarly, I watch in slow amazement as a cut on my hand slowly heals. It too unfolds in time as I watch. 

At the very moment a thrown ball or pebble leaves your hand, its path is determined by all the forces acting on it. The trajectory unfolds in time as I watch. I wonder… at the moment of starting, does the pendulum “know” what the completed picture will be like? When I was born, at some level, did my body ‘know’ how my face would look as I slowly grow older? That is a mystery to me.

What is this strange force?

Surely, these rhythm patterns tap into the same (yet slower) rhythm and vibration patterns of the stars and planets. The earth traces similar rhythmic patterns in space as it spins on its axis, and as we orbit the sun. Some can see the movement of the sky and the rhythm of the tides in the pictures. Some find the pictures feminine and sensual. Some think them a bit too scientific. For me, I enjoy connecting with you, sharing the wonder and the magic of the Harmonograph machine and the pictures it makes.

Here’s a link to some more details about the harmonograph on my website.