Re: GBlist: Submissions request

Hal Levin (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 22:50:05 -0800

I believe I have previously offered the observation that all that is natural
is not necessarily healthful. There are many naturally occurring poisons,
carcinogens, etc. It is really more important to know how we use things and
how they cause problems. What is toxic or irritating to one person may not
be for another. Most allergies result from exposure to naturally occurring
material like pollen, foods, plants, pets, fungi, etc. Asthma is most likely
the result of exposure to things like dust mite feces and microbiological
contaminants, at least for many people. The human body and wood produce
formaldehdye as metabolic products. Arsenic is naturally-occurring, as are a
large number of other well-known poisons.

And using only natural things is not always consistent with conserving
natural things which is why we try to use renewables. Renewables must not be
used at a rate greater than their normal production rate -- this is a
fundamental law of sustainability.

So, I hope the sourcebook will be realistic about these aspects of the
products and materials it catalogs and not lead people into false
expectations that they can always do the "right' thing, the environmentally
preferred thing, or the healthiest thing by simply sticking to natural,
renewable products and materials.

These are matters that tempt people to simple answers to the very complex
questions of designing and building sustainably, healthfully, etc. Hardly
any answers are perfect and without problems, as is so often evident in the
dialogues that occur on this listserver. It is a matter of balance,
moderation, and having a way to evaluate the overall impact, not just one or
two aspects of a product, material, design, or building.

At 11:36 AM 2/15/97 +0000, Pat Ballentine wrote:
>I'm passing along a request for submissions which was in the spring
>issue of Joiner's Quarterly Newsletter. (It's also the Fox maple School
>of Traditional Building) Editor Steve Chappell included this notice
>about an upcomming book, The Natural Builder Source Book.
>"Whenever we publish information about a building product made of
>natural or renewable resources, we're inundated with calls for more
>information. In an effort to make things easier for everyone, we've
>committed to publishing a sourcebook of building products, companies,
>and schools dedicated to the concept of sustainable building. In order
>to make this a comprehensive resource, we will be including products,
>publications, natural home designers, builders and architects, schools,
>and researchers. If you have a product or service that we should know
>about, please send us a description and/or a sample for us to review.
>The deadline for submission of materials is June 30, 1997. The
>projected publishing date is October 15, 1997."
>In the article, "Real houses for Real People," Steve describes the
>concepts they will explore in workshops during 1997: wattle and daub,
>woodchips and clay, light straw/clay, and straw/clay blocks. In the
>past, along with their mainstay--timberframing, Fox Maple School has
>addressed straw-bale construction, masonry heaters and a number of other
>topics. I have subscribed to this small journal for several years and
>have found it worthwhile.
>Hope some of you will respond with your special skills and products.
>JQ's web site is down right now, but email is <>
>Pat Ballentine

Hal Levin <>
2548 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tel. 408 425 3946 Fax 408 426 6522

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