Meet our little friends from the Biostation

After a morning of mixing adobe, the last thing we usually want to do after lunch is mix more adobe. But when our three favorite helpers – Addy, Elliot, and Rose – come running up the hill to help, we know that the afternoon will actually turn out to be filled with games and laughter. Over the past few weeks, these guys have helped make mixing adobe so much more bearable and we’ve loved getting to know them. Here’s a little bit about them so you can get to know them too!

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Age: 10

Favorite subjects in school: math, science, and writing

hobbies: writing and making art

Favorite book: Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Favorite part of the biostation: all of the nature, being surrounded by woods, and learning about the nature of northern Michigan

Favorite biostation memory: biking all over camp with the other kids that come up for the summer

What she’s looking forward to most this summer: going to sleep away camp and swimming in the lake

Favorite part of helping us out with adobe: playing games with us!! (we played mafia, picnic, and a one word story game!)

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Age: 8

Favorite subject in school: math

Hobbies: mindcraft, legos, and he loves starwars!

Favorite book: Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Favorite part of the biostation: exploring in the woods and going to the gorge (he says we all should check out the gorge if we have time)

Favorite biostation memory: running away from the other kids at the biostation and locking himself in the bathroom with a few friends to hide!

What he’s looking forward to most this summer: seeing friends that only come to the biostation every other summer

Favorite part of helping us out with adobe: playing games!!

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Age: 5

Favorite subjects in school: practicing her letters!

Hobbies: swimming and playing playmobile

Favorite book: Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Favorite part of the biostation: exploring in the water and cooking

Favorite biostation memory: The Oogie (Dinosaur) Egg hunt! Trying to find a dinosaur egg (watermelon) with all of the other kids.

What she’s looking forward to most this summer: swimming in the lake and playing with friends

Favorite part of helping us with adobe: playing mafia


Addy, Elliott, and Rose come to the biostation every summer with their parents (Jason and Kim), but this past year, they decided to stay up here for the whole year! They are homeschooled and get to learn so much cool stuff, but will be going to a school in Ypsi this fall. Thanks so much for your help with adobe!! We think ya’ll are so awesome and smart!


-Maya Littlefield-Wilkinson


Day 25

We have two days to finish the house as much as possible before an open house scheduled for Sunday afternoon, and tensions are beginning to run high on site. It’s been raining at night recently, and today it rained on and off all day. Thankfully the adobe-making is complete, but the redistribution of labor is leaving everyone on-edge and scrambling for a meaningful job. Put these factors together, and today’s (widely remarked-upon) collective mood on the site was one focused on getting through the day, rather than enjoying it. For most of the afternoon, I applied adobe inside, caught up in my own rainy thoughts

Thankfully, at one point my funk lifted just enough for me to realize how to cure it, and I begged my fellow interior-adobers for a charged phone to hook up to the boombox, and for a playlist of the Velvet Underground. In a true demonstration of community, Fiona came to the rescue, started us out with the unofficial build site anthem, “Our House” by Crosby Stills & Nash, and then let Lou Reed pull me up from the depths. By the time “Rock & Roll” finished, I was alright, even after someone asked to turn the volume down. I think the music helped everyone get through the last hours of the afternoon – it definitely helped me, and I’m very grateful that I was able to ask for, and receive, what I needed.

Still, despite the difficult days, it’s hard to believe how much progress we’ve made. 25 days ago, we started digging a foundation, and today we fitted in the back door and cleaned the windows. Spring has blossomed during our time here, and as the flowers and leaves have grown, so have our friendships and our confidence. None of us knew most of our classmates when we arrive here, and certainly none of us (except Joe) knew how to build a house. But we got up every morning, and ate together, worked together, shared our frustration, our hammers, our jokes, and our beer (among only those of us who are 21 or over, of course.) We have learned to depend on one another and learned how to be dependable. Everyone has become an expert in at least one thing, and we all know who to call for any specific task. Thanks to our trust in each other, our leadership, and ourselves, we’ve built something useful and beautiful – well, two things.

Soon, within days, we will hammer in the last nail, polish the last piece of wood, sweep the floor, and close the door of our building for the last time. It will be used and treasured for many years, but not by us. But we will take with us the other beautiful construction built during our time here at the BioStation – this new community and new embodied knowledge we all share. I will leave knowing that I helped build two things worth building, two necessary things – a beautiful, warm, sustainable shelter, and a beautiful, warm, sustainable network of relationships that I hope last just as long.

After all, I’ll be calling all of you up to help build my house one day, and I hope you’ll do the same. 😉




Guest Author — Addy!

I am Addy. I am 10. I am homeschooled with my brother, Elliott, and sister,  Rose. Because of my dad’s job we come up to the U.M.B.S for the summers. We have come for four summers. This will be my fifth, but this year we stayed for the whole year. This spring my family and I had just returned from a trip and the Design Build class was here. When we saw them in the dining hall they invited us to help them mix clay up at the straw bale house and so we did.

Helping the Design Build class was amazing. I loved seeing their dynamic with each other and I was lucky enough that I got to be a part of that dynamic a little. Every one is hilarious especially Will. The first day I was sort of shy, but at the end of the day I wanted to come back each day and so we did. Each day we played a new game; we listened to music and  sang along. One day we listened to a podcast, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Each day when I would walk down the steps to my house I would think of the day and of how much fun I had. Even if we were just sitting down silently breaking apart clay and everybody was gloomy, I loved it. I think it is an experience I will never forget. I loved the feeling of the mud on my bare hands, the squish sound it made when I mushed it, how it dried  on my hands and arms and then I would pick at it.  We found various bugs and worms in the clay which we joked Fiona killed just by touching them.

I now know almost everybody’s name. I  have seen everybody at their worst and their best. Like one day Hanna started to cry just out of the blue and one day when the day was at it’s lowest point and everybody was worn down Fiona laid down in the straw and took a nap. I experienced them swearing and laughing, which both were entertaining. I think my brother and sister enjoyed the experience, too. I think Elliott especially enjoyed playing Mafia and the one word game where each of us would say one word and it would go around the circle and it would get very, very crazy. I very truly enjoyed helping them and hope what I did helped.


Addy : )


Seconds of the month

Hey everyone, Hana here! Now if you know me, you know that I love the app “1 second everyday.” And if you don’t know that, then you haven’t spent enough time with me and you should look it up, its great! Since we are about a week out from finishing our magnificent house, I decided to create a fancier version of 1 second everyday showcasing our time spent here at the Biostation, on and off the work site, enjoy!!



by Kingsli Kraft

Today I spent my entire day enjoying my favorite job on site: adobe-ing (yes, adobe is a verb now) the walls inside and out. It’s not an incredibly social job, like mixing adobe in the kiddie pools, but the quiet time alone with my thoughts is really pretty nice, especially on a nice day like today. It’s not too bad when it rains either, as long as you’re inside the house.

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Applying the adobe gives me a lot of time to reflect on my experiences and to let my mind wander to other things. I’m a writer, and a full-time day-dreamer so my head is usually a kaleidoscope of a million different thoughts. Today I found myself thinking a lot about the question I’ve been asked the most since I got to the Biostation.

What were you expecting when you took this class? Is the actual experience of building the structure what you expected?

Everyone keeps asking me what I expected when I signed up for this class. To be honest. I have been really excited about this class and this experience since I heard about it at PitE Club’s Class Chat in the Fall just before registration. Our class was every Friday morning at eight thirty, in the freezing cold winter, on North Campus. For me, getting to my ten o’clock lectures or my nine o’clock work meetings was always a struggle. I’ve never been very good at waking up, or properly using my alarms or being a morning person. I live on Central Campus and it’s about a fifteen minute walk from my house to the bus stop. It’s then about a ten minute bus ride to North. I was so excited for this class every Friday that no matter how late I was up on Thursday night (or Friday Morning sometimes), I was on time to class every Friday and I was usually early. I was and still am excited and grateful for the opportunity to work more than just my brain for once.

So far, I haven’t really had those moments other people have mentioned where they realize “wow, I’m building a house.” I’ve been looking forward to this part of the class since November. I have always liked building things. I remember helping my papa hammer nails when I was really young (I’m pretty sure there’s a picture somewhere of me in a tie-dye dress on a ladder with a hammer trying to be helpful and another of me in my underwear at age four or five helping hang wallpaper). I was fully prepared for long hours and hard work, and I knew that at the end of all of that the reward would be awesome and I was going to get to create. I expected to learn some great new skills and I expected to maybe learn a thing or two about myself. I have thoroughly enjoyed this class. What I like the most about this class is that at the end of the day there is physical proof of what I did. I can stand back at the end of the day and see what I’ve accomplished. I haven’t had a class like this since high school, and it feels amazing to step back and say I built something today, I did more than sit in a lecture hall and just think about a concept until I understood it. I value both of those experiences greatly, both in the lecture hall and on the scaffolding covered in adobe and straw.

This hands on experience has highlighted something that I’ve started to realize in some of my other classes and in life. I really like to create, and more than just worlds and people in my head for stories. I want to create spaces for human beings that work in harmony with our environment. I want to have a hand in redefining the concept of “man-made.” The first time I really thought about the term “man-made” and the way it is usually equated with “unnatural” was my sophomore year in Environment 350: The Built Environment. I had never really thought much about the built environment. What did that even mean? In the class I learned that you can argue that pretty much every environment on this earth is “built” in some way because humanity has impacted our planet so completely, from pollutants in our atmosphere and our hydrosphere, to islands of garbage in our oceans to being the cause of what looks like a sixth mass extinction.

Humans are well known for their capacity to destroy and disrupt, it’s in our nature to build and create. The problem is that our creations aren’t working with our environment, they’re working against us. The things that are “man-made” are hurting our environment, and we label them as “unnatural.” I’d argue that on a base level, our creations are natural. It’s human nature to want to understand our environment and sometimes control that environment. The separation of humanity from the “natural” is part of the problem. We don’t always think of ourselves as a natural part of our environment. Our cities, our products, our homes, our habitats are self-labeled as “unnatural.” How can we think of ourselves in the context of “natural,” and still hold ourselves accountable for the harm we’ve caused our environment?

Building this straw-bale building has really expanded that thought process I began in Environment 350 a year ago. I still think the human need to create is natural. Equating “man-made” with “unnatural” isn’t helping our cause. That was the conclusion I had drawn a little over a year ago. I just didn’t know what I could do to fix that. I knew that we, humanity, needed to recognize and take responsibility for the harm and destruction we’ve caused our planet, and I knew that we also needed a reframe. We needed to recognize our ability to create and our ability to repair. I just didn’t really know what I could do to help make that happen. That class is why I declared PitE as my major, and this class and this experience is why I’m proud to be an Environment major.

Building this house has helped me see that there is a concrete way to redefine “man-made.” At the end of the day I can touch the walls (carefully, with gloves) and say that I helped to build something. I left a mark on this planet, but I worked with the earth and twenty-three other human beings to create and give something back to the environment, rather than take away.