The Story Behind Merriwood Community And How This Project Came To Be.
The inspiration for Merriwood is wrapped up in my own personal journey.
I spent my childhood summers at a sleepaway camp in the Adirondacks. Growing up in New York City, camp in the wilds was an entirely foreign and wonderful world. We camped, boated, and hiked, and learned about the wonders of the natural world. It was safe, warm, nurturing, and a constant thrilling adventure.
The name Merriwood comes from the name of the family camp my great grandmother owned and ran. Her husband was an advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and they had an interesting and entertaining cadre of friends that came to the camp every summer to unwind and reconnect with the joys of a simple life, good food and friends, and the splendor of nature. It was before my time, but the family stories run deep.
I first discovered Maine through a backpacking trip that I joined on a whim not knowing what I was getting into. Despite borrowed and inadequate gear, I had the best time of my life. Deep in the backcountry we were completely free, cut off from the outside world, and immersed in nature. Hiking Mt. Katahdin was a revelation. World War III could have started and we would have been oblivious for the weeks we were away. And after emerging from the bush, coastal Maine greeted us with lobster rolls, ice cream cones, and people-watching in town that was too picturesque to be believed.
In college, me and a group of friends leased a 20 acre abandoned horse farm, fixed up the houses, moved in and started our own farm. In addition to throwing excellent keg parties, we wanted to understand where our food came from. We had chickens, goats, pigs, ducks, and all kinds of crops. We resolved that while living on the farm we weren't going to eat any meat that we didn’t raise and slaughter ourselves. Needless to say, our meat consumption went way down. To eat some chicken required months of work to raise it, and then many hours of work to catch, slaughter, and dress our chicken dinner. It required forethought and effort. And the next day, the loss of the chicken from the flock was palpable.
After that experience it was shocking to go to a grocery store and see a pile of chicken wings, wrapped in plastic, selling for a few dollars. How could it be so cheap? And I was repulsed by the idea of eating something raised without respect, and where I had no knowledge of who the farmer was, how the chicken lived, or the impact that the operation had on the land.
I’m currently the founder and executive director of a well-known non-profit that helps hundreds of communities become sustainable. My passion is to live, as best I can, as if the future matters. And to help others do the same. We live in a time when unsustainable global trends threaten the very foundations of civilization and human life. I don’t need to name all of the problems...if you are reading this you are already following the disturbing trends.
I’m 100% committed to working for a more sustainable future. There is hope and progress in this moment. Awareness of the issues, and drive to do something from the global to the local levels, has never been greater. The tide may be finally turning. But is it turning fast enough? It’s hard to tell if we are on the cusp of a breakthrough or a breakdown. My motto today is: think globally, act locally, and hedge your bets.
Merriwood brings together all these threads. It’s a place that enables you to live today as if the future matters. A community where you can keep your urban life if you want it, while still practicing a sustainable lifestyle that makes a positive contribution to the world. A lifestyle that affords a fulfilling connection to family, friends, nature, and your food. And a comfortable refuge that can support us regardless of what happens in the world.
On behalf of all the people that have worked to make this dream a reality, the partners, the design team, and people who have already bought in, I invite you to join us on this next leg of the journey.