TEMPLE – Walking across the sunny campus pathways while listening to the resident duck calls is just a small glimpse of the outdoor experience available at the newly renamed Maine Local Living School. Formerly known as Koviashuvik, the homestead is run by Chris and Ashira Knapp who aim to teach concepts of place-based living.
“This is a place where we’ve been excited to utilize all the different gifts of the land to create a life,” Chris said. “We’re bringing place-based education to a level where place is not only the focus of the curriculum, but it’s providing daily life.”
The school has been open since 2008, and until recently focused on providing shorter, one or two-day classes, but recently the school has shifted focus to extending program offerings to high school and college students with day-long and semester-long programs. These place-based living courses are offered as interdisciplinary study courses with a focus on ecological sustainability, hands-on work, and connecting and listening to the earth.
“…it’s feeling more impactful, in a way, to work with people for a longer period of time,” Knapp said. “They were here doing a broad spectrum of things.
The school has two outdoor kitchens, a root cellar and numerous vegetable beds. Knapp explained that all of the structures serve a purpose, even the composting toilet. Programs always focus on the growing, harvesting and preparing foods, both wild and domestic, as well as teaching a hand craft such as spoon carving
“…sometimes it’s baskets; sometimes we work fiber making rope from the basswood tree. Different crafts where they can utilize what’s right around here. Sometimes they work with a really old skill, like making fire with friction, and that’s just a neat way to think about energy cycling and the fact that the sun is stored in trees and we can release it,” Knapp said.
Knapp also emphasized the honoring of traditional knowledge and practices that originate from Indigenous peoples, such as making a bow drill and basket weaving. It’s an important part of the philosophy of the school and its founders to acknowledge the history and treatment of Indigenous peoples as well as the history of and gratitude for this knowledge.
Knapp’s plans for future programming involving high school and college students will look at ecological concepts on a larger scale.
“In the long run, I have visions of a high school program and some college programs that really work on creating regenerative tree-crop landscapes,” he said.
Further information about programs and fees can be found on their website, mainelocalliving.org.