Living Environments

Creating Environments that Nurture Human and Planetary Vitality

This course will be taught in two parts; Module 2 (part I) and Module 8b (part II). Part I is included in the core curriculum, and part II is available for those who would like to further their studies on creating natural and nurturing environments.

This module is an outstanding example of how unique and holistic the Practitioner's Feng Shui Course is. In Living Environments, you will explore a range of tangible and subtle elements that can make the difference between environments that support all of life - and environments that are debilitating and destructive. Nationally recognized experts will introduce you to related areas of study that will help you create vibrant, healthful Living Environments.

In essence, we will follow the ebbs and flows of the natural order as they manifest in the best design practices, leading to healthful and energized spaces. All segments are aimed at creating a hands-on experience that facilitates the immediate practical use of what you learn.

This knowledge is an essential component of feng shui, because it enables us to guide our clients toward optimum health and well-being. When giving a client advice on the best way in which to arrange their home, we need to be aware of environmental factors that may compromise their health, and opportunities to improve their vitality and that of the whole earth.

Living Environments (part I)
with Carol Venolia, Janine Bjornson, Manu Butterworth, Vicki Warren and Brock Dolman

Human Ecology
Outdoor Rooms: Microclimate Design, Backyard Wildlife Habitat Gardening
Naturalizing a Home: Pigments, Paints, and Plasters
Essential Oils

Human Ecology: sensory nutrition and restoring our oneness with nature

The human being is the fulcrum for a worldwide shift back to valuing the web of life. When we really feel in our whole bodies/beings how interconnected we are with the rest of life and the natural elements, we will better understand how to preserve the vital life spirit. In this session, we'll explore many ways in which current buildings damage us and divorce us from aliveness, and you'll learn how nourishing your senses can bring you back into harmony with nature.

• The Paleolithic touchstone: what our evolutionary roots can teach us today
• The sun and our health
• Sensory nutrition: what our eyes, ears, noses, and skin need from our world
• Chronobiology: getting our natural rhythm back
• Biophilia: the biological basis for love of life

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Outdoor Rooms: Microclimate Design, Backyard Wildlife Habitat Gardening

While outdoor living is increasingly fashionable, this session will go well beyond the superficial and stylish. Building on the human ecology lecture, we'll look at outdoor rooms as a way to expand living space in ways that are not only affordable and energy-efficient, but that also surround us with the sensory delights we crave. By reviving the tricks that our pre-petroleum-era ancestors knew, you'll learn how to achieve comfort by making the best of the gifts of sun, wind, and water, while minimizing their not-so-welcome impacts. Furthermore, by applying the simple principles of backyard wildlife habitat gardening, you can make even an urban balcony into a place that brings pleasure while helping to restore the damaged web of life.

• Why outdoor rooms make sense for health and ecology
• Using outdoor rooms to improve a home's energy-efficiency
• Site analysis: assessing natural gifts and challenges
• Simple climate modifiers to increase human outdoor comfort
• The four basic principles of backyard wildlife habitat

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Naturalizing a Home: Pigments, Paints, and Plasters

When we move into a new home, what is the first thing we do to make it feel like our own? We paint the walls. It is also one of the first things we explore when we remodel. This is our personal signature.

Considering that most of us spend 80% of our time in buildings, material choice is crucial to a healthy living environment. Wall surfaces cover a large area, and paint is a common source of indoor air pollution.

In this session, we will discuss why current wall finishes can be hazardous to your health. Through lectures, you will discover the alternative world of natural materials, and in hands-on exercises you will learn how to mix, and apply "Alis," a clay paint used for hundreds of years in the tradition of the people of the southwest.

• safe, ecologically sound, fun alternatives to conventional paints and wall finishes: casein (milk) paints, clay paints, and earth plasters

• pigments, paints, and plasters: where to buy them, local resources, making your own

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Essential Oils:

"Since the earliest ages of humanity, aromatic fumigations have been used in daily rituals and during religious ceremonies as an expression and reminder of an all-pervasive sacredness. Fragrance has a manifestation of divinity on the earth, a connection between human beings and the gods, medium and mediator, emanation of matter and manifestation of spirit. In a sense essential oils can be traced back to the origins of humanity." - Marcel Lavabre, Aromatherapy Workbook

• how to incorporate essential oils into your everyday life
• how to use essential oils in the home and workplace to significantly reduce the negative effects of a toxic environment
• how essential oils are distilled from plants
• how to use essential oils in the home and workplace to create Sacred Space

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Living Environments (part II)
with Carol Venolia, Manu Butterworth, and Brock Dolman

Nature of Sustainable and Regenerative Design
Living with the Gifts of Nature
What Makes a Healthy Home?
Healthy Heating and Cooling - Natural and Augmented
Natural Remodeling
Creating Community at Home - Urban Ecovillages
Natural Furniture

The Nature of Sustainable and Regenerative Design

Green building is a hot topic these days. But what's behind the checklists and the competition to be greener than thou? This segment looks at Deep Green Building, examining a straightforward, enjoyable process by which we can come to understand how buildings actually function as consumers of resources - and how we can achieve a deeper understanding of our role in the world by getting to know the building materials and systems that support us.

•Resource cycles in our buildings: sun, air, water, earth, goods, food, waste
• A strategy for designing with nature
• Responding to site and climate
• How to select green building materials
• Introduction to building science: flows of air, moisture, and heat

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Living with the Gifts of Nature: Sun, Air, and Water

In this session, we'll get more specific about how to get light and heat from the sun, how to use shading and air motion for cooling, and how to collect rainwater and recycle greywater (the "waste" water from sinks and bathing). Once you understand the basics, these principles can be applied to both new construction and existing buildings.

• Passive solar heating review
• Daylighting rules of thumb
• Elements of natural cooling: ventilation, shading,
evaporation, radiant barriers
• Catching, storing, and using rainwater
• Safe, effective reuse of greywater

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What Makes a Healthy Home?

We would never intentionally create homes that harm us, but it happens all the time through lack of knowledge. In this session,you'll become familiar with the factors that affect our health inside buildings, and how to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.

• Light: how it affects our mind and body, and what kinds are best for us
• Color: how to work with this powerful factor in our surroundings
• Sound: how to recognize and deal with noise, and how to introduce healing sounds
• Symbolism: the powerful effects of our environments' message content
• Air quality: toxics around us, and how to minimize them

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Healthy Heating and Cooling - Natural and Augmented

We'll look at one of the main motives for creating shelter - staying warm when it's cold outside, and cool when it's hot outside - and examine how to achieve healthful thermal comfort by understanding what our bodies need. Here again, the Paleolithic Touchstone is helpful; our bodies evolved in intimate relationship with natural heating and cooling that we rarely experience today. We'll explore ways to enjoy more of those natural sensations, as well as how to efficiently and healthfully augment natural heating and cooling with fuel-based systems.

• How our bodies work with warmth and coolness
• Basic principles of heat transfer
• Using a bioclimatic chart for natural heating and cooling
• Types of heating and cooling systems, and when to use them

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Natural Remodeling

One of the greenest things we can do is improve the buildings we've got; they represent a tremendous investment of resources, yet many of them are currently damaging to humans and the biosphere. This session will show you how to apply what you've learned in the preceding Living Environments classes to "naturalizing" existing homes. Inspiring slides of eco-remodeling projects, from minor to major, will illustrate the concepts.

• How to analyze a house, its site, and its dwellers
• Developing and applying a natural remodeling strategy
• Low-hanging fruit: easy, inexpensive improvements
• More advanced moves: altering a building's spaces and systems
• Special considerations for special rooms: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom

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Creating Community at Home - Urban Ecovillages

Once a home is in better balance with nature, it only makes sense to look to a larger realm. While many people want to leave behind existing cities and suburbs to start over on raw land and create ecological community, many others see the environmental and social value of staying put and helping to heal the places that need it most. A slide show of several California urban ecovillages will fill your image banks with a range of possibilities.

• Starting small: one neighbor at a time, one fence at a time
• In the belly of the beast: Los Angeles Eco-Village
• The cohousing revolution
• Forms of ownership and governance

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The effects of electromagnetic pollution on our immune systems must be taken into account if we are to create homes and workplaces that keep us healthy rather than making us sick. This session presents the latest information on power lines, electrical substations, fluorescent lights, mobile phones, televisions, computers, laptops, baby alarms, microwave ovens, electric blankets, immersion heaters, hi-fi's, night storage heaters, ionizers, dimmer switches for lights, clock radios, and a whole host of other electrical appliances used in homes and offices.

• different types of fields, what produces them, and how they impact on our health
• everyday EMF situations, and ways to eliminate, avoid, or minimize the level of the fields that are present in our homes and offices
• how to prioritize - which areas of the house are most important, which appliances or technology we need to use with caution, and how we can still live in the modern world while safeguarding our health
• how to conduct a competent EMF survey

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We are made of water, and water is a fundamental requirement for life. Traditionally, our water supply came from constantly moving streams, rivers, or springs; it was energized, clean, pure water that added to our health and vitality. Nowadays, the water that comes out of our taps is quite a different story. It's often a depleting cocktail of bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, and chemicals.

We'll take a good, strong look at the state of our tap water - what's been added to it, what that means for our health, and most importantly, what we can do to provide ourselves with water that actually nourishes us once again.

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Natural Furniture:

We will explore green furnishing options from the standpoint of ergonomics, chemical components, as well as material sourcing.

• Ergonomics: how to achieve physical efficiency and comfort
• Furniture toxicity: materials, chamber testing, and smell acceptance
• Resource issues: where on earth did these resources come from, what energy do they bring with them, and what does their taking leave behind?

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