Sustainable Living Systems



Mission & Programs

Who We Are 

Producers' Directory

 Events and past Accomplishments

Local Food System

Community Food Assessment Report


Seed Bank



Contact Us


Building an Earthship Workshop

 Saturday, July 24,  2004

with David Bassler as our instructor,

 We had the start of an Earthship Intern shelter to work on.    We pounded sand into tires, mixed and slapped adobe onto the filled-tire walls, and built a concrete and pop-can “form” on top of the tire walls for the bond beam, while David explained how everything worked.   Then we had a tasty organic lunch, got a tour of the earth-friendly facilities around the Institute, and watched a video about earthships in New Mexico, where they originated.  


Bitterroot Green Homes Tour

 Saturday, August 14, 2004.

After much advance preparation and promotion work by Alice and (volunteer) Kerry Wall-MacLane, a very successful tour was held.   There were four sites on the tour:  David Bassler’s Earthship home near Florence, Louise Grout’s Strawbale home near Corvallis, the LifeLine Farm home near Victor, and our facilities here at the Institute.   Over 50 participants met at 3 locations in the early afternoon and were chauffeured around in vans.   A BBQ dinner was an extra attraction for the evening at the Institute, complete with live music by the Celtic Players who play at the Hamilton House in Victor on Tuesday nights.


Salsa Fest

 Saturday, September 18, 2004

We held our first annual harvest event, a Salsa Festival on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  To get out of the weather, we set up the greenhouse for plenty of chopping space.  Though we were a small group, we had great fun chopping and nibbling while discussing current events and new ideas.   We created four large pots of tasty salsa, which we divvied up among the choppers, and ended the day with a scrumptious Mexican potluck dinner.




 Spinning & Weaving Workshop

 Tues & Wed, Oct. 5 & 6, 2004

with Avid Olsen

We organized a Spinning & Weaving Workshop that was held in the B’root Library meeting room and was led by Avis Olsen, teaching the basics with hands-on practice on spinning wheels and table looms.   Avis also knows all about raising sheep and their various wool types.

    Helena Norberg-Hodge

speaking on 

Globalization versus Community 

       in Missoula, Nov. 17, 7pm, at UofM, 

       in Hamilton, Nov. 18, 7pm at The Exchange

       in Pablo, Nov 19, 1pm  at Salish Kootenai College


All the events drew capacity crowds.  Helena has gathered a lifetime of experience about the impacts of globalization from all around the world.  She emphasizes the benefits of building a strong local economy which will result in solutions to a whole range of social, environmental and economic problems.   

Her book, Ancient Futures is highly recommended, and you may find it on our web-store.


 Video Showings

Feb 18 - March 25


6 Videos were shown on Friday evenings at the Hamilton Library meeting room from Feb. 18 thru March 25, 2005.   The series included:  Is WalMart Good for America, Ancient Futures & Local Futures, The Future of Food, Globalization vs Community, The End of Suburbia, and Escape from Affluenza.    We are collecting more videos that pertain to sustainable living issues and will offer another series in 2006.

Susan Witt and Chris Lindstrom

from the Schumacher Society

speaking about

Tools to Build a Local Economy

 May 12, 13, 2005   

We had some very informative meetings in May with Susan Witt and Chris Lindstrom of the Schumacher Society in Massachusetts.   (   They came came to speak on the benefits of setting up a local currency, and on the SHARE program and all about Community Land Trusts, where the community holds title to land and leases it at very reasonable rates to people who will put it to use in a way that benefits the community.  It is a tool for keeping farmers happy and working on the land.



Making Comfrey Salves Workshop

with Lisa Classen

July 9, 2005


Nine people attended the workshop.   We learned about harvesting the plants, preparing the plant for processing, and made salve for everyone to take home, using olive oil, cocoa butter, beeswax for thickener,  and essential oils for aroma


2005 Sustainability Tour of Green Homes

 July 23, 2005

This year it was a collaboration between homeWORD of Missoula and Sustainable Living Systems.   Nine tour sites were available in Missoula and eight sites in the Bitterroot valley.   The tour was a great success, with 66 tickets sold for the Bitterroot tour and 65 for the Missoula tour.  Many people wished for more time to see all of the tour sites.


- Permaculture Workshop -

Saturday & Sunday, Sept 10, 11, 2005

 - with Michael Pilarski from

  Friends of the Trees Society (see Links page).  

Theme:  Permaculture Design for Small Properties -

  Increasing Biological & Economic Productivity.

A housefull of people, 9 from outside the Institute, and 9 SLS folks, gathered in Mac and Shirley's cozy home here at SLS to learn from Michael.   In the mornings we would listen about and discuss permaculture principles and in the afternoons we walked about the WCHI property and talked about the uses of plants, animals, and the ways in which their interaction can increase biological productivity on the land.


Local Currency

Planning Meeting: May 13, 2005


The Local Currency group (from the Conversation Café meetings) has met and is promoting a currency and a bartering system as well.    The purpose of a local currency is to create a network of people sharing the wealth of goods, services, and friendship that we have to offer one another in the valley.   This enables us to move toward ecological responsibility, local economic self-reliance, and the ability to make a living doing things that we do well and enjoy doing.    It builds community and keeps wealth circulating locally.  For now, we are calling the currency:                B’root Bucks

Bitterroot Valley Food Co-op

Since Dec 7, 2004 when we held our 1st Co-op organizational meeting we have been working on starting a Co-op.   A Steering Committee has been formed, a grant applied for and received from the Mt. Dept. of Agriculture, and, as of November, 2005, we are well on our way to incorporation.

On Wednesday, August 3, Bevan and the SLS interns began managing a portion of the produce section of the Bitterroot Community Market, offering fresh, local and organic produce.    This is laying the groundwork for the Co-op.