Working from home – alone but in good company

Settling into my studio in a new house has meant hunkering down amidst piles of boxes, side-stepping a warehouse of yet-to-be-installed kitchen cabinets in the living room, cooking up dinners on a borrowed camping stove, taking scenery breaks at local cafes, and generally making order out of chaos. The usual.

It’s nice to know, as I tweak out the home office, that I’m in good company. The outskirts of Pemberton has proved fertile ground for a home studio movement to flourish. Whether this is a product of zoning that supports home-based business, the pressures of the economy (recession is the mother of invention), or the sheer concentration of creative people in the region, the fact is a powerful local economy is incubating in the basements, garages, spare rooms and studios of Pemberton.

Here’s a quick studio tour of the ‘hood:

Ulla Clark‘s LUprints started as a grassroots project for the Slow Food Cycle festival in 2006 and has since grown into a full range of home textiles, ladies clothing and a childrens line. From her basement workshop in Pemberton, she  collaborated with Indigo books on a range of throw pillows, and attracted the attention of Canadian House and Home. What makes Pemberton a good place for her business, she says, is “the ease of combining work with play. It is so easy to work for a few hours, jump on my bike and go for a quick ride, and be back to work the rest of day.”  The challenges: “staying focussed.”

Paula Robertson roasts fair-trade Pemberton Valley Coffee Company in her home at the Lazy Crow Ranch in Pemberton Meadows. The artisan coffee roaster supplies local grocery stores, is a regular at the Squamish Farmers Market, and is the featured coffee at North Arm Farm’s bakery and Blackbird Bakery. She is about  to put her new coffee cart into action. “You know the ice-cream truck that the kids freak out over? I’m going to be that for adults! People will chase me down.” Working out the house suits Robertson well. “Because then I can play.” Especially after a day of product sampling. “After a morning of that, you’re so jacked up, you might as well have the afternoon off.”

Andrea Cooney of Averice Designs has turned a magpie-tendency to collect shiny things into an exquisite jewelry design studio.

When she’s not at the Whistler Farmers Market, Amy Hazeldine is cooking up contemporary clay at her home-based Sunna Studio.

Percy Abraham and Corinne Van Dehn have just opened Kula Wellness Centre, a Massage Therapy and Yoga Studio that they built beneath their Pemberton Meadows home, a serene and spectacular location that oozes wellness.

Andy Lambrecht is making stand up paddleboards and handcrafted surfboards from reclaimed wood in his home studio at Lambrecht Surfboards, which then go wave-tripping all around the world.

Johnny Foon Chilton is turning his ski career and cabinet making skills into a new gig as a crafter of handmade wooden skis at Foon Skis from his Pemberton studio.

And that’s not even counting the artists, web designers, photographers and writers… or the farmers, bakers and food artisans…

I’ve often wondered if our only real response to the dark days of war, oil-leaks, economic collapse or political in-fighting is to step back and create things, grow things, make things, embody lovingkindness… To retaliate indirectly through creative action… to contribute on some metaphysical level to the Force…

Whether it makes a difference or not, it certainly fuels my creative stoke to pedal into town for a scenery-break-coffee, passing the quiet hum of backyard workshops of potters, printmakers, carvers, jewellers, cabinet-makers, and yogis… all busily crafting beautiful things.

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