Category: Life Crafting

Many thanks go out to all of you!

It’s kept us going to know that so many of you have followed our story for years now. Thanks!

Amanda picking peonies at the historic Johnson Pear Farm where Ripples earthbag cabin will be built.

Amanda picking peonies at the historic Johnson Pear Farm where Ripples earthbag cabin will be built.

We will be building our off-grid earthbag cabin (designed by architect Owen Geiger, Natural Building Blog) at the historic Johnson Pear Farm, just south of the Fayetteville city limits on Mt. Kessler in Arkansas. This is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Fayetteville on good roads. We’re partnering with Anne Prichard and the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust to protect 167 acres with a conservation easement. This area is within the Beaver Lake watershed, and is host to various native plant and animal species. We’re happy to begin contributing to the already fantastic work being done by other private land owners and organizations on Mt. Kessler! It has immense historical and ecological value for our community.

Free weekend workshops on earthbag building will be offered in a family-friendly setting beginning in October 2015 – come on out and join us! Visit our new FAQ page for detailed answers to your questions, or contact us:

New here? Sign our Guest Book and say hello!

As we prepare to upload new resources, here’s a look back at some of our favorite columns:

Turtle in our backyard, peeking out at me.

Turtle in our backyard, peeking out at me.

Is there a topic we haven’t covered yet that would help you make a difference or create a more justice-driven, sustainable world? Let us know and we’ll research it! Email with your topic suggestion. Scheduled topics include DIY squirrel feeders, green cemeteries, beneficial invasive species, traveling goats that eat your yard enemies, and recipes for the All American Sun Oven! :)


An update on the earthbag house, land, and our lives.

Hi everyone! Sorry we haven’t posted an update for awhile. We’ve both been busy acquiring skills (photography, naturalist studies, technology, business, art) to help us bring Ripples to life on the ground. Speaking of ground, we may not have land or an earthbag house yet, but we’re not giving up! As you may have noticed, we’ve been at this lifestyle transition for years and have no intention of quitting. View full article »

Update: Ripples’ Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other greeting cards are now available locally at Ozark Natural Foods, Himalayan Mountain Shop, and the Curious Book Shoppe on Block St. They’re $4/card unless you buy directly from Amanda, $3/card or a pack of variety or single design (your choice) $13/5 cards.

Please support our work and share with friends!

To raise money for Ripples, we are now selling greeting cards!  There are many ways to purchase a card or a pack of cards.  You could buy them directly from Amanda through our Facebook page, or by calling us at (931) 532-0639 or through email: AmandaBancroft (at) Gmail (dot) com.  Or you can buy them locally at various locations to be announced. View the designs you’d like, select your order, and arrange a delivery or meeting place to receive your cards and pay with cash or check.  She can meet you in downtown Fayetteville, the library, or the farmer’s market and other locations.  Amanda can also mail them to you if you’re not in Fayetteville (packs of cards only, please).

Price is $4 / card or $3 / card in a pack of 5 cards (variety packs are totally do-able, with multiple designs per pack!) Shipping is $5 within the contiguous 48 states.






Blowing some love your way

Happy First Day of Autumn!

A quick update:

We’re still looking for land to build our earthbag home in the Ozarks, and planning the house and educational center to be off-grid according to our definitions.  Know of land for sale?  Please tell us in the comments or email!  We’ve been vetting locations in the past couple of months and haven’t found anything that feels right yet.  But we’re not giving up!

Instead, we’ve been focusing on skill acquisition.  Ryan has gotten great at repairing things around the house, something he inherited from his dad.  He just fixed the door to my art studio, which works perfectly now.  I’m getting better with a hammer, too!  Wait you didn’t know I had an art studio?  Yep!  I have been happily producing greeting cards which will be for sale online and locally at Ozark Natural Foods, Himalayan Mountain Shop and other vendors. Check our Ripples Facebook page to see the new designs when they’re released for sale!  Here’s a sneak peak at a drawing from last spring when it was “a work in progress” –




This semester, I’m studying digital photography in a class at Northwest Arkansas Community College so I can get familiar with my Nikon DSLR DS7100 camera and learn how to capture what we’re doing for Ripples educational center.  Eventually, we’ll be documenting native species on our land and any workshops we do, using video and other media to convey the information.  For now, I’m learning where the buttons are located…

“Being a naturalist is like being Edge Habitat, a conglomeration of science, art, spirituality, philosophy, and love, never just one place but stepping into many at once.” (from my first naturalist blog post)

Ripples touches upon several topics, from sustainable living to social justice and making a difference.  We mostly focus on how Ryan & I (Amanda) are changing our lifestyle as completely as possible using the Ripples method, trying to make intentional choices that improve our health and the planet as a whole.  Recently, we’ve been posting about nature because I just graduated from the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalist program in the spring.  It’s important for us to know as much as we can about native plants and animals because we live alongside them and wish to protect native habitat.  Some of you have been following my naturalist summer blog series on water, mammals, birds, insects and fish.  Apologies for only completing 5 of the 10 promised posts thus far; perhaps time and motivation will encourage me to finish them.  But I think even posting them next summer would be cool – Ripples educational center is going to take a long time in development, and there will be plenty more opportunities to post on topics like these.  Even better will be a more organized system of finding information, so you can see all our references to birds rather than just one post during one summer.


Since my last blog post, we’ve celebrated the 100th Making Ripples column in The Free Weekly!

You can read it and the previous 99 columns in our archives.  It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to write over 100 columns in my career.  I’m not sure how to describe the experience, actually.  Being a columnist is an underrated position of power and potential to change the world for the better.  It’s a bit like downplaying the significance of daily jogging until one realizes that they have avoided terrible health conditions that could have befallen them had they remained sedentary.  Those little chunks of 500 words keep me writing and thinking.  Not only that, they get others thinking, too – and being able to get hundreds of people thinking about making ripples in the world is quite awesome.  For that, I’m very grateful.

Join in the flutter of wings.

Bluebirds of happiness, migrating Canadian geese, the ugly duckling, mythology surrounding the phoenix…it’s no surprise that our avian friends play a central role in many cultures and mark the seasons of our lives.  Flying dreams take me above the treetops to rescue people like superman or evade predators with the carefree ease of a bubble floating into the air on a summer’s day.  Even as an adult, my imagination tempts me to consider every knee-high rock a launching pad for a springy step into the air.  On road trips I pretend that the highway is a combination ice rink and air field, allowing my mind to envision elegant dances in mid-air around the telephone poles, feet just barely tickling the tall roadside grass and wildflowers that our birds and other wildlife depend on for food.

There are many great websites that make an interest in birds even more fun… View full article »

Fish are Friends


Watching fish at the grotto near Dickson St.

Watching fish at the grotto near Dickson

Fish freak me out.  The bulging eyes, that fishy smell, the scales and slime…and fortunately for the fish, I think they taste terrible!  One of my biggest fears in life is deep water where large fish dwell, waiting to chomp on things which move (like my kicking legs) while they glide through a murky abyss.  And yet, water without fish would be like trees without birds.  I could spend hours (and have soaked up many a moment of free time) watching fish of all sizes.  Their swimming movements are hypnotizing and meditative, reminding me a little of the arm movements of hula dancers in Hawaii.  I wonder if the fish are telling their own oral tradition through their fishy dances, just like Hawaiian hula? View full article »

As a mammal, perhaps I’m biased towards these loveable creatures.

Each twilight, I stand near the windows and crane my neck to see into the graying day.  If I’m lucky, a few times a year I’ll catch a glimpse of this scene: a waddling, bushy bandit followed by five more, tinier lumps hop-stepping at her flanks, and a sixth furry fluff ball hurrying to rejoin the group, called a “nursery” of racoons. Or perhaps I’ll stumble upon a doe and her fawn in mid-afternoon while I tend to outdoor chores. At midnight we hear the armadillo rustling around in the leaves outside our bedroom.

At any of these occasions, I’m liable to jump up and become a dangerous (if well-intentioned and still cute) force of stealthy urgency. Midnight armadillos bring a flailing arm or jutting knee with a startling squeal of joy that cuts into Ryan’s dreams.  Like a true lover, he never minds.  He just smiles, rubs his sore side, and falls back to sleep just after hearing “Oh no, it’s the BABY racoons!  Hear them trilling??” Mm-hmm, he mumbles, oblivious but happy to see me happy.

Any good day includes mammals.  But I think of them less as organisms classified into groups, and more as revelations of the meaning of life.  Tiny secular deity symbols, if you will, of the interdependent web of life.  Mammals are a stampeding, scuttling segment of the world that can’t seem to find contentment with just one size or function. View full article »

Like hobbits, sometimes the littlest creatures are the most significant.

Great Smoky Mountains synchronous firefly display is an annual event! Click photo to visit website.

Great Smoky Mountains synchronous firefly display is an annual event! Click photo to visit website.

Surely this post of all the summer naturalist series will receive the least Likes no matter what I write here.  Bugs!  Not very popular.  But it is sometimes nice to know that fewer people will be reading this and I can therefore write whatever I want to about insects!  It’s liberating, like fireflies just released from their jar held in the sweaty hands of a mystified young girl intent on capturing Tinkerbell.

My favorite fluttery, crawly things happen to be ladybugs, fireflies or lightning bugs, damselflies, pill bugs or roly polys, bumble bees, and Monarch butterflies. Of course, they’re all important.  Without the two species of midges (small flies) that pollinate the cacao trees, we’d never have chocolate! View full article »

Water is the pinnacle of summer fun, but frequently overlooked.

Near my wedding day in 2007, finding my usual place next to the water.

Near my wedding day in 2007, finding my usual place next to the water.

Regarding water, I’m quite a paradox.  As a Pisces who can’t swim, I find myself being drawn towards and away from water simultaneously.  Deep, murky water terrifies me more than a dark forest.  Yet I love nothing more than being close to flowing, constantly cycling water such as the streams and creeks known in the Ozarks.  Water moving across shiny rocks is hypnotizing, and few things are more fun than looking for life around the water’s edge – from ducks to frogs, they’re a few of of my favorite things.  Even a nice-sized, natural fountain can suffice if I’m stuck in a city for the afternoon.  I just find a rock big enough to sit on near the water, and immediately feel whole again no matter how many people pass by.  Water is a tough thing to pin down.  Our bodies are full of it, but it can be considered a resource “out there somewhere,” external to us, filling up our delightful swimming pools.  It’s a source of life, but also of destruction and death.  And despite these powers, aquatic habitats are the most fragile and vulnerable to pollution.

Play this online game to learn helpful hints for water conservation!

Water Trivia

Impress your friends with a few facts from the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalist Hydrology Training!  “Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability.” –Source

(Answers Below)

  1. True/False: The weight of all algae on Earth is greater than the weight of all terrestrial plants.
  2. Approximately what percentage of water on our planet is salt water?  And fresh water?
  3. What percentage of fresh water is our surface freshwater?
  4. The human brain is composed of what percentage of water? And our blood?
  5. How many miles of rivers and streams are there in Arkansas?

View full article »