Land Literacy Program
Spring 2024 Blackbird Lane, Celo
Blackbird Lane is a tract of raw land at the feet of the Black Mountains in unceded Tsalagi (Cherokee) land in Southern Appalachia. Each weekend this spring, we are inviting some of our regional land-wise teachers to come offer their lenses, practices and skills for apprenticing to place.
We welcome you to come outside with us, and build deeper connection to the living landscape who cradles your life. Grow your sense of belonging by strengthening your personal relationship with with more-than-human world. Tap into your innate human capacity to become a sensitive participant in your local ecology. We believe it is time for our species to re-learn the path of stewardship on a planet whose laws and rhythms are changing. Bring your curiosity and your care.
notes on sign-up, fees, and access
You will find the class descriptions and guest teacher bios below. You may sign up for as many classes as you like. Email us via the contact form below to reserve your spot, and we will respond with instructions to send your deposit. We have a limited number of spots in each class. We will fill classes in the order we receive your emails, so long as you send your deposit within three days. We will start a waiting list once a class fills.
Because the duration, material requirements, and instructors' travel times vary, the cost of each class is unique. Some are able to offer a sliding scale. As this is our pilot year, we do not have a scholarship program set up yet, and we intend to work toward that. Please send us a note if a scholarship would help you access this program in the future, OR if you would like to contribute to a scholarship fund. Your feedback is informative and valuable to us as we shape this program.
An Introduction to Birds and Bird Language
with naturalist Luke Cannon of Astounding Earth
Saturday March 16th
9 am - 2 pm
50 - 100 $ sliding scale
The Southern Appalachians host an amazing array of fascinating birds. Come learn about the amazing lives and evolution of our feathered friends and how to tune in to their subtle and not-so-subtle communications across the landscape.
We will start with a morning walkabout, seeing and listening to the birds of the landscape, followed by an introduction to the astoun-ding lives of birds. After lunch we will launch into the exciting world of bird language and communications, and what it can tell us about the world around us.
Hands in the Earth: Land-based Craft
with Allie and Tyler of Shelterwood Cove
Saturday March 23rd
and Sunday March 24th
250 $ (entire weekend)
Gather around the fire with us for a weekend of earth-based craft and connection. We’ll engage our hands, hearts, bodies, and minds in the age-old practice of creating along with the living Earth. In this two-day immersive weekend, our intention is to engage you with lots of different materials to provide a wide scope of the brilliant relationships people have crafted over thousands of years living with the Earth. We will make rope from wild fibers, rib baskets from wild harvested vines, learn to make sharp edges from stone, craft containers from rawhide, and cook on an open fire. We offer a mixture of technical and expressive approaches to the crafts we share and welcome all skill levels.
Throughout our two days together we’ll focus heavily on crafting with intermittent breaks to engage with ourselves, each other, and Blackbird Lane.
All Material fees included.
with Emileigh Zola of Rhythm and Ritual
Saturday March 30th
10:30 am - 4 pm
Explore the world of broommaking - rich with metaphor, beauty, and practicality in this class on Wildcrafted Brooms.
Emileigh will guide the class in a meditation on renewal and the symbol of the broom and students will have an opportunity to reflect and set intentions both alone and in a safe circle space.
We will take time to walk on the land and ask permission to harvest materials to use in these lovingly crafted brooms.**
We will have a break for lunch and then be guided through the process of tying our brooms onto handles that are either found, brought from our own lands, or selected from Emileigh's offerings.
Then we will stitch our prayers into the brooms along with beads, bones, or seeds if we choose.
**Broomcorn will be the base of our brooms and the material we gather on our walk will be incorporated in.
sign up for this class on Emileigh's website
Challenges and Opportunities with Exotic Invasive Plants
with ethnobotanist Marc Williams of Botany Everyday
Saturday April 6th
10:00 am - 4 pm
65 - 100 $ sliding scale
We will focus in this class on the ethnobotanical applications of exotic invasive plants for food, medicine and beauty. A big drive of the discussion will include the opportunities to employ these plants and potentially make use of what are often characterized as problem species by turning them into resources.
We will take a look at some of the prime exotic invasive plants occurring in the United States and around the world which have a host of applications and their use for fermentation in particular.
Throughout our time a discussion of the how language is used to describe these plants, for better or worse, will be engaged.
Appalachian Folk Medicine
with Rebecca Beyer of Blood and Spicebush School of Old Craft
Saturday April 13th
12pm - 3pm
30 - 100 $ sliding scale
Learn the fundamentals of Appalachian Folk medicine as a living practice. What makes our region and folk healing practices unique? We'll learn about the broad cultural influences that formed this bio-regional healing art, from European humoral medicine and Indigen-ous Southeastern healing modalities to West African spiritual trad-itions and herbal legacies. Key plant species used and classic rem-edies will be covered and we'll sample a few ourselves.
Courting the Wild Ones: Animism as Survival
with Madison, Jacob and Kristopher of Remembering Earth
Saturday April 27th
12 pm - 5 pm
60 - 100 $ sliding scale
For millennia, our ancestors listened to the wisdom of trees, the river, found healing and belonging through their conversations with the wild world. Until recently this was the norm for how humans interacted with their surroundings. Today, the arms of modernity have nearly been able to eradicate the mystery and wisdom that we instinctively sense from the landscape. When we go to Earth and align with its rhythms, we open ourselves up to “a language older than words.” By listening to the other voices that we find we can more fully hear the truth of our central self and perceive the beauty of the life around us.
At this time of accelerating crises, we are urged to tune our ears to a slower tempo, listening for our gifts and the beauty we came to give. By doing so, we begin to decompose the story of progress and speed, opening to the yet-unseen possibilities of a regenerative future. Each of us contains a particular seed and our work now is uncovering and planting it in our immediate communities and bioregions.
Animism to us is the practice of being in communication with and listening to sentient life forms through various ways of knowing (thinking, feeling, imagination, and our senses). We will have a conversation about why animism is essential in building place-based culture and a tool for our survival and wellness. This is an opportunity to get closer to one’s central Self through slowing down and listening to the inner and outer landscapes. By aligning to the entangled relationships of the forest and offering ourselves to the language of Earth, we open to the possibility of discovering our part in the song.
Fire from our Landscape
Fire Allies of Southern Appalachia
with Luke McLaughlin of Holistic Survival School
Sunday May 5th
Noon - 4pm
75 - 125 $ sliding scale
Fire is uniquely from our planet. No other planet, star or celestial body in our entire known galaxy has fire. Fire uniquely exists on planet Earth because of billions of years of photosynthesis and a thousand of other non-fire related factors. And approximately 2.2 million years ago our ancient ancestors learned to harness this amazing force for comfort, cooking, community, warmth and protection. Humans have been physically, spiritually and emotionally shaped by fire. It is your birthright to know how to make fire from your local landscape.
During our time together, students learn to make fire from our local landscape. Furthermore, students will meet our local “fire allies”. With reverence and respect we will harvest these plants to begin a relationship with them. After some intention and processing, we will then combine those materials and their characteristics to bring a fire to our circle. We will be learning the friction fire methods of both bow drill and hand drill. Students will walk away with a completed bow /hand drill kit.
These fire making skills are applicable to everything from physical survival and preparedness to tending ceremonial fires and everything in between.
Wood qualities for fires
Natural tinder selection
Bow / Hand drill technique
Spiritual lessons of fire
Archeological history of fire tending
How to play in the woods
Intro to knots
Carving Spoons from Green Wood
with Nico and Callan from Woodland Workshop
Saturday May 11
10am - 4pm
Whether you have carved spoons before or not, you will likely learn something new in this class!
You will start with a piece of green wood* and transform it into a functional eating spoon. You will learn about wood grain and which trees are best for making spoons, as well as how to use the tools safely. You will learn to use hatchets to rough out your spoons, and knives to finish them up!
*all materials and tools needed for this class will be provided
Reserve your spot!
Send us an email to reserve your place in a class or classes.
We will let you know how to send your deposit to your instructor, and ask that you do so within three days.
Once a class is full, we will begin a waiting list.