The Tree Of Life Sustainability Project Inc. located in St. Catherines, Salmonier, St. Mary's Bay, NL is a not-for-profit association initiated in 2004 by Ian Goudie and Meranda Squires that provides rustic off-the-grid accommodations, submersion in Nature and hands-on experience in natural building. in 2018, the Tree Of Life launched as Newfoundland's first 'ecolodge' providing rustic and nature-based experiences to help guests connect with Nature and themselves. suitable for small-scale retreats, TOL also caters to yoga, meditation, music and addiction recovery workshops with its facilities that include alternative energy, a central building, a bunkhouse, yoga studio and meditation hut. the cedar lodge is a small rustic chalet available to individuals and couples seeking the ecolodge experience.
the central building is designed in the geometry of the Kabbalah (the Hebrew word meaning "Tree Of Life") is a showcase of posts, beams and exposed rafters recycled from old buildings in St. John's and adjacent areas, and reprocessed using planers and sanders. the old growth douglas fir and western red cedar are priceless woods that were once moved in vast quantities across the country by train, and used as structural lumber for many of the large buildings constructed over a century ago in Newfoundland. other buildings highlight sustainable practices and natural building by use of local lumber made on site or even integration of pallets for structural components. efficiency in use of materials and space are key features of the unique buildings at this facility. the project continues to be a labour of love that has been successful because of the engagement of work-aways, who are sometimes local but often come from distant parts of the world, to offer their labour in exchange for room and board.
Ian envisions the Tree Of Life as an immersion experience in sustainable living. "it is important to recognize the paradox of our (western) lifestyle. we often seriously believe we are doing our part to contribute to the environment by recycling containers and the like. all this while we are owning two or even three fuel-guzzling vehicles and living in houses vastly larger than necessary."
Mahatma Gandhi emphasized being the change you want to see in the world. the Tree Of Life is a living example of how we can change the way we bring ourselves out into the world. we can’t change the world, but we can seriously reduce our individual ecological footprints. people can participate either as guests to the ecolodge or by arranging to barter for their time there; a perfect way to gain hands-on experience in natural and sustainable building practices.