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Dwelling workshop drawings

The latest Dwelling workshop

I love offering this workshop!  It gives me joy to see participants open to receive insights into who they are – see their Home.  I give the workshop in my home, my embodiment of my Home – we built our home to share; this too is fulfilling.  I make lunch, bring them tea, support their work in any way i can. I’d be completely fulfilled if i can serve in this way every day.

I’ve been offering this workshop for over 20 years, yet, now that i’ve completed writing Dwelling, i have more insight into our basic human impulses, and can ask more useful questions to spark participants knowing who they are.

On one level, the work is simple – participants listen to and take in a poetic image, and draw their response.  We then discuss what came up for them as they drew, and the group shares what they see and their response.  The simple act of drawing with pastels on newsprint, and just drawing while trying not to think – let deeper impulses rise and express themselves – is transformative.

During the most recent workshop, it took one drawing for a participant to open to a part of herself that had been dormant since childhood!  Her workshop opened door after door into herself, as was the case for the other participants.

I began the workshop feeling a lot of fear and finished the day knowing great things are in store for me. Bill’s gentle presence and inquiry during the workshop both encouraged me to dive deeper into myself and offered me the container to do so. I have been on a journey of self-discovery for many years, sometimes in extreme fashion, and I am gratefully surprised to have rediscovered a part of myself so sweetly and simply in the process Bill offers. I recommend this for anyone seeking to know themselves more deeply including who they are and what they want to be and create in their lives.

 ~ Jenny Lewis

I give participants homework before the workshop, and ask them to read Dwelling; all to begin their opening into the work before we meet.

We begin the workshop with lighting a candle and sitting with its silence.  A candle offers the simplest door into spiritual realms where our Home resides.

I then read “A Seed for Dwelling,” the beginning of the poetic exploration of Home in Dwelling, to set the stage for the workshop.  And then they draw!

This work can go on for days – my lifetime! – and, i’ve created a series of explorations that open their door into Home in one day.  We end with participants drawing their response to a Rumi poem which has the line, “Let the beauty you love be what you do.”  That impulse is the core of Dwelling.

Please join our DWELLING community on Facebook. We will be launching the book and website in February, so stay tuned!
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Urgent Support for Residential Building Material Diversion Amendments to Code by DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee

Dear friends, today we have are collaborating with the DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee by petition of our friend Jim Schulman, Treasurer of the Building Materials Re-use Association.

Attached (and below) is a final version of the DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee’s sign-on letter regarding minor proposed changes to the Residential Building Code that encourage reuse. Don’t miss the FAQ’s on the 2nd page. Our proposed amendments will be reviewed by the DC Construction Codes Coordinating Board on the morning of Thursday July 6th, so we hope to have amassed a bunch of relevant sign-ons by the day prior. Please distribute it today to folks you know and trust that work or have worked in the world of green construction or real estate in DC and would like to see the District move closer to zero waste. We could use a bunch of sign-ons, especially from organization representatives. Thanks!

Following is the sign-on letter… you can also find it by following this link:


July 05, 2017

To: Jill Stern, Chair and Members

The DC Construction Codes Coordinating Board

Re: Support for residential building material diversion amendments


Dear Chairperson Stern and other CCCB members,

The DC Residential Building Code, which applies to one-and-two family dwellings (single-family homes, townhouses, & duplexes), currently contains no stipulations regarding the reduction of construction and demolition debris. As part of an effort to ensure that DC is able to meet its waste reduction goals as laid out in the Sustainable DC plan, the DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee and the Building Materials Reuse Association, in consultation with the Residential Technical Advisory Group (RESTAG) of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), has drafted amendments to the Residential Building Code. If adopted, the language will introduce residential builders and owners to the financial and public health benefits of reducing the amount of construction and demolition debris that currently ends up in incinerators and landfills or is dumped in stream valleys.

The proposed amendments to the Residential Building Code do the following:

  • Add “resource conservation” to the initial “Intent” section of the code
  • Define the terms “reuse” & “recycling”
  • For new construction, substantial renovation, and demolition projects (except for those that generate less than 500 pounds of waste), require:
  1. Reuse of a minimum of 5% of total non-hazardous waste by weight or volume, or
  2. Recycling of a minimum of 50% of total non-hazardous waste
  • Painted materials removed from buildings older than 1978 shall not be eligible for reuse or recycling unless tested and verified to be free of lead paint, or tested and tagged in a lasting manner to assure materials transferred off-site are properly handled with respect to lead hazards.

If adopted, these proposed amendments will reduce construction waste hauling time and tipping fees – both of financial benefit to builders and home owners. Those Contractors and their subs who don’t already currently salvage materials for reuse or recycling will be encouraged to earn money through salvaged material sales and/or obtain tax deductions for the donation of salvaged materials. Compliance on many jobs could be achieved merely by gently removing existing doors, cabinets, and appliances and requesting a pick-up from a community organization. As more used residential building materials enter the marketplace, high-value, job-creating re-manufacturing and deconstruction enterprises and more retail outlets are likely to establish themselves. Diverting building materials from rotting or being burned or dumped will reduce land, water, and air pollution – including greenhouse gas emissions.

The signatories to this letter include residential home builders and contractors who operate in the District of Colombia and support these proposed amendments. We hope you will work to ensure that these amendments are adopted into DC’s Residential Building Code as soon as possible.


___________________________      ___________________________      _________________

Organization                                        Representative Name & Title               Date[JD1] 


To sign on or ask Q’s, contact Jim Schulman, Building Material Subcommittee, DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee at RegionalArchitect@gmail.com or 202/544-0069  ###


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on construction waste reduction amendments proposed for the DC Residential Building Code:

Q: How difficult will it be to meet the 5% reuse requirement?

A: The proposed code amendments have been designed to make compliance easy, and demonstrate that employing such practices on a modest basis will save or even generate money for builders. Reuse will reduce tipping fees and selling salvaged items can be more lucrative than some realize. Compliance on many renovation jobs can be achieved merely by gently removing existing doors, cabinets, and appliances and requesting a free pick-up from a community non-profit such as Communityforklift.org; RebuildWarehouse.org; or AWiderCircle.org. Architectural salvage items may also be delivered to for-profit organizations such as VintageHousePart.com or TheBrassKnob.com that trade materials for cash.

Q: What forms of “reuse” would qualify to satisfy these amendments?

A: The requirement for reuse can be met on either the supply or demand side: by purchasing and installing reused materials, or recovering and distributing reused materials. Reuse can include a) the incorporation of reused materials from other projects, vendors, or combinations thereof, b) diversion of salvaged materials to a building material reuse facility, c) the use of salvaged materials in construction elsewhere on the project site (as shown on plans), d) transferring salvaged materials to a different project, or e) selling or donating materials for reuse (with the opportunity of a tax deduction).

Q: It is common practice in my construction company to give away selected salvaged materials and equipment to our employees and sub-contractors as a job perk. Will that practice qualify to meet the proposed requirements?

A: Yes, as long as the gifting of materials and their quantities are documented.

Q: How will compliance with these amendments be documented by builders?

A: Documentation of material transfers can take the form of weight tickets, tax donation letters, bills of sale, and/or photographs, and shall be made available to inspectors upon request – so the documentation burden is relatively light. To verify that the minimum is met, builders might have to compare tickets recording the total quantity of debris hauled to the quantity of materials salvaged to verify that the latter is at least 1/20th of the former. Because no new regulatory process will be necessitated, the burden on government agencies is light.

Q: What organizations have already expressed support for the proposed amendments?

A: DC Habitat for Humanity; the DC Sierra Club’s Zero Waste Committee; Alan Abrams, President of the National Council of Building Designer Certification and Board member of the American Institute of Building Design; GL Barnhart Construction; Landis Construction; The Building Materials Re-use Association…

Q: What if there is significant fire, termite, or flood damage to the property being worked on?

A: The amendments include a recycling option if materials are so deteriorated that they cannot easily be sold or given away, or for some other reason recycling is the preferred option.

Q: How does reusing building materials help the environment and create jobs?

A: For every wood stud that is reused, less clear-cutting will be needed to produce raw materials for lumber markets. For every metal product that is reused, less destructive mining will occur to provide raw materials and energy fuels for processing and fabrication. For every container of materials that goes to reuse, approximately two container loads of Construction and Demolition Debris are notdisposed of, which avoids land-filling and incineration that pollute the air and water and avoids degradation of wildlife habitat that occurs if materials are illegally dumped. According to statistics from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, for every 100 tons of building materials that are salvaged or re-manufactured into furniture or other valuable products, approximately 3 new jobs are created.

Q: What other jurisdictions have similar requirements?

A: Many states and counties have waste regulations that incentivize reuse and recycling, including Cook County, IL, Oakland, CA, and Houston, TX. Most are oriented to large commercial jobs or demolition only. This code amendment would give Washington, DC the distinction of creatively extending measures already in its commercial building code to single family homes and duplexes – representing a large percentage of the construction market.


To sign on or ask Q’s please get in touch with Jim Schulman, Building Material Subcommittee, DC Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee at RegionalArchitect@gmail.com or 202/544-0069  ###

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Deep Ecology: Self-Knowledge Through Making and Living in our Physical Home

Deep Ecology Helicon Works ArchitectsSelf-knowledge needs to be offered on a large scale because it is the only way out for the human race in this moment where we are on the brink of collapse.

Sri Prem Baba

This quote, from a beloved spiritual teacher, concisely explains why my work is slowly evolving to focusing on the other side of a coin.  I’m still an architect, gratefully serving clients who are brought to me, helping them create a home that is nurturing for their soul’s awakening as well as the place they inhabit.  The deep current – the coin – within my work is further articulated in a quote from Vaclav Havel –

We too can offer something to you: our experience and the knowledge that has come from it. The specific experience I’m talking about has given me one certainty: consciousness precedes being… For this reason, the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and in human responsibility. Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed – be it ecological, social, demographic or a general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.

– Vaclav Havel, when President of the Czech Republic, from a speech to the U. S. Congress
This current is love.  We can open our heart to receive love through the making of, and living in, our physical home. Conversely, this current is also revealed as we engage in our life’s journey of finding our spiritual Home – through giving love, by knowing and caring for every fiber of the world around us and within each other’s heart.
You could also call this work deep ecology, or creating place and self with an ecological consciousness
I’ve been growing into this awareness since 1989, all along writing as a way to understand.  All of that has coalesced into a book the past year called “Dwelling: A Way Home”. You can learn more about this project by going to the Dwelling page on our website.  It’s still taking form, and I’m seeing it becoming a book by early fall.
The vision Helicon Works Architects serves remains the same, but, we’ll be focusing more on offering a variety of types of workshops, where you can experience this work (without creating and building your home).  Please stay tuned and join me in this journey… we have no time to loose!







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Making a Better World in Our Troubled Time – What We Can Do

Bill’s latest article “Making a Better World in Our Troubled Time – What We Can Do” has been featured in the April issue of Natural Awakenings magazine. Following is the full article:

Making a Better World - Bill Hutchins Helicon Works Architects article Natural Awakenings Magazine
“Making a Better World in Our Troubled World – What We Can Do” article in Natural Awakenings April issue.

I know in our troubled time, many are asking, “What can I do to continue making a better world?” Part of my engagement—amid so may negative civil forces—is to support organizations that are doing good work, by giving money and volunteering. Central to my intentions is an issue that’s been growing in my heart—the relationship between housing and poverty.

I’ve taken on this pursuit through the Appalachia Service Project and have seen, firsthand, what Matthew Desmond writes about in Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Desmond chronicles the economic and psychological toll of living in substandard housing. I’m beginning to connect with some of the inspiring programs in our D.C. region and look forward to hearing recommendations from readers for organizations confronting issues of inner city poverty and housing.

I have also been involved with housing for those in need in Nepal, since 2008, through the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco-Foundation (KRMEF.com). We’ve built a school, a community center, a farming education center, and many homes, all with waste glass bottles, earthen plaster, bamboo and thatch. Part of what makes this work healing is that the homeowners can be a part of the building. Habitat for Humanity follows this model. We’re considering other aspects of this work that are transferable to our region.

As a residential architect based in Takoma Park, I’ve been helping clients create soul-nourishing homes for 26 years. Helicon Works is an architectural collaborative, and we’re beginning to explore how we can be a part of providing nurturing shelter for all. On a parallel track, I have been documenting my internal process of finding my spiritual home, and my work with clients. I’ve been working on Dwelling, A Way Home (now a text, hopefully soon to be a book).

This writing is an exploration of the deeper impulses of making home in the world and is offered to all through participation in our workshops (including one on April 8). Yet, I’ve wanted to take this work beyond our entitled, navel-gazing population (what I most know), into a broader, perhaps more impactful world. I know it’s difficult to live fruitfully in the world without a deep sense of home, regardless of our economic situation.

Most directly, we need to make homes for our homeless companions, as I firmly believe that no one suffers alone; we’re all in this together. Then, we need to provide enlivening homes for those living in impoverished housing. This is a larger issue than architectural—given your skills and knowledge, you may want to consider how you can help those in need?

This movement within springs from the emergent resistance’s elegant, yet simple, motto, “Love Trumps Hate.” This is my mantra. I believe it’s essential to love our estranged companions with whom we share our country. It’s so easy to “make” them wrong, which only feeds the darkness. I need to know them, love them and break bread with them. Studies have shown that sharing a meal with those we don’t see eye to eye with helps bridge differences.

There is much we can do. As Arlie Russell Hochschild writes in Strangers in Their Own Land, many of our fellow citizens from the red states feel they have been forgotten. Finding ways to engage with them is one of my intentions.  If there are any who share this intention to make a better world, let’s meet and start the work. Please share your thoughts and comments below so we can begin to engage in this dialogue in community.

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Dwelling Workshop: Creating Soul Nurturing Homes

New Dwelling: A Way Home workshop on April 8th, 2017!

Explore your spiritual connection to your home, community and place by working with poetic images of home through creative/meditative exercises. Bill’s Dwelling project is a series of writings based on his explorations of spiritual traditions, meditation, poetry, being in nature, dance and play. Helicon Works Architects explores this spiritual dimension in all projects, as it serves as one of the three fundamental pillars of our approach.

Follow this link for more information or to sign up for a day of mindful explorations between our physical home and our spiritual Home.

Dwelling workshop
Learn to create a Soul Nurturing Home in our latest Dwelling Workshop on April 8th 2017







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