Birch Creek Arts & Ecology Center


Trillium Farm

Threatened & Endangered
Little Applegate

Valley (TELAV)

The DEEP Ecostery

Dakubetede Environmental Education Programs


Earth Stewardship, Conservation Activism,
& Sustainable Community Living Intensive

Fully accredited 17-credit interdisciplinary curriculum:

Natural History, Applied Conservation Biology,
Environmental Ethics, Community Studies, Wilderness Education

An 8-week residential intensive embedded into an Intentional Community
nestled deep in a wild river canyon in S.W. Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains

Upcoming D.E.E.P. ECOSTERY Sessions

Spring 2016: early April ~ late May (exact dates to be arranged)

        During 2015, DEEP will be taking a break from offering the D.E.E.P. Ecostery Program as we focus on facilities and negotiating with universities to obtain blanket academic credit for the program.  Meanwhile, for 2015, we encourage interested individuals to examine our Sustainable Living Internship Program with our host, Trillium Farm and Birch Creek Arts and Ecology Center. 
        Resuming in 2016, Dakubetede Environmental Education Programs offers the D.E.E.P. Ecostery residential intensive as a university-accredited opportunity for college students, educators, and other interested participants to receive training in the basics of earth stewardship, sustainable living, conservation activism, intentional community, and wilderness education.  These interdisciplinary field quarters embed participants in an intentional community during one of  the transformational spring and autumn seasons at Birch Creek Arts and Ecology Center. 
This wilderness campus is hosted by Trillium Farm, a historic homestead nestled in the remote Little Applegate River canyon, deep in the wild Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon.
        The DEEP Ecostery is designed to prepare participants for living and working in situations where team work and cooperation are essential to success.  The total immersion intensive nature of the program prepares participants for the work load and high level of motivation associated with cutting-edge careers in education, activism, field sciences, and more.

The Mother Garden nestled in Birch Creek Canyon; early spring at historic Trillium Farm.

Autumn colors erupt in Birch Creek Canyon at historic Trillium Farm.


        The D.E.E.P. Ecostery provides a unique opportunity for you to learn about developing a deep Sense of Place in a powerful wilderness setting with an option to earn 17 university credits (undergraduate or graduate level). Since 1997, Ecostery participants have experienced personal growth and positive transformation in their Ecostery community, living in the rustic and historic octagonal Trillium School House.

Spring snow blankets historic Trillium School and forest.


Downstairs in historic Trillium School: group living, kitchen, dining, & classroom.

        The Ecostery Foundation of North America defines Ecostery as: "a facility, stewarded land, and Nature sanctuary where Ecosophy (ecological wisdom and harmony) is learned, practiced, and taught."   The D.E.E.P. Ecostery program provides a real-life training opportunity for environmental educators, naturalists, earth stewards, and activists in an intentional community setting on stewarded Land, our wilderness Nature sanctuary.


Renovated trout hatchery building serves as Ecostery Library.

an interdisciplinary course of study and experience.

        The interdisciplinary Ecostery
curriculum collects perspectives  from sciences, humanities, social studies, and education to immerse participants in connections leading to growth, transformation, and evolving a Sense of Place. Credits are either 400-level undergraduate or 500-level graduate, transfer to most accredited colleges and universities, and apply as PDU and continuing education credits for professional educators.

Please Note: Ecostery participants need not be enrolled in a college or university, or be professional teachers. The academic credit is optional.

SC403k: Natural History of the Dakubetede Wilderness 
(5 science credits)  
The study of natural history provides an opening into the process of developing a Sense of Place.  Familiarizing oneself with the plant and animal inhabitants of a particular place, and learning about that place’s ecosystems and human history comprise the first steps of becoming indigenous to that place. SC403k is an eight-week journey toward developing a Sense of Place in the Dakubetede Wilderness.  Natural History studies challenge us here, as a high degree of biodiversity has evolved in a mosaic of diverse ecosystems draped over rugged terrains formed by complex geology.
We explore the discipline of Natural History as applied to the Little Applegate River watershed, and as a method of cultivating a naturalist's eye towards the world wherever we look.  We learn the names and life histories of the life forms around us, as well as the process for identifying organisms in general. Observation and questioning serve as our tools for seeing deeper into the complexities of the natural world.  As we develop a foundation of understanding about the ecological systems we encounter, we seek to connect this knowledge to our goals as conservationists.


Wildlife biologist Simon Wray teaching Western Pond Turtle Workshop.

SC402t: Applied Conservation Biology: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity 
(3 science credits)
         We reach a deeper connection and understanding of nature through our natural history studies.  In Applied Conservation Biology, we use that deeper connection and understanding in learning how to identify and counteract threats to the biodiversity of nature.  We learn how to protect and strengthen the power and balance of the natural world.  Locally, we defend our habitat, our quality of life, and our sense of place through education and outreach with our watershed conservation organization, TELAV (Threatened & Endangered Little Applegate Valley).  Love where you Live; Defend what you Love!
          We will be reading and discussing the fundamentals of conservation biology, as well as some of the cutting edge material just being published.  These readings will equip us to expand the preliminary Little Applegate Wildlands Network Conservation Plan (LAWN-CP) started and expanded by previous Ecostery sessions.  The LAWN-CP is a pro-active strategy for conserving biodiversity in our watershed using state-of-the-art methodologies being developed by The Wildlands Project.
          Experiences gathered during this course will prove invaluable for participants considering a career in conservation biology, environmental education, or environmental activism.  The pace and intensive flow of this work provides a realistic insight into the rigors of professional work in these fields.


Dr. Jacob Kann teaching Aquatic Ecology Workshop.

HU402k: Environmental Ethics: Practicing Deep Ecology 
(3 humanities credits)

        Our experiences connecting with nature, and our efforts working to protect nature, form the foundation for learning to develop our own personal code of ethics, a biocentric guide for our decisions of lifestyle as members of the planetary community.  Do our personal choices help or hinder nature, and by effect, humankind?
        In this course we examine the size and impacts of our individual, group, and societal footprint on the planet.  Our readings and discussions of ecocentric philosophy, as applied to everyday life, form the basis for examining choices that lead to formulation of a "deep ecology" personal code of environmental ethics.  The connection between patterns of consumption and the deterioration of planetary life-support systems serves as a baseline for participants to examine the changes necessary to adopt "greener" lifeways.  Discussions revolve around these lifestyle choices regarding consumerism, energy use, dwelling, diet, food production, occupations, organizations, parenting, activism, wilderness use, recycling, health care, and more.

SS402u: Community Studies: Ecostery as Intentional Community  
(3 social studies credits)
        The global marketplace, toxic culture, consumer society, and increasing destruction of nature all require a paradigm shift in our concept of community.  In the Community Studies course, we explore how intentional community can serve as an experiential and educational setting for an Ecostery, where connection with nature, defense of biodiversity, and making ethical choices create a lifeway in harmony with nature. 
Intentional community is a lifeway paradigm currently experiencing a resurgence as people sensitive to climate change and the global ecology crisis search for less consumptive ways to live.  Ecostery is where intentional community becomes an educational center for exploring ecologically sensitive lifeways.  Hands-on work on community projects, participation in community process, and interaction with community members supplement discussions based on the text and other readings.  The natural beauty of the D.E.E.P. Ecostery and surrounding wilderness provide inspiration to complement the academic and experiential portions of this course.

ED406w: Creating a Wilderness Education Center  
(3 education credits).  
Many educators dream of finding an old camp, lodge, or farm to outfit as an environmental education facility.  Birch Creek Arts and Ecology Center is all three, located at Trillium Farm, a remote historic homestead and former trout hatchery and fishing lodge.  In this course we learn how to plan and perform the physical tasks and academic organization necessary to create a center for environmental education as an aid for our transition to a postmodern world.
This experiential education course provides participants with a unique opportunity to work on creating a wilderness environmental education center.  Participants will focus on three major components:
         ·       the physical center of the Ecostery building and surroundings,
         ·       the educational and experiential opportunities,
the theory of education's role in the transition to a postmodern world.             
        Many of the educational opportunities involve natural history studies on the Ecostery campus and surrounding wilderness.  The theory of education's role in the transition to a postmodern world weaves itself through the other four courses included in the residential intensive.       


Orion Society Forgotten Language Tour.


        We have been informed by The Heritage Institute of Antioch University that, due to budget cuts, they will no longer be able to process academic credit for course with fewer than 10 students.  Since our DEEP Ecostery program never exceeds 8 students, we haven found it necessary to establish a different procedure for obtaining academic credit.  We will still be working with our long-time partners The Heritage Institute of Antioch University to secure academic credit for our programs involving 10 or more students.  Please note: academic credit is an option for all DEEP courses, and participants need not be enrolled at a college or university.

        To obtain academic credit for the DEEP Ecostery courses, prospective students should work with their academic advisor at their home college or university to arrange academic credit through that school.  Academic credit for the DEEP Ecostery program can be considered in a similar manner as travel abroad programs.  Our course syllabi, as approved by Antioch University with their course numbers indicated, should be down-loaded and printed to present to academic advisors.  We are available to assist with academic credit verification by working directly with academic advisors and registrars at the home schools of students.  Vitae for our primary Ecostery faculty are available here for down-load to present with the syllabi to academic advisors.  Fees for our DEEP Ecostery program are now reduced, reflecting elimination of academic credit fees through The Heritage Institute of Antioch University.

         In the curriculum section you will find descriptions for each of the five courses that comprise the Ecostery Intensive.  Course syllabi contain detailed academic information; please read them thoroughly.  Some changes may occur in syllabi details during our periodic reviews of the academic program.  These syllabi are especially useful for college students to show their academic advisors for applicability to their programs.  Certification of credit requires approval of your home campus admission/advisor office.  If you desire academic credit, then please arrange for credit with your home school approval before the Ecostery session.

         While no longer providing academic credit due to small class size (4-8 students), the DEEP Ecostery courses are valid, approved courses through Antioch University.  As a member of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, Antioch University credits are accepted by accredited colleges and universities.  These credits are quarter units (1.5 quarter units = 1 semester unit).  For educators, Washington State "clock hours" are available, and are also accepted by Oregon for teaching certificate maintenance and salary advancement needs.  Check with us concerning clock hour credit for other states.  

         Detailed information and application instructions are found in the Application section.  You can read about the evolution of the D.E.E.P. Ecostery and  Trillium Community in the Autumn 2000 issue of Communities Magazine.  Have fun exploring the Ecostery photo album, and reading participants' comments and praise.

        We encourage prospective Ecostery students to consider assembling a group of their friends and fellow students from their home school to take the Ecostery as a group.  Expect friendships to deepen through the nature of the Ecostery experience on a wilderness campus.

Natural History field trip to the Siskiyou Crest to examine the rare botany.

Ecostery Academic Standards

        The D.E.E.P. Ecostery is a challenging residential intensive!  We encourage cooperation over competitiveness.  Readings and course work are extensive and faculty expectations are high.  Several hours of homework (reading, writing, journaling, research) are necessary each week to keep up with the rapid pace of the intensive.  Papers, projects, research, and oral presentations are part of the evaluation process.  Participants must be focused and highly motivated to compress the work of a typical 10-week quarter term into 8 weeks.  In addition, participants engage the equal challenges of living and working together as a community in Place.  Working on community process, household chores, preparing and cleaning meals, and successfully meshing different personalities ~ all comprise portions of an intensive experiential curriculum, and are also a part of the evaluation process.


         The two months will indeed be intensive!  There is much to learn, much to experience, and much to accomplish in a short time.  Such an intensive could only function as a residential program.  During these eight weeks participants will read several texts and outside selections, write and present 3 papers and 6 short reports, keep three journals, create a map, and take an exam.  Graduate level requirements include additional reading, research, and written work.  In addition to those academic accomplishments, participants will also become acquainted with the surrounding ecosystems, a community of earth stewards, and various homesteading and wilderness skills.

        Living in a rustic setting at wilderness edge means that the weather and the length of daylight will effect how we arrange our daily Ecostery activities.  Stormy weather will often find us involved with indoor projects and discussions, while sunny mountain days will draw us outside for natural history explorations and other outdoor activities.  While most Ecostery activities take place at Trillium Farm and adjacent wilderness, there may be an overnight excursion deeper into the wilderness, and/or field trips to nearby points of interest. 


 Trail maintenance on our local wilderness trails.
Trail maintenance in the proposed Dakubetede Wilderness.

        Each week will consist of three academic days with resident or guest faculty, two experiential service days with Trillium residents, and one day of individual or group directed work.  Participants will have one day "off " each week for hosting visitors or taking possible trips to town for rest, relaxation, and research at the Southern Oregon University Library.  This is a residential intensive; during the 6 weekly session days all participants are present, day and night.  Visitors on the day off must be arranged in advance through the community process.  A 4-day mid-session break provides an opportunity for personal exploration, whether a rafting trip, beach trip, visit a city, or just chill here at Trillium.

Learning cordwood masonry building techniques.

        One of the intentions of this program is to help you learn to develop a Sense of Place in this magnificent setting.  Town trips are infrequent and we encourage you to avail yourself of wild nature, here in the Dakubetede Wilderness on your days off.  Sometimes Ecostery participants experience a bit of culture shock within a few days as the level of remoteness sinks in.  Culture shock is a real experience!  While it may be at least a 2-hour round trip into Ashland for a cup of chai, a microbrew, a pizza; the amenities of the wild, unavailable in town, are strong and nourishing here at the Dakubetede Wilderness Campus.  Your energy will flow best here in the wilderness if you release any habits you may have used to cope with town in the past.  For example, one Ecosterian stopped smoking tobacco for her stay here; others have embraced a vegetarian diet for the first time.  Our experience has showed us that the Ecostery is most beneficial for all involved if alcohol and drugs are not present, for that reason we ask that all Ecosterians refrain from using these substances while on the Land.

Personal contemplation opportunity at the river.

        Ecostery participants describe their experience here as "transformational".  Forming a close-knit learning community in the wilds provides endless opportunities for personal growth.  Previous Ecosterians recommend that you read Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks before you arrive; they found it most helpful for living together.  The communication model as described by the Hendricks unifies us all for deeper exploration in honest community process.  Being open to the opportunities is the first step in embracing positive experiential education.  We look forward to your application to join us here for the D.E.E.P. Ecostery.

Litter patrol service project along the one-lane unpaved Little Applegate River Road.


The Host Community

        Trillium Farm hosts the D.E.E.P. Ecostery at its historic 82-acre homestead on the Little Applegate River, deep in the eastern Siskiyou Mountains.  An intentional community for nearly 40 years, Trillium serves as the home of Birch Creek Arts & Ecology Center, a remote cultural and educational center, hosting several workshops, conferences, retreats, and gatherings each year in a near-wilderness setting.  For five years Trillium operated a Montessori school for ages 3-16.  The main school building is a vintage (circa 1970) two-story octagon.  Trillium and Birch Creek programs focus on sustainable living skills, community, environmental education, fine and healing arts, organic gardening, permaculture, alternative building, appropriate technology, and environmental activism.

        This rustic and serene space is the home of the D.E.E.P. Ecostery.  Participants will be living in the octagon and working to further create an environmental education center in the building.  Creating this center, interacting with members of the Trillium Farm's community of earth stewards, working with the local conservation organization, and working on community projects such as organic gardening, permaculture, alternative building, and appropriate technology are experiential components of the D.E.E.P. Ecostery academic program.

        Trillium is located where Birch Creek flows through several ponds in a beautiful narrow canyon and over a waterfall into the Little Applegate River.  The old homestead is nearly surrounded by the proposed Dakubetede Wilderness and 21,200-acre Dakubetede Primitive Backcountry Area.  Tucked away in the rain shadow of the Siskiyou's highest peaks, this area is known for its exceptionally rich biodiversity and arid microclimate.  Complex mosaics of botanical communities offer unique opportunities to study diverse terrestrial, aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

        The Spring session (April and May) will feature the greening of the mountains as new vegetation grows, wildflowers bloom, and streams resume flow in the canyons.  The long cold nights grow shorter and warmer as winter fades.  The first really hot days of the season, previews of summer, intervene between storms which can bring snow squalls even in May.

Spring stroll down the canyon to the Ecostery Library.


Spring in the Dakubetede Wilderness.
Biodiversity on display in the proposed Dakubetede Wilderness.

        The Autumn session (October and November) will feature the warm days of Indian summer with chilly nights introducing the season's first frosts.  Deciduous trees and shrubs provide stunning displays of color as the temperatures drop and the days shorten.  November will see the first winter storms roll in, sometimes with substantial snows.  Wildlife migrate down from the high country.  Leaves fall and open the forest to the low-angled light of winter.

Ecosterians sing the natural history of fall colors.
Singing presentation on the autumn color palette.


Prior to Arrival at Ecostery

        1. Participants obtain all text books and read the following text prior to arrival: Wallace, David Rains. The Klamath Knot. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1983.  Complete text listing will be included in the acceptance packet.
        2. Participants will obtain all necessary equipment and supplies and personal gear.  Complete list will be included in the acceptance packet.


Arrival at Ecostery; Parking, Facilities

        Arriving participants will delve immediately into natural history with a 3-5 mile wilderness hike ending at the Ecostery.  After an orientation at the octagon, participants will retrieve their belongings and settle in for two months of intensive work. 

        Parking is limited.  Participants are urged to arrange car-pooling for town trips.  Trillium Farm is very remote ~ four miles up a narrow dirt canyon road.  The closest store is 13 miles (25 minutes) away in Ruch; the closest town (gasoline, post office, bank) is 22 miles (40 minutes) away in Jacksonville, the airport is 35 miles (50 minutes) in Medford; Southern Oregon University in Ashland is 40 miles (one hour) away.  Ashland and Medford have natural food co-ops.

        The Ecostery facilities are quite rustic.  The octagon has only minimal solar powered 12-volt electricity.  There is an outdoor hot shower and an outhouse.  Participants will purchase most of their food together in bulk, sharing meals and kitchen duties.  Trillium Farm policy prohibits meat preparation, consumption, or storage in community facilities.  Participants needing meat in their diet should bring jerky with their private belongings.  Heat is passive solar on warmer sunny days, and with firewood during colder, cloudy times.  A land line phone with free long distance (USA only) and wi-fi are available in a separate building with space for participants to set up their own computers (laptops are highly recommended).  We are located far beyond cell phone or television reception.

Historic Trillium school house heated with firewood.
Firewood stacked in and under historic Trillium School.


Ecostery Daily Schedule

        The following basic daily schedule will be modified often, especially during field trips, natural history hikes, and overnight camp trips.
- Dawn to 10 AM:
Participants free time for breakfast, reading, writing, yoga, morning walks, and natural history explorations.
- 10 am to 3-4 PM:
"Contact hours" with instructor: natural history field work, discussions of texts and readings, work on Ecostery octagon and campus, work with resident stewards on host community projects.
- Late-afternoon to bedtime:
Except for program sessions on 3 evenings, participants have free time blocks for dinner, reading, writing, discussions, evening walks, visiting.  



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