Funds sought to rehabilitate ‘little brick building’
By Paul Wahl
Wallowa County Chieftain
Not that long ago, useful skills such as wilderness orienteering, campfire cooking and timber framing were passed from one generation to the next.
Today, they are learned primarily through classes. In Wallowa County, those sessions are offered by Praire Mountain Folk School in Joseph.
Now in its second year of operation, the nonprofit is beginning to find a niche, according to co-founder Greg Hennes.
“Most of our classes have been full, but we need to keep reaching out for new students,” Hennes said.
In addition to eight classes between June 30 and Sept. 8, the school is taking on a larger project –– finding a permanent home.
Hennes has his sights set on a modest building at 104 McCully Street in Joseph, just off Main Street.
Working with the community, foundations and individual donors, the school is raising funds to rehabilitate the ‘little brick building’ into administrative offices and a small classroom.
Hennes is leasing to own the 600 square-foot building and the lot next to it. The brick building had been used for storage by several Joseph businesses. He has also been investigating the history of the building.
Hennes said he’s been told it was once a mechanic’s garage in the early 1900s.
Running water, sewer and electricity to the structure have been the first endeavors.
On a simultaneous track, Hennes envisions a larger building for more space-intensive courses.
“It would provide indoor workshop space all year around,” he said.
Hennes is working with Minnesota-based architect David Salmela, whose studio and residence look out over Lake Superior. He is widely praised for his skills in melding nature into his creations.
Hennes spent time at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minn., prior to coming to Oregon.
“Think of it a town square where community will gather to share stories and build beautiful things in a collaborative environment, all while admiring the beautiful Eagle Cap Wilderness,” Hennes said.
He is also hoping to utilize timber frames built by folk school classes in the construction of the building.
The latest round of classes range in tuition from $50 to $750 dollars. Classes are open to students 18 and older; however, in the interest of fostering intergenerational learning, Hennes said students under 18 may participate in classes when accompanied by an enrolled adult.
A 20-percent discount totaling no more than $200 in a calendar year is available to legal residents of Wallowa County.
Reservations can be completed online at prairiemountainschool.com.
UPCOMING PRAIRE MOUNTAIN FOLK SCHOOL COURSES
• Wilderness Orienteering
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 30
This course will equip participants with the necessary skills to remain effectively “lost-proof” in nearly any wilderness setting.
Prairie, Mountain, Canyon: Reading The Landscape Of Wallowa County
• Prairie, Mountain, Canyon: Reading The Landscape Of Wallowa County
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 7
In this one-day primer, local photographer and biologist Kendrick Moholt will share his knowledge of the history, geology and ecology of Wallowa County.
• Herbal First Aid: A Kit For Summer Adventures
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18
Students will learn about the plant allies that can soothe what ails you and go home with their own bug spray, healing salve and anti-microbial powder.
• Campfire Cooking: A Love Affair Between Food & Fresh Air
4-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug, 18
Explore the basics of cooking and feasting over an open fire –– build a proper fire, discern cooking methods, prep a delicious dinner and safely put out and clean up.
• Wilderness Perfume: Juniper Ridge Field Lab
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.
Join Juniper Ridge founder Hall Newbegin and explore the hidden corners of Wallowa County, then return to Joseph to create a one-of-a-kind wilderness perfume.
• Japanese Style Timber Frame Cabin
9 a.m. Saturday Sept. 1-8.
This eight-day course teaches students how to build a 16x20-foot Japanese-style timber frame cabin. Students will have the chance to buy the frame upon completion.
• Preserving Summer: A Community Canning Event
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Spend the day outdoors, learning safe water bath canning techniques. Leave with jars of veggies for the kitchen pantry.
• Branch To Mouth – Carving The Wooden Spoon
4-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Learn the basics of making a functional and beautiful wooden spoon.