Opinions on business idea - am I nuts?

I posted this message on a couple of other forums on HealthUnlocked so sorry if you've already seen it, I just need all the input I can get!

I've had lupus (and some vasculitis, hence following this forum) since I was a child and have had to take this year off work (I'm a primary school teacher) due to bad reactions from medications. I'm much better now and have been thinking it's a bit crazy to go back to teaching full time so am considering starting my own business and I'd like to run the idea by you - not sure if I'm nuts or not!

I went on a cob house-building (making proper houses from a mix of clay, sand, water and straw) course during the summer and have been determined that I will build my own cob house as soon as I can get some land. The friend I went with also wants to build one and we've cooked up a business idea. We want to build teaching and therapy studios around our houses and teach people about sustainable building and how to use cob to create structures such as pizza ovens and small studios etc. My friend is an art therapist and she will run environmental art therapy sessions. We intend to build a bed and breakfast as well and want to make it fully accessible so everyone can come and be supported if need be as the benefits of working with nature are massive. I'm concerned that many people who have chronic illness, disabilities etc don't have access to the natural environment to do amazingly rewarding stuff like cob-building and so want to make it so everyone can come. We also intend to work with schools and I know that children love this kind of stuff! I was wondering if such a place existed near you (we're on the Isle of Man so we probably aren't!) would you be interested in learning about cob-building or having environmental art therapy (working through emotions through engagement with the natural world)? I'm not sure if just because I'm into these things that I assume others will be too! I highly recommend a google search for cob houses if you haven't seen any as they are beautiful!

6 Replies

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  • Sounds great Cookie and right up my street. Hands on in nature.

    Much though the idea appeals, I couldnt make it out of the classroom to a field without exhaustion.

    Brava for the idea and I am sure there are a lot of energy filled people out there who would love and would benefit from this sort of therapy.

    Good luck to you.

    😡

  • Hello! Thanks for the reply and encouragement! Sorry to hear you're so exhausted - I've had years when I certainly couldn't make it out to something interactive outdoors so I understand the frustration. That's one of the reasons I want this to be a really supportive and accessible environment and if we can find ways to cater for incredibly exhausted people we will. It's a shame the travel to the Isle of Man is so exhausting in itself, or we would be able to get more people over to us, but the travel is also the reason people over here have such limited opportunities if they're very unwell.

    Best wishes x

  • I very much applaud your enthusiasm for your idea and as someone who has a background in wildlife, kite making, housebuilding, an interest in psychotherapy and has wrestled with GPA for almost ten years, I'm well aware of the value of immersive experiences in home building, art and nature. Ecopsychotherapy has been gaining ground as a way to help people overcome all kinds of challenges and there's lots of data that demonstrates that environmental/art therapy can be very beneficial to people facing chronic illnesses.

    There are some small scale courses here in Cumbria but nowhere that has a residential centre other than the Field Studies Council at Blencathra near Keswick, brilliantly run by someone I happen to know. field-studies-council.org/c...

    There are a couple of places that offer residential facilities to young people with physical and mental difficulties but these are obviously highly specialised centres.

    For many years I've wanted to build an Earthship and have more than a passion for sustainable living but the physical disability and financial constraints brought about by my condition means it pretty much has to remain a dream.

    Whilst I find your idea admirable and would love to attend such a facility the limiting factors would be mobility and cost. Many people with vasculitis suffer from severe fatigue so travelling and manual 'work' may be simply too much. Likewise, as many are unable to work and have to rely on benefits, the costs of transportation and is likely to be a prohibiting factor unless you can access funding to be able to provide these elements for free.

    I sincerely hope you can fulfil your dream and would like to stay in touch to hear about your progress.

    Healthy wishes

    Martin

  • Thank you for your informative reply Martin. The FSC centre looks wonderful and certainly provides a great deal. I've looked at attending some of the FSC's courses before and was surprised at the range and frequency of them. I also know how unattainable it feels to be able to take part in anything like that when you're very unwell and on limited income - I really hope to be able to find some way of finding funding or a way to subsidise people so they can attend. I also want to design courses with a range of interaction levels so people who are struggling physically or from sensory overload, for example, can take part meaningfully and in ways that don't make them feel like they're being patronised. I really hate that!

    From my personal experience of medication (although I know it can be life-saving and very helpful for many) I've found living in as natural a way as possible to be more helpful than the meds. At the very least it helps people mentally and I hope to convince some people in the government here of that, in order to get financial help for people to attend. I've had a good response from those working for the government so far, but it's a difficult time to ask anyone for money. I'll have to do a lot of research and provide as much evidence as I can that it'll save them money in the long run and at the very least provide them with some good PR!

    I'd be very glad to keep in touch!

    Best wishes

    Emma (aka Cookiecutter76)

  • I actually saw a programme on TV about the cob houses, and they are fascinating. The thought of being in a field miles from services now scares me, but the concept sounds good.

  • Thanks for the reply! Cob houses are really something special - every time I'm in one I just have to touch the walls as they're so beautiful and strong with lovely rounded edges!

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