The "story hive" concept was originally developed for the eco-art project on Vashon Island called “Eden Reframed.” Designed by Beverly Naidus, this project opened to the public in 2011. "Eden Reframed" was funded by UW’s Royalty Research Fund and was created with lots of input from permaculture designers as well as labor and support from the community. The project offers the community a “food forest,” a soil remediation demonstration bed, and a “Story Hive.” Archived in this Story Hive are the stories of gardeners and farmers on the Island who were asked what inspires them to plant seeds in a time of ecocide. The Story Hive became an interactive library for harvesting the honey of the community. Stakeholders for Eden Reframed have come and gone over the years. At times the food forest suffered from the effects of drought and lack of human care, but it has recently been revitalized by some local gardeners. After ten years of existence, the Story Hive is weathered, but it is still accessible to the community.
Naidus returned to the Story Hive concept during the beginnings of the 2020-21 pandemic. She wanted to learn how people were moving through this challenging time: what skills they were learning, what challenges they were facing, and how were they imagining the future we could co-create.
Last summer, she and her partner, Bob Spivey, suggested the possibility of creating a new story hive in her neighborhood. Their next-door neighbors, Brit Greene and Lauren Lindskog Greene, offered the corner of their property as a site to build one. This corner site, at a busy intersection, separated from their front yard by the sidewalk, sits across the street from one of the Tacoma Food is Free tables, monitored by a fellow collaborator, Kirstin Grant. Beverly and Bob's non-profit organization, SEEDS (Social Ecology Education and Demonstration School) applied for funding from the city and a national arts granting organization. They created a call in the neighborhood, leaving flyers to invite people to participate on the porches and front doors of at least 50 neighbors. The first meeting brought over a dozen people to brainstorm the project, and the group met weekly to develop the design and figure out materials. Ultimately the project received no funding from either the city or elsewhere; undeterred, the group continued their work together, contributing materials, skills, and ideas. Evan Nash, a fine woodworker and cabinet maker, came up with a drawing that inspired the final form of the project and found the cabinet for holding the stories. Emily Rorty, Evan's wife, suggested bottles to be embedded in the cob material to create visual interest with light and shapes. The idea of "messages in a bottle" was also resonant to the group. Bob recommended the cob material, studied how to create it and reached out to Joy Caddock who had experience making cob structures. Joy helped in important ways to guide the cob-making process and is creating the finishing layers of the structure in the coming weeks. Bob did some heavy lifting, bringing all of the ingredients for the cob (dirt, clay, straw, and wheat paste) after Melanie Moor and Beverly found sources for dirt and clay in the neighborhood. Beverly Christie, Blair Walkiewicz, Kirstin, Bob, Melanie, Lauren, Britt, and their children, Grant and Vivian, helped to make the cob mixture by dancing in it. Adam Walkiewicz set up this website for the project. The toddlers of Blair & Adam (Cora) and Evan & Emily (Maya) offered constant entertainment and delight. Jamie Frank came on to the project in its final stages as a wonderful photographer.
After several months of inspiring collaboration with these amazing neighbors, the Story Hive is almost complete. This interactive sculptural work invites members of the community and folks walking by to share stories about how the pandemic has affected them and their dreams of how we might co-create a more just and ecological world in this time of great change. It is hoped that the project will help to grow a more resilient and interdependent community and inspire mutual aid.