About Andy Bramble

Somewhere around the year 2000 I realized that none of my skill sets (which include rock climbing, snowboarding, program management, IT, etc.) had anything to do with any of the basic needs. You know – food, shelter, water – the list. I decided to rectify this situation. Fell in love in the process, but that’s a different (closely intertwined) story.

n the summer of 2002 I found myself stacking strawbales and smearing mud plaster on them at the Lama Foundation just north of Taos. It was awesome. That fall I went to Coquille, Oregon and studied cob building with Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley. Also awesome.

A year and a half later, walked out of a realtor’s office with a (short) list and very fortunate timing. The first land listed, we loved and it seemed to like us ok. Got it, in so far as land can be got. Put up a yurt. Started composting.

Soon after, Ampersand was born.

So what is the central thing of Ampersand, what’s the driving narrative?

For me it’s this: You are a part of the world. You. Me. Everyone. We are all simultaneously part of variously scaled, interconnected and nested systems. We are environment to various micro-organisms and bacteria (without which we could not live). We exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen with plants. We participate in local and non-local economies. We promote various species (house cats, for instance) and decimate others (wolves). We influence the world in myriad ways – damming rivers, employing various agricultural methods, importing plants (apples or potatoes) and introducing animals (horses or cane toads) – and our influence is profound. Sometimes it is destructive, sometimes not, but it is deep and widespread and it goes both ways. The world also profoundly influences us. How could it not?

The point is, we are part of a larger, complex ecology. Regardless as to our own personal religious, spiritual, or metaphysical inclinations, our entanglement and mutual participation with the world is a fact.  Ampersand helps people realize this fact physically, intellectually, and emotionally. We do it by playing with systems that relate to core needs. Water, food, shelter. And meaning. Because it looks like meaning is essential for us. Choosing how to participate adds greatly to meaning in one’s life.

It has done so to mine.