I first met Jes in high school - during an age of awkward existence where everyone is groping around for some sort of identity. We became fast friends - she was one of the first friends I came out to, a friend I could talk real life with, a friend I've discussed dreams with, a friend whose made me laugh so hard it hurts. In my experience, there aren't too many people I've found it necessary to keep in touch with since that time in my life. Jes is one of those people - I've always been inspired by the self-starting projects that she seems to constantly conjure up.
Lately, we have been in touch from afar - our lives have gone in different directions after living together briefly post-graduation. Since then, she has attended Sterling College in Vermont - earning a degree in Land Based Entrepreneurship - where she has sought out the knowledge she needs in order to live off the land and self-support herself.
Currently, she's planning on extending and cultivating that knowledge through her project: Birdhous - a collaborative, residential space and learning laboratory where young farmers, artists, and other land-based entrepreneurs can begin to push their dreams from the nest. It’s a coworking space tied to 49 acres of pasture, forest, and flowing water. Birdhous is in it's beginning stages and is set to go live this summer. They are currently accepting applications for seed sowers, animal husbands, farm to table chefs and more, for their residence program Roosting.
Below I've excitedly shed some love and light on a dear, old friend of mine.
Who are you?
Jes Scribner, Land-Based Entrepreneur and Birdhous’ Lady Mastermind.
Why do you make your work?
As I see it, this modern world is pushing us all pretty far from what it means to be human, how we connect with each other and the earth. Life is expensive, doing good for the world shouldn’t be.
What do you believe in?
I trust the process. Call it fate, destiny, serendipity or providence-- I’ve taken too many missteps and detours in life only to find myself exactly where I needed to be.
Name one thing you say yes to?
And one thing you say no to?
Yes: Passion. No: Excuses (easier said than done).
What change would you like to see?
When we talk about the “American Dream,” the power of hard work, and pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps, we really have to acknowledge that not everyone actually has that opportunity. As a generation, we are sinking in student-loan debt, spending way more than 30% of our income on rent and largely without basic financial literacy. We don’t necessarily live in a world where the smartest, brightest ideas make it to the top. We need affordable opportunity and merit-based programs to move society forward. Chasing cash alone usually involves exploitation of our natural and human resources, what if instead we each chased our own version of a fulfilling life?
Name one thing that makes you happy?
Very corny, but my feline friend, Femke, is top of the list. She’s my shadow and my muse. I think she actually enjoys when I sing to her.
How would you describe your personal routine?
I am blessed with very balanced body chemistry and am the epitome of low maintenance. I tend to fall out of bed, slurp down a french press, and hit the ground running. We’re all lucky if I can convince myself to brush my teeth. I use bar soap once and a while but am otherwise au naturale.
What did you want to be as a child?
I’ve always wanted to cultivate community. I spent a lot of my youth without a real sense of security and I always dreamed of creating that space for myself and others. For as long as I can remember, I expected that space would take the shape of a cafe. Over time the walls have expanded beyond a brick and mortar space with normal business hours and into a cooperative production, from seed to sale. With Birdhous, I’m lessening the financial barriers to entry and creating space for young people with do-good ideas to shape the future of farming and create a more just and sustainable world.
Can you remember one solid piece of advice you've gotten for the growth of your business/work?
Fake it until you make it. This has helped me operate in all things life, work and business. Confidence goes a long way, even if it’s not backed by gold. It’s daunting to push your dreams from the nest, but how else will you know if they can fly? There’s a podcast from NPR with Guy Raz called “How I Built This” and a common theme you’ll hear is that when these folks were up against a wall, lacking funding, or otherwise in over their heads-- they kept operating as if they were the company they wished to become. And they did.
Still, never make a promise that you can’t keep. My mother was a shining example of follow through.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
This whole project is about collaboration, sharing space, time and energy to take ideas from the drawing board to the soil. I want to collaborate with anyone and everyone whose idea of a fulfilling life is getting closer to land, nature, and one another.
Who is one person in culture that you feel is making a positive and inspiring change?
Stu McGowan, a self-proclaimed "serial entrepreneur" and a true believer in good ideas. He launched multiple socially conscious and profitable businesses over 35 years, and revitalized a low-income neighborhood in Burlington’s Old North End without pricing people out before “retiring” in 2016. In this so-called retirement, he independently financed the Birdhous project and founded ShareYourself.org. Currently in beta, ShareYourself (SYS) is an inventive online platform that connects people with great "do-good" ideas with the people who have the skills and resources to make them happen. Birdhous is a living, breathing, farming, analog version of his SYS vision. None of this would be possible without my found father-daughter relationship with Stu. Not everyone gets so lucky, and that fact is at the heart of what we do.
Can you suggest one or more amazing woman you think I should know about/ reach out to interview ?
Maddy McKenna, young trans activist, and aspiring model
Emma McGowan, sex, tech, and sex-tech writer and educator based in SF
The Ruby- “an arts-focused work and gathering space for creative Bay Area women of all definitions”