Recreational Ravines (Ewok Villages)

August 24, 2006


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This is a concise compilation of vlogs about turning ravines into recreational ravines. The vlogs use Zen Mix, the vlogging tool at, that lets you easily put Web video on a picture and apply cool effects.

After watching, please let me know what you think – just leave a comment!

mash (the eight mixes below played back-to-back use arrows too)
mix 1 | mix 2 | mix 3 | mix 4 | mix 5 | mix 6 | mix 7 | mix 8


We are conserving woods and fields next to urban or suburban areas. This conservation allows walkers, runners, bikers along trails. The conservation prevents or deters off-trail exploration. As such, we have lost the concept of the woods as a “stationary place” – perhaps to socialize, relax and exercise.

Many are not interested in coming into the woods and those that are, are limited in what they do and consequently do not spend much time there – and really no time at night. If you have ever seen the fireflies and clouds rolling over the moon and stars – you know that this is quite a treat.

The vlogs discuss how many beautiful places there are in the woods – 50 million secluded areas (can’t see the other areas) in a surrounding one hour drive from Dundas (near Toronto, Canada) for instance. This is a prediction but I am good with these kind of numbers. See the “All the People in the World Would Fit” post for an example of a similar surprising fact. And if you expand this to all Canada, it becomes apparent that we might be over conserving.


This may not be the dream of all – but it would be of some and those that think they do not want it, may change their minds.

Recreational Ravines. Imagine an Ewok village that acts as a buffer zone between urban or suburban areas and the rest of the woods. Walking or bike access only – so you ride your bike into an opening into a ravine area or stream area and park in places provided or perhaps continue to ride along a thoroughfare and park.

Then you have access to jungle gyms in the trees, climbing hills and paths, photography lessons, craft building areas relating to living in the woods, recycling and composting areas, swimming and clay pit areas, lounges that serve refreshments and in the evening, drinks.

All these would be built by hand – no bulldozers or large machinery. They would be built, organized and run by the community with perhaps help from the conservation authorities or a created section in the city governments. Perhaps local handymen – roofers, deck builders and landscapers would be good to approach for involvement. See this After Mix.

We could pre-create a set of community created guidelines via a Wiki that would grow and explore potential laws that govern a ravine community space. Then eventually, once through a research or experimental phase, turn the guidelines into municipal laws. The laws should incorporate standards based phases to for instance allow fire in the ravines after certain standards are met by the community.

Robin Hood and the Merry Men, Swiss Family Robinson, Ewok’s, Myst, tree houses in general all capture some of the potential spirit. People love this kind of living and it would put community, learning, exercise right in people’s neighborhoods.


That leads to some social drawbacks. There will be people who do not want this in their backyard due to privacy, etc. Well, perhaps they will change their mind in time – or they can move. I estimate that there will be people who see this as an enticement and can almost guarantee that with a successful implementation, the housing prices in the neighborhood would go up.

There are safety concerns – perhaps the tree houses should have a maximum height off the ground of 6 feet or something like that until the idea is tried. This is what I mean by standards based phases. After 10 years of no deaths from falls, the maximum height can be revisited for example.


With the concerns of privacy and safety, it seems likely that recreational ravines would cater to 20-40 year olds who snowshoe, rock climb and cycle already. Parents may worry, elderly may worry. With proper community input, both parents and elderly could certainly have a place in the community. Imagine chess tables, bird feeding areas, story telling, etc.

One thing – it would get people in the woods and closer to nature. We are part of nature and to prevent us from exploring a more grass roots relationship in the name of conservation is misguided. Especially when you look at how much human-free nature Canada has. If you don’t believe me, take a train to Thunder Bay or watch the Over Canada movie.

Part of what I like about all this is the potential for invention. I have come up with a number of ideas for when or if people visit the ravines. I need a word – hang out, socialize – kind of like going to a gym or to a recreational area or park. Hmmm.

Recreation Ravines – from exercise to relaxation – leaf bags instead of bean bags, recycle plant pots into light shades with patterns cut out of them for artistic moon-rays – run foot-hold steps up fallen logs, and many more…

I’ll keep inventing in the hopes we’ll get to build! Dan Zen

(In the meanwhile, I have secured and


3 Responses to “Recreational Ravines (Ewok Villages)”

  1. danzen Says:

    Just did a little calculation and there are 52,000,000 100ft by 60ft spots in an area 50 miles in radius. So I was in the ballpark – if you include Toronto in the radius that might be 70 miles putting it up to 71,000,000. Of course, all the land is not available for “nicest spots in the world”. But still, I think there is more beauty around us than we give ourselves credit for – at least around Dundas / Hamilton / Ontario / Canada.

  2. Rose Petersen Says:

    I think you have some very good ideas. But mostly I think your children are extremely lucky to have you as their father. Trying to get people to move away from their TV sets might be harder than you think.
    Rose Petersen

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