Joan and I have been innkeeping for 34 years. The average length of time in this business for “owner-innkeepers” used to be 7 years and we are certain that we have raised that average.
We remain innkeepers because we are essentially educators – in the truest sense of the word. The word educate is related to educere in Latin – “to lead out” or to “evoke.” We are evokers – at least Joan is – I might be more a provoker.
The inn is our “campus” and every guest room, common rooms, the gardens, and the river are classrooms. Text books are our newsletter and the books that we offer for sale or inspiration (usually inspiring guests to order from Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon or, better, their local bookstore).
We would have left innkeeping years ago if it were not for our passion to show that it is easy, practical and delightful – even revelatory – to live sustainably. However we did not get into the sustainable movement: It found us. We pursued “sustainable” practices before anyone applied the word to what we do. We only wanted to live harmoniously and to create a life based on the premise “Do no harm” or practically, “Do the least harm.” We started organic gardening because it is productive, healthy and less harmful than conventional. We recycled because we hate waste. We composted all organic matter – garden and food wastes. We separated California Redemption bottles from other glass and plastic bottles; we divided paper into newspaper, cardboard, and office paper. At first we hauled all of this to a recycling center and when Waste Management offered to pick up recycling, we said, “Sure!” After a while, we noticed that the driver was emptying the containers into a single bin on his truck. We asked why, “We’ve gone to single stream recycling.” Apparently Waste Management caved to Northern California’s laziness; too many people were unwilling to separate their waste. Now we single-stream and believe that we need to ask more of our neighbors so that we can return to multi-stream recycling. We store our old electronic gear – computers, cell phones, printers, monitors, etc., because we can’t be assured that this equipment won’t end-up poisoning children in India or China.
In other words, we think about what we do and we ask that our staff thinks about what they do for us. We anticipate that our inn guests, diners, paddlers, and bicyclers might pick up on the attention we give to the details of living in and operating a rural resort set in a garden. We don’t know if we are particularly successful but we have touched a few guests, some of our staff and some members of our small community. We could do this no other way.
This article was written by stanford