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Origin Story


Newtools geometry and naturalmodular building techniques have been my life’s work. This is how my journey started nearly 50 years ago.


In 1973, I was 22 years old and I had withdrawn from what I felt was a corrupt world to live alone in the mountains north of Seattle. I became an apprentice to a carpenter to learn the skills necessary to restore an old house I had bought in an area that no one wanted to live in.


To relax I took long walks in the forest of a tree farm that bordered my property. In this period of my life I was searching for my real self and what was going to be the direction of my life. My intuition said withdraw and listen to the quiet; the forest provided that ‘quiet’. Over time, I could feel a connection with all the natural patterns I saw around me but no conscious understanding of what I was looking at.


When they clear-cut a tree farm there are a certain number of trees that are considered scrap. They bulldozed them into large piles of forest debris. One day while climbing up one of these piles I stepped on a log that set me off on a journey I remain on to this day.


As I placed my weight on the log it was in a perfect position to interact with another log to be a fulcrum and lever that lifted half of the pile into the air. There must have been 1,000 of pounds of weight. This produced my epiphany, a moment of profound insight that changed my life. It is difficult to express in words the power of that moment in time. The fact that it still influences me almost 50 years later speaks to its power.


In my memory of that moment the forest was illuminated internally with a brilliant light. The simple machine of a lever revealed the inner working of the forest. I could see how every structure every pattern was interconnected with every other pattern into one unified whole. I felt that I was as much a part of this unified whole as any tree or fern. The path ahead for me became clear; my innate talent for finding patterns in structures needed to be trained. I must immerse myself in the study of natural design.


I would become a builder that designed living spaces that incorporated the design aesthetics of the natural world; do more by using less; think in whole systems.

The next day I went to the closest major city to their main library to find the book that explained the principles of natural design for builders. I did not find that book. In fact, it wasn't until a few years later while looking through the Whole Earth Catalog that I discovered Buckminster Fuller and his Synergetic Geometry. That began a long-term, intensive study of his ideas. He taught me many things but some of the most important were to think in whole systems and above all, think for myself.

I was inspired by his motto, "Dare to be naive" which I took to mean that even with all the indifference to suffering, the greed and selfishness in the world, dare to believe your talents can turn the waste you find in how things are done into an opportunity to begin to do more by using less.

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Copyright 1979 Buckminster Fuller

This image, the Cosmic Hierarchy, set me on my own personal journey through fundamental structure. Fuller showed how geometrical systems could share a common center and fit inside each other like ‘nesting dolls’. I call this interconnecting ability containment.

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We will explore the interconnectedness of the Five Platonic Solids. Connecting centers to outside corners are one way (a system’s skeleton), containing one inside the other will be another method.


Newtools and naturalmodular are the book I never found.

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