Ted Montgomery provides stepping stones to sustainability

Three-dimensional housing models and building designs deck the walls of Ted Montgomery’s studio in Ten Stones community in Charlotte.As an environmental architect, Montgomery founded Ten Stones in 1992. It was created as a place for families to bring their ecologically-aware lifestyles together, Montgomery said.The community consists of 17 families who have a desire to live cooperatively, ecologically and in an economical fashion. “We’re healthy people, we wanted to be happy, and a lot of that has to do with how we live,” said Montgomery.He is currently teaching Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CDAE 101) as an adjunct professor at UVM. The course is designed to teach students how to use ArchiCAD, a computerized architecture program.”Ted is really passionate about what he does,” said Dan Belhuemer, a former student of Montgomery. “He has an interesting way of looking at architecture. He combines green design and efficiency with a pragmatic approach to what the building will be.”The idea of Ten Stones community was a vision that Montgomery had during his undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati in the early ’70s.”It was so stuck in my heart and my soul,” said Montgomery. “Ten Stones to the Sun” was Montgomery’s college thesis topic, a title derived from the Jimi Hendrix song, “Third Stone from the Sun.” “All of the houses pay attention to sustainable practices in varying degrees,” Cameron Davis, a UVM professor and resident of Ten Stones, said. “The houses use sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic paints and finishes.”The housing cluster was built in the shape of a spiral. The rest of the 85 acres are used for communal gardens, pastures, a pond and woods.The gardens are “an absolutely beloved part of this community. It’s very much the glue,” Montgomery said. “There are outside families that come in and also enhance, strengthen, and diversify. Almost every family here belongs to the garden.” Although Ten Stones has a positive vision, there are some difficulties as well.”We’ve had some real financial struggles and also huge emotional struggles,” Montgomery said. “This didn’t turn out at all the way I was hoping and I had some serious angst about things here.””It can be like any other family or group of friends that don’t always behave well,” Davis said. “But when we are good, it is very, very good.”A major disappointment was a communal vote that changed the central spiral location of the common house to the entranceway, away from the view of most households. “I’ve been very displeased with the corruption of what I believed was the right plan,” Montgomery said. “The idea was that you could look over and see if someone is in the common house. You may want to go over there and hang out. So now the house sits empty most of the time.” Montgomery continues to pursue his dream of environmental architecture. He is currently working on an eco-tourist destination in Hawaii called the Hale Hibiscus. “You can come and measure how much energy you use. That project only uses the sun, rain, and wind [for energy],” Montgomery said.The roof takes the shape of hibiscus petals, lined with solar panels and slanted to collect rainwater. The flower’s ‘stamen’ protrudes from the center of the building, serving as an energy tower with wind turbines and solar panels. Montgomery’s current endeavors are leading him in directions away from the community. “I’ve been in Ten Stones for 12 years now and it’s just time to move on,” Montgomery said.”Yet I don’t want to quickly move on,” Montgomery said. “It’s great having your neighbors.”