Catch your breath at Fireloch
Jennifer and Scott Decoste tap into their building skills to create a place where people come together
Although Jennifer Decoste and her husband Scott opened their brand new gathering space a few months ago, the enterprising couple is only now hosting their official launch party. “We soft launched in the spring and we’ve been busy ever since,” explains Decoste about Fireloch’s delayed open house. “So, we finally decided to actually acknowledge that it’s open!” A North Lochaber-based retreat that focuses on community, care and continuous learning, the Decostes are excited to welcome everyone out to Fireloch on Sept. 23 for the nature-based business’s official launch party. “The tickets are free, but it’s a pay-what-you-can, pass the hat kind of thing just to support the artists,” says Decoste, noting an outdoor concert will feature popular act George Woodhouse and the Public Service. “(The band’s) very family friendly — his baby will probably be up on stage — and it’s just a gathering of folks in the community and we’ll sing and wander the trails and eat some pizza and have a good old community party.” Serving and supporting the community is part of what makes Fireloch so unique. After all, before they launched Fireloch, the Decostes were the founders of Lifeschoolhouse project, a gathering space created during the pandemic that would play host to workshops and provide informal learning to community members. “The Lifeschoolhouse is pretty much a direct-action community development initiative,” notes Decoste about the project that they started out of their own house to address the needs of pandemicrelated social isolation. “It was a lot and I knew other people who were doing this grass-roots work and they were tired too (so) we left the city to start Fireloch as this space.” Not only did opening Fireloch in Antigonish County help Decoste heal from the emotional impact of COVID-19, but the forest-based business also gave her and clients the ability to connect with nature. As a result, Fireloch serves as a welcome space for private gatherings, public workshops and retreats for community leaders craving “rest, reconnection and deeper learning.” “We are hoping that Fireloch will be a place where people can bring their own skills and talents,” says Decoste. “We have had people having to do soapmaking classes and we’ve had people doing foraging classes, yoga retreats and things that exist already in the community — they are just looking for a nature-based space to hold them, so we are that space for others.” Fireloch is much more than just a gathering space, however. In fact, Decoste notes the centre also boasts a wood-heated forest sauna that can seat up to 10 people. That has not only proven to be popular, it has remained busy even throughout Nova Scotia’s summer heatwaves. As well, Fireloch will soon open geodesic domes for those who want to “be hosted on the land”, including a dome that will stretch 40 feet across — enough to host groups of up to 50 people. “Getting away from the cell phones, getting away from emails and the responsibilities of city life and coming into a nature-based environment brings down the anxiety and the tension surrounding the everyday,” says Decoste about the naturebased retreat. “This is just a place to catch your breath and just be away from it all.” For more info or to register for Fireloch’s free Launch Party, visit www. fireloch.com/events.