Its the Little Things That Matter
You’ve probably seen them. Bending, winding, leaning, meandering along our roadways and woodlands. Some almost gone from sight, others covered in debris or fallen branches. With each tumble, we lose a bit of our history and the connection New Canaan has to its agricultural past. A time when hard-scrabble farms hosted thousands of sheep across New England.
These stone walls represent generations of back-breaking work, with some dating more than 300 years ago. Similar to the open vistas or wildlife habitat that define our town, our stone walls also need to be conserved.
Thanks to amazing volunteers, and led by local stonemason Greg Faillaci, they are coming back to life.
SHARING A PASSION
Greg has been building and rebuilding stonewalls for nearly 30 years. As a boy, Greg roamed the woods of rural New Canaan and spent endless hours outside exploring nature. After college, he took up the now rarely seen art and trade of dry-fitted wall construction, under the tutelage of the old-time masons in New Canaan and Pound Ridge. While Greg works full-time as a stonemason, he enjoys volunteering and leading the land trust’s stonewall restoration projects.
“The regulars, like Haik Kavookjian, Art Berry and Chris Schipper, are the core of the group, and they get the vibe going for the new people. There are many happy faces once we get the rhythm going and everyone sees how much can be accomplished.”
SHARING KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
Preserving history and the aesthetics of New England stonewalls appeals deeply to Greg, following years of tearing them apart and learning the stories associated with different locales. However, it is really making friends and interacting with new people at each volunteer session that keeps him returning to the NCTL to teach others. “The regulars, like Haik Kavookjian, Art Berry and Chris Schipper, are the core of the group,” Greg describes, “ and they get the vibe going for the new people. There are many happy faces once we get the rhythm going and everyone sees how much can be accomplished.”
One of the happy new faces belongs to Danielle Kurkjian who shares Greg’s profound love of the great outdoors.
Danielle spent her childhood kayaking rivers and hiking preserves with family around her home in western Pennsylvania. Later she chose to study environmental science and, as a young corporate executive, currently manages social and environmental governance for a Stamford, CT conglomerate.
Upon arriving in New Canaan, she searched online for environmental organizations through which she could get to know her community. Her first interaction with NCLT was during a stonewall building workshop led by Greg to which she brought her parents who were visiting for Thanksgiving. Over the last year, Danielle has attended a number of NCLT events and hiked the open properties. She notes, “I like the feeling of having an opportunity to contribute to others enjoying the outdoors.”
LEAVING A LEGACY
In just a few years, volunteers have restored over 1,000 feet of stonewall on the Colhoun Preserve on Davenport Ridge Road, Livingston Higley Preserve off of Apple Tree Lane, Silvermine-Fowler Preserve on Silvermine Road, and Hicks Meadow on Silvermine Road.
“It’s the little things that matter, that make New Canaan a great place to live. Working together is fun, I meet great people, and I feel like I can give back to this place that has so much history” noted Danielle.