At home in the hostel: Arcata resident opens her doors to travelers

Joyce Plath is literally welcoming people into her home, which also happens to be Arcata's only eco-hostel.

Plath said she ended up opening the doors of her home, called "the Redwood Lily," at 955 12th St. after the project team considered at least 10 separate sites in Arcata, Eureka and Samoa for the hostel's location.

"I am hoping that we become another place that supports our community, as well as travelers," said Plath, who has a master's degree in architecture from UC Berkeley. "We have just begun having conversational Spanish classes one night a week in one of our sitting rooms, and local organizations are talking with us about having their meetings at the hostel."

Plath's personal assistant Jacob Ferdman said the move made sense.

"Her home was already sort of prepped," Ferdman said. "It had solar panels on it, and some of the flooring material is made from natural cork and some is made from recycled tires."

Plath said she is skilled at creating beautiful places but an absolute disaster at managing.

"Among the things that give me pride in the Redwood Lily is the ability to pay recent Campus Center for Appropriate Technology graduates, skilled gardeners and carpenters a decent wage," Plath said. "Without their enthusiasm and dedicated management, the project would not work."

Plath, Ferdman and others worked to renovate the house last summer, using locally-harvested wood that was constructed into bed frames, paint made with milk and mattresses lined with layers of felted black wool. A grand opening was held in January.

It has been a long process to create the eco-hostel, but it currently has eight beds for a maximum of 15 guests.

Erik Brown, a bike tourist from the East Coast making his way down the West Coast toward Mexico, said he had never stayed in an eco-hostel before he came across the Redwood Lily.

"It started to rain a lot when I was biking through," Brown said. "I looked up hostels on my phone and the Redwood Lily came up as a 'hostel.' I'm glad I stayed there. I really enjoyed how kind and open all the folks who worked there seemed to be. They made sure I knew about the town. It's a really beautiful, clean and awesome house with a homey feeling."

On the Web: Redwood Lily

To learn more about the Redwood Lily, visit www.redwoodlily.com/ or www.facebook.com/redwoodlily

Jillian Singh is a reporter for the Times-Standard. She can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com

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