As we draw towards the end of 2012, I have been reflecting on what an amazing year it has been. I’ve also been looking at my goals for 2013 and how I might set my self up properly to achieve them. Through all of this, I have  tried to live up to perhaps my most important life goal: staying present. My good friend Chris Keefe gave me a bumper sticker many years ago for my birthday. It reads “live in the present.” I never stuck it to anything because I figured that whatever I stuck it to would eventually, sooner or later, not be effectively in “my present life.” That seems to have been a good idea because it still sits here in front of me at my desk each day, reminding me to stay present to all that is around me and within me. A powerful gift, indeed. So as I sit here sharing the story of this birthday gift from years past and its influence on me today, I’d like to take a look back at 2012 and share with you a few stories from a fabulous year.

For those who like bullet points, I’ll layout the stories I plan to share with you here so you can decide if you want to read the entire year in review or simply jump ahead to a specific spot.

  • Living small in a big world: Our life changing trip to Mexico and the experience of living in a tiny home for 5 months.
  • 10 Amazing straw bale workshops: 2 trips to Australia, the first ever Design Seminar, and over 250 more people trained in the art of straw bale construction.
  • The release of our Framing DVD: The How to Guide to Framing a Straw Bale Structure.
  • The release of my book: A Modern Look at Straw Bale Construction.
  • Rediscovering my passion for inspiring others to greatness.

Living Small in a Big World

I started 2012 on a beach outside of Mulege, Baja Sur Mexico. What was an amazing end to 2011 continued to be an inspiring start to 2012. I was roughly 3 months into a 5 month experiment of living tiny. As I have shared in other blog entries here (and my wife Gabriella has also written some truly wonderful posts at that chronicle our time in Mexico and our return to the US some 5 months later) the experience of living in a tiny pop tent trailer on the beach in Mexico with my wife and 12 year old daughter was absolutely life changing. I am forever grateful for having taken the trip, learned the lessons, and my continued passion to live powerfully-small in a big world. I hope you will check out some of the blog entries Gabriella and I wrote on the experience and that you will find inspiration in them. Perhaps start with this interview I gave back in November about the move to Mexico, our return home, and LIving Small in a Big World.

The Incredible World of Workshops

This past year I had the privilege of teaching 253 people how to build their own straw bale house. That’s 253 more people in the world with the knowledge of how to create their own shelter. I imagine that not every single one of them will be able to build a house from start to finish after just one class, but I can guarantee two things: 1) that they all feel more confident about what’s involved in the process and 2) that we had a LOT of fun along the way! I was blessed to travel to Australia twice in 2012, once to New South Wales and once to Western Australia. I also got to spend time with people from all over the world at my workshops, both in Australia, and in my classes across the United States. Consider that I got to hang out with people from Slovenia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, the US (including Alaska), Canada, and South Africa, just to name a few. It’s such a treat to share my love for straw bale with people and to have the opportunity to learn from them as well. Sometimes I learn about a new culture, sometimes it’s a new joke, sometimes is something related to straw bale construction. One thing is for certain: I always learn something new and I always have fun in the process.

A New Framing DVD

What started out as a sad story, ended up in a completely positive light. It’s amazing how often this is the case, when I get out of the way of my own thoughts and allow inspiration to shine through. Here’s a quick story to share with you about how the Framing DVD came to fruition. It was not planned and the Universe simply lined things up to allow it to happen. Teresa, the host of the Sams Valley straw bale workshop in May 2012, had tried really hard to get her financing in place for her dream straw bale home, but unfortunately got dragged back and forth by the banks. She never got her financing in time for the workshop, which is why things started out as a sad story.

Here’s where things started to shift though. She decided to host the workshop anyway as she believed that “doing a good thing can never yield bad results and my hosting a workshop can only show the Universe how much I want to build my straw bale home.” She decided to build a small cabin, the Mountain View Cabin, in which she would live while she refocused on gathering her financing to build her dream straw bale home. To help her with the unforeseen costs of building this cabin, I offered to frame it up for her and used the opportunity to film the process for the creation of the framing DVD. This became one of my favorite things: a win-win for us both. Once her dream home is built, the Mountain View Cabin will be her guest cabin. The stunning view towards Mt. McGloughlin is what gives the cabin its name, by the way.

Why Not Write a Book Too?

As if my year was not busy enough, I decided to write a book as well. It started out innocently enough, as such things often do. It was just going to be a simple book of design details, maybe 20 pages long, with some descriptions of each detail. Well,…I have been known to talk people’s ears off about straw bale construction, I’m just that easily excitable about it. Seems that the same excitement got hold of me in the book and I ended writing nearly 200 pages of instruction, design details, and construction tips and techniques. I have received great feedback on the book, and I must say, I am really proud of it. It is my first book and so there is a sense of fatherliness, I guess you could say, that comes with it.

Gabriella and I have decided to take it one step further in 2013 and we are seeking publication of the book. In fact, if you know anyone who can help us in this endeavor, we are very open to hearing from you. As we understand things, it’s easier to talk publication if you know someone in the field. For now, we are self publishing and are having a heck of a time keeping enough stock on hand to fill all of our orders. In fact, some of you may remember the Thanksgiving evening when we launched the book and as a result, crashed our website due to too much traffic. Although frustrating, it was humbling to see the enthusiasm that surrounded the book release. That enthusiasm continues today and we are very grateful.


I have a strong passion for teaching straw bale construction. That’s clear to me and to those I have had the privilege of teaching over the years. What I  rediscovered in 2012 is that I have an equally strong passion to inspire people to reach their own personal greatness, whether it be within construction or simply within life. This is something that I have always aspired to bring to my workshop experience, and is something that I am excited to take to the next level in 2013. In addition to my 2013 straw bale workshops schedule (8 classes in 8 states), I will be teaching three “mini-workshops” in the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington on June 1 and 2. Two of the “mini-workshops” are straw bale related; however, the third will be an expansion of my personal growth coaching and inspirational teachings. It will focus on people reaching their life goals and creating the lives they want for themselves. I am calling it “Create Your Freedom” and I am extremely excited about it. I also intend to teach several expanded versions of the Create Your Freedom workshop in the coming years. The rediscovery of this passion fills me with joy and excitement which I hope to share with all of you.

That’s All Folks

There is so much more that happened in 2012 that I could share with you, but eventually I’ll have to stop, so why not now. I would like to say one more thing. Gabriella and I are so grateful for all of you who support what we do. We often sit with each other and reflect on our lives and the support we receive from you, our readers, is always a major player in our conversations. Without you, so much would be different in our lives and we sincerely thank you with all of our hearts. I hope you will join this year end conversation by sharing some things that went really well for you in 2012. There is often a desire to look back at what did and did not work out well for us. I would suggest that we skip the “what didn’t work” aspect of things and focus on the positives of 2012. We all know exactly what didn’t work for us, so there is no reason, in my opinion, to perpetuate the story of those hiccups. So please, share with us one or two of your favorite things from 2012.

On another note, I plan to write a blog post in the coming weeks outlining my goals for 2013. I’m telling you this now so that you can start thinking about your own goals. I’m not talking about new years resolutions, by the way, as those never tend to last very long into the new year. I’m talking about achievable, realistic, inspiring, life goals that you can attain in 2013. I’m excited about mine and I look forward to sharing them with you soon and to hearing about the goals you have for yourself.

About the Author

Andrew Morison is a specialist in straw bale and green construction. He has shown thousands of people how to build their own straw bale projects through his comprehensive series of instructional straw bale, concrete foundation, and plastering DVDs, as well as his hands on workshops. You can check these out at

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