I received this email today and want to share it with you all. We can all play a part in saving a piece of straw bale history: a bale home built in 1920 in France. This is not the first time I have posted this request and I am glad to see that the campaign is still moving forward with the goal of purchasing the home. You can read more below and see how you can get involved in saving a piece of straw bale history! (more…)
Archive for the ‘Helping Each Other/Personal Stories’ Category
We would like to introduce you to one of our readers, Tim, and to share with you a letter he recently sent us. Tim is a pilot flying in Afghanistan and living on a base in a converted 20′ shipping container. Threats of attack are a part of day to day life and the sounds of war are nearly constant. In reading his letter, we were moved, touched and inspired to feel gratitude for so many of the things we sometimes take for granted. Living in a converted container, Tim has been inspired not only by his experience of inhabiting a tiny home but also by seeing how the locals inhabit space. Upon his return to the US, he looks forward to being able to sell his 4,000sqft home and building a well designed and small straw bale home on land in the Grand Canyon region. We hope you enjoy reading Tim’s story as much as we did.
I have been interested in building something off grid for some time and a series of “visits” to a certain part of the world has opened my eyes to living more simply. I am a pilot and am currently flying in Afghanistan. Fewer places in the world demonstrate the ability to live simply. Many have no running water, no power, and build homes using what the earth provides..and many of these structures are centuries old. They have stood the test of time and the ravages of near constant war. By contrast, we live in the relative comfort of a base, and we live in a very small space, that being a 20 foot converted storage container. There are two of us in here and although we have very little, we are comfortable. It has proven to me that I do need the vast majority of what is in my 4000 square foot home back in Arizona. When I go home, I feel foolish and selfish…we simply do not need that much space.
Another aspect of being here has driven my desire to simplify life…and that is life itself. We are surrounded by daily struggle, poverty, and too much death. These people are subjected to things you cannot imagine. They are tribal by nature and share much of what they have, which is not much. They live a simple life…so can we.
Lastly, I want a quiet place and with clear skies. You can never escape the sounds of war. The rumbling trucks and constant noise of airplanes is deafening at times. On occasion, the base comes under rocket attack which sends people scrambling and alarms wailing. Its just never quiet and it does take a mental toll. Ironically, the things that make this place so desolate sometimes lends itself to the wonder of the stars. There is very little cultural lighting here that when we climb above the ever present dust, the stars are brilliant and abundant. If Afghanistan were secure, this would the ideal place for a telescope.
So, I envision a home, made from the earth, sitting quietly on a small footprint of reddish dirt near the gateway to Grand Canyon. A place where we can spend sunny days exploring and quiet nights looking up at the celestial gift of the heavens. In fact, we want to call our home “Casa en las estrellas”..home in the stars.
Tim, Donna, and Sydney.
World, meet Rebecca…
Rebecca is a Colorado native who currently resides in Carbondale, Colorado. Her wide-ranging administrative support roles in education recently led her to a 9-12 experiential learning based boarding school in Carbondale, where she serves as the Executive Assistant to the Headmaster.
She became captivated with straw bale home construction after visiting and staying in one in southwest Colorado when she was in her 30’s. Further interest developed after visiting a retreat center in California and doing volunteer work on a structure for four days.
Rebecca stated, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been happiest and most fulfilled when working with my hands and building things; whether that was a garden, a stone patio, or a dinner for 20. Being part of a workshop team will be my next step in putting the puzzle pieces together for a new career I’m building for myself. The opportunity could not have come at a better time, and I’m thrilled to be this month’s winner.”
CONGRATULATIONS REBECCA! WE ARE SO EXCITED TO GET TO MEET YOU AT A WORKSHOP!
It’s not everyday that people come together and build with each other. Not in these “modern times” at least; however, that is precisely what happened this last week outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. More than 40 people came together to learn, connect, have fun, and share in the experience of building a 5,300 SF Eco Solar Learning Center at the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center. With a common goal in mind (to bale and plaster the Eco Solar Learning Center), the group put out an amazing effort to bale a space that will help teach both adults and children about living green, getting power from the sun, and the effects of our actions and inactions on the earth we all walk on together.
People from different walks of life and different countries came together to work side by side. What we received was far more than an education in straw bale construction. We connected with each other and gained friendships that span across borders to Mexico and across the seas to the UK. We learned about different religions from Prespatarian Christians to Buddhists. We worked side by side with young adults volunteering their service through Americorps, as well as with retired men and women, architects, builders, and many other individuals: again, all inspired by a common goal.
THE HOUSE THAT JACK (AND NANCIE, AND THE KIDS, AND THE FATHER, AND THE NEIGHBORS) BUILT
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” –Paulo Coelho
Jack has always had a strong desire to use his own hands to build his and his wife Nancie’s forever home. But, for most of their married years together, they were fulfilled and busy with raising their three kids and supporting the family. Nancie shares that to have built their own home when the kids were younger would have taken too much of their precious time away from raising the family.
The kids are now all grown, living exciting and wonderful lives of their own. The large home in which they raised their beautiful family no longer meets Jack and Nancie’s needs and, in fact, poses several challenges to them. A one acre parcel of land that they fell in love with and purchased in 2007 has been calling to them more and more over the years. That calling has finally culminated in their realized dream of building their own home.
I spent a few hours cruising through online news sources recently to get a sense of what is happening in the world. I try to stay in touch with environmental and health issues as well as home design, spiritual growth & deepening, and other topics close to my heart. Unfortunately, I’m finding that there are more and more articles that concern me about the health of our planet and our people. Here’s a quote from a recent article from the newspaper The Telegraph. “Shares in a Chinese face mask manufacturer have soared as investors looked for opportunities to cash in on the severe air pollution that has blanketed large swathes of China.” I was immediately impacted by the obvious: the fact that the air quality in parts of China is so bad that many, many people choose to wear masks to stay “safe and healthy.” What hit me later was the disturbing reality that companies, i.e. people, are moving to profit from the situation. It seems to me that investing in technologies to reduce the air pollution is a much better course of action than investing in face masks.
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.
Here’s a different look at today, as many want to call it the end of the world. I believe it closer to a beginning than an end. I received the following text from my sister in a forwarded email. I hope that you find some resonance with it. I particularly like the areas that I have placed in bold. I also love the message from the Hopi Elder that is at the end of this blog entry. I have heard this spoken for years and it has always touched a deep part of my soul: that part that wants to let go of the shore but finds reasons within fear not to. I have been learning to let go these many years, and I continue to learn each day.
I wish you all a wonderful day and that you find peace within yourselves and with those people around you.
Here’s the text of the message I received:
At 11.11 am GMT on the Winter Solstice of 21st December 2012 is the alignment between the Earth, the Sun and the Centre of the galaxy. This is possibly the most anticipated date in history. It has been spoken of not only by the Mayan, but also by the Hopi (native american), Ancient Egyptians, Yogic Vedas, Aboriginal and others. On this day there will be the end of a cycle of time – and in the same moment the beginning of the next cycle.
Please share your love with everyone you see today. Love your friends, your fmaily and your neighbors. Love those you would consider your enemies. We cannot continue down the path of violence we seem to be creating in this world. I choose LOVE and I hope you will too.
The road to peace starts within each of us. First find peace within yourself and for yourself and share it with others. Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made and forgive those who have affected you with their mistakes. Forgiveness and love is all that we have to brighten this world and it is all that we need.
My heart bleeds today for the families of those killed in Connecticut and for the families of the survivors who have so obviously been emotionally battered by this tragic event. I offer my words of love and support to ALL OF US as we have all been affected one way or another. Whether you have kids or not I would venture to bet that you can feel the devastation of the loss the parents of those children must be enduring today.
Please, find a way to love those whom you might otherwise not offer such emotion to and love yourself in the process. Make this world a brighter place for us all to share.
I believe that this quote from Albert Schweitzer speaks volumes to the confusion that many people have in regards to achieving success. I LOVE what I do and I hope that shows in my work. I trust that it does.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Do you LOVE what you do? If not, why are you still doing it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I imagine there are some different beliefs that float around the “need” to do a certain job or a certain deed. In my experience, when I hear my inner voice say I “should” do something, it usually means I’m holding on to a fear that if I don’t do it, something bad will happen. That’s just me though. What’s your experience?
This video is worth watching, especially if you think, anywhere inside of you, that you “can’t do it.”
It doesn’t matter what the dream is: building a straw bale house, a tiny house, a small house, changing your job, changing a relationship, or anything else. The answer is always the same. You are.
It’s so simple and yet so often can seem difficult to change or overcome. The truth is that you are always able to create the vision you dream of. Always.
I would love to hear about your personal experience with this. Perhaps you have a story to share that exemplifies this point. Or maybe you don’t agree with what I’m saying, don’t understand what I mean by it, or otherwise want to share your feelings about it. Please join the conversation in the comment section below no matter how the statement has landed on you.
Hi everyone! This is Gabriella writing. While Andrew is teaching our last 7 day workshop for this year in NY (which sounds like it’s going awesome), I wanted to let you all know about a truly amazing cohousing project that our friends at ModCell are working on in Bramley, England.
One of the common challenges in any cohousing project is how to build environmentally sustainable housing that is affordable. So, the folks at LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordably Community) have teamed up with ModCell (awesome company that creates straw bale pre-fab panels that has found huge approval and success in the UK) and created a new model for environmentally conscious cohousing. This is the UK’s first affordable green cohousing project.
Debbie, a reader of ours, has entered the Aviva Community Fund challenge with a great idea of creating a Straw Bale Tipi Village. In order for this project to win the challenge, it needs to receive the most votes. Below is a description of the project as well as a link for you to vote for it.
Every month, during our workshop season, we have the very fun task of selecting a winner to receive one of our free 7 day straw bale workshops. The idea of the workshop giveaways sprung about four years ago and it’s been an enormous success since. We calculate that we have been able to provide free spots to at least 25 winners and each and every one of them has been a delight and a wonderful addition to our workshops.
Now, you might think that finding the winners for our free workshops would be a piece of cake. After all, each person that signs up on the list, we assume, has done so out of their own accord and in hopes of winning a free straw bale workshop. But, here’s the thing; for every person that responds to our email about winning the free workshop, there have been an average of 3 failed attempts to make contact with a selected winner. So, for the 25 or so people that have received a free workshop, we’ve attempted, with no success, to make contact with about 75. When I put on my marketing hat I can see that, realistically, despite our best attempts to select wording that doesn’t flag our emails as junk, most of the winning notifications most likely became jammed in spam filters.
The Hastoe Housing Association has plans to build four homes, at Millfield, High Ongar in Essex, Great Britain. These homes will be the first ever straw bale housing development built in Britain by a housing association. Furthermore, they intend to film the construction process as a time lapse production to be shared with other housing associations across Britain as a means of inspiring them to follow suit. Straw bale homes, covered in lime render, are a perfect match for much of Britain’s rural architecture. The advantage of a straw bale home’s energy efficiency will only help to make this project successful for years to come both for the inhabitants and for the inspiration of other councils and building associations.
Click here to read the full story.
This message is from the host of the Junction City, CA workshop. She has just finished plastering her scratch and brown coats and has some extra bags for sale at a great price (50% Off!). See below…
I have 18 bags of 3.5 NHL. They have been stored in the house the entire time and are dry.
I paid $50.00 a bag for them and they are 55 pounds each.
I will sell all 18 for 450.00 ($25/bag) if some one wants to come get them in Junction City, CA.
Please contact me at email@example.com. My name is Jan.
“I am a permaculturally-informed and biased socio-political activist-journalist and future-roots hiphop producer currently living in Lawrence, Kansas with my sweet little family. Deeply committed to local food and farms, I’m interested in rounding out my facility with the whole of the permaculture design flower, from the largely invisible social software of community currency, land-tenure and radical democracy to the visible physical structures of renewable energy and land-based building practices.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I now live in the American heartlands, full of golden fields of wheat. My goal with straw-building is to learn, practice and share robust and beautiful solutions to providing human communities with living and working spaces that are indigenously effective and ingenuously situated to our unique bio-regions. I appreciate greatly the opportunity to learn, someday soon, from Alex and Gabriella, the art and craft of strawbale building.”
Check out the video below of Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s “2012 Houses Award-Best New Home.” This is a straw bale house designed by Anni Tilt of Arkin Tilt Architects. Congratulations on a beautiful straw bale design and to the builders for creating this amazing straw bale home. After all, great design is not always translated into great construction. In this case, it sure looks like it was.