Archive for the ‘Workshops/Trainings’ Category
Congratulations Leanne for being selected as this month’s Free Workshop Winner! We are delighted that you will be joining us at a workshop this summer. World, meet Leanne…
I’m Leanne Repetto, an elementary school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am bouncing-off-the-walls THRILLED to be this month’s winner of a free Strawbale Workshop. Strawbale construction first captured my imagination decades ago, and it has remained in the back of my mind for all these years. Until recently, though, life circumstances did not suggest it was worth pursuing. But there’s this beautiful little cottage in my mind, on a hill overlooking some body of water. Might be a river. Might be a lake. The cottage embodies my beliefs about how to live in the world – comfortably, but with care for the generations who have to live with the results of my choices. With a bit of determination, I will have the wherewithal to make my dream a reality within the next several years, so the question becomes, where and how? Enter strawbale!
But there’s even a greater dream. In 2003, my healthy, athletic brother got ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and soon was a vent-dependent quadriplegic. For the next six years I watched how stressed and isolated he and his wife became, despite supportive friends and family. Later, another ALS caregiver and I started brainstorming how things could be better. We believe the central problem is our cultural notion that disability, and therefore the need for care, is some rare catastrophe that happens to the old or the sick, or anyways, always to other people. Out of that notion comes the way we design our homes and neighborhoods. We looked into co-housing, but no one seems to have created exactly what we imagine: an eco-friendly community of private and public spaces, built on the understanding that unless you get hit by a bus early on, disability and care are a normal part of life. We imagine accessible features like wider doorways and hallways … we see open floor plans, so people in wheelchairs and hospital beds can always be part of the action, but well-insulated spaces where people with loud ventilators can blast their TVs. We see private structures linked by public paths and courtyards. And we have many other ideas as well.
It was in thinking about this grander dream that I googled “strawbale construction” to see what was going on with my old fantasy these days. And wow! You guys have been busy!! I know there can be a cottage on a hill someday. I hope – though it will take some real doing – that my cottage might one day be the first structure of a strawbale co-housing project that helps the abled and disabled enrich each others’ lives. And I can’t WAIT for the workshop this summer!!
So, Gabriella and I are nearly giddy with excitement at the possibility of running a workshop in Niseko, the St. Moritz of Japan. One of the premier ski destinations in the world, it is also a stunningly beautiful area in the summer. The hosts are two awesome guys that are super excited to make a go of this. We are wanting to get a sense of how many of you would join us at a workshop in Niseko in September 2014. One of the really fun perks of this workshop is that lodging for all of us will be essentially free at a ski lodge just 5 minutes from site (a shuttle will take us to the site each day and then back again). To see more about the ski lodge accomodations, click here. If you are potentially interested, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. There wouldn’t be any obligation to participate of couse, we are just getting a pulse for level of interest. Below is a description in the hosts’ own words:
This is Joshua and Jed and we are the potential hosts. The Applegate Cottage build workshop would take place in Niseko. The workshop site has a great view of Yotei-san (the local volcano) and is really close to the ski resort. Niseko is an amazing place to live. It is one of the best places for skiing and snowboarding in the world because of how much snow we get. In the summer it offers mountain biking, hiking, and rafting. There are heaps of hot springs in the area too! We will be using a ski lodge as accommodation for the workshop. The ski lodge is about a five-minute drive from our building site, and it has a huge kitchen and about 16 rooms that we can use. We will shuttle everyone to and from the site. Japan is an amazing place to travel, and it is not nearly as expensive as you might expect. I recommend getting a JR rail pass which lets you travel around for a week on every train including the shinkansen (bullet train).
Contrary to popular belief, Japan is really easy to get around as a foreigner. Almost all of the signs are in English, and the transportation system is amazing. If you do decide to attend, we
would recommend spending an additional week and visiting Tokyo and Kyoto. Tokyo is incredible! It is a huge city with many high-end shopping districts, Temples and other sites. However, it also has amazing parks. You can walk from Shinjuku station, where 1.5 million people pass through each day, to Shinjuku Gyoen park where you will forget you are still in the largest city in Japan. After a few days in Tokyo, take the bullet train to Kyoto. Kyoto is famous for its temples. Kiyomizu temple (pure water temple), Ginkakuji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion), and Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) should not be missed. We think you would have an amazing time at taking part in our workshop and travelling around Japan!
It is with tremendous excitement that we officially announce our 2014 Workshop Schedule! After months of preparation we have selected 8 phenomenal hosts and locations that we are thrilled to share with you today. We essentially sold out ALL of our workshops last year and we have received more emails expressing interest in the 2014 schedule than ever before, so if you plan to attend a workshop with us, we suggest you don’t wait too long to sign up.
Please click here to view our 2014 locations and to sign up for the class of your choice. We are also having a 7 Day Sale (starting today, November 29th and ending December 6th at 9am Pacific Time), in which we are offering our workshops at a discounted price.
If you haven’t picked up our Straw Bale DVDs or our book “A Modern Look At Straw Bale Construction” yet, this is a great opportunity to do that at sale prices as well. As always, our Shipping and Handling are Free Globally (sorry, Books are not shipped
internationally) and your purchase comes complete with our full line of Free Bonuses available as Instant Downloads so you can get started right away in learning how to build your own straw bale house.
Please click here to gain access to the Sale Pricing on our DVDs and Book.
If you are interested in a Consulting Package with Andrew, he only has a couple of slots left open for 2014. To see what Consulting Package is best for you and your build please click here.
We hope to meet YOU in person at one of our 2014 workshops!
Andrew and Gabriella
p.s. If you are one of the many who wants to sign up for the Niseko, Japan workshop, we will be opening up those registration doors in about 10 days. We have been absolutely blown away by how many people want to come and are thrilled that this workshop is becoming a reality!
I recently completed teaching a workshop in Meadville, Pennsylvania which once again reminded me of how much fun it is to build a house with my own two hands. In the case of the workshop, it was more like 25 sets of hands, but the idea is the same. There is nothing quite like seeing a project grow from an idea to a reality. One thing that I know for sure is that many hands make for easy work. That is so evident in the workshops I teach as so much is accomplished in such a small amount of time. In fact, I did a quick calculation and discovered that in just 7 days, we accomplish what would take two people seventeen and a half weeks to complete (when calculating “man-hours”: a measure of one person working one hour on a task).
Back to Meadville. I promised the host’s mother, Barbara, that I would sing the praises of the hosts and their extended family, and I can do nothing less than that. The hospitality, food, and kindness were all so wonderful that it is no wonder everyone worked so hard to get the house as close to complete as we did. I would like to extend a public thank you from us all (I’m sure I can speak for the group on this one) for a wonderful experience. We all felt right at home and thoroughly loved and supported.
I was thinking of calling this post “To Heaven and Back Again” due to the contrasting experience I had at the workshop juxtaposed onto the last several days back at home. Let me explain. When I returned home from the workshop in Pennsylvania, I got straight to work on our own homestead. We are currently building a tiny house on a trailer (238 SF plus sleeping lofts) that will be our home for the next few years while we explore our new property and plan for our straw bale “forever home.” That part is wonderful; however, the weather has decided to not play nice. I have been building in a steady downpour of 40F rain which has turned the ground into a thick mess of sticky clay. I have never been a fan of high heels, and I certainly don’t like them on my work boots, but the mud seems to enjoy traveling wherever I go. The extra 4″ or so makes reaching high things easier, but everything else is harder, slower, wetter, and less enjoyable.
I have stayed in positive spirits along the way, but today’s weather nearly defeated me. I was not able to stand the wall I was framing at the end of the day (as I had hoped to) because of all the mud on the deck, and that was disappointing. I did make it back to Heaven, after my short trip through a wet Hell, by way of a cedar hot tub. It was the one thing that kept me going during the downpour: the smell of wood burning in the Snorkel Hot Tub stove. If you’ve never seen a snorkel Stove Hot Tub, check them out. Although not as easy to assemble as we might have hoped, it was well worth the effort in the end. There is nothing quite like a soak in a wood fired hot tub under a rainy sky after a long, cold, damp day of construction.
Ahh, the joys of building!
Dale, the host of the Montana August workshop, is one of these people that one can’t help but enjoy being around. We met him a couple of years ago when he attended one of our workshops and when he applied to host for his own straw bale build, we were thrilled. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that his workshop location is in one of the most stunningly beautiful areas of the US, the Bitterroot Mountain Range area. We’d like to introduce you to him…world, meet Dale.
I have many passions; my partner, my kids, my four legged “children” (all five of them), my profession, good wine/beer, good food, and good friends. However, one passion that I am prevented from following for a significant time each year is my passion for building with wood. I currently have no heated place that I can fill with sawdust, paint/varnish fumes during the long cold Montana winters. This is why I am building a workshop.
Gabriella and I are up at the Mother Earth News Expo this weekend (June 1-2). I will be building a demonstration straw bale wall as well as giving two presentations on Straw Bale Construction Design/Build Considerations as well as a presentation that will jumpstart anyone who has been feeling stuck in a rut (in life, work, relationships, etc…) into a new trajectory in their life: Find Your Freedom. I am excited!
If you are anywhere in the Washington area, I hope we’ll get to meet you in person at the Fair! For Fair information as well as the presentation schedule, please click here.
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!
Just a quick note to let you know that
I only have one spot left in the class. Scratch that…the class is now full.
Space in Remaining Classes:
July in Taos, New Mexico: FULL (You Can Sign Up For The Wait List)
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.
For those of you looking to connect with other like-minded folks in the straw baling world, the CASBA Spring Conference is coming up April 12-14, 2013. I will be teaching a straw bale workshop in Arkansas, so won’t be able to attend, but I strongly encourage those of you able to make the event to do so. I went to one years ago and it was a blast! This year, David Easton of Rammed Earth Works is the keynote speaker, and many CASBA founders will also be present. There will be tons of natural building discussions as well as a great opportunity for networking.
They have extended the Early Bird Pricing to tomorrow: Friday, March 15, because of some website issues earlier in the month. Click here to get registered right away and to save some dough in the process.
Like many of us, Ryan (a 7 day straw bale workshop graduate) held a deep desire to build his home using his own two hands. After all, growing up in a family in which his father had built three (the last of which Ryan was heavily involved in), the concept was familiar and natural. While attending a green building conference circa 2002, Ryan was introduced to the concept of straw bale construction. Being an environmental consultant, the merits of this technology made sense so he proceeded to create a multi year plan to build his own house using straw bales.
A plan of action, timeline, and goal are incredibly useful tools when bringing big dreams to fruition. They serve as guideposts when we feel overwhelmed and give us perspective on what the next step is. With these tools, it doesn’t matter how far into the future your goal might be or how many actions will need to be taken to reach it. As long as you continue to follow each step, in time, reaching your goal is inevitable.
For Ryan and his wife, their steps included selling their condo in the city, renting a cottage in the area they wanted to settle in, and then waiting patiently for the right piece of property to show up. For three years they waited. And when their dream property showed up on the market, they didn’t hesitate.
Ryan was already experienced with Auto-Cad (professional architectural design software) so he undertook the 2,000 sqft home design process himself. He also did all of his engineering calculations. Before turning his plans into the building department, he had them professionally reviewed and stamped by an architect and structural engineer to make certain that the residence was well designed. Though he navigated his way through the whole design process successfully, he wishes that he had enlisted professional help earlier on to simplify the whole process.
The actual building process was an adventure. For Ryan, there were “a million ups and downs”. Some days felt easy and perfectly on schedule. Other days he felt defeated and would ask himself, “What have I done??” Peace of mind was re-established each time doubt came in by reminding himself to just take things one step at a time. During the build, he made it a point to break down each task into manageable bites so that in general, none of the jobs took more than a day to complete. He also quickly realized that it was much more productive to spend time in action rather than spending too much time thinking out every single step ahead of time.
Obtaining a loan and insurance for his straw bale home posed no obstacles for Ryan and his wife. He shares the secret to his success was in his approach. He arrived at all of his meetings with as much information as he could, answering questions before they even had a chance to ask them. He went to all of his meetings with a comprehensive business plan and presented himself professionally. Ryan’s efforts paid off without a hitch.
When I asked Ryan if he has advice to anyone building their own straw bale home, he shared (wisely) that as tempting as it may feel in the moment to cut corners not only in craftsmanship but also in materials, that it’s extremely important to stay committed to the values of safety and creating a house that will last for generations. One of the big pieces of the success and beauty of his build is that he stayed true to his commitment to build the best house that he could.
When Ryan first informed his father that he was going to build his house with straw bales, his dad thought it was the craziest thing he had ever heard of. He could not for the life of him understand why his son would build with straw. I am pleased to report though that his father now “gets it”. It’s so important that those of us who are passionate about building a straw bale house do so even at the risk of having others deem us insane (even if just temporarily). When others see the process and the end result, they can’t help but see the light. We are the ambassadors for this technology and the more of us there are, the more available safe, beautiful, energy efficient and green straw bale housing is to those around the world.
We want to congratulate Ryan on doing a beautiful job on his home. It is wonderful to see past workshop graduates go out there and build their own dream straw bale homes. We hope to see you at a workshop sometime in 2013!
We are having a sale on everything in our store including workshop tuitions (up to $200 off!), all of our How-To DVDs, my new book: “A Modern Look At Straw Bale Construction,” and two sets of professional construction plans for small or tiny houses. You’ll even discover that I have created discounts on the three most popular ways to work with me directly. You can get my help with a construction plan review, have me come to your site and train your baling crew for three days, or get both of those plus a year of consulting and more. Please visit our store today to get in on the sale and learn all about what we are offering.
Here’s a look at the 2013 workshop schedule for those of you interested in learning hands-on in the coming year.
I hope to meet many of you this year at a workshop or by helping you on your own project. I love the experiences I have both with consulting and with running workshops. I truly love my job and I hope to share that enthusiasm with you soon!
Erin is our most recent winner in our Free Workshop drawing. Congrats…we are really looking forward to meeting you in person! World, meet Erin, a cowgirl poet… (by the way, this beautiful photo was taken by her partner Matt Main www.MattMain.com)
I am a farm girl by default, born and raised on a homestead in Nebraska, but given to the beauty of the mountains. College took me west in search of bright lights and big city, but the wilderness and grandeur of the places I’ve lived keep me here in the Rocky Mountains. Travel, horses, and the trail ahead kept me moving in the last years. Seasonal work – car packed and on the road almost every 6 months to experience new communities, jobs, relationships, and self exploration has been both an asset to my development and a challenge. For work I’ve done almost anything you can name, but consistently have worked as a wrangler, guide, and outdoor educator. My path points to education and continued wilderness study. I’m certain that horses will be a part of the mix as well.
We are excited to announce our 2013 workshop schedule this coming Friday, November 23rd at 9am Eastern Time (our Pre-Launch Sale kicks off Thursday, November 22nd at 9pm Eastern Time. If you’d like to sign up for that, please click here.). We have some great locations and projects set up this year, and I trust you will find the perfect option. So the question then becomes: when and where will I get to meet you? You may think that depends on where you live; however, I have seen people travel from great distances to workshops for many different reasons. Some come for the location, and others for the project. What will make you travel? Let’s see what the workshops have to entice you…
I’m not going to give away locations or dates yet, so you can just have some fun with the general feel of each workshop. I guess this is an exercise in intuition. Feel into the short descriptions below and see what resonates. This may not be the class you end up attending, but then again,it just might be. So, in no particular order, here are some details to get you moving.
Last weekend in Denver, Colorado I held my first ever 2-day Straw Bale Design Seminar. The evening before the workshop began, I joined my friend Jim at the hotel bar for a beer. I met Jim last year at the Brownsville, Oregon straw bale workshop. While he and I caught up with each other another workshop graduate named Julie from the class in Crestone, Colorado, walked up and gave me a hug. She was too tired to hang out, but seeing her smiling face was enough to bring a smile to my own. Shortly after that, Susan (from the Missouri and North Dakota workshops) walked up and joined me and Jim at the bar. I realized in that moment just how much I truly love what I do. My job is one that allows me to meet amazing people from all over the world and to continually grow my circle of friends.
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.
When I arrived at the Perth workshop site in Calingiri, Western Australia last week, I was amazed. Before me stood our workshop home, a beautifully built, roughly 5,000 sqft structure, surrounded fully by 10’ verandas, and capped by perhaps the largest residential roof I’ve ever seen. What the hosts had been able to accomplish before the workshop, with some help, was extraordinary. And as though getting the structure ready for the workshop, organizing all of the materials, and preparing their land to host 35 people hadn’t been enough, Geoff and Sarah, the hosts, had decided to ad a couple extra items to their To-Do list:
1. Hand brew copious amounts of beer in several different flavors for the workshop.
2. Hunt and butcher several kangaroos for the menu.
TransMineral USA is hosting a plastering workshop this fall, October 11 and 12, 2012. This is a great opportunity to learn the material from some of the best. Keep in mind that TransMineral USA is the sole US importer of Natural Hydraulic Lime, so they know their stuff. I don’t know exactly who will be leading the workshop, but I imagine he or she will be top notch and I expect Michel, the owner of TransMineral USA will be there as well. I highly recommend you attend this workshop if you can make it.
Here’s what they have to say in their workshop announcement: