Archive for the ‘Workshops/Trainings’ Category

Announcing the 2015 Straw Bale Workshop Schedule and SALE !!

original (4295062954)The long anticipated moment is finally here! After months of preparation, we are proud to release the 2015 Straw Bale Workshop Schedule to you.

This coming year we will run 6 workshops in the United States and 1 in Australia. Each of these locations and hosts were selected through a very strict list of criteria and we couldn’t be happier with how the schedule turned out. You can see the locations and dates below.

Registration is now open, and each of our workshop tuitions are discounted during this week long sale so this really is the best time to secure your spot at your preferred location. During last year’s launch sale, some of our locations sold out within days of the announcement and we anticipate the same level of excitement and sign ups with our 2015 destinations. Which location will you choose?

March 9-15                    Victoria, Australia

April 27-May 3               Yucca, Arizona

June 8-14                       Austin, Texas

June 22-28                     La Grande, Oregon

July 13-19                     Arlington, Vermont

September 7-13             North Fork, Idaho

September 21-27           Lincoln, Nebraska

I look forward to meeting you at a workshop soon. Happy Baling!

Trivia Contest: Winner Receives $200 Off 2015 Workshop

Walsenburg Group Photo**THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. TO READ THE ANSWERS PLEASE REFER TO EACH QUESTION BELOW**

Gabriella and I have been busy the last couple of weeks preparing for the upcoming launch of our 2015 Straw Bale Workshop reveal (9am PST, Fri. Nov. 28). Just this morning as we were finalizing some formatting on our workshop pages, we both commented almost at the same time, ” We have AMAZING workshop hosts and locations this year!”

To share our excitement and to have a little fun, we have put together a trivia contest. Here’s how it will run:

The first person that emails me (andrew@strawbale.com) the correct answers to the following trivia questions will receive a special discountcode for $200 off the workshop sale price. If you are one of the very few people that we have given the location list to (because you wrote and requested it to plan your vacation time far in advance), I’m very sorry to say that your answers won’t be accepted. Got to keep it fair right!?

If you answer these trivia questions properly, you will be one step closer towards knowing exactly where we will be holding our workshops in 2015!

Here are the trivia questions.

1. This state has more ghost towns in it than any other state: OREGON

2. This state claims to home the “live music capital of the world”: TEXAS

3. In ratio of cows to people, this state has the greatest number of dairy

  cows in the nation: VERMONT

4. This state has more miles of river than any other state: NEBRASKA

5. The world’s largest solar telescope is located in this state: ARIZONA

6. A law in this state forbids a citizen to give another citizen a box of

   candy that weighs more than 50 pounds: IDAHO

7. This COUNTRY is as wide as the distance between London and Moscow: AUSTRALIA

Good luck! Again, the very first person to email me (andrew@strawbale.com) the right answers to these questions will receive their own $200 off the already discounted workshop tuition. **THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED**

Talk to you all again in just a few short days  (Friday, November 28th at 9am PST) when we reveal our VERY exciting 2015 workshop schedule!!

Happy Baling!

Inspiring Straw Bale Workshop Video and 2015 Schedule (coming soon)

This is a must watch video if you are interested in attending a straw bale workshop in 2015. In fact, even if you are not planning on attending, this inspiring straw bale workshop video is worth watching anyway. It showcases beautiful images of both straw bale homes under construction and finished products, as well as groups of friends coming together and growing lasting friendships. If you are a graduate, make sure to watch the video as there is a good chance that there are images from your workshop in it.

This video was created to help spread the word about the overall experience of our straw bale workshops. For those of you who have already attended, you know what I mean when I say it is hard to express what an experience it is, above and beyond the straw bale education part. I have been told again and again that it is an “experience of a lifetime,” “the best week of my life,” and “worth every penny just to meet the people and build life long friendships.” Make sure to leave your own comments on the YouTube page or in the comments fields below…we love hearing from old and new friends!

The release date for the 2015 workshop schedule is November 28th at 9am (Pacific time). Mark your calendar! Keep in mind that the Colorado workshop sold out last year in just a few days after its release, so it’s best to have a sense of what dates could work for you before the schedule is shared. That way, you can be sure to secure your spot once the schedule is announced. Also, in keeping with our yearly tradition, we will have a week long sale starting November 28th so if you want to secure your spot at a discount, this really will be the best time to sign up.

Happy Baling and I hope to see you at a workshop in 2015.

Upcoming Workshops

Flathead Lake Straw BaleI just returned from Flathead Lake, Montana where a group of 35 people put together an incredibly beautiful straw bale home in 7 days. I continue to be amazed at how much fun these workshops are and at how incredibly quickly a random sampling of people become a community of friends and how those friends can work together to create something special.

This was the last workshop of the year for me and I am now focussing my efforts on finalizing the workshop schedule for 2015. We will be announcing next year’s schedule over Thanksgiving weekend, so stay tuned, and get excited!

By the way, if you are interested in hosting, I am still looking for one or two more locations for next year. Click here and fill out the application on line ASAP if you want to be considered as a host for 2015.

In the meantime, I want to share a couple opportunities to learn about straw bale construction with CASBA (the California Straw Building Association). They have two upcoming events that would be a good introduction to working with bales. They are listed below along with links to learn more about each event.

Fri September 19 2014 9:00 am – Sun September 21 2014 1:00 pm
Fri October 3 2014 9:00 am – Sun October 5 2014 1:00 pm

Women’s Natural Building Workshop

 

Please click on the flier below to learn about an upcoming natural building workshop for women to be held in Southern Oregon June 12-22. The instructors will be Lydia Doleman and Carey Lien and the class will be held at my friend’s beautiful land: Full Bloom Farm and Community. Should be an amazing time!

Women's Natural Building Workshop

April Free Workshop Winner

April’s free straw bale workshop winner is Sheila. She has chosen the Vernonia, OR workshop. Congratulations Sheila…we look forward to meeting you! World, meet Sheila…
SheilaI started my adult life as a geologist, then I became a wife and mother. My teenaged children are soon leaving home. I am drawn to build my own house (with help of course) out of straw bales because the inexpensive and organic nature of straw, the lovely thick walls, the warm coziness and insulation properties of straw bales. Building a house these days seems so complicated and costly. Your straw bale houses appear instead to have simplified the process and have made attractive house construction by an ordinary person possible. I look forward to my week in construction with you in June.

 

Some Mind-Numbing Facts about Ferncliff’s Eco Center

Last year’s straw bale construction workshop season started with a huge project: the Eco Learning Center at Ferncliff outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. I recently hear from the host of that workshop that the 5300 Sf structure is just about finished. I am amazed at how quickly the project has moved towards completion, especially having read the mind-numbing facts that the host shared with me. It’s a great example of some of the “behind the scenes” numbers that go into building a house. I hope you enjoy the numbers.

Eco Center Front

-The slab has 3,300 fee (.62 miles) of ½ inch PEX tubing that was tied with 5000 zip ties in a serpentine fashion for the 3,900 square feet of hydronic radiant floor heat. The 5300 sq ft building is heated with a wood furnace/boiler with pumps using less than 7% of the power the 12 solar panels can produce.

 -The total weight of the steel framing is 28,000 pounds and it was all hand-carried from the staging area to the slab, then assembled.

 -The Straw bale “toe up” consists of 89; 4×4’s each 10’ in length running twice end to end around the 445 foot perimeter. To fasten these timbers to the concrete, 380, half-inch holes were drilled in the concrete, 380 wedge anchors driven and 380 more holes drilled in the timbers. For “grabbers,”  2,136 large nails (20 penny) were partially driven every 5 inches into the 4×4 timbers.

 -4.26 miles of baler twine was used for “sewing” the walls and re-tying custom-sized bales.

 -556 ceiling panels 30”x30” were milled out of OSB and pre-painted, two coats on each side adding up to 13,900 square feet of surface area painted. This is for the ceilings over the bedrooms.  95% of this painting was done by volunteers. and 95% of that was done by two women (Carol and Jo).

 -25 pallets of rice hulls at 800 pounds per pallet equal 20,000 lbs. or 10 tons of material. This material was toted, poured, slung, scattered for interior wall and attic insulation.  Another perspective:  A five gallon bucket of rice hulls weighs 7 pounds and carried two at a time would constitute 1,429 trips to its final destination.

 -Approximately 43 tons of sand and 14.5 tons of hydraulic lime, plus water were handled into a mixer, wheel barrowed to work area, transferred to scaffold to hawk and trowel to wall. This was done to plaster an 8,888 feet of straw bale wall area three times (26,664 square feet).  It took 120 for the plastering and walls were wetted down at least twice per day during this process.

 -Each of the four large bedrooms employed a different locally available material.  A rock floor was made with rock salvaged from the old camp pool.  A cement stepping stone clock was put in the middle of the floor to make it a “Rock Around the Clock” room.  Another floor was made by putting about 3000 beer bottles bottom up in sand and then mortaring them.  The third floor was made to look like field stone but is actually made from paper mache.  The fourth floor was made with used conveyor belt that was cut into tiles laid over compressed gravel.

Can’t Take The Country Out Of A Country Girl

Susan is the energetic, fun, and charismatic host of the Butler, MO workshop coming up May 5-11. Raised on a farm in Iowa, she grew up surrounded by animals, home crafting and that good, wholesome attitude that comes from living in connection with nature.

As life would have it, a series of events and a college degree led her to a computer programming job in a city. Her residences turned into apartments and she immersed herself into the lifestyle that comes from living in a metropolitan area. Years passed in this manner until her country girl spirit began to emerge again. Her daydreams of chickens, growing her own food, and being self sufficient became so loud that a drastic lifestyle change emerged.  She bought land in Missouri and has been busy homesteading it since. 

Evident in her ‘can do’ attitude, Susan is an independent woman reconnecting with her love and passion for living off the land once again. Her days are now filled with the day to day care of her pig, goats, chickens, dogs, cat, guinea hens, home crafting, building her dream forever home, and enjoying the sounds of silence in her newly reconnected life.

She has a great list of suggestions/advice for anyone wanting to homestead (in her own words):

• DO IT!  Even if you live in town, there are things you can start doing to prepare.   I’m guilty of just jumping into things head first, but good planning is your friend. (more…)

2014 Straw Bale Workshop Update

Just a quick update to let you know where each workshop stands for 2014. If you are interested in attending any particular location, please be sure to make your plans soon as things are really starting to fill up.

Workshop in WV

Colorado – May 17-23

FULL

Montana – September 1-7

FULL

Arizona – August 11-17

More than 3/4 Full

Massachusetts – July 21-27

More Than 2/3 Full

Rhode Island – April 7-13

2/3 Full

Missouri – May 5-11

More Than Half Full

Oregon – June 2-8

Half Full

New York – June 23-29

Less Than Half Full

Call For 2015 Workshop Hosts

Workshop in WVNow that our 2014 workshop schedule is up and running, it’s time to start looking ahead for hosts for the 2015 workshop season. If you are interested in hosting in 2015 and haven’t sent in an application yet, this is a great time to get yours in.

To find out more about the hosting process, please click here. If you are ready to make a formal application, please fill out the questions on the bottom of the hosting page on that link and email them to info@strawbale.com.

We look forward to hearing about your project!

January FREE Workshop Winner!

Oh I love the time of month when we notify the winner of our FREE straw bale workshop drawing! I always feel a little like one of Santa’s helpers and get a warm fuzzy feeling when I read how happy and appreciative the winners are.  This month’s winner is Ryan….congratulations Ryan! We are super excited you’ll be joining us at the Vernonia, OR workshop! World, meet Ryan: 

Workshop Winner

I am 35 years young. I am a novice herbalist. I practice yoga. I spend time in nature amongst the trees, plants, mushrooms, and creatures. I adore making herbal medicines for my friends and family – stirring, pouring, chopping, shaking, garbling, and giving thanks.

My husband Michael and I spent eight months in 2013 traveling through Ecuador, Peru and across the United States. Our journey was wild; ambitious; memorable; daunting at times, and unbelievablyrewarding at others. Our adventures were filled with long bus rides and even larger backpacks. We slept in tents; hostels; and huts, hiked through forests; mountains; and jungles, met and traveled with amazing people, learnt, unravelled, were vulnerable.



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Why straw bale? I have spent time in two of the most amazing straw bale spaces. The natural energy of the space resonates with me. The affordability of constructing a straw bale home resonates with me. I tend to be quite non-committable. The idea of buying land or a house frightens me because it means I will have to stay put. But, straw bale is always whispering in my ear. Maybe I am finally ready to commit. I can’t wait to learn. Green blessings and much peace, Ryan O’Connor Wolik. Please visit my man Michael’s website: http://www.mfwolik.com/

Rhode Island Workshop: Learn How To Build Your Own Straw Bale House While Giving Back

“As you reach forward with one hand, accept the advice of those who have gone before you, and in the same manner reach back with the other hand to those that follow you; for life is a fragile chain of experiences held together by love. Take pride in being a strong link in that chain” –Author Unknown

 lindaLinda Phelan, the host of our Rhode Island workshop, is the founder of the Healing Co-Op, a very special center dedicated entirely to providing women and their families a supportive space where they may begin their healing process through and beyond cancer. She is cheerful, loving, and kind. Strong, resilient, and compassionate. Dedicated, trusting, and sincere.

After her own diagnosis at the age of 28 in the 80s, it was recommended that she attend a support group. The only one available to Linda convened at the local hospital. Her experience at the meeting left much to be desired. The women were wallowing. The social worker (who herself had never had cancer), was consumed with telling the women what they needed to do and how they needed to feel.  Linda felt unsupported and realized that she needed something entirely different. In that meeting was birthed the vision of a nurturing, loving, cancer support center set in a home like environment.

Linda's landLinda created the Healing Co-Op on the foundation of community. When women and families walk onto the beautiful property, they feel like it’s their place. At the center, all emotions are welcome. There are no agendas, right or wrong ways to be, or people without experience with cancer. It was also founded on the principle that it always be free to everyone that walks through its doors. All funds to run the center come through donations.

When I asked Linda for a poignant story about the center, she shared this one. A few years ago, she asked one of the groups what, if anything, they would like to do within the art program (art is a large component of what the Healing Co-Op offers). This group comprised of 17 women shared something in common; they all had advanced stages of cancer and had experienced a reoccurance of their cancer, some as many as 5 times. One of the women responded, “Theater” and elaborated; Theater because it was a place where they could share their story, their voice. To say what they wanted to say to friends, family, and the community within a container that encouraged honesty and creativity.

Chemo BrainLinda wrote the play based on the stories of the 8 women who wished to challenge themselves in this way. With the help and emotional support of their “sisters” in the group, each of the 8 women played themselves and were the stars of their own stories. The process of writing the theatrical production was incredibly healing and beautiful for all involved. Linda’s sister, a Canadian singer/songwriter, wrote the musical score. The play was described as “An open, honest, hysterical and poignant dialog which represents an actual support group meeting of the women”. In the end, the play, titled “Chemo Brain”, was performed on Rhode Island’s largest stage in front of an audience of 1,500. Family, friends, co-workers, and members of the general public all attended to honor this brave group of 8. What a sight that must have been!

Being given a prognosis of just 3 years to live at the young age of 28 while raising two young girls, Linda’s priorities in life shifted and became crystal clear. One of the core principles she embraced was to lead a life that leaves the smallest footprint on the planet possible. Straw bale construction fits that bill for her. Building this straw bale house is a dream come true for Linda, tying in her love for the Earth with cherished childhood memories of spending time in her grandparents’ naturally built home in Germany.

Linda's houseLinda’s 1,200 sqft, one story straw bale house will be run entirely on solar power. There will be a grey water system as well as rain catchment and solar hot water. Its heat source will be wood. Most of the building materials will be from reclaimed wood and locally-harvested and milled lumber. The south facing part of the home will have lots of windows to take advantage of the passive-solar opportunities the land has to offer. Designed by Chris Keefe, this home embodies grace, simplicity and elegance.  Linda describes this home as her forever home.

Linda loves the idea of hosting a workshop because she lives and breathes community. It seems only fitting that such an amazing person who has done so much for the greater world, even in the face of her own adversities, would have people come to help build her house. We feel tremendously honored and proud to be a link in the chain of experiences held together by love by bringing a straw bale workshop to her. For every participant that signs up, we will donate $100 to the Healing Co-Op. For more information on how you can help us build Linda’s forever home, please click here.

p.s. Last year alone the Co-Op supported over 1,600 women and their families. If you feel inspired to donate, financial contributions are very welcome. You can click here to read more about the center and to donate.

 

Colorado Straw Bale Workshop is Full

Lime Plastering PartyIn record time, our Walsenburg, Colorado workshop filled in 6 days. We added 5 spots this afternoon to that workshop and in a few hours those last spots were accounted for as well. If you would like to be added to the Colorado wait list, please email info@strawbale.com.

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December Free Workshop Winner!

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…

Workshop WinnerI’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!!

Want To Join Us In Japan?!

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 info@strawbale.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:

JapanThis 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 Japan 2rafting.  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
Japan 6would 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, Japan 4take 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!

Announcing the 2014 Straw Bale Workshop Locations…and a Sale!

Montana 2013 Group PhotoIt 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!

Happy Baling!

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!

The Joys Of Building

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.

Muddy Feet

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.

Soaking in the hot tub

Ahh, the joys of building!

Meet the Montana Workshop Host

bitterrootDale, 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.

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We are at the Puyallup, WA Mother Earth News Fair!

Andrew MENGabriella 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.

May Free Workshop Winner

World, meet Rebecca…

RebeccaRebecca 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!