Dylana and Ron are the hosts for the Ashland, OR, August 15-21 workshop.  Hosting this workshop represents a lifelong goal of Dylana’s, an Ashland native, who has dreamed of building a straw bale home since she was just a 15 year old teenager.  She grew up in the beautiful mountains that surround Ashland and for her, a love of nature, conservation, and sustainable living is ingrained into her core.  Now a wife and mother of two, the family has embarked on bringing to life the dream of building a beautiful, energy efficient and sustainable straw bale home.

This home build is a labor of love for Ron and Dylana and they have chosen to self-build it, with a little help from friends along the way.  They share that it is important to them to have their hands on every part of the process, making the relationship with the home much more personal and intimate.  This is a common theme for straw bale home owners and I so admire the willingness of owner-builders to get their hands dirty and take the risk of building themselves in order to have the deep connection with their new house.  I believe that this desire to build one’s own shelter is deeply rooted into our DNA and when we reconnect with that process, we are fulfilled in ways that we are rarely given the opportunity to do anymore in this day and age.

Ron is a firefighter for the downtown Ashland station (don’t you love that the firefighter is building a straw bale home?!) and Dylana is currently finishing up her first year in the Masters of Art and Teaching program at Southern Oregon University.  We have had the rare chance to spend time with them since they live locally and I will be so bold as to say that anyone who attends this workshop is in for a real treat.  I know they will be attentive, entertaining, and amazing hosts.  Plus, Dylana bakes absolutely outrageous chocolate chip cookies.  We have been up to their site and the camping on the property has unprecedented views of mountain peaks.  They also live quite close to some beautiful lakes as well as all that Ashland has to offer.  We hope that anyone that attends gives themselves at least an extra day to soak in the area.

Dylana has always been interested in straw bale construction because of the energy efficiency the walls create, the amazingly deep window sills, and the organic and beautiful forms you can create within the space.  The home is large at 2,400 sq.ft. (4bed/3bath) and is being built with a modified post and beam system with rice straw infill.  This project is a great opportunity for anyone that really wants to see a full sized home come together with the baling process.  One will have the opportunity to learn hands on how to install toe-ups, bale various wall scenarios and angles, install the electrical wires as well as how to deal with the plumbing systems to keep bale walls safe and dry always.  Also covered will be how to install the mesh system for the structural bracing and plaster backing and finally how to mix and apply the first coat of plaster.  Many of the materials that are being used in the build are relics from their past and the home will be full of stories from past experiences and places.

Ron and Dylana are really looking forward to hosting the August workshop and to getting to meet everyone.  They also are extremely happy to be creating a natural and safe home in which to raise their family.  We hope you will join us in this workshop!

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 www.StrawBale.com/store.

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