Transition Whatcom

Natural building, can be described as any construction process in which takes into consideration the embodied energy, ecological impact, and life cycle of materials used and techniques employed. As a natural builder I consider the use of local raw materials more attractive than manufactured exotic (imported) materials while also weaving recycled materials into the fabric of construction. I see the goal of natural building as creating dwellings and spaces that are in balance and harmony with the local environment while producing healthy and beautiful dwellings.

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This spring I got to watch a film called First Earth, a beautiful program on natural building, especially cob. I don't know where to get it but I'd sure love to show it to everyone! Hmm, maybe I should request it from the library. Oh, the things you can do with cob! The natural beauty a home can have, when it's tailored to its inhabitant, not the manufacturers! Imagine not living in a box, but whatever works best for you! Yes, I am very excited about this topic. I heard that Vancouver BC and Portland have had some success working with local government to allow natural building and that this was done by creating highly visible projects that served as models, education and inspiration for natural building. So, what shall we build in a highly visible area so people can see how much sense it makes?
I totally agree Laura,
By building small interactive structures we can create spaces that people can experience the quality of earthen building materials which is difficult to describe but easily felt. These structures serve the community as you said by providing education and inspiration.

Laura J Sellens said:
This spring I got to watch a film called First Earth, a beautiful program on natural building, especially cob. I don't know where to get it but I'd sure love to show it to everyone! Hmm, maybe I should request it from the library. Oh, the things you can do with cob! The natural beauty a home can have, when it's tailored to its inhabitant, not the manufacturers! Imagine not living in a box, but whatever works best for you! Yes, I am very excited about this topic. I heard that Vancouver BC and Portland have had some success working with local government to allow natural building and that this was done by creating highly visible projects that served as models, education and inspiration for natural building. So, what shall we build in a highly visible area so people can see how much sense it makes?
is there anywhere locally to learn natural building? are you planning any workshops Rob? I would love to get involved!!
HI Travis,
part of why I decided to create a natural building group here is the chance to network and create a place for folks in whatcom to "gather" and share our intrest in reclaming our building heritage. I am planning to host a few oven projects this summer as well as continuing to build up infrastructure at my site near merriata. Pending projects include straw clay walls, a cob green house, and earthen and lime plastering
I will post the dates for thoose projects as they materilaze.
As far as I know my demonstration site is the only place offering natural building education in whatcom county, outside of permaculture design courses.
Regionally there are two others, OUR eco-village on Vancouver island and ancient earth on south whidby island.
Natural building can be simple,beautiful and elegant, it really comes down to material choices when we build. Alot of thought can go into siting a structure but the actual bones and organs of a place contain a lasting vibration that is tangible. sourcing local materials keeps the structure intact with its environment, at home with its surroundings.
In community
Rob
Travis Linds said:
is there anywhere locally to learn natural building? are you planning any workshops Rob? I would love to get involved!!
Artist/cob-builders Sunray & Bonnie in Skagit Valley shared some of their wisdom during a recent visit.
I learned some tips to use to avoid any downsides of cob buildings.

Two main tips that Bonnie stressed:
* Be sure your cob walls are kept dry by both a good roof and substantial roof/awning overhang to prevent rain from getting the walls wet.
* It is also important when building to have a rock or concrete low wall zone between the ground/floor and the start of the cob wall.

Sometimes builders will get mice in their walls when they use straw bales for insulation instead of solid cob. (Their noise can make for difficult sleeping unless the room is one that is not used for sleeping).
This can especially happen when building a cob wall that does not have a high enough transition zone between the ground & the start of the cob wall. Bonnie shared their the tips for how to get mice out of a wall and how to do amends to the building to prevent them from getting back in.

Laura, Cynthia & Philip & myself vision creating a future fall/winter larger group day-tour to the Sunray's family homestead. We would welcome a video person to join us in planning.
http://sunraykelley.com/

A good way to start working with cob is to learn how to do small projects like pizza ovens, rocket stoves, and other projects that are low in height and easier to keep dry then a taller shelter.
O.U.R. Ecovillage on Vancouver Island offers some yearly multi-week natural building classes and internships: http://ourecovillage.org/our-activities/education-2/natural-buildin...

I look forward to future local work-parties on cob-building! There have been two rocket stove workshops in the past that used cob.
Thanks for sharing your experience Rob.

Travis Linds said:
is there anywhere locally to learn natural building? are you planning any workshops Rob? I would love to get involved!!
I would like to be in on ANY touring please put me in the hopper for working and touring.....Thanks, Jamie
I've been trying to arrange a trip down there to work for the past month. Timing has not worked out for me personally yet... but they're open to people coming down pretty often. I just got an email from Bonnie asking if I could come down this Thursday to lend a hand. I'm not sure if I can but they could use the help right now. If anyone wants to go check out what they have going on and are willing to help them out just give a call or email: sunray@sunraykelley.com.

Jamie Jedinak said:
I would like to be in on ANY touring please put me in the hopper for working and touring.....Thanks, Jamie

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