March – Natural Building Workshops and Opportunities for 2019

March – Natural Building Workshops and Opportunities for 2019

Posted on: February 21, 2019

By Elke Cole

As I write this, I am imagining our upcoming summer with mud on our hands and friends gathering for the upcoming Natural Building Colloquium… which is a little strange considering the fact that when I look out the window I see 2 feet of snow. These weather events bring us to the ‘Now’’ and I am dealing with it moment by moment. Times like this call us to work together to stay warm, help those who can’t shovel by doing a bit extra, and give a call to people who might need a hand.

For the builder, it brings questions of: how do we build systems that have backups for emergencies? I think we get to realize that we can’t be “independent” but rather should focus on ways to be interdependent by creating setups which allow us to share space in the community for times of distress.

Resilience in climate change – this is one of the topics to explore during this year’s Natural Building Colloquium, June 14-16, 2019

Under the umbrella of OUR ECOVILLAGE’s 20 year Anniversary, we are inviting elders in the movement like Ianto Evans (cob cottage company), Michael Smith, Athena Steen and Pat Henneberry to meet the new generation of natural builders who are taking the challenge to have natural buildings performance tested and to be able to pass permitting processes more easily. Gord Baird, the author of the “Essential Compost Toilet” new book (New Society Publishers), is one of the new generations who is leading with his natural curiosity to keep on pushing further into a sustainable way of living; personally and professionally…and even politically.

We also invite professionals: engineers, architects and representatives of the building departments, and plan to have rich conversations including a panel where we look at what we learned in the past 20 years and where we might go in the coming 20 years.

Now,  a bunch of builders don’t sit still very long so we’ll make sure there are some fun projects underway where we can show off techniques and keep our hands busy as we make new connections.

Other exciting events in June (on either side of the Colloquium weekend) will be a series of plaster workshops with Athena Steen and her son Benito from Canelo Project in Arizona. Check out Benito’s YouTube channel ( to look at their work. I look forward to co-facilitate with Athena for our Sculpted plasters and An Introduction to Finishing.

Register early so you can pre-order your own Japanese trowel.

For our permaculture and natural building alumni, I want to point to an opportunity to deepen your skills by participating in the ‘Power of Hope’ Project at Magarini center in Kenya. Brandon Bauer and Elke Cole will be working with Jescar Mbuche and Emmanuel Karisa Baya to facilitate a practicum at the children’s’ center. Immerse yourself in the village and create a food forest and practice natural building in a once in a lifetime opportunity. Options for the practicum range August to November. Applications can be made now.

Jump in with OUR team this year as we welcome you to learning with OUR as we build the “Never Ending Wall of Cob” for our “Dragon Dreaming Celebration Project” for the 20yr Anniversary.  We will be having a whole season of free cob workshops, design work, and some very special surprises coming your way!!