Home » OUR Blog » Natural Building and Ecological Design Colloquium 2019

…where you will meet “cob fathers” and “cob mothers” and gather with other folks who love natural building!

OUR Ecovillage 20th Anniversary

Friday, June 14 – Sunday, June 16

Join us in celebrating OUR 20th year at OUR ECOVILLAGE!

We are inviting the natural building community and friends to a fully immersive weekend of learning, gathering, honouring, sharing and celebrating!

The Natural Building Colloquium is a gathering for natural building enthusiasts: builders, teachers, professionals, and those who are passionate about natural building. It is a place to exchange the latest developments in practical applications and technology and share ideas with other people in the field. We will look at where the natural building movement stands in regards to professional support, permits, and finding qualified builders.

OUR “Lawful Permaculture” Demonstration Site & Education Centre is an immersion of a wide range of natural buildings that are cob, straw bale, rammed earth, earthship/tire, living roofs, or rubble trench foundations and are all permitted and engineered. Whether you are a green builder, regulatory official, designer, or home owner/builder, this (un)conference will open the doors for whole new ways of understanding ecological design and building.

This is NOT a workshop. We will gather for panels, presentations and network with one another with social time. We also plan on sharing our own stories as well as honouring the elders in the natural building movement.

Come early for plastering workshops with Athena Steen and Elke Cole or stay longer for experienced plasterers with Benito Steen.

Proposed Schedule Overview

Friday, June 14

Time Event Location
All Afternoon Mosaics with Shaylene Chillage
Before 6pm Arrival and Registration Eatery Main Entrance
6pm Dinner Eatery
7:30pm Opening Ceremony and Keynote Speaker: Mark Lakeman Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
9pm Live Music & Performance by Topher Trick Taj 2

Saturday, June 15

Time Event Location
7:30am-8:30am Breakfast Outdoor Eatery
10am Greg Marchese Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
10:45am Women and Building: Athena Streen & Elke Cole Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
11:25am Break/Snack
11:45am Engineering 101 with Mark Fleischhacker Outdoor TBA
12:30pm Lunch Outdoor Eatery
2:15pm Sustainable Builders: Michele Deluca and Natasha Danenhower Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
3pm Panel – Collaborators and Contractors Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
3:40pm Break/Snack
4pm Panel – Collaborators and Contractors Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
4:45pm TBA
6pm Dinner Outdoor Eatery
7:30pm Keynote: Ianto Evans Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
8:45pm Elder Circle Taj 2
Late Night Fire Circle Top Field

Sunday, June 16

Time Event Location
7:30am-8:30am Breakfast Outdoor Eatery
10am The Mudgirls Taj 2
10:45am Panel – Going Forward Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
11:25am Break/Snack
11:45am Panel – Going Forward Taj 2 & Livestreamed on OUR Facebook page
12:30pm Lunch Outdoor Eatery
2:15pm TBA Taj 2
3pm Closing Circle Taj 2
4pm End of Event

Memories from Past Gatherings

at OUR Ecovillage

The lion (of Narnia)
The lion (of Narnia)
all plastered
all plastered
Habib Gonzales at work
Habib Gonzales at work
registration table
registration table
Elke Cole, Brandy Gallagher, Sarah Brooks
Elke Cole, Brandy Gallagher, Sarah Brooks
loadbearing strawbale
loadbearing strawbale
Sunray ...going town Baldy Mountain road
Sunray …going town Baldy Mountain road
bale building in progress
bale building in progress
building a structure with Sunray
building a structure with Sunray
a roof for the oven
a roof for the oven
Elke Cole, Pat Hennebery, Cesar Loza 2015
Elke Cole, Pat Hennebery, Cesar Loza 2015

We are calling in all past students and teachers of natural building courses and programs to join us! Share your story, reunite with long lost friends and colleagues by joining us here in person or watch the experience online with our livestream. 

This is an exceptional opportunity to spend time with expert natural builders. Presenters will include Athena and Benito Steen – caneloproject.com, Pat Hennebery – cobworks.com, Elke Cole – elkecole.com, and more.

  • Learn from experienced natural builders
  • Network with leaders in the field and peers
  • Find new resources
  • Tour OUR Ecovillage’s natural buildings
  • Discover new ideas from panel discussions
  • Get advice for your natural building career
  • Help us honour the “cob mothers and fathers” as elders of the natural building movement


*Prices includes camping as well as catered meals.

Register Now

Early bird (before May 13th):
Single $250 plus taxes
Bring 2 People $475 plus taxes

Single $275 plus taxes
Bring 2 people $500 plus taxes

Presenters, Authors and Teachers:

If you are interested in offering a 30 min presentation please email us with your proposed topic and a little background about yourself. We will offer special rates to our presenters.

Topics should relate to Natural building: Permitting, Engineering, Technique, Development, History, Future of Natural Building, Connected Systems, Issues, Problems and Solutions and other related topics.

Authors: Are invited to set up their book sales station and bring their publications.
Teachers: Share your upcoming workshops at an Information table/station. Bring flyers/posters.

Please email us with your proposed topic and a little background about yourself.

Featured Presenters

Mark (Mocean) Michaelson Lakeman
Board Director

Mark is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed, facilitated, or inspired designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone.

Through his leadership in Communitecture, Inc., and it’s various affiliates such as the The City Repair Project (501(c)3), The Village Building Convergence, and the Planet Repair Institute, he has also been instrumental in the development of dozens of participatory organizations and urban permaculture design projects across the United States and Canada. Mark works with governmental leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions in many diverse communities.

Sarah Frances
Board Secretary  

Frances has loved building things since she was a kid helping her dad around the house. She loves space and material, loves picking things up and feeling the heft and texture of them in her hands. She began a building company, BabaYagaBuilds; in 2012 and has been creating structure with friends ever since. Frances also has an unyielding passion for stories and for the wonder that comes when humans create together. The past few years she has been the City Repair VBC Natural Building Coordinator. The superhero power this task evokes in her life is the one of Creative Purpose, the thrill and gratitude for life that comes when one is doing something 100% worthwhile and fulfilling.

Michele Deluca
Natasha Danenhower

Michele Deluca and Natasha Danenhower
Sustainable Builders

Michele has recently returned back to her home of Nelson,  BC, to lay down some roots afters years of bouncing around learning and traveling.  She has partcipated in two six-month natural building programs, and is now hooked for life! Her current dream is to create and contribute to projects that incorporate natural building,  education,  affordable housing and women in trades. 

Natasha grew up beside a river on a small organic orchard in the Similkameen Valley of interior BC. Since then she’s been following a winding path of interests which include farming, permaculture, craft beer, sustainable building, facilitation, carpentry and woodworking. She dreams of federal policy which demands carbon sequestering buildings as a solution to climate change and also of staying in one place long enough to grow a vegetable garden that rivals her mothers in success.

Michele and Natasha are two new sustainable builders who will share about their experiences in the Sustainable New Construction program with Chris Magwood,  Community Rebuilds in Utah, and the Red Seal Carpentry program.  They will also discuss the desire for a network of community,  idea exchanges and job opportunities in natural building across our province. 

Gregg Marchese
Roundwood Timber Framing: More Art Than Craft

Sampling of some of the creative use of small diameter peeled and limbed trees (roundwood timbers) in Natural Building over the last 2 decades. From the elaborate to the simple, this will focus less on how and more on what can be done creatively. Limited focus on homestead-scale forestry intertie.

Gregg Marchese (mar-KAY-zee) has been more or less a natural builder for about 20 years. He has specialized in roundwood timber framing, rustic furniture and homestead forestry. Other interests include hockey, guitar, revisionist history and other taboo topics.

Bryce Langston
Producer Living Big in a Tiny House

Bryce Langston, world known producer of ecological design Small Home, is the producer of gone viral series “Living Big In a Tiny House”.  Bryce is jumping in with an amazing framework for mirroring nature in our design work and how less is more … in going bigger and going home!

Watch Living Big in a Tiny House

The Mudgirls
Natural Building Collective

Building a Revolution: More than a decade of non-hierarchy consensus based decision making and small scale grass roots governance. Natural building too.

The Mudgirls is an all-women’s natural building collective from coastal British Columbia. They build houses and offer workshops that empower people to take back the right to provide themselves with shelter. They taught themselves everything they needed to know to build houses using the most abundant material on earth – mud. They learnt as they went, learnt to build by building, gathered skills and allies, and shared whatever they learned with as many people as wanted to come & do it with them.

The Mudgirls have been together for over 10 years; meeting new people, forging new paths, and spreading skills and knowledge in a joyful way is the very fuel that feeds the fire.
How do you make a movement sustainable; keep it alive and thriving? It seems like the Mudgirls have learned that, too, along the way, and now it’s time to share it.


Full Weekend – On-site

Includes All Meals and Camping
Friday June 14 at 6:00pm to Sunday June 16 at 4:00pm

Early bird – before May 1st $250
Bring 2 people for $475 plus taxes

Regular $275 plus taxes
Bring two people for $500 plus taxes

Register Full Weekend On-site

Full Weekend – Off-site

Includes All Meals 
Friday June 14 6:00pm – Sunday June 16 4:00pm

Regular $245 plus taxes

Register Full Weekend – Off-site

Single Day – Friday June 14th Off-site

Includes Dinner
Friday June 14 6:00pm-10:30pm

Includes Dinner, Opening Ceremony & presenter & Fire Circle

Regular $43 plus taxes

Register Friday Only

Single Day – Saturday June 15th – Off-site

Includes Dinner
June 15th 9:00am-10:30pm

Includes Lunch and Dinner, Presentations, Demonstrations, Site Tour, Networking

Regular $145 plus taxes

Register Saturday All Day

Single Night – Saturday June 15th – Off-site

Includes Dinner
June 15th 6:00pm-10:30pm Includes Dinner, Evening Presenters & Fire Circle Regular $58 plus taxes

Register Saturday Night

Single Day – Sunday June 16th – Off-site

Includes Lunch and Dinner
June 16th 9:00am-4:00pm

Includes Lunch, Panel Discussion, Honouring Elders, Closing Circle

Regular $98 plus taxes

Register Sunday All Day

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OUR Ecovillage

OUR Ecovillage is a demonstration site for permaculture and sustainable living. OUR buildings show a variety of natural building methods and designs. We have worked with regulatory processes and professionals to receive permits for all of our buildings and to blaze the path of legal natural building for others. One example is OUR re-zoning project, which has allowed other groups to follow our demonstration project with similar ambitions.

We offer accommodation in some of OUR natural buildings: the Healing Sanctuary, shared dormitory and other beautiful cob spaces.

During the colloquium we will offer glimpses into many of the natural buildings on site during a guided tour led by natural building expert Elke Cole. Elke had been involved in the design, build, and execution of OUR natural building projects from the start.

For More Natural Building:

Sculpting and plastering with clay

Questions? Email: naturalbuilding@ourecovillage.org or admin@ourecovillage.org

Please sign up to receive info about permaculture resources, courses and OUR community news.


Land acknowledgment

OUR ECOVILLAGE is situated on unceded Indigenous lands. The Coast Salish Peoples are the guardians of these lands and waters where we live, work, pray, and play. Quw’utsun (Cowichan) is a historical place of gathering and Na’tsa’ maht Shqwaluwun/”one-heart one-mind” for many Indigenous peoples.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is committed to regenerate land and all ecosystems while acknowledging and respecting Indigenous knowledge that ensures thriving for all beings; we call this Permaculture.

OUR ECOVILLAGE is dedicated to continuously educating ourselves and our communities about the history and peoples of OUR bio-region, to assist in decolonization and re-villaging as a path towards peacemaking, from local to global.