Dirt's Illuminati

Posted by Leslie Jackson on November 10, 2009
Dirt's Illuminati
The 2009 Natural Building Colloquium was last month in Southern Oregon. We shared tricks-of-the-trade such as lime and earthen plastering techniques, the latest in like straw bale and cob, housing the poor, emergency relief housing, teaching, etc.

It's like the Grammy Awards as the stars of the industry arrive. Although people are in flannels instead of tuxes, their fame is no less celebrated among us. These are the visionaries of a field Jay Baldwin calls "edible building." So green, many of the building parts return to the soil.

What We Leave Behind

All of the spaces we have used for these gatherings has benefited from our visits, as we create timber frame gates and arbors, cob benches and ovens. (How many big hotels are blessed with energy improvements after a green building industry conference?)

Practical Applications

We joke that the food is really what we come to these meetings for, but we all know it is the support in a dwelling style that as yet has been termed "alternative," but as things shift in all industries toward more cooperation with the environment, appropriate technology will becomes less of an extreme and more of a standard. Massey Burke, a builder in El Sobrante, California, reported on her successful experiences with the building dept. in her county of Contra Costa, to approve an infill/insulation technique of "light straw clay or slip-straw" into a wood-framed home.

This year, one of the first teachers of cob building in N. America, Ianto Evans (also my co-author on a manual for building an efficient wood-burning mass heater) has been invited to the Summit on Global Climate Change  to discuss ways natural building can address global warming's threats.

(Thanks to Mark Grossman for the image of Ianto at the Rumford Fireplace a workgroup left behind.)

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