One more reason why it’s great being a CR intern is the shmooze factor. With Community Rebuilds, it goes to 11.

For example, last Wednesday, the day before the river trip, Bruce King, a registered structural engineer in private practice in San Rafael, California, came to eat dinner with us at our home in Moab. He is the author of Buildings of Earth and Straw; Structural Design for Straw Bale and Rammed Earth Architecture (1996) andDesign of Straw Bale Buildings; The State of the Art (2006). He is founder and director of the nonprofit Ecological Building Network and co-founder, with his wife Sarah Weller King, of Green Building Press. The dinner was delicious and the conversation was inspiring.

Not enough to convince you of the healthy level of shmooze we dip into? Well, this past weekend, we all packed into Paige’s van, Ginger (or The Ginge) and drove out to Gunnison, CO for the 10th annual COSBA Natural Building Conference. Among several great speakers and presenters, Bruce King (see above) was the keynote speaker and our very own Emily Niehaus was added as a speaker for financing straw bale construction. We donned our spiffy new CR tee-shirts and attended workshops on straw bale green house construction, clay and earth plasters, architecture and engineering practices and more. We all walked away a little bit smarter and a lot more inspired.

We couldn’t have even gone to the conference if it weren’t for a few very important people who provided scholarships for us CR interns:


After our long drive, 8 of us crammed into the Ginge (Emily sat in a camping chair between the front seats) we pulled into a Steven's Creek camp ground, right on the reservoir. Among many RV's (which probably had no more than 2 people in each) we all crammed into Grant's mega tent, 7 of us, head to toe/shoulder to shoulder/cheek to cheek. Isn't that what campgrounds are for?


Western College hosted the COSBA conference. Wade found things to climb on everywhere we went.

Bruce King's keynote address was both informative and moving. In the words of Mr. King: "we are all soggy bags of stardust."

Carol Crews led a workshop on natural pigments and clay finishes. What a woman!

Jars of mica dust. Mix this with your plaster for a sparkly wall finish.

The COSBA conference was relatively small, so small that we could split the crowd between those who, when visiting the bathroom, folded their toilet paper and those who scrunched it. Pictured above are the scrunchers, about half of the group. The smallness of the event made for great intimate workshops and discussions. We felt like part of the family.

Laura and the back of Dusty's shirt. Thanks, Laura and Dusty for all the great work you do!

Olga Schecter and her son, Steve, stand in front of Olga's straw bale house in Gunnison, CO. Steve works with a a crew of natural builders in the area.

This is called a Solar Furnace. Steve Schecter installed it on the garage wall of Olga's house. The sun heats up the air space between the wall and the plastic and a small fan pushes the hot air from the lower right-hand hole across and up through the upper-right hand hole into the garage. Genius.

There are weeks in the Winter where it barely gets above freezing and hovers around 40-below in the nights. This straw bale greenhouse is designed to maintain a warm space for plants all year round. The construction crew leaders predicted the owner could grow tomatoes in the middle of winter if she wanted.

Lisa, Jerry and Serah at the annual Vinotok Festival in Crested Butte. It's a celebration of new beginnings and coincides with the fall equinox, hence the leaf adornment.

On the way to Vinotok, we picked up some fellow "pagans," Mario, Eva and their dog Shimo. Also, as per usual with Community Rebuilds, there was a double rainbow.

Vinotok ends with an enormous bonfire symbolizing the letting go of all 'grumps' of the past year.

2 Responses to “CR + COSBA = BFF”
  1. Jen Libera says:

    Just thought that you’d want to know that I’m a scruncher. Had a great time with you’all at vinotok, glad that you made the trip up to CB.
    PS Did you ever find Wade?

    • Scrunchers UNITE!
      And yes, we found Wade, quite miraculously amongst the sparks and drummers. Serah ran around the flaming Grump shouting “Waaaaddddeee” in a crowd of hundreds and suddenly there he was. We should have used your nose whistle.

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