Alumni Spotlight: Scott Solinko

As the current Community Rebuilds semester is approaching it’s graduation date, I can’t help but to think about where my path has taken me since sitting on the beach of the Colorado river five months ago. Even though I haven’t seen most of my fellow interns during the past months, there isn’t day that goes by that I don’t think of my days with them throwing mud on straw bale walls and wonder what they are up to.
IMG_20150717_163606145.jpgAfter we left CR, a few of us went to work with a local contractor helping with the brown coat on a local straw bale build. It was a great opportunity for us to get paid by applying the skills that we had just learned. I also spent a day building an interior adobe block wall out of bricks that a few of us had made earlier in the semester for the homeowner.

IMG_20150723_081637241_HDRA few months later, a long lost fellow intern found herself back in Moab, and we were on location applying the exterior lime plaster. IMG_20150727_122448015.jpg

IMG_20150727_130328338.jpgIn between my time applying the brown coat and the lime plaster, I went to work for Farmer Dave Swinger baling the straw that would be used on the fall ’15 and spring ’16 CR builds. We also worked on building a structure to protect the straw from rain once it’s brought off the fields. While driving the tractor, I noticed black smoke billowing up in the horizon and thought Dave must have crashed his stacker wagon. Turns out it was just a wheat farmer burning the straw off his fields because he didn’t have a use for it. This smoke went on for days as they burned one field to the next. And to think of all the trees that are cut down to make the typical stick framed home, this just doesn’t make sense. Not to mention the manufacturing process (Canadian accent) that is needed for the wall insulation of a standard house. Lets utilize this excess straw and eliminate some of the need for vinyl siding as well.
IMG_20150728_114510482.jpgBeing that my lifestyle doesn’t demand me to be buried in debt and having to work every day to pay if off, as mid August rolled around I found myself in the mountains chasing elk around the state for the next 4 weeks. It was also a great opportunity to unwind and mentally prepare for the up coming months when I head to my ‘real’ job where I earn my days off. It’s so easy to get away from everyone and just be on your own in Moab. Even on the busiest holiday weekends solitude can be easily found. People are in shock when I tell them the closest Walmart is almost two hours away. What do I need Walmart for I ask!
IMG_20150927_173640289_HDR.jpgMid October I was on an airplane bound for Atlanta Georgia where I would be working 80-100 hour weeks for the next two months. I install Christmas lights on homes that are so massive that I could live in the front door entry way. Many of the homes are valued at over a million dollars. These are some of the same people that come to Moab and buy vacation homes that they might spend a couple weeks at a year. It makes it tough for those of us that just want to buy a small plot of land and build a small home on it.
IMG_20151202_170447446_HDR.jpgBut, on the bright side, many of my employees don’t want the lifestyles that our parents have lived or these customers. They don’t want to be trapped with debt. They don’t want to work countless hours per week and be stuck in traffic. They don’t know what they would even do with these massive homes anyways. They just want a small piece of land that they can build their home on and enjoy life and grow a garden. The interns of Community Rebuilds are not alone in their ideas of sustainable living.

So, we just need to head out there with Cali and shift the paradigm one straw bale home at a time, and others will follow.

Scott Solinko-Spring 2015 Intern

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