Community Rebuilds – Then and Now


Hello all – Jerry here. Longtime readers of this blog might remember me from Community Rebuild’s early history, when I was an intern for the second and third Moab builds. Well I’m back! I’m interning on the current build in Crested Butte. I guess that I just can’t get enough of strawbales…

Coming back to Community Rebuilds after five years, I have been able to see how the organization has changed over these last few years. When I first came to Moab, Community Rebuilds was only in its second year, attempting its first build in one semester. There were only seven of us interning together. There weren’t any apprentices yet. Only one build was happening at a time.

Now, the organization has grown so that two builds happen each semester in Moab and we are building a rather ambitious duplex here in Crested Butte. The design of the Crested Butte homes are quite a bit more complicated than the standard Community Rebuild house. I mean, we are building three-stories! We have built stairs and a timber-framed porch! We have vaulted ceilings in one unit! That Community Rebuilds has been able to undertake this more-complicated design, all with a crew of new builders, is a testament to the growth of the organization.

And even though we are on a pilot build here and there have been the usual challenges that come with attempting something new for the first time, this build in Crested Butte feels tighter to me than my first builds in Moab. I feel like I have gained a more comprehensive knowledge of natural building this time around. The staff here has made efforts to explain all aspects of the build to all interns, even when only a few of us will be actually working on a specific task. The education of interns has of course always been an important aspect of Community Rebuilds, but I feel like the staff has spent even more time on teaching during this build, and I feel like I have a better mastery of the tools and techniques that we use on site because of this.

The communal-living aspect of the program also feels tighter this time around. At our orientation here in Colorado, we were nudged to organize group dinners and to share the chore duties in the house. We have weekly house meetings to discuss how things are going with the build. There was none of this during my semesters in Moab. I certainly felt a sense of community with my housemates back then, but things felt like they were a bit more every-intern-for-themselves. Things in this house certainly feel more organized.

So things have changed a little bit with Community Rebuilds. When I first interned in Moab, with the organization still young, it felt like we were undertaking a big and new challenge. It sometimes felt like I was on a crew of underdogs, and when our build was finished, there was a small sense of amazement that we actually were able to complete the house. There are some parts of me that prefer these earlier, smaller, and less-structured days of Community Rebuilds, but I think that these are the same parts of me that sometimes eats too much sugary food and watches too much TV. It’s the childish part of me. But of course we all grow up, and Community Rebuilds is no longer a child of an organization. It has grown. It is stronger and more confident now. It has taken on an ambitious project here in Colorado, and I hope that it will continue to do good and ambitious work in the world of strawbales.

Jerry – Mount Crested Butte 2016

The house, at the end of September.

The house, at the end of September.

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