Alumni Spotlight – Cheryl Corsiglia

I was an intern in 2010, during the second half of the first ever CR build. The first house was completed in 8 months, instead of 4. Our crew came in for the bale stacking, floor, plasters, and interior framing and finishes.

For a few years after leaving Moab, I never felt strongly motivated by my jobs. While living and working at an environmental education camp, I was most excited by thoughts of building a cob oven or incorporating straw bale into the design for a new cabin. I knew I wanted to get back into natural building.

In winter of 2014, I went to Nicaragua to take an adobe and earthen building class with Liz Johndrow of the Nicaragua Pueblo Project. This journey was catalytic in many ways, forcing me to start to learn a new language (all but a few of my classmates were local Nicaraguans), further breaking down my notions of who can be a builder (the course was taught at a local women’s carpentry school) and connecting me to the natural building community.

I returned to Colorado after the course and contacted Ryan Chivers of Artesano Plaster – CR guest instructor and tadelakt master. I joined his crew for plastering the exterior of a straw bale home and a couple tadelakt showers. I met other builders through those jobs and joined a group called Common Earth, Colorado’s natural building collaborative.

In Common Earth, I found a community of friends who are interested in natural building, permaculture, co-creation, and sustainable living. We’ve built a cob oven at a non-profit ecology center, a cob bench at a school bus stop, and hosted workshops. We get together, barn-raising style, to help each other out, whether it’s demolishing a basement, building a backyard aquaponics greenhouse, reinforcing a chicken coop against bear intrusion or getting the word out in the community about natural building.

Three of us from this group started and are co-owners of Living Craft Design Build. We are entering our second year of offering natural building and remodeling services to clients across the front range of Colorado. Our projects so far have included applying lots of lime and clay plasters, a whole house and greenhouse frescoed plaster wrap, a bathroom remodel (with tadelakt sink and shower), outdoor pergola, and bale-work and plaster for a new straw bale home. My business partner Frank has taken over teaching the tadelakt lessons for CR builds in the past year.

Common Earth is collaborating with the Colorado Straw Bale Association to host a natural building conference this fall in Golden, Colorado. We hope to use this forum to reconnect with natural builders and organizations in the region, and to meet and explore pathways for collaboration with other groups also working to make building processes healthier, more beautiful, and more efficient.

Recently, I was also able to spend a lot more time with a former fellow intern, Kate, at Red Rocks Community College, where we were both taking courses in their outstanding fine woodworking program. This was a great opportunity and I hope to be able to continue my education in this field.

Community Rebuilds helped to spark my path towards building. I’m psyched to still be in the regional neighborhood, so to speak, so we can keep creating connections and collaborating on fun projects.

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