Friends and volunteers plaster the south wall.
In 2012, my wife Renata and I packed our belongings into our car and set out from Los Angeles to find a different way of life. This quest became a multi-year odyssey of exploration to find communities involved in more gentle and sustainable practices. Along the way we met and lived with many new friends who gave us the inspiration and courage that we too could leave behind the 'treadmill' and start living differently.
In May and June 2016, dozens of students came out to learn, practice and help us build what would be our home, in an old blackberry patch. For the next month or so we hoisted poles and beams, laid an earth bag foundation, stomped out batch after batch of cob, raised a couple of straw bale walls, tamped light straw clay into wall cavities and plastered it all. By the end of the series we had built most of our small home and made many new friends. It was truly a joy to actualize something many people dream about and to really put our ethics into practice.
As I look around the house now (having just moved in!), I am surrounded by local natural materials put together by the hands of many wonderful people. The clay we used was from the site. The crushed sand came from a quarry we can see from the house. The timber is almost entirely from discarded logs that came down in a forest fire a few years back. And the trusses that hold up our roof and the siding that keeps us dry are from a hundred-year-old chicken coop recently taken down on the ranch.
In the context of living in a community that strives to feed itself, we are so proud that our contribution can be a humble example of how you can house yourself using natural and local materials. And let me tell you, to sleep in a house you helped to build brings some of the best (and most needed) rest I've ever had…
The plastering is complete.