“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life. It’s also about what you inspire others to do.” – author unknown
If you’ve been to the MudGirls website (or attended a workshop) you know all about the workshops they hold each year to teach and facilitate natural building. If not, never fear I’m going to explain it all to you.
When we hired the MudGirls to help us build our dream cob/slip straw hybrid house they asked us if we wanted to hold workshops on our property. We said yes. It was really a no brainer. Part of what drew us to the MudGirls is their philosophy of community, facilitation/teaching and activism. After all they’re building a revolution! How do you accomplish that? On the grass roots level of course. Which means workshops. It gives people who are interested in natural building an opportunity to learn in a fun supportive environment; and it provides an opportunity for the person who’s house it is to have people help build their house. It also helps the individual MudGirls to earn a living doing what they love most…building with natural materials and supporting other people to learn more about how they too can build their own home with their own hands. It’s a win/win really.
Together with MudGirls Molly and Amber we discussed and agreed upon three weeks of workshops to be held over the summer of 2019. Two weeks in June and the third in July. We were given a list of what was needed by way of infrastructure before the workshops started.
1. We needed to make sure we had sufficient sand, clay and straw for the building materials
2. We needed to provide a shelter for the children who would be coming to the workshop
3. We needed to have outhouses, an outdoor shower and a “chill out area” for everyone to eat meals and relax at the end of the day
4. We needed to create areas for the participants to camp.
5. We needed to have a space for the cook to do her thing.
We went to work. We knew we would need to source out a shelter. We could have just built one with tarps; but Paul thought it would be a good idea to find a ready made one that would serve another purpose after we finished the workshops. Hence the shelter that will be our green house grow tent. We didn’t want to build outhouses that were permanent so we sourced out these green pop up tents.
Note: These turned out to be too small for most and we understand they aren’t ideal but we did our best.
Paul and Christian are two of the most resourceful men I know. Hey they learned from the best. Both have fathers who are just as resourceful. They repurposed some old wood fencing and cut some slabs from a log we had to build the lovely outdoor shower seen above. Paul found an RV hot water on demand shower that could be powered by propane. Yay! An outdoor shower that has hot water.
Note: Feedback was positive from participants on the outdoor shower.
Galiano Excavating helped us bring the clay up to our build site. We also had them deliver concrete sand for our cob mix.
The day of the first workshop arrived, and we eagerly awaited the participants. Organized chaos is how best to describe it. We showed the participants to where they could camp and where the outhouses and shower were. The MudGirls were also there to greet the participants and get a light dinner ready on the Sunday night.
Having now hosted two workshops on our property I can say with confidence that a MudGirl workshop is like the best summer camp ever for adults. So much fun and laughter was had by all.
The way the MudGirls facilitate is by teaching by example. Their goal is to build and enhance the capacity of every single participant. As an experiential learner this worked well for me. Each morning we started by sitting in a circle on straw bales; each saying our name and how we were doing that morning. Then one of the MudGirls would discuss a natural building topic based on questions brought up by the participants.
We stomped cob each morning to have enough to start working on the walls. We also learned how to mix slip straw as well. As Steve, one of our participants described it this way:
“You start with piles of sand, clay, bales of straw and water. You put them through the black box of natural building and end up with a house.”
Amazing stuff and as I write this I have chills. It truly is a miracle.
Over the two weeks the cob and slip straw walls went from foundation to actual walls. In fact to a point where you had to use the back door to get inside the foundation. There is nothing so satisfying as building something with your own hands. Whether it be sculpting and making sure your cob walls are plum to stomping slip straw into the forms of slip straw walls.
There are always teachable moments along the way. Molly showed everyone how plaster is made and applied to walls.
Amber took everyone for a field trip down to the bottom of our property to show the participants where the clay came from.
And when the day was done we had fun. Did I forget to mention that one of Lindsay’s other jobs was hosting karaoke?
At the end of two crazy overfull weeks we have much to be proud of. I can’t wait for the third workshop in July. I want to say from myself, Christian, Paul and Meredith we are incredibly grateful for the MudGirls, Lindsay, and all the participants for helping us build our cob/slip straw hybrid house and for being just all round amazing people. We’ve made some great friends, enlarged our natural building community, shared many laughs and love.
Until next time…..