Janell Kapoor is the founding director of Kleiwerks International, a nonprofit organization and global network of ecological design-build specialists who have worked with people from over 52 countries. Over a decade, Janell led the initial trainings that launched the natural building movements of Southeast Asia, the Southern Cone of South America, the Southeastern United States, and recently, Turkey. Thousands of teachers, education centers, communities, businesses, training programs, and homes have been created by her students and collaborators. Janell walks her talk in her own backyard, which is the demonstration site of the Ashevillage Institute, one of North America’s premier urban permaculture demonstration sites. She is dedicated to the champion within each of us, and to the possibility that we may live in balance with ourselves, each other, and this most beautiful planet we are blessed to inhabit.
Sarah Highland builds and designs with timber, clay, straw, brick, and slate. Her work is an exploration of how to create buildings that feel alive, and how to build community while building structures. As principal of Highland Artisan, she cuts timber frames, designs, and teaches workshops. In addition, she works with owner-builders and community groups as consultant and build leader.
Liz Johndrow instructed the first WASI Apprenticeship in 2012. She is the founder of Earthen Endeavors. Liz’s vision is to use natural building as a bridge to create beautiful and functional spaces while embodying a meaningful connection with the natural world, others and our built environment. Working with low impact and resource-efficient materials that are non-toxic and healthful, durable and recyclable, Liz integrates beauty and function into living spaces – through a process that inspires creativity, joy and greater human connection. Liz works with earthen plasters and floor systems, and timber-framing and enjoys the exploration of natural building as a localized, sustainable way of building using the resources we have at hand. Liz has several past lives including raising her son, owning of a small futon business, cooking at a natural foods restaurant, studying midwifery and herbalism, 18 years as a massage therapist, gardener and two years as a wilderness school instructor.
Fox McBride is a highly organized and skilled earthbuilder who is reliable, enthusiastic, and passionate about building. Primarily focused on Superadobe domes, Fox began acquiring her mighty earthbuilding skills through a long-term apprenticeship at Cal-Earth, and has since worked on projects in Hollywood, British Columbia, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the Mojave Desert of southern California. She possesses skills in plaster, paint and remodeling, is fluent in Portuguese and is working on her Spanish. Fox is available for consulting, design assistance, good conversation and honest friendship. She believes strongly in the power of community, solidarity, open communication, the spiritual search for love and the DIY spirit. Humans have a right to shelter and the means to produce it!
Chloe Wolsey has been building since she was a kid, starting with tree houses with pulley systems and bucket-lifts. She has renovated several homes and worked in a forge with Hot Creations, making multiburner stoves out of recycled VW parts. During 2010, she taught at Cal-Earth, having previously helped build a triple dome in London for a primary school with Small Earth. In 2011, she co-taught a dome workshop in Melbourne with Permastructure. Chloe has also trained in Devon, with Mike Wye and Associates, in lime and cob techniques. With her partner Helen, she has recently founded OzEarth in rural Tasmania, Australia to involve the community in natural building, permaculture, and appropriate technology. OzEarth’s current project is creating a pizza oven, cob benches and preparation areas for the kitchen garden at their local school. Upcoming projects include building enclosures, a native animal orphan centre, and an education building at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Chloe is also a seasoned teacher, exhibited artist, published author of fiction, passionate gardener and former employee of De Hortus Amsterdam, one of the Northern Hemisphere’s oldest botanical gardens.
Verena Maeder is an earth building artisan with 19 years experience in natural construction in Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand. Since 2002, she has been the owner of SOLID EARTH LTD, a natural building construction company in New Zealand. In Switzerland, Verena trained in Architecture and Building Biology and Ecology, conducting extensive research on earthen building and writing a paper on the health aspects of earth as a building material. She trained with Gernot Minke, and specializes in earthen wall finishes and the restoration of historic buildings. Since 2007, Verena has been the chair woman of the Earth Building Association NZ (EBANZ). In 2010 she received the EBANZ Elizabeth Drupsteen Award for outstanding service to earthen building in New Zealand.
The Mudgirls are a network of women builders on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. They specialize in using local, natural and recycled materials to create whatever their client’s heart desires. They are experienced in building everything from cob cabins, ovens and benches to installing natural insulation, earthen floors and wall plasters in any style of home. The Mudgirls live and work in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Saltspring Island, Cumberland, Denman Island, Lasqueti island and other places around Vancouver Island. They can be hired as a crew or to facilitate work parties, and will build whatever you want.
Ilima Smallwood became interested in building by watching her father build houses as a child. It seemed like magic…first nothing…then mounds of dirt, then sticks, then voila…an amazing building. Ilima’s curiosity led her to a career in Architecture, initially studying at the University of Miami and then at Pratt Institute, where she earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2000. Her training was in both the Beaux Arts tradition and an innovative approach to building design. Ms. Smallwood has 10 years of experience in residential design and hands on construction. Her first carpentry project was with bamboo and she’s been fascinated by it ever since. Through workshops, research, and even volunteering her carpentry skills to build large scale projects with Bamboo DNA, Ilima became increasingly familiar with how to work with bamboo in construction. She is passionate about the use of this incredible grass and it’s sustainable properties. Originally from the Hawaiian islands, Ilima believes whole heartedly that the islands and its people could live completely sustainably were that the goal. This would include developing housing models using locally available earth & bamboo. Ilima hopes to see this way of building become a viable and affordable way to create a future for Hawaii that is truly sustainable.
Shelley Su (Sukran) Stenzel is a technical specialist in earthen building and the administrator of the collective, VernaculArt. She is from the United States where she began her work with earthen building at a permaculture center in North Carolina. For several years, Shelley Su deepened her knowledge about earthen building and its use in Argentina and Uruguay. In 2008, she co-founded the collective. Vernaculart, which is born from the cultural and social need to attend to and resolve every day sustainable and ecological issues. The team is made up of specialists who manage and apply bioclimatic, earthen, and conventional building. The work is sustainable intervention. It seeks to better the energetic efficiency of homes and buildings using design and appropriate materials. Shelley Su is also a mountaineer who collects clays from all corners of the world to create natural finishes.
Nena Alava is a Bioconstructor, permaculturist and event organizer. She graduated from the Instituto de Permacultura e Ecovilas do Cerrado in Brasil. Nena has been a specialist in, and teacher of geodesic domes and tensile structures for more than 12 years. Since 2000, she’s been the Producer of the Boom Festival in Portugal — an independent art, music and cultural event that won the outstanding award of the Greener Festivals organization three times over. This independent award covers event management, travel and transport plans, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, fair trade, waste management and recycling, water management and noise pollution, and use of sustainable power. The Boom Festival is also part of the United Nations Music & Environmental Stakeholder Initiative, using the popularity of music as a means for raising public environmental awareness. Boom Festival was the only independent, underground, and no-corporate logo event included in the list of 10 festivals. It is considered to be one of the worldwide leaders in sustainable events solutions.
Char O’brien is a seasoned carpenter and specialist in bamboo. During her nine-year love affair building with bamboo in Hawaii and Vietnam, Char helped to manage a house building factory for Bamboo Technologies and was key in getting bamboo through the International Code Council (ICC) certification process, thus making it a permitted building material in the United States. Being a true bamboodist, Char learns and shares all she can about this noble plant, the cultures that embrace it and the possibilities it holds for reversing global warming. With 1,500 documented uses, bamboo is perhaps the most useful plant on the planet that deserves to become a widely used building material. Bringing bamboo and bamboo biochar to the forefront of the carbon draw down movement is Char’s passion. Be prepared for her evening power points on bamboo as well as the climate change issues that face every sentient being on the planet. In addition to her devotion to bamboo, Char was an early adapter of the strawbale house and rubble trench and has spent many years farming organically and working with high genetic dairy cattle. Here are several videos of Char and her work: www.vimeo.com/4874396, www.vimeo.com/11748218, www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Czs3kI8Rk4
Lina Ogar was inspired to “live in a manner more natural and in accordance with the cycles of nature,” which led her to the Center of Permaculture in Mallin, Argentina in 2007. There, she found natural building as a form of expression and teamwork as the key to her vision’s purpose. Since then Lina has participated with the Department of Natural Building and Appropriate Technology, where her expertise has been the production of natural building materials and work in natural finishing (scratch coat, modeling, natural paints fine plaster). In addition, she actively participates in the Volunteer Program which promotes and coordinates the daily activities of the center with the team and promotes education through living experience. Five years ago, she was part of the creation, facilitation and production of Summer Workshops in Natural Building for CIDEP in different parts of Patagonia and is a member of the group, Bioconstruyendo Patagonia.
Paulina Avila Rivera is partnering with WASI as a Permaculturist, natural builder and community organizer. She is the Founder and Director of the Appropriate Technology Department of CIDEP (Centro de Investigación, Desarrollo y Enseñanza de Permacultura)–a Permaculture center in Patagonia, Argentina. Paulina is a specialist in bioconstruction with a passion for the finishing details. Since 2005, she has led bioconstruction courses in Argentina, Chile and Brasil, empowering thousands of enthusiastic new builders and other professionals. She initiated a number of cooperatives, innovative community projects, training programs, and policy changes that are setting new trends throughout the Southern Cone of South America. Paulina is also the project and event coordinator for Bioconstruyendo, an annual international gathering that she co-founded in 2007. Paulina organized and hosted WASI’s inaugural training convergence in March 2012.
Adriana Simic joins WASI as an instructor of the two-week training in Patagonia, Argentina and as a consultant to the community field projects that will happen throughout South America. Adriana specializes in sustainable participatory development and popular education. She has always been connected to living with nature through connecting with plant and animal communities in diverse geographies. She has also worked with trade union camps on educational and recreational activities throughout Argentina. The combination of these experiences and her background in Science Education inform and strengthen her passion for teaching and facilitating groups. She is part of the Black River Middle Level Education Reform in Patagonia where she coordinates workshops for educators and teens. She has also been a coordinator for a rural cooperative middle school, for exchanges between service cooperatives and small regional producers, and for a group of rural women developing productive enterprises and activities. Since 2005, Adriana has been working at CIDEP (Centro de Investigación, Desarrollo y Enseñanza de Permacultura), training Permaculture participants during meetings and workshops and working in the native plant nursery.
Steveo Brodmerkel is a teacher, consultant, designer, and builder with over 20 years experience in the building trades. After conventionally re-modeling more houses than he cares to count, Steveo discovered the mud, and went on to build one of the most beautiful earthen homes in the United States. Steveo is in awe of the beauty, simplicity and possibilities that lie within earthen construction. He is an enthusiastic teacher, ready to share his discoveries of building. Steveo is based in Asheville, North Carolina.
Meka Bunch has been teaching with Kleiwerks International since 2003. He has been an avid natural builder since 1997 when he began the creation of a gorgeous cob studio in Wolf Creek, Oregon. Ever since, he has been muddin’ it up, creating public community kiosks, benches, sweat lodges, wood-fired baking ovens and small living spaces. Meka has worked with community groups in Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, Oregon, California and North Carolina. He loves sharing with people who are excited about implementing sustainable practices into their lives.
Mollie Curry has been teaching with Kleiwerks International since day one. She is founder of Earth Circle Natural Building, and co-founder of MudStrawLove with her partner, Steve Kemble. Mollie started her career in natural building in 1996, and has been teaching and building throughout the southeastern United States ever since. Mollie teaches cob, plastering, straw bale, straw-clay, earthen paint, earthbag, and carpentry, as well as permaculture.
Lydia Doleman has years of experience working with various methods of ecological construction. As founder of Flying Hammer, Lydia has helped bring natural construction to Portland, Oregon. She works with Dignity Village, a homeless tent city, demonstrating how to build low-cost, environmentally friendly housing. Lydia led the construction of their first strawbale house with scrap lumber and recycled windows that cost only $500USD. The City of Portland was so excited they officially declared Dignity Village a campground, allowing Lydia, Village residents, and suporters to build more straw & clay housing. Lydia loves working with community members in participatory processes that enable everyone to learn by doing while having a good time and meeting new people. She has been a lead instrucutor at Colorado’s Solar Energy International, and worked with Kleiwerks International in Argentina in 2003.
Eva Rose Edleson is a builder with over 10 years of experience. She specializes in cob and pallet construction as well as in natural finishes. Eva has trained and worked with the most-respected natural builders in North America, as well as in Argentina. She has combined research and experience into a successful natural building practice called Firespeaking, based out of Eugene, Oregon. Eva was an instrumental founder behind the nationally-recognized City Repair’s annual Village Building Convergence in Portland, Oregon — an example of urban revival through the strengthening of neighborhood communities and the introduction of earthen building in the city landscape.
Steve Kemble, with his partner, Mollie Curry, co-founded MudStrawLove, a design/build company that specializes in natural building. He is an engineer who has been consulting on, designing, and constructing natural buildings since 1990. When the strawbale revival started, Steve attended the first ever class on the subject, immediately went home and designed his own house, then hosted the second ever strawbale workshop the following year. Steve has produced two landmark videos and a booklet on straw bale construction. Last, but not least, he is an African drummer aficionado, living in Asheville, North Carolina.
Kevin Rowell has worked with community leaders and organizations in Haiti, Laos, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and throughout the United States. Kevin is devoted to the study of sustainability in international development with a passion for natural materials and their use in construction. In Haiti, Kevin worked with The World Monument Fund to preserve traditional architecture, and with the United Nations to facilitate over 100 NGO’s, professional groups, and governmental officials to improve the use of local materials in the reconstruction of Haiti. He has cultivated networks of international and Haitian sustainability experts to shape positive community driven redevelopment. Kevin co-founded The Natural Builders, a contracting company does cutting-edge green building and development, as well as large scale international art installations. His work has been featured in the New York Times, and the documentary “Dirt.” Kevin engages audiences to act on behalf of our planet, while providing powerful ways to work with communities locally and globally to create a more sustainable and peaceful world. Kevin worked with Kleiwerks International in Thailand, Laos, Haiti and the United States since 2003.
Carol Stangler is author of The Craft and Art of Bamboo. As an environmental artist she started earnestly working with bamboo in 1991 when she received grants to experiment artistically with bamboo. Since then she has traveled to Japan, built distinctive fences, discovered and developed techniques and has researched sources for tools and materials…all for her love of bamboo. Along with workshops and residencies she also teaches at the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has received numerous grants and honors, including the 1997 Georgia Arts Commission on Women Award for her “Outstanding Contribution to the Visual Arts.” She currently lives and works in her “Bird Tribe Studio” in Asheville, NC, and has been a guest instructor with Kleiwerks International since the early days.