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“I went to architecture school and was starting to get depressed about my profession, my path, and the world. Coming to the Natural Building Extravaganza was like a full 180! I feel so inspired, alive, excited again for how I can give back and literally make my dreams come true. This was a significant experience for my soul. I learned more this week than all my years in school. Thank you!” ~ Carl

20 hands-on natural building workshops & classes + an instructor team with more than 122 years of collective building experience!

Tentative: July 19-26, 2015 (any changes will appear by or before November 1st) Asheville, NC, USA. Exact location TBA. See Early Bird Discounts below. Covers tuition, workshops & materials. Lodging, food & transportation are not included.

The Natural Building Extravaganza (NBX) offers a comprehensive smorgasbord of hands-on workshops, classes, slideshows, a field trip and special projects. Participants will learn how to create beautiful, affordable, natural dwellings using local clay, sand, straw, bamboo, and other abundant and salvaged materials.

Hands-on projects
• Wall systems: Cob, adobe, slipstraw, wattle & daub, and more
• Oh, the glorious art of mixing and making with mud, quickly
• Natural finishes: Earthen and lime plasters and paints
• Living Roofs: Micro-designs & implementation
• Wood-fired: Baking oven
• Carpentry: Some basics
• And more, always more!

Theory & presentations
• Community mud stories from around the world
• Characteristics of natural materials & Mud 101
• Natural engineering & structural integrity
• Designing a Nest: Intuitive home design
• Roofs: Connections & considerations
• Pro’s & con’s of various wall systems
• Site selection & passive solar design
• Basics of electricity & plumbing
• Thermal mass & insulation
• Foundations & drainage
• Straw bale building
• Rumford Fireplace
• Earthen floors
• Living roofs
• And more

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. Wonderful instructors, beautiful setting and the best brought out of us all. Learning the art and beauty of mixing dirt, clay, straw, bamboo and wood to create nearly any type of structure has been true inspiration.”  ~ Chris

Today’s building industry uses half of our planet’s resources while generating half of our waste stream. This is due to over-sized, toxic building practices. Yet natural, small footprint alternatives exist that meet our basic needs while using healthy and abundant materials. The natural building movement sits at the nexus of a growing global network of solution-oriented initiatives that affirm and strengthen harmonious ways of living on this Earth. We believe that these practices can play a profound role in supporting a thriving humanity and planet, free of financial and toxic soul debt. Natural building is a part of a way of life that helps us live into our potential as Earthlings.

“Natural building is a part of the sustainability movement that is rapidly growing in our world. I love it! I’ll take this knowledge deeper, building and designing projects back home.” ~ Shelley Stenzel, Apprentice who went on to start Vernaculart, a thriving natural building cooperative in Chile

The NBX will be an inspiring and close-knit community learning environment. Together, we will build projects based on natural systems, work with our passions, learn a ton, and work together toward creating a transformative experience. When people come together in the mud from a variety of backgrounds, ages, experiences and purpose….life isn’t quite the same. Come join us for this mud’alicious experience!

“The earth was an active teacher at the Natural Building Extravaganza, sharing it’s wealth of knowledge in the form of stone, wood, clay, water and straw. Coming into contact with these materials under the guidance of amazing human teachers demonstrated to me that there is a way to live in partnership with the earth in a simple and honoring way. I rejoiced in the fact that in working in harmony with nature, there is the possibility to be healed individually and collectively while meeting our basic human rights such as housing.” ~ Katy

2014 INSTRUCTORS (2015 team will be similar – exact lineup TBA)

Janell Kapoor1Janell Kapoor is the founding director of the Ashevillage Institute and Kleiwerks International. She is an avid mud mama, international activist, designer, teacher, and community organizer whose work has generated natural building movements amongst hundreds of thousands of people from over 52 countries. Janell 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.

Mark Lakeman
Mark Lakeman is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed, facilitated, or inspired designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone. Through his leadership in Communitecture, Inc., and it’s various affiliates such as the The City Repair Project, The Village Building Convergence, and the Planet Repair Institute, he has also been instrumental in the development of dozens of participatory organizations and urban permaculture design projects. Mark works with governmental leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions in many diverse communities.

Steveo BrodmerkelSteveo Brodmerkel is a builder and building trouble-shooter extraordinaire, who has been working in the building trades for 30 years. He is an enthusiastic teacher, builder and designer who has a knack for creating effective, streamlined building systems, as well as easy-to-grock learning experiences. Steveo is the lead instructor with the Natural Building School. His very first natural building project is one of the nation’s finest (which we will visit during the NBX!). When Steveo is not putting materials together (or dreaming of doing so), he is hangin’ with his daughter or dreaming up new projects in, and around Asheville, NC.

mollie curryMollie Curry is co-founder of MudStrawLove with her partner, Steve Kemble. She started her mud career at Earthaven EcoVillage, and has been teaching natural building across the southeast since 1998. Mollie is deeply versed in cob, straw bale, slipstraw, earthbag, carpentry, as well as permaculture. She has a particular passion for earth plasters and paints. Mollie has written articles for various publications on natural building, permaculture, and other practical, spiritual, and emotional topics, including Beauty. Mollie has run her own natural building business since 2003. In her earlier days, she was a wilderness forest ranger and spent much time alone in the wilderness.

Karen GeorgeKaren George began her natural building career in 2012 when she participated in Kleiwerks International’s 4 month women’s natural building apprenticeship. Since then, Karen has kept herself fully immersed in the natural building world in both the US and Central America. She has worked with well known natural builders, such as Barefoot Builder, Earthen Endeavors, Highland Artisan, and Heirloom Timber Framing, and has since founded her own small enterprise, Build Like a Bird Natural Building. Karen loves teaching, learning, and building. Watching people realize the potential that lies under their feet and within themselves is Karen’s favorite part of building workshops.

Steve KembleSteve Kemble is an engineer who has been involved in the straw bale building revival from the beginning. He attended the first ever class on the subject in 1990, then designed his own home and sponsored the second straw bale workshop (ever). Steve co-produced the first video on strawbale, as well as the book, How to Build Your Elegant Home with Straw Bales, and a Straw Bale Home Plans booklet. He has been teaching ever since, including a wide variety of techniques in varied climates. Since age 10, Steve has been pursuing percussion passionately and persistently. Steve is co-founder of MudStrawLove with his partner, Mollie Curry.

Meka Bunch (new)Meka Bunch has been teaching with the Ashevillage Institute since its founding. In 1997, Meka began the creation of a gorgeous cob studio in Oregon. Ever since, he has been been muddin’ it up, creating public community kiosks, benches, wood-fired baking ovens and small living spaces. His passion for public interface inspired the co-founding of OPEN, a community place-making initiative, and the Artisan Builders Collective, which celebrates the craft of natural building. Meka was a lead instructor with Kleiwerks International in Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, and throughout the United States. He loves working with others who are excited about implementing sustainable practices into their lives.

“The quality of information, care and attention given to each participant was extraordinary. The Natural Building Extravaganza delivered everything it promised and more. We were not only taught the principles and mechanics of each building system, but how to draw on our own creative process to apply them. You will not meet a more heartfelt, dedicated team of teachers and assistants. You might even leave with a new community of friends to help you build that project you have always dreamed of.”  ~ Michael

Asheville, North Carolina is based in a food-centric and ecological lush bioregion, surrounded by the oldest mountains on the planet. The hoppin’ downtown is full of local artisans, organic restaurants, farmer’s markets, street buskers, yoga studios, and independent everything. It just became the first Bee City, USA. It’s also the #1 Beer City in the country. There’s tons to do, so stay a couple extra days if you can!

Lodging and meals are not included in the fee. Through a partnership with the Ashevillage Sanctuary: Downtown’s Eco-Sweet Retreat, discounted shared rooms are available. The discounted rate for NBX participants is $50 per person per night. This includes a shared spacious kitchen, living and dining room, office, and bathrooms, as well as wifi and laundry facilities. Ashevillage Sanctuary is based on a beautiful one-acre eco-urban permaculture site with access to 60 acres of woods and trails. It is a 10-minute walk from the thriving downtown with many local restaurants, a food coop, cafes, and more. The Blue Ridge Parkway is about a 10 minute drive away. To book your stay, email, and mention NBX. This is a first-come, first-served offer. There are eight indoor beds and four private tents (with beds). Other lodging options include couch surfing and hotels.

“The Ashevillage Sanctuary is a gorgeous example of how you can turn a home and yard into a little paradise. I love this place! I slept so well. My room was beautiful, with earthen curved corners, niches, and clay paint. Everywhere, I saw beauty. I highly recommend that future participants stay here. Thank you!”  ~ Kate

For meals, participants need to bring a bagged lunch, or can enjoy Asheville’s incredible array of local, organic and affordable restaurants. Our favorites will be shared upon arrival.

Students will be accepted based on a first-come, first-served basis. We do expect to fill, so the sooner you register, the more certain you will be to get muddy with us!

Early Bird Discounts are available for those who pay in full before the dates listed:
• EARLIEST BIRD RATE, through August 15: $777 
• EARLY BIRD RATE, through October 1st: $888 >> AVAILABLE NOW*

Raising your own funds: Please see the Participant Fundraising resource page. If you would like further tips on how to seek sponsors/financial support, contact us.

Scholarships: We have very limited scholarships, which are reserved for community activists and people of color who are based in Asheville, NC.

Please note: The fee includes tuition, field trips, and all materials. Transportation, meals, and lodging are not included. Ashevillage Sanctuary provides discounted shared rooms in a beautiful eco-urban guest house that is an easy walk to downtown, food coop & restaurants.

“I definitely got more out of this than what I expected. I feel like I learned so much more this week than a whole year of school. It was absolutely worth every penny it took to get me here.”  ~ Sarah

Registration is first come, first served. To register, follow these steps:

  1. Send the survey below. Copy/paste and send your completed survey to with the questions included in the body of the text, and she will get back to you within three business days with details.
  2. Reserve your spot. Your place in the program will not be reserved until payment is complete. Please select the fee date that works for you from the Fee Section above. Then click on the ‘Register Now’ button below to pay by credit card:
  3. Payment plan options are available for a slight increase in fee. For details, contact us.
  4. Payments are non-refundable. Please see our cancellation policy for more details.

The intention of this survey is for our team to get a sense of your skills and background. Please copy, paste and answer the following questions. Send in an email (in the body of the email or attached as a Word document) to with subject line Your Name: Natural Building Extravaganza. Thank you.

1. Name, date of birth, phone, email, home address, name of workshop.
2. How did you hear about the NBX? Please be as specific as you can.
3. What do you hope to gain from participating in the NBX?
4. How do you intend to integrate what you learn into your life?
5. Do you have a follow-up project? If so, what is it?
6. Please describe any related building experience that you have?
7. Will you be paying based on the early bird special? If yes, by which date will you make your full payment?
8. Would you like to stay at the Ashevillage Sanctuary? If so, we will contact you separately to make your reservation.
9. Is there anything else that you would like us to know?

Kathryn Blau
Outreach Coordinator

If you like this program, you might also like:

 • Natural Building School     •[Permaculture Certified] Eco-Urban Homestead Apprenticeship