20 hands-on natural building workshops & classes + a team of instructors with more than 100 years of building experience!

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July 26 – August 2, 2014; Saturday to Saturday, including some evening events. Asheville, NC, USA. Exact site TBA. Lodging options at Ashevillage Sanctuary. $888-$1222. See Early Bird Discounts below. Covers tuition, workshops and materials. Lodging, food & transportation are not included.

“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, participant 2012

The Natural Building Extravaganza (NBX) offers a comprehensive smorgasbord of hands-on workshops, classes, slideshows, field trips 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
• Fire systems: Wood-fired oven & Rumford Fireplace
• Roofing: Connections, considerations & installation

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
• 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
• Earthen floors
• Living roofs
• And more

“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

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.

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, 2013 participant

The NBX will be an inspiring and close-knit community learning environment. Expect the best from yourself and everyone involved. Together, we will build projects based on natural systems, create a transformative experience, work with our passions, learn a ton, and work together in the spirit of creating a better world. 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 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, participant 2012

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.

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.

Meka Bunch (new)Meka Bunch
has been teaching with the Ashevillage Institute since day one. 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 Kleiwerks International and other community groups in Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, Oregon, California and North Carolina. He loves working with others who are excited about implementing sustainable practices into their lives.

mollie curry

Mollie 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.

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 went on to design his own home and sponsor the second straw bale workshop. 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 a number of climates. Steve is trained in Permaculture and also pursues percussion persistently and passionately…He’s been playing the drumset since age 10! Steve is co-founder of MudStrawLove, along with his partner, Mollie Curry.

Mark LakemanMark 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.

Other instructors
will be added as the NBX fills. The instructor-to-participant ratio will be roughly 1:8.

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!

“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, participant & house guest 2013

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 indoor/$35 camping per person per night. This includes a shared spacious kitchen, living and dining rooms, office, and bathrooms, as well as wifi and laundry facilities. Ashevillage Sanctuary is based on a beautiful one-acre eco-urban permaculture demonstration site, with access to 60 acres of woods and trails. It is a 10-minute walk, and 2-minute drive from the thriving downtown with many local restaurants, a food coop, cafes, and more. The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway is about a 10 minute drive away. To book your stay, email sanctuary@ashevillage.org, and mention NBX. This is a first-come, first-served offer. There are eight beds total, and four tent platforms. Other lodging options are here for hotels, and here for couch surfing.

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.

“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, NBX participant 2013

Students will be accepted based on a first-come, first-served basis. We do expect to fill, so the sooner you pay your deposit, 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 DISCOUNT, Before December 31: $777
• EARLY’ISH BIRD DISCOUNT, Before Feb 15, 2014: $888
• REGULAR BIRD DISCOUNT, Before April 1: $999
• REGULAR FEE, After May 15: $1222

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: Downtown’s Eco-Sweet Retreat provides discounted shared rooms in a beautiful eco-urban guest house that is an easy walk to downtown, food coop & restaurants.

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

  1. Send the survey below. Copy/paste and send your completed survey to amanda@ashevillage.org with the questions included in the body of the text. Amanda will get back to you within three business days to let you know if there’s availability.
  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 amanda@ashevillage.org 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?

Amanda Garrett
Outreach Coordinator