Training the next generation of women leaders in the natural building movement!
Ideal Apprentices are women who want to work in the natural building trades, build their own house and houses of friends, start a business, teach others, move it n’ shake it in the ecological design-build movement, develop a peer-based council of support, immerse in a uniquely powerful opportunity….and take the next step!

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Photo credits: Kleiwerks International, Ashevillage Institute, Earthen Endeavors, CIDEP, El Manzano, The Brave New World, Highland Artisan




June 3 – Sept 28, 2012 Highland Lake Cove…on a lake! $5,000 total
Mondays – Thursdays Near Asheville, North Carolina, USA See below for payment plan options

Kleiwerks International and the Women of the Americas Sustainability Initiative (WASI) are offering WASI Apprenticeships in 15 countries across the Americas. The Apprenticeships are hands-on leadership trainings in ecological design-build practices for women. 8-12 apprentices + two assistants will be selected per country, each of whom will also do a follow-up project of their choosing after the four months is over. 100% of the proceeds from this Apprenticeship go to support WASI, which is an alliance of women leaders who construct, educate, organize, and advocate for strong and empowered communities through ecological design-build practices with the aim of creating a socially and ecologically resilient world. We welcome you to join today!

Today’s building industry uses half of our planet’s resources, yet healthy, time-tested, affordable, and soulful construction alternatives exist. These alternatives are based on reclaiming and refining the use of local clays, sand, straw, stone, wood, other abundant and recycled materials. Coupled with small footprint and Permaculture design systems, natural building technologies can play a profound role in creating powerful processes that are good for people and our planet. Natural building is a growing global movement that affirms and strengthens communities worldwide.

This 4-month, hands-on Apprenticeship brings together a close-knit team of women to live, learn, build (and have a blast) with Liz Johndrow as lead builder, and her assistants, veteran natural builders and community members. This is an incredible opportunity! Participants will learn how to build an entire cottage from start-to-finish, using a variety of natural building techniques. Our goal is that you will be able to build on your own following the Apprenticeship. You will also gain skills in: planning and coordinating a building site, working as a team, facilitating volunteers and visiting groups, what it takes to run a natural building business, networking with a global alliance of women leaders, development of media and storytelling strategies to share with larger audiences, as well as how to run a crowd funding campaign. After the four months: Apprentices are expected to build a project of their choosing, as well as share monthly updates with each other to continue the learning process. We want to work with women who will become an active part of this movement.

“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 and in my travels.” Shelley Stenzel, participant in a 6-Week Training who started a building collective in Chile


Throughout the four months, participants will engage in hands-on activities, workshops, classes and field trips, resulting in the full construction of a timber-framed cottage with earthen walls, natural finishes and connected earthen courtyard.

Hands-on projects:
Timber-framing: Design, timber selection, cutting, joinery and appropriate use of tools
Natural wall systems: Cob, slipstraw, varieties of wattle & daub, adobe
Earthen courtyard: Curvacious benches and walls, niches, sculptural details & bottle work
Natural finishes: Exterior and interior earthen plasters and paints
Basic additions: Installation of windows and doors
Roofing: Wooden shingles and other techniques
Earthen oven: Wood-fired cooking

Theoretical classes:
• The global context for natural building and community success stories
• Straw bale, earth bag and other wall systems not utilized in the cottage
• Passive solar design, “Designing a Nest” and “A Pattern Language”
• Foundation systems such as earthbag, stone and rubble trench
• Living roofs and roof connections to earthen walls
• Load bearing vs. non load bearing wall systems
• Basics of engineering and structural integrity
• Electricity and plumbing in natural walls
• Earthen floors and other floor systems
• Codes, permits and policy development
• Designing and managing a work site

Leadership & outreach skill-building:
Leadership development: Help facilitate visiting participants. Develop skills so you can work with others on your own projects.
Multimedia storytelling: Capture and share compelling stories of place, community and your own experience. Work with photography, videography, writing and interviews
Social media: Learn how to work with facebook, twitter, blogs, websites and crowd-funding as tools to grow the movement or your own business.

“Cooperation! Women building together. With our hands. We formed the walls and fireplace. Nail by nail, the creation of doors and windows. Every moment our relationships deepened. These seeds we have planted are rapidly sprouting. Our bright future lights up the world!” Carolina Soares, participant in 8-Week Internship


The apprenticeship runs for four months from June 3 – September 28, 2012.
Daily schedule: The work week will be Monday through Thursday. Meal preparation and daily chores will be part of the shared tasks of living and working together. Everyone will be expected to participate during the work week. Fri-Sat-Sun will be open, other than the exceptions below. On weekends, you will be free to do as you like. Meals will not necessarily be organized on weekends unless the group wants it.
Workshop Intensive: June 10-16: Timber Framing with Sarah Highland & Liz Johndrow**
Workshop Intensive: August 5-12: Intro to Natural Building with visiting instructors**
Two breaks: July 2-8 and August 20-26

** These workshops are open to the public. During the second workshop, apprentices will have the opportunity to assist Liz in site coordination and group facilitation.


Liz Johndrow
is working with the Women of the Americas Sustainability Initiative (WASI) as the delegate from the United States. Liz is the founder of Earthen Endeavors. Her 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.


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.

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 45 countries. Over the past 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.

$2,700 – Apprenticeship tuition & materials
$1,300 – Two week-long workshops
$1,000 – Food (mostly organic and local when possible)
Camping and a cooking area will be provided by Highland Lake Community
Total fee: $5,000. For payment plan options, see below.

Supporting WASI: After expenses are covered, 100% of the proceeds from this apprenticeship will go to the Women of the Americas Sustainability Initiative (WASI).

Deposit: A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 confirms your reservation. Final payment is due by May 3rd, unless a payment plan has been arranged.

Payment plans: Once your deposit has been paid, payment plan options can be as low as $1,000 per month over a four month period.

Sponsorships: Our previous participants who have tried to raise funds to participate in a program have succeeded. If you don’t have the full amount yourself, we are happy to share tips and sample sponsorship letters. Please ask Janell for details at

Registration is open until the Apprenticeship is full. To register, please complete the following:
1) Copy/paste the survey below into an email and send it with your responses to Janell at
2) Janell will contact you within three business days to confirm availability.
3) After you receive confirmation, a NON-REFUNDABLE registration deposit of $1,000 will confirm your reservation. Please send your deposit to: “Kleiwerks International.
4) The remainder of your fee is due on or before May 20th, 2012.

The intention of this survey is for our hosting and instructor team to get a sense of your skills and background. Please keep your survey to under two pages. Copy and paste the following questions into an email and send with your response to Janell at

1. Name, phone, email, skype, home address
2. How did you hear about the Apprenticeship?
3. How do you intend to integrate what you learn during this Apprenticeship into your life. Do you have a follow-up project?
4. What do you hope to gain from participating in this Apprenticeship?
5. Please describe any previous related experience that you have.
6. Given you will be part of a close-knit team, please share a little about your background working with others in a group setting, living collectively and related experience.
7. Please share three interesting things about your life.
8. If you didn’t do the Apprenticeship, what would you do instead?
9. Will you pay the fee up front or do you need to be on a payment plan?
10. Do you have any dietary restrictions?
11. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
12. Please supply the contact info for one personal and one professional reference.
Thank you.

Janell Kapoor, Director

We’d like to give a deep bow of appreciation to Sarah Highland of Highland Artisan, for her in-kind support. Please consider hiring her for your timber-framing or other natural building projects.

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