Community Building For A Community

Written by Gabriella

straw bale workshop group photoIt’s not everyday that people come together and build with each other. Not in these “modern times” at least; however, that is precisely what happened this last week outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. More than 40 people came together to learn, connect, have fun, and share in the experience of building a 5,300 SF Eco Solar Learning Center at the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center.

With a common goal in mind (to bale and plaster the Eco Solar Learning Center), the group put out an amazing effort to bale a space that will help teach both adults and children about living green, getting power from the sun, and the effects of our actions and inactions on the earth we all walk on together.

Ferncliff Straw Bale CenterPeople from different walks of life and different countries came together to work side by side. What we received was far more than an education in straw bale construction. We connected with each other and gained friendships that span across borders to Mexico and across the seas to the UK.

We learned about different religions from Presbyterian Christians to Buddhists.  We worked side by side with young adults volunteering their service through AmeriCorps, as well as with retired men and women, architects, builders, and many other individuals: again, all inspired by a common goal.

woman using nail gunThis week was inspiring, fun, and full of accomplishments. I can’t think of a better way to start the workshop season! I want to personally thank each participant, cook, organizer, child, and anyone else who was a part of this week for making my first trip to Arkansas so memorable. It was an honor to be part of this community and such a wonderful cause: teaching sustainability to our youth and adults. This lesson is so very needed in our time.

To visit Ferncliff Camps Facebook page to see more photos of this workshop and find out more about this amazing organization, please click here.

straw bale steel buildinggirl sitting on strawcouple in front of straw bale wall

2 Responses

  1. Amazing looking build! Congratulations. This building appears to be steel framed. I remember in your design course you spoke about the problems with metal (condensation, different shrinking/expansion, etc) and bales. How did you deal with that in this build? It also made me wonder about the welded wire mesh that is incorporated into all of the walls. How does their contact with the bales play out? Thanks

  2. Thanks Enga. The host’s carpenter built box frames around all of the steel and then insulated those boxes. We built our bales up to the boxes which acted like bale stops on the sides and top of the wall. It worked well. The boxes isolated the steel from the bales and provided an adequate nailing surface for our mesh.

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