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Are you excited about the idea of living in a straw bale house but unsure of how to make your dream a reality (or are flat out terrified to even get started)? Join us at our seven-day, hands-on workshop!
Our workshops are designed to meet the needs of both the novice builder and experienced contractor. Andrew’s grasp of construction technology, with over 20 years as a professional builder, comes through in his ability to explain each detail in a way that benefits all participants. Our goal is to prepare you with a truly well-rounded educational experience so when it comes time for your build, you have the confidence to handle anything that comes up from construction hiccups to personal stress management.
So, come and join us…we would love to have you with us! Our workshops are rewarding, engaging, highly informational, and an absolute blast! Truly, much, much more than just a workshop!!
We are Daphne, Mark, Anya, and James, your hosts at Windhorse Village, a newly sprouting sustainable community development project of the Earthville Network (a nonprofit whose work spans education, ecology, and the arts).
The site of what will become Windhorse Village is a 640-acre property located in the scenic Four Corners area of the Rocky Mountains, a 40-minute drive west of Durango, Colorado. Just east of Mesa Verde National Park, home of the famous Puebloan cliff dwellings and part of the traditional territory of the Diné (Navajo) and Ute nations, this sacred land has a long history of innovative, climate-responsive natural building, a tradition we aspire to honor, learn from, and uphold.
All four of us are experiential educators and creative types devoted to living in harmony with nature and supporting others to do more of that, too.
Mark is founding director of the Earthville Network and cofounder of Dharmalaya Institute for Compassionate Living in the Himalayas, where he has been leading earthen building workshops and internships for a decade or so. He’s also a music producer and meditation retreat facilitator working with Mingyur Rinpoche’s Tergar Meditation Community.
Daphne is a holistic architect and designer, yoga teacher and cofounder of Routes of Yoga, who has worked and taught around the world, including Bali, Thailand, India, Brazil, and at Dharmalaya Institute. She is particularly interested in the energetics of space and the study of nature’s design principles, and is a licensed practitioner of Biogeometry.
Anya has had the honor of being an experiential educator and wilderness guide in diverse communities and wild spaces around the globe. With a deep love and passion for permaculture, she is now most interested in cultivating a reciprocal relationship with Earth that honors the wisdom of the land. Though her creative spirit leads her into many different mediums, she is most moved by metal and stone.
James has devoted the past 20 years to leading and facilitating experiential education in wilderness, therapeutic, and international settings. True to his training in Aikido, James believes in the power of unity, harmony, and cooperation (and there is no greater teacher than Mother Nature). James may have a small infatuation with stringed instruments, but everything is under control folks.
The vision for Windhorse Village, in a nutshell, is to provide a nurturing environment for exploring the ways of nature, both within us and all around us, and the arts and sciences of living in harmony with her. This includes many approaches to natural and sustainable building, organic farming and permaculture, alternative education modalities, and other expressions of compassionate living and responsible global citizenship. The Windhorse campus is in the earliest seed-sprouting stages now, with only a few basic structures in place (including a straw bale kitchen, a geodesic greenhouse dome, and a Mongolian yurt), so you’ll be helping us take our biggest step yet in the development of the campus. As a small-but-spunky nonprofit, we are all volunteers and we rely on the help of kindred spirits to make the magic happen!
All four of us participated in Andrew’s straw bale workshop in Montezuma, New Mexico in August 2021, enjoyed it immensely, and were inspired to join forces with Andrew to synthesize his delightfully fun and informative straw bale workshops with the contemplative approach to natural building that Mark and Daphne have been offering in the Himalayas. Torrential brainstorms ensued, and the first fruit of our collaboration is this workshop series!
The building project for this workshop will be an ~1100 square-foot building that we call “Sound & Form.” The name comes from the fact that the two main rooms in this bungalow will be creative studios — one tailored for music, and the other for architecture and design. The building will also feature lofts, cozy bay windows with lovely views, bathrooms, wall niches, built-in shelves, and other special features. The building will use old-school mortise-and-tenon timber framing, which offers superior strength and beauty, as we’ll build the bale walls just outside the frame, leaving all that gorgeous wood exposed in the interior of the building.
Other special features we may build during the seven-day straw bale workshop (assuming timely completion of the principal work on the main structure up to the first scratch coat of lime plaster) include: a garden boundary wall with an integrated bench, and the straw-bale platform for a large solar cooker, inspired by the design of the solar cooker at our center in the Himalayas.
The contemplative, reflective, meditative flavor of the workshop will be supported by optional yoga sessions each morning, led by Daphne. Waking to the sounds of birds and our seasonal creek (if flowing) and then enjoying the yoga sessions will help settle the mind and warm up the body before we start the day’s work. These optional yoga sessions will be accessible to everyone regardless of prior experience and physical condition. It’s a high priority for Daphne to ensure that everyone is comfortable and well supported, so she will be happy to meet individually with anyone who has particular needs or questions.
We will also be supported by healthy and delicious organic food from all corners of the globe. (Mark was a restaurateur in a past life, running a funky vegan café in the Dalai Lama’s exile hometown of Dharamshala, India.) All meals will be plant-based (vegan), made primarily with whole foods, sourced as much as possible from our own greenhouse and gardens and cooked with love. We’ll also provide plenty of healthy drinks and snacks to keep the energy flowing in the day, and herbal teas to help us wind down in the evenings.
This is a wonderful place to unplug, detox, and take care of body, mind, and spirit. We invite you to let yourself experience the benefits of the combination of healthy food, fresh air, physical work, and take a break from those ever-present digital devices and other intoxicants in order to get the full benefit of the experience to refresh and recharge yourself.
We have no cell service on most of the campus (which creates a precious opportunity to turn off the phone!) though for those who need to check in with work or family it’s a short walk or drive to a spot with good signal.
Note that the campus is non-smoking due to extreme fire risk in this drought-addled region, and we invite all participants to take a break from alcohol and drugs for the duration of the program as well, to maintain the quality of presence that we seek to cultivate on this sacred land.
During your stay at Windhorse you’ll be able to explore the structures and features we have on site, and perhaps find ideas to adapt for your own projects. We’re also happy to hear about your building plans and share anything from our experience that might be helpful or interesting.
Other free-time activities on the Windhorse campus: walk the creek valley, hike up to the mesa, mountain bike through the 640 acres, toil in the garden, sing and play music, watch the birds, or just enjoy the serene beauty of the place.
Anya and James will be happy to lead guided nature hikes for the explorers among us.
Area activities that could be enjoyed before or after the workshop: Mesa Verde National Park (only about 45 minutes away), rafting in Durango, the cool little town of Mancos with it’s vibrant live music scene, swimming at Lake Nighthorse, exploring the Animas River Valley, taking the steam train up to Silverton for the views, or visiting Pagosa Springs (which boasts the world’s deepest hot springs), the native lands of the Four Corners area, or the mountain towns of Ouray and Telluride. See the website of the Durango Area Tourism Office for more information.
We have a beautiful and spacious campsite near the creek with plenty of room to accommodate everyone’s tents and vehicles (even RVs) among the trees and sagebrush. There will be toilets and showers in convenient locations, including composting toilets of our own design. We use mostly solar power, but we do have grid power near the building site for tools and EV charging (which you’re welcome to use if you’re driving an EV).
In case anyone prefers to book your own lodging off site, we will provide a list of local accommodation options.
We deeply appreciate your interest in helping us to create the first major building on our campus, and we hope to offer you a deeply nourishing, informative, empowering, and hopefully inspiring experience in return.
— Daphne, Mark, Anya, and James of Windhorse Village and the Earthville Network
All workshop participants receive the following with their registration…
TOP NOTCH INSTRUCTION FROM ANDREW (Priceless!!!) PLUS…
• 3 DELICIOUS VEGAN MEALS/DAY
• CAMPING SPACE
• SHOWER AND BATHROOM FACILITIES
“BE YOUR OWN CONTRACTOR” INSTANT DOWNLOAD VIDEOS ($34.99 Value)
22 PAGE STRAW BALE DETAILS INSTANT DOWNLOAD BOOKLET ($20 Value)
It is if…
You don’t want to be that person that says “How hard can it be?” and then becomes the cautionary tale amongst your friends and family.
You’re an experienced builder but want to learn all the nuances & ins and outs of straw bale construction.
You’ve already designed your home, or even started to build. Now you’re running into a lot of questions and challenges and aren’t sure how to move forward.
You want to save money by building your own straw bale house but also want to make certain that you avoid costly mistakes.
You’ve never built anything before and don’t know if you’re insane for even considering building your own straw bale house.
Create strong and durable walls by learning the techniques used by master balers.
Master the fastest knot tying system to save time and money on your project.
Andrew’s framing system speeds your construction and lowers your budget.
Learn how to simplify the incorporation of electrical wiring in your bale walls.
Create gorgeous curves and sexy transitions to create an inspiring home with the art of bale shaping.
Keep your house moisture & mold free with proper ventilation and window/door installations.
Include pockets of beauty in your home with the installation of straw bale niches or “nichos”.
Master effective strategies to install cabinets, partition walls, and other special installations.
Build a strong foundation for your home’s plaster and ensure years of protection for your investment.
Learn the art of plastering in order to create a beautiful and durable finish for your home.
Navigate the confusing world of paying for and insuring your straw bale home.
Ask me anything related to your personal project or general straw bale construction. ANYTHING!
Andrew has over 20 years of professional construction experience and in that time has done everything from design and build his own house, work as a licensed contractor and developer, give a TEDx talk (and numerous other presentations), co-author a national building code, to host several step-by-step instructional videos on contracting and building houses, and much more.
His greatest passion is teaching others how to build their own dream home and inspiring them to reach the highest level of their own greatness. Since 2006, Andrew has personally taught over 3,000 participants at his workshops. Through his kindness, sense of humor, and ability to teach complex concepts in easy-to-understand terms, his workshops are a mega-hit amongst his graduates. Make sure to bring your questions, curiosity, instruments (if you play any), and let’s have some fun while we build with bales!
“You truly are an inspiring teacher. All who are lucky enough to be your students receive the great gifts of your expertise, your humor, and your belief that we can all make a difference one home at a time. It was such a great pleasure to meet you and to be guided by you. I hope to be able to repeat the experience in the future.”
“Based on the information on the website and in the resource materials at strawbale.com I came to the Corvallis workshop with very high expectations. After a week of fabulous instruction and wonderful fellowship I am happy to report that my expectations were far EXCEEDED. Andrew is a teacher of rare talent. I will carry the lessons forward and am excited for the opportunity to use the new information to build our own straw bale heaven!”
“GO TO THIS WORKSHOP! I’ve been learning about straw bale buildings for years, and I can honestly say that Andrew is a natural teacher. He deals with real issues that any home builder might encounter, and handles it with actual how-to answers. Great motivation to continue in my quest to become a resident of a straw bale home! Thank you so much.”
“What an awesome experience. It was truly hard to leave and go back home. I realize that this workshop was so much more than just learning about straw bale construction. I met 40 amazing people and gained several close friends from it. You personally are an inspiration to me, a role model as someone who has intentionally created a fun and fulfilling life. Thank you greatly for that. All my best my friend.”
“It truly was a wonderful week of hard work, hands on learning, and infectious fun. I so enjoyed being a part of the process: making new friends, learning additional skills, and experiencing camaraderie which strengthened as the week progressed. I treasure the overall experience and look forward to having a building workshop on our 5 acres someday. Thank you for being our cheerful and fearless leader!”
“It is not only your experience that makes these workshops successful but your spirit and outlook on life. I was so impressed by how you can get a group of people to work so smoothly on a construction site, then at the end of the day still want to be around each other laughing and sharing. Once again thank you for such a great experience. Best Regards.”
“Andrew Morrison is an extraordinary teacher, a trusted leader, and a pioneer. It is through his passionate and enthusiastic approach, that he is setting new standards and raising the profile, credibility, and the global appeal of straw bale construction. All while sharing his love of life and his humor with us, the workshop participants.”
“Wow where do I even start? That was one of the best weeks of my life. I think Danielle and I are going to be your Straw Bale groupies. Thank you so much for creating such a magical workshop. Cheers!!!!”
“I have you to thank for the monumental shift in my life and honestly attending your workshop has been the best decision I’ve ever made to better myself.”
“This class literally PAID FOR ITSELF in the first day. The amount of knowledge that Andrew shared along with his ability to explain complex details in simple, easy to understand language made the educational aspect of this workshop amazing. AND, we had a blast!!!”
“A 10 day break from media and glowing screens, unplugged, submerged in a community of love and support is a life changing event. I am so fortunate to have had the privilege to experience this twice. Thank you.”
“We would not have had the confidence to try this project or to plan our house build without knowing and learning from you.”