Hello everyone! This is Gabriella and Andrew with a special note about this 27 day hands-on workshop experience. We are thrilled to share an exciting collaboration with the amazing folks at Earthville Network. They are creating Windhorse Village, a sustainable community development project on 640 acres west of Durango which we are honored to be involved with.
Over the course of 27 days we’ll be offering an incredible opportunity for a fully immersive retreat experience. Not only will you have the chance to attend 3 phenomenal, hands-on construction workshops, but you’ll also be able to join us in our brand new Journey Back to Center Experience. If you’ve been feeling ready for a truly transformational experience, we hope you’ll join us for this 27 day retreat.
Your home for the immersive experience is the stunning mountain landscape just west of Durango where you’ll be able to unplug from the day-to-day habits and patterns that have perhaps been weighing you down. Your body will be supported by organic deliciously prepared vegan meals (one of our facilitators used to run a vegan café in the Dalai Lama’s exile hometown of Dharamshala, India.), daily yoga opportunities (one of the facilitators is the co-founder of Routes of Yoga), miles of pristine nature to explore (two of our facilitators are professional wilderness guides/experiential educators), and an invitation to take a break from recreational substances.
Over the course of 27 days you’ll attend these 4 workshops:
-A 5 day personal growth event called The Journey Back to Center Experience
-A 5 day hands-on event called Touching Earth Workshop
We truly hope you’ll join us on this never-before offered retreat experience. It will be an incredible opportunity for personal growth, body cleansing/rejuvenation/healing, reaching a high level of proficiency in straw bale construction and natural building, and for creating life-long friendships and connections.
Gabriella and Andrew
- This opportunity is limited to only 20 participants. Unlike other workshops we have run, we will not be able to add additional spaces once those spots fill. Please sign up right away if you want to attend.
- Your savings in this bundled package are so large that your tuition gives you 4 workshops for the cost of 3. In fact, you’ll pay less than $90 per day if you sign up using the pay in full option!
ABOUT OUR 7 DAY STRAW BALE WORKSHOPS
Aug 28-Sep 3, 2022
Sep 11-Sep 17, 2022
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 not just one, but at BOTH our seven-day, hands-on workshops during this special 27 day full immersion experience.
You’ll learn new things at each of these 7-day, hands-on straw bale workshops as each class will offer different supporting projects as well as the main build. As such, you’ll have the opportunity to deepen your understanding of “standard” straw bale construction techniques while expanding your learning into new areas with the supporting projects. This is an outstanding opportunity for those who truly want to master the process of straw bale construction.
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 and larger challenges to managing personal stress during the build and in life in general.
READ EACH FULL WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
ABOUT THE JOURNEY BACK TO CENTER EXPERIENCE
Sep 5-Sep 9, 2022
Are you ready to let go of the daily nagging thoughts, the “I’m not good enough” mantra, and the seemingly endless chatter that keeps you stuck in a life of suffering? Even though we tell ourselves that these thoughts are “no big deal,” we’ve all experienced the moments that show us how big of a deal they can be!
Whether you experience a quiet aching for something more in your life, or are stricken by an overwhelming sense of grief, frustration, anger, or despair, there is a place within you that is pure peace and endless freedom from this perceived “norm.”
Journey back to center, your center, and remember the truth that you once knew: you are enough, you are loved, you ARE love, and you are perfect exactly as you are. There is no pathway, no road to take. There is no need to travel through suffering to discover freedom. There is, however, an opportunity to allow curiosity to be your guide.
We invite you to take a risk and to dive deeply into yourself, into your truth. Know the inner calm and joy that comes with reconnecting to your inner presence. Join us for five days and experience all of yourself: your beauty and your perceived ugliness. Discover the courage, strength, and power that you are as you descend into the darkness with the curiosity of a child exploring a cave of wonders! Allow the connections to the other participants to support you; held and loved in a safe space to “let go.” Lift yourself into the clear greatness of Self as you rise into a new life, a new way of experiencing the world around you, and a new vision of just how beautiful you are, right here; right now.
READ THE FULL JOURNEY BACK TO CENTER EXPERIENCE DESCRIPTION HERE
ABOUT THE TOUCHING EARTH WORKSHOP
Sep 19-Sep 23, 2022
A five-day residential workshop-retreat exploring earthen building techniques and our connection to nature
This workshop will be taught by Mark, Daphne, Anya, and James
Hands-on learning projects will include:
- Applying clay plaster to the interior straw bale walls of our new studio building (see below)
- Making a traditional earthen floor (using mud and cow dung)
- Making traditional adobe bricks (sun-dried blocks made of clay and a bit of straw)
- Creating optimal mud mixes for all of these applications (plasters, floors, bricks and mortar), including DIY soil testing, harvesting, sieving, pugging (mixing), preparing, and testing the mixes.
Other possible hands-on projects if there is interest and time after completing the main work:
- Exploring the basics of earthen masonry — how to build an adobe or cob wall — including best practices, bond patterns, etc.
- Doing some of the clay work for a large solar cooker (inspired by the design of the solar cooker at our center in the Himalayas).
The hands-on work will be enriched by discussions, presentations, and other activities to provide greater depth and breadth of knowledge, including discussions of best practices for all of the above activities, and why each of them matters.
- A presentation on earth as a building material, including both the science of how earth holds together as a building material, and the art of earthen building as explored through a slideshow discussion of earthen architecture around the world (including our eco-campus in the Himalayas).
- An overview of other earthen building materials and techniques, with a look at the pros and cons of each, and how to evaluate the best materials and methods to use in your own unique situation.
- Daily morning yoga and meditation practice to ground into our earth body, restore balance and vitality.
- Discussions exploring our connection with the Earth, and with nature more generally, and how we cultivate a deeper sense of connectedness with nature in a cultural context that has lost most of that wisdom.
- Meditative nature walks and other opportunities to observe the earth in the context of the site and discuss what we observe.
All of the above activities together will provide a well-balanced integration of theory and practice, will empower participants with basic skills and important sensitivities, and will provide a good foundation for further explorations (whether those might be with us or elsewhere).
READ THE FULL TOUCHING EARTH DESCRIPTION HERE
*Click HERE to go straight to check out links
for the 27 Day Workshop Package*
THE WORKSHOP SITE
Your 27 day full immersion workshop experience will be held 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 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 uphol
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!
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING WITH A CONTEMPLATIVE FLAVOR IN THE LAP OF NATURE
One unique feature of these workshops is the fact that they are offered in a series with something new to be learned and experienced in each of them. Even the two seven-day straw bale workshops, while having much in common, will have a few different features, activities, and conversations.
Another unique feature of these workshops will be the holistic and contemplative thread that runs through the whole series. As meditators/yogis/outdoor educators, we (your hosts) have dedicated much of our lives to guiding experiences to cultivate sensitivity to nature, to our fellow beings, and to harmony through design. One of the reasons that we decided to build our Sound & Form studios over the course of several workshops instead of squeezing it all into one is that we find value in approaching work as a meditation, with warm-hearted presence and awareness, so we encourage participants to take the opportunity to do the same by working at a pace that is conducive to mindfulness and finding joy in the work itself and cultivating attention to detail, and in the connections with those around us. The extra time will also allow space for those interested in learning more about natural and sustainable building to join us in conversations to explore various topics in more detail.
The contemplative, reflective, meditative flavor of the 27 day immersion workshop will be supported by daily 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 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.
The one day gaps between workshops will be days off and everyone who is staying for more than one workshop is welcome to remain on-site. Because we realise many people will want to explore the local area on these gap days and might be eating out, meals will not be provided on these gap days unless requested in advance. On these gap days pre-made meals will be $10 per person per meal.
This is an amazing 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 (especially in the evenings or during the one-day free days between the workshops) 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.
CAMPING & FACILITIES
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. There will be a communal kitchen (our first straw bale structure!) with both shaded and sunny seating areas. 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.
WHAT WE WILL BE BUILDING TOGETHER
The building project for these workshops 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. The exterior walls will be plastered with lime (during the seven-day straw bale workshops) and the interiors will be plastered with clay from our own site (during the five-day Touching Earth workshop).
Other special features we may build during the seven-day straw bale workshops (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.
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.
Learn to raise bale walls and apply lime plaster; work with earth in the form of clay renders, adobe and earthen floors; explore possibilities for more nature-sensitive approaches to living — and all of that while taking care of the body with yoga, healthy organic vegan food, good sleep, evening strolls through nature, good conversations with kindred spirits, and plenty of music and sharing in the evenings
What’s Included in Your Tuition?
All workshop participants receive the following with their registration…
TOP NOTCH INSTRUCTION FROM A TEAM OF EXPERIENCED FACILITATORS PLUS…
• 3 HEALTHY VEGAN MEALS/DAY (except for 1 day breaks between each of the 4 workshops)
• 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)
27 DAY WORKSHOP PACKAGE
*Aug 28-Sep 23, 2022*
28% of the proceeds from this workshop will benefit the Earthville Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to educate and empower compassionate global citizens in the US and worldwide.
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!
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.
Here is what fellow workshop attendees are saying…
Karen Pope says…
“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.”
Mary Bushman says…
“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!”
Sharon Waldie says…
“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.”
Reid Heimbeck says…
“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.”
Joy Wagner says…
“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!”
Theresa Coleman says…
“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.”
Jim Ogden says…
“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.”
Leslie Arellanes says…
“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!!!!”
Doss Palmer says…
“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.”
Clint Pinder says…
“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!!!”
Jen Paulson says…
“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.”
Robert Roach says…
“We would not have had the confidence to try this project or to plan our house build without knowing and learning from you.”
27 DAY WORKSHOP PACKAGE
*Aug 28-Sep 23, 2022*
28% of the proceeds from this workshop will benefit the Earthville Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to educate and empower compassionate global citizens in the US and worldwide.