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.
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.
-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
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
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
Other possible hands-on projects if there is interest and time after completing the main work:
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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
dobe 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
All workshop participants receive the following with their registration…
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.