On The Local CBS News Sacramento


We where interviewed by Sacramento CBS local news. Here is the footage. Corrections needed to be noted: first of all this structure was not the first natural building built in Nevada County, (not sure where she got that info). And we haven’t had 50 students graduate and get their contractor’s license. Dozen’s of homeowners is a bit of a stretch. But overall we really just appreciate the coverage. Thank you Angela Musallam for interviewing us.


2017 Natural Building Workshops

2017 Workshop Flyer 3

2017 Natural Building Season

2016 Natural Building Season

Natural Building, Permaculture, Yoga, and Meditation

Natural Building, Permaculture, Yoga, and Meditation

Natural Building Workshop: Cob Building, Natural Plastering, Earthen Flooring

Natural Living Skills                  

Expand your natural building skills, learn cob-building and build a cob bench, create an earthen floor, make your own natural plasters and practice artfully applying to finish a beautiful natural cob meditation chapel. Come for the weekend or stay for the full workshop for more hands-on experience. Just 25 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the quiet and beautiful pastoral setting and get a taste of community life. Camping, daily yoga classes and delicious vegetarian meals included.

Natural earthen floor.

Natural earthen floor.


Hands on Natural Building Experience

Hands on practice with several finishing processes on a recently built cob structure. The workshop includes working with exterior natural earthen plasters for preservation and artistic expression, install an earthen floor and build a cob bench. You will work with different earthen mixes using sand, clay soil natural oils and pigments that preserve and bring luster to wall finishes. Get a taste of all the techniques in the weekend workshop or gain more hands-on experience and finish the project in the full 6-day workshop.

2012 Living With Spirit Plastering the Bale Cob Classroom

2012 Living With Spirit Plastering the Bale Cob Classroom


Beautiful Natural Setting outside Portland, Oregon

The workshop will take place at Ananda Center at Laurelwood, a yoga and retreat center, 40 minutes from downtown Portland. Daily guided meditation and yoga included. Registration is limited to allow personalized hands on instruction. The building site is set on a lovely hillside with views of the coastal range and spectacular sunsets, starry night displays and a fun camp fire circle guaranteed! Enjoy the feeling of deep friendship that comes from building and working together and the family environment of our center with residents, interns and guests.

Instructor Pablo Loayza from Natural Living School

Pablo Loayza comes to us from Natural Living School, located in the foothills of the Sierras at the Ananda Village in Nevada City, CA. At Natural Living School, students learn to construct affordable, naturally built cottages and structures, gain experience and confidence to simplify their lives and create the potential for self-sufficiency. The Natural Living School is also a full service natural build and design company. Pablo apprenticed with Cob Cottage Company in 2010 and has been teaching and creating natural buildings ever since. Check out the Natural Living School site to see some of his latest projects!

Facilitator: John Gorman
Check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnandaGreenBuilders and if you have questions about the workshop, contact at (503) 516-7789

The Benefits and Beauty of Natural Building:

Building with earth encourages one to fully reevaluate how a living space should feel. Our eyes are opened to the beauty of a wall covered with clay plaster, alive with subtle variations of texture, color, and light. Cob and straw-bale walls impart solidity and shelter in a profound way. Structures and surfaces built by hand convey that they were built by people, for people, thus creating a nurturing experience for the sheltered. In contrast, modern industrial materials and design hide the humanity of the creator and frequently expose inhabitants to toxins. Until we are experience an alternative to sterile flat walls covered in plastic paints, we don’t really know what we are missing.

LWS Plastering classroom

Scratch coat, natural earthen plaster









-See more at: http://anandalaurelwood.org/program/cob/#sthash.ueTqXIPU.dpuf

The Natural Living School’s 2015 Programs

We are so excited to announce this years project:  The construction of a 1400 sq. ft. natural home for a local family here in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains.  This structure will be built using round wood timber framing, milled lumber from the land, straw bales and cob (bale-cob), and light clay.  The goal for this year is to build the foundation, get the straw bale walls up, timber frame the main structure, roof the home with the milled lumber, install all the windows and doors, and plaster the outside of the structure.  We will also be creating a permaculture garden and orchard for the homeowners.

2015 Natural Building Floor Plan

2015 Natural Building Floor Plan

Having one large project for the next two building season will allow the school to offer very unique programs based on the construction of a natural building.  This structure will be built following California’s building codes, which will give all aspiring builders a chance to learn how to build to code, using a majority of natural materials.  In our design, in collaboration  with the home owners, we will use; round wood timbers from the land, milled lumber from the land,  clay from the land, sand and stone from the local quarry, and rice straw from the valley. We will also use as much reclaimed building materials as possible.

2015 Natural Building Project

2015 Natural Building Project

We are honored to have this opportunity and equally as excited to share this project with all who wish to learn how to build a natural structure to code as well as deepening our practices of yoga, meditation, and self discovery.  We are looking to share this project with individuals whom have high energy, looking to work and learn in a spiritual environment.  Participants can join us for all aspects of the construction, or specific stages of the building process depending on when and how long they join us in the 2015 building season.

Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project

Framing for 2015 Natural Building Project

If you are interested in finding out more about our programs please visit our apprentice page, karma yoga program, or workshop page.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at info@naturalivingschool.com or call 530-268-5255.

We look forward to hearing from you…..


2014 Another Amazing Building Season

I want to first start by thanking all the wonderful participants that joined the Natural Living School in 2014! Completing yet another amazing building season.  We started this season by wrapping up last year’s greenhouse project. This included: adding windows, doors, greenhouse plastic and a finish plaster on the inside and outside of this cute greenhouse.  Thank you all who made this possible!

Highly insulated straw-bale wall on north side

Earthen Greenhouse

Earthen greenhouse - roundwood frame w/ cob & strawbale

Earthen greenhouse – roundwood frame w/ cob & strawbale










Next we started the construction of the “Ash-Room”, a cinder bath for goats, chickens and “Lilly the Donkey” to roll around on ash, keeping the mites off their skin and the sun off their backs. A project sponsored by ‘The Yogoata” of Ananda Village

Lath and Plaster with light clay/straw infill

Lath and Plaster wall system

 This structure is our first round wood timber frame to include lath & plaster, and light clay all together. It was lots of fun to build.

Some of the participants

July Workhop celebrating progress









We continued our work on the Wright Family Cottage, AKA the Studio.  Working with the county was stressful, but in the end we were able to give them what they wanted, and we passed our foundation and framing inspections.  Just a few more, including electrical, finish plaster, and then we get our Final.  Wooo, we are so close….











Roundwood plates and rafters can be seen!

The Loft in The Studio


Also at Melissa’s we built her a round bale-cob pump house that she will use as cold storage year around.  Thank you all who made this project a reality.

Big eaves minimize walls exposure

High School Boys Building a cob pump house

Foundation systems - French drain, earthbags and cob bond beam

Jeremy pinning re-bar through cob bond beam


Stay tune, we will be announcing next years project really soon……

Natural Building Certification Program

This year we are offering our first Natural Building Certification. Over the years we haven’t felt that this was a necessary step. I remember when I finished my apprenticeship at Cob Cottage Company, Ianto from Cob Cottage Company, asked us if we wanted our certification? If we did, he could print them on toilet paper for us to use later. He believes that certifications are worth as much, and are as useful as toilet paper.  This too, was my belief for the last few years. What’s a certificate for anyway? I don’t even know where my college diploma is, nor do I care to find it. The truest proof of knowledge is in practice. To truly understand is to continue to improve, learn from your mistakes, and transcend your practice to ever new heights.

Water Level Round wood timber framing

Well, it’s true, certifications are not that important in the long run, but after meditating on it for a while, I have come to understand the benefits. It’s not in the result, rather it’s in the process. To me, college was a joke. I did it because that’s what society and my parents said I should do to be somebody in the world. Though my college diploma is in some box in my storage, the experience I gained in research, staying up late to finish papers, seeing things through, and never giving up because someone says you can’t do it, are experiences I still use today. These practices have led me to research, and to find a way to build natural buildings that can be permitted, even though most people say it’s not possible. Over many days, months, and now years, we have finally been able to crack the code.

Cob Goat Shack Reciprocal Roof

Cob Goat Shack Reciprocal Roof

Our unique and progressive certification gives hands on experience and practice to all who are interested in constructing natural buildings that can be permitted in most counties across the country. Construction to satisfy municipal building codes gives you the freedom to create beautiful natural structures almost anywhere in the world. The certification program is designed for non-experienced builders, professional builders, architects, engineers, and designers alike. We have structured our program to allow this knowledge to be accessible to many different types of individuals, from those looking to study full-time, to those who need to participate part-time over a longer period. In the end you can lose, store, or use your certification however you want, but know this, the experience you will gain through our certification process, will never be forgotten.

If you are interested in receiving our certification in natural building, please take a look at our Certification Page.



Healing From The Inside Out


By Penelope Sullivan

I still smile when I recall how my quest to uncover the secrets of longevity led me to discover the presence of God and that true health and vitality begin within.

Seventeen years ago I was in my mid-twenties and working at an area health food store. This was a period when I had deeply begun questioning existence, purpose and what creates a truly peaceful and happy life. I also was considering becoming a naturopath and had been delving into the study of physical health.

To this end, I would question my long time regular customers on what they would attribute their longevity to. I always picked those that were in their eighties or nineties and were still smiling and had a bounce in their step, for I knew on some level they had something to share! Well, the answers were surprisingly the same and went something like this,”…Family, apple cider vinegar, and God………Family, black strap molasses, and God…..Family, peppermint tea for my heart….and God…”

I thought, “…Wow I know about family….I know about molasses…maybe I should find out about God….” And so, a two weeks’ notice and a bus ticket later, I found myself in northern California, at Ananda Village, a yoga community based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

To be clear I don’t even know if I had heard the word Guru before, probably not. I had fairly regularly practiced hatha yoga postures at home, but that was the extent of my direct experience of the yogic philosophy. So, needless to say, I did not know much. What I did know is that when I stepped foot on the land at Ananda, I was literally struck by the all-pervading stillness and quietness. It filled me and I experienced a deep sense of rightness.

I dove right into the activities. Besides regular meditations and yoga postures, karma yoga or selfless service, composed the biggest part of my day. So unlike the pervading theme of working at all cost for personal gain, karma yoga speaks of seeing Spirit as the doer behind all activity and the idea of being unattached to any end results. At first glance, this may sound dis-empowering yet I have found this practice very freeing and quite powerful. I began to imagine myself as a vessel through which this Grace or power can flow through. With this type of thinking, tiredness seemed to melt away as did the resistance that can so easily come up as we focus on our likes and dislikes and our own abilities.

I also learned that the word Guru translated to mean dispeller of darkness, and that yoga loosely translated to mean union with God. Most importantly, I was not only intellectually memorizing these ideas, I was actually feeling a “lightness” come into my life and an ever increasing sense of connection and depth within my being and with the world around me.

Because these concepts and experiences resonated on such a deep level, I was surprised when I saw how nervous and questioning my relatives and old friends became when I mentioned staying on at yoga community.

Unfortunately, God has gotten a bad rap. Perhaps it is from the organizations that emphasize that we are naturally sinners and separate from God…or perhaps it is from the organizations that ask for complete adherence to outward rules without offering much in the way of inner experience….perhaps it is the injustices that the civil and women’s rights movements have brought to attention in the not so distance past. Whatever the reasons, I have seen that many people are very afraid to give up their sense of personal power.

In addition, to many people, God is a very ambiguous term. The question then becomes what is God and what does he/she/it have to do with daily life?

I love the idea that each us on some deep level wants to be happy…wants to be at peace….and has felt an expansion within our being at some point in time. Personally, I tune into the aspects of Divine love, of peace, of bliss…of power…and feel these underlying currents rippling through my life and awareness. I feel this force that beckons me to go within and from this point of knowing to act in this world. I feel when my actions are in harmony with this inner knowing and when they are not, more and more. This to me and so much more is a beginning description of God….the tip of the iceberg…not even mentioning the vast and miraculous intelligence that surrounds us on the Earth and expanding outward to all creation. I love the idea that we each have our own, very intimate relationship and understanding, of the Divine. So for me, in beginning to think in this way, and open to this type of God, and then perform “mundane” activities such as cleaning or gardening, each activity became a liberating and sacred event…and in doing so began to transform my life.

Some friends and relatives who resonated with all of this, I found, still questioned why meditate so often? Why be so disciplined?

I began to see that few of us really know what freedom is. Our culture raises us to seek outside thrills and enjoyments. We have things to bring us up. We have things to bring us down. We are taught to strive for the biggest and the largest….and this is termed freedom and success.

The truth is as one of my favorite teachers HariDas said, “…we are all half-baked saints…” or as Yogananda said, “…we are all a little bit crazy…” In a nutshell, most of us are a mixed bag of contradictions and varying desires that are counterproductive and are largely driven by whims, passing fancies, more surface emotion.

I wanted discipline because through it, I felt free. I felt clearer within my own being. I still remember one of my deepest most profound mediations….While sitting in the quietness, I had this deep sense of sweetness….and it seemed to be saying…remember this…remember this quality…..It’s so easy to get caught up in everything going on, in the outside world…It can be so easy to get swept away by the pervading current….but remember that this sensation and feeling is always within you. Remember this….”

So what became of becoming a naturopath? Over time I did go on to get a degree in both nutrition and herbal medicine. Yet now the cornerstone of my practice is supporting and offering to others the gift in nurturing inner growth. I see that without that vital component, there is an integral piece of the puzzle missing. Then I bring in the physical elements. They too are important and have their own place. I love the story of Yogananda achieving a high state of awareness and then his teacher handing him a broom. His teacher told him that until we were beyond this world we could not neglect it. Likewise Yogananda said that almost all disease stemmed from poor nutrition. He emphasized the importance of whole foods, the healing power of greens, juicing, proper exercise and sunlight. He was and is the most holistic healer that I have ever read. …and yet he said take this all in and then forget about…..and not be fanatical. I see a lesson in this for most of us. I have seen people that only focus on the physical and are still full of discontent…and I also see very serviceful, beautiful people eat all kinds of things and really neglect their physical bodies…because they do not want to focus too much on the outward. I feel that if we can find a way to balance these different sides…we will flourish and see that they are but two sides of the same coin…and that in being physically healthy, the Spirit within us can shine and that if we deepen our Spirit and connection a vitality and Grace can flood our cells and our Presence. Blessings to you all!

Cover Phonto



Muddy Buddy Builders

by Ninette Warner


The “Muddy Buddy Builders” is a program for children and families, that teaches natural building in a fun and accessible way.  Here, children can learn how to build small structures with local earthen material, play nature games, increase their relationship with the natural world, and form connections with each other.  Kids love playing in the dirt, creating mud pies, and building forts. Through direct participation kids will develop this natural inclination to build with mud. They will learn to create actual model homes and villages, as well as other small structures; play houses, cob ovens, and whatever else the child can imagine. This knowledge is all applicable to real life, they will discover alternate ways of living, and building without using harmful manufactured materials.  They can use this experience and knowledge to one day build their own home!

Kid making a cob oven

Kids making a cob oven

The activities at the Muddy Buddy Builders will strengthen confidence, leadership skills, encourage outdoor play, learn the importance of working together, and living in community.  The days will be spent in construction; designing, learning about materials and techniques, preparing cob, building structures, and learning about natural finishes, as well as playing games of cooperation and nature games based on Joseph Cornell’s “Sharing Nature with Children.” Some basic yoga postures will be incorporated to balance our minds, get centered, and stretch out our cob muscles.


Muddy Buddy playing and building, Yes it can be both!

Muddy Buddy playing and building, Yes it can be both!

In today’s culture there is a huge emphasis on quick fixes, fast paced lives, and an educational system that has little focus on developing one’s creative problem solving, emotional well being, and critical thinking skills. Our children are taught that success is measured by the size of your house or how much money you make in a year. We gauge intelligence with standardized tests that focus primarily on how well one can memorize facts. In a society where our children are bombarded with various forms of technology, advertisements and media, there is a gross disconnect from nature and our place in it. Our world seems to be dominated by Facebook and other social media, and we have forgotten how to truly connect with one another.

Ninette, Esme and Solis getting slip on the earth bag foundation

Ninette, Esme and Solis getting slip on the earth bag foundation

I believe that it is of utmost importance that we foster social interaction by encouraging them to interact in a cooperative and overall positive way. Learning and experiencing sustainable living will do just that. Cooperation and interaction with both each other and our environment are inherent principles to sustainable living. Sustainable living is the attempt to reduce our dependency on Earth’s nonrenewable resources by living in community, using permaculture techniques, building with natural, earthen material and reducing our waste. This often means examining our lives and figuring out how to simplify. Building with our hands and with the resources we have available is a great way to learn how many things and how much space we actually need. Life becomes much more satisfying when we live more in tune with nature and with less focus on the material world.

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