Natural Building with Spirit

To us building with spirit means working selflessly with joy, love, and intention.  The spirit in all of us, is co-creating with the spirit in nature, and working in cooperation with each other and those that will use the building.

If you have been lucky enough to be a part of working on something joyful, meaningful, and uplifting, you likely know what we are talking about.   I have spoken with artists that create from their heart and describe the experience like being in a deep meditation.

Kid are great natural builders, and they help bring joy and love to work site
With Kids at the work site, you will away have laughter and lots of positive energy

During the creative process, one of the most important things to consider is our state of consciousness.  Just like when we are cooking, if we are in a bad mood, angry, or just not enjoying the process, our food can absorb that energy, and can affect the taste, or even pass that negative energy to those eating it.  Similarly, when we are building with natural materials, our state of consciousness can be absorbed by the materials like clay, wood, and straw.  These vibration can stay in these natural materials and affect the energy or feeling of the building.

Have you ever been in a building that just felt cold, not in the literal sense, but in the energetic realm?  It’s not that it doesn’t look beautiful, or that it’s physical presence is intrusive.  These buildings at some level just don’t feel right.

In contrast, if you have ever been in a natural building or a building where the homeowner, builder, or architect put a lot of their joy, love, and intention into the building, you can feel the positive energy in the dwelling.

The Laughing house kitchen, an example of an uplifting building.

At the Natural Living School, we help the participants understand how important their consciousness is during the building process.  Not just during building, but during the whole process, including site location, design, and sourcing materials.  One of the ways that we help the participants, is by practicing meditation, yoga, sharing nature activities, and other uplifting activities to instill the principles of building with spirit.

You too, can join us this summer, and participate in a joyful, meaningful, and uplifting workshop.  Take a look at our programs page.

My Intro to Cob

My introduction to cob, and natural building came in the winter of 2010, when my wife brought home the The Hand Sculpted House” book, written by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley. She had been interested in finding an alternative to our busy city life. I worked for myself 50 to 60 hours per week, and we had very little quality time together.

One of the best books on Natural Building; a must have for the apprentice, workshop participant, or anyone interested in natural building.

The book talks about building homes out of mud, straw, and sand, which admittedly sounded very foreign to me.  I had experience in construction, restoring old portland homes, but at that time I was running a non-profit business helping the Hispanic community out of foreclosure.  I was too busy to give the book a second look, but my wife was convinced that natural building might help us bring more balance to our lives.

cob cottage garden wall

So she went online, and found out that the Cob Cottage Company was in Oregon, not too far from Portland, where we lived.  She also saw that they were going to have a work party.  She called and spoke with Linda Smiley, and we were invited to join the work party.  I was hesitant, but I agreed to go.

The Laughing House, a two level cottage, perfect for a small family

When we showed up, we found the location to be in the middle of the Oregon rain forest.  We arrived in the evening, so we couldn’t really experience the beauty, but the energy was surely felt.  As we walked up the trail, we saw a sign on the ground between two paths.  The sign read, “There are two ways to get rich, you can make more money, or you can require less.”

The Laughing house kitchen

We had already tried making more money, but what did it mean to require less?  We continued up the path to a beautiful building that had a living roof.  It looked like a hobbit house.  As we got closer, I realized how beautiful the building looked.  We walked in, and there were at least 15 people comfortably squeezed in the 10×20 ft space.  They all looked so happy, talking, eating, and laughing.

The Myrtle, a community building with the best Natural building library in the west coast
Inside the Myrtle

At that moment I knew that this place was special, and yes the buildings were foreign to me, but at the same time there was something very familiar. That weekend we spent time adding moss to the natural roofs, making a cat cob bench, playing with natural plasters, and enjoying the beautiful Oregon rainforest.

Cob bench made to look like a cat sleeping

After that weekend, my wife and I knew that this could be the answer we had been looking for.  Affordable housing, living closer to nature, and having quality time doing work that feeds our spirit.

The back of the bedrock, one of the most unique roof lines I have ever seen

We went back home, energized to find a way to leave the rat race, and move out into the country and build our own cob cottage.  Of course this was just a dream at the time, but little did we know how our life would change in the next couple years, all because of this one weekend. Come and join us during our work parties, and see if your life will change for the better.

Lions paw, a building we worked on in the summer of 2010

Thank you Adam Komosinski for some of these pictures.  My hard drive crashed and I lost many of my cob cottage pictures.  You can see Adams blog post here.