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Hosting a workshop


We enjoy teaching workshops on sites other than our own in Jacksonville, OR. We have taught House Alive workshop in Washington, California, South Dakota, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Panama and other places. We are keenly aware that there is a lack of workshops in the mid-west, the east-coast and across the globe, and, rather everyone having to fly to the west coast of the USA, it seems wiser for teachers to visit other places.


Hosting a workshop can be very beneficial and enjoyable. You can get a good start on a project, such as a small cottage, while spreading the knowledge of natural building in your area. You also benefit from the design and construction experience of our team so that your project has a greater chance of being successful. And last but not least, you enjoy the uplifting energy of forming a temporary community on your land, usually filled with hope and enthusiasm.

However, many people underestimate the work and preparation it takes to host a workshop and hence, this information to explain how you can qualify for hosting a workshop and how to go about the preparations.


The site

A good workshop site needs to have the space and infrastructure to function as a workshop site. It requires:

  • Comfortable, level camping spots for about 12 tents

  • Hot showers, toilets, washing and cooking facilities, and enough water for building (cob takes a lot of water)

  • Electricity for tools and slide presentations

  • A kitchen, big enough to feed 20 people (including pots, pans, plates, etc.)

  • An outdoor meeting and dining area

  • An indoor meeting and dining area for when it gets cold or wet


The project

Not every project is suitable for a workshop. Here are some things to consider:

  • The project has to be small enough so that many aspects of the building of a house can be taught during the workshop.

  • The location has to be suitable for a building, so no swamps, river beds or mountain tops.

  • A good portion of the materials need to come from the site itself or nearby.

  • We tend to prefer building places that are very public, or places that people will actually live in, rather than things such as private yoga studios.

  • We can’t stress enough that the purpose of the workshop is not to finish the building. We can not tell beforehand how far we will get as there are too many variables, such as number of participants, their working ability, weather, size of the project, quality of materials, etc. All we can promise is that we give your project a decent lift!


The food

The food is an important part of the workshop experience and requires a lot of care and attention. The host is responsible for hiring a full time cook with credentials in cooking for larger groups. The cook will have no time to participate in the workshop and needs to be fully dedicated to the work of providing excellent meals. The job can be split up between different people and cooks may volunteer their time, rather than getting paid.

The food needs to be fresh, plentiful, tasty, well presented and mostly vegetarian (with options for vegans).



The preparations

The following things need to be in place before the workshop starts:

  • The site needs to be level and prepared for the project, according to our specifications.

  • All the materials need to be on site, including sand, straw, clay, windows, doors, wood, electrical wire, roofing material, etc., all in appropriate amounts for the size of the project.

  • In most cases, the rubble trench foundation and the stemwall need to be finished according to our specifications. This is usually a serious project and the host should plan on at least two weeks of labor to get this done. For workshops longer than 2 weeks thistask may become part of the learning process during the workshop

  • All the infrastructure as described earlier needs to be in place, such as shower(s), toilet, kitchen, etc.

  • There needs to be an adequate number of simple tools on site: We usually need about 6 shovels, 2 wheelbarrows, 25(!) buckets, 3 hoses and some simple carpentry tools (saws, hammers, nails, etc).  We will provide additional tools unless we have determined otherwise.


Other requirements


  • The host, or the person preparing the workshop must have taken a cob or natural building workshop from us or any other comparable school.

  • The workshop needs to have one person participating full time, at no cost, who will be responsible for finishing the project. This does not need to be the host.

  • The host is responsible for recruitment of local participants. We may also post the workshop on our website. However, there is a great benefit in training local people as the forming of a natural building community takes place, plus there is a greater chance that people will volunteer after the workshop to get more experience and to help you finish the building!


Financial arrangements

Financial arrangements can vary a lot. Sometimes we may come to an agreement where we compansate the host for food and a cook. Other times, we may just "hire ourselves out" as workshop leaders at a daily rate. Some of this depends on who is responsible for recruitment of students, as well as the country or location and wether we are working with an institution or a private person.


Applying to become a workshop host

If you interested in hosting a workshop, please let us know through email. Feel free to comment on any of the issues addressed above.

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