Next meeting:
Sunday, April 9th, 2006, at 3 p.m., co-op community room

Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2006 15:08:02 -0400
From: Sarah Machtey <mudhome [at] netzero [dot] net>
Subject: BANG Sunday, April 9th, 3pm at the co-op

Hi All,

The next Brattleboro Area Natural-building Group (BANG) meeting will be at 3pm on Sunday, April 9th in the community room at the co-op.

Sorry for the short notice,

Quite a crowd for the permaculture intro last month—over 40 people, plus three presenters.

We got word that there will be a FREE strawbale workshop weekend in Chesterfield NH, on April 22-23. Sarah sent out the announcement to the usual contacts—and it immediately started making the local rounds something fierce. Expect a crowd.

(Sarah did a cob wall a few years ago in another project that the project's architect also worked on, in Maryland; here's some photos.)
From: Helaine Iris <>
Subject: Straw Bale House raising
To: Sarah Machtey <mudhome [at] netzero [dot] net>

Hello -

I'm glad I found you! We're building a straw bale house in Chesterfield, NH and have 2 day straw bale raising and workshop planned for April 22 and 23. I'd love to make you aware of this event and invite you or anyone interested to participate. Please feel free to spread the word.

Straw Bale House Raising
Chesterfield, New Hampshire April 22-23
Owners: Helaine Iris/Jeremy Youst
Contact: Helaine Iris,
Architect: Sigi Koko, Down To Earth

DESCRIPTION: strawbale infill construction is a method where rectangular bales of straw are used to fill in between a standard structural system. In this case, the bales serve primarily as insulation and do not support the structural loads of the building. The result is a building with beautiful thick walls, usually plastered on both sides.

FORMAT: We will begin Saturday morning with an overview of strawbale construction. We will follow with a demonstration of the skills used to shape, resize, and install strawbales into a durable wall system. Everyone will then be invited to get hands-on experience. Sunday will provide ample opportunity to practice what was learned on Saturday, with a full day of hands-on building with strawbales.

* overview of strawbale construction, including recommended detailing and a copy of a handout written by Down to Earth
* demonstration of construction methods, including resizing, retying, shaping, pinning, etc.
* permitting issues and tips
* hands-on experience of installation techniques


Some goodies from the most recent Activists' Calendar of the Windham Environmental Coalition (coordinator, Marcia Bourne).
March 13 — Sustainable Living Potluck with VPIRG's Cleanpower Vermont Project. "What is wind power, and what does it do for Vermont?" Bring questions and food at 6:00 pm to Melrose Terrace Community Room. Info:

March 14 — New "Healthy Children - Healthy Planet" Vermont Earth Institute course start-up at 5:30 in the Co-op Community Room. This is a 7 week discussion group. Book of readings is $18. No other cost. Info:

March 25 — Post Oil Solutions hosts a workshop on drying foods with sunlight at All Souls Church. Info:

March 26 — Dartmouth College's Sustainability Coordiator Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity, will describe his satisfying journey from corporate excess to carving out the smallest possible footprint upon the earth. St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Putney Road, 2:00 pm. Free. (Optional donation to Merkel's Global Living Project.) Co-sponsored by Info: postoil@gmail.comPost Oil Solutions and the Vermont Earth Institute.

Erich Krueger from ReNew Building Materials & Salvage gives us a heads-up:
GreenFair: Growing a Green Community
April 8th, 2006, 10am - 5pm
In conjunction with the Better Living Show at Indoor Action, Greenfield MA

  • Exhibition of environmentally friendly goods and services, from "green" construction to massage
  • Energy-saving and alternative fuel products
  • Workshops on energy efficiency, renewables, organic gardening, composting and more
  • Children�s activities
  • Green home displays

Anybody want to do some thatching?
From: "j.achenbach" <>
Subject: roof reed for sale
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 20:51:56 -0500

I have about 1,000 bundles of good domestic roof reed-phragmites - cut in Newburyport and ready to sell at $5./b., each good for one square foot of roof. I hope to interest nat build folks with it for thatched roofs on straw and now i've got the last bugs worked out of my harvester i hope to cut much more this winter. I'll be glad to teach what i know about thatching based on the ten or so roofs i've done and i also have a line on baled phrag which may be fun to try building with. I wonder if you might be able to help me get the word out?

jef achenbach
annapolis royal, ns, can

Tad Montgomery, Sarah Machtey, and Mark Piepkorn (all BANG regulars) are on tap to head up a mini-workshop (Sarah, co-teaching cob with Jonah Vitale-Wolff) and informational presentations (Sarah and Mark doing natural building generally, and Tad on peak oil) at the summer NOFA conference, August 10 - 13. More details eventually.

And dates have been set for the third annual Building With Spirit natural building colloquium near Bath, NY: August 2 - 6. This is the big east coast natural building event, with world-class presenters. Some photos from the previous two convey the flavor. The cost, by May 1st, is $320—per presenter, it's a real bargain. The fee increases to $340 on June 1st, and then to $375 on July 1st; after July 15th, it's full price. 50% deposit is due at registration. Camping and vegetarian food are included. Info about the host organization, the Peaceweavers. No pets, no drugs, no alcohol, no glass bottles, no open fires. The rest of the details are still being worked out, but last year's vitals are available for an idea of what to expect.

Past presenters have included (alphabetically) Janine Bjornson � Larry Brown � Dan Chiras � Joyce Coppinger � Carole Crews � Sam Droege � David Eisenberg � Ianto Evans � Ben Falk � Chris Fox � Pete Fust � Mary Golden � Sarah Highland � Mark Hoberecht � Josh Jackson � Joe Jenkins � Sun Ray Kelly � Tim Owen-Kennedy � Doni Kiffmeyer � Sigi Koko � Paul Lacinski � Mark Lakeman � Satomi Lander � Tom Lander � Sarah Machtey � Frank Meyer � Tony Novelli � Mark Piepkorn � Darren Molnar-Port � Ed Raduazo � Jaki Roy � Rob Roy � Clark Sanders � Ben Simpson � Laura Struempler � David Vail � Catherine Wanek � and more that are escaping my failing memory

UPDATE: Additional info has been released.
'Building with Spirit 2006' Wed. August 2 - Sun. 6 PeaceWeaver Retreat Sanctuary - Thunder Mountain , Bath NY

Our 3rd Annual Regional Natural Building Colloquium

Join us for this one of a kind event here on the East Coast. Welcoming leaders and visionaries in the Natural Building Community, we present a wide variety of Natural Building methods with hands on projects, discussions, classes, and slide shows.

  • Laura Bartels
    "Laura began her journey into the natural building field as the owner builder of Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley's first straw bale home in 1995. She has served as project manager on many projects such as the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork and has owned her own plaster business. She has served as a consultant to owners, architects, contractors and organizations since 1997. Her business, GreenWeaver Inc., offers consultation in design, construction, plasters, moisture & monitoring systems, school projects and more."
  • Larry Brown
    "Larry is the founder of Sun Mountain Solar Company, a custom building company in the Hudson Valley specilizing in building passive solar, energy efficient houses both on and off the grid, utilizing local materials, renewable energy and sustainable design. Larry is a NYSERDA certified installer of solar electric systems in New York State. He has co-taught Photovoltaic Design and Installation in the Hudson Valley since 1998."
  • Dan Chiras
    "Dan has spent much of the past 30 years studying sustainability and applying what he has learned in solar energy, natural building, and green building to his residences, and most of the last ten years sharing the practical knowledge he has gained through writing, lectures, slide shows, and workshops. Dan has published 21 books to date including several college and high school textbooks."
  • Kiko Denzer
    "Kiko Denzer is a sculptor, builder, teacher, and author who has spent the last 10 years primarily working with earth. He serves as artist-in-residence in schools in his home state of Oregon, and has muddied tens of thousands of hands with his popular oven and bread manual, Build Your Own Earth Oven."
  • Sam Droege
    "Sam was the host of the first Natural Building Colloquium in the North East, in 1998. He has been building natural homes with his family and friends since the mid-'80s. He has worked in stone, strawbales, earth plasters, logwork, sawmilling, and timberframing. A strong believer in experimentation, he has learned from so many of his failures that he has a large repertoire of what works and what doesn't. His background as a biologist and naturalist allows him intimate contact with the living things of the world which he applies to the materials and processes by which he builds."
  • David Eisenberg
    "David Eisenberg co-founded the Development Center for Appropriate Technology in 1991. He has well over twenty years of construction experience including troubleshooting construction of the steel and glass cover of Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona, building a $2 million structural concrete house, a hypo-allergenic structural steel house, and building masonry, wood, adobe, rammed earth, and straw bale structures. He is co-author of the Straw Bale House book, and helped write the first loadbearing straw bale construction building code for the City of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona. David is Vice-Chair of the ASTM E06.71 Subcommittee, and serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S Green Building Council."
  • Sigi Koko
    "Sigi Koko founded Down to Earth in 1998 to provide sustainable design and consulting services in the Mid-Atlantic region. She has an M.Arch degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and works exclusively on projects that are ecologically sensible and on the forefront of sustainable design. Her primary areas of expertise are in healthy and sustainable building materials, strawbale construction and other natural building techniques, energy and water conservation strategies, and passive solar design."
  • Sarah Machtey
    "Sarah is a sculptor/natural builder specializing in cob, with experience in the full spectrum of natural and sustainable building. She offers cob sculpting services, consulting, designing, presentations, and workshops. She is a co-founder of the Brattleboro Area Natural-building Group (BANG), and a founding member of the professional association Natural Builders North East (NBNE)."
  • Darren Molnar-Port
    "Darren is the Director of the Department of Community Affairs New Jersey Green Homes Office. He has taught workshops on green design, affordable green housing and natural building at venues including the Smithsonian Institute, National Conference of State Housing Officials, NJ Governors Conference on Housing, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), and United States Green Building Council (USGBC) conferences. Darren directed and organized the first East Coast Natural Building Colloquium in 1998. Darren has built several straw-bale homes, including projects at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the first permitted straw-bale home in New York State."
  • Tim Owen-Kennedy
    "Co-founder of Vital Systems Natural Building & Design in Ukiah, CA. He has worked with ecological materials and designs for over 10 years and is a vital member of the natural building community in Northern California. He has completed over 50 structures with natural materials and ecological design principle, and is deeply involved in research, development, and testing of straw bale systems for use in code, insurance and banking applications."
  • Mark Piepkorn
    "Mark is associate editor of Environmental Building News, co-editor of the book Green Building Products, and lead researcher for GreenSpec®. A past editor of The Last Straw, he has been active in the natural building movement for a decade. His work is broad, including conventional and alternative construction materials, methods, and building science in diverse applications. He is a somewhat unusual LEED Accredited Professional."
  • Ed Raduazo
    "Ed is an experienced cobber, bambusaro, and all-around natural builder specializing in children's workshops that integrate natural building materials and techniques to create unique structures that the children help design. He has also facilitated full-on cob workshops, and is the founder of Friends Of Cob. Ed's knowledge and enthusiasm are inspiring, and he has a awesome collection of tools."
  • Rob & Jaki Roy
    "Rob and Jaki have been active in the alternative building field for almost 30 years. Rob is the author of thirteen owner-building books, and has conducted hundreds of workshops throughout the United States. Together, Rob and Jaki have built Log End Cottage, Log End Cave, Earthwood, Mushwood, and several other cordwood buildings."
  • Ben Simpson
    "Ben Simpson is a builder, designer, and teacher, well-versed in the methods of conventional and alternative building. He has been active in the natural building movement for over ten years doing design/build, owner-builder assist, leading workshops, and giving presentations. He is the owner of the building company Growing Places in Rosendale, NY, and is a founding member of the professional association Natural Builders North East (NBNE)."
    "Mac is an architect, writer, illustrator, draftsman, lecturer, cartoonist, columnist, and solar consultant. His words speak his heart: 'A building should consume its own waste, maintain itself, match nature's pace, provide wildlife habitat, moderate climate and weather and be beautiful. We live in an era of glitzy buildings and trophy houses: big, ugly, show-off monsters that stand—or I should say stomp—on land stripped bare by the construction work and replanted with toxic green lawns. If the buildings could talk they would be speechless with embarrassment, but most of us see nothing wrong with them, and would, given the opportunity, build others like them, for few of us realize that there's a gentler way to build.' Mac was born in 1926, became an architect in 1953, and began to design underground buildings in 1964. He has lectured at almost every architectural school in the U.S."
  • Plus more to come!

Types of modalities explored:
    Strawbale building
    Cob construction
    Timber framing
    Cordwood building
    Natural finishes
    Megalith raising
    Renewable energy
    and more!
Come and learn how to live in natural balance with the Earth.

Local event calendars that usually have social and environmental stuff of direct or peripheral interest to most natural builder sorts: Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce | Brattleboro Community Television | Brattleboro Food Coop | Brattleboro Memorial Hospital | Brattleboro Museum and Art Center | Brattleboro Reformer | Brooks Memorial Library | Gallery Walk | Hooker Dunham Theater & Gallery | iBrattleboro | | Latchis Theater | ReNew Building Materials & Salvage | Town of Brattleboro | Vermont Chamber of Commerce | Vermont Jazz Center | Vermont Travel Planner

photos by Mark Piepkorn
and Sarah Machtey