Friday, June 02, 2006

Maritime Strawbale Building Gathering

The silence hurt my ears when I asked Dave if he was interested in spending the May 24 weekend at a Maritime gathering of strawbale builders near Halifax, NS. He knows saying, "no" could be perilous, but that his work life is a bit too overwhelming right now to think about anything else. "This is perfect," I was thinking. I can get him away from it all and focus on our house plans.

Indeed, our newly corporatized-Dave left his computer and finely-pressed shirts, suspenders & neckties behind, and jumped into our Civic full of sleeping bags, toxin-free bug sprays and a cooler full of gods-know-what-kind-of-organic-veggie-mystery-foods. We all know he's a hippy wanna-be underneath that conventional exteriour.

Kim Thompson, the consultant we've been working with to learn about strawbale building, has completed a research project for CMHC that involves documenting all of the strawbale buildings in the Maritimes. There are at least 55, if you can believe it, and more than a dozen others planned for construction this year. To cap off her research, Kim invited all of the folks who currently own strawbale homes, plus a few industry contacts (architects, designers, builders), and a number of soon-to-be builders like us to a weekend camping at Ship Harbour.

We toured Kim's home and property nearby - check out the cool smurf-like cob house with the thatch roof, her tool shed and the shot of her kitchen window sill.
We learned about yurts (the photo of the white tent-like structure) and how to build them using local greenwood (like fresh cut spruce). These originate in Mongolia and people still live in these in climates where the temperature drops below 40 degrees C.

Food, food and more food kept us fueled through the weekend, with each meal being a potluck adventure of tasty vegetarian salads, pastas and the like.

We made the best of every moment, talking to each homeowner and professional about their experiences, best practices, and our house plans. Decisions that have been up in the air for us for many months were finally made, and a rush of new ideas streamed into our notebooks. Valuable contacts were made, and, I believe some new friendships were created.


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