Moabites and visitors have the chance to learn the basics of natural home building without spending months on-site at Community Rebuilds’ first-ever “Community Rebuilds Essentials” workshop.

“If you’ve been wanting to learn about how to build your straw bale house or make a version of CR in your community, you can come and get the overview, chat with instructors on how to make it work, and then go do your thing,” said Megan Vickery, the education developer at CR.

The week-long course will cover techniques like working with straw bale, utilizing solar power, and how to employ sustainable and energy-efficient landscaping; the week will also feature lectures by Emily Niehaus, the founder of Community Rebuilds, and Chris Magwood, an expert in carbon-capture construction.

“Most of our educational programming to this point has been in the form of the five-month internship—but not everyone can come for five months,” Vickery said. “This is the five-month internship squeezed down into five days.”

The workshop’s instructional days will run from July 25-29. Each day will start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. There are three levels of registration: a day pass ($100), a non-residential or local pass ($450), and a residential pass ($900 to $1200). Residential pass holders will stay in the CR bunkhouse from July 24 to August 1. All instruction, materials, and tools will be provided, as well as a copy of the course curriculum and daily lunches. 

The workshop kicks off with a day devoted to learning about CR: how the nonprofit was founded and the ins and outs of what it has done for the Moab community. Workshop participants will also tour around town to see current and past projects.

A Community Rebuilds home.

The second day will cover wall systems, including the basics of working with straw and insulation; and the third day will cover solar energy, site assessment, and landscaping. The instructors for each day are all from CR’s current staff. 

On day four, participants will travel to a CR work site, the Moab Area Community Land Trust, to learn about and practice working with earthen plasters. Day five, the last instruction day of the workshop, continues on the worksite with instruction on tadelakt, a waterproof plaster technique, and a talk with Magwood on sustainable construction. 

“Tadelakt tile is always a big hit—it’s a wonderful, beautiful process,” Vickery said.

Tadelakt is labor-intensive, Vickery said, so while participants are working with it, there will be a Q&A panel with the CR builders and Niehaus to “answer all the final questions and bring it all together while you’re making this beautiful tile,” Vickery said. 

Anyone with a residential pass will be able to stay in the bunkhouse for three additional days to have time to explore Moab. 

“This course is really great because it’s just a little snapshot—it’s a starting point,” Vickery said. “You don’t need to have any background in architecture design or engineering or construction, you can just come and get the basics to see what you’re interested in: throw some mud on the walls and take it from there.” 

Registration is available at www.communityrebuilds.org/cr-essentials.