bale before and after plaster

Bay Area based Arkin Tilt Architects (ATA) has designed dozens of structures that utilize straw bales for insulation in their walls; the plans for two have been available for purchase through the website www.strawbaleplans.com. In response to this summer's wildfires throughout California, ATA is offering the plans for these two homes, plus six others, to anyone who lost their home in the fires, for free.

Evening view of residence in rural Healdsburg copyright Edward Caldwell

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Finally had our photographer, Ed Caldwell, out to capture the beauty of this off-the-grid residence in rural Healdsburg, featuring straw bale and Watershed Blocks (earth masonry units).  While we were there 6 monarch butterflies emerged from chrysalises right outside the front door! Kudos to the beautiful edible and habitat-based landscape by Angelica Papio.  The project is now viewable in the residential category.

High-Performance Courtyard House - view from south

Update 9/29/15: Here is a link to the home tour event info and to purchase tickets: http://aiascvym.site-ym.com/events/event_details.asp?id=664315 Purchase before October 1 for early bird ticket prices. To check out all the homes in the tour, click here: https://aiascvym.site-ym.com/?page=TheHomes

A sunny afternoon in March was the perfect time for an office field trip to see “@Large,” the Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz. We rode the noon ferry over to the island, and spent a few hours exploring the place, and viewing the exhibit.

Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA has begun construction of their Lodge Renovation and Expansion project, which is the first piece of their multi-year Renewal efforts. The Ground Honoring Ceremony, held on March 15, featured speakers from the Four Winds Council, of which Esalen is a party, including an opening blessing by Tom "Little Bear" Nason, who summoned whales to join in the celebration (and join they did, with spouts and flukes!).

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