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Great Lakes NATURAL BUILDING Regional Network

Page history last edited by Deanne Bednar 9 years, 7 months ago

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  Great Lakes

    NATURAL BUILDING & Traditional Skills

              Regional Network


This is an evolving resource. Help create it.  Add your connections.  This network is currently from my perspective in South Eastern Michigan.  More input is needed from other great lakes/midwest regions !  What projects or opportunities have you heard about? Email your ideas to ecoartdb@gmail.com. Would someone like to help coordinate the evolution of this network?



Featured folks:



Permaculture in Traverse City – Northern Michigan ...


Brenda and Levi Meeuwenberg are offering wonderful information and examples in Permaculture.  Levi M. took the 2 week Natural Cottage course in July 2012 at the Strawbale Studio. 



Eric Moshier is a 3rd-generation mason who likes rocket mass heaters, and is a certified masonry heater builder.  He can do up-to-code / permitted installations.  
Here's his masonry heaters gallery page: http://www.solidrockmasonry.com/heaters_stoves.html

Mark Campbell http://www.stjosephbuilding.com/  Mark is doing building, strawbale construction in the area and nationally ! Mark  has been doing strawbale home construction around the country, and would love to work closer to his home & family  in Ann Arbor, MI. 

Tom Hoyt - http://ancient-gallery.blogspot.com/ Tom is an artist with landscaping & rocks and does forged steel that also incorporate rocks he finds regionally.  He loves this work.  Look at 2009 pictures on his blogspot for more landscaping / rock work pics.

Jason Arnott  - www.earthenvironments.com Jason is interested in creating sense of place, a sense of community, and creation of local destinations, with a focus on sustainability.



Resources: Natural building education, architects, & more

US & CA, alphabetically   (Illinois, Indiana, Oho, Michigan, Ontario, Wisconsin)



  • Chi Cob Co. A Chicago based Natural Building Company. 

            Chicago Natural Building Meetup Page .


  • Anna Wolfson. Wolfson Earthen Finishes. Chicago area. 


            tel.  312.520.0207

            fax.  847.432.3747


  • Kylie Baker, Chicago.  Fiber artist, natural building, yurts. (Now residing in Bath, NY at the Peaceweaver Center.)  Cob & Community connection in the Chicago area. 


  • Chris Reinhart, Bloomington, Indiana area, has built several bale-cob structures, rocket stove heated benches.  812-323-7177
    or 812-373-7177
  • St. Mary Baird, Strawbale Hermitage near Bloomington, Indiana.  Dave Sebolt, from Ann Arbor, MI was the main consultant & organized/implemented most of the building process. Deanne Bednar assisted Dave  in collecting reed, along with Str Mary Baird.  William Cahill finished up the roof. Wolfson Earthen artisans (above) shaped and finished the interior walls and installed the earthen floor.


   South East & Mid Michigan


The Strawbale Studio Project.

Deanne Bednar (ecoartdb@gmail.com)

Oxford, MI          (248) 628-1887    Natural Building Activities & Presentations with a focus on education & training in strawbale, cob, round pole, thatching, earth oven, earth plasters & sculpting.


Kensington Kids Cottage.

A public natural building project, collaboratively built, at the Farm Center in the Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan. 


The Ann Arbor Folk SchoolThe mission of Mi Folk School is to build community by providing educational programs that promote learning, teaching, and renewal of traditional folk arts and to promote the preservation of forest and farmland. 


Alliance for Environmental Sustainability 


Ecovillages in Lansing/Grand Rapids area

Developing a model for an Ecovillage that will partner with neighboring towns

Bryan Mets, Grand Rapids, contact person for evolving Ecovillage projects & online Great Lakes Permaculture Portal

  586-945-1193 metsbryan@gmail.com

Christian Smith, Lansing Co-founder of evolving Ecovillage projects & Time bank documentary  emailchristians@gmail.com


Ecofarm in Allegan

Teaching organic and natural farming best practices, developing a model eco-living community

Mary Colborn, Director, Allegan Historic Farm and Learning Center. marycolborn@honorhealnurture.com


Camp Skyline .  Almont, Michigan. Offering nature programs  that nurtures the spirit.


Joe Trumpee, U of M prof, constructs Strawbale home near Ann Arbor


Mark Campbell, 

Strawbale and general builder/contractor.

 cell: 248-98-STRAW  Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mark  has been doing strawbale home construction around the country, and would love to work closer to his home & family  in Ann Arbor, MI. 


Gregg Brazell - www.ehrlum.com 

Gregg's passion is to help a small town with a local infrastructure re-localize. He is a designer, has built houses, fine carpentry

Tom Hoyt - http://ancient-gallery.blogspot.com/ Tom is a local landscape  artist  and sculptor who loves to work with  forged steel sculptures that incorporate  rocks he finds locally on the land. .

Jason Arnott  - www.earthenvironments.com

Jason is interested in creating sense of place, a sense of community, and creation of local destinations, with a focus on sustainability.  The team does design, building, landscaping, and is looking to help small towns keep their historic & ecological & economic preservation.


Sunstructures Architecture

Wayne Appleyard

wayneapple@aol.com Tel: 734-994-5650

Ann Arbor, MI Specialiing since 1974 in passive solar, resource efficient, environmentally sound buildings including strawbale.


New Harvest Homes inc.

Lance Bowen, LEED AP  248 990 2943.  Offers green & Natural Building Services including Straw bale Construction.  Has LEED certification.  Article by Lance  on Green Building in Healing Gardens Journal


RusticBuilder.com .  Mike Ross and his sustainability website. (Currently Living in Knoxville TN)


Sustainable Systems

Christina Snyder, Architect. (casnyder at ic.org, spam protected)

Manchester, MI Manchester, MI 48158

Phone: (734) 428-9249

Architect of Manatou Arbor Ecolvillage, Kalamazoo, MI. Also teaches/presents on the Zero Energy Home, and more.

Chris Coon, Renewable Energy System, designer & installer.    Phone: (734) 428-9249


Fredric McLaughlin, Architect. flmcl@consultant.com

East Lansing MI Tel: 517-507 0547

General architectural practice, including passive solar, SB, alternatives. Has taught classes on "alternative structures" at Lansing Community College.

Has an awesome design for a strawbale home and office on wooded land near downtown Lansing.


David Sebolt. Architect. davsebo@yahoo.com

Tel: 734-747-8860

Green design, and helping to coordinate conversation on natural building and community in Ann Arbor area.


Heart and Soul Landscaping & Natural Building (moved to the East Coast?)

Cécile Green & Daniel Little

Ann Arbor, MI  heart-and-soul@comcast.net   1-734-761-9144

Focuses on building beautiful living spaces indoors and out. Renovations, Additions, Garden Structures, Greenhouses, and creative Play Structures using Natural, Non-Toxic Materials and Methods. Creating spaces of sanctuary.


River Raisin Institute. Promoting sustainable community development, collaborating with others to promote transformational learning & sustainable community for the 21st Century. Co-sponsor of the Kensington Metropark Kids Cottage, Milford, MI.


 Strawbale and general builder/contractor.

Jason Graves is doing natural building in this region. He has built two strawbale structures in New England, led a few workshops, and offers consulting in regards to passive solar gain design and installation. He is also a carpenter and general contractor.


www.michigannaturalbuilding.com .  A website on a little strawbale project in the Flint, MI area being done by Sharon Howell. 


Strawbale home near Lansing, MI . Owner-builders Don & Connie Barlow  Built in 2009 - 2010. 


Strawbale House under construction in 2008-9.  Grass Lake, Michigan by Joe Trumpey, U of M Professor www.artsoneearth.org


WARM Training Center.

promotes the development of resource efficient, affordable, healthy homes and communities through education, training and technical assistance.   Detroit, MI, USA


"Community and Natural Building" group meets in the Ann Arbor area.  Email Dave Sebolt <davsebo@yahoo.com>to get on the list or ask more questions.  This group was active in 2005 +


Detroit area Natural Building Meetup .


Detroit Green Map. An online map of sustainable resources, businesses, places in Detroit, MI.


Kensington Kids Cottage  Blog and Pictures. Visit the site at the Kensington Metropark Farm Center, Milford, MI 





   North & Western Michigan


Permaculture in Traverse City – Northern Michigan ...


Brenda and Levi Meeuwenberg are offering wonderful information and examples in Permaculture.  Levi M. took the 2 week Natural Cottage course in July 2012 at the Strawbale Studio. 

See their great list of Permaculture Connections in Michigan on the website !


Harmony Home Construction.

Thomas Hirsch, Larry Kinney

Traverse City, MI 49684

Construction, design, consultation for natural building & solar design and more.


Jeremy Andrews   Kalamazoo / Battle Creek Michigan area


Doing some hybrid construction with friends. 2008: Urbanite porch, with plans for a cob oven, wordwood wall and cob bench. 


Willow Winds Wilderness Skills Jim Miller.  Lodge & Village Construction with traditional techniques. 962 F-30 Mikado, Michigan 48745.   


Modular Efficiency Dwelling in the Keweenaw Penninsula, Michigan.   Small dwelling includes wood-heated water and a sauna.  Conventional bldg, Outstanding design.



Shannon Wudkewych & family is building a strawbale home, earth plastering and all.

Grand Rapids area.  616 617 8767


Matt Joppich and Mindy Hawley.  Will be focusing on the construction of a strawbale home for the family.  Matt has a background in building,

oversaw the yurt project at the Eco Learning Center in Traverse City area, does woodworking and homestead skills education. 

Workshops starting back up in 2013:  Workworking for Homesteaders, Furniture Making, Spoon Carving & Small Sustainable Natural Buildings. 

 www.mattjoppich.com   Yurt building project at the Eco Learning Center, Traverse City, lead by Matt.  


A Thatched Roof constructed in 1980 in Greenville Michigan ! 

Dr. Kirkwood Faber of Flat River Family Dentistry in Greenville first thatched his roof in the 1980s after he expanded his office.  Click link for newpaper article and picture.



Chris McClellan, Cleveland area.  service@maplecom.com

natural builder, rocket stove maker, building book binder & editor and networker extraordinaire. 


Christina Keegan  Cleveland area.  christina_keegan@yahoo.com  

Background in natural building, sustainable skills, local economics...and does natural building activities with Chris McClelland in the Cleveland area


Greenfire Farm,   Ecovillage & Earth Regeneration Center in formation

Ohio River Basin Bioregion.  Athens Ohio area.  Living / learning.: Natural Building & sustainable  activities.  See updates on website.


HarvestBuild Associates, Inc. is a small design/consultation company specializing in Passive Houses using innovative straw-bale and straw/clay construction techniques.  Mark Hoberecht, principal and founder.

"Vernacular buildings record lifestyles of the past when people had to find a sustainable way of life or perish, just as we will have to now. The new importance of vernacular building is that it has vital ecological lessons for today."

David Pearson – Earth to Spirit


Fox Natural Builders . Chris Fox and associates offer natural building construction, strawbale walls systems and much more.


Mike Szuberla of Toledo Ohio is an epicenter for sustainability, coordinating urban ag and other projects for youth.  Google:   "mike szuberla" toledo     for a look at what he is up to. Seed Swaps . Toledo Grows .  (Has moved to Colorado?)


Blue Rock Station.  Earthship construction, various workshops.  I just hear of this - haven't researched it yet.





Viking Timberframing course: 

http://journal.goingslowly.com/2013/04/timber-framing-course-norwegian-grindbygg-trestle-frame-workshop   VT Course

http://www.northhouse.org/courses/courses/course.cfm/cid/571  General Course


 Eric Moshier is a 3rd-generation mason who likes rocket mass heaters, and is a certified masonry heater builder.  He can do up-to-code / permitted installations.  
Here's his masonry heaters gallery page: http://www.solidrockmasonry.com/heaters_stoves.html

 Solid Rock Masonry

Eric Moshier
5347 Howard Gnesen Road
Duluth, MN 55803
Phone: (218) 343-2978
Email: info@solidrockmasonry.com






Center for Sustainable Building.  

Chris Magwood & Jen Feigin run a natural building school called The Endeavour Center.   

Chris Magwood builds, teaches and writes books on cold weather sustainable construction. 


Joshua Thorton  "Thor's Hammer"  Timber Framing.  Toronto area.  Recommended by Erica & Ernie Weisner, the mass heater folks from the west coast. 

The Martin House: "Thornton wanted to build the home using straw and clay walls on a hand-hewn timber frame. The cottage, called the EcoNest, is a showcase for those techniques, with 85 per cent of processed materials drawn from within 40 kilometres of the building site. Some 80 per cent of the other materials, such as the clay and structural timbers, were taken  from the property itself." 

"Inside, people will first notice that in the winter they don't have dry noses or throats," Thornton says, "because the straw and clay walls actually breathe and there is no vapour barrier. This is a healthy home.

That's the reverse of modern, high-efficiency construction in which the building envelope is completely sealed and fresh air is brought in through a heat and energy recovery ventilator and then circulated, via a forced air furnace.  Heating is provided by a masonry heater, a wood-burning device that relies on quick burns instead of the traditional slow burn of wood stoves and fireplaces. The heat from the masonry furnace is stored in the stone material itself and radiates to warm the interior and provide hot water.


Ontario Natural Building Center.


Straworks .  Ontario natural building.


Masonry Heater / Stove  Alex Chernov,  Toronto.  Designing & building efficient mass heaters.   www.stovemaster.com  Recommended by Matt Joppik.


Cob in the Park.   Gorgie Donais. Fantastic Natural Builder Toronto, Ontario, Canada who did a collaborative cob structure in a public park. It is even used as a little cafe on the weekend.





Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture  Kinstone is a meditative holistic landscape being designed and developed using Permaculture principles as guidelines for the restoration of the land and rejuvenation of the people that will come to be there. This dynamic combination of an education and meditation center — it is a place for people to reconnect with what is important to them.


Blue Heron Natural Builders Guildwww.naturalbuildersguild.com . A collective of independent builders, carpenters, and plasterers from southern wisconsin, who are committed to building in a way that minimizes harmful effects to the environment and provides you with a beautiful, non-toxic home environment.


Wisconsin Natural Building and Community Meetup


Light Clay State of the Art Studio .   Jim and Connie Hutchison
Rock City, IL 61070
(815) 238-8648

EVOLVING Midwest ECOVILLAGES & Sustainability Centers.


Manatou Arbor.  Kalamazoo, MI area.  

Echo ForestFarm . Mancelona, MI.   I have not checked into this, but here is the info.

Touchstone Community Massachussets. 

Tall Trees Community Farm . White Lake, MI.  Promoting the environment, the arts and organic farming.

Sunflower Ecovillage. A self-reliant community, Bangor, MI, started by U Mich Prof. Maynard Kaufman.




Mark Krawczyk  permaculture & natural building. visited the SBS re learning thatching, is teaching a
permaculture design course at the Strawbale Studio  Sept 22 - Oct 6.  
www.keylinevermont.com - Keyline Vermont


Burlington, VT
Dave Jacke and Mark are now writing a new book on Coppice Agroforestry!  Find out more and support their effort at 


LEADS to follow:

http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/93598/Dead-Men-Steam-School  INFO ON INSTALLING RADIANT HEATING SYSTEMS+

Chris Van:   Habitat - Women build, Saturn recently signed on as sponsors in Michigan.  Lt. John Cherry - Energy.




USA NATURAL BUILDING SCHOOLS ! Check out this Portal ! 





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