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Page history last edited by Deanne Bednar 9 years, 10 months ago



 FrontPage    Calendar     Diary    Building Projects    Links    www.strawbalestudio.org


 NEW Internship Program & Worktrade

            Oxford, Michigan 1 hour north of Detroit on wooded rural land. 



Immerse yourself in an intensive, hands-on learning experience ope to students 18 years and over, with all experience levels. A one or several month stay will give Interns a variety of hands-on learning opportunities with the goal that graduates leave with increased skill and confidence to help build a more restorative future.   During your program participate in all workshops, as well as activities on site, which will vary by season.  Participants are also included in community gatherings, such as the Full Moon Potlucks, permaculture meetups, and local farmers. 



Christina Keegan writes "I highly recommend this natural building internship opportunity to anyone. I did this last year and am so grateful for the experience. It's only one month, very affordable, and you get to live with and learn from one of the best natural builders around. In addition, the activities are chosen based on the interests and learning goals of the participants, and Deanne makes sure to create an egalitarian environment in which everyone learns from and supports each other.    12 – WOOFing at the Strawbale Studio (72 photos). 


Laura Lutrel's 2012 Blog and Pictures.


Peyton Ginakes 9-2012.  "I can't thank you enough for having me at the studio.  I've been raving about the wonderful time I had there and all that I learned."  Oliver  (architecht student) and Mariek (from France) 2012. "Being at the Strawbale Studio seems like it is outside of time.  I have learned so much that it seems like I have been here for a long time, even though it  has been just a few weeks."  David Stella:  "I've writing all about my wonderful experience I had learning from you on an internship application and it's really taken me back there. Lately, if I've had trouble getting focused I just look at Strawbale Studio pictures which are very inspiring!"   Kate H. 2011.  "Being at the Strawbale Studio is on my list of major accomplishments, surviving a brutal winter in Michigan (by my Kentucky hillbilly standards brutal!) in a pretty strict sustainable environment, is not something everyone gets to experience."   Other intern communications.


Internship: $625 per month (or early-bird discount of $500 prepaid 1 month in advance) includes room & board plus all training and workshops at the Strawbale Studio land with Deanne Bednar.  

WorkTrade / Wwoofing:  For those who cannot support the program financially, several Intern Scholarships are offered to help support the Strawbale Studio. To fulfill a worktrade position 12 hours of time per week would be applied toward a given area: Outreach/ Office, Building & Grounds, Gardening or Cooking/Household. The rest of the time you would join in the learning and activities of the Internship Program.  During months when a full start-to-finish 2 week Natural Cottage Project is taking place, there are no free worktrade positions, rather, the fee is the same as the Internship, and all participants will be considered paying worktraders.  This is a demanding time, and very packed with learning as well, with several teachers on site.  


                          Below find an application form as well as information on Programs, Projects, What to Expect.





We are co-creating with the natural world and learning to come together in community ...

joyfully becoming more skillful in living & building in deeper harmony with the greater whole (and having fun!).


Skill Development:  Interns will participate in all aspects of building projects and workshops scheduled for the month. 

Sustainable Skills are part of the way we live.  Activities will vary by season.  More program details at the bottom of this page.   Internship Program Archives 


January 5 – Feb 5, 2014  WINTER INTERNSHIP & Worktrade Opportunity !   Help prepare and participate in all workshops during this time : Rocket Stove, Round Pole framing, Reed Collection & Thatching demo, as well as other sustainable living projects at the Strawbale Studio.

Internship $650 or $500 prepaid 1 month in advance.  Several Worktrade positions available : help out with infrastructure 10 – 15 per week ( firewood and grounds, cooking & cleaning, office work & publicity).  Participate in all other activities including the workhops below.

 Christina Keegan writes:  ”I highly recommend this natural building internship opportunity to anyone. I did this last year and am so grateful for the experience. It’s only one month, very affordable, and you get to live with and learn from one of the best natural builders around. In addition, the activities are chosen based on the interests and learning goals of the participants, and Deanne makes sure to create an egalitarian environment in which everyone learns from and supports each other. “  See Christina’s memories of her experience ’12 – WOOFing at the Strawbale Studio (72 photos). 


January 8, 2014       Permaculture Meetup Oakland Co.     6:30p Wednesday evening in Clarkston.  Our regional  Oakland County Permaculture Meetup will feature a presentation by Emily Eisele who will be covering bulk food buying and establishing a larder/pantry. We’ll follow her discussion with food and conversation! Click link for details.

January 11, 2014     ROUND POLE Framing Workshop.  Saturday 10a – 5p  Learn principles & hands-on basics of round pole framing for small structures.  Includes a tour of natural buildings with round poles on site.  $45 with RSVP or $25 prepaid 2 weeks in advance. Bring a bag lunch.  Limited to 12 students. Click link toRegister.

January 15, 2014     FULL MOON Potluck & Bonfire  Wednesday 6-10 pm  Free Community Event.  Tour available. RSVP now !

January 18, 2014     REED COLLECTION & THATCHING DEMO. Saturday 10a – 5p Learn about the basics of thatching a roof, harvest materials, tour thatched buildings, see a demo an video on thatching.  Bring a bag lunch.  $40 with RSVP or $25 prepaid 2 weeks in advance.  Limited to 12 students.  Register

January 25, 2014     FIRE & HEAT !  ROCKET STOVES, EARTH OVENS & more.  Saturday 10a – 5p  Energy efficiency from local materials ! See & experience a Rocket Mass Heater, Rocket Mass Cooker, Hay Box Cooker, Earth Oven & more. Learn the principles of construction. Q & A.  Also a tour of the thatched buildings on site. Bring a bag lunch  and sample the food we cook together.  $40 with RSVP or $25 prepaid 2 weeks in advance.  Limited to 12 students.  Register now.

February 2, 2014    EARTH PLASTER & SCULPTING .   Sunday 10a – 5p Using natural and local soil, we will do earth plaster and sculpting in an conventional home.  Make your existing home more natural, or apply these skills to a future natural building or earth oven you construct.  Bring a bag lunch.  $40 with RSVP or $25 prepaid 2 weeks in advance.  Limited to 12 students.  Register now !



 FEE Details

Generally an Intern fee is $500 prepaid 1 month, and Worktrade is room, board & learning plus 12 hrs per week on infrastructure.

However, during the months when an intensive 2 week class is being held, taught by multiple instructors,  there is no free worktrade positions. Rather, an intern can come in for the Internship Fee of $650 or $500 paid a month in advance.  Since these workshops will be an intensive experience with several instructors, there is no free position available during those times.  However, during the rest of the season there are both free worktrade and paying internship positions available. See the schedule above.   


Workshops:  One-day and two-day workshops are offered to the public throughout the internship. See the current calendar.  Workshops range from Earthen Plasters, Strawbale Constructions, Permaculture, Earth oven, Rocket Stoves, Thatching, Round Pole Framing, Living Roof Systems and more.  Interns will help with preparations and will participate in all workshops during their stay.


Weekly schedule:  A 5-day work week includes hands-on building and learning experiences, workshop preparation, long term project planning and time for ground/house maintenance.  There will be two days off throughout the week determined by the weekend workshop schedule.  We will be going as a group to the reed fields twice a week for about 4 hours each to harvest.  There are acres of woodlands to explore on the property as we as a town and parks with swimming within biking distance. 


Lodging and Meals:  Lodging options include shared rooms & rustic cabin, camping and the Strawbale Studio.  First applicants receive first choices on lodging options. Food, primarily local & organic, is included.  Interns share in cooking/household responsibilities.  


See the section below: "More about the Program & Projects"



It would be useful to read over the entire Internship page, including the section below:


Please email your responds to the following questions to Deanne at ecoartdb@gmail.com  

Feel free to contact Deanne by phone as well: 248 628 1887


  1. Your name, address, phone and email.
  2. Why do you want to take this training and how do you plan to integrate or use these skills? 
  3. What length of time, and which time period (dates) might you be interested in / which program?
  4. Your age  (and a photo would be great to help me more clearly remember folks I may have never met)
  5. Mode of transportation (car? bus/train, etc)
  6. A formal or informal resume
  7. Three references (at least one of them, a "work" reference from an employer, teacher or internship host

          Please include 

                Name of reference:

                Your relationship to the reference:

                Their phone:

                 Their email: 


      If you are accepted in the program you will be asked to sign an emergency form & waiver.


I look forward to hearing from you,

Deanne Bednar
248 628 1887  ecoartdb@gmail.com

PO Box 733, Oxford, MI 48371


More about the PROGRAM & PROJECTS.


Work hours 

Interns will be provided with the programing, workshops and classes outlined for that session.  There will be other enriching experiences and opportunity to work on your own projects during your own time.  All will help with sharing household duties.   After filling our internship openings, individuals would be considered for  worktrade wwoofing positions.  Wwoofers would contribute significantly more to the maintenance and backup work for the Strawbale Studio grounds and program. 


Interns will be actively involved in hands-on and classroom learning 40 hours per week - which would include hands-on natural building on our current projects, classes and presentations, and some contribution to helping things run here.  You will have time off when you can pursue your own studies & projects as you wish.


Wwoofers would contribute at least 10 hours a week to helping this place to function as a center where people can visit and learn.  These kinds of activities might include helping with the grounds, repairs, office work, organizational work and the like. Interns also help with presentations, exhibits and demonstrations. Wwoofers will also take part in activities & classes as a learner and helper.


Schedule: We usually take 2 days off a week for personal time, although sometimes there are "weather" & other demands that bend this rule a bit.  There is currently no stipend available, and although some interns have had outside part-time jobs, it is a challenge to have enough time to work here, have an outside job, and also have enough time for oneself and personal balance and development.

We gather each morning for a check-in and to review the day and 2 days upcoming.  Once a week we plan for the next two weeks.  

Work Ethics

We value good communication and the joy of working as a team, as well as the ability to do some activities on your own. Previous experience working with your hands, farming, and other skills where you are used to working physically hard is appreciated.  It is hope that you are an eager learner, and a collaborative worker, and love to say "What's next?"

Daily Living
Interns share in the cooking, dishes and other regular household chores that a person would regularly do as part of daily living.  These activities are in addition to the 30 hrs of work discussed above. It is expected that interns able to be neat, as this is a place that functions as a center with guests who come by to tour.

This is a healthy environment and a smoke-free, drug-free space. There are several cats and dust environments, so it is not a healthy space for those with allergies. 

Conserving Resources
We value (and enjoy!) living lightly on the earth, so we compost our kitchen waste (food), try to buy in bulk, and if not, recycle our glass, plastic, paper, etc. We consciously conserve on burning fossil fuels, finding ways to meet our needs while reducing our use of propane & wood. We insulate ourselves, rather than turning the heat up high. For campfires we try to use wood gathered from the woods, and enjoy a smaller fire. We hang our clothes outdoors to dry when possible, minimize water usage and cook with solar or insulating boxes when possible. 


Permaculture gardens and greenhouse and paths will be further developed and maintained. 

There is a main house that has a kitchen, 3 bathrooms, places to sleep in a dorm setting, and possibly a bed room, an intern cabin and plenty of place to camp.  Lodging will be worked out when you arrive. For people with allergies: Cats and dust are part of life here. 

Meeting people:
There are a number of gatherings, presentations and classes at which you can learn as well as meet many like-minded people, network and share information. 

Access to Natural Building and Sustainability books, videos and resources.

Goals for the full season: 

  • Kid's Cottage ~ finish rocket stove heated bench construction, stone foundation wall, natural insulated floor,  construction of 2 doors, installation of windows, east wall construction & earth plasters.
  • Lean-to Wood Shed: finish thatching.
  • Strawbale Cabin:  roof, hybrid wall systems, install windows, wood stove. 
  • Spring -  
  • Summer -Natural Cottage 2 week Course to build a small load-bearing strawbale sauna structure with round pole/timber framing plus

            a timber frame gazebo.   

  • Hand-harvesting & preparing building materials is always part of our creative process.
  • Finish the living roof on the Wood Shelter
  • Harvesting & processing firewood and wood for construction projects. 
  • Strawbale Studio ~ finish plaster on benches, seal with linseed oil, make a finished earthen floor. 
  • Workshops:  see the Calendar on the website. 
  • Monthly Full Moon Potluck & Bonfire.  Firing up the earth oven and making pizza.  Wish: create a regular "Foraging & Breakfast" event, Medieval Garden Party.  Musical evening in the Strawbale Studio
  • Provide natural building exhibits and demonstrations for several eco-events.  
  • Permaculture Projects ~ sheet mulching garden beds, cover crops, planting & tending the Mandalla Garden & Herb Spiral. Foraging for plants and herbs, preservation (drying, tinctures, vinegars). 
  • Fermentation ~ continue with sourdough projects, kombucha, keifer, viilli, krauts and other lively possibilities. 
  • Reskilling ~ construct a solar dryer, home-made ceramic water filter.  Perhaps: cover drums with rawhide we made , experiment with brain tanning.
  • Outreach and Education:  data entry, website update, weekly blog, educational game and class development.  Metro-Detroit Green Map project: collect & input data.
  • Finish the Tree House Platform


Natural Building Outcomes: Depending on the timing and length of your stay, you will

  • find, and test the qualities of clay, sand and fiber
  • create the following materials: "Cob" (clay/sand/straw) earthen mix for building and sculpting, Earthen plasters for covering strawbales, Finish plasters for natural or conventional walls
  • apply Cob and Earthen Plaster
  • understand basic construction techniques for Cob Buildings, Strawbale Buildings, Light Clay, wattle & daub
  • understand design with the sun and with nature.
  • understand the basic principles of thatching:  designing/building a roof structure for thatching, collection and application of reed grass.
  • understand the principles of rubble trenches, stone knee-walls, and round pole framing.  


 References from past participants.        2009 REVIEW and PHOTOS  2010 Blog   See the Front Page  for the 2011 Report/Pictures.


Archived Internship Programs

  • Fall 2011-  Sept 11 through Nov 11, 2011.  Rocket Stove, Rumford fireplace, living roof, wattle and daub, earth plasters and thatching.
  • Winter Jan 8 through Feb 8, 2012- Hands-on Thatching and reed harvesting,  interior earthen plasters, food fermentation, round-pole framing, info on composting systems,information on fruit tree pruning, foundations, framing & wall systems.  Help with wood harvesting.  
  • 2013 Internship Program   



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