For the last five days we've been camping in the woods on a piece of land near the coast of Salt Spring Island, attending a workshop put on by the Mud Girls Natural Building Collective. The week ran a mere $185 dollars per person, and included three vegetarian meals and a tasty snack every day. For those attending with children, there was even quality childcare at no additional cost!
Each morning, we convened for outdoor classes on various aspects of natural building, followed by hands-on instruction in working with cob. In exchange for our education, we gave our labor, helping finish a two-story, 300 round foot, post-and-beam structure. Among many other things, we learned how to mix and build with cob, make and apply clay plasters, and lay an earthen floor.
It was truly an honor to participate first-hand in building a home with such strong and capable women. What a life-changing and soul-affirming experience this has been! The Mud Girls are running so much more than workshops—they are part of a revolution, a movement for change. Their important work is illuminating what we feel is a much needed path, one leading towards a more sensible and healthy world.
We as humans need so little to survive—it is nigh onto a crime that the act of creating shelter, the most basic of necessities, has become a skill so few people in our society possess. It is such a liberating thing, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are capable of building our own home. And what a revelation it has been, to witness the reality that we can do it affordably, often with the dirt directly beneath our feet!
"I'm so glad we came here, I'm so glad we came here, I'm so glad we came here," was our resounding refrain at the end of every day. We echo our fellow participant, Jaylene, who said with teary eyes on the last morning of the workshop, "This is so right, this is how humans are supposed to live."
As we worked together this week, sharing the magic of mud, we were creating so much more than a cob home. We were creating a community! Now that the experience is over, it's practically heart-wrenching to leave it all behind. For us, modern society as we know it has little to offer that can rival this simple way of being. We long return to the woods, to create a sanctuary that will stand the test of time, and to live our lives in a way that feels right.
But back into the world we'll go, working like mad to make our dreams a reality. Soon enough, we will be building a home with our own two hands, using straw bales, maple trees, and cob. For now, we'd like to say to Molly, Sheera, Mélisande, Chelsea, Rose, and our amazing fellow participants, thank you!
We've compiled a video of our time with the Mud Girls below. If you click , the movie will play in full screen. Clicking will vastly increase the picture quality, but you'll have to leave our site to see it (click the blue link below the huge HD that appears after). Also, it might take quite a bit longer to load on slow connections. The music is "My Own Two Hands" by Ben Harper.
What a revelation it has been, to witness the reality that we can do it affordably, often with the dirt directly beneath our feet!