Michigan Internship

Internship & Worktrade  Program at the Strawbale Studio:   2013 Slideshow and Report 


Located on 50 acres of wooded rural land inn S. E. Michigan, 1 hour north of Detroit, the Strawbale Studio program provides an unparalleled range of Natural Building and sustainable living experiences.  The infrastructure includes several existing natural buildings (like the world- famous Strawbale Studio), functioning demonstration projects (like the Spiral Chamber composting toilet, or the Eagle & Turtle rocket mass heater or the Smiling Sun wood-fired pizza oven) and indoor and outdoor spaces for comfortable year-around living and learning. Our hostess and lead teacher is Deanne Bednar (illustrator of The Hand Sculpted House, by Ianto Evans). She brings love, generosity, a vast curiosity, and many years of experience as a teacher, artist, Natural Builder and workshop facilitator. Other amazing teachers, crafters and artisans occasionally visit and augment the program. These have included Christina Ott (cob builder) Chris McClellan (codes, rocket stoves), Jared Bogdonov-Hanna (permaculture teacher), Mark Angelini (woodworking), Paul Angelini (mushroom cultivation), Ruth Hoyt (goats milk and fermentation).

We work as a team where collaboration and cooperation is valued. While Natural Building is our curriculum focus, we consider communication and community networking skills to be vital sustainable living skills, and perhaps the most important take-aways of the programming. Learning to listen and communicate are essential parts of our process. Group discussions and circles help us.   Our curriculum also includes community outreach/networking activities such as the Full Moon Potluck, the Permaculture Meetup, and connections with local farmers, food artisans & friends.During your stay of one or more months, you receive hands-on learning by working on the ongoing projects on site, and by helping prepare for and attending weekend workshops.  Although projects vary from season to season, they generally include stone foundation work, round pole framing, strawbale, cob & other wall systems, earth plaster & sculpting, thatching and living roofs.  Additionally, this program is an integrated living situation with an ever-expanding Permaculture garden and wild woodland that provides an increasing percent of our food, fuel and building materials. Tending the land, foraging, gardening, cooking in the solar cooker and rocket stove cooker, composting, fermentation, vermiculture and other sustainability skills are staples of life here, and we all lend a hand.

Participants have a variety of places to stay from indoor dorm situations to camping & an outdoor intern cabin. Meals are shared, as are general house duties.  Our schedule is usually about 30 hours a week on sustainable living activities, and 10 hours on household, cooking & upkeep.  We generally work about 3-4 days a week, plus attending weekend workshops. There is plenty of time though for walks or enjoying our extensive library or your own projects.

Interns contribute $850 ($750 if paid 1 month in advance) toward room and board. Interns are invited to participate in all building, classes & natural living projects.*

½ price Worktrader scholarships are occasionally available. A number of tasks are required to keep things going here: gardening, groundskeeping, repair & maintenance, office assistance, data entry, web development, grant writing etc. If you have special skills in any of these areas we may be able to offer a better arrangement. Worktraders participate in all normal projects, classes and activities while additionally contributing about 10 hours a week to infrastructure support.*

*The exception:                                                                                                                                   A few times each year the Strawbale Studio hosts an intensive Natural Cottage Project Workshop with several instructors (July 19 – August 1 this year). Paying interns have access to $1500 workshop, and there is no worktrade category of payment at this time. During and around such events our schedule is considerably less laid-back as we host an additional 20-40 people on the site. Studio Interns participate in the workshop activities while acting as support staff, helping to run the kitchen, camp infrastructure, classes and kids program.

Contact us at info@naturalcottageproject.com or call 440-682-0502.


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