EcoNest Natural Building Workshops and Timber Framing Workshops

Call Us: 541-488-9508
9:00am - 5:00pm Mon.-Fri. PST

May 2012

New for this month:

»   Workshop Slots still available
»   Japanese Capentry Workshop
»  Robert & Paula’s new EcoNest
»  Interview with OUR EcoVillage Founder – Brandy Gallagher

EcoNest Workshop Series about to begin

Robert Laporte cutting Timber

The EcoNest spring workshops series is about to begin. There is room for last minute registrations and, as our numbers are small this season, there is opportunity for lots of intimate learning experience and one-on-one coaching.

Japanese Carpentry Workshop

Once again it is our honor to host Dale Brotherton as he shares his wisdom and experience in the upcoming Japanese Carpentry Workshop June 11-17

Dale, together with Robert Laporte, will lead a maximum of eight students in this rare opportunity to bring together tools, trees and tradition for an intensive woodworker’s experience.

Purchase the Cookbook

Robert & Paula’s new EcoNest!

Robert and Paula are “nestled-in” to their new headquarters on Paradise Lane in Ashland. If you are in or around the Ashland, Oregon area, we invite you to an Open House May 19 from 1pm to 5pm. We look forward to sharing our new Nest with you!

View the Kitchen »

View the Dining Room »

OUR EcoVillage- an interview with Founder Brandy Gallagher

By Paula Baker-Laporte

This summer we are excited to be collaborating with O.U.R. Ecovillage for our British Columbia intensive from July 16 to August 2nd. The subject of the Intensive will be the construction of timber-frame and enclosure of a small EcoNest stock plan that the EcoVillage founder, Brandy Gallagher has named the “Mandala Home”. The O.U.R. mission is dear to our heart and soul and we are proud to have EcoNest represented at this remarkable place.

The EcoVillage , a 25 acre property, near Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island is a fine example of what a few determined people can accomplish with a single minded and focused vision and the perseverance to carry that vision into reality. Their mission “to educate, inspire and transform by co-creating a thriving learning community and permaculture site” has become a reality that all of Canada can be proud of and learn from. O.U.R. is a living example of how working collectively can create a new prosperity consciousness for a sustainable future. I interviewed Brandy:

Paula: Brandy you are known in the natural building world as a woman who inspires others to move past taking ‘no’ for an answer. Why might this be?

Brandy: My belief is that “no is just an uneducated yes!” Really, every time we come to theoretic conclusion that the answer is ‘no’…perhaps we simply need to do more research to discover helpful precedents in the bylaw/zoning/code approval/legislation realms that can facilitate performance based outcomes rather than prescriptive frameworks. We all know that things need to change if we are to thrive. My attitude towards antiquated zoning and regulations that stand as roadblocks to sustainability is… “Not legal? How about we help you make it legal?”

Paula: What does O.U.R. stand for?

Brandy: O.U.R. stands for One United Resource.

Paula: What is your history?

Brandy: O.U.R. was founded in 1990 when a group of dedicated ecologists from within in the wider community of Victoria BC came together to form a community commons based on the idea that together we could create positive change towards a more sustainable community. We created a City wide intercultural and inter-generational interface program run by youth as a community forum From 1990-1999 O.U.R was urban based. By 1999 we began looking for a place where our “do good work “could be focused instead of compartmentalized The EcoVillage site was acquired with the idea that in bringing our diversity of talents into one resource we would accomplish our vision-“to demonstrate a working model for sustainability that would serve as a beacon of the possible for the whole country.”

Paula: Was the original vision for you to all live on site together?

Brandy: We decided not to take on housing as first priority and we managed with the resources on site. Using the existing elements on site we established a community house and co-operative farm. During the summers many of our group moved on site living in tents and trailers.

Paula: You are now recognized as an educational center and demonstration site for both permaculture and natural building. What are your built projects to-date?

Brandy: In 2003 we built the Cob 1,400 sq. ft. healing sanctuary and in 2005 the 1,100 sq. ft. Cob arts studio.

Our Credit Union (which accepts all deposits) is a Thermophilic composting toilet built with salvaged materials and covered with earthen plaster. There are 6 hybrid (cob, clay/straw) and salvage out-buildings.

Our first housing was initiated 1-1/2 years ago when we were granted a development Permit for pilot project of healthy and affordable housing. The EcoNest will be the 2nd actual residence built on the property.

Paula: The EcoNest, which will be the focus of our work together this summer, came about as a very special collaboration. Can you explain the process?

Brandy: The Fuller Center for Housing Int’l ( is creating an initiative with us to “green” affordable housing. Stakeholders including contractors, faith groups, government, community groups come together and Fuller puts projects on ground. They will bring in work camps and bring in public relations. O.U.R., in hosting this event , gets to educate hundreds of volunteers about the value of healthy and affordable housing. It takes the cost equation much further than the normal development world by considering the health benefits, social costs, environmental impact, energy efficiency, and lifespan of the building and the process of creating it. Our ultimate vision is to create a housing cluster of 9 eco, healthy and affordable units as a sustainable work/live environment…….a showcase for all of Canada that will demonstrate the viability and inspire other affordable Housing Affiliates throughout the world.

Paula: What can an EcoNest workshop attendee expect at the EcoVillage this summer?

Brandy: They can expect ” heaploads” (Canadian for “lots”) of fun and creativity. They will experience the incredible team dynamic called “building in community”. They will participate in the opportunity to challenge the building world to a new paradigm of cooperation. The work that they accomplish will be experienced by the more than 10,000 visitors that pass through O.U.R. gates every year.

We hope you’ll stay in touch!

Robert Laporte and Paula Baker Laporte

Please let us know if you’d like us to update your email address by contacting us through our website:

Paula Baker-Laporte FAIA & Robert Laporte,
EcoNest Founders