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Kathleen Sedwick

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Here's a link to the photos from Cal-Earth I posted on my Facebook.  You do not need a FB account to view them.

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Worked on the SCFF Weatherization training project with J. West (who is the most fun SME I know) and recently attended the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, founded by Nadir Khalili.  Khalili is best known for his work in building affordable sustainable housing and shelter using the basic materials around you, primarily the earth beneath your feet.  He developed the Superadobe construction method, which uses long continuous tubes of polypropylene bags (as opposed to individual bags seen in other earthbag structures) that have 4 pt. barbed wire run between the layers.  This combination is known as Superadobe because the bag mix is stabilized (the stabilizers being added parts of either lime or cement based on your soil composition and what's readily available to you) and the barbed wire provides the tensile strength missing before in earlier methods of construction.  The construction principles and methods apply to single bags, also, but Khalili was especially interested in making the process as fast and easy as possible for areas that need to build emergency shelters.  At the Cal-Earth Institute, you can see the huge variety of possibilities for this construction method, from simple shelters, to small dome homes (like the "Eco-Dome" that I stayed in while there), to a beautiful and spacious 2000 square foot finished home.  Actually, all the structures are beautiful, which is something Khalil believed is a basic human need.  With the right design and construction considerations these houses can be built for any climate (we're planing to build in Ecuador) but are especially popular in the US in area like Utah and New Mexico. To meet local building codes and often to get financing, the structures in the US are often built with a post and beam construction using the bags as filler so a more "traditional" house is possible, but it has nothing to do with the structural integrity of the dome houses (including true cantilevered domes with a round footprint to Roman Vault structures that have a rectangular footprint and have real advantages for using if you want to take advantage of passive solar heating and cooling).  You see examples of all these in various stages of completion at Cal-Earth, where they are continually researching and improving on new ways to build using this technology. The structures (which can be homes and emergency shelters, but have also been used to build schools, community centers, and hospitals) are very affordable and a family can literally build their own home where they are with simple tools and free to inexpensive materials.  The structures built at Cal-Earth have passed all California building code requirements, are very stable in seismically active areas, are virtually fireproof, and extremely durable. Khalili believed every person and family had a right to safe, comfortable, and beautiful shelter and this is being achieved in the US. Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East under the direction of graduates of Cal-Earth.  It's a beautiful thing.  I have photos of many of the structures in an album on my Facebook page and will post some here (not this particular post because it seems to only want to let me include a link, so I'll add another post with photos). For more information about Cal-Earth, you can visit their website at  They have workshops year-round (except August) and offer open houses and tours by arrangement.  They also work in partnership with other organizations to train people in Permaculture (see their site for more info).

After working with J. West on the SFCC Weatherization training project, I can see a huge potential for earthbag construction as a solution for affordable and truly sustainable building technology that is energy-efficent, has an extremely low impact on the environment, and can allows families and communities to build their own homes using very low-tech methods.  I've approached Cal-Earth about helping them develop their online program and hope to be involved in that.  

Thanks for the invitation to this group, I look forward to learning and contributing what I can.

Getting my Wordpress site up, having to relearn everything I ever knew about HTML (which wasn't a whole lot, but it's coming back). Check out what's there so far at

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The eSCKWID has found her people :-)
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