SaraSara Schmidt

Sara was educated as an environmental engineer and worked as an air quality consultant for eight years. Life changed course when she happened upon a copy of The Hand-Sculpted House in 2005. It made a strong impression! Six weeks later she moved to Oregon and enrolled in an eight month apprenticeship program at the Cob Cottage Company North American School of Natural Building. Upon completion, Sara returned to Texas and began her career as builder and teacher of natural building methods.

Sara has been primarily focused on turnkey residential construction using locally harvested wood, straw, cob, compressed earth block, and natural plasters. She has been involved with constructing natural buildings in Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Texas. She also greatly enjoys teaching natural building workshops to empower folks to be able to do for themselves. Sara is grateful to have discovered a way to make a living that she enjoys so much. Natural building provides the perfect opportunity to spend time outside, utilize technical and creative skills and help people enrich their lives.

 

Brad bio picBrad King

Brad’s background is a unique mash-up of experiential environmental education, social work and sustainable construction. Through these experiences, the deep joy of connection to nature from his childhood evolved into an ethic of environmental care and holistic interdependence. Brad got his start as a youth-worker, first as an environmental educator in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and later as a homelessness prevention specialist at a teen shelter in Washington state.  Frustrated with the chronic dysfunction of the non-profit world and tired of applying band-aids to deep traumas, Brad decided to pursue his lifelong love for the art and science of building. This change began his personal quest to bring environmental care, social justice and general sanity to the cultural perspectives and professional practices surrounding the issue of shelter.

After several years working in conventional “green building,” Brad found a like-minded mentor in Austin-based natural builder Frank Meyer. This led to years of growth and success as a full-time builder and plasterer focused on blending traditional craft with modern building science and industry best practices. Earthbound enables Brad to live his vision of authenticity, democracy, social justice and personal responsibility in the pursuit of an honest livelihood. Brad is also an active volunteer in Austin’s thriving sustainable living community and currently serves on the board of directors of Design-Build-Live.

 

Project_Aaron_20130905_COLOR_20Aaron Ralls

Aaron has been building homes for more than a decade. After moving to Washington state from Texas, Aaron got a job doing construction for large tract home developments. It took a few years, but he finally realized he was part of an unhealthy building model. Aaron feels this model promotes bad design, soulless materials, extreme waste, poor craftsmanship, detrimental environmental impacts and dysfunctional work environments. This bleak future he was a part of building inspired him to change his path. Hoping to make a positive impact on the future, Aaron moved to Utah to work with youth in an outdoor therapy program. This was a transformative experience Aaron is deeply grateful for. This new path led to another pivotal moment when he was introduced to the principles behind straw bale and earthen construction. The beauty, intelligence, and community that these natural materials foster inspired Aaron to learn all he could about them.

Since 2008 Aaron has worked alongside owner-builders, general contractors, and architects specializing in earthen plasters, light straw clay, cob, straw bale, and compressed earth blocks. Aaron now realizes that it his life’s work is to pass this knowledge on to future generations in hopes of building a beautiful future together.