GardenNews.biz - Feb 02,2011 - Moab, Utah – Community Rebuilds along with USDA Rural Development recently welcomed Sascha and Colleen into their newly completed straw bale home. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held at their front door. The large crowd attending was soon invited inside to see the first USDA funded straw bale home in Utah. Have you ever wondered what is under the plaster finish? That’s not the case in a straw bale home where it is tradition to include a “Truth Window,” an interior small framed glass window where you can see the truth of what the wall is made of. The 920 square foot energy efficient designed home uses passive solar energy to heat the three bedroom, one bathroom home. This straw bale construction replaced a 1976 mobile home while reusing the kitchen cabinets, kitchen sink, and a variety of other material from the old trailer. The new home was financed through USDA Rural Development and completed by Community Rebuilds with the help of recruited college students. Community Rebuilds is an example of the current administration’s dedication to supporting grassroots solutions for economic development, green job creation, and business models supporting environmental sustainability. Without this leadership and the financing through USDA Rural Development, this project would not have been possible.
Community Rebuilds’ mission is to build energy efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. According to Emily S. Niehaus, President/Founder, “We assist families that own homes in disrepair, such as manufactured homes built prior to 1976, to remove and recycle their existing home and build a new modest home using green construction practices and products. We recruit students to spend a semester in Moab for the hands-on experience of green building under the direction of a general contractor. We also make sure participating families, students, and volunteers all have a place to live during the building process.”
Student volunteers must commit to a 4-month internship in Moab, in most cases receiving college credit for their participation. Students come from all over the country; they are in their 20’s and not required to be associated with a college or university. The student interns receive a free place to live, a monthly food stipend, and a hands-on natural building education in return for their dedicated volunteerism helping to build the straw bale home.
An excerpt from a letter written by a father of a participating spring student, “I was skeptical when my daughter first threw Community Rebuilds out there as a possible internship, as I was not interested in sending our daughter into a position of indentured servitude to a contractor looking for cheap labor; seems a little harsh in hindsight. So we are delighted you returned to us our daughter with newfound skills that will serve her well throughout her life. Having said that I would go further and say that while the use of the tools and the building of these houses were utterly crucial to the experience, they were perhaps