[Strawbale] ESBG 2011 and the future of strawbale building

Cas Mol chwmol at hotmail...
Wed Aug 31 13:20:48 CEST 2011

Dear All,
I wasn't there so I can't really comment but I do recognize some of it.
This is what you get when people make strawbale building into a believe instead of a science.
Best regards,

> Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:23:30 +0200
> From: asbn at baubiologie...
> To: Strawbale at amper....muni.cz
> Subject: [Strawbale] ESBG 2011 and the future of strawbale building
> ESBG 2011 and the future of strawbale building
> Some personal remarks on the so-called european strawbale gathering 2011 in
> the sleepy village Bouzov-Podoli (CZ)
> My first day in BP: imagine coming to a place where permaculture is the
> thing. That´s fine by me, but in this case it literally means
> eco-puritanism. The only room for presentations - a tiny teahouse (and this
> also means no coffee anywhere) with a sunken roof because of the abundant
> vegetation on it, that you have to enter with a deep bow and some deep
> respect of mother nature. A big bump on the head reminded me: tree-trunks
> are harder than my skull, maybe because I had not taken off my shoes before
> entering. 
> The purpose of the building (100 % ecological of course, made of trunks,
> earth and maybe a little straw) became quite clear: it´s a stresstest on
> what earthen walls really can do for indoor-climate. No ventilation, no
> electricity, no windows to be opened, and now you may multiply like 30
> people in a room for 20 with the 36 °C it had on this day, add a lot of
> sweat and you come to the result, that it´s possible to build 100 %
> ecological even with almost no money and without architects and building
> physicians. At least if you don´t intent to use the building for longer than
> the 2 minutes we humans survive without breathing.
> Apropos shoes: We wouldn´t have needed them at all because of the heat, but
> outside the teahouse we had to decide whether to walk on crushed stone with
> bare feet (and get rid of this softening overcivilised attitude of us petty
> urbans) or slip back in our dampening footwear.
> Nature was the big theme on this 'ESBG', but even the wasps (which seemed to
> gather here from all over Czech Republic) knew that and so they decided to
> populate the vegetarian feeding places in crowds and followed the food and
> drinks to the tables. This was the next lecture to learn to live in
> accordance to mother nature. And if you count those nice little creatures as
> visitors (why not?), this ESBG was the best visited ESBGs of all time.
> But who am I to complain: not arriving on the first day saved me from
> working on the wells (yes, really!) to have the pleasure of pipewater. Cold
> water was spare, except at the only real refreshing place around, a pond
> about 3 km astray, which had obviously been overlooked by the eco-puritans
> and so kept it´s natural beauty.
> Enough; I came here to meet and greet and share and exchange, so let´s come
> to that. The programm was very relaxed, it's called „open space“ and
> supposedly the latest hype for conferences. In fact open space means, that
> nobody feels responsible, because nobody had to follow a schedule or could
> even be sure about what he or she had to present or share. The majority was
> wandering around the perimeter, not knowing where to go, what to say or
> hear. Superfluous to mention the lack of any presentation technique like a
> silly beamer (which really doesn't fit to such a low tech area); we crowded
> together around some laptops, until their batteries went dead.
> But let´s have some practice. Only pure naturalists enjoy standing in the
> baking, burning sun for more than 5 minutes, not to speak of building
> strawbale constructions. But there are always those tougher than the rest.
> Some were very willing to work with the handmade strawbales, but...
> according to the law of Max (I come to that later) one has to begin with the
> stemming of the lines before the wrapping may begin. A lecture, that the
> truth of strawbale-building isn't just fun with bales, but a lot of
> preparing work around. After 15 minutes everybody seemed to know the
> technique of wrapping by watching the stemming and left the place.
> Dusk fell, it was still very warm, and after exchanging a lot of
> anger-calming jokes about the ongoing events (in the center of which stood
> „Mad Max“, the ever stressed out, goofylike leader with an annoying cowboy
> attitude (and hat)), we found ourselves coming together, enjoying delicious
> cold beer and soothing cigarettes (some more natural smokeables) and each
> other, celebrating a birthday child with a „cake“ of clay with candles, and
> entertaining us with tales of the strawbalers world and about the funny
> situation. The local ESBG-team tries always to compensate Max' chaotic
> manner and is really nice and friendly, serves some schnaps and (free) beer
> to lift the spirit... but it all came to a sudden end with the spontaneous
> arrival of the 'leader'. He prohibits smoking (we sit outside in the open
> air on a place called 'bar', but according to Max' law we are on a
> strawbuilding site and everybody knows: don't play with fire when on a
> strawbuilding-site). Because the author of this silly review seems to ignore
> the actual seriousness of the situation, Max threatens him to remove him
> from the premises and fetches the lighted cigarette out of his hands. „What
> about the candles?“ one dares to ask. You all can surely imagine, that the
> cake with the candles followed the cigarette immediately into the dust of
> the night.
> After that lecture in preventing fire on strawbuilding-sites we could have
> proceeded smoking, lighting candles and joking but nobody was in any mood
> for that anymore. What was told in the minutes before we went to sleep is
> better not be cited.
> But what the hack, the next day would save the event: the big 'European
> strawbale conference' which takes place – oh glory halleluja – in a
> different location at the townhall in Bouzov (and this means comfortable
> toilets, a beamer, windows to open and hopefully no wasps).
> My second day in Bouzov-Podoli: In preparing the big event some creative new
> things were established, e.g. the european networkers, who have brought
> european strawbale building-efforts to the point, where it is today, had to
> present their topics on posters. Themes of the presentations were edited and
> dictated to prevent duplication and different views, as a result e.g. a
> well-known plasterworker didn´t talk about his expertise, but shared some
> refreshing notes about his life as a young entrepreneur... an entertaining
> presentation in contrast to the usual specialized strawbale-lectures.
> The schedule was tight, to say the least. We were at the clock; a
> countdown-device counted 20 minutes, starting again in the second it reached
> zero. Questions were entirely postponed to after the last presentation at 5
> pm and exept a lunchbreak and a short break on afternoon we had no pauses at
> all for questioning or discussions (or smoking:-). A conference without the
> usual exchange like comparing experiences, sharing knowledge, bringing up
> strawbale building by working together. Obviously Max has a completely
> different viewpoint on that – no topic was scheduled more than once, so in
> the end it was one large heap of puzzle-pieces, only every stone belonged to
> a different puzzle...
> Unfortunately even off the stage it was not possible to learn much, because
> whatever was interesting and not per se understandable in the presented
> system turned out to be a secret of the inventors. All in all a pleasent
> conference-day with concise presentations and without arduous debates...
> I left immediately after the conference, some of the visitors from Poland
> and Germany did that immediately after arriving (and clashing with Max), but
> most of the others persevered, tolerated and outlasted the challenges and
> inventions because of the big distances to their home-countries, waiting for
> something like a turning point, which didn't come at all.
> My conclusion: Certainly it was great to get to know and meet again so many
> nice people, but if this so-called ESBG is in any way significant for the
> future of the european strawbale building, then good night, european
> strawbale building. Whats the purpose of an ESBG? For me, what it always was
> – sharing knowledge and experiences between all european networkers and
> straw bale builders, so that we can go home to our respective countries,
> with renewed enthusiasm (which lasted long e.g. after the last Belgian
> ESBG), the reinforced feeling of being part of a movement, fine-tuning next
> years coordination, and some new ideas in the baggage to be spread at home
> in workshops. In one word – bringing forward the case.
> This years ESBG paints a threat: a threat of an event advertising the
> organiser, abused for the sake of the local/regional strawbale building
> scene alone. That leaves the international networkers with the task that
> should be done by the locals: teaching newbies. Don´t get me wrong, that´s
> an honorable task, and an important one, only why should any international
> expert pay for that? Experts pay for becoming even greater experts. If
> there´s just a job to do in which they only give, they should GET at least
> paid. Or otherwise simply no one will gather together anymore.
> This is just my opinion, but I think its time to act now and push the next
> ESBG in a better direction....
> Mit lieben Grüßen / with kind regards
> Herbert Gruber
> -- 
> asbn - austrian strawbale network
> Österreichisches Netzwerk für Strohballenbau
> 3720 Ravelsbach, Baierdorf 6
> Email: asbn at baubiologie...
> http://www.baubiologie.at
> ____________________________________________________
> European strawbale building discussion list
> Send all messages to:
> Strawbale at amper....muni.cz
> Archives, subscription options, etc:
> http://amper.ped.muni.cz/mailman/listinfo/strawbale
> ____________________________________________________
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://amper.ped.muni.cz/pipermail/strawbale/attachments/20110831/283a9e20/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Strawbale mailing list