Past Intern ~ activity updates

What are previous intern up to now ?  This is a new page…watch for more entries.

 Tanyah Metfah, intern from Strawbale Studio in 2016 ( left) created an earth oven in Viet Nahm after being at Strawbale. She also was involved in teaching permacuture to youth, which she writes about below.
2017-4-15 Tanya writes: Hey Deanne!!!

WOW! your idea for the ecovillage project is absolutely amazing! I’m loving it! I am currently working on the project with my student in my permaculture for kids course. It is his final project after an exciting 4 months of learning about various permaculture techniques. It fits perfectly and he is so excited to do it.  He has so many good ideas to fit the criteria you required and suggested.
I feel satisfied because it seems that he has deeply absorbed the lessons we’ve been working on and this project is a great way to gauge whether or not that is the case (so far so good).
Well lots of excitement on my end! Hope you are well and thank you so much for sharing the project.
I added a few ideas here and there and will do a reflection after the project is done and will send it over.
Peace and power!

Tanya Meftah

Green Youth Collective HCMC

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens
with a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.



Here is a blog written by 2015 Intern Laura Moore, above, reflecting her understanding of natural building & its affect on the planet.




IMG_20160107_164024035Doug & Kat attended the 2016 Winternship (2nd from left  & 2nd from right). Doug writes:  Kathryn and I are developing plans to establish a farm that will be eventually an education space at Kathryn’s grandparents’ 100 acres (40 farm land, 60 forest). We’ve got lots of dreams and potential for creating some strawbale structures and such. My first plan is to build a small structure over a picnic table near the creek that flows through the woods. So, as that develops, I hope to support your projects to learn so I can do more in the space that we (hopefully) will be renting from Kathryn’s grandparents.
It was great to see you at the potluck! I love love love strawbale studio, all the potlucks and everything about it. I appreciate you so much. It is crazy that it was January that we were living there. that experience has been a huge inspiration for me and really slingshotted me further on the path of living more sustainably.  🙂
Much love,
Douglas G. Reith


Laura Lutrell on right


Laura Lutrel’s 2012 Blog and Pictures   (Update: Check out what Laura is doing now ! )






Scott Caruso

2013 Intern, Scott:  Hey Deanne,      Scott Caruso here.   Hope things are going well with strawbale studio and your natural building partners.  Oh and i should let you know that i am doing a little earthen retro fit of an old shed right now and we are using our machetes to harvest the dead johnson grass stalks as straw!   Its really fun and right on line with you using an ‘invasive’ as a kick ass building material.  I have heard of people thatching with Johnson Grass,  but so far we are just rolling it into logs and dipping it into slip and making little straw-log-brick-things,  and using it as our straw in cob.

I happen to be in the market for some nice japanese trowels and i was wondering if i could get some advice from you about getting them.   I found this website here that has a pretty good set of trowels for less money than i have seen them else where (  Have you ever used these, or heard about this website/seller?   If you have any other recommendations about the different styles or where to get them i would love to hear about it.  ?So have you been sweating  enough in the sauna this winter??    i am down in arizona right now, and i happen to be living right next to a sauna,   but its all cement and plywood ceiling  so it doesn’t have that great of a feel.   I would like to see how the benches turned out in yours if you have any pictures handy.happy new year,
Winternship 2015 Crew

Back row, Adam. Middle row Trevor, Brett, Harry Dean. Bottom row, Jenny, Nana, Deanne

Brett Lehner Winternship 2015  from CT.   I have fond memories of our time in Michigan and think of you and the others often. I have been adjusting back to my old life, and incorporating things that I learned while I was there. I have collected hickory bark and made tea, I ordered starter and have now made two batches of tempeh to date, I have made a stirring spoon and talked with a local man about collecting reed on his property.
   Good news on the permaculture meet-up front, we had a successful one a few weeks ago and the next one is planned for this week, at a woman’s house who is a blacksmith who showed up at our last one. We’ve gone from three to four to eight members and there are supposed to be more at this next one.
Belle and I are planning on traveling to Peru this summer. We may end up working on a natural building project there including thatching using traditional reed grass of Peru. That and a dug earth greenhouse. It looks like they dig down about eight feet, and then build cob brick walls around the interior, before covering it up on top, with plastic or something.   
Reflecting on the internship, I look back very fondly on my experiences, and am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take part. I can’t imagine that I had ever second-guessed going in terms of any ‘practical’ considerations beforehand. The whole experience connected with me on a very personal level and I feel as though it helped me continue to grow and define myself in terms of the person that I wish to become. Thank you for facilitating this for myself and the other interns as well.
All the best,
Take care,


Adam Geriac  Winternship 2015 from CT.


Bret and Adam

Back rHey, Deanne, thanks for the handouts! Building this resource base is key to us aspiring natural builders 🙂

Amy and I have just moved into her mother’s house, so everything seems to be a new pattern right now. I haven’t done any natural building projects yet, but….


Brett, Trevor, and Myself have ordered out serrated hand-sickles, and we are going to go reed collecting once some of the snow melts!
Brett has said he’s planning on taking down a tree in his yard, and he’s going to share the wood so we can whittle!
And we think our first round pole project is to make a shave horse!
 All of these activities are inhibited by snow, so it’s seemingly going to be a very busy spring. The new habits that I am incorporating into everyday life are patterns that I learned from the entire group including meditation, more self expression, and keeping my self talk in the positive. I’ve also been incorporating what I’ve learned from our non-violent communication discussions. Overall I find myself more frequently content and in the present than I did before the internship… and I think that’s what I needed most anyways.
OH! and I’m just a couple of thermometers away from making Tempeh! Amy and I hope to start by next week.
I hope you are doing well and staying warm!
Base row and first surface layer

Scott Van Sice

12/19/2014 Scott  Van Sice from the 2014 Winternship (another Scott)

I’m currently helping with my friend’s tree house project in Colombia.  Middle of January I will start making my way up North through Panama and Costa Rica teaching and performing at a few festivals including Envision and Geo Paradise.
Sending lots of warm sunny hugs!
snow thatching2

Christina Keegan

Christina Keegan from the 2011 Winternship lead her first 9 day Natural Building Workshop !  Here is the publicity for that event.

Learn how to Build with Cob & Create Housing for folks in Need!  We are gathering to help build a series of natural buildings to provide housing for the homeless and space for Volunteer in Your Community, Inc’s community food, gardening, and skill-building workshops.  In this 9 day Cob Workshop, will will build our first structure, a 12’x12′ cob cottage that will be used as a community center and workshop space.

The instructor, Christina Keegan, has apprenticed with the teachers of the Natural Cottage Project (Deanne Bednar, Christina Ott and Chris McClellan) and assisted in their complete cob builds in central TN as well as led introductory workshops in cob building and rocket mass heaters. She started out with a one-month Winternship at the Strawbale Studio in Oxford, MI. Christina also co-manages two urban farms in her hometown of beautiful Cleveland, OH.


Cortney Labbe writes:

Hope this finds you well and enjoying life.
I don’t know if you remember me, but certainly remember you. My name’s cortney labbe and I used to work for the YMCA. You introduced me to the wonderful world of strawbale, and mud, and for that I will always be grateful.
I spent the last 2 years working on a massive natural build for a community in rural AZ and even got to work with Benito Stein, and Tom and Satomi Landers.

Thanks for everything,