WINTERNSHIP Outline of Activities

2023 WINTERNSHIP at the Strawbale Studio      Jan 5 – Feb 5, 2023                     p1  Course Description

Items in BOLD are what we actually did in 2023 Winternship  🙂

This four-week Course includes Natural Building & Sustainable Skill Classes + Hands-on training:

EARTH PLASTER & SCULPTING ­workshop Help select & design the area that will plaster during workshop. Learn how to find, test, mix & apply earth plaster to interior walls.  Explore sculpting with Earth.  Skills: make Adhesion Coat,  use a variety of trowels, hawk, several finishing techniques.  Interns: application of 3 coat earth plaster process to a strawbale. Optional: Video: excerpts from Natural Paints & Plaster with Chris Magwood. Earth Floor video Sukita.

ROUND POLE Workshop ~ Framing Basics   Harvest trees, debark, notch, make wooden pins, drill and notch joints.  Tool use: Hatchet, Ax, saw, Draw Shave, Chisel, mallot. Use a Shaving Horse, make wooden pins. Skills: sawing, use of pins & screws, battery drill, measuring, sharpening tools.  Intern Project:  W wing loft railing & lashed ladder + straw mattress. Intern post workshop Options: make a set poles with demonstration notches, or build a frame model

THATCHING Workshop  Demo + hands-on thatching & reed collection. Tools & Skills: ratchet tool, thatching needles, pins, stainless steel wire, manila cord, vertical & horizontal leggat. Use the existing frame, or construct a simple frame, attach reed, tap up. 

REED collection   Use hand sickles to harvest, tie in bundles, transport & make a new reed tipi on N Meadow for storage.

FIRE Workshop  ~ basics of Rocket Stove & Earth Oven Class: Rocket Stove design principles. Fire up and use Rocket Stove. Hands-on: Rocket Stove brick mockup, mix cob, earth mortar, insulation layer materials. Class: Earth Oven design principles. Hands-on: Earth Oven model, make cob. Fire up Earth Oven & make pizza. (See ex-Compost Furnace)

CLASS SESSIONS for Intern on Natural Building Design & Principles 1-2x /week ~ 2 hour class on each subject: Natural Building Continuum, Foundations. Framing, Wall Systems overview, Strawbale design principles & some hands-on experiences: practice retying bales & Earth Plaster layers on mini or full bale.  Site Assessment & Solar. Option: Make a design for a future project on site or your choice. Tour of buildings as they related to the subject.  Design: Pattern Language & designing by the clock from Hand-Sculpted House.  Strawbale Construction based on Chapter 3 of the Earth Plaster Book. (We watched 12 ways to Build with Strawbale by Chris Magwood. Podcast/slideshow. )


Natural Buildings on site
~  Strawbale Studio, Kids Cottage, Hobbit Sauna, Cedar Cabin, my Cabin, Wood Shelters.
Heat Devices ~ Rocket Stove Heated Bench, Rumford Fireplace Outdoor Rocket Stove Cooker.  Hay Box Cooker, Compost Furnace principles, Hobbit Sauna! Solar Cooker (use in warm weather only) Composting ~ 4 types.   (2 types) 

Natural  & Local Foods ~ Sauerkraut & Injira sourdough wraps. Eggs & Vegies from East River Organic Farm down the road.  Warm Weather Foraging, Mushroom harvest/ soak & fruit Shitake

Enrichment ~ NVC (Non-Violent Communication) / Compassionate Communication / Reflective Listening.  Visit East River Farm.  Integrate permaculture principles into our day/study. Optional Guest Teacher:  Jared Bogdonov-Hannah or Matthew McCoul on nutrient cycles on-site (biochar, wood ash, 3 types Compost, biomass, other) .
 Visit local: 7 ponds Nature Center, Bald Mountain Recreation area, Detroit, etc. The Willows: 4500sq ft Strawbale Outdoor Education Center, Chatsfield School, Lapeer, MI. Food:  White Horse Inn. Dryden.  Victorias, Oxford.  Sagebrush Cantena, Lake Orion.  20 Front St.  Kombucha & music venue.  

Browse the Resource Library  Extensive books on Strawbale, Cob, Thatching, Herbs & Foraging +. Earth Plaster / Magwood. Videos on Sustainability & natural building, Ben Law – Round Pole Framing. Strawbale Solution, Mud, Hands – A House. Alone in the Wilderness. Building Codes for a Small Planet. Low Impact Home for Living in the Future. SBS slideshow Round Pole Movie trailer. Folks read books on foraging, natural building & other topics from the Library!       


SCHEDULE  Subject to modification                                 p2 Schedule

with the public. Dates to be adjusted to 2023. Sat & Sun 9-5p

WINTERN SCHEDULE – subject to change.

WEEK 1 Jan 5-8, 2023
Orientation pt 1
ENRICHMENT: walks, visits, Full Moon Zoom, Reading Library, Conversations, Cooking & Food
Worktrade: Workshop assistance. Shopping.

WEEK 2 Jan 9 -15, 2023
Orientation pt 2 – Booklets, House tour. Waiver
Materials Continuum, NVC, Foundations, Design ROUND POLE BASICS WORKSHOP Jan 14-15, 2023
HANDS-ON: Earth Plaster continued. Ladder Lashing. West Wing Earth Plaster Wall Mural. |
ENRICHMENT: Sour dough, Wood Splitting tutorial, Resource Library, Tool sharpening tutorial. Sharing Evening.
Earth Oven – learn to fire. Make a pizza.
WORKTRADE: Prep Workshop, Firewood harvest, Dirt Harvest, Cob Kit, phase 1 Design, Prep dirt. Cleaning.

WEEK 3 Jan 16 – 22 , 2023

* Mid-Course Correction:  what’s going well, could be improved.
CLASS: Design / Site, Framing Continued. THATCHING & REED COLLECTION
HANDS-ON: Thatch & Reed. Spoon Carving, Model Making.
ENRICHMENT: Permaculture Meetup, potluck and herb presentation & testing.  Resource Library, Sharing Evening. Haybox Insulative Cooking. Kelly Kettle, Outdoor Rocket Cooker. Fire things  Scott VanSythe visits. Pizza party in Earth Oven.
WORKTRADE: Prep Workshop, Firewood harvest, Dirt Harvest, Cob Kit, phase 1 Design, Prep dirt. Data entry, Publicity.

WEEK 4 Jan 23 – 29, 2023
CLASS: FIRE WORKSHOP ~ Rocket Stove & Earth Oven (Stretch goal: Code:  skype with Chris McC. ) Strawbale Construction Details.
HANDS-ON: Combustion Unit rebuild. Earth Oven 1/2 Scale Model build.  Pizza in the Earth Oven!  Finish Plaster applied to Cob brick.  Practice using earth mortar on bricks.
ENRICHMENT: Resource Library, (Sharing Evening – not requested).  Movie Night 3 x.  Mushroom Class at Cliff Scholtz’s house.
WORKTRADE: Prep Workshop, (Reed Collection – not needed), (Dirt Harvest – not needed), Cob Kit, phase 1 Design, & coloring. Prep dirt. (Data entry, Publicity)  Blog. Housecleaning.


WEEK 5 Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2023
CLASS: Strawbale Wall Systems ~ Design Principles.  Strawbale Video: 12 Ways, with Chirs Magwood.  Burning Questions.
HANDS-ON: Strawbale Earthen Plaster layers 1 & 2: Push Coat and Body Coat, on a strawbale.  Completion. Completion of personal projects, West Wing Earth Plaster and Sculpting.
ENRICHMENT: (Design Charettes – not requested) Burning Questions, Closing Ceremony. Cording, Other.  Eric Visits to finish Earth Sculpted wall in West Wing.  Matt McCoul visits. PC talk with Jacob.
WORKTRADE: TBD. West Wing & East Wing, cleaned & mopped!   Jacob: Wood harvest at GREEN LAKE 2 days, after Winternship.

Daily Schedule (proposed)

  • Yoga 7:30 a 
  • Breakfast prep at 8:00a- Breakfast 8:30a . 
  • Morning check in’s at 9:00a . (Day + 2)  
  • Morning Activity  9:30 – 12:30 p
  • Lunch break. On your own. (We had a cook crew for lunch & supper)
  • Afternoon Activity Class Session 2 – 6p (Supper prep 5:30p)
  • Supper 6:30p 
  • Track activities/check off. (Individuals did tracking.  We did “debriefing” a few times after supper)
  • Evening – Open or Scheduled Activities & “Sharing Our Stories” 30 min + (Several Movie Nights & Dance Parties!)
  • Quiet time: 10p  
  • Alternative:  Seva, service.  8 – 9:30.  Breakfast 9:30 – 10:00 Cleanup 10:30 Morning Check in.  11 – 12:30 Morning activity.  

Weekly Schedule

Weekly Meeting (Week + 2)

                Weekly Worktrader List & House Hold Roles

                Worktrade Schedule:  Three 3 hour blocks per week. (9:30 – 12:30 or 2:30 – 5p). 

                Schedule 2 days off per week (continue meal /cleanup, and worktrade if not done yet that week). or 1 day a week +. Intern can do independent projects during that time.  DB do desking.  

Thursdays – Movie Night / Sharing experiences, slides, travels .

Payment / Exchange: All students participate in the Classes & Hands-on Learning + room & board.

  • Internship: $950 per month (or $850 prepaid 1 month in advance) includes room & board plus all training + workshops at the Strawbale Studio with instructor Deanne Bednar.
  • ½ pay WorkTrade $475 per month (or $425 prepaid 1 mo. in advance) Several positions are available for those who choose to help support the Strawbale Studio Infrastructure in exchange for a reduced rate. 10 hr/wk would be applied toward a given area such as Outreach/ Office, Building & Grounds, Gardening or Cooking/Household. The rest of the time you would join in the learning and activities of the Internship Program. Includes room, board and all materials, and all classes.

Deanne will have Desking hours 10 per week TBD.  Time with Wintern, will be at least 4 hrs/day, 5 days/wk.                   


 HOUSEHOLD & WORKTRADE                     P 3 –  Roles

Cooking & Household maintenance is shared by all and recorded on a chart.

This is not part of worktrade hours. Guidelines,  Beauty & Order.  What are our needs?

  • Cooking:  
    • 1 or more people scheduled.  Clean up after by those that don’t cook.  2-3 people.  
    • Make a schedule together for cooking & cleanup each week, adjusting as needed. 
    • Preferably use food that is on-hand, and in season.  Be creative.  Chart of diets.
  • Clean up :  Check in with each other before leaving room.
  1. Put Away person. Put away Dried clean dishes, and bring all dirty dishes to sink from table & counters. Wash counters & table. Sweep if you want.
  2. Swasher. Wash dishes That ususally takes about the same time as the Put-Away Person
  3. Check in with each other before leaving room.
  • Household Roles – by week
    • Sweeping – kitchen, halls, bathrooms, east & west wing main room.  
    • Composting – Worm Compost, Outdoor Compost bucket, CT  (all, as needed. Check daily.)
    • Recycling & Landfill to curb across street on Sunday.  Bring in containers on Monday between 1&5p.  1x/week
      Landfill from bathrooms, kitchen.  Replace used plastic grocery bags.  If not every week, to courtyard for next week.
    • Specialty:  Kitchen cupboard doors cleaned, Kitchen/ Hall  Floor washed 1x per week


WORKTRADE  monthly, or rotate. 

  • Workshop support :  Setup ~ materials, classroom, parking, heating Red Shed, Cooking, greeters, organize space after, complete projects.
  • Reed: Harvested and used for workshop hands-on thatching in Red Shed.  Harvest & store in tipi. Getaway Reed Tipi.  Sort bundle ties. Goal 50 bundles.
  • Grounds:  Firewood ~ forage, saw, split, stock structures. Prune. Clear bittersweet.
  • Teachers Assistant:  Help pre-plan, support Deanne during workshop / track timing. Report after workshop.
  • Construction & Repair: Tools, Chairs, maybe Construct a Chopping Stand / Shaving Horse. (Mark do a sketch). Boot repair?
  • Blogger:   Track all activities as an outline.  Do a blog with photos.  (instead of supper prep/cleanup?)
  • Office:  Data entry – Participant list, outreach. (Main data sheet, edit suggestions for internships, other.)
  • Tool Sweep:  oversees cleanup daily on work projects. Additional Household beauty & order.


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