First Earth Movie Night

Natural building as a means of addressing environmental issues and community building was the subject of our October movie night. We presented “First Earth” at the REEP House on Wednesday night to a crowd of 20 folks, many of whom agreed afterwards that they wanted to get out there and start building with earth!

The movie followed a fairly typical documentary arch: telling us why the world is screwed, and that buildings are a big part of that problem, then moving on to showing some solutions to the building problems from the point of view of experts and individuals who had built their own homes, and being all inspiring. It then moved into how earthen building is a metaphor and means of community building, by showing examples from projects like City Repair, where bits of regular cities are reclaimed from traffic and isolation transformed into public spaces. The community building linked with natural building really showed how actions at the community scale have a huge ability to make change.

Building with earth has many names, depending on what part of the world you’re in. In this part of the world, we generally use the method of cob building. The movie mainly explored building with earth, and went to Africa, North America, Europe and Asia to show different methods. Cob building can be quite aesthetically pleasing, as it is worked with your hands, and can be morphed into fun shapes and designs. It is also very energy efficient, as thick earth walls have the ability to retain heat or cool for long periods of time, thus reducing the need for lots of heating in the winter and lots of cooling in the summer. It’s the ideal passive house building material.

Besides the technical aspects of cob building, our attendees discussed what they would like to do to learn more about these techniques and implement them with in KW. Workshops on cob building, and making an example cob structure in some kind of community space, like a community garden, were some of the suggested ideas. Heard of flash mobs? Well how about flash cobs?? (Term coined by Leena Miller, thanks for that brilliance Leena!). This idea is about surreptitiously taking over a space and building a cob structure there, without notice, and quickly!

If these ideas excite and interest you, get in touch with us, and we may get a sub-group formed to do these projects. But we can’t do it without volunteers, so step up and start a flash cob! Contact us at




About Sylvie Spraakman

Environmental engineer, environmental activist, and community volunteer. Loves KW!
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