The organization welcomed eight student interns on Feb. 1 who helped with construction of the home while also learning about straw bale construction, Community Rebuilds Executive Director Emily Niehaus said in a news release. The students, who came from England, Canada, Wisconsin, Washington D.C., Georgia, California, and Iowa, lived in Moab for four months while they helped recycle a pre-1976 trailer, and build the new straw bale home from foundation to finish with Community Rebuilds and new homeowner Lorenzo Watson McGregor, III.
“The completion of Lorenzo’s home – home No. 5 – marks a significant point in Community Rebuilds’ history,” Niehaus said. “We have built a solid foundation within the Moab community. This fall we will be building two homes instead of one over the course of the four-month semester. That means we will have double the students this fall – 16! And, we have finally realized our dream of owning property where our interns can live while they are with us and have a safe and quiet place to relax after a hard day of work. It’s a gift I have been patiently pursuing for the students.”
In addition to its work in Moab, Community Rebuilds has also successfully expanded into Gunnison, Colo., where Dusty Szymanski, president of the Colorado Straw Bale Association and owner of Straw and Timber, has formed the Community Rebuilds Central Rockies Chapter and is leading a group of student interns this summer, Niehaus said.
The nonprofit organization also has plans to partner with Red Feather Development Group and Enterprise Community Partners this fall to assist in the construction of a straw bale hogan with a Navajo family at the base of Navajo Mountain. By next spring, Community Rebuilds hopes to begin construction on a block of eight homes in that area, Niehaus said.
Jeff Plourde, who oversees construction for Community Rebuilds projects, said the group has received overwhelming support from the Moab community, the student interns, and staff.
“I love my job,” Plourde said. “I’m able to combine teaching and building for my occupation, and I am surrounded by enthusiastic and grateful people every day.”