Community Rebuilds holds stomp party

Dancers compress locally-sourced dirt into what will become the floor of a new strawbale home

Children dance at a Community Rebuilds home under construction on Huntridge Drive in order to “stomp” the dirt floor.
Photo by Sheila Strahan

Every six months a new Community Rebuilds homeowner hosts a public “Stomp Party,” inviting those in the Moab community to join in the activity of compressing locally sourced dirt into what will eventually become the floor of their new house.

Attendees dance and stomp, tamping the floor with their feet, as music plays in the background while wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt is brought into the structure.

This time, in addition to handcrafted energizing play­lists, several of the members of Moab Taiko Dan, a nonprofit group of drummers who play both traditional Japanese Taiko songs as well as original compositions, provided some local entertainment and a beat to stomp to.

The homeowner hosting the event on Huntridge Drive this term was Sheila Strahan, a first grade teacher at HMK Elementary. She had a lot of fun helping with various activities among the dancing all day, including helping the Taiko drummers beat the drum to their last song.

The day was eventful, filled with people of all ages coming and going. A lot of youngsters from Strahan’s class helped with shoveling, stomping, leveling and bringing buckets and wheelbarrows of dirt into the house.

For many who attended, it was their first exposure to such an event.

Nicole Ryan, a current intern for the 2019 spring term, notes that she came to Community Rebuilds in order to understand what she is personally capable of regarding her own strength and creativity.

When asked what she feels the impact of the stomp party is, she replied, “It’s great that kids can come see a part of the process of building a house and then know that maybe one day they can do it too with other people, and that it can be fun and bring people together.”

Community Rebuilds is a nonprofit organization that strives to continue stomping out the affordable housing crisis “by offering a free educational program while bridging the gap between conventional and alternative ways of building without being totally out there,” said Callie Oschner, a current building apprentice and past intern.

CR sources as many building materials locally as possible, and strives to use less harmful elements than entirely conventional building.

This effort combined with the 16 hardworking interns per term, is what helps cut costs to be able to offer affordable homes to lower income families and individuals.

The stomp parties started just recently, noted Rikki Epperson, acting executive director. “It was lead instructor Jason Pronovost’s idea to open this phase of the construction to the community. “In the fall of 2017, we built three homes at once for the first time on 100 North and found ourselves a little behind schedule. We needed some extra feet. It was so much fun we decided to do it every semester,” she said.

Note: This story originally used an incorrect pronoun for Rikki Epperson.