Connecting people, culture and nature
Cuidad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico 1994-1995
When we had finished our first book, The Straw Bale House, we found ourselves in a position of having taken a year out of our life, used up what little credit we had and really didn’t have any real prospects of employment on the horizon. Basically, we were stumped as to what to do next. It wasn’t long before the “Farmer to Farmer” program, being administered by the Anthropology department at the University of Arizona, invited us to go to Obregon and provide some training for those who were interested in building with straw bales. They were working in conjunction with the local branch of the Save the Children organization to connect with local families in need of housing. They offered us transportation, lodging and food. We took it.
Our place of work was a very poor community, “colonia” in Mexico, named Aves del Castillo. At first, we wondered how we were going to survive in those conditions. It wasn’t long before we were welcomed into the midst of a large extended family that included the families of Emiliano and Teodoro Lopez, with whom we have worked for many years thereafter.
It was our experimental learning arena for building with straw in Mexico. When we saw the deplorable conditions under which many families were living, we decided that all we had to do was better what they had. With that initiative we started on a course of building small and simple one room houses out of local and very inexpensive materials. It would not be over-stated if we said that we tried just about every material and method we could imagine.
The short of this story is that Save the Children was given a grant by their headquarters to build an office building utilizing the materials and techniques that we were developing. And with that, we entered a new phase in our Obregon work.