Natural building is, by its essence, something that cannot be done by a single person. And, on a social level that is also not the idea. The building process should be about gathering people around a common goal. It often happens that group actions are needed to achieve some of the steps of the construction, in particular when working with natural materials such as earth or straw bales. 

Nowadays, volunteering is a way to try to contribute positively to the society and environment, but also a way of looking for alternative ways of living and working, and exploring different sources of knowledge and experience. 

Thus, volunteering and natural building are a very good match in a sense. One is useful to the other and vice-versa. They both share common values and have the potential of aiming for a better society and future.

Throughout WaaMooM project, there were different types of volunteering actions, and all of them showed that there is sense in holding such activity.

Natural building is still not widespread, and there are some struggles to make it more known, by associating it to volunteering activities that contribute to its development. It is often a fulfilling experience, where you can see the results, and feel the evolution as it is a bunch of hands (including yours) that have been working for a common goal. In a context where we have access to a lot, if not too much, information about everything on the internet, volunteering is a concrete way to get spoken and shown information, connecting vague concepts to real hands on experience; but also to bridge with the complexity of nowadays challenges such as climate change, social injustice, housing crisis…

Individualism is omnipresent and affects many of us, we lack true connections among eachothers and disconnect ourselves from real social interactions. Working as a group on a building connects us to the worldwide tradition of building. Houses used to be built by villagers altogether; it created a sense of belonging and friendship that is slowly disappearing with construction contractors and big scale housing projects.

But we should not get fooled into the idea that any inexperienced person can build a house. Some parts need to be made by professionals. Building codes, insurances require it but also because ethics that natural building carry aim for long lasting objects, efficient and above all safe to live in. And the framework of a house cannot be done through improvisation. Volunteers can also be exposed to serious injuries due to lack of experience, and that in no case represents what natural building is. 

As educators and trainers we have responsibility towards volunteers we host, in the sense of common knowledge but also to be able to guarantee everyone’s safety and integrity on the working site and around. 


Example  of a program for volunteering team / camp

day 1
day 2
day 3
day 4
day 5
day 6
day 7
day 8
day 9
day 10
day 11
name games / introduction to the program, group agreement, teams
history of Natural Building / intro to Natural Building (climate change, environmental impact)
introduction to hand tools and wood work
time off (or preparing group presentations)
wood work
mounting the structure
evaluation + plan for the week / learning about cob
preparing cob + making the walls
introduction to permaculture
finishing details
cleaning, packing / reflection, Youthpass, evaluation