Team’s Contacts

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Natural Building Materials Group:

(clockwise, starting at the bottom left)
Shelby Boyd (
Alexandra Ongman (
Nicholas Stockler (
Megan Snyder (
Nicholas Osterbur (

Takeaways from the class:

Shelby: I was surprised that both Darcey and Ben had no real conflicts with the building authorities. The attitude I expected to find was one focused on cheating the system. Instead, I met two individuals working to educate as many people on the benefits of their technologies as possible, which includes the building authorities. Both Darcey and Ben were quite clear that the main problem with sustainable building and living is getting potential stakeholders or customers to accept the concepts. Other grassroots movements I have been around always talk poorly about the regulating authorities, so Darcey and Ben’s collaborative and appreciative approaches are encouraging.
It also amazed me that technology used in 3rd world Pakistan is relevant here, except that our craftsmen’s skill sets rely on hollow walls. We always think we are better than the developing world, but this seems to be an example where we may not be. Then again, we also have somewhat better awareness of deforestation here. I think.

Nick O: By far the most important thing that I learned in this class is the “bottom up” perspective that Appropriate Tech uses to spread sustainable innovation. Context and empathy (and ultimately people) are much more important than technology and that being said technology must conform to people and not the other way around.

Lexi: The most powerful part of this project was seeing how far our own country has yet to develop. Knowing that there are more sustainable technologies that we implement elsewhere yet neglect in out own lives is astonishing. I can’t wait to see where these two projects end!

Megan: What I learned from this project is the effect of culture on technology implementation. When looking at the United States, the main concern for straw bale was the cost and ease of building. On the other hand, Pakistanis’ main concern was the safety in an earthquake. While a two-story shake test will help both cultures accept this technology, I see a larger struggle getting Americans to accept this method because the initial cost would be more. Changing this mindset is difficult, which makes changing the cost difficult. I almost feel that building codes need to require higher energy efficiency of homes in order for straw bale to become more relevant.

Nick S: