2014 Spring Conference - Details and Schedule for Attendees

Dear CASBA 2014 Straw Building Conference Attendees

We are so looking forward to seeing you April 25th through 27th for this year’s Conference. We have a great program lined up this year – thanks for joining us!  If you registered for others please share this information with them.  
It's been a few years since we've been here, but once again we will be enjoying the hospitality of Camp Ocean Pines (1473 Randall Drive, Cambria, CA  93428). The phone number at Camp Ocean Pines is (805) 927-0254; there should be cell coverage throughout camp so please try to reach CASBA Director David Arkin if you are in need of assistance:  510/418-9786.

Don’t forget to pack

  • Flashlight: The pathways are unpaved gravel roads and paths and it is very dark at night. The distance between cabins and lodges is not far but you may want to bring a small flashlight.
  • Coffee Mug: Please bring your own travel mug.  By using our own mugs, we are able to substantially reduce the number of loads of dishes that need to be run throughout the weekend, saving energy and water. If you’re particular about coffee, we would recommend you bring your own coffee, cone and filters.
  • Slides from Recent Projects: The Saturday Night 20x20 Slideshow is one of the most popular events at the conference, and your opportunity to share what you’ve been up to. This year each presentation is limited to 20 slides x 20 seconds each (about 7 minutes), so choose wisely!
  • Hand-crafted Goodies: CASBA members are known for their hand-crafted food and drink, so if you have a delectable or elixir you're particularly proud of and keen to share, please know that it will be welcome. 

Important details

  • Getting There, Carpooling & Biking: For directions to Camp Ocean Pines, see the attached PDF which describes your best route whether arriving from the north or south.  Please send a note to the CASBA group list if you are looking for a carpool to join and/or have room in your vehicle to share:  <>  If you're inclined to bicycle some portion of the trip please send a note to '' and we can discuss the best route.  
  • Accommodations: Accommodations are first come - first serve.  This is a true camp and the 10 straw bale cabins each have 10 single beds, a bathroom with hot showers, and lights. We will have ample beds available.  Please bring your own bedding or sleeping bag. If you snore, please bring earplugs for your roommates!
  • Camping: An area will be designated for camping.  When you arrive please register and we'll direct you to the areas where camping is permitted.  Campers are welcome to use any of the facilities throughout camp.   
  • Meals: Meals are in the Main Lodge. Dietary needs will be accommodated with alternate choices. Coffee, hot water and a selection of teas are available 24 hours a day. Please bus your tables in a timely manner so the kitchen crew can clean up and prepare the next meal.  Also, please pick up any stray trash or dishes and dispose of them appropriately.  Camp Ocean Pines recycles a lot and composts.  We’ll make sure you can see where and how to help their efforts.
  • Program:  All presentations are held in or near the main lodge. Details of the program and speakers are outlined below; as noted previously we'll be scheduling the concurrent sessions on Friday evening. We will have a large copy of the Program Schedule posted in the main Lodge.
  • Mobile Service & Internet: Be prepared for adequate cell phone service but very limited internet at Camp Ocean Pines. This weekend will be a Retreat in the true sense of the word!
  • Arrival: After you check in you may drive closer to your cabin to settle in.  After you’ve unloaded we ask that you move your car back out to the parking lot so we can all enjoy a quiet, car-free weekend.

See also: Camp Ocean Pines: Directions & What to Bring PDF

Please don’t hesitate to write or call with any other questions you might have. We look forward to seeing (or meeting) you on the 25th!

Your CASBA 2014 Straw Building Conference Committee
Turko Semmes, Lesley Christiana, Bruce Hammond, Rebecca Tasker, Claudia Harmon Worthen, Paul Rose and David Arkin
& Conference Coordinator, Jim Reiland


Friday, April 25th
2:00 - 4:00 - CASBA Advisory Board Meeting (Main Lodge - Members welcome)

4:00 – 5:30- Welcome and Registration
5:30 – 7 - Dinner

7 – 7:50 - Introduction to Straw Building and History of Bale Construction in SLO County including Camp Ocean Pines  (Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper)
8 – 8:50- Open-Space Scheduling Session – Determines Saturday schedule of presentations, discussion sessions, demonstrations.
9 – ? - CASBA Awards Presentations; Straw Dawg & Big Heart; Socializing
Saturday, April 26th
8 – 8:50 - Breakfast
9 – 9:50 - 5 x 5s    Presenters have five minutes to show five slides -- a very fast paced, informal, and fun way to get to know fellow conference goers.   Usually covers projects, techniques, tools, and many other topics related to building with straw.       
There are a total of 12 time slots on Saturday for presentations, discussions, or demonstrations, three each at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, and 2:00.   Maybe we’ll have only six time slots fill, maybe they’ll all fill.   They just seem to materialize during the scheduling session when people realize that an “un-conference” empowers them to have the conference experience they want.   If they came to share something and don’t see a “scheduled” time to do that, or if they came to learn something and don’t see anyone presenting on that topic, it’s up to them to lead a session.   
Topics currently believed to be planned include:

  • Plaster Failures and Fixes
  • Structural Design Details
  • Using Salvaged Wood in Straw Buildings
  • Zero Net Energy and Straw Bale Structures
  • Window Details
  • Plastering with earth, clay, and gypsum

10 – 10:50 - 3 Concurrent Sessions
11 -11:50- 3 Concurrent Sessions

12 – 12:50- Lunch

1 – 1:50- 3 Concurrent Sessions
2 – 3:20- 3 Concurrent Long Sessions -- earth, clay, and gypsum plaster demonstrations are planned

3:30 – 5:30- Keynote Address:  Paula and Robert Baker-LaPorte of EcoNest, followed by Happy Half-Hour                                                                        
5:30 – 6:50- Dinner
7 – 8:20- 20 x 20s     These nearly seven minute long “mini” presentations give folks 20 seconds per 20 slides to
show the group a project, technique, body of work, or anything they want (preferably related to the conference somehow.)
8:30 - ?- Socializing - Party including Live Music and Dancing!

Sunday, April 27th

8 – 9 - Breakfast (get packed for departure!)

9 – 10:15- General Membership Meeting including 2015 IRC Straw Bale Building Code Update - Closing

 11:00 – 2:00 - Straw Bale Home Tours w/ lunch at home tour sites

CASBA, a Project of the Tides Center.

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