Building with Love

Hi, my name is Eli Adadow. I believe we are all natural builders at heart. The pattern of that language carries through from our ancestors. All we must do is listen.

I have been involved with natural building and its many forms since 1998. From student to apprentice to worker to workshop assistant, to contractor and workshop instructor of children and adults. From small dwellings to saunas and sanctuaries. From wall systems to roof systems to floors and plasters. Ovens, ovens, ovens.

“I love the simplicity of using the earth under our feet to create form and function and durability.”

“I discovered natural building in 1998. It had been right under my nose for many years.”

“Ever since, my mantra has been LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE “

How did I get there? My story...

In 1985 I graduated from Nursing School from Northern Michigan University. All I wanted to do at the time was travel. I spent my twenties and thirties working as a nurse traveling internationally. I loved mountain climbing, so tended to go to remote corners of the globe.

Upon returning from a journey in 1997 I found myself the proud owner of a fixer-a 100 year old duplex in the industrial section of Denver. I had experience building, growing up with a father that was a do it your self kind of guy. I had even been on work crews building houses and using power tools and hand tools as well, but this was my first big project...and it wasn’t pretty. As anyone knows who has done renovation, it is a toxic, dangerous job. From lead dust and other dust, to toxic fumes from varnishes and glues to dangerous saws and nail guns.

One stupid mistake could lead to an ER visit or worse as I well knew being in the health care world. I felt as if I LIVED in Home Depot trolling the isles for more toxic stuff made in some far off land where the air and the water and the earth get polluted so we can have our stuff. I was appalled at the amount of waste that was getting put into the dumpster to go off to some land fill-our legacy to our descendants. I learned that almost two thirds of our landfills in this country are filled with such post construction waste. As an RN I had taken care of patients with nails in their bodies from wayward nail guns, fingers that needed to be sewed back on from errant saws; one guy even had a nail in his hard pallet extending into his cranial cavity! Thus, the question of appropriate building practice came up again and again and it continues to do so.


My Ah ha moment came in 1998 while visiting an old friend near Williams Oregon. There was a cob workshop in progress. I watched as the earth was being mixed into form by hand and foot. I watched as a community of people from all backgrounds and ages and abilities worked for a common cause-sculpting a dwelling.

As I remembered my travels-it all came folding back-the adobe dwellings in Peru, the stone and mud huts, houses and whole villages in Nepal, Tibet, India and Africa! It had been there the whole time-I just didn’t SEE it. I recalled the many earthen applications like plasters, floors and walls from stone, sand, clay and fiber! I listened to the workshop participant’s laughter and marveled at the absence of toxic substances and the absence of noxious noise from saws and nail guns. These people were having fun!

The more I watched, the more I realized they were getting more than a building out of the experience-they we’re sharing meals and friendship and finding reward in their endeavor knowing that they were not polluting or causing harm. They were working with nature and the earth, not against her.

1998-2001 The Apprenticeship begins

Needless to say I just wanted to drop everything and immerse myself. So I did. I quit my nursing job in Denver and moved to Oregon. I decided on a three year tract where I could learn as much about natural building as possible. Then, I could build a-start to finish-project (or two) as a way to an education in this broad and beckoning field. So that is what I did. I spent time with some of the “giants” (in my book) of Natural Building. I helped out in workshops and building projects. I was privileged to be part of what we thought of as a Natural Building revolution. I traveled up and down the west coast of California and Oregon hungry for the next project. Three and a half years after starting my apprenticeship and a few start to finish projects under my belt, I landed on Whidbey
Island in Washington state.


I’ve learned a lot about natural building in the decade and a half since I had my Ah ha moment. Growing up in “the bubble “ of American Building practices, I’ve learned that there is a whole other world and way to build that is mostly hidden from most Americans. There are whole career paths in other counties that are not even known here. That education is the key to change, however slow that may be.

I understand how difficult it is to change ones paradigm.

I still struggle. How does one find a construction job in adobe or straw bale or cob or earthbag or rammed earth (etc) if no one knows what that is? So education is KEY. Create a market, do workshops, teach the people, create awareness, because it is the right thing to do; good for the Earth, good for the people and a truth worth following…


The idea of a school of Natural Building has been weaving in and out of my life for the last 18 years. But, like most natural builders, I have mud on my hands most of the time. Sitting down to write has not been one of my strong points. This web site is long in coming! I would like to thank Emma Lloyd for helping me with this site.

Please be patient as this site unfolds. In the blog section you will find passages to come on topics ranging from the economics of a natural builder to the health benefits of using natural materials, to pizza recipes and design considerations and more.

I believe everyone is a Natural Builder at heart!

It is an experiential form of learning as building naturally is an experiential form of building. Meaning, experiencing the experience-listening to your medium and implementing what works for you is the learning. I invite you use this web site for what works best for you. Read the blogs, take a workshop, go out into the circumference of you and build something, experiment. I think you will find the earth surprisingly forgiving and nourishing. Grounding. Empowering. I hope that you will find your Ah ha moment too, and pass it on, (if ever you could) in an experiential kind of way!

Happy Building!