Big project in mind?
(Rocket Mass Heater, Earthen Oven,
general cob projects)
Promoting an Event
Hosting / Hospitality
Workshop List (details)
Rocket Mass Heaters:
We often travel to give presentations or workshops. Check our workshop schedule to see where we will be this year.
Please contact us well in advance if you're interested in scheduling a site visit. Our schedule generally fills up 6 to 8 months ahead.
Fees and expenses are determined on a case-by-case basis. For approximate current rates, please see Wisner Resources.
What we do:
- Workshops / Builder Courses: Start-to-finish layout and practical skills training, with or without a permanent installation. Popular topics include earthen ovens, rocket mass heaters, off-grid kitchens, and skin-on-frame boat building.
- Work parties: To move your project forward and leave you with better skills and know-how, hire us to coach and supervise your crew (paid or volunteer).
- Presentations: Crowd pleasers on topics we know and love, including Fire Science Theater, Rocket Mass Heaters: Site Specific Design, and Ancient Comforts.
- Classes: Engaging, interactive, fun skill-building classes. Most classes combine short presentations and longer activity components, with make-and-take projects or take-home recipes available for most topics.
- Private consulting: For undivided attention to your situation, hire us for either "tech support" (by phone or email), or on-site consultation (fee + travel).
- Plans and Books: Try it all on your own time, with a book or how-to guide to get you started. We sell our own, collaborative, and favorite authors' stuff.
Custom Topics: If you have enjoyed our conversations, comments on www.permies.com, or one of our books, and would like us to give a custom presentation or skills-training for your group on a particular topic, please ask. We enjoy putting together new course outlines by popular demand. For custom topics, we will let you know if we need any additional expenses or time covered beyond our normal rates for comparable-length events.
Apprenticeships / Assistant positions: We sometimes take on an assistant or trainee for a few weeks to months. Fees negotiable. Please enquire if interested.
What we don't do:
- Not part of a formal school. "Feral educators" is one description that has stuck. We work directly with the public, in settings that are fun and focused; ranging from the middle of a muddy farm field, to park and rec sites, to formal university classrooms. Some of our courses are informed by official sources such as NFPA, Common Core, or National Science Standards, or by traditional apprentice-training practices in trades like natural building and boat building. In other cases, we are out there on the bleeding edge of developing a new field that doesn't yet have a proper name, let alone an established Old School of Proper Authorities. Unless otherwise noted, our courses do not carry accreditation, but we are happy to work with accredited institutions on request.
- Run Ernie ragged: We avoid committing Ernie to physical tasks or living quarters that do not accommodate his disability. Permanent injury means that Ernie is basically retired, but enjoys keeping his hand in the R&D as a mentor and volunteer. (See the Hospitality page for a little more detail on dimensions, diets, and other needs.) When we engage to work with you, Erica will be the primary point of contact for business. In case Ernie is medically unavailable, Erica will handle the commitment as needed. We sometimes travel with an assistant or "Ernie in training," at our discretion.
- Anything you wouldn't do. And a few things you would.
- We generally don't travel for free. If you have a good cause and want to round up enough donations to sponsor a visit, we have a not-for-profit partner who can help with that: Ask about the Living Legacy Project at www.7fires.org ([email protected]). (This foundation may also be able to help with scholarships or travel expenses for students and elders, and takes a particular interest in supporting tribal members and traditional cultures.)
We prefer to build a living legacy and growing community of skilled builders around the world. As we develop good working relationships with other builders, we tend to actively refer regional business to the nearest qualified person in our network.
Please call us or email to discuss your needs. Ten minutes by phone can save a lot of guesswork about your situation.
Erica and Ernie
Mis-information is always free. (There is a veritable horde of advertisers, playground gossips, and internet trolls making up more "information" every day.)
To provide accurate, up-to-date, reliable information takes serious investment of time, trial and error, research, and development.
With all the ways we can share our skills, free advice on private projects is rarely the best use of our limited free time.
"Pro Bono Publico" (For public good)
We and our colleagues often offer free advice in public, where it can benefit more than one person.
To find these discussions, try:
To get the most from these forums, do your homework. Search the most important words in your question.
(As an example, a Google search I might use to find old posts that already answered a common question: site:permies.com rocket materials "heat riser". )
Read up on other people's projects. If your question isn't already answered, then ask it. You get help, and also help others by filling a 'gap' in the available public information.
- You may also want to sign up for newsletters from your closest local event host for related topics.
Some of our favorites include www.Permies.com, the Cob Cottage Company, the Straw Bale Studio, Uncle Mud, Endeavour Centre, Studio Melies, Wheaton Labs, Uncle Mud, Local Living Venture, City Repair Project, Mother Earth News, TrackersEARTH, 8Shields.org, PRI (Permaculture Research Institute), www.permaculturenews.com, Okanogan Highlands Alliance, Okanogan Permaculture Study Group, our public library, and trades newsletters for fisheries, engineering, science education, and wildlands management.
We are sometimes available for pro-bono presentations or advice, e.g. for refugee camps, public schools, or charity events. Please tell us how your event serves an audience that could not attend a paying workshop on the same topic.
If you were raised in communities that provided free access to books, Internet, or classroom education, and treat public discourse as a human right, join us in being grateful. There is no reason that strangers, expert or otherwise, should feel obliged to continue your education at their own expense. On the other hand, advertisers provide free "information" all the time - for their own benefit, not always for yours. We appreciate creative artists who choose to release own their work for free public access; such lovely people, may their sales ever increase. We don't appreciate folks whose only form of "creative contribution" is to steal and re-release other people's work without permission; that's not so lovely. We hope they'll outgrow it, or produce something of value themselves some day.
We do our best to hold ourselves to this same standard. If you see us using someone else's image or quote without proper attribution, please call us out on it.
Sometimes folks try to convince us that we should give away our work "because it's for everyone's good."
So you expect to pay money for selfish or harmful pleasures, but folks that do good work should not get paid?
If you want to fund-raise for a project you consider a worthy cause, or create scholarship funds for affordable access, our friends at Seven Fires can accept tax-deductible donations. We have an ongoing collaboration called the "Living Legacy Project," and they are open to other ideas. Please let us know about any grants or award funds that may be a good fit for our work.
We do enjoy the game of creative / alternative economics. If you are a hard-working small farmer, or an expert in your own field that doesn't always pay in cash, make us an offer. We can accept most forms of legal or historic tender, including PayPal currency exchange, bronze ingots, and cacao beans. We've accepted dried organic produce, hand-made wooden tools, and services like proof reading or photography. For more alternatives to paying us cash money, please see our Gots and Wants page.
Concessions Pricing: If you are a person of limited means, we empathize, but we don't do pity parties. Your situation does not define you. (Or at least, we much prefer to be defined by our resourcefulness and our priorities, not our situations or suffering.)
We are most likely to assign a scholarship to someone who shows integrity and commitment to others: a grandparent raising foster children; family custodians of a century farm; a service member, PeaceCorps, or AmeriCorps volunteer who wants better skills for their upcoming service assignment.
We like Cob Cottage Company's policy of offering half-price to youth age 15 and under, on the grounds that they cannot legally work to earn money at the rates available to adults. For senior discounts, be warned: we're likely to take advantage of your life experience and put you to work. We are almost always open to 'recruiter discounts,' or family deals, where you bring a gaggle of people for a lower price per each.
Thank you for your interest in our work.
Ernie and Erica