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Alaska community builds large, utilitarian straw-clay structure

Alaska Dispatch

In a community outside of Kasilof, some 100 miles southwest of Anchorage on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, there exists a place called Ionia. According to the Redoubt Reporter, Ionia is a bit like a 1960's commune, but its busy population may persuade some outsiders to think of it as more of an olden-timey village of eco-minded craftspeople. However you classify Ionia, one thing's for sure: The community is growing, as exemplified by the construction of a unique, eco-friendly structure.

Ionia's population (Ionians, we'll call them) are working hard to fulfill the needs of its ever- expanding homegrown community. And, at the heart of any Ionian development is a desire to incorporate green technologies like solar, wind and biomass. The 50-person community already relies on green houses, outside organic gardens and grain trails for food. Residents harvest their own lumber for furniture and building materials. In the past, they've lived in smaller structures, like tepees, to reduce their footprint. Now, the community is nearing the completion of a grand project -- namely an "eco-barn" of straw and clay.

The "eco barn" is the baby brainchild of Homer resident Less Homes. Homes, who founded the Homer Brewing Company in 1996, was reading a book about "straw-clay technology" in 1999 when he decided it might be awesome to put his interests to the test. Four years later, the three-story, 20,000-square-foot straw-and-clay barn (and workshop) is being realized. Holmes told the Redoubt Reporter:

I’ve typically done smaller structures. To my knowledge this is the largest straw-clay structure in the U.S., and possibly the world.

To read much much more check out the Redoubt Reporter's coverage of Ionia and her structure here, and to see pictures of the barn click here.