Dealing With Code Officials

At last year’s International Straw Bale Conference David Eisenberg, of the Arizona-based DCAT (Development Center for Appropriate Technology), gave an inspiring opening address. Speaking to the code officials in the crowd, he said, “When someone comes into your office and wants to do building with straw, cob, etc., or not have a septic system, or be off-grid, how do you deal with this? At first you think, “these people need to be protected from themselves”, but really these are people who fully understand that their actions have an impact and really an impact for their children & grandchildren, and they are asking you to allow them to take responsibility for their actions. Does anyone think this is a bad thing?”

He went on to say that we, as natural builders (though it applies to any change maker), need to figure out the “path of commitment” of the officials we’re dealing with. We need to establish common ground before we push to forcefully. “It’s rare”, David said, “to get from point A to point B in once sitting.” He finished by saying, “Be patient and don’t push them to the point where you won’t get a second chance.” I couldn’t agree more.

Read David’s article “Essential Advice for Owner-Builders“, which was featured in the December/January 2007 issue of Mother Earth News.

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