Rising Earth Natural Building

Rising Earth Natural Building represents the professional activities of ecological designer, building contractor, and community facilitator Michael McDonough. Primary work is sustainable design/build with elemental materials (stone, earth, wood, straw) in residential and public contexts. Michael is particularly interested in building projects that have social and ecological missions, and engage numerous people both during and after construction. He aims to spread natural building through his efforts organizing and instructing natural building workshops, and facilitating public natural building projects.


Michael was raised in a home his father crafted from the remains of an old stone and timber farmhouse in Cato, NY. Growing up in a handmade house among the forests, fields, and abundant clean water of New York's finger lakes left a deep appreciation for the natural world, and a belief that humanity is capable of living in harmony with all creation.

Michael studied chemistry, anthropology, and music at SUNY Cortland, and after graduating with a degree in 2006 spent a year building houses with volunteers at Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Following a return to NY, he worked in horticulture research at Cornell University, but was compelled to continue building and apprenticed at the Cob Cottage Company's school of natural building in coastal Oregon in 2008. Continuing to work with various professional natural builders, he began to instruct natural building workshops with fellow cob cottage apprentice Greg Allen in 2009. Aside from a brief but valuable stint doing non-profit development at the Food Literacy Project in Louisville, he has been working as a contractor under Rising Earth Natural Building since. He is currently based in Troy, NY, and travels to teach workshops as well as for particularly interesting work opportunities.