Ivy & Nakeesha
Robert Ivy, known to family and friends as “Ivy” moved with his wife Nakeesha to Taos, NM in 1999 after purchasing 20 acres on a mesa 25 miles outside of the town. While living in a dome tent on their land, they built their straw bale, solar powered house with the help of Nakeesha’s son, Patrick and many neighbors and friends. Shortly after, Patrick and Ivy formed a partnership and The Salamander Company began to build straw bale, sustainable homes in the Taos area. Nakeesha began to work in the community as a psychotherapist and opened her own practice. There is a local myth about Taos Mountain, the sacred mountain of the Pueblo Indians. “If the mountain doesn’t want you here, it will spit you out.” We are still here so apparently the mountain accepts us.
Ivy and Nakeesha have 5 children and 8 grandchildren. all of who love spending time visiting and experiencing off-grid living as well as the natural beauty and the esthetic of Taos. We live with our dog. Gabriel, and our malcontented cat, Max. We enjoy the natural beauty of the mesa and the surrounding area and the eclectic art and creative scene in Taos.
Patrick & Lisa
Patrick O’Brien began his career in the Detroit area in 1989, working with friends and gaining experience in cabinet-making, wood working and home renovation. After striking out on his own he established a complimentary working relationship with a local architect and had the opportunity to take on more challenging projects. In the summer of 1995, with this experience and a handful of references, Patrick, his wife Lisa and young son Conner moved to Taos, NM.. They built a small off-grid, load-bearing Straw Bale house (Patrick’s first) out on the Mesa west of the Rio Grande Gorge and lived there for 11 years. During this time Patrick had jobs in Taos working in a local cabinet shop and partnering in a small firm with a local architect and another builder to build a few Adobe houses . When Patrick’s mother, Nakeesha and her husband, Ivy moved to Taos, Patrick helped Ivy build their off-grid Straw Bale home on the Mesa. After this, it was a natural step to establish their partnership, and start The Salamander Co. in Taos.
After working for many years as a social worker in the non-profit sector, Lisa is now the Executive Director with the Taos Community Foundation. Although not living in an off-grid house currently, we remain an active couple continually exploring new permaculture techniques, while maintaining a “farmette” with gardening, extensive composting, a chicken coop and beekeeping. Conner, now 26, is recently married and lives in west Michigan with his wife, Caelin.