About Us

About Us

The Canelo Project is a small non-profit organization, founded by Bill and Athena Steen in 1989 and whose work centers on the theme – Connecting People, Culture and Nature.

The Canelo Project is both a family-based community and an applied educational center that gives people hands-on experience on a lifestyle that aims to be sustainable.

It is an ongoing exploration of living, growing food, and building that creates friendship, beauty and simplicity.

While we aim to create integrated living systems, our ultimate goal is to cultivate our own and others' partnership with nature, cultures, and one another.

view Patagonia's film on our family story:

Connecting People, Culture & Nature

The Canelo Project grew out of our love for the place we live – Canelo. Here, amidst creeks lined with cottonwoods and rolling hills of native grasses, we have shaped and nurtured our 40-acre homestead into a place of learning, demonstration and exploration. 

We create opportunities for learning and sharing, such as workshopstoursbooksvideos, and community projects, with a focus on place-based living, building and art. While most of the work we are known for is building, we also actively explore growing and working with native plants and foods of our region.

Much of what we do is influenced by our roots and the connections we have to the southwestern United States. Athena comes from a background of New Mexican, Native American potters, sculptors and educators, Bill from southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. We seek to balance the wisdom and skills of the past with that which has value today.

We enjoy offsite projects, often visiting communities outside our own, to instruct natural building and artistic methods and learning new lessons ourselves. We have taught and worked extensively in Mexico, taught workshops and lectured throughout Europe and the United States.
We also provide work-trade learning opportunities throughout the year. See more here.

Who we are

We are a small family-based community who are intimately connected to place. The foundation of our project is rooted in our family, and yet we extend our home to more than that, with many others living and contributing to life at Canelo. Athena and Bill Steen, together, were the ones that shaped and gave form to The Canelo Project. 

Canelo Project's Story told by Athena: "Rooted in Clay"

As a non profit we gladly accept donations