Let the adventure begin!
Liz Johndrow, a natural builder from Vermont, USA, visited Nicaragua in 2011-12 to study Spanish and find a way to share her skills which led leading a workshop to build a natural classroom. This involved participants from three local women's groups. The classroom now provides an artistically beautiful and inspiring space for adult education classes, agricultural workshops, and natural building education.
We learned a lot about the culture, traditional earthen building and how much can be done with a machete!
In 2013, the second season brought two workshops in two communities to build two youth centers. One for the youth group of Las Mujeres Solares in Sabana Grande and the second for the students of Las Mujeres Constructoras in Condega. They are beautiful and well loved spaces where learning continues.
We learned a lot about making adobe bricks from the women and how strong they are!
In 2014, the third season brought further collaborations with the women's cooperatives groups and a teaching alliance with an adobe specialist from Managua. A six week course was taught and this time local builders who wanted to understand building with natural materials joined us. Past participants from the youth groups assisted the course and model adobe home and the finishing touches on the preceding projects were completed.
We learned a lot about how to work with intercultural group dynamics and the power of teamwork!
In 2015, The Pueblo Project: Nicaragua became an organization with an Advisory Board from Nicaragua, the United States, and Canada. Liz continues to lead the project with the support of the Board. The Pueblo Project is currently fiscally sponsored by the non-profit Way of Compassion Foundation. In this season Liz taught a number of workshops and led several home improvements. Many locals are now transferring their skills and creativity to their communities and beyond!
What We Accomplished in 2014-15:
- four home improvements in two rural communities
-A three week training workshop including eight locals, three extranjeros, ten Nica University architectural students, and two architect professors
- A two week introductory natural building workshop in the community of La Playita near Granada- 15-20 participants balancing a mix of women and youth and a few young men.
-More locals with very solid skills in testing, critically thinking and creating functional and beautiful home improvements and buildings. Some of those students receiving invitations and income to lead workshops in other communities.
-Architectural students receiving hands on learning for the first time in the history of the program at the University in Managua. A few have been returning to deepen their hands on learning during their break.
In 2016 we had volunteers from other countries excited to return and further support The Pueblo Project through assisting Liz in the continued trainings, workshops, and Home Improvement Initiatives. We completed three home improvements in Sabana Grande and continue to work on assessing and connecting other communities into this program.
-We worked with Colectivo Zompopo to collaborate in Home Improvement training in the rural community of Tierra Caliente with participants from two communities in the skills of earthen floors, wall systems and plasters, and sculpting and clay paints.
-We completed a three week natural building workshop at AMCC in Condega with over 20 participants from four countries with a large percentage of locals.
We learned so much about how empowering people to dig deep in themselves can unearth some beautiful results!
2017 holds the promise of:
- more Home Improvement Initiatives with increasing the capacity for improved cookstoves and composting toilets alongside the basic skills of plasters and earthen floor systems.
- 2- two week intercultural workshops at AMCC in Condega focusing on earthen building and natural plasters
- a Natural Building Symposium accessible to Nicaraguans throughout the country
- Increasing capacity of our veteran students with a Training the Trainers (Construyendo Lideres) certification program
In 2018, we held our first International Natural Building Fair with over 100 participants from eight different countries and further supported our Building Leaders Initiative in the planning, a dry compost toilet project, improved wood cookstove design improvement, and bringing our new partners from Honduras to learn more about the possibilities we can bring to their communities in the coming months.