We just finished our work in the community of Sabana Grande, where Liz first volunteered in 2011 and discovered a strong spirit and simple earthen homes.
The local natural building team that has since formed and has been further encouraged by the steadfast support of Susan Kinne (http://www.grupofenix.org/) carries on its strong work, displaying a cooperative and productive balance as we find more households touched by its expertise. This pueblo and in particular La Comunidad Solar, is a model of a self sufficient community development strategy that has earned true investment from its members while providing tangible benefit. Over the past few years the team and their work has also inspired, in no small part by Nicaragua Pueblo Project, and become the envy of many an NGO who visit after hearing of the incredible work happening there. The next steps? Helping these people from this rural community in the north express from their own mouths the model's inherent compatibility and viability in other communities with a similar scarcity of economic resources. We provide many opportunities for them to speak their dreams and their gained knowledge through self and group evaluations, personal interviews, and this time the presence of two documentary filmmakers who are traveling with us for three weeks as they capture the natural building movement around the world.(www.eco-logis.org) Working among the team allows us the chance to witness people's comfort zones being pushed in a productive way, within the context of something so comfortable and familiar as home. What better place to challenge critical thinking, test creative capacity, and reinforce vital principles than in the earthen nests where people were raised, with feet and hands covered in a rich plaster cocktail. The group showed great gusto in wrapping up Mayra's plaster work at the final hour. There is a real sense that the quality and commitment of these women's bond overcomes the occasional fragment of operational discomfort. Our presence continues to feel welcome and useful to this community, and it remains also a place where we can come learn the ways of these real life country builders and also learn to be present with the realities of working with real life country people.
In ten days we further trained 5 veteran participants to be stronger leaders, as well as introduced 5 new community members into the work. We were visited by a community interested in home improvements in their communities and we built one improved cookstove, one complete room of wall and built-in furniture improvements, began the walls of a family's composting toilet, and taught clay sculpting skills wherever we could!
Next week we will share our expertise with a community in the north, Tierra Caliente, who build with wood and earth and are excited to learn ways to improve and modernize their techniques, after a visit to Sabana Grande, with the continued use of the materials at their feet. Stay tuned.