Posts Tagged ‘earthbag’

 

The Power of Intention Fuelled by Love

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Music/Art/Culture DomeWhen the the diverse volunteer group arrived, inspired by Martyn and Justine Joseph of Let Yourself Trust, to assist in the construction of the Music and Culture Dome, I knew it would be an extraordinary constellation of people. However, I had no idea the level of synergy they would reach onsite and then maintain after their departure. Everyone who works with Project Somos is more than impressed, we are amazed.

For me, it was a pleasure to work with the group during their construction days in February, and they seemed to connect deeply with the vision and mission of the Project. They were exuberant in their workdays and joyful in their nightly musical endeavours and revelry. It was an unparalleled phenomenon we had not often witnessed but always hope for.

Here’s the clincher – even before the group’s departure (after completing 22 rows of earth bags of the Culture Dome), there was a talk of the next Somos build and their participation. One of their team stepped up and committed to find the funds to build Family House #3 and organize the group to return and participate in the construction. Both tasks happened in a very short time span.

We are SO excited about this new space!This group’s unity of enthusiasm put into action is a dream come true for us. Once again it tangibly demonstrates the power of intention fuelled by Love that we have repeatedly witnessed over the past five years being on the ground in Guatemala. It is a testament to what is possible when a group of like-minded people dream BIG!

Fifteen of the SomosUS team made the return trip in August to get their hands dirty helping construct our third family home! This duplex means that we will have space to accept two more families! They completed an incredible 25 levels of earth bags and considering that the linear circumference of the walls was three times as long, the effort enters into the realm of superhuman.

During the team’s construction time here, we had a gathering to dedicate the Music, Art and Culture Dome.  Antolin spoke about the importance of the structure and what it meant to him personally as a Mayan spiritual guide.  After others in the group offered their thoughts and good wishes, Antje Duvekot offered a beautiful song to conclude the time.  Everyone was very moved by the experience.

Our workers continue to work on the family home and they are making impressive progress – the roof is on, the electrical and plumbing is roughed in, the eco-brick interior walls are built and next they will be stuccoing the interior and exterior. Stay tuned! Or follow along in the House Build Album.

-Greg

House # 3 Plans

House # 3 Plans

 

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The Inauguration of the Music/Art/Culture Dome

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Antje Duvekot sings for us

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Building House #3! – Part 2

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Thanks to an amazing group of volunteers and donors, last week we were able to start the construction of the third family house. It was an incredible week, new friendships were formed and old ones continued. We are so very thankful for all the hard work the volunteers put in, to surpass the expected level of bags for the week.

Up, up, up we go!

Up, up, up we go!

Time to catch the bucket!

Antje and Ann Marie gave us a beautiful concert, with their incredible talent.

Antje and Ann Marie gave us a beautiful concert, with their incredible talent.

Heather Alicia and Greg opened up their house for a lovely "Happy Hour" Fiesta!

Heather Alicia and Greg opened up their house for a lovely “Happy Hour” Fiesta!

Peter with some of the workers during the Open House.

Peter with some of the workers during the Open House.

We had an Open House at Project Somos, over 60 people came to see the work we have done.

We had an Open House at Project Somos, over 60 people came to see the work we have done.

Antolin leading the inauguration of the

Antolin leading the inauguration of the Music/Culture/Arts Dome.

Antje bringing the week to a close with a beautiful song during the inauguration of the Music/Arts/Culture Dome.

Antje bringing the week to a close with a beautiful song during the inauguration of the Music/Arts/Culture Dome.

Pre-build group shot! Time to get dirty!

Pre-build group shot! Time to get dirty!

The volunteers and workers, at the end of a hard work week, job well done!!

The volunteers and workers, at the end of a hard work week, job well done!!

It was an incredible week, one not to be forgotten! Thank again for everyone who was involved, all your hard work is so very appreciated.

For more photos visit our Facebook Album.

Until next time..

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

Building House #3!

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

This week we have an incredible group of volunteers, coming from all over Canada, the US, and Europe. Thanks to this group of amazing people and some very generous donors, we have started building the third family home here at Project Somos! There are seven returning volunteers from the Let Yourself Trust group that came in February to build the Music/Culture/Arts Dome, along with another 8 volunteers. They are doing awesome work!

 

Everyone at the build site for house #3!

Everyone at the build site for house #3!

Antolin giving the morning instructions.

Antolin giving the morning instructions.

And we have started! Door frames are in!

And we have started! Door frames are in!

Peter working on the barb-wire

Peter working on the barb-wire

Nicky back at it!

Nicky back at it!

The ladies are working hard!

We’ve got hard working ladies on site! 

Playing on the teeter-totter with the kids

Playing on the teeter-totter with the kids

Ziplane fun!

Zipline fun!

Stay tuned for more photos!

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

Let Yourself Trust – Volunteer Trip February 2016

Monday, February 29th, 2016

This past week our dear friends Marytn & Justine, of Let Yourself Trust returned to Project Somos one year later, from their visit in January 2015. This time, they came with 22 volunteers who have raised money for, and to build, our music/art/culture dome! This will be our second building in our Learning Campus at Project Somos! All week the volunteers worked incredibly hard on the music/art/culture dome, but also digging a 100 meter trench for a water line, helping in the preschool & afternoon programming with the kids, painting two buildings, sanding and cleaning bamboo, and countless other things!

Seeing the foundation for the music arts dome for the first time.

Seeing the foundation of the dome for the first time.

Martyn working hard with our foreman Antolin

Martyn working hard with our foreman, Antolin

Volunteers haul the dirt buckets to fill the earth bag

Volunteers haul the dirt buckets to fill the earth-bag

Laying the barbwire between levels of earth bag

Laying the barbwire between levels of earth-bag

Digging the 100 meter trench for a water line, 2 feet deep!

Digging the 100 meter trench for a water-line, 2 feet deep!

Cleaning, sanding, and washing of bamboo. Eight meters in length!

Cleaning, sanding, and washing of bamboo. Eight meters in length!

The hard-working crew of Guatemalan workers and volunteers!

The hard-working crew of Guatemalan workers and volunteers!

Martyn playing a concert for our mamas, kids, workers, and the volunteers.

Martyn playing a concert for our mamas, kids, workers, and the volunteers.

Antje Duvekot, singer from Boston, was part of the volunteer trip, a hard worker and a gifted musician!

Antje Duvekot, singer-songwriter from Boston, was part of the volunteer trip, a hard worker and a gifted musician!

Presenting gifts on the last morning of musical instruments, including flutes, keyboards, ukuleles, shakers, and more!

Presenting gifts on the last morning of musical instruments, including flutes, keyboards, ukuleles, shakers, and more!

Thank you so much to Let Yourself Trust and everyone that came down to Guatemala, your hard work and support means so much to the families and staff here at Somos.

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

What Kind of Strange Construction Was That?

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
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The first earthbag family home in the Children’s Village

If you watched the first episode of The Project – Guatemala, perhaps you wondered, “what kind of strange construction technique are those guys doing?”  When Project Somos first began in 2007, we researched many innovative construction techniques, but earthbag or superadobe was the most eco-sustainable, inexpensive and earthquake resistant that we found.  When architect Nader Khalili (www.calearth.org) traveled the Middle East looking to the buildings that stood the test of time, he found the oldest ones had two things in common; they were made of earth and they had curved walls.  He came up with the super adobe technique and quotes the poet Rumi, saying, “earth turns to gold in the hands of the wise.”

IMG_4534All of the buildings of Project Somos are designed with curved walls and constructed using earth-bags. Long tubular polypropylene bags are filled with a mixture of earth, sand, a bit of cement and then compacted. Two rows of barbed wire are laid between each bag to stop any lateral shifting. Chicken wire is secured to the bags and the walls are then plastered with a mud and lime mixture made from the soil of the land.  The earth-bag method has been approved and actually exceeds the stringent California building code.

The internal walls of each home are framed with, locally sourced bamboo and filled using eco-bricks, (empty plastic pop bottles filled with soft clean plastic garbage) and are then plastered. There are over 8000 local school children participate with Project Somos in the filling of the eco-bricks. Each house uses 7000 and Project Somos has already used 19,000 eco-bricks, removing over 8 tons of plastic garbage from the streets, rivers and canyons in the Tecpan area.

-Greg Kemp, Project Manager

 

 

 

Building Faith in Innovative Construction

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

When Project Somos initiated its first earthbag construction in Guatemala, our workers were not convinced it was a reliable construction technique.  As much as our research and studies showed, it was more than viable, it was superb, but no amount of words would ever ever convince our young crew that it would be better than the shaky block construction widely used here.

Maco and Antolin witnessing the first Roman Arch!

Maco and Antolin witnessing the first Roman Arch!

As the first building’s foundation was laid and the earthbag walls rose from the ground, the crew became warmer to the solidity of what they were building. The walls surrounded the window forms and we arrived at the Roman Arches.  The workers filled the individual bags for the arches and the walls then covered them.  The moment came to remove the wooden forms from the arches.  None of the workers wanted to watch, as they did not believe these arches could bear the weight of the walls above them.  But…. they did and the mood turned festive, as if a miracle had taken place.

Currently we are working on earthbag domes.  Again, when our fearless workers saw the design and the walls began to rise, they were not convinced it was a design with structural integrity.  Initially, the first 3 meters of wall is fairly vertical, but after that the curved inclination is more pronounces and after four meters it really becomes the dome.  From the outside, it looks reasonable, from the inside, it looks somewhat intimidating with all the earth-filled bags hanging over one’s head.

The first dome

The first dome

One of the domes is now complete with the upper window installed and the exterior stucco applied.  Our workers are now staunch supporters of earthbag dome construction, having filled the last bags at the top.  They experienced the stability even at the most horizontal part at the last level.

Earthbag Dome in the Project Somos Children's Village

Earthbag Dome in the Project Somos Children’s Village

Our Somos crew have become experts at this type of construction and have witnessed the “miracle” of applied physics.  Whatever perspective one might have, it is definitely an impressive building technique that has a spectrum of benefits.  We all are learning as we go and everyone is continually amazed at the progress and the innovation.  Simplicity is awesome!

-Greg

Our First Earthbag Dome!

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

As per our timeline, the next phase of our development is constructing the first staff house on site. We have built two family homes using earthbag construction. Those houses have steel roofing. This next building will be built using earthbag construction as well, but will be two domes joined by a hallway.

Thanks to SpencerCreo Foundation for the generous donation, allowing us to make this a reality! All of us are SO excited about earthbag!

 

The foundation is laid in the first dome

Each level of the earthbags is tamped

Follow along here to watch as “earth turns to gold” (Rumi)

To learn more about earthbag construction, visit Cal-Earth’s website.

The earthbags begin to rise up!

Annual Time Lapse of Sorts

Monday, November 5th, 2012

When we were back in Canada giving presentations, we shared the following three images, taken each Autumn in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I thought you might enjoy seeing them too!

-Heather Alicia

A blank slate-the perfect spot for a Children's Village!

Look at those lovely earth-bag structures!

2012 -It is starting to look like a Children's Village!

 

Where Are We At?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We are twenty days into 2012 and thanks to our wonderful workers and enthusiastic volunteers, we’ve been making great progress.

Time for beautiful features!

Plastering of the internal walls of the first house are nearly completed. We took the opportunity to use the wet plaster to add some colourful glass beads.

The final coat of the outside walls is ready to go and a coloured tint has been chosen. We are so excited to see colour being incorporated into the homes. From the white of the earth bags, to grey of the plaster to a reddish terra-cotta colour!

Preparing the house for plastering

 

 

 

 

The second house is ready to go with plaster thanks to the El Camino Volunteers who helped hang the necessary chicken-wire.

The truth behind the plaster!

This week, the children headed back to school after a three month break. For us, this means we can return to collecting more of the much needed eco-bricks from the various local schools.. These are the empty plastic bottles stuffed full of plastic bags that we use for the internal walls of the house. Check out our “truth” window which we are keeping to showcase how these walls are erected.

The Gathering Place

We are getting close to completing Gathering Place and look forward to having our first official fire here soon!

Darryl is back! We hired Darryl last Spring to excavate for the first two homes. He’s back clearing the spot for a garden and making the new road which will surround the perimeter wall of the Children’s Village.

Stay tuned for lots more progress!

-Heather Alicia

Nice niche!

Construction that Lasts

Friday, September 30th, 2011

If we survey the archeological remains of cities from past millennium, we see their solid footprints clearly. The use of natural materials, particularly stone and earth were the historic norm and these materials did not degrade and had a structural longevity that endured centuries and even millennium. This is contrary to our modern day construction techniques and materials that would disintegrate within 100 years.

My past professional life in Vancouver, renovating 100 year-old houses, taught me to think about building techniques and materials that would withstand the test of time. * In the temperate rain forest we experienced the “leaky condo crisis”, caused by ridiculous cost saving designs that in turn cost the home-owners millions of dollars in repairs. Even after the retrofit repairs, these condos will not last another 50 years.

I now live in Guatemala where there are many footprints of the past Mayan civilizations with marvelous buildings designed to last. Some of the architecture dates back to 2000 BC. It is dramatic and beautiful in design and resilient in structure. Nature’s vegetation had reclaimed the majority of the abandoned ancient sites, but archeologists, mystified by such a complex and advanced civilization, have reclaimed some.

Although no human-made structure could withstand a cataclysmic earthquake, it is quite possible to design and construct structures that have a resistance to earthquakes and still have an ascetic beauty and functionality. I believe we overestimate our triangular steel reinforcements, often retrofitted on older buildings and have a false sense of security in “modern” buildings. An 8 point something earthquake that has a duration of more than a minute will bring most recent constructions down.

Considering all of the above it is only logical that we use construction techniques and materials that will stand the test of time. Putting natural geological catastrophes aside, it would assist those who design and engineer our buildings and homes to consider their longevity when deciding how to construct them. Are the materials going to endure at least 100 years? Will the design withstand the normal elemental factors in a given location?

We are building Project Somos Children’s Village with several factors in mind:

The design will be ascetically beautiful to harmonize with its incredible natural setting.

The construction technique and materials are intentionally chosen to last at least 100 years. (earthbag/superadobe construction – see FB for lots of photos)

It will functionally serve the families who live there.

It is a simple and economical method that can be replicated locally.

Stayed tuned for the progress on the first two houses. We anticipate completion of both of them at the close of 2011.

All the Best,

Greg

*Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use