I visited the Dominican Republic, number two happiest country on earth, as a mentor for the University of South Florida chapter of Engineers Without Borders, August, 2010. The main project was domestic water pumping and a ferrocement water tank. Sanitation became a central topic, due to terrain and well/septic proximity. We visited the capital to discuss the student's project with national water department representatives. Upon return to the distant, small town, I had many interesting opportunities for observation of construction technology and techniques, as-well-as spontaneous enjoyment of general conversation and culture.
The woman with the umbrella, Santa, was our leader, she speaks for a neighborhood of five hundred families. Neighborhood people joined us after we crashed around in the brush examining a tank site above their home, eventually emerging in their backyard.
Below is some 2010 reading, it does not include reading aloud fiction, Cat's Cradle is included as an example for that. Reading focuses my auto-meditations upon sustainable culture during manual labor on these shelter photos. Noam Chomsky's were read twice. "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde, not shown, all finished, but barely into Disaster Law. Just finished the hilarious Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, reading aloud Cory Doctorow's interesting analysis of computer game gold and real gold as virtually the same, see, For The Win, pp.183 - 189.
These photos are included here to acquaint readers with my perspective upon return to work on the example shelter ... September, 2010. The books are shown so that you may feel comfortable skipping eye glazing text about justice and housing, included only because many people either need a roof repair or an entire roof.
I look at rusting galvanized steel roofs and see billions of beautiful people like the women and young child in the top photo. I know without a hint of doubt that those residing in developed as-well-as undeveloping* countries will not avoid planetary scale ecological collapse without assistance from the productive imaginations of the billions who are preoccupied and distracted by the need for shelter, sanitation and clean water.
Sanitation and clean water were defined by the United Nations as human rights one month preceding the top photo. Justice is known world-wide as the foundation for a sustainable human culture.
Intense summer heat and then rain delayed start-up after return from the Dominican Republic. I eventually realized there was idle labor on the streets around the ferrocement.com shop area. A portion of this development is involved with a labor theory of value that in this project depends upon innate human abilities with this material, which I sometimes describe as space-age mud and wattle - recognizing that mud is a common term for concrete among professional masons. I presented as many of those who chose to exchange casual labor for as many paid scholarships as the ferrocement.com research budget could afford; and proved once again that untrained people can accomplish this form of self-sheltering. One mentor/trainer/friend is needed to start the ball rolling and train human self-sheltering instinct until a knowledgeable team develops its own skilled sense of purpose and pride of place. This is an example of the externalized profits from Self-sheltering, profit spreading ripples of benefit that raise the quality of life for all life.
The next pages continue with the "how to" steps leading to plastered walls and a waterproof cement, fabric, fiber and acrylic roof. We create a structure which you will see grow to become a blank prepared canvas suitable for a master sculptor and fresco artist. In that process we shall explore what kind of economy one is living in when those shelters pay humans to live in themselves. Material costs and quantities appear on track with previous analysis, perhaps a bit less.
The qualitative aspect of Self-sheltering and the new economy it describes is just beginning to show it's power. Ahead is a culture based on entropy and information, which may also partially explain the hugely powerful force we know as gravity (Science News, September, 5, 2010, p. 26). Entropy is the primary concept of physics that affects the earthbound human economy, it relates to diminished information content of cultures disrupted by colonialism and war, also the heat flow measuring presence of life. Now consider that very few economists think of entropy as important.
Before our particular big bang, the one we live in, there was only bland perfect order; it most likely only lasted for a little while. Entropic potential for disaster and chaos to scramble bland perfect order pegged at zero entropy and infinite potential, then, a really big bang that's still accelerating, now expanding faster than light. Gravity and everything else cluttered nothing until it became full. So here we are, consciousness is part of our big bang and expanding along with it. Erwin Schrödinger's cat surfed a probability wave and became a survivor who morphed into a fox offering information. Okay, point by point, let's continue this photo series and build a test structure that challenges the corporate state with a democratic economy built for people, a modern labor theory of value that is fun and starts us on a path toward healing the planet with human rights. We chart this course with actions and results that reduce entropy. Keep on course and we'll make port safely. We are talking power here. Real power.
* The brilliant soft spoken Chilean economist, Manfred Max-Neef, refers to the the United States as an "underdeveloping country." Manfred Max-Neeff co-authored Economics Unmasked with Philip B. Smith, a sub atomic particle physicist who said he read 3 Meters of books about economics. These two very brainy professors open wide vistas of thought and stunning details of fact; for example, the 17 trillion dollar bail out of financial pirates on Wall Street could have fed the world's hungry for 531 years. My addition would be to cut that down to 250 years and put the other 8 - 9 trillion into education, which lowers family size to 1.7 children for every two adults and sets humanity in a gentle glide to lower population, with less environmental damage and greater wealth per person. Put up a billion or two of these houses and reach the same place quicker, with health care for all. Read The Idea Of Justice for another explanation, also, Healing the Planet with Human Rights which is this and the prior year photo series with more economic and social subject matter. Secure and beautiful housing that pays for itself, plus is a human right; very interesting embarcation point.
Seventeen children for every twenty adults is a gentle population decline that becomes significant over generations. Education does this. Nobody has to tell anyone what to do.