Consider this makeshift gutter system in front of a family´s home along the road. While roofs are regularly used to channel water into blue plastic barrels for drinking water, it´s more unusual to find in La Prusia a gutter used to direct the rainwater. We hope that our rainwater catchment system at the school amplifies local viable practices like this one.
Monday morning began with collecting, cleaning, and cracking open lids of the tin barrels with the help of volunteers and community members, including Doña Cheba (pictured below). When we were planning to simply throw away the lids from the barrels, she reminded us that they could also be repurposed in useful ways. For Cheba, they make fine surfaces for making tortillas.
Together, with the volunteers, we used the edible gardens and cisterns as an opportunity for the kids and community in general to learn about the link between roofs and water and gardens.
It was a long but exciting day. Cheba (who happens to have the nicest garden in La Prusia), her daughter, and other community members set in motion the whole planting process.
We also tested the gutter and its relationship to the cisterns and gardens. The singular shoot of water was a big hit with the kids.
Ultimately, some 20 school kids and several community members helped us plant the trees--coconut, avocado, aloe and so forth--and then we armed the kids with paint to have at the old tin barrels turned cisterns. What started as a fairly organized assembly-line type scenario, in which kids pressed their tiny painted hands onto the tin barrels, quickly turned into a blur of excitment and frenzy.
It was rewarding to work with community members, young and old alike. Their personal touch, as part of a relentlessly pragmatic and didactic system (however modest), is perhaps the most important imprint we can leave on the first site. Naturally, we´re still working through several important questions. Maintenance of the whole system will have to be built into the project. That's part of an ongoing conversation among the volunteers and La Prusians.
Meanwhile, on the second site, the intrepid A-chang nearly finished the structure for the community's first composting toilet. Local construction worker El Gato and volunteer architects, Jaime and Ines, will take over the project. What's especially exciting about the next step: a corrugated zinc cladding system that provides ventilation.
For A-chang, ladders are overrated.
In other news, the shed raised more questions than we could reasonably answer in the past couple of weeks. The design will continue as an international collaboration among folks in La Prusia, Boston, and New York.