Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coffee Cup Morality
On my way into the office this morning, while squeezing my coffee cup's rim and watching it snap back into place for my coffee-drinking enjoyment, I remembered an important lesson.

In 1997, Jon Katz, an eccentric engineer/philosopher/community organizer, began helping the rural village of El Limon by introducing them to a cheap form of renewable energy--a small (about 20 inches in diameter), highly-efficient turbine to power a couple light bulbs in each house, a community refrigerator and a computer lab / telephone center. The project was very successful in improving the quality of life in El Limon.
More info on the project here.

Ferrocement structures are made with rebar and chicken wire--later, cement is spread on top to create a thin but rigid wall. The preliminary structure might seem, at first, to be incredibly fragile. See pictures of the El Limon structure here.

In fact, because of the fragile appearance, the band of trained builders told Katz...

So, folks that had never built this type of building before started to help Katz out. The malleability of the structure let them tailor the structure to their exact needs. When they decided to add a smaller room for community counsel meetings it was easy to snip the chicken wire and add the space...

Well, actually, the building doesn't seem to have been finished. But the structure is still there.

You figure it out. I'm going to finish my coffee.