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Constructing for the future

With a grant that we have received from a local bank, we are improving the existing infrastructure in the venue. Up until now, our dining hall and one of the classrooms have been just walls and a roof. No insulation, no windows, and a floor of unfinished concrete. In my experience it always takes some time to construct. The builders turn up 50% of the time, and that’s in good weather. They never turn up if it is raining! It’s funny, because it hasn’t rained in a month, you would have thought we would have progressed a little faster! I sympathise with Juan the contractor. It can’t be easy trying to manage staff who aren’t that keen to work.

To add to his problems, Juan has been in hospital with pneumonia. His son, Juan Jnr, has been in hospital too! He had his appendix taken out two weeks ago. We hope that they are recovering ok! Juan and his son are really nice people, who have done a lot of work for us. Last week a few of Juan’s workers didn’t turn up and he wasn’t feeling too good. I think maybe the stress of it all tipped him over the edge and he ended up in Hospital.

Despite the snail’s pace, the construction is coming along. The roof has been leak-proofed, the ceiling has been put in, the security bars have been put on the windows and the doors, and the walls have been painted. When the ceramic floor tiles have been put in, we can get the wheels of Food for Thought rolling. At the moment they are spinning in the on spot.      

The workshops that we have been able to facilitate are ‘dance and percussion’ and ‘ecology for adults’. We can facilitate them because we don’t need a specific classroom space. We have a great young, local, music teacher, Sergio, who has a lot of experience with children in vulnerable situations, and also in the style of music that the kids are fascinated by! It is a style of street music and dance called ‘Murga’. Sole (our multi talented art teacher) and I have been learning a lot in the classes and really enjoying supporting a teacher like Sergio who has a completely different connection with the kids. He is always acting the clown, cracking jokes, laughing, and has a beautiful way of motivating the kids and extracting confidence in each child, which is a real art form!

Sole and I have also been investigating permaculture. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. It was created in the 70’s by the Australian biologist, Bill Mollison. With permaculture principles in mind, we have been creating a plan with the adults of our ecology workshop. The idea is to make the venue as sustainable as possible while looking after the environment, the people, responsibly distributing excesses, and reducing consumption. We hope to one day make the venue a reference space as a sustainably functioning, community development centre.

We are looking into collecting rain water, utilizing every green space to plant (not just any plant, but plants that 1. We can use and 2. Support a sustainable system), adding chickens as part of the ecosystem, composting, recycling and reduction of waste, and in the process making the space beautiful. This last point (making the space beautiful) is one of the most important. It is something that I am learning, because I have always been of the thought that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look good, as long as it is practical! But it does matter, because if it is not only practical but also beautiful, it creates interest. If someone from the outside sees a beautiful, artistic, well designed space, they will be interested in it. They will ask questions and be keen to implement whatever it is in their own home. This is the essence of sustainability, if people are being educated in the process!

We will hopefully have a newly renovated eating hall so we can start up with the nutritious food element of our project. The kids are waiting patiently. In the meantime, we’ll keep making music and planning the sustainable development of the space. Until next time.