How to Transform Waste Into a Community Space
Worldwide, from New Zealand to Kenya to the U.S., there is a growing movement to transform waste into communal space. For two unforgettable weeks this March, the community of El Porvenir, along with two amazing Do Good As You Go volunteers, worked together to build the first Earthbench in Honduras. It stands as a unique, sustainable, gathering place – a lasting reminder of collaboration, environmental awareness, unity and peace.
After finishing two years teaching science at an international school in Antofagasta, Chile, Vanessa Carducci knew she wanted to volunteer during her travels in Central America. Inspired by her upcoming time with permaculture farms in Ecuador and Costa Rica, she connected with Do Good As You Go (DGYG) in hopes of incorporating a social aspect to the hands-on skills she would be learning on the farms. As Vanessa explains, “The Muskoka Foundation’s concept and mission suited my objective completely-purposeful travel…It was exactly what I was looking for. DGYG was the connector, the ‘middle (wo)man,’ in my search of finding an organization in the region I would be traveling through.”
Through research, Vanessa discovered The Peace on Earthbench Movement (POEM) and her attention was captured by their mission to empower youths and communities to clean up the environment while teaching natural building techniques. Earthbenches are communal structures made from repurposed trash, with building materials of cob (a natural cement-like mixture of sand, clay, straw, and water) and bottle bricks (plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic, non-biodegradable materials). The idea behind the benches is to educate school children in sustainability concepts and provide a creative, community-building activity which results in a lasting, useful structure. After several collaborative discussions between Vanessa, DGYG and The Honduras Child Alliance (HCA), the Earthbench project in Honduras was born! As Vanessa notes, “We all agreed that this would both serve the purpose of increasing environmental awareness to the HCA kids and bring a new transferable building skill to the adults. It also fit perfectly into the HCA theme during my two-week stay, ‘We take care of ourselves, of each other and of our environment”.
Vanessa and her good friend and DGYG volunteer, Sanah, had the task of building their first Earthbench. Together with HCA, they worked diligently to get the Earthbench project running, including community outreach, assessing materials and coordinating the workflow and duties for everyone. This project, after all, was not just for the community, but by the community. Everyone got involved in the action, including the kids, local volunteers, and even the bomberos (firemen)! It was truly a labor of love and a project of unity. After two weeks and lots of garbage collecting, cob dancing, learning, hard work and fun, the first community bench at the El Porvenir fire station was complete. All that’s left now is the decorating phase.
The Earthbench in El Porvenir is an amazing community upcycling project with many lessons: the power of collaboration and support between dedicated partner organizations and volunteers, the importance of engaging, creative activities to promote environmental awareness and to teach valuable, applicable skills to communities, the strength of working together in unity towards a common goal, and the beauty of The Peace on Earthbench Movement.
Would you like to build an Earthbench?
DGYG is seeking volunteers to expand the Peace on Earthbench Movement to partner organizations, as well as to build more benches and housing structures for families in the El Porvenir community. Learn more about Earthbench here and get involved!
FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired remarkable people and organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human interests, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.
Editor’s Note: Conscious Magazine has teamed up with Carol Hurst and Deanna Rita of Muskoka Foundation’s Do Good As You Go movement. Carol and Deanna will shed light on travel and volunteerism. Find out more about Carol and Deanna in this interview here. Follow the series.