In January 2013, we started the year successfully with the Ka’Way Monti (KM) Summer School for children from the nearby village of Llupa. Rather than reinforce conventional educational models putting students behind desks in the classroom, this program was designed for the children from the Comunidades Campesina to play and learn in a constructive setting. Activities were designed with the intention of empowering them in their individual abilities and talents by creating a supportive, playful and carefree environment. It was intended that a curriculum of predominantly arts, sports and environmental education, lasting one month, would motivate their creativity and social skills.
25 students, between the ages of 5 and 12, participated in the program. From the 7th of January to the 4th of February, classes were held Monday through Friday from 10am to 1pm. Friday classes were held in Llupa and focused on English lessons conducted by Nathan Hecht, a Peace Corp volunteer. The remainder of the week was hosted at The Way Inn (TWI) and focused in areas of arts and sports. Environmental issues were worked in as a common theme within every day’s activities. The following classes were held:
Capoeira: Brazilian martial art teaching fluid movement and rhythm
Beading: Jewelry making to promote creativity
Yoga/synergy: Movement for concentration and exercise
Gardening: Education of herbs, vegetables and fruits
Reading: Silent examination of provided texts to enhance concentration skills
These courses were led by Silvia Arispe with the help of volunteers and employees of TWI. Our relationships with the elementary and nursery schools, Nathan, and local employees of TWI were critical for spreading the word about Summer School and ensuring there was strong participation.
6-Day Intro to Permaculture
Thus far, KMSS has hosted one shorter 6 day uncertified course, entitled, Intro to Permaculture. The Intro course was uncertified because it did not fulfill the standard 72 hours of class time required of a globally recognized PDC certification. The curriculum, however, was still dense with the same concepts and principles found in our PDC courses, but with less coverage. In addition, we had three guest instructors as well, who held overview practical workshops on home cooking, terracing, and companion planting.
The Introduction to Permaculture Class, from 4 – 9 January 2013 was taught by Dror Noy, from Israel. Complementing the core curriculum, two students from the first PDC, Anna Yim and Sher-Doc, were guest teachers in this course teaching a small component on how to make one’s own yogurt, cheese, and bread, as well as a lecture on companion planting. A third guest teacher, Jonathan Baxter, taught a practical on terracing and its benefits. For this course we bestowed Intro certifications to 9 students from North and South America as well as Australia. Five of these students were from Llupa.
Our third class was the 2nd 10 day PDC taught once more by Helder Valente. This followed, once more, the standard PDC model (see the 2012 PDC for the description of the curriculum). With several repeat local students from the first and second courses, we also added a portion on making adobe bricks and focused more heavily on the social design aspect of permaculture.
KMSS certified 7 new students and awarded 4 locals their second PDC.
3-Day Earthen Oven Workshop
To begin with an introduction to natural building techniques, we held a 3-day ‘Earthen Oven Workshop’ from the 6th-8th September 2013. Class was held through 8am to 4pm every day, with 7 international students and 7 Quechua students; following the Quechua sponsorship model from past courses.
To build the oven, we used cob: A natural construction technique, using a mixture of clay, sand, dirt, straw and water. Building with cob is stronger than more traditional adobe brick techniques, because rather than having many-sided bricks with many surfaces causing weakness, layers of cob are all woven together to form walls that united in one form, and much stronger in seismic areas.
This course served as a good introduction to natural construction, because it covered the following:
Foundations; Stem-wall building; Making a cob mix; How to build with cob; Uses of glass waste for insulation; Benefits of cob over other natural building techniques.
The course was a great success, and the locals especially enjoyed it when we explained that one could use the same techniques learned during this course to construct an entire house out of cob. And the end result is a cob oven that we can cook baked goods in, also forming a social centre for pizza parties etc, improving social cohesion and integration with the local community.
It was good for us to start small. We had to spend a while working out what materials we had on our land, and what we had to source locally. We do not have sources of either clay or sand on our land, but we do (obviously) have soil. Eventually we found that our neighbour has a clay pit that we can buy clay from, but sand we had to order from a source in Huaraz. This added extra costs to the course that we had not anticipated – buying all the raw materials, and buying enough tools to be able to complete the course (such as tarpolines to make the mixes on, buckets, wheelbarrows, etc).
To read about some of our students' experience on this course, go here.
12-Day Natural Construction Course
From the 2nd- 13th December 2013, we held our first 12-day Natural Construction Course, with 4 International students and 4 local Quechua students. Class went from 7.30am until 4pm every day, with Sunday as a day off to allow students to take a break for hiking etc, and also to respect the local schedule of not working on Sundays.
This course was extremely in-depth, and covered everything you need to know to build your own ecologically sound house from scratch, out of natural materials: Foundations; Stem-walls; Cobbing technique and how to make a mix; Material sourcing; Introduction to electricity and plumbing; Flooring; Windows and doors; Interior shelving and enclaves; Roofing techniques; Efficient interior heating (Rocket Mass Heaters); Making natural paint out of clay.
We had various guest teachers who taught sections according to their expertise. Tomas and Emiliano, from Llupa, taught a morning on how to make strong foundations and stem-walls. Justin, a volunteer, gave an introduction to electricity and plumbing, and explained various sustainable technologies such as solar- and compost- water heating.
The idea of this course was to offer a much more complete set of information than other cob construction courses around the world. We had three buildings at different stages of completion, so that the students could really experience working at each phase. Each student had hands-on time laying rocks in the foundation and stem-wall, etc. In other courses experienced by Whitey and Chris, the students make one building from scratch; but really spend most their time building the walls higher with cob. In these courses, details such as roofing, flooring, foundations, heating, plumbing, and electricity are glazed over.
To prepare for the course, to get all the buildings to the ideal phases of completion, and to have all the materials needed on site etc, proved to be an extremely challenging feat. We learned the valuable lesson to scale-down the next courses that we offer, so as to not bite off more than we can chew.