Want to help keep an island school from flooding? UPDATED: Spanish translation added

April 19th, 2018 § 6 comments § permalink

In this post I am reaching out to any of my stormwater management friends to help a school stop flooding in Guna Yala!

¡En este post estoy contactando a cualquiera de mis amigos de manejo de aguas pluviales para ayudar a una escuela en Guna Yala a prevenir las inundaciones!

This year, we became connected (by fishing and messing around in boats) with some of the kids on Ailitupu, in the Robeson community in Guna Yala (an autonomous indiginous area of Panama). We visited their school and learned from their bilingual(Spanish/Guna) director, Nelicia, that they have severe classroom flooding when it rains, and also some high tide flooding under certain conditions.

Este año, nos conectamos (pescando y jugando en barcos) con algunos de los niños en Ailitupu, en la comunidad de Robeson en Guna Yala (una zona indígena autónoma de Panamá). Visitamos su escuela y aprendimos de su directora bilingüe (español / Guna), Nelicia, que tienen graves inundaciones en el aula cuando llueve, y también algunas inundaciones con marea alta bajo ciertas condiciones.

The community has many riches, but cold hard cash is not one of them, so buying additional building materials and transporting them out to the island is the main barrier we can remove. Rainwater harvesting is a common practice in this island, and households will line up tubs under the edges of roofs. Sometimes you see fabric draped over the top of the tubs as a filter/lid.

La comunidad tiene muchas riquezas, pero el dinero en efectivo no es uno de ellos, por lo que comprar materiales de construcción adicionales y transportarlos a la isla es la principal barrera que podemos quitar. La recolección de agua de lluvia es una práctica común en esta isla, y los hogares alinearán las tinas debajo de los bordes de los techos. A veces se ve tejido cubierto sobre la parte superior de las tinas como un filtro / tapa.

I see this project as three tasks/teams, and I invite you to join!

Veo este proyecto como tres tareas / equipos, ¡y los invito a unirse!

1. TEAM RETROFIT: First, I will share the info I already have about the site, and collect ideas for a design. I can facilitate questions and answers between people on and off the island. Do you have expertise that you can share with designing and implementing a low-cost, durable, and possibly repeatable, retrofit for this school? Can you collaborate w us remotely?

Primero, compartiré la información que ya tengo sobre el sitio y recopilaré ideas para un diseño. Puedo facilitar preguntas y respuestas entre personas dentro y fuera de la isla. ¿Tiene experiencia que puede compartir con el diseño e implementación de una modificación de bajo costo, duradera y posiblemente repetible para esta escuela? ¿Puedes colaborar de forma remota?

2. TEAM MONEYBAGS: Once we have a design, we can make a budget and get some funding. Do you have a network that might contribute to help fund the retrofit (materials, labor and transportation) which would occur as a minga-type group building day? If I made a transparent appeal for funds, would you share it with your network?

Cuando tenemos un diseño, podemos hacer un presupuesto y pedir algunos fondos. ¿Tiene una red que podría contribuir a ayudar a financiar la retroadaptación (materiales, mano de obra y transporte) que se llevaría a cabo como una minga? Si hiciera una apelación transparente a los fondos, ¿la compartiría con su red?

3. TEAM FETCH : Finally, are you in Panama, with access to a big truck and/or boat? Can we take it to Portobelo to the tank store there? We will need to transport the stuff into Golfo de San Blas either via boat or via Chepo-Cartí (carro-lancha).

Finalmente, ¿estás en Panamá, con acceso a un gran camión y/o bote? ¿Podemos llevarlo a Portobelo a la tienda de tanques allí? Tendremos que transportar el material al Golfo de San Blas en bote oa través de Chepo-Cartí (carro-lancha).

In the comments please identify yourself as a possible member of a team if you want to get future communiques on these tasks. Let’s start right away with a site tour!

En los comentarios, identifíquese como posible miembro de un equipo si desea obtener futuros comunicados sobre estas tareas. Comencemos de inmediato con un recorrido por el sitio!

ALITUPU - 1 of 18

Schools in Panama are blue and white… here is the view of the school from where we anchored. Looking from S to N. Homes are thatched or some mix of thatch and metal roof. The school is made of cinder block w a metal roof on a frame. For future orientation, remember that the separate boxy structure on the left of the school complex is the bathroom.  Las escuelas en Panamá son azules y blancas … aquí está la vista de la escuela desde donde anclamos. Mirando de S a N. Las casas tienen techo de paja o una mezcla de techos de paja y metal. La escuela está hecha de bloques de cemento con un techo de metal en un marco. Para orientación futura, recuerde que la estructura cuadrada separada a la izquierda del complejo escolar es el baño.

ALITUPU - 2 of 18

Approaching the school from the path coming from the town dock. Communal building on the left, private home on the right. Al acercarse a la escuela desde el camino que viene desde el muelle de la ciudad. Edificio comunal a la izquierda, casa privada a la derecha.

ALITUPU - 3 of 18

This is the front of the school – four classrooms, each with a door opening to this portico. In this view the sea is on the right side of the building. The flow from this roof is torrential, and the flooding enters from the portico into the classrooms. Este es el frente de la escuela – cuatro aulas, cada una con una puerta que se abre a este pórtico. En esta vista, el mar está en el lado derecho del edificio. El flujo desde este techo es torrencial, y la inundación entra desde el pórtico a las aulas.

ALITUPU - 4 of 18

Looking S, you can see they have dug a little canal trying to divert the water down to the waterfront. Note the canal along the portico and sediment on the blue structures. Mirando al sur, puede ver que han excavado un pequeño canal tratando de desviar el agua hacia el mar. Nota el canal a lo largo del pórtico y el sedimento en las estructuras azules.

ALITUPU - 6 of 18

Detail of roof frame. At one point there was a gutter, but not now. Wood is still very solid to anchor some new, very durable, gutter. Detalle del marco del techo. Hubo un momento en que había una alcantarilla, pero ahora no. La madera sigue siendo muy sólida para anclar un canal nuevo y muy duradero.

ALITUPU - 7 of 18

Toward the waterfront, a complex of homes contribute runoff, and this is the main source of the flooding. The classroom at this end is impacted first and most severely. The director indicated ankle-deep water was a regular occurrence in the wet season. Hacia el mar, un grupo de viviendas contribuye a la escorrentía, y esta es la fuente principal de las inundaciones. El salón de clases en este extremo se ve afectado primero y más severamente. La directora indicó que el agua hasta los tobillos is una ocurrencia regular en la temporada de lluvia.

ALITUPU - 8 of 18

Bathrooms over the sea, also you can see the path of the canal down along side the thatched home. During certain tide and wind conditions, this canal can also bring salt water up into the mix. Baños sobre el mar, también se puede ver el camino del canal hacia abajo junto a la casa con techo de paja. Durante ciertas condiciones de marea y viento, este canal también puede llevar agua salada a la mezcla.

ALITUPU - 9 of 18

From the waterfront end of the school, looking back. You can see how tight are the homes and how deep the little canal gets at this end of the portico. Desde el lado del mar, mirando hacia la escuela. Puedes ver qué tan apretadas están las casas y qué tan profundo llega el pequeño canal en este extremo del pórtico.

ALITUPU - 10 of 18

This household does harvest rainwater from this area – note the tub there. During wet season there would be several lined up, I assume. Este hogar sí cosecha el agua de lluvia de esta área, observe la tina allí. Durante la temporada de lluvia habría varios alineados, supongo.

ALITUPU - 11 of 18

Looking back “up” the canal, I think my recommendation here is a long trench drain with some prepared gravel under. This is very well draining, sandy (its a coral atoll for goodness sake) soil. Other more creative ideas? Mirando “hacia arriba” el canal, creo que mi recomendación aquí es un drenaje de zanja larga con algo de piedra preparada debajo. Este es un suelo muy bien drenaje, arenoso (es un atolón de coral…). ¿Otras ideas más creativas?

ALITUPU - 12 of 18

Another look under the portico, its a nice hangout. The woman figured here is Nelicia, the director of the school. You may be thinking where are the people. There were people around me while I was taking these, but it is courteous to not photograph people here, esp in more traditional areas. Otra mirada debajo del pórtico, es un lugar tranquilo. La mujer que figura aquí es Nelicia, la directora de la escuela. Sera que estas pensando “dónde están las personas?” Había gente a mi alrededor mientras los tomaba fotos, pero es cortés no fotografiar personas aquí, especialmente en las áreas más tradicionales.

ALITUPU - 13 of 18

There it is. The bathroom directly over the water. Ahí está. El baño directamente sobre el agua.

ALITUPU - 14 of 18

Next to the bathroom is these piles for a future school expansion. So at some point the waterfront end of the school will be built out, but when is anyone’s guess. Al lado del baño están estas pilas para una futura expansión escolar. Entonces, en algún momento, se construirá algo aqui, pero ¿cuándo se puede adivinar?

ALITUPU - 15 of 18

The waterfront end, now looking toward the back of the school, toward the neighboring pig pen! In this open space, there could be a rainwater tank that is elevated or not, collecting water from the roof that is diverted w a gutter. This is just my early idea. Additional fresh water near the bathrooms for washing or just detention. But the possible future expansion will change this layout if it ever came… El lado del mar, ahora mirando hacia la parte posterior de la escuela, ¡hacia la jaula de cerdos! En este espacio abierto, podría haber un tanque de agua de lluvia elevado o no, que recoge agua del techo que se desvía con una canaleta. Esta es solo una idea inicial. Agua dulce adicional cerca de los baños para lavar o simplemente para la detención. Pero la posible expansión futura cambiará este diseño si alguna vez llegara …

ALITUPU - 16 of 18

A look “behind” the school. Note the debris is littoral, flotsam from the sea and wind. Some amount of this is refuse from the island, and islands often create areas of landfill (the pig nearby is a clue) that languish a bit and then are purposefully filled and lived on. So there’s solid waste management, climate adaptation, and terraforming all embodied in this rubbly side lot. Una mirada “detrás”e de la escuela. Mucha de esta material es litoral, restos del mar y el viento. Una cierta cantidad es basura de la isla, y las islas a menudo crean áreas de vertedero (el cerdo cercano es una pista) que languidecen un poco y luego se llenan y se usan para poner mas casas. Por lo tanto, hay manejo de desechos sólidos, adaptación al clima, y terraformación – todos demostrado en esta vista.

ALITUPU - 17 of 18

This is the “interior” side of the school, facing into a grassy square where kids play etc. Note portico on right for orientation. Este es el lado “interior” de la escuela, frente a una plaza cubierta de hierba donde juegan los niños, etc. Note el pórtico a la derecha para orientación.

ALITUPU - 18 of 18

This is looking from the interior, down the back of the building toward that rubbly lot and out to the waterfront. The director says they don’t get flooding into these houses. Note the little store window (closed for holiday) in the thatched wall to the left. Normally you can go there and buy tienda things. Mirando desde el interior, por la parte posterior del edificio hacia el mar. La directora dice que no inundan estas casas. Nota la pequeña ventana de la tienda (cerrada hoy por una fiesta) en la pared con techo de paja a la izquierda. Normalmente puede ir allí y hacer compras.

This page, and future documents will include a Spanish translation to share with the director and any Panama-locals who may get involved. If you speak any Spanish feel free to use it in the comments too!

Esta página y los documentos futuros incluirán una traducción al español para compartir con la directora y gente aqui que pueda participar. ¡Si habla algún español, siéntase libre de usarlo también en los comentarios!

baptism

August 11th, 2017 § 5 comments § permalink

Water provides us with a freedom that is the main feature of our life right now. Since we got the boat “done”, the sea is the open highway that stretches out before us.

But our “process water”, what we use for cooking, cleaning, and drinking, is our main limitation. Being the smallest boat out here means that we are less insulated from the environment by infrastructure like water makers and large freshwater tanks, and puts us in the company of how most of the world lives, as it turns out.

Even though it’s the rainy season here in Panama, the last few days have been dry, and local reserves were getting low.

A Guna neighbor, Rauliano, paddled up yesterday and discussed with us a plan to accompany one another to the nearest island with piped freshwater. We would tow his cayuco with our boat, and we could all load up on water. At 8 this morning we were scheduled to go.

Still waking up a bit slowly at 7:30, I knew that we had cloud cover. If the sky is clear, our cabin is fully illuminated fully by 6am. #equatorlife

When I poked my head out, I saw those gravid clouds full of delicious sky water. And then I heard Rauliano running up and down his beach with the signaling conch – honking out a code that relays along the strings of other islands like a radio repeater, each one with their own shell. I don’t claim to know what the shell-horn code means in any detail, but I am sure today the main topic was WATER. Far and wide, off in the distance, the shell horn repeaters said, “water, water, water”.

Now, there is rain that wakes up the Capitan (F), and there is rain that wakes up the XO (me). Rain with changes in wind speed or wind direction will get F out of bed at any time, to stand on deck with a headlamp glaring around with all the other capitans. Instead, I have a humidity alarm in my brain, which is connected to whatever dish pan, snorkling gear, or laundry that is in rotation through the cockpit in a never ending cycle of  rinsing and drying. It’s a ballet, really.

This morning’s soft, warm rain, was of my variety. Big fat drops turn the water around us into a grey static, and mini rivulets take shape all over our deck. Our dinghy, and every container we have get “redded up” and deployed for sweetwater catchment, and I know our 8am appointment has hereby been cancelled.

The visibility among the boats and shore was very low, and so I take the opportunity for a head-to-toe scrub down, with actual shampoo in my hair. I cannot tell you enough, dear reader, what a luxury this is. There are many not-glamorous parts of my current lifestyle, but when I am alone washing my hair in warm rain, I gotta say I’m feeling pretty extra.

At a certain point I hear Rauliano again, now freestyling on the shell horn. His family is scurrying around the island doing the same things as me, setting out containers to catch the rain and giving everything a good scrub. Between honks, he is shouting into the rain thanking God in three languages, and cheering the good fortune of the day. We can just barely make each other out, but we exchange international signs of joy, with gesticulations toward the sky and whatever source up there we happen to feel grateful toward.

The rest of the morning was spent with a second coffee, planning a pasta supper tonight (a water–intensive treat!), and washing ALL THE CLOTHES. Our time is extended again.

resist

January 21st, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Oh how I hope this message reaches you, dear reader.

If I am being hyperbolic, hormonal, hysterical, so what; if I should be locked in the tower, I simply don’t care. Today’s global mobilization of women and girls, and the cisters, sisters, and men who love us has sent my heart on a wide boomerang arc – out… and back. What a week, amirite?

In my “old life” I would have hopped a train with friends and been in the center of one the largest and coziest of herds. What is a modern nomad to do when you get that homing mechanism that moves your feet on the FL/GA line?

You march around by yourself, is what! Then you go to a coffee shop and kill time until the next idea comes to you.

A group of older-than-me ladies asked if I was waiting for a friend, and I responded, “I think I am waiting for you!” We then invited each other to a bigger table, and I pointed out a pair of younger girls wearing 1920-2020 protest pins, and said, “Hey I think you are with us too.” All the sudden we had ourselves an intergenerational feminist quorum.

It is weird to sit down with strangers, but just think about what we have in common. We all left the house today with the intent to be on the right side of history on this historic day.

My intention for the next few days is to stick with this mind set – to assume that the people I encounter have something more in common with me at the core than different. We are women today, but tomorrow what will it be?

We are pro-love? We are daughters? We are environmentalists? We are neighbors? We are in line at Parkers?

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