JUSTA's Comida Vida Nutrition Program has the mission to inspire the re-connection with traditional practices and local foods as well as educate women, children, and families in all aspects of health and nutrition. Some traditional practices that have been lost in recent generations are natural building and eco-construction. JUSTA has supported several projects to promote reconnection with these methods:
Chacaya Middle School:
JUSTA worked with Project Nuevo Mundo to construct an outdoor classroom using adobe, bamboo and recycled bottle bricks! This space serves as a demonstrative eco-construction example for the community, as well as a place for students to come together, learn, and work on projects in a community space.
In 2013, JUSTA gave several recycled bottle brick workshops with the students. Bottle Bricks are used plastic bottle stuffed with inorganic trash so tightly that they become like bricks used for building. JUSTA decided to build our first Bottle Brick project by using them to build a trashcan for school!
Since trash collection is non-existent and many plastic bottles are unfortunately discarded onto the land and lake, JUSTA first works with the students to educate on littering vs reusing.
As an incentive and motivation for collecting this "trash", the students are compensated .25 Quetzals (2 cents) for each bottle they return.
Each student is given their own personalized notebook so that to keep track of how many bottles they collect and stuff, this is based on the honor system which gave the students a sense of trust and empowerment. The tracking and payments also helps each student with book keeping and math!
The students then learn what types of trash can be stuffed in the bottles and how to properly stuff them. They must be packed tight, and when done correctly, a bottle can take up to an hour to stuff!
After much preparation, the students first make the frame for the trashcan from spare wood and nails they find. The chicken wire is then conencted to the wood and as each bottle is tied to the chicken wire in neat rows with wire. During this building process, we provide the materials and guide the students, yet we empowered them with leadership opportunity to take charge and allow space for the creation.
Our finished trashcan provides students with education on the environment, littering, reusing, eco-building, and providing a receptacle for more bottles to be made into bricks in the future!
Konojel Community Center:
JUSTA supported the creation of several appropriate technology projects at Konojel. In early 2014, local and international builders created a large-scale solar dehydrator, a solar oven, and several rocket stoves. Recently, JUSTA worked with the Guatemalan NGO, Imagitlan, to organize a month-long productive thinking and social entrepreneurship process where local leaders in San Marcos founded a self-organized cooperative to take advantage of these eco-built resources. JUSTA's mission with Konojel and this newly-formed cooperative for 2015 is to aid in the development of this regenerative cooperative so that these resources may be used to increase employment, income, and opportunity for those in the San Marcos community.