Hand me the tools, please.

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is summer time in the Northern hemisphere, and in San Francisco, though the climate is tolerable, there are not any extraordinary weather patterns that make the season singularly discernible within the year. It may be that as a result of this phenomenon the passage of time ceases to stand as a detail of importance on the minds of the city’s populace. Then again, it could be just me.

Since my return from Haiti at the beginning of the year there have not been any dull moments to speak of. Projects abound within the social circles to which I am an accessory, each of them providing an inlet for participation and outlets for creativity. My time is happily filled, such that I have quickly lost track of it. Compounded with a distinct lack of documentation on my part, this busy lifestyle allows one great experience to flow into another seamlessly.

There are many things I would discuss in great detail had I freshly emerged from their throes. Instead, since the lull provided to me on this fine morning is no doubt brief, I will leave the end of this posting spattered with hyperlinks and images. Please enjoy responsibly.

The Regardless at the miss rockaway armada

Paul, Moses, and me in Philly

link to a picture- because I’m lazy
The Relentless as view from the dingy IMG_0629

… I had a lead on a link to the thing in Brazil, but I ran out of time while looking for it. This proves again that things should be documented as they happen. More later

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Week to go

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Haiti, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Initially my trip to Haiti was to last 3 weeks.
Then the country had some political unrest, and American Airlines canceled all flights in and out of Haiti. My initial trip was postponed.
So a week after the planned date of departure I departed on a three week trip to Haiti.
Two weeks into the project I heard that a man would be coming and staying by himself and elected to stay longer.
When I go home, it will be after 6 weeks in the Caribbean.
This is only notable, and to me remarkable, because upon arrival in Haiti I did not want to stay.
Now that has changed.
I wonder when I will come back.

Leogane mountains

Haitian Mountains

Haiti is a beautiful country. When you get off the road and look into the mountains you can see for miles across lush forests and green fields. I’ve been subjected to the city of Port au Prince, and have complained. But in the area that we are staying, things are beautiful. I haven’t much else to say on that subject, except that Haiti- despite it’s problems- is a beautiful country.

Comier River

Comier River near Konbit Shelter project

Yesterday I was working at trying to finish barrel vaults on the Konbit dome. They will function as “wind scoops” so that hot air can escape through the top of the house in the summer. Most of the rest of the Konbit crew have left for their homes in the U.S. leaving just Craig, Moses, and myself here now- plus several million Haitians.

Anyhow, I was up on the dome with the fellows pictured and four others, and their discussion got really heated. Although I couldn’t understand all of it I gathered that they were talking politics. Who should be president, which president has the best platform, which political party should run the nation, etc. The kinds of things that get talked about when politics are brought up. All of the boys I’m working with up there are my age, in their early 20’s. I feel like they represent a majority in the population.

They talked about it all day, mostly- fluctuating between laughter and shouting. One young man in particular- the crew leader Ducken- Said something that made everyone laugh right in the middle of a heated argument. Then they all shut up and thought about whatever he had said. Ducken is a smart guy, and has great leadership. He’s already trilingual, and wants to learn to speak English– which he tells me in English. Whatever happens in Haitian Politics, it is young Haitians like these that will be making the real differences in their country.

Top of dome with Haitian boys

These guys will take care of Haiti


Gentlemen working atop a dome

these guys are cool

Konbit Shelter crown

'Deacon' has led the project from the very start


plaster inside Konbit shelter crown

totally plastered


Konbit Shelter Project in Barrier Judie, Haiti

Closer and closer to finish


Konbit Shelter structure complete

First layer of plaster done

I have been working in the village of Barrier Judie outside of Dufort, Haiti for about five weeks. The project has developed from a hole in the ground to a beautiful rendering of earth and mortar.

I was brought to the Konbit Shelter project by way of my friend John Rinaldi, who recommended me to the project visionary Swoon. I worked with her and three of her friends on the project for the first three weeks. I have opted to stay until February, since two members of the crew arrived just before Swoon left; and because I can’t imagine being in Haiti without friends.

The dome structure is finally finished, and all that is left is to put a smooth coat of plaster over it, and to paint. Afterward, a Barrier Judie resident will have a home. In one week, I will go home having helped to create a useful thing in a part of the world that needs more useful things. If you are reading this, and can donate time or money to projects like this, I will recommend doing so. It is extremely gratifying.

For more information on this project read the Konbit Shelter blog

I have been in Haiti with Callie and crew for three weeks. We have completed the project that was started on the previous trip and are well on the way toward completing the second earth bag structure. I will not get too carried away taking credit for these brilliant accomplishments, however. The people of Barrier Judie have been mostly responsible. Here I would like to share a photo of the fellows that I have been working with on the “community center.” We have become good friends.



From left to right: Vixon, Bathol, Whistlerson, and Raul.

Vixon speaks a little bit of english, so he’s my go to guy for explanations. Believe it or not, he’s 33. I thought he was 22. Bathol is patient and kindhearted, speaks only Kreyol, but works at anything with full intent.
Whistlerson is a painter by trade, speaks Spanish and Kryeol, and runs the crew when I go away.
Raul is the oldest, and a Mason. He also speaks Spanish.

This is only a small chunk of the total crew, but these four are my homies.

For five days we laughed about communication barriers as I learn bits of Kreyol and they try to get things across with gestures and Español. The community center is looking really good- and you can find more info on the Konbit Website.

There are a few people from another organization staying in our house. Their goal in Haiti is to facilitate emotional healing for people who did not die in the earthquake. It is a noble goal. They are working to organize people in the village as a more unified community, and to provide productive outlets for them. I was fortunate to be asked to help them design a memorial on which the names of loved ones were painted in loving memory.