Intern Katie Bliss has Arrived from Bolivia

Intern Katie BlissWe’re happy to report that Katie Bliss has arrived safely from rural Bolivia to be our Outreach Intern.

Coordinating and leading data collection, identifying partner organizations for Outreach projects, conducting technology surveys, and coordinating and leading follow-up visits.

Here’s her bio:
Katie Bliss (University of Sussex, UK, BA, Environmental and Development Studies)
Katie has worked with development organisations (we’ll let her get away with the British spelling) on various projects in the past including in microfinance in Cambodia and in sustainable wastewater management in Western Australia. Until recently Katie has been working as a Community Officer for the Energy Saving Trust in the U.K. The role included supporting community organisations to set up renewable energy projects and working to build up the local renewable energy supply chain. She has also volunteered and studied Community Renewable Energy systems at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. She has recently been travelling in South America and working on a community enterprise project in a Native Community in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Perù.

Yeah, I go to Burning Man for the appropriate technology

I’m on my way to Burning Man tomorrow so blogging will be sporadic for the next week (though I will try to hunt pictures of appropriate technology pics to post on Flickr.)

I’ll definitely check out Hexayurt, the winner of Treehugger/Current TV’s Participate Contest to find the best open source solution to environmental issues.

Introducing Hexayurt

Duration: 3 minutes

For more information:
Hexayurt Playa (on Appropedia)

The Most Pun-tastic Blog Post Titles # 2

I do love a good pun, especially environmental/international development ones.

Gorilla warfare from FP Passport
Baby Gorilla

Aircraft and the environment: Clean green flying machine? from the Economist

Share and share a bike from Gristmill

Poison Me Elmo from Gristmill
Ref: Tickle Me Elmo, an example of why pullstrings on the back of toys are a bad idea.

These boots are made for electricity from CNET News
Ref: Nancy Sinatra’s timeless hit, “These Boots Were Made for Walking”

Graze Anatomy: Using Aversion Therapy on Sheep from Treehugger
Ref: “Grey’s Anatomy”, a hospital drama with a lot of soulful looks and mumbling. Sandro Oh is the best part.

House them or lose them from PSD Blog

Here Comes the Rain Again: Massive Damage as Rhine Floods from Der Spiegel
Ref: “Here Comes the Rain Again”, the other great Eurhythmics song

A Movable Beast: Asian Pythons Thrive in Florida from NYTimes
Ref: Sadly I had to look it up because I didn’t know, a set of memoirs by Ernest Hemingway

Most groan worthy:
Optimus Subprime transforms, threatens U.S. economy from FP Passport
Ref: Optimus Prime, the most awesomest Transformer EVAR. La la la … Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons … La la la

Dread Pirate Roberts? from Good Magazine
Ref: Princess Bride. Andre the Giant, we miss you dearly.

The Ampere Strikes Back from Treehugger
Ref: “Empire Strikes Back”, the best of all the Star Wars movies. This is a bit groanworthy, but using ampere is a pun is no mean feat.

Hmm, there is a trend here. Are bloggers are children of the eighties.

Mayan Territory [Movie]

Victoria Tai of MIT just finished her short film about “how North Americans can fit into developing world projects and make an impact”. The piece focuses on innovative indigenous projects in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico and features AIDG, our friends at Mayapedal and Comunidad Nueva Alianza as well as several other inspiring community organizations.

Right-click and Save link as: (295MB) [Updated Link]

Here is a request from Victoria:

Since there isn’t enough bandwidth for everyone to watch it directly, PLEASE DO THE FOLLOWING: Right-click on the link and save the link to your personal computer. Watch it on the desktop and not on the browser, please. You’re welcome to send it to friends if they download it, and I am told that I can have it online for a month. Later, I plan to license it to North American television stations in high-definition version, which looks really wonderful on a large flat-screen TV. Since this filming I have been in Asia for preliminary site investigation and will soon go to Peru and Bolivia to do the same.

She’s very interested in feedback so you can email her at viarota [at} gmail {dot]com.

Some great pictures taken during the shoot:

Don Prudencio and Co at the Finca.

Sound check



Chun Family

Lema Asociacion


AIDG 300 Update: Matching Funds for Haiti!

This just in

From Pete (if you’re on our newsletter list, you’ll have just gotten this as well)

We have great news! We’re happy to annouce that we’ve received 2 matching grant opportunities from donors in our community who want to help us kickstart the Haiti expansion.

One couple who cares deeply about Haiti will donate $37,000 if we can raise another $37,000. To help get the ball rolling, another couple has generously pledged $2,000 if 40 people donate $100 each. Could you be one the 40?

Because of these wonderful offers of support, we’ll be extending the AIDG 300 campaign through the fall. Any gift you make today will be doubled and put to work helping us get our new program started in Haiti. If we all pitch in a little bit, we can get things rolling in Cap Haitien quickly.

I’ll be heading to Haiti in early September to move forward on a sanitation business. Our newest addition to AIDG, Sarah Brownell, is already in Haiti conducting assessments and looking for stakeholders and partners. Our progress on the ground really depends on the donations that come in over the next few weeks. You’ve seen what we’ve done these past 2 years with our programs in Guatemala. To build something as strong in Haiti, we need support from our community. We need your help.

If you’ve been thinking of giving to AIDG, but haven’t already, please donate today: If you’ve already given, thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is a very crucial period. We have a lot of hard, yet exhilirating work ahead and we really appreciate you taking this journey with us.

This Week’s Top 10 (8/12/07-8/18/07)

Here are my favorite environment, health, climate change, international development or country specific blog posts (and articles) for the past week in no particular order.

  1. Mountain Gorillas Killings Fueled by Charcoal Trade from Treehugger

    Like orangutans dying for a cookie, gorillas in the Congo are dying because people in Rwanda need charcoal to cook and heat. “The gorillas have become a hindrance for the charcoal trade,” said Emmanuel de Merode, director of Wildlife Direct.”There’s a very strong incentive for these people to kill the gorillas.”

    Learn about alternative charcoal made from sugarcane or other agricultural waste rather than trees.

  2. Is there a BOP in the United States? from

    When I think about people living in the BOP, I immediately picture people in developing countries. I didn’t really picture people in the U.S. as people in the BOP. I have realized now after living for six weeks in the D.C. area that I could not be further from the truth.

    Pete and I have had this conversation numerous times, often when we’re reading negative press about companies like Walmart. While they often come off as the “Big Bad”, these businesses do also allow many poor families to spend less money on the basics.

  3. Suddenly, the Hunt Is On for Cage-Free Eggs from NYTimes

    The toy industry had its Tickle Me Elmo, the automakers the Prius and technology its iPhone. Now, the food world has its latest have-to-have-it product: the cage-free egg.

  4. Aid worker diary: Indian floods from BBC News

    Devastating monsoon rains have submerged thousands of villages in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

    In India, as flood waters recede, aid agencies, non-governmental organisations and governments are stepping up their efforts to help the thousands who have lost homes, livestock and livelihoods.

    Ian Bray, from Oxfam, is keeping a diary of his experiences.

  5. Wrong Number: Is it cost effective to treat the world’s poor? from Slate

    The piece details the various flaws in cost-effective analyses used to justify (or deny) treatment to individuals. This line struck me the most:

    [G]roups like Partners in Health take a radically different approach. They start with a goal—simply to save people with AIDS, and damn the QALYs [quality-adjusted life year statistic]—and invent ways to make it affordable.

  6. Entrepreneurs From China Flourish in Africa from NYTimes

    When Yang Jie left home at 18, he was doing what people from China’s hardscrabble Fujian Province have done for generations: emigrating in search of a better living overseas.

    What set him apart was his destination. Instead of the traditional adopted homelands like the United States and Europe, where Fujian people have settled by the hundreds of thousands, he chose [Malawi].

    The article also mentions anti-Chinese sentiment that is starting to surface is several African Countries.

    From South Africa’s IOL in February:

    Lusaka – Anti-Chinese sentiment is running high in Zambia ahead of President Hu Jintao’s weekend visit, with many saying Chinese investors exploit workers, violate labour laws and usurp the country’s mineral riches.

    In September 2006, Africabeat writes of China bashing in the Zambian election campaigns.

  7. Diasporas and Domestic Entrepreneurs: Evidence from the Indian Software Industry from Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

    Several recent studies have highlighted the important role that cross-border ethnic networks might play in facilitating entrepreneurship in developing countries. Little is known, however, about the extent to which domestic entrepreneurs rely on the diaspora and whether this varies systematically by the characteristics of the entrepreneurs or their local business environment. The Indian diaspora is estimated at over 18 million people spanning 130 countries. Given that formal institutions in India remain weak and hence the informal barriers to trade are higher, do diaspora networks serve as substitutes to the functioning of the local business environment? Do they help entrepreneurs to circumvent the barriers to trade arising from imperfect institutions? This study examines the extent to which software entrepreneurs within India vary in their reliance on expatriate networks.

  8. U.S. and China Discuss Global Warming Cooperation from Green Options Blogs

    This week a senior U.S. environment official met with Chinese representatives in Beijing to discuss cooperation between the two nations in the fight against global warming.

  9. Arctic sea ice melting faster than ever from FP Passport
  10. BioDiesel Technologies & Jatropha in Brazil from Treehugger

    Jatropha has been hailed as one of the best biodiesel crops in existence. Some of the more impressive features are the large yields of quality oil, and the ability to grow the plant with minimal water or fertilizer. As one of the most agriculturally gifted nations in the world, Brazil has a keen interest in all things biofuel. So it is no surprise the two were going to meet, and find a spark.

This Week in AIDG Guatemala/Volcano Hike

SantaMaria Hike

This past weekend Corrina, Alissa, Lisa and I hiked up the local volcano, Santa Maria. The path basically went straight up the volcano, about 3.5 hours. Upon reaching the summit, I caught a glimpse of Santiaguito, a smaller but active volcano of to the side of Santa Maria. At the moment I snapped a few photos, it was erupting–a moment later it was covered in clouds and not visable.

This week:
Alissa is finishing mold for solar hot water system and experimenting with styrofoam-crete, facilitating a survey for use habits of showers in Xela and the area around

Corrina is digging into the eco-construction, setting up the water catchment, better affixing the laminate roofing panels (in preparation for possible Hurricane Dean high winds), working with Alissa on the styro/pumice/flying concrete panels. She’s also doing a few efficiency tests for the stoves, and keeping up with the the windmill/ anemometer project.

In just a week Katie Bliss and Anne Romeo will be joining the intern army!

santiguito eruption

Guatemalan Human Rights Activist Murdered

I just got this press release from the RFK Memorial:

WASHINGTON DC—The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial strongly denounces the murder of José Emanuel “Pepe” Méndez, son of 1990 RFK Human Rights Award winner Amílcar Méndez Urízar. Pepe Méndez was shot to death in Guatemala City on the afternoon of August 17th, 2007 by assailants with high caliber weapons.

“The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial and human rights advocates around the world are shocked and deeply saddened by Pepe Méndez ‘s murder. We stand in solidarity with Amílcar and his family during this very difficult time,” said Monika Kalra Varma, director of the RFK Memorial’s Center for Human Rights.

For most of his life, Pepe Méndez worked with his father, a longtime human rights defender working with Guatemalan indigenous communities. RFK Memorial is concerned that Pepe Méndez ‘s death may be associated with these activities. Pepe Méndez received a number of death threats, including within the last month, which were reported to Guatemala’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – the regional body for protection of human rights in the Americas – granted Pepe Méndez and his father protective measures after determining that they faced “grave and imminent risk of harm.”

As elections approach, Guatemala has witnessed a number of high profile murders of public figures and activists. The perpetrators have been able to act with impunity, despite denunciations by the Guatemalan human rights community.

“We urge the Guatemalan government to name a Special Prosecutor to immediately investigate Pepe Méndez ‘s murder and those of activists and politicians in recent weeks,” said Varma.

Asesinan a hijo de Amílcar Méndez from El Periodico (Spanish)

Link of the Day: Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Photo Exhibition in London

The Photographers’ Gallery is inviting people to submit photographs of plastic bags spotted around London and elsewhere. Reminding us of our ability to consume and dispose, this project provides the public with their own platform for visual expression and is part of the Gallery’s continued remit to encourage further audience participation and highlighting photography’s influence in everyday life.

Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Gallery

Plastic Bag Gallery

Couldn’t resist. Plastic Bag scene from American Beauty.

Duration: 3min 5sec

Yup, kid, there is so much more beauty in the world. It’s even purtier without floating trash jellyfish.

via Inhabitat

Related Posts:
Giant Legos, Rubber Duckies and Other Flotsam in our Polluted Oceans
Bags from Recycled Plastic (YouTube)