Becoming the Indiana Jones of the Santa Clara trash dump had not previously been in my job description. However, I found myself weeding through the soggy disposed layers of a city in search of used tires. We scavenged through pig pens, the Santa Clara dump and local pinchazos (auto shops) for neglected tires that will be used in the construction of a sustainable playground in Panyebar.
Rising Minds’ Sustainable Construction initiatives exemplify the mission and community development work of Rising Minds. Working with community partners such as in Panyebar, we employ creative strategies to address environmental degradation and building needs, all while strengthening the voice and involvement of program members. Anyone can build a school, a playground, or a community center; it’s not about what we are doing, but rather how we are doing it. Our partners identify the need, and together we work to address it. In Panyebar for example, the mothers requested a sandbox for the children in the youth program. We provided the design of a turtle made from 22 tires complete with a sandbox within the body.
Rising Minds’ sustainable construction program utilizes alternative building materials, such as old tires and/or trash-stuffed bottles, to lessen costs and keep trash out of the waterways. The lower cost of building materials and the low-tech means of building assure that the techniques we use could be replicated by members of our partner programs without our further involvement, thereby decreasing foreign dependence.
Normally our partners provide many of the free and low-cost raw materials for the building. However Panyebar is an isolated community with no auto-shops. (Hence the excursion into the Santa Clara city dumps). In this case, the mothers were able to provide the sand for the sandbox as well as the costales (plastic bags) for the perimeter of the playground.
What remains constant is that our community partners help to provide hands-on labor. Rising Minds provides the technical assistance and a team of volunteers to work side by side with our partner program until the construction is complete. Eleven mothers (with three babies strapped to backs) helped to hatch a turtle from soggy dump tire to a playground in Panyebar over the course of two days. The tire turtle will serve as a much needed play space for 53 children in a village where previously there were none.