Monday, February 27, 2012

Today was a planning and organizing day.

We started with a buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.  Then we headed up the hill to the school in the back of two pickup trucks.

We started with an orientation and an overview of the projects.   Pat Torpie gave us a history of the CECAP school.  It’s a community-designed project – the community participated in determining its needs.  The school has both a preschool and a vocational school.   The school just completed its first year of operation.  There are 3 floors. 

John and Doug gave us a description of the solar project design and plan.  There are 4 solar panels that we’ll mount on the roof that will power 6 batteries.  More batteries may be added later.  This is particularly important to the computer lab. 

Charley told us about a traditional Guatemalan technique for creating foundations using bamboo to reinforce mud.  In this area, it’s often better suited than concrete, due to instability from earthquakes and volcanoes.

Then we took a 10-minute break to walk around and look at the school.  People gravitated to the roof, and the design experts jumped right into planning.  Often debating.  Discussions were about the angle of the panels, and where they should be placed. 

 Lifting a panel onto the school.

Some of us took this ‘break’ as an opportunity to walk around the town.

Lunch was prepared and served by the culinary students at the school.  A chicken kabob, and some pie that tasted great.

After lunch, John split us into 3 groups.  The first group was for the Guatemalan technique (I'll add the name of it later) – Andrew was in this group.  They took a boat to San Marco to start their project.  The second group worked on a design for a solar water heating system – a future project that two of the students are here to scope out. 

MJ and Greg, who have their own construction business, led the third group, which I was in.  Our group also had Craig, a retired engineer and Ben, a math and urban planning expert, and Michael, a student at Green Hills, and Carlos and Andres who live here and have been prepping the site for a week.

After inventorying parts, we discovered that we only have 4 of the specialized bolts and brackets needed.  That’s enough for one panel.  We also have 72 legs and we only need 16.  So the rest of our day was spent coming up with a completely new design to mount them, different from the manufacturer’s plan.  Ben and Craig came up with a way to use the extra legs to make a turnbuckle.  We decided to make a complete mounting frame, and made a parts list.  Greg and Michael went to the nearest town, where they found that each hardware store only carries one thing.  For example, one store had bolts.   As I am writing, there is a small group revising the design and determining what we’ll be able to accomplish this week.  It’s definitely an exercise in improvising using only local resources.

More photos to come....

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