November 29, 2011
We at Adobe in Action want to take a few moments to update everyone about our organizational year and expectations for 2012.
First an introduction is in order. I’m writing this letter in collaboration with Adobe in Action’s new Director of Education, Kurt Gardella. Everyone associated with our organization is extraordinarily excited that Kurt has joined us.
Kurt holds a Certificate in Adobe Construction from Northern New Mexico College and is certified as a Specialist for Building with Earth by the Dachverband Lehm (German Association for Building with Earth) and the Handwerkskammer Ulm (Ulm Chamber of Trades and Crafts). Kurt has been an instructor at Northern New Mexico College since 2006 and was also the college’s Adobe Construction Program Coordinator last year.
Kurt is presently organizing a series of adobe construction courses (both on-line and live instruction) that are slated to begin in January 2012. These classes are a mix of the theoretical and practical aspects of adobe construction. Some classes will synchronize with on-going Adobe in Action builds and others, like “Passive Solar Adobe Design,” will highlight the benefits inherent in our proposed building methods. Passive solar adobe is a natural fit for the Southwest and is especially important for the success of sustainable low-income housing. By paying attention to simple layout and design principles – e.g. placing larger window openings on the south side of the building for maximum heat gain and using the great thermal mass of adobe to store that heat – winter heating bills are minimized. As an added bonus, a properly designed passive solar adobe also stays naturally cool in the summer, eliminating the need for energy intensive and expensive air-conditioning.
2011 Adobe in Action Summary:
We have also gained some significant organizational traction in other areas during 2011. We completed our application with the federal government to receive tax-free status otherwise known as 501(c)(3). Receiving this designation from the federal government can be a lengthy process and until it is complete we continue to be affiliated as a fiscal sponsor project with the New Mexico Community Foundation. Through this relationship all donations to our organization are fully tax deductible.
Adobe in Action was also involved this year as the organizing entity for the 2011 International Earth USA Conference which took place in Albuquerque, NM. This academic conference allowed twenty speakers from fourteen countries to present papers on a wide range of topics pertinent to earthen construction. It has also led to some meaningful collaboration with other New Mexico based organizations including Cornerstones and The Earthbuilders’ Guild. We hope to expand upon these relationships with some proposed activity in the New Year.
Finally though, the crux of our effort as an organization continues to be the community development work occurring with the Lujan-Olsen family in Espanola, NM. We have focused on developing relationships with local schools, civic organizations, and churches to galvanize volunteers and train them to produce adobe bricks, the elemental unit in building an adobe home. We are proud to report that hundreds of dedicated volunteers and students from over twenty distinct groups have now produced over 6,000 adobes, enough to build our first home. This work was recently recognized by the Climate Change Leadership Institute for mitigating the environmental impact from home-building activities. Our organization was humbled to receive their 2011 Conservation Quest Champion Award for our work in the community.
Ways to Participate:
So while we feel good about our activity from this past year we know there is much to do in 2012. We now begin the signature task as it relates to our mission in the community, building our first passive solar adobe home. Putting the pieces together to complete this project and continuing to disseminate our message – affordable and sustainable housing – is our focus for the year. For this we need your help.
As a planet we continue to struggle with a pervasive problem: How do we manage increased population and at the same time begin to allay the environmental impact of new construction? Our answer: to build with local, readily available, and culturally meaningful materials which leave a smaller carbon footprint and are considerably more sustainable relative to conventional construction methods.
We believe that our organization makes a positive impact in the community where we work by promoting a culturally relevant and environmentally friendly building material. We utilize volunteers and students who coalesce from different backgrounds and educational levels to commit to work on something from which they derive no direct benefit.
By making a donation to our organization you can be assured that your gift will be used to support the fight against two imperiling issues: inadequate housing and environmental degradation. Any financial gift is fully tax deductible and donations go directly to the development of our educational program, organizational capacity building, and volunteer support.
We encourage you to visit our Adobe in Action website for a more comprehensive look at how we engage the local community and how you can help…whether you live in northern New Mexico or thousands of miles a way. If you like what you see, tell a friend.
Adobe in Action is dedicated to transforming communities…one brick at a time. We wish you a contented and joy-filled holiday season and appreciate your consideration of this letter.
Mike Lopach Executive Director Adobe in Action
Kurt Gardella Director of Education Adobe in Action