Appropedia Water Book – volunteer needed

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Exciting news: Appropedia is looking at releasing a book of solutions in water, including water supply, clean water and handling wastewater.

As part of this, we are looking for one or more volunteers who know either about a specific area of water or wastewater, or who have a general knowledge of water technologies and issues. You might be a water/wastewater professional or a student of water engineering, for example. Your role: To help identify and/or quality check and/or create content describing solutions in clean water, water supply and wastewater.

You can be based anywhere in the world – we are a global movement, after all – but if you happen to be in either Melbourne, Australia, or Bath or London in the UK, or Humbolt County in California, there will also be a chance to meet up in person.

Please contact us for more info, e.g. by leaving a comment on this post.

Communications and social media internships

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Wherever you are in the world: if you’re studying Communications, or wanting to break into the field, and you’re passionate about solutions for positive change in the world, then this could be the opportunity for you. Appropedia is looking for interns – one to start in October, another to start in the New Year – to help us communicate and engage with people who might be interested in this project, as well as communicate with and strengthen our existing community.

The work will involve a mixture of interviewing, contacting and/or helping to write publicity materials. You can work part-time, and you’ll have a lot of flexibility in how you work, but you’ll have guidance always available.

There is a lot of potential to learn and to make a difference. I sometimes say, only half-jokingly, that Appropedia was built by engineers and scientists, so we’re much better at doing stuff than at talking about what we do. But we’ve talked, and got better at it, and become active in social media, as we’ve taken our message out there. We’re happy to share with you what we’ve learned, but we’re also happy to learn from you and with you.

You’ll need to take initiative, experiment and report on what’s working and what isn’t. We have a high respect for failure with enthusiasm, which is often the basis for future success, and even more often the basis for very valuable learning.

This is a virtual internship – you’ll be working with people who might be on the other side of the world, but with email, chat and VOIP, that’s not such a challenge these days. You can work from anywhere in the world with internet access. That requires you to manage your time, organize yourself and get things done – an online internship isn’t for everyone.

If you have any questions or want to apply, please get in touch – email me on chriswaterguyAtsymbol.pngappropediaDot.pngorg, or leave a comment below, or on my Appropedia talk page. For up-to-date info on these internships, see: For more on all Appropedia’s internship opportunities, see:

Tech internships – positions open!

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Want to be a geek for good? Help build a comprehensive database of knowledge for solutions in sustainability and in overcoming poverty – Appropedia.

We’re looking for two to three interns with a desire to learn, a willingness to try, and at least basic skills in managing software and accessing a server. You’ll be installing, configuring and testing software – focused on MediaWiki, with WordPress to a lesser degree, and possibly some other platforms and tools. Our intern team’s tasks will include helping to build our spam defenses, and building features to enhance the community on Appropedia.

Knowledge of PHP and/or Python is a plus (but not essential). Likewise for experience with installing software on a server, and experience with the open source platforms that you’ll be working with.

You will work as part of a team, with other interns and with mentors. We’ve been lucky to have an enthusiastic volunteer, Wesley, for the last few months, who’s made a real difference to Appropedia. Now we’re expanding the team.

This is a global, online project. Our address is in California but you’ll be working with people on at least two continents. You can work from anywhere in the world with internet access. That means you need to be someone who can manage your time, organize yourself and get things done.

Is this you? Get in touch – please leave a comment either below or on my Appropedia talk page, and I’ll get in touch.

Intellectual property (public domain) internship

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Appropedia is seeking an intern to work on Intellectual Property. The focus will be on public domain content, and mainly US federal government online resources.

This would be particularly suitable for a law student with an interest in US and/or international IP law. Ability to use a spreadsheet might come in handy, and being more tech-savvy than that would be a bonus.

The main task is to help identify which web resources are and aren’t public domain. This information is used as the basis for the Public Domain Search – see the Beta version here (still a significant number of false positives):

This is an unpaid internship (the Appropedia Foundation being a non-profit organization) and you would be working remotely – unless you happen to be near a trusted member of the Appropedia community who can assist in mentoring you. (I’m near Jakarta, and others are in various parts of the US, Canada and the UK.) I’ve done the work on this so far, but we also have an attorney (Joel Scott) on our board of directors, with an interest in IP issues; and we’ve discussed this project with the Wikisource community, who may be able to lend a hand. You won’t be on your own.

If you are interested, please leave a comment either below or on my Appropedia talk page, and I’ll get in touch. (Or email me at my username, above, at appropedia dot org.) For more information about the search engine, see Public Domain Search on our wiki. The position will be open until it is filled, but we’d ideally like to find someone to start in this half of 2011.

Appropedia: Service learning in sustainable development

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An academic paper in the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development reports on service learning with Appropedia as a platform.

It notes that contributing to sustainable development can be a way of improving students’ academic skills – but this is expensive when it involves international travel, and as a result, few students have this experience.

The article describes two learning experiments with service learning programs based at and around the university, These experiments provided…

…solutions to sustainable development problems using Appropedia.org, the site for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development. The course successfully used Appropedia (1) as a forum for students who were geographically dispersed, (2) for a whole-class writing collaboration, (3) to coordinate a sustainability-focused outreach campaign to retrofit stop lights in communities throughout Pennsylvania and (4) to review class material with application to technologies for sustainable development.*

*Quoting from the abstract of Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development by Prof Joshua Pearce of Queen’s University.

More info about our learning programs:

Travel Intern at Bioneers and The Global Summit II

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During the final month of my travel internship I had the privilege of attending the both the Bioneers conference and The Global Summit II in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bioneers

Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons founded the Bioneers conference in 1990 and Kenny coined the term “Bioneer “, stating that “Bioneers are social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic nature’s operating instructions to serve human ends without harming the web of life. ”

At the 2010 Bioneers conference I heard some incredible speakers including: Jane Goodall , John Warner and Anthony Cortese.The speaker that I found the most personally moving was Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, Ph. D., the first female National Geographic Fellow. She spoke about her work in Micronesia and being mentored for over a decade by master navigator Pius “Mau” Piailug who is considered the greatest wayfinder in the world. She eloquently reminded us of the innumerable ways of knowing that exist on the planet and the importance of preserving culture and the stories of our ancestors.

It was my observation that the leaders and visionaries who have accomplished the most in the world are, for the most part, “ordinary” people who became passionate about a specific issue. Most of these people are not geniuses with special abilities; they worked with other people and developed the skill set and the connections to bring about change.

A theme that was echoed throughout the conference was the inextricable link between social justice and environmental issues. In short, people are environment. Another emergent theme was that of women’s leadership and a call for what was referred to as “feminine principles” in leadership and decision making such as creativity, intuition, and inclusiveness.

These themes reappeared right off the bat at The Global Summit during an opening speech by Barbara Marx-Hubbard, world renowned futurist, author and evolutionary, as she shared an inspirational message and forecast of humanity’s current journey to a sustainable future- “Mother Birthing a New Paradigm”.

Global Summit II

The Global Summit II was an ambitious conference following a non-traditional format in which everyone was a participant involved with the conference. Speakers and workshops were formatted around the 7 stages of sustainability, with each series of workshops covering one of the 7 stages. I had the privilege of talking about my travel internship during the stage 5 : Identify, exchange & invest in critical information and appropriate technologies.

Here is the visual component of my presentation, which tells the story of my internship and travels:


Thank you for following my journey!
Liz Kimbrough

The road to Rancho Mastatal (first travel intern’s final travel blog)

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La Cangreja park: the view from Mastatal

“Have Ithaca always in your mind

Your arrival there is what you are destined for.

But don’t in the least hurry the journey.

Better it lasts for years,

So that when you reach the island you are old,

Rich with all you have gained on the way,

Not expecting Ithaca to give you wealth.

Ithaca gave you a splendid journey.

Without her you would not have set out.

She hasn’t anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca hasn’t deceived you.

So wise you have become, of such experience,

That already you’ll have understood what these Ithacas mean.”

– Excerpt from the poem Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy

One of the many Mastatal art installations”

I have returned home to Northern California after wrapping up the travel portion of my Travel Internship at Rancho Mastatal: an environmental learning and sustainable living center located on the edge of one of the last remaining virgin rainforests in Costa Rica.

“The Hooch” a bamboo house at Rancho Mastatal

I found Rancho Mastatal 4 years ago while traveling and working on organic farms that I located through the aptly named Willing Workers On Organic Farms, an organizations that lists opportunities to work in exchange for room and board in many countries around the world. (For more information about these types of programs check out the Appropedia page on work for accommodation.)

Robin, aka: the godmother”

What makes Rancho Mastatal so spectacular is more than the impressive array of beautiful natural buildings, the works of functional art scattered throughout the property and the myriad of well planned and executed Appropriate Technology projects. It stretches beyond the stunning rainforest preserve that serves as a wilderness corridor between national parks and the sweeping mountain views and waterfalls.

Timo and their shining daughter Sole (photo by Ian Woofenden)”

There is a quality to the community created in and through Mastatal that is unique and dare I say…magical. A synergistic balance seems to perpetually exist amongst the many dedicated volunteers who visit the Ranch and also between the Ranch and the local people in the town of Mastatal . This balance can no doubt be accredited to many things, however, the much of the credit should be given to Tim and Robin, the visionary- chief-mastermind- owners of Rancho Mastatal who steer the ship, empowering those around them to bring forth their unique gifts and talents. Tim and Robin, Thank you for your example!

“La Chosa” Tim and Robin’s cob/waddle n daub home”

For many of the places that I visited, the idea of “sustainablility” is their illusive Ithaca. However, it may be a mistake to think of Sustainability as some fixed point we will “get to”.

It is not a mythical island. It is a process, an evolution. It IS the journey. My time at Rancho Mastatal has reminded me that on this journey we are better equipped if we carry a few things. We need community involvement and support; we have to get our hands dirty and feet muddy; it helps to let loose, be silly, sing and celebrate; we need to think carefully about the implications of our work and actions and consider the effects of past events. But most of all, I believe we need to empower one another…because we can’t do this alone.

Now that I am home from my travels, I will be taking a lot of the information I gathered and making pages for Appropedia. Look forward to future blogs highlighting some of the exciting technologies, projects techniques and tools I ran across along my way.

the plane ride home…”

The Appropedia Travel Internship has been a life changing experience. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this opportunity you can read more about it through the link above. There is a whole world waiting to be documented….

Thanks for following my travels!

The San Isidro, Costa Rica area… a grassroots epicenter!

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I am writing from Finca Amrta, a small nature reserve and farm in the foothills of the Talamaca mountains in Costa Rica’s southern zone. Finca Amrta has, among other things, served as base for me to explore the area around San Isidro, Costa Rica. This area has so much to offer and is truly the epicenter of an ecological, grassroots, back to the earth movement here in Costa Rica! I have barely been able to scratch the surface of what this area has to offer in my 10 days here. Within a 30km range of where I sit there are, according to my locally verified list, 14 established Appropriate Technology/permaculture farm/school/intentional community type places…Incredible!

Each Thursday there is a farmer’s market and most of the organizations, farms and groups in the area meet here to sell their overflow and to connect and build community. At the last market, I was able to make quite a few contacts and was invited to visit several projects in the area. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to make a choice, bounce around like a butterfly, briefly introducing people to Appropedia and getting a glimpse of what their project is about, or… try to cover just a few projects in depth.

The San Isidro Market

My decision was to visit just a few places and attempt more in depth documentation of their projects. So I am working on pages about some of the elegant “low-tech” projects at Finca Amrta and New Dawn. Both farms have been a presence in the area for over 20 years and have some simple solutions figured out for this particular climate in regards to farming, bamboo building, composting systems, etc. My hosts and the stewards of Finca Amrta, Susanna and Miguel, have been dedicated to living and demonstrating ecological land use and earth-based principles since they bought this land in 1989. My time here has been deeply grounding and enriching. Simply following Susanna and Miguel to watching them work and live has been nothing short of awe inspiring.

Susanna and Miguel of Finca Amrta

My "room" at Finca Amrta

As an added bonus, renowned medicinal plant expert Ed Bernhardt, N.D. and his wife Jessica live just next door. Ed has been working with tropical medicinal plants & gardens in Costa Rica for 20+ years and he and his wife now run the New Dawn school where they teach natural health care and permaculture classes on their land where students can eat from the garden and live in their bamboo- waddle and daub cabin (Appropedia page coming soon!)

Bamboo waddle-and-daub cabin at New Dawn

Despite my decision to stay put, I couldn’t resist the invitation to make one quick stop to visit Finca Fruicion, mostly because I felt a connection with Alana, Jason and their amazing new arrival (baby boy) Cedar. On the bus ride over to I asked the woman next to me if she knew which stop to get off for Finca Fruicion. As it turns out, this woman was Desiree Wells, who is now living and offering permaculture courses on the farm. Alana and Jason just bought the farm in 2008, are raising 2 young boys and just had a 3rd in May. Given the circumstances, I assumed I would be visiting a site with still very much in its infancy. I am happy to admit I was completely incorrect in my assumptions and am blown away with their accomplishments which include (among other things): tilapia aquaculture ponds, a chicken coop, a goat pen, a thatched roof rancho, biodiesel run school bus cabins , a greenhouse, composting toilets, solar heated showers, the sturdy beginnings of permaculture gardens, and over 150 young fruit trees! . Needless to say I could not document these projects during my one-day stay. Looks like we need another Appropedia Travel Intern to follow up on this gem of a project (as well as numerous others in the area and, actually, in the world)!

Another friendly face at Finca Fruicion

This area is also a hot-spot for anyone interested in learning about bamboo construction. I will soon be posting pages documenting some of the bamboo-building methods my good friend Arya has learned while working at the local bamboo shop. Also, Arya and I paid a visit another larger bamboo factory in the area called Bambu Tico. We were quite inspired by their operation and the myriad of bamboo products they have to offer.

Bambu Tico Factory

I have to say that my favorite tid-bit about bamboo construction came from Ed over at New Dawn; his simple bamboo-curing method. Simply cut the pieces of bamboo you would like to use and leave them standing in the bamboo stand for about 2 months resting on a rock (so they don’t act as straws). The bamboo stand acts as a natural pest and mold repellent for the curing bamboo. After a few months in the stand remove the bamboo and let the pieces bake in the sun for about 2 weeks. .. and that is that! It has worked for Ed and his building for years!

The Bamboo composting toilet at New Dawn

My fantastic voyage is approaching its last stop, one of my favorite places in the world: Rancho Mastatal!!! They have some amazing natural buildings, composting toilets, permaculture gardens, a bio-digester, solar electric and water, rainwater catch and more! I was lucky enough to visit Rancho Mastatal 4 years ago; the spirit of the land and the community made a lasting impression and I am excited to return and to have a chance to share what is happening there with the Appropedia community!

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in!

Travel Intern: Back to work after a….Peruvian appendectomy!?!

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Ed: This was written 7 days ago, but we were only able to post it now. We’ll have another update from Isabel very soon.

Hello, this is Appropedia Travel intern, Isabel.

I arrived in Costa Rica today after a series of interesting detours…

My last blog was written about a month ago from the dreamy town of Mancora, Peru where I was attending a refresher week of Spanish classes and falling in love with surfing. I left Mancora near the end of June, feeling healthy and once again confident with my Spanish skills.

I accompanied my fried Kat to the airport in Lima, sad to see her go, but excited to dive into my internship with a visit to the office of Soluciones Practicas, an incredible organization using appropriate technology to address poverty in Peru.

Unfortunately, the day before my appointment, I began having terrible stomach pains and the owner of my hostel, Francis, insisted that I visit the hospital. After 11 hours in the emergency room and a myriad of tests, I was told I had appendicitis and needed to have surgery…right there in the Lima Hospital. I will soon be posting a personal blog with all of the exciting and nitty-gritty details of the Peruvian appendectomy and 5 days spent in the hospital.

For the purposes of this blog, I will say only that it was a life changing experience. I will also say that I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of a stranger, Francis Chauvel, owner of  Albergue Miraflores House Hostel.  He stayed with me in the ER, contacted my family, visited me in the hospital everyday, and threw a Welcome home partyfor me when I came back to the hostel!!! …Thanks Francis!

During my stay at the hospital, my mother (who was perhaps more traumatized by the experience than I was) asked me to come home to recover. I happily complied with her request and spent the monthof July in Tennessee with my family, following the doctor ordered diet (which was quite restrictive) and sleeping off the anesthesia in my system. After a full month of rest I feel both mentally and physically strong and ready to continue traveling.

I am excited to visit a few projects in Panama and Costa Rica and to return to Rancho Mastatal, an environmental learning and sustainable living center, which has become somewhat of a second home to me in Costa Rica.

As always, my schedule is flexible and I welcome suggestions for projects and places to visit in Panama and Costa Rica.

Hopefully I will have better luck this time around!

Thanks for checking in, Isabel

Isabell Kimbrough: First Travel Intern, First Blog

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Exploring a lake in the Amazon

Hola! Isabell Kimbrough here! I have begun my journey and stint as Appropedia’s first travel intern.  (Follow the links for more info.)

In a nutshell, I just graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Botany and a passion for conservation and sustainable living. I saved my pennies for quite some time in order to do some traveling in South and Central America; and while I commend those who are able to travel free as a breeze, I come from a world of structure and need to feel that I am on some sort of mission as I wander. This is where Appropedia fits in. Members of the board of Appropedia had already birthed the idea of the “travel intern”, someone who would, during their travels, visit and report on successful projects for Appropedia. My internship is the trial run of this idea. I am excited and honored to have this opportunity.

I have begun my adventures and am writing from the rainforest town of Puerto Maldanado, Peru. My dearest friend Kat Fountain has been working on a conservation project in the state of Madre de Dios Peru , deep in the Amazon. It just so happened that she needed a field assistant and I just so happened to be a qualified biologist. What luck! So I joined her at the Sachavacayoc field station, a center for research, education and ecotourism. For a week we rose before the sun and spent the day exploring and experiencing the incredible Amazon rainforest.

This Amazonian hardwood tree named "La Purma" is 500 years old!

I have learned a lot in a week, not only about the local flora and fauna, but also about the situation of the people. Those working to protect and conserve this incredibly rich and biodiverse region of Peru face many threats and obstacles to conservation including (but not limited to): mining and subsequent mineral contamination in the water, logging for hardwoods, cattle farming, drilling for Petroleum, and slash and burn agriculture. The situation is, of course, very complicated and when taken as a whole, has the potential to be a little overwhelming. However, many of the conservationists and scientists I have spoken with here have a great deal of hope.

I personally find a sparkle of hope in this: There are many people and organizations whose sole (and soul) purpose is to protect this precious piece of the world. One of the biggest problems conservationists faced is that the lack of communication between groups and organizations who share the same goals. Call me idealistic, but it is my belief that as infrastructure for communication improves and these groups continue to collaborate and organize, the looming problems I mentioned before are well within our power to change. As we all know, even the biggest changes happen poco a poco.

This is why I am grateful to be a part of the Appropedia community. Every page, and each connection made, is a step towards change. Perhaps some of you have heard the expression “the revolution will not be televised!” I agree. I think it is being documented in Appropedia.org!

Till next time… Isabell