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Disaster Strikes (struck) again, but this time, more personally.

February 27, 2013

Workshop, warehouse and work, wiped out in an afternoon. An afternoon 6 months ago, granted, but I’m just getting around to writing about it now.

Nobody was hurt. It was an accident while too many people working on too many projects were in the shop at once.

IMAG2286You can see the array in the bottom left. A couple of mirrors cracked from the heat before people dragged it away. The work it took to fix was insignificant compared to the work that went up in smoke. I was nearly done a second array, had built a full compliment of plaster molds, as I was going to illustrate both mirror concentrating techniques, and the guys and I had built an oven that we were going bake pizzas in.

I was just a couple of weeks away from really launching the project. Up to that point, numerous visitors to HC from around Haiti and the world had seen the project, but I was working on a targeted campaign to invite particularly relevant people and organizations.

Alas, I was needed otherwise. 3 shipping containers burnt to the ground and another two filled with charred supplies. All of it had to go; Haiti Communitere was committed to rebuild. I was well enough suited to get the job done and so the lads and I carved up and sorted the remains of the containers and sold the lot of it for scrap.


The community that has formed HC really came together and our friends in Cite Soleil threw a ‘Konbit’ which is a ‘putting together of hands’.


The health of a community is tied to its resilience and it didn’t take long for talk at HC to turn towards the future. The slogan of “Building Back Better” is one that everyone who has done work in Haiti since the earthquake is familiar with. HC, in its way, made that happen. Before the cleanup was done, they were out in the ether fundraising to build another, better workshop.

Once the cleanup was done, we built a temporary workshop. I made the call that I didn’t have the money and so the time (nor to be honest, the desire) to build back and go through with the Solar Project at the time. So I took an interesting offer to help Kevin from Fuego del Sol to build a briquette press that compresses waste paper, cardboard and sawdust into bricks that once dried, can be burned to cook food in stoves built by the UN (for which there is no ready supply of bricks). Check out the guys making bricks:

But then it was time to leave and regroup. Am still doing so, but really want to get back to Haiti. Nothing I saw there dissuaded me from the believe that there’s an explosive business model that uses Solar Fire to provide staple foods to people cheaper and easier than they can do it themselves. Only they will do it themselves, because hopefully the Haitians will cut us out of the market.

Are you a grant-writer or a fundraising professional? I could use a hand!

In the meantime, I present to you the bigger, better, awesomer, re-visioned maker-space at Haiti Communitere:

Good luck and keep your eyes peeled for more. I might toss a few documents out there and see if anyone’s willing to put in some time helping me to write copy and polish up what I’ve got.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Doreen Tolleson permalink
    March 2, 2013 1:22 am

    found an interesting story using solar power to operate pumps to irrigate fields in Turkana…check it out at I am amazed at the many uses for solar power…let me know if this was of interest to you. Doreen

    • March 2, 2013 10:00 am

      Hi Doreen. I looked around at and didn’t see the story you were talking about. Solar panels with some accessories can power anything… Autoclaves, satellite internet hubs, LEDs, you name it! I’m less interested in solar panel applications as I am with solar cooking best practices!

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