Haiti update

haiti kidsWe now have two low tech water specialists (from naturehealingnature.org) and three sanitation experts on the ground in Haiti. They came from Texas, Utah, Austria and Portugal and flew out of planes leaving from NY and LA, provided by Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers (disaster first responders, who chartered planes to send volunteer ministers, medical personnel and water and sanitation experts to Haiti).  The sanitation experts took enough materials with them to build a demonstration sustainable latrine which will service 1000 people per day.  The human waste will be safely and securely composted and will eventually become fertilizer for food and fuel crops.    The water experts specialize in filtering water with found materials, like sand, plastic bottles, etc.  They’ve done this in villages in Senegal, Peru and other countries and are very resourceful.  We haven’t heard from them yet but we will update again as soon as we do. Your donations helped make this occur – thank you!

Twelve more permaculturists are interested in traveling to Haiti as soon as another plane becomes available.    We’ve also been contacted by a couple of midwives who would like to go as well as other medical personnel.  Some of our permaculturists also have medical training – they are very much needed there.  The city of Jacmel was wiped out 80% and they badly need sanitiation, water, and medical treatment there.

We are currently in negotiations to send equipment on several possible boats leaving from Florida for Haiti over the next 3-4 weeks. We’d like to stock the boats with equipment to build more compost latrines, water catchment systems, seeds for crops, and even possibly earthmoving equipment to create swale systems in badly eroded farmland.  Hundreds of thousands of people are leaving Port Au Prince to return to the country.  This is a good thing, because they can become self-sufficient via farming in the country (which is how things used to be), but because farmland has been strip mined and otherwise abused, it is essential that permaculture techniques such as keyline and swale systems be implemented, if reforestation and rehabilitation of farmland is to be successful.

Eventually, the people of Haiti will want to rebuild, and we hope they will use more sustainable building techniques, like quincha mejorada homes in Central and South America, which have withstood earthquakes well in Chile. These houses are made mainly from bamboo and earth, things that are readily available or could grow very quickly in Haiti (bamboo can grow up to 24 inches per day in some cases).

Quincha mejorada:


Bamboo in Haiti:


We are creating a number of partnerships with organizations already working in Haiti and have contacted an official in the Haitian government and briefed him on what we are doing.  Our long term plan is to provide education via already existing organizations that will assist in sustainable rebuilding efforts.

We are now partnering with non-profit Permaculture Guild in New Mexico so your donations will be tax deductible.  All donations are going directly to getting people on the ground in Haiti, we are all volunteering our time to make this happen.  More info soon!


A Solution for Haiti

January 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti

waterpump223Currently, Haiti needs water pumps desperately because the earthquake has broken many of them.  This is a life threatening situation.  A permaculture solution would be to use the existing energy (humans) to handle the situation with a bicycle or teeter totter (see saw) pump.  Gaviotas in Columbia has piloted these and they are now used in Africa and many other places.  A teeter totter pump could be created out of existing materials lying around…..

Update for Haiti Project

January 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti

haitian long shot

We have three sanitation experts who want to go to Haiti to set up safe sanitation systems, and we are gathering equipment to go there as well. They will teach Haitians how to set up sanitation systems from existing resources (even rubble from collapsed housing can be helpful) while they are setting up systems.  One of them has set up systems for thousands of people.

We plan to use a variety of systems including trench systems which separate liquid and solid human waste – the urine can be used as fertilizer for crops which can accelerate growth in badly degraded areas and the solid waste will compost safely much faster than if mixed with liquids.

We are working on putting together a team of water filtration, capture and reuse experts as water is the #1 issue there right now that is life threatening. The wells have been compromised by the quake and many of the pumps are down as well, so they need pumps.

We continue to work with groups in Little Haiti, Miami, to raise funds for sustainable relief efforts.

Your donations will pay for plane fares, equipment and food for the rescue workers.

We have created a database for volunteers for both now and future rebuilding efforts and are in planning stages for long term rebuilding, including education, building, planting sustainable food (food forestry, agroforestry, polycropping, etc.  We have gotten a number of offers to donate seed and equipment to help create food and water security. Haiti used to be a major rice exporter and had enough food to feed her people.  Politics and economic manipulation destroyed their food industry and we want to help bring it back.

An international web site has been set up to coordinate activities at permaculturehaiti.org.  If you’re interested in volunteering, donating equipment or other things, please see the blogs and email list at that site, as it is now the central hub for permaculture solutions for Haiti.

To a much brighter future for Haiti,


Help for Haiti from Permaculture

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Sustainable solutions in Haiti

haiti1We are seeking funding to send permaculturists to Haiti to help with the relief and rescue effort.  Below is a letter of introduction to funders.  There are two permacuturists thus far who we would like to assist in traveling to Haiti and we have the call out to many others.  If you would like to donate, please go to http://earth-learning.org/index.php?option=content&Itemid=77&task=view&id=60

This is our fiscal sponsor for Haiti and Pine Ridge projects.

13 Jan, 2010

To those reaching out with heart to Haiti:

I am a sustainability designer, and I’m currently teaching a course on urban sustainability in Little Haiti, Miami.   I am writing regarding the disaster in Haiti, in a plea to allocate some of the rescue monies towards sustainable recovery.

Permaculture design stands for “permanent culture” and “permanent agriculture” and is the science of designing systems to prevent disaster as well as recover from it.

I worked as a volunteer in the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and though in no way comparable to the magnitude of disaster in Haiti, there were a number of lessons learned.  One of these is that people are very receptive to creating new lives when given a strong hope factor that they can sustain themselves.   They are overwhelmed with loss and if they can be shown how they can recover quickly and do even better than before, it energizes them to not only help themselves, but others as well.  I’ve since assisted from afar with disaster relief in SE Asia and New Orleans and lessons learned from those places is that it doesn’t have to take years or decades to rebuild, if you have an affordable, realistic, strategical design strategy early in the game.   This is where permaculture comes in, because that is what we do best.

Permaculturists have helped recovery efforts in a number of areas of the world, such as the tsunami in SE Asia:


And the Macedonia refuge camp of 43,000 where Geoff Lawton designed water catchment and storage to eliminate flooding, and gardens, compost toilets, passive solar strawbale houses and food forests were also created.


An ongoing Haitian project is the building of compost toilets, which will be very needed in the disaster sites.  We are contacting them to see if they will be able to train others to build very inexpensive models of these as it will greatly alleviate the danger of sanitation problems as well as rebuilding the devastated soil of the region, but meanwhile, people can make a donation directly to their site.


As well,  there will be issues of water supply, food supply and shelter which permaculture can solve in the most sustainable way possible.  There is much confusion after a disaster, and permaculture design can help bring order in a way that will assist more rapid recovery, because it will put the elements of long-term sustainability there from the beginning.   Permaculture offers simple, low tech solutions to create a safe, sustainable water supply, to grow food rapidly from existing resources (cultivating local edible “pioneer” plants which do well in harsh environments, and gradiently incorporating a stable, sustainable, mature food system while those plants sustain people), creating sustainable shelter rapidly from existing resources (earth, fiber, rock, etc), and producing energy from available resources.  Our shelters are very earthquake and fire resisitant – we design systems to withstand disaster.  This technology is essential for a place as economically devastated as Haiti, and this is even more true after a disaster of this magnitude.  Why not rebuild in a way that will improve overall conditions for the long term?  Wouldn’t it be nice if a phoenix could arise from the ashes?

Some of the projects which permaculturists can design and implement are:

Short Term:

Building sewage systems, composting toilets, compost and recyclying centers, rocket and solar stoves, temporary shelters (perma-yurts), water catchment and filtering, and plant nurseries.

Rocket and solar stoves are key because the major ecological problem in Haiti which causes huge hardships from many angles is deforestation for fuel. Solar stoves use no wood and rocket stoves, which can be made out of old cans and pipes laying around, use almost no fuel and can cook with twigs.

Correct diversion of sewage, human waste, and water can substantially contribute to rebuilding farm land in the area – the idea is to create the conditions for long term self-sufficiency and abundance with even our short term handlings.

Long Term:

Permanent, low cost, earthquake resistant natural buildings, water storage, earth works, renewable energy, permaculture food forests, broad-scale reforestation, farms, aquaculture systems, and community buildings such as schools and health centers.

We are currently working via a worldwide network of permaculturists to bring resources to Haiti, and several permaculturists are interested in traveling to Haiti to help with the rescue and relief efforts, but need funding to do so.  We are in contact with disaster handlers in the area who they can coordinate with for maximum effectiveness.  There is a permaculture project existing in Haiti that we are working to connect with as well.   If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me – I am also willing to meet with potential funders to answer questions personally.

If you want to donate now, please use the “Haiti Donations – Donate” Paypal button on the right hand side of this web page.  For past projects we’ve funded, please see the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation article under “Projects.”   We will use initial funding to get people there on the ground and most needed resources such as equipment for building the short term items needed.  Whenever possible, we use existing resources in the area that are free or very inexpensive – permaculture is very effective at getting the maximum return for energy invested, so you will know your money is going to a good cause.

We will add donors to a newsletter that will specifically keep you updated on what we are doing in Haiti.

To an always better future,

Cory Brennan

Course number for Miami course college credits

We finally have the course number to get three college credits in Earth/Environmental Sciences at FIU for the Miami PDC.  The number is EV 4995 – students can register with FIU and apply credits to any Florida University!