Type: Earth and Ecobrick Building Training of Trainers
Location: St Andrew’s
Trainer: Luke Henkel
In cooperation with the Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, a religious congregation of nuns, hosted at their retreat center in St. Andrew’s province in Grenada. This was a weekend of learning (impacts of climate change in the Caribbean, ecological conscience, and plastic pollution) that included an ecobrick earth building workshop. About 40 attendees were there from islands all over the southern Caribbean including: Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, Dominica, Trinidad, and Tobago. Most attendees were high schoolers, with a large number of university age participants and young adults. A good number were religious sisters and priests as well.
The venue was at a retreat center in the mountains of St. Andrew’s, a province on the eastern side of Grenada. Preparation included collecting plastic from shops, stores, local businesses, grocery outlets, the fishermen’s wharf, and schools all over the island (undertaken by the workshop leader, Luke, as well as the nuns, the week prior to the workshop). Students began collecting plastic bottles and their own plastic from school four or five weeks before the event. For the earth building portion of the workshop, a cob master (a local potter named Keldon), assisted with preparing the cob: sourcing the clay, experimenting with proper ratios of clay and sand, bringing the materials, etc.
The workshop was two days as a matter of fact. Day 1, Sept. 20, was the presentation: the Ecobrick PPT including an open ended discussion on uses and benefits of plastic, and the present situation of plastic pollution in the Caribbean and on Grenada specifically. Other presentations were woven into the day including a presentation on climate change from a climate expert from the Grenada municipal office, as well as a presentation on ecological consciousness. This was the morning. The afternoon was a presentation of ecobricking and its process, and then participants each made an ecobrick. They were encouraged to make more once their first one was properly completed and registered. Day 2 was the earth building: a cob bench outside in the upper area of the retreat center compound.
Students were so engaged and participatory–and, every single brick was successful and very, very well done! The thoroughness with with the participants made their ecobricks was great to see. Also, the range and diversity of ages and geographical locations was great to behold; people from all over Grenada, many of them representing businesses, environmental clubs, and universities.
The cob process was quite a learning curve; working with the local potter and figuring out how much clay was needed, and finding straw/fiber for the cob as well.
Logistically the workshop went smoothly otherwise.
A surprising moment of learning was when we discussed “single use plastic.” This was quite a contentious term — hotly debated — as this concept I discovered is quite cultural! Single use in my own country does not the same meaning as it does in Grenada or other islands or countries. Even from household to household this concept can differ.
I am very aware now of being a bit more prepared; in bringing examples from my own country and home so I am not coming just to show others how it should be done but leading through example; and of not distilling the message or concept of ecobricks down to a “problem” of a particular community to be solved. It is a lifestyle to be chosen, and this message can be conveyed in many important ways. I am conscious as well of how that message can fail to be delivered!
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