Bring It On: Sustainability to an African School

We are talking about seeing The Big Picture. It's a bit fuzzy at this point.

The Green Drive at Maru a Pula School began February 2009 and I’m thankful to have been involved from the beginning.  The Green Drive was spearheaded by Ms Lucy Dixon Clarke with her tireless attempt to bring eco-consciousness and behavioral change to the school.  Coming to Africa, the thing I wanted to do most was create gardens with kids, keeping in mind the high rate of hiv/aids and the need for sound nutrition with respect to weak immune systems.  The opportunity to rejuvenate a garden at the school provided me with everything I needed: students, a patch of land, and a small budget.  I also won a grant from Burners Without Borders for our permaculture garden.  Last May we began work on the garden and by July we were eating from it.  Shovels, picks, gloves, dust, manure, a generous donation of tools from GMR trucking (thanks, Rob Carle!) and over 300 seedlings from Green Gem nursery (thanks to Alastair & Carol!) had us regenerating and creating gardens in no time.  While the school population doesn’t have a high rate of hiv (the population i initially wanted to work with) it allows me to have a demonstration plot and thus the community hears about me and opportunities to help more disadvantaged people arise.

Now I have taken on the challenge to keep the ball rolling on the Green Drive since Lucy has moved on from the school.  I was given the mandate by Principal Andy Taylor to make MAP the greenest school in Africa.  No big deal, right? Well, we have our work cut out for us but I am determined that we will see BIG changes this year, in areas of energy conservation, a successful recycling program, a year-round food producing garden, and lots of visual presentations to really expand the eco-consciousness of this school.

It’s fascinating, watching the minds of students light up during those aha! moments of connecting the dots between human behavior and climate change.  Stay tuned & stay green.

2 Responses to “Bring It On: Sustainability to an African School”
  1. Lucy says:

    Hooray! Thank goodness there are people like you in the world. Thank you for all your hard work – I know how much the students enjoy working with you and soaking up your positive energy.

  2. Kenneth says:

    Inspiration! What a great vision and endeavor to engage your good energies with. Have you heard of the recent book Smart by Nature, about green schools and the ways that they’ve approached greening? Here is the web link:

    I don’t know if there are agricultural shade houses in the hotter parts of Africa, but it seems like it would be a “cool” project to build greenhouses that have an extra roof above the translucent moisture containment roof, with louvered shade blinds that can be adjusted to keep the excessive hot sun out during the way too warm season. Swamp coolers with big fans at either end would also help keep it cooler, but would require more water. They may not be necessary if the shade blinds were blocking out direct sunlight. Maybe some food forest shade trees like walnuts, pinon pine, or other trees that can handle heat would be good to have surrounding the greenhouses, benefiting themselves from the additional moisture made available by the artificial mini-oasis.

    I bet you’re going to dial in one beautiful and inspiring landscape there, with rock lined paths winding by cool aquaculture pools and frog-friendly habitat areas shaded by multi-storied desert canopy of native trees. That will be a great enhancement to the appeal of school for the kids, especially if they can do some of their lessons out in the open air on a small patch of straw, sedums, or grasses in the shade.

    How amazing your opportunity to do fun and useful things is! Let me know if I can help you do any research or help otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: