Monday, October 4, 2010


I keep thinking about the abandoned and gutted school buses that are all up and down the sides of the roads in Jacmel. I have this idea that they could be made into a giant art piece.

The good thing about this art piece is that it has a dual purpose. It is also a shelter or a library or a school.

I have this vision of taking a group of sculptors from the US and bringing them down to work with Haitian welders and see what they would come up with.
I was picturing building a library out of the school buses arranged in a star pattern, stacked up in the middle, held at the sides with posts, which would also make it impervious to floods.

I think the best solutions for Haiti have to involve utilizing what is already there in the country. Using gutted school buses and cars welded together would address two problems with one solution. Cleaning up the environment, turning trash into a usable building.

One of the problems with building shelter or libraries out of old school buses is without insulation they are hot. So combining bamboo with the buses a paneling of bamboo slats could be added to the interior of the buses with an air pocket in between the outside metal and the inside bamboo. It could be further insulated with styrofoam or even dirt. Dirt might be a good insulating material, creating a thermal mass on the inside of the bus structure. Further cooling could be added by building some sort of roof to go over the roofs of the buses that would attach to the roof itself but be made out of bamboo poles and palm frond thatch. That would likely cool it down considerably and look nice as well.

Of course the buses could be painted with murals and bright colors, like the colorful tap taps that are the Haitian public transportation system.

This project would be a huge undertaking and would require consultation with engineers and architects to weigh in on the feasibility of building permanent structures out of recycled buses. It is still on the boiler plate and would be a project that would require the acquisition of land and books and major funding to realize. I am open to finding interested collaborative partners for this project. There is plenty of incentive to inspire artists to come build a giant art sculpture/library in Jakmel which is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The funding for it could come from both the art world and NGO's or government funds.
I am wishing that art could merge more with disaster relief and third world development.
The DIY mentality needs to be applied to the reconstruction of Haiti.

Utilizing bamboo for future projects in Haiti is important because it stimulates the need for bamboo farming in Haiti which is good on many different levels.

The Taiwanese government sent a bamboo expert named Jimmy Jine who is paid by the government of Taiwan to serve as a consultant for a Haitian Organization called Complex Bamboo located in Kay Jakmel. I met him while I was visiting Jakmel.

They support the reforestation of Haiti with bamboo, improved poultry production and the cultivation of tropical fruit trees among the peasant farmers in Haiti. They have a bamboo nursery, a bamboo furniture factory and they also raise chickens.

Many, if not most of the orphanages we built domes at still need beds.
This is where my next project starts. Bamboo Bunk Beds.
This is a short term project and one that would be very simple to realize.
All I need for this project is funding because I already have the connections in Haiti to build the beds and the locations for the recipients are my dome sites in Port Au Prince and Jakmel.

Bamboo is the perfect solution to building good strong bunk beds for orphans.
Not only is it lightweight and easy to transport, they can be made pre-fab and easy to assemble on site. Further benefits are the lack of customs and importation hassles, as well as supporting the economy in Haiti from the ground up. Bunk beds are good for domes because you can stack up more kids in one dome and they are up away from the ground to avoid any potential flooding.

I spoke with Pastor Abraham about this idea and he loved it. He knows everyone in Jakmel, or rather everyone knows him. I am sure I could realize this project rather easily if I had funding. I do have a little bit of money left over in the budget which is a start towards this aim. If you are thinking about donating money to Domes For Haiti, your donation will go towards the building of these beds. So far I have about $2000. I have to work up a budget to see how much I need to make this happen. I think the beds might be able to be built for under 50$ each, but this requires more research.

With funding, I believe the bamboo bunk bed project could be realized pretty quickly. It also would not require my presence for the entire build. I could go down to Haiti, make arrangements for the beds to be built and then return to deliver them when they were done. It wouldn't cost alot for operating expenses, the money could all go to the actual beds to be built, thus making more beds for the money. However, knowing how long everything takes in Haiti, I would double any time estimates. If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact me at

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